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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sensible Perspective On Housing

With everyone talking about the housing crash and its likely effects, the scene in general tends to be less optimistic. This is a key topic that get discussed in the corriodors of my meet in Seoul today. (More interesting things got discussed inside the room – more on that later). James Surowiecki thinks that owning an house in the US is not such a bad proposition at all and suggests that this pricing movements will hurt people who were fooled into reckless speculation by assurances that investing in houses offered risk-free rewards. For most people, however, a decline in prices needn’t be so painful. If you’re planning to sell your home and buy another one, an over-all decline in housing prices leaves you no poorer than before. And, if you’re staying in your home, a drop in value can actually make things easier by lowering property taxes and insurance costs. Look at the bright side: at least you’ve got a roof over your head. The lesson we’re supposed to take from this is that a home remains as solid and safe an investment as ever despite developments like these.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Social Networks & Innovation Management

Am in Seoul today and an invited speaker at the Korean Innovation & Architectural conference in Seoul. This event hosted by The Korea Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) in conjunction with all major IT bodies in Korea is the premier event of its kind in the region(That's what my friends and colleagues tell me). Seoul is glittering - I keep coming here almost every quarter and go back admiring the greatness of the Koreans in building all these in less than 3/4 decades. Bravo. Seoul is the most advanced city in the world -in using technology(may be competing with Tokyo on this), it is a marvel to see the way they have integrated technology to their daily lives. In Korea, the academic -industry linkage is very tightly woven and surprisingly, the respect the academics enjoy with the global Korean majors are very high. It has to be seen to be believed and in all major initiatives industry ensures that the acads take the lead and hence the constituition of the conference as it remains. Am hardly the guy to talk to academics(no disrespect meant), but am more comfortable with corporate settings where the pace and velocity are very different. The focus of my presentation is on the use of social networks, in particular for the research/advancements on the process of innovation.

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Saugatuck On Adoption Of IT Utility Inside Enterprises

In less than four years, 60% of enteprises are expected to be engaged in various phases of IT virtualization. The IT Utility, the virtual reality of utility computing is making serious inroads into the mind share and in some cases the wallet share of the CIO's. By definition, the reach of this framework spans from servers, storage, client, networks with facilities for provisioning and dynamically allocating paths and resources that come into interplay.

The true value of an IT utility is its agility and flexibility and yet getting that done in an economical and timely manner is a hard task for even the most forward looking enterprise in the world. The challenges in embracing virtualization solutions are many and these get compounded by the fact that like a scholarly study, the more you dive into it, the results begin to show in a progressive way with most of the benefits show up late in the implementation cycle. This process of migration for a large enterprise may take several months and in some cases years to get completed. For such a daunting task, there are not many well defined approaches sans the one made available by vendors - which are intrinsically more focussed on parts of the IT utility and not the whole infrastructure. This makes it look that the path towards enterprse virtualization may look more like an art or skill while it needs to be a wholistic approached solidified with a proven apporoach. Saugatech's just released report titled, "The IT Utility: Journey to a virtual reality" fills that void perfectly.

The report correctly identifies that the virtualisation journey would have to be managed at various phases with varying emphasis and brings in a perspective about the metrics and addressing security concerns. Saugatech' s position is that systems management in an IT utility environment is, in fact, the single largest support and management problem to be faced in establishing and maintaining an IT Utility - the insightful report points out that problems can satart from planning , implementation, change management and attitude towards shared resources. It comes with an excellent set of recommendations for users, vendors and service providers. Detailed discussions about the challenges and inhibitors in adopting IT Utility, the relationship between IT Utility & Grid computing, the role of SaaS in IT Utility, the impact of open source given its success in the infrastructure space, make this a very rich and absorbing report to read. After all virtualization may prove to be amongst the best return providers on CIOs investment - given that this is directed at the sunk investment inside enteprises and can potentially unlock quite a lot of value from these. With virtualization becoming a key theme in every enterprise, this report is a must read and in fact a good reference along the journey for CIO's ,Business executives, vendors & service providers..

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Powerful Message

Just landed in IBM Homepage. What a powerful message!! Read this wonderful series on how to organize one's digital life.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Mind Over Matter : Scott Adams hacks his brain to restore his speech

The fabled Dilbert creator Scott Adams lost the ability to speak several months ago owing to Spasmodic Dysphonia. The doctor’s viewpoint – it is likely that he would never regain the ability to speak. Adams now reports that owing to his belief and practice, he is able to speak again.( As the Wikipedia entry explains - spasmodic dysphonia was once thought to be psychogenic, that is, originating in the affected person's mind rather than from a physical cause. While psychogenic forms of spasmodic dysphonia exist, research has revealed increasing evidence that most cases of spasmodic dysphonia are in fact neurogenic or having to do with the nervous system (brain and nerves)).

In his own words, Adams describes :Just because no one has ever gotten better from Spasmodic Dysphonia before doesn’t mean I can’t be the first. So every day for months and months I tried new tricks to regain my voice. I visualized speaking correctly and repeatedly told myself I could (affirmations). I used self hypnosis. I used voice therapy exercises. I spoke in higher pitches, or changing pitches. I observed when my voice worked best and when it was worst and looked for patterns. I tried speaking in foreign accents. I tried “singing” some words that were especially hard.
The day before yesterday, while helping on a homework assignment, I noticed I could speak perfectly in rhyme. Rhyme was a context I hadn’t considered. A poem isn’t singing and it isn’t regular talking. But for some reason the context is just different enough from normal speech that my brain handled it fine.
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
Jack jumped over the candlestick.
I repeated it dozens of times, partly because I could. It was effortless, even though it was similar to regular speech. I enjoyed repeating it, hearing the sound of my own voice working almost flawlessly. I longed for that sound, and the memory of normal speech. Perhaps the rhyme took me back to my own childhood too. Or maybe it’s just plain catchy. I enjoyed repeating it more than I should have. Then something happened.
My brain remapped.
My speech returned.
Not 100%, but close, like a car starting up on a cold winter night. And so I talked that night. A lot. And all the next day. A few times I felt my voice slipping away, so I repeated the nursery rhyme and tuned it back in. By the following night my voice was almost completely normal. Moving story. Again a case of mind over matter. Wishing Mr. Adams a lively and lifelong lasting voice

