Over a year back I had written a post postulating that Indian IT clients are victims of the Bangalore bug. It was generally received positively. A couple of commenters had suggested two sites that could pe possible exceptions to the rule.
Of these, Cleartrip†is the better candidate for an exception to the rule. Its usability is excellent and ever since I have been introduced to it, it has become my preferred choice for booking all travel tickets. But is it really an exception? To figure this out, we must understand how the problem comes about in the first place. I could summarize my post by saying that Indian IT clients suffer from the Bangalore Bug in that they do not get† all these three factors for success at one place:
- Technical Skills
- Business Skills
Airtel. If you want to register with Airtel to pay their bills, these are the steps you need to follow:
- Go to www.airtel.in
- Find the small box that says “My account” and the smaller link that says “register”.
- It will show you a page that asks for a user id, Airtel number, account number and a captcha. You can enter any valid looking phone number there and any junk you want into the account number. These are not validated. Only the captcha is validated.
- Once you successfully go past the captcha… a PDF form is displayed. You are supposed to take a printout of that form, fill in all the details by hand, sign it (with signature proof, address proof etc.) and drop it off at an Airtel relationship centre. No, none of the details that you entered in step 3 gets pre-filled into the form.
Why step 3 exists is a mystery to me. Just another example of the phenomenon I talked of here.
Why do Indian websites suck so badly compared to American websites? Not just websites – it is rare to find a software targeted at Indian users that do not suck.
When a country is famous for its exports of “X”, you’d expect that the place to visit to pick up the best and cheapest samples of X is that country. Unfortunately, whether or not you are right in your expectation depends on the nature of X. If X is an agricultural commodity, you may be wrong, because the best examples of X might get exported, leaving behind export-reject stuff. If† X is a manufactured product, you’d probably be right, because there is generally less variation in manufactured products than in products from the farm. Any improvement in quality can be quicky applied across the board, resulting in benefits for all users, including domestic ones.
IT is of course a service. Services vary quite a bit in quality. In this regard, it is more like an agricultural commodity than like a manufactured product. It is interesting to dig a bit into why IT products targeted at India turn out to be of poor quality.