Business and IT Tie the Knot

Business and IT Tie the Knot

Will the increased adoption of Web 2.0 change your business model?

The term Web 2.0 can be defined in two ways. It can be defined as interactive websites that use the latest technologies to allow collaboration. It can also be defined as websites with user generated content (UGC). I think, is all UGC and has always been interactive. In terms of incorporating new technologies into our websites, we continue to do so pretty regularly. We are constantly upgrading our technology -- if it provides more benefits to the end-consumers.

Once people start collaborating in different ways, and different Internet applications are incorporated into the websites to enable such collaboration, more possibilities will open up. It can impact business but frankly I don't see much change to our business model, in next couple of years. However, over time the Internet space could change. If it does change, we will embrace it.

IT is the backbone of your business. How do you ensure uptime?

Ultimately, the kind of technology infrastructure and solutions that one desires starts with the clarity of one's objective. Our objective is clear: we want to be in the top-five percentile in terms of speed, current usage, performance, etcetera. Once you have defined that, then it is really a question of a few things: first, finding the right infrastructure partner is critical. Our partners have been around for six years now. Their services have been wonderful and have never let us down. Once you have such a partner, half the battle is won.

Second, you need to have the right processes and systems to upgrade, control and monitor your infrastructure. To have the right people for the job is key. The people you bring in to manage infrastructure at the top level is critical. The person who manages People Interactive's technology infrastructure has been here right from the beginning. So, he understands the intricacies of the organization and its technological needs.

As your business grows exponentially, how do you deal with scalability issues?

We saw this sort of sudden growth in the early days of the Internet. It was a time when you planned for about a lakh users and you saw five million. They crashed servers and choked bandwidth. We haven't seen that in last few years. As I said, if you have the right infrastructure partner and responsiveness is good, you can turn things around pretty quickly. We generally try to provide enough room to absorb surges in traffic. Over time, we have learnt which marketing or branding activities will lead to surges in traffic. We proactively plan for that. We like to start small and scale as we grow further. Our model for scalability is more incremental. I also believe that unless companies adopt a managed-service model, it becomes hard to manage surges.

How strategic is your CIO to your business?

The CIO plays a critical role for us. I may not rate it higher than the role of a CFO but would definitely treat it at par. We have been without a CFO since the beginning. Though we have a head of finance right now, there were a few years when we had done without a head of finance. But without a CTO, we would have fallen flat on our face.

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