City-based IT firm Azinova Technologies keeps IFFK updated with the latest in software and provides technical support too

As the countdown for the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) begins, the techies at Azinova Technologies at a busy lot. In fact, they are so busy that the firm’s directors Shani L. Ganga and Rajeev Rajendran don’t even have the time to answer their phones. “We’re working all hours to iron out a few last minute details with regards to the fete’s online reservation system,” explains Shani, the chief executive officer of the firm, over the phone from Dubai, as we finally track him down late one night.

For the past several years now, the home-grown IT firm, headquartered in Technopark, has been providing “the A to Z of software development and technical support” for the IFFK. “And that means we handle everything related to technology with regards to the fete, from delegate registration and seat reservation to logistics and planning, which includes hospitality management and scheduling. We even print the id cards, man the computers outside each theatre, run the call centre, and so on,” says Shani.

Azinova, which is into developing mobile phone and web applications, was started in 2007, by four techies, including Shani and Rajeev, and now employees some 33 people – most of whom are hands on involved in IFFK activities every year. The firm got incubated at Technopark Technology Business Incubator (T-TBI) after a year of operations. “In about four months, we graduated from T-TBI – a record of sorts for the incubator – and got our own space in Thejaswini, Technopark. Then a year ago we set up shop in the United Arab Emirates,” says 30-year-old Shani, a native of Thirumala in the city. He is a graduate of Government College of Engineering, Thrissur. Rajeev, 28, meanwhile, is the chief operating officer of the firm. He is from Kamaleswaram and graduated from Narayanaguru College of Engineering, Marthandam.

Azinova began associating with IFFK thanks to P.K. Pokker, director, Kerala Bhasha Institute, for which the firm had developed a range of software. “Dr. Pokker recommended our firm to V.K. Joseph, who was the then vice-chairman of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, the organisers of the fete, when the Academy was on the lookout to digitalise the fete’s processes,” says Rajeev.

The techies seem quite thrilled at the continuing association with the fete. “More than a job, IFFK has become a passion for us. It has been a truly exciting journey with the Academy. It is very open to the idea of updating with the times. Of course, we couldn’t do it without the support of Bina Ma’am [Bina Paul, the artistic director of the fete] and the various secretaries of the Academy over the years,” adds Shani.

Azinova, we understand, has been with IFFK each step of the way in going digital, right from when it first adopted technology by way of partial online registration [online forms on which delegates had to paste photographs]. One technology that the techies are particularly proud of is the SMS-based reservation system, introduced in 2009 to supplement online reservation. They’re also gung ho about the bar coding system that makes seat booking simple and hassle-free. Incidentally, IFFK was one of the first film festivals in the country to make use of the Android platform that enabled delegate registration through smart phones.

“Each year we keep adding to the technology. The current system at IFFK is completely automated,” says Rajeev. For example, first Azinova developed the software to completely digitalise the registration process. Then they introduced online reservation. The next year they set up reservation facilities with access control (swipe cards) and the following year they made the process of film rating of the competition films transparent (earlier it used to be secret ballot). They also put in a process that enabled delegates to rate each film, right after viewing it.

This year too Azinova has a few technological updates in store for the fete. Say Shani and Rajeev: “We’ve developed a mobile app for reservation and voting, compatible with both Android and iOS. We’re installing iPad touch kiosks for seat reservation at Kairali and Sree theatres on a trial basis. Earlier, every evening after the reservation for seating had closed, we had to manually update the database at the computers at each theatre, which was quite a laborious process that often saw our team members working till at least 2 a.m. So this year we’re introducing a smart phone barcode access control system, which automates the entire process. This means that delegates can reserve seats until about half an hour before the start of screening.”

What’s new for IFFK 2013

iPad touch kiosks for seat reservation

Android, iPad, iPhone reservation and voting app

Smart phone-barcode access control system