M. A. Sathya Prasad, President, Association of Information Technology (AIT), in a chat with VARINDIA, talks about how his Association has taken up the challenge of the ongoing tussle with online traders and the things AIT has on its agenda to address the current issues
With the current member strength of 600, the Association of Information Technology (AIT), Bengaluru has come a long way working for the welfare of the Channel community of Bengaluru, since 1997. It aims at fostering cooperation amongst members for healthy growth of the Information Technology industry. The Association is run by an 11-member Committee headed by its President along with a Secretary, Joint Secretary, Vice-President, Treasurer and 6 Executive Members. This Committee is elected for a period of two years. The total strength of the Association is 600, out of which 300 are lifetime members. To become a lifetime member, a person has to pay a one-time membership fee of Rs.12,500. At the same time, the member has to fulfil certain conditions like duration of his business, two references from the existing members, etc.
The Association majorly tries to meet the challenges faced by its members. It forms Special Interest Groups on issues concerning the industry for making representations towards formulation of policies, regulations, including commercial aspects, taxes etc. to the Government, vendors, customers, etc. It also conducts technical and skill development workshops, entertainment and networking sessions.
Other challenges faced by the channel include warranty issues, service support, payment problems, etc from the vendors. If there is lack of vendor support for the channel community, AIT plays a major role in settling it. Another important issue is payment. If any member has any payment issue with national distributors, regional distributors, etc, the Association tries to mediate and find an amicable solution. AIT also strongly recommends to its members to use licensed software and take a united stand against piracy. It also encourages members for adopting fair practices and avoid doing unethical business.
Role of AIT in containing online challenge
The main objective of the Association, at the moment, is to meet the challenge faced by its members from online e-tailers. Most of the members are badly affected directly or indirectly in terms of sales, profitability and losing customer confidence. “This problem can only be addressed by vendors, as channel is selling their products and it is their duty to see that Channel and online traders are at a level-playing field. The vendors have funds and they can spend it to promote the brick-and-mortar Channel community and preventing it from getting severely affected. Already, many members have been affected and have gone out of business. If it continues, it will affect other members also,” says M. A. Sathya Prasad, President – AIT.
In this context, the main concern of the Association is to request vendors to find a solution as both the Channel and online traders ultimately are offering their products and they have the authority to dictate terms either to the online or offline traders. The Association is already playing a major part in educating end-users through social media. It also trying to spread knowledge about advantages of buying from brick-and-motor channel other than online. The Association educates end-users about service support facility, touch-and-feel experience, easy exchange facility when they buy from the channel.
Opportunities for the members
Talking of opportunities, the Association helps in fostering bonding and unity among its members with a feeling of belonging to help each other in business as well as other matters. It also offers scholarships to children of the members of the Association. In every two months, AIT conducts fellowship meets where all members get together and discuss issues that need to be addressed by the Association. “We organize fellowships for our members which are theme-based and it helps members to equip themselves to face the current challenges. It provides a common platform for all companies associated with the IT industry in the state of Karnataka to address issues at the local level. It also provides a platform to interact with each other through regular meetings which, in turn, may help in establishing the ground rules that should lead to a healthier and more productive business environment,” the president explains.
AIT aims to foster cooperation amongst its members for healthy growth of the Information Technology industry and also promote espirit-de-corps amongst members of the Association. It also carries out activities so that the dividends of business reach the society at large. A proposal to buy a property for the Association to build its own office is also under consideration.