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Kanbay Gets Acquired By CapGemini

The rumour comes true – for sometime, it was doing the rounds that Kanbay may get acquired. Kanbay gets acquired by CapGemini. Apparently, EDS & IBM were also trying to acquire Kanbay. The valuation clearly shows that competition had been there in acquiring Kanbay. Kanbay has strengths in financial services consulting amongst other things. The move may help the revival of CG. They are said to be selling their shares to fund the acquisition. While reacting to the news of EDS-Mphasis coming together, I wrote earlier this year that more offshore companies with annual turnover less than 200 million may choose to sellout. The room for midsized firms looks limited. Am already hearing that few more mid sized offshore firms may choose to get acquired. Wait for more action.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Control Of The Stack

In the backdrop of the oracle openworld agree, the stack discussions are beginning to be aired again. I agree with the point of view here – after all IT was promised that open source meant an end to vendor lock-in. That with open source, IT would never be subjected to a single point of failure again. That IT would have the freedom to implement the technologies of its choosing. With the advent of the monolithic open source stack, it would appear that we are heading back to the days of vendor lock-in, except this time it will come in an open source flavor. This begs the question of whether a monolithic open source stack is inherently more valuable than a proprietary one. After all, if customers are locked in to a single vendor, how are they better off than the bad old proprietary stack days?

I agree with the points raised therein with vendors trying to bring in a proprietary lock-in, the customer choices are narrowing down – not a thing to rejoice about in the age of modern day extortion practiced by big vendors. But opensource adoption is not exactly helping alleviate the issue – across the stack. As I wrote sometime back, open source solutions at the bottom of the stack – typically workhorse infrastructure elements are getting well entrenched – but even a layer above – lets say starting even at database level – we see the hold loosening and as we move up certainly – opensource becomes one among multiple options. I tend to take a dim view of open source relevance - see Open source -where is the business model, Opensource : Costly & Litigatious, Open Source : Reality Check. We also recently covered Kim Polese view business models of the open source support companies – where the contours of what need to be done to support open source components become quite clear and a not seeing several players in the open source world thinking along these lines – it would be a major impediment to consider adoption of opensource in enterprises if the support model is not made widely available and the economics and technology upgrade rate demonstrated as beneficial.

Enterprise stack is strongly entrenched, if we don't do anything nothing will happen for a decade
- the future state is that SOA is disruptive and characterized by a new set of platforms
- questions that comes to mind (if we take Geoffrey Moore’s orchestrating the stack approach) are around what layers are strategic, what platforms make the most sense, and which vendors are most credible

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Secret Of Greatness : No Not Natural Talent Alone, But Determined Hardwork

Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work. Reviewing the book -Secrets Of Greatness, compiled by the Editors of Fortune, Geoffrey Colvin writes that, in virtually every field of endeavor, most people learn quickly at first, then more slowly and then stop developing completely. Yet a few do improve for years and even decades, and go on to greatness. For one thing, you do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don't exist. You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that's demanding and painful. Lack of a natural gift is irrelevant - talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. You can make yourself into any number of things, and you can even make yourself great. Scientific experts are producing remarkably consistent findings across a wide array of fields. Understand that talent doesn't mean intelligence, motivation or personality traits
From the editors of Fortune magazine comes The Secrets of Greatness, which captures the advice, wisdom and guiding principles that todays top CEOs and entrepreneurs live by in their careers and personal lives - the first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. It's nice to believe that if you find the field where you're naturally gifted, you'll be great from day one, but it doesn't happen. There's no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice. The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what the researchers call "deliberate practice." It's activity that's explicitly intended to improve performance, that reaches for objectives just beyond one's level of competence, provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition. The critical reality is that we are not hostage to some naturally granted level of talent. We can make ourselves what we will. But the striking, liberating news is that greatness isn't reserved for a preordained few and it is available to you and to everyone. Interesting read.

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The Indian Mobile Growth & The Future Of Internet

In this impressive Knoweldge@wharton interview, Rajesh says that in India, “the future of the internet will be built around the mobile phone”.He points to low PC penetration and limited broadband as real shortcomings for the internet to grow the PC route. Roughly ¾ ths of the 40 million users of the Internet, access the web through cyber cafés. This limits the number of services( these are anyway quite limited for now) they can use because they are paying for every minute. In such circumstances you can't build your digital life around online services.
He thinks that more people in India will access the Internet through mobile phones than through computers linked to narrowband or broadband connections and that means we need to start thinking about the mobile Internet differently than we do about the PC Internet. As he sees it, three words help define the mobile Internet. They are: now, near and new. There are 100+million mobile subscribers in India – last months India added around 6 million subscribers The shape of the Internet in India going forward could be rather different than it was in the past. Like the NTT DoCoMo's i-Mode wireless Internet service that changed the Japanese ecosystem, a change can happen in India only if mobiles become an open platform. He sees opportunities for growth for all – software companies, content providers, telecom operators - for content providers the challenge is to think through how to create innovative services based on the recognition that mobile phones are basically two-way multimedia devices. For software companies it's about building the technology platforms to enable services. And for telecom companies, it's about innovating and building an ecosystem for value-added services. An interesting interview and the Indian mobile growth is a phenomenon indeed.

