The web of business

  • Madhusheel Arora, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Oct 12, 2014 11:04 IST

Information and money are the two building blocks of the modern business world and in the interconnected world of today; it is unquestionable that the importance of these two variables is only set to rise.

Businesses dealing with money to grow money like banks, non-banking financial institutions, credit rating firms and others have been here for a long time and go through a set way of getting their growth through mechanisms like credit appraisals, categorising customers, etc. Business development has reached such a level of efficiency here that the focus is on micro-management and analysing the processes minutely to cut down costs, as that is seemingly the only way left to squeeze the last ounce of profitability. So, we get the periodic debates over fee for ATM usage, the decision to charge for informing the customer of transactions and more.

Of course, this model is copied in industries that do not deal as directly with money, but are into the business of providing goods and services we use on a daily basis, like the internet, the newspaper you are reading this article on and myriad of other products.

Information, on the other hand, is a far more fluid commodity and has helped many businesses grow in the past two decades like Facebook, e-commerce sites, the internet itself and to an extent, the business of smart phone manufacturing, distribution and sale.

Facebook, perhaps, is the most important and visible instance of a business model based around getting people to exchange notes (information) using the power of the network of networks (internet). It has been operational now for a decade and is valued at an astonishing $100 billion (Rs 6 lakh crore), around 5% of the country’s GDP and around 10-12 times more than the entire business Chandigarh does in a year.

Its founder Mark Zuckerburg was in the country and wants internet to be free and wants it to be considered as a human right.

So, remember those geography classes in school on industrial set-up, where we learnt that factories go where there is raw material or where there is adequate supply of labour. Of course, those rules do not seem to apply when information is used as the key raw material as Facebook does — with intelligence and a bit of technical know-how the only other essential requisites.

Where does the tricity come into the mix?

Considering the planned nature of the city, one of areas that Chandigarh can find a niche in is coming up with software to regulate vehicle parking —something that is set to be a big nuisance sooner than we expect. If any one of our home-grown techies can do it as a pilot project for the city (while the number of vehicles are still manageable), the system could be easily replicated across the country.

A method I have suggested previously is paying people for parking a little-far off but in open spaces and getting advertisers or the state to pick up the tab. How feasible is this? Only an analysis based on exact information and data mining is needed to answer this. Will somebody try please?

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