The complexities and intricacies of the fast-evolving technological landscape are challenging yet intriguing, and startups often neglect to effectively factor this into their growth strategy, according to Harish Menon, Associate Director – Global Market Development, Emerging Mobile Business at Akamai Technologies.
Most startups have plans for where they want to be or will be in terms of revenue five years down the line. That kind of planning is absent when you ask them about technology, which is important if they are serious about growth and scaling up.
Harish is a firm believer in the power and potential of mobile, media and the internet. With more than a decade of experience in the technology domain, Harish has worked in a spectrum of areas – from product management and marketing, people management, market development to solution building. At Akamai, Harish leads the efforts to define, execute and evangelise Akamai's mobile strategy across the globe, focusing on both mobile networks, and content providers. In the past, he has worked to help organisations advantage from high-performing, secure, and personalised web experiences.
As the conversations rally from the debate of developing in-house technology versus outsourcing it to the experts, then to Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and subsequently to IoT, Harish says, “Today the use cases of VR that we see is what I would call at presentation layer, and most of them are in the gaming and entertainment space. But, once VR and AR begin to address key business and customer problems, that’s when we will see their true potential kicking in. And, I am sure, same is the case with IoT. These will define the future that awaits us.”
Harish also shared his thoughts on a number of other topics related to the startup ecosystem.
Today, technology plays the role of an enabler for startups when it comes to scaling up –helping them scale right and fast. No startup can afford to ignore technological shifts for this very reason.
When you look at the mobile ecosystem, it’s not just the diversity in mobile devices and operating systems but also the cellular ecosystem and its fragmented user base. Addressing this is a big challenge for startups who are looking to make an impact in the space.
The second pain point is security. As more and more businesses move online along with their entire ecosystem of infrastructure, delivery, customers, and partners; web security is a key challenge that needs to be addressed. A single flaw which would've been forgiven in the previous era, but one lapse could result in losses in revenue and reputation, which has a cascading effect.
While solutions can be multi-dimensional, the best way to address the pain points is to understand that if they are not your core business value then take help from a trusted partner. If you are not solving complexities of mobile, then don't get distracted and use someone whose core competency is mobile. If you are not a web security company, do not throw development resources and infrastructure at something a trusted partner can help address.
This is a very interesting and broad topic, and there are several interplaying factors. So rather than addressing the whole picture, let me focus on one key missing piece.
The technology that you throw into delivering an online experience to your customer may be cutting edge but are you doing enough in ensuring that their voice is heard? It is this question that needs to be answered.
A state of the art web 2.0 site and a spiffy app is fine, but do you still run a 9 am to 5 pm and five-day-week response process?
Do you have the right technology, people and processes in place to ensure timely responses and resolutions?
On the web versus mobile focus for startups
It’s evident that everyone has mobile at the top of their mind and rightly so. And if you are in a vertical where it makes sense for you to focus only on mobile, you should. Especially if your user base and core business demands it. For instance, why would Uber focus on the web? At the same time, for a broad spectrum service like an e-commerce or OTT, it may be wise to take into account the current market share rather than just the growth rate, at least when it comes to web. An observation from the browser market is that most businesses are focusing solely on Chrome which is the leading browser with double digit growth rate and ignoring IE (Internet Explorer) which still has a 22% market share.
I believe they will play a really huge part. Right now we are addressing the first 300-odd million who are using the web and are online. It is the next 300 million which will provide plethora of untapped opportunities, while also bringing unique challenges. If addressed, they could reap rich dividends.
And ultimately, it also pays to look at this in reverse: How much will startups play a key role when it comes to being the largest growth drivers for rural and vernacular India, in the near future?
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