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Internet Potential in India :

India's foray into web-development


India was a latecomer to the Internet owing to low PC penetration, lack of infrastructure and high Internet costs. This scenario changed soon enough, and Internet usage grew at an exponential rate. Cyber cafes played a key role in making the Internet accessible, which helped a great deal.


Web-development outfits sprouted first in Bangalore and Hyderabad, and soon in other parts of India. The downturn in software development too proved to be a spin-off factor, prodding more Indians towards the web stream. According to a recent national survey, 55% of young Indians are opting for careers in web-related activities (design, integration, web services, content writing, database integration, e-commerce etc). Not surprisingly, India is now a potent hub for web-development.


Just how good are India's web shops?


True, India is gearing up its web expertise in a big way, but just how good are its web-shops? India's web gurus have moved far beyond amateur web designing. Developing a great site means much more than adding fancy graphics, killer designs, or sticky content. Any web-guy in India will tell you that these are all necessary factors in site design, but the key to successful web applications are what is common to any business. The business model and the customer - the idea that the website is built on.


India's web shops are probably the best in the world, and improving constantly. And as far as technology is concerned, India's Web-shops excel in understanding and using cutting-edge technology as a tool in achieving success on the Internet. Software development companies are therefore picky about the expertise and capabilities of people who work with them. People who work for Internet-related industries are up-to date about trends in their field, and can be often found on online lists and forums, discussing the finer points of Microsoft.Net, Java, J2EE and client-server technologies.


How is all this possible?


The buildup about how good India is must have got you wondering about how a developing country is winning hands down in the web development arena. Here are the answers:


Knowledge professionals: The vast resources of skilled web development professionals in India have ensured that there has been a healthy growth in the number of India's web professionals over the last decade. From 2,000 knowledge workers in 1986, the number increased to 222,090 web professionals in early 2002.


Affordable IT Education: IT education is 8 times more affordable in India than in the United States.


English-speaking professionals: Most Indians are fluent in the English language. This has led to a choice of careers in web development, and consequentially, supplementary careers in content and technical writing.


Government Incentives: The Indian Government realizes the potential of IT in improving the economy, and has initiated several programs to encourage and improve the industry. The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology is developing infrastructure that supports information technology. The IT Bill passed in 2000 provides a legal framework for the recognition of electronic contracts, electronic filing of documents, etc.


Influx of talent from other educational streams: India's educational system lays strong emphasis on Math and Science. A large number of students therefore get into engineering colleges. However, they are not assured of jobs, and engineering-related jobs are not as remunerative as IT jobs. So, there is an influx of architects and engineers who are strong in design fundamentals into the web-development industry.


These are the major factors responsible for India's strengths in the web development industry. The market for the growing number of web shops in the country is made up of India's corporate sector, the huge educational sector and other organizations.


The long term potential


India's domestic market for web development is approaching saturation. Where is the web industry headed then? The recent economic downturn has forced organizations in the US and UK to reduce their IT costs. Rather than building up an expertise in web development, these enterprises are opting to outsource. This counter-recessionary boost to the trend toward outsourcing to offshore service providers is where India stands to gain. India's webexpertise makes it the hottest outsourcing choice. It currently controls 85%+ of the market.


The increasing emphasis on customer response activities in the West have made Indian outsourcing service providers reinvent themselves and extend their web development activities to ASP (Application Service Providing) and other high-end outsourcing solutions. Indians are fluent in English and are more quality conscious. Given this strong value proposition in terms of skilled labor, long-term economics and a high position on the learning curve, India could build a $17-billion web-enabled industry by 2008, says the most recent Nasscom-McKinsey report.


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