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The Rise Of The Power Of India Corporates

I recently wrote about the discernible shift - where Asia Now chinese companies are on the prowl and India inc is stepping up overseas acquisition – the globalization effect is in full swing. Courtesy of Rajesh saw this note on Asia, which brings out the fact that in the the past five years America has accounted for only 13% of global real GDP growth, using purchasing-power parity (PPP) weights.The real driver of the world economy has been Asia, which has accounted for over half of the world's growth since 2001. Even in current dollar terms, rather than PPP, Asia's 21% contribution to the increase in world GDP exceeded America's 19%. But current dollar figures understate Asia's weight in the world, because in China and other poor countries things like housing and domestic services are much cheaper than in rich countries, so a dollar of spending buys a lot more.
So its only a logical step in this journey that Asian companies begin to acquire western assets. Tata's now want to buy more post their Corus Acquisition. As the Economist notes, what is noteworthy about many of the firms is that the root of their success is not India's obvious competitive advantage: its vast, low-cost labour force. In the IT and outsourcing industries, lower salaries for college graduates are an important reason behind Indian firms' rapid growth(This is for those who forget the quality and process edge). But in manufacturing the stars tend to be experts in automated, capital-intensive production. Bosses who have flourished in such businesses in India, with its poor infrastructure and still-daunting regulatory environment, understandably feel confident that they have lessons to teach their new purchases in other countries. Truly the world is changing - faster than many could recognise.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tech Players - Earnings Growth

With almost all majors having announced the Q2/Q3 results,just did a comparitive assessment on earnings for the past five years. Threw out interesting chart.

Caution : Just a measurement on one dimension.


Friday, October 20, 2006

George Gilder On Google Power

George Gilder writes a brilliant price about the power and reach of Google and the transformation it has brought along.Excerpts with edits"
Moore's law corollary Bell's law states, every decade a new class of computer emerges from a hundredfold drop in the price of processing power. As we approach a billionth of a cent per byte of storage, and pennies per gigabit per second of bandwidth, what kind of machine labors to be born? How will we feed it? How will it be tamed? And how soon will it, in its inevitable turn, become a dinosaur? One characteristic of this new machine is clear. It arises from a world measured in the prefix giga, but its operating environment is the petascale. Just last century – the PC was king. The mainframe was deposed and deceased. The desktop was the data center.Today Google rules a total database of hundreds of petabytes. The data centers these companies are building began as exercises in making the planet's ever-growing data pile searchable. Now, they're morphing into general-purpose computing platforms, vastly more powerful than any built before. All those PCs are still there, but they have less and less to do, as Google and the others take on more and more of the duties once delegated to the CPU. Optical networks, which move data over vast distances without degradation, allow computing to migrate to wherever power is cheapest. Thus, the new computing architecture scales across Earth's surface and is interlinked with the Internet.
In the PC era, the winners were companies that dominated the microcosm of the silicon chip. The new age of petacomputing will be ruled by the masters of the remote data center – those who optimally manage processing power, electricity, bandwidth, storage, and location. They will leverage the Net to provide not only search, but also the panoply of applications formerly housed on the desktop. This change is as momentous as the industrial-age shift from craft production to mass manufacture, from individual workers in separate shops turning out finished products step by step to massive factories that break up production into thousands of parts and perform them simultaneously. No single computer could update millions of auctions in real time, as eBay does, and no one machine could track thousands of stock portfolios made up of offerings on all the world's exchanges, as Yahoo does. Google appears to have attained one of the holy grails of computer science: a scalable massively parallel architecture that can readily accommodate diverse software.Google's success stems from more than foresight, ingenuity, and chutzpah. In every era, the winning companies are those that waste what is abundant – as signalled by precipitously declining prices – in order to save what is scarce.As large as the current Google database is, even bigger shocks are coming. An avalanche of digital video measured in exabytes (10 to the 18th power, or 1,000 petabytes) is hurtling down from the mountainsides of panicked Big Media and bubbling up from the YouTubian depths. The massively parallel, prodigally wasteful petascale computer has its work cut out for it.Google's magical ability to distribute a search query among untold numbers of processors and integrate the results for delivery to a specific user demands the utmost central control. Google has pioneered the miracle play of wringing supercomputer performance from commodity CPUs, and this strategy is likely to succeed as long as microchip progress remains in the doldrums. But semiconductor and optical technologies are on the verge of a new leap forward.The next wave of innovation will compress today's parallel solutions in an evolutionary convergence of electronics and optics: 3-D and even holographic memory cells; lasers inscribed on the tops of chips, replacing copper pins with streams of photons; and all-optical networks in which thousands of colors of light travel along a single fiber. As these advances find their way into an increasing variety of devices, the petascale computer will shrink from a dinosaur to a teleputer – the successor to today's handhelds – in your ear or in your signal path. It will access a variety of searchers and servers, enabling participation in metaverses and it will link to trillions of sensors around the globe, giving it a constant knowledge of the physical state of the world, from traffic conditions to the workings of your own biomachine.Such advances promise to transform the calculus of storage, bandwidth, and power that gives centralization its current advantage. Very thought provoking perspective from George Gilder.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yahoo Under Magnifying Glass

Terry Semel in Yahoo Q3 analyst call: while we are very excited about a number of things happening at Yahoo!, I am not satisfied with our current financial performance and we intend to improve it. Yahoo is we are going to be laser-focused on these three core things:
1.Close the gap in monetization of search;
2.Widen our lead in graphical advertising; and
3.Seize the opportunity in social media, video, and mobile

Later comes the news that Panama,the most talked about next-generation search advertising platform has been launched.The market is going through a significant transition with new forms of inventory becoming available from a range of new and established competitors and Yahoo says that it plans to further invest, innovate and secure leading positions in the areas where we see the biggest growth opportunities - in social media, video, and mobile access. Yahoo is now extending social media communities to mobile devices starting with service providers in parts of Asia. Clearly the phenomenal growth of new players in areas such as online video and social networking is pulling the advertisers revenue, potentially giving a short shrift to established sites like Yahoo. Clearly this portends a sign of rapid changes to the Web landscape. In the web world, large established players can’t expect to pull along based on tail wind while navigating new trends and emerging services. Two things stand out here: In chosen areas, the winner shall take it all and in emerging areas, unless incumbent behemoths are super alert and hyperactive, newer players may continue to go faster. It also shows that over a period of time, even new age companies can’t escape the scrutiny centered on conventional financial metrics.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Magic Called Startups

