The team looked at how novel an idea was, how exclusive it was.
It was a lovely November afternoon in Bengaluru, not one meant to be spent indoors. But with the Sixth Express IT Awards around the corner, there was no time to lose.
So, chairman Mohandas Pai and the other members of the jury settled down, with some strong coffee, to decide who the winners of the contest were — other jury members were Sharad Sharma, former R&D head at Yahoo! and co-founder iSPIRT; Ravi Gururaj, chairman, Nasscom Product Council, and technology consultant Sid Pai who founded Siana Capital.
Although the list of 400 plus entries had been whittled down to just 50 or so by knowledge partner PwC, the task was nonetheless challenging. While the key parameters used to judge the entries may have been similar for most categories — business impact, scalability, robustness, societal impact, market potential — it was not always easy to decide which solution or product really stood out. In each of the 50+ entries that were discussed, a PwC team was on standby, in different parts of the country, to give a brief presentation and to answer the jury’s queries.
The team looked at how novel an idea was, how exclusive it was. In categories such as analytics, for instance, they believed it was important to also gauge how easily the product or service could be deployed. The jury also went into how the service is performing currently and tried to assess whether it has a future. How would it evolve in the next four or five years? Would the base product stay strong enough and evolve in the manner needed? After all, any product or service must be amenable to continuous improvements.
For a category like Cloud Solutions, they tried to evaluate how quickly and smoothly the transition from physical to cloud could take place using the solutions on offer, and how inter-operable it was. The potential ease of scalability was a big factor where the products and services in the mobility category were concerned, as was market potential. With a considerable part of Indians still using feature phones, one of the factors considered was whether the solution could be used across both smart- and dumb- phones.
In the EGov category, which saw participation by a large number of state governments, the robustness of the solution and level of innovation were critical, as also the number of services that were being offered on the app.
In the case of fintech, the jury also examined whether the solutions offered worked across both B2B and B2C transactions. In the case of Product of the Year, the ability of the innovator to deliver on continuous improvements was discussed, as also whether the product had been commissioned or whether it was just in the beta stage.
And, while selecting StartUp of the Year, the key factor was, not just whether the solution being offered was novel and innovative, but whether the solution provided had potentially large multiplier as well as societal impact. At the end of the day everyone agreed it had been time