Bangalore: The poor turnout of delegates and exhibitors at an event designed to showcase Bangalore as a software hub has caused some executives in the city’s information technology (IT) companies to question its continued relevance.
Bangalore IT.in, a state-government sponsored event, was launched in 1998 (when it was called Bangalore IT.com), when the city’s software exports were Rs2,000 crore; in 2006-07, Bangalore accounted for software exports worth Rs47,300 crore.
Lost relevance: The exhibition centre at the Bangalore IT.in event. Wipro, the country’s third-largest IT services provider based in Bangalore, stopped participating in the event over three years ago.
At its peak, the event used to attract around 300 companies, a third of which were foreign, and 40,000 delegates.
This year, organizers claimed around 200 companies were participating in the four-day event that ends Thursday, but on the opening day of the event, there were just around half that number of stalls.
The organizers also claim that they expect around 1,000 visitors every day.
“It seems to be more of real estate event with a sprinkling of one or two IT companies,” said Dhanukonda Rama, director of Toshiba Embedded Software India (Pvt.) Ltd, the local software unit of Japanese electronics company Toshiba Corp.
“It was better last year,” said Rama, who has set up a stall at the event. He added that the company decided to do this on a request from Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) the autonomous but state-owned body that is one of the event’s organizers.
The organisers blamed a change of venue and inclement weather for the low turnout at the event which began on 28 October.
“It (the lesser turnout) could be due to the distance (of the venue),” said Pradeep Gupta, chairman of Cyber Media (India) Ltd.
Cyber Media has organised the event with Karnataka’s Information Technology Department and STPI.
This year’s event is being held at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre, a convention centre on the city’s outskirts which is a good 90-minute drive away. Previous editions of the event were held at the centrally located Palace grounds, less than a 15-minute drive from the central business district.
“Some exhibitors from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu could not participate as their consignments were held up in traffic,” said M.N. Vidyashankar, Karnataka’s secretary for IT and biotechnology. “This year, the conference (speakers list) is the strongest ever,” he claimed.
Key speakers, according to a release issued by the organizers, included Kapil Dev Singh, country manager at IT research firm IDC; Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for commerce and industries; Rajiv Mody, chairman and CEO, Sasken; and K.Ganesh, founder & CEO, TutorVista.
“In the current format, the event has lost its relevance. It needs to reinvent (itself),” said Madan Padaki, chief executive officer of MeritTrac, a skills assessment company.
Wipro Ltd, India’s third largest IT service provider, which is based in Bangalore, stopped participating in the event over three years ago. “It served its purpose (of marketing the city), now it has outlived its utility,” said a Wipro spokesperson.
Bangalore has around 1,885 companies that together employ nearly 6.5 lakh people or a tenth of the city’s 6.5 million population.
Bangalore is home to two of India’s largest software exporters Infosys Technologies and Wipro.
Several multinational IT companies including International Business Machines Corp (IBM) and Accenture are also based in the city.