Paul Graham finds that not trying hard enough could be the only reason why startups fail. Most startups fail because they don't make something people want, and the reason most don't is that they don't try hard enough. He lists amongst other things, traps that need to be avoided : The Single founder syndrome, choice of location, marginal niche, idea imitations, obstinacy, raising little money, spending too much, Poor investor management , Founder fights , Insincere and half hearted attempts. Poor programmers, wrong choice of platform, slowness in launching, early launch, no defined customer base etc.. In today's world as he sees it, success may flow from not ducking key principles like focus on custmer success. He adds,“The companies that win are the ones that put users first. Google, for example. They made search work, then worried about how to make money from it. And yet some startup founders still think it's irresponsible not to focus on the business model from the beginning. They're often encouraged in this by investors whose experience comes from less malleable industries.It is irresponsible not to think about business models. It's just ten times more irresponsible not to think about the product”

As I see it,startups are very essential for the growth of the business ecosystem. By definition, startups have a different velocity, rhythm and in the course of its growth, may have to make multiple decisions – therefore the team matters a lot. Funding is not the be all and end all - while it is certainly the NO.1 issue in any stratup, the execution strength, speed and innovation would matter a lot more.Bigger organizations could do with more heterogeneity and capability spread in a wide band but startups are different. As the Friendster story shows, execution strength, sense of timing and exit strategies would be very important. Clearly all through, key people in startups need to stay hungry and foolish.I think clarity of idea, robust business model, flawless execution, customer and market focus, constantly reprioritizing and realigning , transparency, clear thinking, quick decision making, retaining the risk propensity, growth focus, full involvement and a bias for action amongst the founders and key employees all would make the difference between winners and wannabe’s.

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Newspapers, Innovation & Future Prosperity

With Newspaper circulation continues decline, forcing tough decisions.The newspaper industry, already suffering from circulation problems . Around the world, newspapers face the prospect of an accelerated drop in circulation. The slide is fueling an urgent industry discussion about whether the trend can be halted in a digital age and is forcing newspaper executives to rethink their traditional strategies.
While the wave of disruptive innovation may be unseating the supremacy of the big three U.S. auto manufacturers, downtown department stores, video rental stores, minicomputer manufacturers etc.. Clayton Christensen’s research shows that the old-school newspaper companies can definitely survive. Driven by shifting customer behaviors, the media landscape is changing at an unprecedented pace. Fundamental changes are reshaping the media environment and are sending waves of disruption throughout the industry. Based on demonstration projects done in the last several years, at a handful of U.S. newspaper companies, the team reports that there are mind-sets shift and managers get excited as they see the massive growth potential that still exists for the industry.
Paradoxically, newspaper companies have positive cash flows and the core content produced by newspapers is the basis for many of the industry's disruptors. Without newspaper content, there isn’t much news for television to report, bloggers would have less to blog about, and Yahoo! News and Google News would be blank pages. Furthermore, newspapers have strong brands and highly skilled employees. Innovative means to use their core assets and brand image may be the key for their survival – the shift is in beginning to realize ways and means to integrate the newspaper in the lives of the consumers could be the key therein. Some suggestions include the likes of niche publications and special events, paid search, consumer direct, targeted advertising and lead generation.
The future of newspapers is to change from a news organization into a news community. Readers would like to do a lot more with news. They would like to see the different angles of a story. They would like to understand it. They would like to know what it means for them. They would like to know how to deal with the consequences. In the digital world, aggregation, personalisation, adaptability and deep degrees of contextualisation along with pervasive availability shall characterise content distribution of tomorrow - news shall be an instance of this. And readers would would like to know what others think. In other words, the news is the beginning of a process, it's not the end.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Asian Countries Lead The Patent Race

Courtesy of Paul Kedrosky saw the latest WIPO patent report. Each year, WIPO requests statistics from national patent offices, including the numbers of patents filed, granted and in force broken down by country of origin, date and a number of other criteria and this report is primarily compiled based on those collected data. The report provides analyses and highlights the significant trends in patenting activity. The WIPO Patent Report includes indicators to measure patenting intensity across countries. Three indicators are presented that weight patent filings by measures of country size and economic activity, namely population, GDP and research and development expenditure. The report finds amongst other things:

A. Patent filings have grown at an average annual rate of 4.75% over the past ten years, to a total of nearly 1.6 million in 2004. The growth rate is comparable to the overall increase in economic activity as measured by world GDP growth
B. The use of the patent system remains highly concentrated with only five patent offices (United States of America, Japan, European Patent Office, Republic of Korea and China) accounting for 75% of all patent applications and 74% of all patents granted.

A small number of countries account for the majority of patent filings, both by residents and by non-residents. Applicants from Japan and the United States of America are the largest filers of patent applications, followed by the large industrialized European states, the Republic of Korea and China. This distribution is changing over time, in particular as the Republic of Korea and China are becoming major industrial economies and the use of the patent system is growing quickly in the north east Asian region. China is accumulating patents – faster than Germany, typically Japan & korea gets more patents granted – together these asian countries corner more patents than any other block. The US continues to accumulate patents at a healthy rate. It is common knowledge that all patents need not be of equal importance.

Patent goes well beyond copyright and trademarks - It protects even the underlying concepts from being used by others. Some mistake rise of patenting with robust innovation – not true. The key challenge today is to go beyond the patent accumulation mode into one promoting innovation.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

SFDC : Soaring Ambitions

Salesforce.com threw open the usage of Apex, a new multi-tenant programming language and platform that enables customers, partners and developers to manipulate the company's code, triggers and stored procedures. When I first heard about this plan of SFDC, I liked the idea instantly.With this, the customers and partners get the opportunity to work on the programming language and platform to create their own custom components. These can be integrated/added to the salesforce’s AppExchange repository. Prior to this release of Apex, custom coding was mostly centered on an external platform, and integrate to salesforce.com through commonly used application programming interface (API) calls The journey ahead is a very long one – SFDC’s ambition of having million applications on its platform from the current status of less than 500 apps says it all. With this the focus now shifts to creating a community of developers/users who can create, customize and extend their applications using the new platform. Clearly, SFDC’s ambition goes beyond providing CRM solutions – almost being your infrastructure service hosting partner of choice. Look at it – the possibilities extend to hosting enterprise applications therein. SFDC has opened this at a time when all major players like Google/Amazon are looking at being a infrastructure player. The concerns that customers may have of using a proprietary language also need to be closely watched. SFDC positions the tool like SQL as a application service, an on-demand operating system and can potentially made huge advances in running applications as a service. All the big guys - from Microsoft to Google to Amazon are moving into the business of being an infrastructure utility. As I see it the 3P’s - Pricing, Promotion and Partnership strength would determine the success of the scheme in the short run. I have no doubt about the medium to long term impact - the scheme looks elegant in that the integration overheads potentially come down and the promise that upgrades shall take care of custom codes built in (if delivered ) make the offering attractive. In a way, this would also help allaying the concerns that on-demand solutions and legacy integration that routinely get talked about – we have the delivery on promise here. .

