India: Becoming a Hub of Product Development

Date:   Tuesday , December 01, 2009

India has transformed itself from being a country providing only low-end support in the information technology space to an innovation hub for new products and cutting edge technology. The proliferation of Internet not withstanding, India has become a R&D hub that pushes sciences and technologies limits to innovate the new set of products that is helping companies to remain competitive in the ever growing clutter of companies leveraging the power of the Internet for doing business.

Forget the world; even if we consider engaging the 50 million Internet population of India, being at the forefront of Internet business revolution is not an easy task. There are multiple challenges which range not only from providing engaging and relevant content but also providing cutting edge scalable solutions and products that deliver immense value to consumers.

While products and content mostly aligns with current and prevalent consumer psychographic and demographic profiles and interest, the need to innovate sciences and technologies that enable products to scale to these requirements are key to success. Multiple layers of services and delivery methodologies are now the drivers for next generation products. This includes products such as mobile Internet, mail, instant messaging, search, etc.

This is vital, as today, the web and the users’ world is inseparable and the key is to be able to provide users with one simple, trusted place to access their world and the world around them, and more importantly enabling them to control what they want from the web. However, one must realize the Internet is very complex, and the role of technologies should be to simplify it with easy-to-use products and tools.

Cloud computing coupled with a technology strategy, which is open in nature will spearhead the faster development of such tools and products. This will enable faster innovation on key product capabilities while driving cost-effectiveness, global scalability and agility. Such a strategy, for instance, can help roll out platforms which can be a 100 percent self-service platform for developers, across many key web experiences, inviting developers to create products across the network. This will allow any publisher, developer, or advertiser on the web to create and launch fully interactive products. Users will have more choices going forward to discover and use such products. Open platforms will foster innovation and engagement with a broader web ecosystem that will lower the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and web users.

Another important aspect is search. The ability to better understand query intent and map that intent back to a diversity of contexts unique to a wide network of experiences and massive user base will result in a never before search based user experience. Besides, driving structure of the web will enable people to explore and interact with what we can call as the coming “web of objects”, and subsequently provide users with a significantly richer experience than the current “web of documents”. However this requires deep scientific understanding and technology expertise along with access to huge amounts of data and user insights to deliver such cutting edge search technologies.

The question that arises is whether India has the expertise to come up with right product and technology strategy followed by a strong execution. And the answer is positive. We have development centers in India that contribute significant global product development initiatives. Global development centers are evolving from being an execution hub to an innovation hub for companies and hence are becoming more strategic for companies. Indian talent has got the potential to work on cutting edge research areas like next-generation search, advertising and large-scale computing systems.

We also have the ability to focus on end-to-end product lifecycle, conceptualizing, designing, developing, launching and running products. Functions like Product Marketing, Product Management, User Experience Design, Architect, Scientists, Technologist and Service Engineering & operation functions are becoming essential to deliver compelling consumer and advertising experiences for Internet based companies.

The author is VP & Head, Yahoo! India Research & Development