Might and merit

India has opened its doors to the world and with foreign organisations flocking to the country; outsourcing tasks, undertaking research and development activities or setting up remote services. Opportunities in the audiovisual market have rapidly expanded with the country’s growth.

In 1947 India gained independence from British rule. Since then the vast country has developed rapidly; fiercely defending its democracy, territory and constitution. Fiscal reforms that started in 1991 pushed India to the forefront of the global stage and made the country the powerhouse it is today in terms of trade and economy. The liberal reforms opened up the country to international trade and investment, attracting companies from around the world to carry out business with Indian firms and set-up bases in the South Asian country.

Kaushik Mukhopadhyay, CEO of Integrated Audio Visual (IAV) India – a Bangalore headquartered integrator, says foreign companies coming into the country have prompted investment in audiovisual equipment. “When companies come to India to potentially outsource jobs they see maybe four of five businesses,” says Mukhopadhyay. “These Indian businesses need to showcase their might and their merit. They want to make a good and lasting impression – this is the first impression for prospective clients. So they build what is known as a customer briefing centre so the foreign company coming into the country can see the local company’s facilities and what they are capable of doing.

“These centres equate to a lot of business for us,” continues Mukhopadhyay. “The equipment we install in these centres is generally of a collaborative nature which means they will usually connect this facility with others that might exist within the company. The customer will also be offered a virtual walkthrough; this would typically consist of a corporate video. That experience will largely depend on how much the client is willing to pay. Sometimes they use video-walls with high resolution images, we’ve even had clients opting for 3D displays to create an immersive experience.”

Many firms are also moving network monitoring operations out to India according to Mukhopadhyay. “A lot of companies in Europe have their network monitoring operation in India, each company will monitor the internal network operation of their company while sitting in India. These monitoring operations need a network operating centre which typically has to have large screens and will monitor the networks continuously.”

IAV India has been involved in many corporate installations of this type in the five years it has operated in the country. Mukhopadhyay says they make up a large part of his company’s operations in recent months as the economic slowdown has the hotel industry.

However, Mukhopadhyay says the global economic problems have had a positive trend for the audiovisual industry in India. “Travel budgets have been cut,” he says. “Now, people are turning to video conferencing type products. So projects involving meeting, training and learning are now all using video and audio conferencing as a medium and a tool. This has resulted in greatly increased business for us.”

Mukhopadhyay says he’s noticed a reduction in not just the hospitality business but in government spending too. However, he argues this isn’t down to any cut in government operations. “There’s been a temporary slowdown around the election. Not because there is any cut in budget but the sheer logistics in conducting an election is so large that it inconveniences the government nationally and puts everything on standstill.”

India is the seventh largest country by area and the second most populous country in the world. To conduct a democratic and fair election in a country with a population of more than one billion people is no mean feat therefore it’s rather unsurprising that the government had its hands full for a few months.

According to Mukhopadhyay India represents a great market in terms of the adoption of audiovisual technologies. “I think there are a few advantages in India – people are technically quite advanced and understand the technology and if there is a requirement [for audiovisual equipment] they don’t mind spending the money. Acceptance is not a problem providing they have the right budgets.

“Also,” he continues, “we have an advantage because we have been adapting and in certain ways have ‘leapfrogged’ technology. VHS, for example, never happened in India because we skipped the technology. We have a high level of understanding, very strong research and development operations and a very high intellect level. This helps when you are selling a technology based product.”

This strength in research and development activities has attracted manufacturers to the country. “They [manufacturers] would probably do their manufacturing in a country like China and their research and development in a country like India because the intellect for that kind of thing is better in India. It helps us if manufacturers move their research and development over here. If, for example Samsung or Barco have local operations in India, whether through research and development or manufacturing, it gives our customer comfort. It gives them comfort to know the manufacturers of the products we’re installing in their premises are operating locally.”

However, despite the weight of intellect in India Mukhopadhyay says it’s hard to find good, well trained employees. “We have some very long standing employees in our company with maybe eight to ten years of pure hardcore audiovisual and integration experience,” he says. “But it’s not easy to find good employees as India is not a very mature market – so for trained people it’s extremely difficult. One of our Asia policies is to find fresh employees and train them. And we also repeat that process with existing employees to brush up their knowledge and keep them up to date with the latest developments in the industry. It’s not easy to find those people though. We have a very, very low turnover and people are generally happy here. We take people who have been educated in India but we are usually very choosy and careful about these things.”

India’s recent move to a market based system and its attractiveness to foreign investors has made it one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Interestingly, these advancements have made a huge impact on the audiovisual industry as companies vie with each other to project a professional and capable impression on potential clients. The economic slump may have made its impact felt in the hospitality sector but as corporate operations continue to thrive audiovisual equipment is still very much in demand.

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