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Friday, October 13, 2006

The Changing Nature & The Reinvented Measure

I recently wrote about the trends in outsourcing wherein amongst other things, I wrote about diminishing contract tenures. TPI finds that 2006 may be Challenged to Reach 2005’s TCV Level. With limited number of megadeal activities, the restructurings continue to influence the broader market. It points out that the average duration of a Broader Market contract has decreased 12 percent in the last five years. In ITO, it decreased 18 percent, while for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) it dropped 5 percent. It finds that fewer multi-process contracts have been signed so far in 2006 than in each of the past three years - there have been seven, compared with 20 in all of 2004, and 11 in 2005. The shift is towards an increasing number of smaller, single-process contracts compared with larger, multi-process contracts. This trend which holds true for both BPO and ITO contracts, is characterized by an unprecedented percentage of contract restructurings, with even shorter average contract durations. India-based providers are beginning to sign business in infrastructure-related areas, with more than a quarter of TCV share in the pure applications development and maintenance (ADM) market, more than any single multinational service provider. In view of the changing nature of outsourcing contracts, TPI finds that the traditional perspective of total contract value doesn’t fully convey the underlying trends in terms of the annual flow of contracting and has begun to use a new metric of annualized contract value (though others were using this metric quite often), which it believes will provide the market with a much more insightful measure of the trends. The contours of outsourcing are slowly but clearly changing - one that calls for a fresh view from service providers to win faster and bigger, given that almost every plaeyr irrespective of histroy or geography seems to be making progress.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Discernable Shift

Close to announcing India as the talent home and declaring several service offerings/research to be centered therein( one of the stated goals was to centralize work on one of its most strategic efforts-building SOA-based software systems that consultants can resell to customers in various industries out of India), IBM now announces that their chief procurement officer moves to China. With this, a corporatewide headquarters division moves outside the U.S.Afterall, the Pearl river delta is the supply chain of the tech world. IBM is said to be recasting its supplier base after selling its PC business to China's Lenovo and its hard-drive business to Japan's Hitachi. I like the fact that for the first time US multinationals like IBM's embarking on a transition from an American multinational to a global company, one that can run itself from wherever it makes the most business sense. This will pay rich dividends to all IBM stakeholders. Now chinese companies are on the prowl and India inc is stepping up overseas acquisition – the globalization effect is in full swing.

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Teqla – Fresh Breath Of Air

Jeff Nolan, fellow enterprise irregular, joins Teqlo . He explains that with Teqlo, development is treated as a data flow problem, not a programming flow problem. The core piece of technology innovation here is the routing methodology and not the semantic definition of components. He adds, that Teqlo takes web services that are wrapped up as components, called as Teqlets, and determines the optimal sequencing based on the data inputs/outputs of each component. Teqlos follow a data flow model of sequencing that is roughly analogous to the internet itself with each Teqlo having a starting state and a successful completion state, and the Teqlo infrastructure determines the appropriate path to link the services together by
routing data to each service based on what it is asking for and producing. In short, he summarizes, views, assemble, publish, invite is what Teqlo is all about.

As I see it, the idea is to provide data integration in the framework of business processes. The modeling, integration along with handling decoupling, fan-in, an-outs of business processes are always the toughest part of process management. In real life situations more often than not, we see that bringing together different functions/modules in real time across the enterprise is always a challenge owing to technological, process, legacy, convenience, underinvestments or plain apathy. But sadly the efficacy of the external view of the enterprise data depends on a real-time, homogeneous data and their availability. Many of the IT assets leverage this to a large extent. To me the idea behind Teqlo is to empower the user to overcome these limitations – conventional BPM tools leverage BPEL’s whereas here the case appears to be one of trying to discover a path on the fly instead of pursuing predefined paths using standard connect mechanisms. This is an high growth area in the enterprise segment - one thats capable of provding rich benefits to enterprises deploying effective solutions. This is also an evolving and interesting area. The appraoch here clealry qualifies to be viewes as a breakthrough approach – the effectiveness need to be studied in different contexts (legacy, non web based situations as well)but not to deny a fresh approach towards changing the order of things, the need for which Jeff emphasized earlier. Teqla needs to be closely watched for not just the power of the idea, its execution, adaption in various enterprises and results seen therein. Best wishes Jeff and Teqlo team.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

For Budding Entrepreneurs

The Google YouTube deal is certain to rekindle lot more entrepreneurial activity and shall clearly park aside for a while questions like this. Aspiring entrepreneurs need to look at this excellent series compiled by Sramana Mitra. All the four interviews are quite insightful and are a must read for aspiring/budding entrepreneurs. I heard someone say earlier in the day that the next google or yahoo out of places like India would just be Google or Yahoo - perhaps pointing to limited ability to do breakthrough acts in the Indian environment - I tend to partially disagree with this view ,given the opportunity that exists to change the order of things. The investment thesis is quite relevant to indian context. It may be another thing to note that successful exits like YouTube can’t be prescriptively planned but without efforts for such planning, it is impossible to even get to be there.

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The Google -YouTube Deal

Am in the valley when things finally got sealed. So everybody is talking about this. One way or other –this is the most talked about thing . For supporters of the deal, this has to be seen in the context of Yahoo paying just under $3 billion to buy GeoCities, Lycos got scooped up for $12.5 billion, Excite got sold for just above $7billion. I am humbled given my strong views published earlier. People say in the party – valuations are done based on what the next generation wants and not yours – but my question is these need to get paid today!! There are thoughts that Youtube may face difficulties similar to what Napster faced in the past. Mark cuban is surprised as well. Focus now shifts towards who made how much.

