10. März 13

Don´t judge a book by its cover – behind the scenes of IT business

We set out at 19:00 hours in complete darkness, a small group of European consultants to discover the legendary Indian IT-business. Traffic, as always, seems to be noxiously noisy and dangerously dense. The address we are heading for is hard to find, even for our experienced taxi driver. We are in search of our f’s web learning services provider. By coincidence, as we had found out before our departure, the sales division of that enterprise is located in Hyderabad, the second destination on our Learning Journey path. A telephone call later we were invited and decided to pay a brief visit.

We expect a modern high-tech tower, as the provider’s products are right on the “cutting edge“ of innovation. When we finally arrive, reality strikes hard and fast: The company is situated in a cluttered five-story office building, which must have seen better times before. Upon entering the office at first glimpse it has the appeal of a crowded garage with nothing charming to us in contrast to other site visits: Technical devices dangling from walls without concern for the stability of cables and plugs, the workspaces for 15 employees per shift looking much too narrow by European standards, and the seats of the meeting room either covered by a layer of dust or by what seems to be plastic wrapping foil.

But on the other hand, there are these people: Everyone in a good mood and at an average age of 25 years. We are invited to a Pepsi and the head of sales tells us their typical Indian entrepreneurial short story:

• The CEO studied in the U.S. and began his career working in a virtual space project. He founded his company in 2004, providing a platform for online-seminars, web conferences, and user forums.

• The business grew rapidly, now there are more than 200,000 web teachers, mostly from universities, addressing 3 million users around the globe, and 40% of the revenues are coming from North America.

Their strategy is very simple: Keep the users on board, listen to their expectations and learn from their feedback. Make a challenging growth plan and implement your strategy according to flexible 100-day planning. After that, look at the next 100 days.

At the end of the day we have learned about their three main drivers of success:
(1) Check and develop the skills of your staff very thoroughly: “The first 50 employees cannot be diluted”.
(2) Implement an efficient monitoring dashboard for your strategic targets and develop the organizational skill to refer to that system, and above all:
(3) Preserve your eagerness to learn, especially from your customers.

We are also told, somewhat by the way, that the company recently entered a contract with a new investor from Europe, a well-known and large media group. And some other investors are waiting to join in.
So, then we know that we really are behind the scenes of the famous Indian innovation promise. And there is one other learning: Don´t judge a book by its cover!

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