After e-mail, it is online consulting for Sabeer Bhatia

By : |December 28, 2000 0

NEW DELHI: The founder of Hotmail, Sabeer Bhatia, has drawn up another online
venture with well-defined revenue streams. This time he plans to offer IT
consultancy online, based on the concept of knowledge arbitrage. "The
collective intellect of the Internet is far greater than the intellect of an
individual," says Bhatia. Therefore, this initiative is aimed at helping
fellow developers who encounter problems that could be easily solved through
collaboration. At the same time, it will allow engineers and IT professionals to
monetize their expertise by participating in the process.

The process is really quite simple. Companies that want to enroll for the
services have to register online with the site and pay a flat subscription fee
on a monthly basis and get unlimited queries answered online. The company, Arzoo,
in turn has a panel of experts to whom the query is flashed depending on their
domain expertise. The experts bid for the solution and the moderators at Arzoo
review the accuracy of the incoming answers before sending them back to the
clients.

Each question is personally handled by an Arzoo site moderator and the
moderators carry the onus for the result of the answers. Questions can be
submitted in any of these six categories: databases and tools languages,
networking, operating systems, Web scripting and programming and Web appliance
servers and API.

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The initiative is solely targeted at corporate clients. The panel of experts
could be both working professionals and freelancers who can enroll with the
Arzoo panel of experts after meeting the requisite qualifications. Refuting
possibilities that contributing to Arzoo could bring in legal implications since
a lot of working professionals are privy to corporate secrets, Bhatia replied
that the endeavor would be to discourage experts from indulging in such
activities. "It is only a means of earning some extra income during your
free time. And what is the harm, since it is your knowledge base that you are
capitalizing to earn in dollars?" Supporting his argument, Bhatia says that
studies show that most online purchases have been made from the office so such
participation is not uncommon. Besides, experts bid for queries with which they
are familiar and spend an average of half an hour on each query.

Arzoo’s flat subscription fees are part of an indemnity insurance pricing
structure wherein Arzoo will adjust the client’s fees based on the amount of
usage they demonstrate over time. By handling the experts’ bid online, Arzoo can
keep its costs low and offer the best pricing to clients.

Currently, it has a panel of 2,200 experts, of which 20-30 per cent are from
India. It already has two Fortune 500 companies and four small companies
enlisted as its clients.

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