We now need to see how things move forward – I have a feeling simlar to what when gets – after attending to a good presentation and the slide contents look good – one begins to then onwards worry about how thing would pan out. We can see lot more crazy deals happening moving forward. In all this din, the master buyer Oracle’s recent acquisition of sunopsis got little attention. One thing is sure, the world if full of excitement!!

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Monday, October 09, 2006

SaaS: Issues, Adoption & Future

I wrote a brief note for sandhill on the adoption of SaaS within enterprises. Software as a service (SaaS) is actually becoming a more widely talked about term in the technology circles, of late. Clearly, the interest in the SaaS model is growing, with a number of specialist areas like CRM, HCM, Billing vendors beginning to show early signs of succeeding due to their well defined focus of their offerings. It's becoming increasingly desirable in most cases and fashionable in some cases for enterprise vendors to look at/offer SaaS as a delivery option, at least in a limited way. This is not a wholesome shift - not as yet. Early adoption results indicate that the adoption of SaaS is clearly beginning to transcend targeted market segments - from SME's to large enterprises, SaaS adoption is clearly showing a rising curve. No doubt established enterprises are definitely worried about the ideas like multitenancy and business users bypassing the mighty IT department to get things done. The active roles played by storage vendors and hardware sellers to CIO's are helping the fight of the CIO in efforts towards bringing the software in-house. The biggest risk that can hurt these advances could arise from a mismatch between the hype, adoption and actual benefits. To be fair, it is still not a settled issue whether the TCO calculations of SaaS are better than on-premise applications. Even in the case of simple(as in less complex) applications deployed across the enterprise and accessed by multiple users, cost benefit comparisons between the models are still a matter of debate and inference. There's also a lingering feeling amongst business users that buying cheap may not be necessarily the best option - particularly in a fact changing technology arena. A clear trend on cost benefits when using the SaaS model is yet to emerge. As a result, the usage driven subscription cost of SaaS applications can tilt the tables and hence the cost advantage scenario looks somewhat blurred. Read more here.

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Innovation As Door Opener

As I land in the Valley to attend Sandhill's Enterprise 2006 meet, so many people in so many forms were repeatedly asking about the growth prospects of the consulting and outsourcing industry. Many observers in different contexts try and compare traditional service players with offshore headquartered majors and come to various conclusions - I see a huge swing in judgement depending on whom I get to hear.Developments like this stroke such discussions. generally try anfI enjoyed reading this brief interview with Cap Gemini's Salil Parekh. It is quite interesting to hear him say that outsourcing in North America is currently larger then it needs to be in terms of the percentage of the pie. As he sees it, for his firm, outsourcing shall give more dollars in absolute value and he expects that consulting will clearly grow in terms of the percentage of the pie. There will also be growth in the technology services piece, but overall it would be lesser than what would be seen in consulting. The growth in consulting will be much larger in percentage terms and he is banking on CG's ability to execute around innovation and these growth platforms. Itis well known that CG had been focussing on building offshore tail to their operations and there bullishness about their griwth -notwithstanding the need to hive off an interesting practice in the recent past, points to more interesting times ahead. I agree with his logic that innovation would be the door opened and offshoring shall help CG in enabling transformation centric engagements. Good to see CG coming back quite well. This proves the often heard hypothesis that the growth shall be coming from different models for different firms.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Is The VC Model Broken?

The traditional venture model seems to us to be broken, says,Steve Dow, a general partner at Sevin Rosen Funds, a frim which has in the past helped the rise of several good brands in the tech industry. The high-risk, high-return venture capital business may have turned into all risk and no return. The message here is that it could not continue to take their money — at least not for the time being. A terribly weak exit environment, referring to the dearth of initial public offerings and to a market for acquisitions at valuations that it considers too low to deliver the kind of returns that venture investors expect are amongst the factors for blame. While the likes of YouTube and Facebook are said to be entertaining acquisition offers in the $1 billion neighborhood, that pronouncement may seem surprising. But Mr. Dow said those “megadeals” were rare and were not enough to sustain an entire industry.
Earlier, I wrote about the private equity rage and how the aggression of private equity is touching most part of business today . Pointing out that there has been more than $38 billion in dividend recaps so far this year, up from about $7.7 billion in 2004. While this is guaranteeing the private-equity firms cash in their pockets, the added debt means higher loan payments, which not every company will be able to manage. That's especially true in an environment of slowing economic growth and rising interest rates. Credit rating reports suggests that in a sample set they find the default percentage to be about about 6 percent compared to about 3.7 percent default rate in normal cases. All these definitely merit thought and discussion. In reality the growth of the VC movement is indeed real – while it may be argued that some of these are going after funding insane ideas, what I like about the VC ecosystem is its ability to correct itself faster, despite being big in size. So I would think that the VC ecosystem is not so badly broken as things stand today. Risk, reward have an equilibrium of its own and things would definitely look more optimistic in the days to come – only exception would when the global economy’s shine gets dull.

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Zune, Wibree & Mobile Ecosystem

