NET.COLUMNS: IndiaWorld — The Future

  • Part I of the IndiaWorld Story
  • Part II of the IndiaWorld Story
  • Part III of the IndiaWorld Story

    Where does IndiaWorld go from here? Its a question we ponder on quite
    a lot. There are no right or wrong answers. That only time will
    answer. But being in the midst of it all, one develops insights which
    can be quite different from what someone on the outside sees.

    IndiaWorld began with content for NRI audiences, went into website
    development, then created more sites for a growing domestic audience
    and an international audience which wanted more than just news. The
    wheel has come a full circle. The domestic audience is the key to the
    success of a Web service, and that is something which few web masters
    seem to realise. Everyone tries to target the NRI audience. The
    numbers are there, but little else. Other than a handful of banks,
    finance companies and financially-constrained real estate companies,
    there isn’t really anyone else for whom the NRI clientele matters a
    lot, AND who are willing to pay. Yes, the NRI audience gets hits on
    the site, but not money. We began with NRIs because they were the
    only ones who are out there. But we must not stop with them.

    It is very important to create services which also interest the
    domestic Indian audience. This group does not want to go online to
    read newspapers and magazines, which they can buy for what they’d pay
    to read a story online (the difference being the payment is for
    telecom, and not content). And that is exactly what we have strived to
    create in the last 10 months. Expect more of this in 1998. In the US,
    one talks of audiences in terms of millions; in India it is still
    thousands. And that will not change easily because the telecom
    infrastructure will take time to improve. We don’t want to build a
    business which is dependent on external growth constraints and policy
    on which one have no control over. We need to go to where the eyeballs

    The Eyeballs are on the Corporate Desktop. This is where a significant
    opportunity in India lies. Unlike abroad where there are many sources
    of information between 9 am and 7 pm, in India there are no practical
    ways to get information while you are at work. You still wait for the
    9 or 10 pm news to find out what happened during the day on the
    political front, and the morning newspapers as to what happened in the
    world of business over 12 hours ago. India needs an information
    service delivered over a phone line to the Corporate Network and
    delivered on the Desktop via the Web front-end. That’s because
    Corporate India, while being state-of-the-art on the LAN front, is 7-8
    years behind on the WAN front. That’s where the opportunity lies:
    Near-Real-Time Content Delivery on the Desktop over a nationwide
    dial-up network. Use the Net for what it is: a distribution vehicle.

    Another growth area is in Internet Strategy and Implementation. An
    Internet Business Strategy does not mean a website on the Net. It
    means envisioning the future (remember the last 2 lines of
    Part III: your biggest competitor two
    years from now might not even exist yet
    ). It means ensuring that
    email is present on every desktop in the organisation. It means
    everyone in the company can access the Internet for mission-critical
    website, and over dial-up (since leased lines are still way too
    expensive). It means integrating the External website with an Intranet
    and an Extranet, the former for employees, the latter for
    customers. It means extending the system for business-to-business

    Developing Internet Vision is perhaps the most challenging aspect. How
    will the Internet revolutionse your business? How would you do your
    business if you started now, with the Net in place? This is where
    organisations need to think through their strategy from first
    principles. And perhaps, look at IndiaWorld’s example. India’s largest
    Network of websites, reaches out to over 75,000 people via the Web and
    an email service, generating 100,000+ page views daily, and arguably,
    India’s only profitable Internet venture. It did not exist three years

    We didn’t set out to do all this three years ago — some of it just
    happened. We began with a belief that if we are in the business and if
    we are close enough to our customers, the ideas will automatically
    come. And they have!

    The Internet is not about technology, it is about being better
    informed, it is about communicating, it is about doing business. The
    Internet is about doing the things that you do everyday — better,
    faster, and without barriers. And in the process, perhaps radically
    change — or create — a new industry. That, for us at IndiaWorld, is
    the real essence of the Internet: the capability to translate ideas
    into action rapidly, the knowledge that we are making a difference to
    many thousands worldwide, the belief that we are at the forefront of
    what is perhaps the most important development of our generation, a
    conviction that battles of the future will not be decided by size or
    money, but by the ability to out-think the competition. Three years
    on, we feel we have just begun.

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.