‘Emerging Kerala' an opportunity to make amends for lapses
Absence of a clear-cut marketing strategy and dedicated funds to back it up is preventing the State from achieving its true potential in the Information Technology sector, say industry experts.
They feel that lack of farsightedness at a time when IT companies are increasingly looking at tier-II cities may cost the State dear.
According to informed IT sources, the exhibitions and roadshows that the State organises abroad to woo IT investments often prove a waste of time and resources for lack of proper planning in advance. They say that simply putting up a stall and expecting prospective investors to walk in won't do.
“Efforts to identity possible investors in the host country by utilising the expertise of people of Indian origin active in the industry there and to come up with programmes targeting them are missing,” says an official adding the IT Department could take a leaf out of the Tourism Department's effective use of new media such as YouTube in marketing its potential. Recently, the Tourism Department partnered with search engine Google for an advertisement campaign and this enhanced the global reach of the department by leaps and bounds.
Besides, the need of the hour is to evolve a combined marketing strategy highlighting the many facets of the State, thus portraying it as a complete package rather than going for islands of promotional campaigns by individual departments. Also, most of the IT promotions are investment-specific and efforts to take the fruits of various e-governance and mobile governance services to the public are sorely missing, the official says.
Joseph C. Mathew, who served as IT adviser to V.S. Achuthanandan during his tenure as Chief Minister, says the chief executive officers of IT parks in the State need to be set a clear mandate with marketing as one of the top priorities.
“They should channelize their efforts towards bringing the cream of the IT sector such as IBM and Google to the State. They should personally interact with top officials of major players on a continuous basis and should be set a target,” he says. Mr. Mathew says that mere exhibitions and foreign tours would not help. He recollects an incident in which brochures had to be couriered to Germany after a top official who went on a promotional tour there forgot to take them with him. Some years back Technopark had engaged Price Waterhouse Coopers to do a feasibility study with the added marketing responsibility of bringing at least one company to the IT parks in the State. However, nothing came of it as recession set in and the only saving grace was that the State did not have to pay the agency in full.
Technopark chief executive officer Mervin Alexander says he is in constant contact with IT company officials to attract investments.
“The fact that TCS, the biggest Indian IT firm, has decided to set up their Global Training Centre in Technocity with an investment of about Rs.1,500 crore has given us and Technocity global visibility,” he says.
Anoop P. Ambika, secretary of the Technology Group of Companies, rues the lack of effective marketing highlighting the incentives for IT companies in coming to the State. Efforts should be made to create critical mass in an IT destination before spreading out to multiple destinations, he says.
The first opportunity for the State to make amends for the lapses is the investors' meet ‘Emerging Kerala' slated for next April. Hopefully, the State will do the necessary groundwork to achieve meaningful results in the IT sector.