Courtesy of Rajesh saw this latest from Nokia : Wibree technology. As Nokia positions it,Wibree technology is to be seen as an open industry initiative extending local connectivity to small devices. This new radio technology developed by Nokia Research Center complements other local connectivity technologies, consuming only a fraction of the power compared to other such radio technologies, enabling smaller and less costly implementations and being easy to integrate with Bluetooth solutions. Wibree offers connectivity between mobile devices or Personal Computers, and small, button cell battery power devices such as watches, wireless keyboards, toys and sports sensors. Wibree technology complements close range communication with Bluetooth like performance within 0-10 m range and data rate of 1 Mbps. Look at this : by extending the role mobile devices can play in consumers' lives, this technology increases the growth potential in these market segments. Wibree is optimized for applications requiring extremely low power consumption, small size and low cost. Wibree is implemented either as stand-alone chip or as Bluetooth-Wibree dual-mode chip. The small devices like watches and sports sensors will be based on stand-alone chip whereas Bluetooth devices will take benefit of the dual-mode solution, extending Bluetooth device connectivity to new range of smallest devices. Potentially mobiles can now be fitted with lot more additional functionalities, in the process helping the mobile ecosystem extend its reach.Now this is an important development – Microsoft’s Zune is expected to be rolled out shortly. With a 30 GB hard drive, built-in FM tuner with Radio Data System, 3.0-inch screen, and 802.11 wireless networking, the expectations about Zune are high. The initial player will come in three colors—black, brown and white with pre-loaded music and videos. The Zune will be able to connect to the Xbox 360, which will allow the user to stream music, videos, and pictures via USB. It is unknown whether the Zune can connect to an Xbox 360 via WiFi, however, the same currency used on Xbox Live, Microsoft Points, will be used to buy music via the Zune Marketplace . The much talked about WiFi sharing feature will allow artists to sell their content direct to consumers after sharing the song or video clip under preview for a limited time.The concern on Zune is the limited battery life and the reach of the radio waves. Zune is also expected to have phone features built inside eventually besides larger screen space. It is now an intersting game with Apple, Microsoft and Nokia with this technology trying to open up a myriad of possibilities - the mobile personal entertainment space is in for very interesting things.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Tumultous Enterprise Landscape

Jeff Nolan, fellow enterprise irregular, who recently quit SAP to start a new venture has written a very insightful piece. Am summarizing some of his points with my brief observations and adding up my thoughts at the end.

1) Direct enterprise selling sucks, is highly inefficient, and makes you do unnatural things in your product strategy in order to drive higher deal sizes. (Partly agree but observations are quite true)

2) Large enterprise software vendors are not the future. There just has to be a way to grow our collective markets by appealing to millions of small business users and this isn’t going to come from SAP, Oracle, or IBM.(Fully agree)

3) The SOA-ification of big enterprise products has attacked a technical dimension, not an economic or business model one. In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, the historical strength of market leading business applications, the integrated suite approach, is being turned from an advantage into a liability. (Fully agree)

4) Big enterprise software has historically been a product driven development process, not a user driven approach. These companies have applications “products” and “modules” and “components” instead of something more logical, like “process portfolios” that map to what people actually do in their jobs. In general he observes that vendors do not sell to businesspeople and applications masquerade as process solutions. (Agree)

5) New big killer apps that are not going to be built for today’s enterprise. Most of the enterprise software market today is about finding gaps and filling them, linking products in new ways, and leveraging more value out of IT investments that have already been made. The consumer side of business may offer better opportunities. ( Mostly Agree)

Best wishes to Jeff on his team's new venture - the fundamental ideas are indeed very strong. I recently wrote,atleast in respect of the enterprise software, which is closer to the heart of CIO’s its clear – as I had always been telling - while vendors are addressing market realities to keep their industry vibrant and with consolidation fever ahead - one could clearly hear the voice :whether customers would benefit a lot because of this, add the need to make more innovation happen and absorb faster. No,I am not talking about Marc Benioff finding SAPinnovation free, while I certainly agree with his perspective that observers tend to overestimate the creativity and innovation that entrenched technology companies can bring to a particular problem and underestimate the effect of business-model conflicts that lurk behind the scenes ( as applicable to all majors). Innovation need not not be always of the disruptive type but every type of Innovation counts. In today’s hypercompetitive world ,simply put innovation is non-negotiable and innovation streak is of very high value to enterprises.


Google & Imaginary Valuations For Future

Rich Karlgaard thinks that CarisCo's Stahlman makes a plausible case, when he expects Google share to be valued at $2000/share. Outside of selling ads, by repositioning Google as an "open services development platform," which Stahlman believes is the future of enterprise computing. Google, by its configuration of hundreds of thousands of commodity servers into a massive, parallel, virtual supercomputer used for search, has worked out, by intent or accident, the enterprise computer platform of the future.
Google can sell CPU cycles from its computer infrastructure as a development platform and when in future, when Google gets a surplus of its infrastructure, it will sell to the world as a development platform. I am not too sure on this –several on demand players, value added hosting facilities, infrastructure providers, platforms like Amazon, (who I think is clearly ahead to play this game). I wrote earlier that people like Sun have the wherewithal to play well in the emerging utility computing space – it has the breadth and depth to offer full fledged services. As I wrote recently, the view is that storage and hardware vendors shall fight back and stroke CIO’s to insource more with better deals. With discretionary spending coming down, the propensity to take risks may also be less for established enterprises, except in the case of startups - they may see some attraction towards these solutions,atleast in the exploratory stage when the scale and financial outgo are minimal. With growth, people may seek more independence and that coule be seen by having more control through insourcing!! Google has to come out in the open about its plans for spending the money say building its own Internet, online index,along with monetizing models in more specific terms

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Kagermann Speaks

Mr.Kagermann thinks that with SAP’s new architecture, it would be possible to have different deployment options for having software "on-premise," like today, but also in a hosted, on-demand mode. Having seen that differentiation in business between companies can't be achieved with today's architectures without considerable investment and sometimes modification to applications He views that there is a difference that SAP brings to traditional on-demand models. The traditional approach to "software as a service" is an ASP [application service provider] "hosted" model. So it's one size fits all.(Am not sure of how this can be fully right!!) He would make us think the virtue of SAP is in its ability to share the program and separate the data of the company to aid on security and protection. Most of the times - companies don't want to share [their data]. The cost of this approach is only slightly( This needs better quantification!) higher than in the software-as-a-service model, but it is much lower than having it on-premise.Its easy to switch whenever a company feels that it doesn't want to own the data, His questioning is correct : Why are companies buying assets and not leasing them all the time? The same thing happens with software. He also sees SAP having partners to innovate around our technology and he thinks that there needs to be full clarity about what partners can expect. He sees that a majority of partners will have a very loose relationship and a few will have very strategic ones. Kagermann has always had a different vision about the SaaS world.
His futuristic vision : In the future people will work differently - they won't just sit down and have a transaction with a computer but instead it will be more of a "push" principle, managed by exceptions - so that the application is pushing exceptions to your desk. Result : Empowerement of the people and brings decision making down to a decentralized level. challenge. On challenges in operating in China & India - In China it is the IP [intellectual property] issue. Everybody is saying this, and they're right. In India it is the infrastructure. As he sees it(rightfully so) if India believes it can move directly to a knowledge economy and thus skip the industrial economy they are making a big mistake - because not everything is digital. And once something is physical. That is something India has to focus on. I would have loved to see more on the economics of running SAP in the future – migration, Netweaver, Innovation that SAP is bringing to the table, TCO and future pricing models etc.. Interesting read.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Google Look Ahead View

Eric Schmidt in an interesting interview talks about Google’s planning strategy and the way innovation is fostered. He believes that one way to foster innovation is by asking questions.

