November 3, 2006 has lost its zing

Mini Joseph Tejaswi & R Raghavendra | TNN
Bangalore: Karnataka's premiere IT expo, Bangalore, has lost the colour and the charm of its early years. Touted as the largest business-to-business tech exposition of Asia, the event is now being widely criticised for lacking in direction, and failing to draw any worthwhile participation from either domestic or foreign business.
"This show is no indication of Bangalore's IT prowess or its branding in the global market. It's our maiden involvement in We were expecting a tech show like Systems in Munich or Cebit in Hannover. Frankly, coming here is such a waste of time, energy and money for us,'' said Hurtmut Ade of SAR Elektronic GmbH (Germany).
The quality of visitors and the stalls are a key concern for several participants. Says Felix Donoso of Barcelonabased Management Systems Solutions, "If this is Asia's largest IT show, why are big boys, IBM, Microsoft or Sun Microsystems missing? I think the realty, hiring, utility and travel desk kind of outlets outnumber tech stalls here. Also, the quality and flow of business and general visitors are very poor.''
At times, it appears as if finding takers for stalls seems to be the single biggest concern of organisers. "Government focuses only on selling and filling up the space. No one is worried of quality or value for money, time and effort. The show is a mela of students and janta,'' commented an IT professional.
Participating in an event of this magnitude requires months of planning, including travel and accommodation. "In this form and shape, the show is not worth all the trouble,'' said a senior official of a Delhi-based IT services firm.
Some note that the IT & BT secretary was changed twice during the year, disrupting the planning process for the event. Others point out that potential overseas participants plan their schedules often a year in advance. "But dates are finalised too late in the year for foreigners to accommodate it in their schedules," says a foreign country representative.
Organisers are well aware of the changing sentiments. "The show has been successful with special zones for intellectual property and semiconductors. But it needs improvement. We need to take certain precautions to make it a continued success,'' admitted B V Naidu, director, STPI.
Says state IT & BT secretary M N Vidyashankar: "I feel the whole initiative so far has been too governmentdriven. From the next edition, we would like it to be a market-driven affair. We are going to initiate a series of meetings with the industry to understand their needs and expectations from the event. The event also needs proper branding and marketing.''
Having seen the birth of this event, bureaucrat-turned-entrepreneur Vivek Kulkarni felt that the government could plan better. "More accountability can be brought in. It has to be a pure B2B event. Along with software and BPOs, hardware too should benefit from it,'' he said.
Infosys says it is proud to participate in the event. However, it is concerned about the way things have changed in the last two years. "Two years back, there were even boycotts by companies who then came back and participated. There is a feeling that the relationship between the government and the industry is not satisfying,'' said Kris Gopalakrishnan, COO & president, Infosys. So, if is not to become IT.out, the government needs to do some serious thinking.

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