The losing charm of Bangalore as an Information Technology (IT) hub presents the State with an opportunity to pitch itself as an alternative investment destination for IT and IT-Enabled Services companies.

For that to happen the State, however, will have to position itself and market its potential in the right way besides formulating farsighted plans to fine-tune its infrastructure capabilities, according to IT players in the State.

A recent study conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) revealed that Bangalore was in danger of being dislodged as the premier IT hub of the country thanks to its crumbling infrastructure.

Gurgaon and Noida were the new contenders to the IT throne, with 55 per cent of IT companies in Bangalore preferring to shift their operations to these satellite cities, the study said.

Gigo Joseph, Chief Executive Officer of Infopark, believes that Kerala can take similar advantage from the IT companies' new found preference for tier two and tier three cities. “We are planning to market our upcoming space in a way to leverage the new possibilities before the State in the IT sector,” Mr. Joseph says. Infopark along with its co-developers is set to develop over 1 crore sq ft in the next five to eight years. The growth forecast of 16-18 per cent by the National Association of Software and Services Companies for the country's IT sector also augurs well, he says.

Anoop P. Ambika, secretary of the Group of Technology Companies (GTECH), feels that greater industry-academia collaboration is the need of the hour as quality and value of services offered will be critical in the days to come.

“Similarly, we need to have in an Invest in Kerala Mission drawn of representatives from the government, industry, and well-connected Malayalis abroad to bring about a change in perception of the State as an investment destination. Successful entrepreneurs from the State sharing their stories in front of a global audience will definitely help that image makeover,” Mr. Anoop says. Developed countries have even city-specific mission to attract investments. The scope for connectivity from Kerala to Europe through Dubai should also be prominently highlighted, he adds.

Investment possibilities

According to IT Department sources, the brand Kerala has to be projected as a more complete package. Campaigns should convey the investment possibilities in the State also rather than merely evoking images of Ayurveda or Kathakali alone as has been the case now because of the mostly independent nature of campaigns by different departments.

They, however, feel that lack of auxiliary services like international public schools of repute in the State is a major drawback since quality education for children is a high priority for IT employees.

Mr. Anoop warns that civic issues like solid waste management may prove to be a challenge to the State in the days to come hampering its IT prospects unless the government resorts to thoughtful civic planning immediately.

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