Today whole day I spent at Asansol and Durgapur IT Parks. There are two phases in Durgapur IT Park, one that has just come up recently in the same compound is called Durgapur IT Park Phase II. The Asansol IT Park also came up recently, in 2016.
Both parks are well maintained, clean, with exterior landscaping and paved paths. Spaces are given on rent in three categories: Plug-n-Play AC, bare room AC and non-AC. spaces Rates for each category are adjusted to locations and quite reasonable : for Asansol, for instance, it is Rs 17 per sq ft per month (Plug-n-Play AC). Services like security, housekeeping are provided by Webel out of service portion of rent. The Plug-n-Play AC category is more in demand as it is difficult for entrepreneurs to move in furniture etc and take out while leaving. There are often quick turnarounds, I found. The cost factor is important: the max number of seats in one room appears to be a critical component and rather than the work stations with three side half partitions, a classroom arrangement is also being tried out by some.
Why do people come to work there? Why not work from one's house with a laptop and a data card, I asked someone. Because Financing from banks require trade licence and other papers. Because one needs to have an office to interact with customers and clients. Because group work is not possible at home. Because conferences and meetings are needed Mostly because of a sense of safety and security and scaling up requirements; after all, Bill Gates and Larry Page also had to move out of their garages, someone quipped to me.
I was curious to know what happens in these modules. At the Durgapur IT Park, one group is doing a niche work, dealing with end-to-end solutions for server storage for US clients. Another is developing Android and iOS Apps as well as search engine optimization on Google platform. One group is working on Financial Services. A large group is dealing with customer voice help services for whole of Eastern India. At Asansol, one group is doing software development, one is doing a fantastic job using maths based algorithms like Fibonacci series to do predictive analytics. Was the media-reported global IT downturn a concern for you, I asked someone. If the output is a complete product - as distinct from doing a bit of process as BPO in a long assembly line - there is no issue, he said.
I spoke to DM Paschim Burdwan, MD WBTC, CEO ADDA for some help that the IT employees wanted. But the sense that I got was that these Tier II cities need encouragement and recognition more than anything else, a hand holding and confidence building would go a long way, because though there is talent, often there is a sense of isolation, a lack of networking opportunities. The IT Parks strives to break these walls (though there is intense secrecy among the units) but perhaps a critical mass needs to be formed around the IT Park in the town. Reaching out to individual entrepreneurs and young graduates in a systematic manner is a challenge that has to be met.