Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bangalore will emerge as a major corporate destination…’

Bangalore will emerge as a major corporate destination…’
The city is emerging as a commercial hotspot in the region. People from all over the country come here looking for opportunity. Harish Bijoor, brand strategy expert, shares his thoughts on what Brand Bangalore is all about, in this chat with Sangeeta Cavale Radhakrishna

What kind of impact would the international airport have on Brand Bangalore?
I believe the new Bengaluru International Airport gives the city of Bengaluru a visiting card that proudly states the arrival of a happening city that has much to offer India and to the world at large. The new airport facility with its ease of use, its up-dated technology and its promise of a seamless travel experience, complements the many other facilities that have fallen into place in air travel in India. Almost every airline has bent over backwards offering the best of seamless air travel experience. Now, with the arrival of this swanky new facility in Bangalore (and of course the updated facilities at Hyderabad and Mumbai), yet another link in creating that complete travel experience of high quality is almost here. In many ways this airport will become the bench-mark for the definition of easy travel and convenience to all the other projects that have the potential of emerging once this is up and running.
The impact of this swanky new facility on Brand Bengaluru is inestimable. Across the profile of 12 million plus travellers in the immediate short term, and across a spectrum of possibility of a 25 percent growth in terms of number of users every year, the airport spells good news.
What impact will Brand Bangalore have on the world map as an IT hub?
If you map the travel-in and travel-out profile of the international visitor to the city, business traffic far out-weighs tourist traffic. If you dig deeper at the numbers and segregate business travellers into and out of the city, you will find the IT, ITeS, biotech and knowledge sectors of the economy dominating.
The IT traveller is the bulwark of all travel into and out of this city. The new airport will help continue and accentuate the IT-dominated image of the city. The 40 billion dollar IT exports industry owes a substantial chunk of its input and output to Bangalore city.
Will Bangalore emerge as a bigger corporate destination?
Yes it will. Bangalore today enjoys an image as an international corporate destination due to its IT industry. But there is more to Bangalore. Corporate activity out of the city will be all about several industries with an export of products and services bias.
Biotech is one such field. Apart from ITES, retail, and entertainment (particularly the animation industry), medical tourism will be big from here as well. From dental tourism to cosmetic surgery to real true blue surgery of the heart and brain kind, to replacement surgery even, of the knee and hip kind.
Bangalore will emerge as a major corporate destination. The climate has helped. The culture of the people has helped too. Add to it the educational belt that surrounds this city, spread out in centres close to the city such as Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, Dharwad, and indeed every other educational hub of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, just across seamless borders.
What will the Metro Rail Project do for the city?
'Namma Metro' will add to the public transport the city has been raising for decades now. Phase I of the project itself provides for connectivity that is impressive. Namma Metro will knit the city and bring in a sensible culture of using public transport in the city. Everyone wants their own set of wheels. Nobody wants to use public transport, simply because of the inconvenience, unreliability and issue of status. This causes the mess on our roads.
Namma Metro holds the potential of reversing the situation. If the Metro can get those who drive the swanky cars at a snail's pace on Bangalore roads onto a faster and more convenient mode of travel called the Metro, the task has been successful.
The solution to tackling the traffic chaos of Bangalore city is not in widening our roads and laying them one over the other in layers of flyovers. When you put up a wide new road, it works well for six months. And then, the road gets filled with more and more vehicles. The only solution lies in reducing the number of private wheels on the roads and increasing the public wheels. The Metro offers one such solution.
Will the city grow as an investment destination?
Most certainly yes for all the reasons I have stated. The investment climate in Karnataka is booming. Retail is flourishing, so much so that all outlets of the retail world are starting their India operations first in Bangalore. Corporate offices want to locate here. The employee market is hot. Employees from all over India want to stamp a stint in Bangalore on their resumes.
Today, Brand Bengaluru is a slick city with a slick and efficient work ethos and practice. This is a happening place to be in.
Do you see Bangalore emerging as a global commercial hub?
This is possible. We need to improve our infrastructure in a major manner before this happens. We are competing with Beijing, Shanghai and Dubai on this count.


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