Sessions at EMERGEOUT Conclave: Frugal Marketing by Jessie Paul, the CIO Panel, Cloud Computing, and UID-Inspired Ecosystem—An Overview

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The first parallel session of the day started with the much-awaited workshop on ‘Frugal Marketing in an Emerging Economy – What Works, What’s Hype and What’s Trendy’ by Jessie Paul. Jessie is the author of No Money Marketing, a book on building and marketing brands on a frugal budget, and the CEO of Paul Writer, a marketing strategic advisory firm. After a brief introduction by David Appasamy, chief communications officer, Sify, Jessie took the stage with a question to the audience.How many of you have a dedicated team or person for marketing? While 80% of the gathered people raised their hands to this enthusiastically, only 20% nodded their heads to her next question “And how many of you have a dedicated line item for marketing expenses which does not include sales?” This seemed to set the thoughtful tone for the next half an hour or so when Jessie went on to explain, and subtly infer, the difference between sales and marketing very clearly to the SMEs present and the importance of a good marketing plan for startups and SMEs to take their products and services from being merely ‘good’ to ‘great and premium’ on a prudent spend. Please look out for a more detailed coverage of her workshop on YourStory.in shortly.

For the first time ever perhaps, the NASSCOM Emergeout Conclave made it possible for SMEs to talk to its target customers and decision makers directly – the CIOs of some of the best and largest companies in India – through its session on “Transforming the CIO into the Chief Innovation Officer”. What was notably special in this session was that all the CIOs that participated and shared their innovation story had trusted and implemented the product of an Indian startup/SME, whether or not they themselves were Indian companies. The panel was ably chaired by Sangeeta Patni, CEO, Extensio Software and the participating CIOs included Ajay Dhir (Group CIO, Jindal Steel), Daya Prakash (CIRO, LG Electronics, India), Padmaja Ravishankar (Head Information Systems, 24/7 Customer), and L Sundarrajan (CEO of IT support services business, South Asia, Holcim). Some of the reasons these CIOs quoted for selecting a product that was made in India included cost, roadmap vision, and the willingness of the selected vendor to be flexible. What clearly emerged at the end of the session though is that it shouldn’t matter whether you are an Indian company or not – all the companies in the world are the same and it’s the value that they deliver that sets them apart to the customer. Indian product vendors must endeavor to be as competitive as any other vendors if not more. The key takeaway and advice from the CIOs for being winning product SMEs were: to be an agile and flexible partner to the customer, to take a collaborative approach and partner at all stages of the product implementation, be willing to go the extra mile whether in terms of product features, the services provided or the pricing model, and be committed to stay along the entire journey. As a product SME, you must understand your customer’s business and help them sell internally in their teams as well. After all, the CIOs have a lot at stake too and a vested interest in making the vendor successful when they take a decision to go with a particular company.

Another important and key session that everyone looked forward to was “The Emerging UID inspired ecosystem and what it means for you”. Ram Sewak Sharma, UIDAI director-general, spoke at length about Unique Identification for India, regarded as the most ambitious project of the Indian Government thus far by many. Mr. Sharma also elaborated on the various opportunities that UID will bring to the Indian companies, SMEs and startups. Though UID will be governed by the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), its actual implementation in terms of data gathering and last mile touch points will be taken up by the state authorities. These state authorities will in turn require a lot of assistance from private companies both technologically as well as for services to reach the entire population of India. This provides thousands and hundreds of opportunities for companies and it’s only left to their imagination on how they can come forward to help the government accomplish this. While UID will be a mere number with no intelligence built-in, it can act as an authentication mechanism for many things in the future including banking transactions. This again presents a multitude of prospects for private companies to envision and design products and services that might help take full advantage of the UID by institutions, financial or otherwise.

The Emergeout also featured a session on the popular cloud computing topic and how it can help and enable the SMB segment. Presented by Srikanth Karnakota (Director – Cloud Computing, Microsoft), the session was on leveraging cloud offerings to further IT adoption in SMB segment.

K.M. Vaijayanthi’s report from Chennai

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