Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Smart Skills
Log on to opportunities
Usha Albuquerque

The Internet is a strong contender for our time and attention. Websites such as YouTube, Facebook, Orkut and many others have thousands of users hooked for hours on end. And while parents may monitor and teachers complain, we have to acknowledge that the Internet is creating hundreds of jobs and thousands of new business opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

It is also providing avenues to existing companies to take their existing businesses to the Internet. In other words, every company today, in some form or the other, feels the need to be visible "on the Net", integrating its business with the web for greater marketing reach and competitiveness.

As a result, there are hundreds of different jobs servicing the viewers on the Internet with a range of services. Today, as the Internet enables businesses to bring together customers, vendors and suppliers in ways never before possible, companies are using its reach to improve customer service, get more results from limited resources, and actually sell a range of products and services. The growing base of Internet users in India is giving rise to lots of opportunities in e-business.

Where the jobs are

In fact, Internet business has grown so large that it includes business-to-business transactions and, online retail, and the digitisation of the banking and financial industry. And as predictions go, there are huge market opportunities to be tapped.

There are a large number of jobs in this field, including with companies that provide the technology and hardware systems for supporting the internet services, as well as the internet services, the content providers, as well as marketing and management of the websites.

Infrastructure Providers: Companies like Cisco Systems, Nortel, Sun Microsystems, etc. come under this category which are selling systems, cables and other equipment for building the infrastructure for the Internet economy.

Service Providers: This includes ISPs (Internet service providers), ASPs (application service providers), technology consultants, web design firms, etc.

Content /Websites: Websites which largely provide content in the form of news, feature articles, columns etc. Some widely visited Indian content sites include, and, etc.

Initially portals (the surfer’s "door to the Internet.") began as search engines or searchable directories on the web (, yahoo, etc. But as the content on the Net grew astronomically, several large websites catering to specific segments of users came up. There are also paid subscription sites, which normally let you access parts for free and several in-depth areas for a subscription fee.

Transaction sites are websites which allow the users to buy or sell goods and services online so that a monetary transaction is involved. These can be B2B: Business-to-Business, which caters to business transactions between companies or organizations and consists of the outsourcing and procurement for a typical business. Others can be B2C, business-to-consumer site which is a transaction site that caters to the individual consumer, such as,,,

A relatively new and less explored category is the C2C, consumers to other consumers online, such as auction sites, which are like online classifieds ads, and include the matrimonial sites, which have increased in number.

In recent years, the chat sites have gained in popularity and are excellent vehicles for companies doing business to advertise their products and services.

Work that clicks

This huge e-world of opportunity requires a range of different talents — Web designers, Java programmers, online editors, Internet consultants, to name a few.

The technical aspects of an Internet are handled by those who understand the different components that go into setting up a website or portal. This includes knowledge about which hosting company to choose, what server technology to deploy, how to look at site architecture, navigation and design, etc.

Much of the behind-the-scenes work is handled by people hunched over computers, writing code for thousands of applications. The programming for the internet is mainly in the areas of back-end or server-level programming, front-end programming, and middleware or programming to link the two. The skills required include C++, Java, HTML/XML, CGI-bin scripting, Active Server Pages etc.

There are a number of e-commerce courses like IBM’s Net.Commerce, that can train e-commerce professionals, and many web training institutes where such courses are available.

Being content

In content development there are broadly two areas:

Writing/editing: There is a demand for web writers and editors who can coax the surfer into buying something through catchy copy about the product on the website. They are responsible for the content put onto the pages, which may need to be edited and proofread, and checked for accuracy, and so work with specialists on the subject. Sometimes webmasters may be required to receive and answer email messages, keep track on the numbers of visitors to the site. As most web sites, like physical newspapers have information that changes,  or gets updated, content writers have the responsibility of maintaining and remodeling the pages and working out the linkages from page to page. Content-driven sites like newspapers and other information providers, offer great opportunities for those with good writing and editing skills.

Web design: A graphic designer who can build and do up the display so that buyers get attracted and feel the urge to buy. Attracting the maximum number of "eye-balls" to the sites is the responsibility of the web designer. Web designers ensure that the web pages are visually appealing, well-organised, easy to navigate and created to attract maximum attention. With the use of graphics, photographs, colours, different fonts and writing styles they bring an aesthetic look to the information pasted on the web pages.

Management: As any other organisation, an Internet site requires management skills that can build an organisation and take key management decisions. Many Internet companies take on management graduates who are knowledgeable about the net-com business, and e-commerce fundamentals, security issues, electronic data interchange, etc. They must also be able to set up, develop and handle the commercial aspects of the job. Those with marketing expertise are responsible for bringing in advertisers and sponsors for the site and also work on increasing the traffic to the site.

This is the information era, and the Internet with its instant connectivity provides a fantastic platform for any young techie with ideas. The range of services that are now being provided through the internet - whether real estate deals, matrimonial and friendship sites, financial consulting, income tax accounting, online astrology, blogs and chat rooms, and the many new ways of reaching out to millions of viewers. A recent report of two brothers putting up a scrabble game site, is an indication of the huge opportunities in the virtual world.

According to a Businessworld estimate, about 60,000 new jobs will be created for the Internet world alone in the next two years. Other estimates put the figure much higher. There may be different estimates, but there is optimist consensus that the Internet is the way to go for those with ideas and the requisite skills in writing, researching, Web designing, programming, etc.

So what are you waiting for, just log in!

The writer is a noted career expert