Day One At #watsummit

Panelist synopsis of day one at WATSummit, 2012

WAT Summit 2013
WAT Summit 2012

Day one at WAT Summit was an interesting mix starting with a keynote speech, a presentation and then four engaging panel discussions. If the first panel focussed on the harsh reality of the losses of E Commerce in India so was the the third panel of the day nodding it’s head that M Commerce has still a long way to go. If the digital media folks stressed on the fact that digital is the future then the last panel of the day debated on why shouldn’t we have premium content. I had a great time listening to the thoughts and questioning them too. Here is the summarized synopsis of day one’s panel discussions.

Panel 1:  E-commerce – The New Digital Frontier

The first panel of the day which was moderated by Muralikrishnan B– Country Manager, eBay India has also been the most trending topic since 2011. The discussion commenced with Murali stating that E Commerce really came into the limelight when MakeMyTrip filed an IPO of $100 million. Rahul Narvekar– Cofounder & Director Brand sourcing at Fashion and you, joined the discussion by demystifying the myth that there is no demand from Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in India. The fact was that there is a huge demand and especially from the non-metros, as Fashion and You found out that they did more sales in these cities. To cite an exciting example, the first big sale at Fashion and you came from Bubaneshwar for a Tag Heur watch. Siddharth Puri – Business Head, Tyroo Direct nodded in agreement and stressed on the requirement for in-depth product research as demand is indeed from small cities. He further added that E Commerce can flourish if it works upon the existing inefficiencies in the offline retail segment. To add to this, Kashyap Deorah –  President, emphasized that in order to have a long term sustainability in the E Commerce business, more disruptive ideas would be required to save the industry as currently it is in losses.

Another key discussion happened around the E Commerce hype. Murali asked the panel that with the sprouting of new E Commerce sites and funding stories being heard every now and then, are we heading to a hype? Siddharth believed that as the market matures, we will see more segmentation in the E Commerce business.  Adding to this, Kashyap informed us that it is only 7% in the organized retail that is making losses. Rahul stated that this could change if they could create  more consumer awareness particularly in the non-metros. Further  the panel  also touched upon the future of E Commerce and the rapid funding  to which Kashyap shared a wonderful thought – Funding is required for innovation to happen.

A key takeaway for me was the acceptance by the panelists that despite being a loss making industry, the market is evolving.

Panel 2:  Increase in digital media pie & budgets allocated

From E Commerce, we shifted gears to how much the digital media pie has increased and what kind of budgets are marketers expecting in 2012. As the moderator Rammohan Sundaram – Founder, CEO & MD, NetworkPlay Media was caught up in the Delhi fog, so Rajiv took off by placing a question before the panel – What were the recent excitements in digital media in 2011? The panel consisting of Vikas Tandon – MD, Indigo Consulting, Karan Gupta – MD, Affinity, Debadutta Upadhyaya – VP, APAC Vdopia Inc. and Madan Sanglikar – CEO, AD2C highlighted some interesting trends such as increase in adoption of digital media, agencies allocating yearly budgets, etc. However, Madan felt that 2011 was disappointing even though it was the world cup year for India. By then, Rammohan had joined in and shared some of his observations of 2011. He then took the discussion further asking panelists about their thoughts on the video, mobile markets. Debadutta believed that markets for mobile, video and social will have a huge impact in 2012.

Ram further involved Karan in a discussion around contextual ads and how they are competing with Google.  Karan stated that contextual ads will evolve to be more relevant to the content. He also added that it will drive more engagement and soon we will have users able to select the ads. Rammohan who is  positive about  4G but at the same time also questioned the large media spends. He summed up the panel stating that mobile, video and social would be driving the digital media industry in 2012.

Panel 3: M Commerce in India

Post lunch we began with the third panel of the day which was regarding mobile commerce and was moderated by Beerud Sheth – Co Founder & CEO, SMS Gupshup. The panel consisted of Ajay Adiseshann – Founder & MD, Paymate, Neel Chowdhury – VP & CMO, Obopay Inc. and Badri Sanjeevi – COO, Mauj Mobile. Beerud started the discussion by making us aware of the current mobile scenario in India. He shared that although mobile is the future, the penetration of smartphones is alarmingly less. The panel also discussed about the present trends of mobile commerce which is mainly centered around recharge and entertainment. Despite the sad situation, Neel believes that in a few years from now, we would be using mobile not just as a communication device but a lot more. But for this to happen, users need to be educated about the benefits of M Commerce.

So definitely, mobile is the future but the real impact will happen when there is a behavioral change in users.

Panel 4: Content is King but why is it free?

The last panel and also the most awaited panel of the day resolved to find why content is free even though it is king. Rajiv moderated the panel himself and since this topic is close to our heart, we have blogged about it in a separate post here.

That was day one at WAT Summit 2012. I have listed my key takeaways, do share some of yours too.