For me personally, it has been a wonderful experience writing these columns (and sometimes reading the older ones to see the evolution in thought). Writing has helped me think more clearly about the impact of technology and especially the Internet. I have seen the Web from the frontlines right from its early days, since the launch of IndiaWorld in March 1995, and been part of its roller-coaster ride.
The need to be continually aware of what’s happening in the world of technology, especially infotech, has definitely made me a voracious reader. But that’s only part of the story. The other element has been to ensure that I can write for others to read and understand, which at times is the harder part! I used to do a lot more of this earlier in 1995 (check http://www.netcore.co.in/rajesh.html for a complete list), but then had stopped writing because I found I was repeating myself! Hopefully, that hasn’t yet happened here.
Perhaps the most important side-effect for me has been the development of a view of the future and how technology can make a difference. My knowledge of the world outside the consumer Internet and portals was very limited when I started writing in November 2000. But over time, there has been a growing realisation (as has happened for many of the entrepreneurs worldwide) that the Internet is indeed a fundamental revolution and will take many years to play out (we are at the “end of the beginning”), and the impact on businesses will be substantially greater in the years to come.
Living in Mumbai, my perspective is definitely somewhat different than what it is sitting in Silicon Valley. My conviction is that the Internet and Software can make a big difference for both consumers and enterprises in emerging markets like India. When I see the inefficiencies in businesses (especially the small and medium enterprises), there is little doubt that there are huge opportunities to leverage the latest technologies to (a) make businesses much more competitive, and (b) raise the standards of living of the mass market.
The solution lies not in replicating ideas from the US, Europe or Japan but thinking deeply about what the real impact of the new technologies are and applying them to the problems in the developing countries. Our problems are unique, and so need to be our solutions. For example, Microsoft’s MS-Windows and MS-Office at Rs 20,000 per computer is not going to take computing to the masses. Neither will software piracy. The solution lies in thinking entrepreneurially about how each of us can make a difference. There is a great opportunity for us in India to create innovative, disruptive technologies, make them work in India first, and then take them to other countries and other markets like us. There are 4 billion like us in the world. These are the markets we need to go after. At its heart, that is what Tech Talk is about.