10. Blogs and RSS
Weblogs continued to thrive in 2003 as more people found that publishing just become easier. While it is still not clear that there is anything more than pocket money to be made by writing for niche audiences, that has not stopped people from writing on the web. We all feel the deep desire to communicate and share, and weblogs are a natural manifestation of that. Of course, what also become clear is that it is easier to start a blog than to maintain it over time.
The real disruptive innovation, though, is that being brought about by RSS and news readers and aggregators. RSS is an XML-based syndication format that allows microcontent to be made available by software that can automatically pick it up, parse it and make it available without us having to go probing different sites for updates. RSS is laying the foundation for the Publish-Subscribe Web.
2004: Blogs will continue to be an important, parallel mechanism for us to get information and analyses from people we trust and experts in specific areas. Expect blogs and RSS to make their way into enterprises. Blogs have the potential to work as a bottom-up mechanism to extract and distribute tacit knowledge in employees. RSS will be used for syndicating enterprise events to our desktops and cellphones, and for creating information marketplaces which can connect publishers and consumers of information.
India in 2003
There are three key trends defining what we have seen in India in 2003: cellphones, BPO and affordability. Reliance Infocomm began on the wrong foot but quickly got its act together to unleash what has become the fastest adoption of any technology that India has ever seen. Indians are grabbing cellphones at a rate nearing 2 million a month as entry barriers in terms of upfront payments have fallen. Price wars unleashed by the various providers have brought down pricing of telecom all around. Watching Indians with cellphones is like watching a populace that was long suppressed of one of the most fundamental human needs communicating with friends and family.
IT-enabled services now go by a new moniker: Business Process Outsourcing. As the world hires educated Indians to do their work, it is unleashing a construction and spending boom across Indian cities. What started in the year as a trickle has now become a flood, with every day bringing forth announcements of new recruitments by global companies in India. The work is not just the low-end type; Google recently announced plans to set up an India development centre with 100 employees.
Affordability is the theme underlying technology adoption across India. The cellphone boom has showed that if a product is priced right, it can tap into an increasingly affluent middle-class in India. Computer prices are also falling. Acer recently launched laptops at the Rs 40,000 price point in India. Be it a Barista or a Big Bazaar, everyones joining the game Wal-mart pioneered worldwide: everyday low prices. Increasing competition thanks to the opening up of many closed markets and technology in the form of better supply chain management are helping reduce inefficiencies in Indian supply chains.
All of this is making the world stand up and take notice of India: both as a provider of low-cost services and a large market. Incomes in urban India are rising, and so is the confidence among Indians. For the first time in recent memory, there is a definite feeling that Indias best years lie ahead.
Tomorrow: The World in 2004
TECH TALK 2003-04+T