On Planning Strategy : We say we run the company chaotically. We run it at the edge. But the truth is the company is pretty thoroughly planned financially. We have a three-year financial plan that we're submitting to the board. We have data center plans for 2007, 2008 and 2009. We modeled our financials, cash flow. And it's possible for us to predict reasonably accurate cases there. We have a one-year strategic plan, so we have a plan for 2007, about what we want to be next year. What are the markets we want to enter.
On Innovation :We run the company by questions, not by answers. So in the strategy process we've so far formulated 30 questions that we have to answer. I'll give you an example: we have a lot of cash. What should we do with the cash? Another example of a question that we are debating right now is: we have this amazing product called AdSense for content, where we're monetizing the Web. If you're a publisher we run our ads against your content. It's phenomenal. How do we make that product produce better content, not just lots of content? An interesting question. How we do make sure that in the area of video, that high-quality video is also monetized? What are the next big breakthroughs in search? And the competitive questions: What do we do about the various products Microsoft is allegedly offering? You ask it as a question, rather than a pithy answer, and that stimulates conversation. Out of the conversation comes innovation. Innovation is not something that I just wake up one day and say 'I want to innovate.' I think you get a better innovative culture if you ask it as a question.

This is one step better that the structured chaos as it was reported sometime back. No doubt, around the world there’s a good feeling about Google and its talk about entrepreneurial, innovative streak. Solid delivery may matter a lot more- Look at amazon. It is delivering much better on the technology front and its vision is indeed amazing. Yet it may be seen as a laggard by investors. Google's incremental rollouts are just that - incremental only. For examle, the relaunched google reader in my opinion still lags behind Bloglines. Its recent partnership with the likes of eBay, Myspace, MTV all these make sense. At the end of it he would imagine that Yahoo & Microsoft to be the principal competitors. Would innovation happen just by asking questions –its another matter that principal competitors look to score poorly on this front as well. Still the questions of where Google is headed and what it could be doing five years from now need more communication.

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Jonathan : Blogs As A Vehicle For Fair Disclosure

Came across this interesting campaign by Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz. Jonathan publishes the letter that he had recently sent to SEC asking that the commission “requesting a clarification of Regulation FD aimed at listed companies sharing information equitably. He observes that FD doesn't recognize the internet, or a blog, as the exclusive vehicle through which the public can be fairly informed. FD regulation compliance means corporates need to rely on hold what he calls as an anachronistic telephonic conference call, or issue a press release. He argues, none of those routes are as accessible to the general public as a this blog, or Sun's web site. After the blogs don't require a subscription, or even registration, and are available to anyone, across the globe, with an internet connection and all these can happen simultaneously. The post contains therein the letter sent to SEC as well.

As adopted, Regulation Fair Disclosure's requirement of widespread dissemination can be met through the filing of a Form 8-K or "through another method (or combination of methods) of disclosure that is reasonably designed to provide broad, non-exclusionary distribution of the information to the public." (17 C.F.R Sec. 243.101(e)(2)) To date, the SEC has not taken the position that the Regulation's "widespread dissemination" requirement can be satisfied through disclosure through the web-postings alone. While that may have been a pragmatic approach in 2000, we believe that the proliferation of the Internet supports a new policy that online communications fully satisfy Regulation FD’s broad distribution requirement.
Our corporate website (www.sun.com) currently receives on average of nearly a million hits per day. This website includes a blog that I write as CEO of Sun Microsystems (www.blogs.sun.com/jonathan), as well as the blogs of over 4,000 of our other employees. My blog is syndicated across the Internet by use of RSS technology; thus, its content is "pushed" to subscribers. This website is a tremendous vehicle for the broad delivery of timely and robust information about our company. It is our view that proprietary news outlets are insufficiently accessible to the broad majority of Internet users and individual shareholders. It is certainly the case that the Internet represents a broader user base than those able to afford subscriptions to traditional forms of media and thus usage of this or any other freely available company blog or web site should be considered sufficient in satisfying the objectives of Regulation Fair Disclosure

Right call at the right time - but in the age where scandals of backdating stockoptions abound - one will have to really thinkthrough te idea.Also it is a great experience for stakeholders to get an opportunity to grill the guys running corporations. I think that experience should be never allowed to go passe. The blogosphere need to gain more respect amongst the corporate community and Jonthan is a prime example of CEO's blogging. I do agree with Jonathan that over a perios of time, the blog mechanism should be begin to be viewed as ONE of the media for disseminating corporate developments that need to be distributed fairly.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Some readers have written to me asking why there had been no updates in the past few days. Well- blame it on my hectic inter contintal travel. Am in australia and am flying into singapore wednesday night. Shall update regularly upon my arrival in Singapore. The look ahead schedule is also tight but amresolved to update this blog as often as possible - There's so much to blog about.


Monday, October 02, 2006

New Models For Taking Technology To The Masses

I always believe that solutions in the emerging markets would evolve based on different paradigms as against what the western corporate board rooms may propose to be – Like the case of telecom story in India. The belief here is that a combination of policy initiatives and innovation on technological and business models. In the past, efforts to bring computers to the poor often failed because they were based on Western ideas of how technologies ought to be used or paid for. Governments and foundations doled out money, only to see it poorly spent or pocketed by middlemen. And when market-oriented approaches were tried, they often presumed that PCs were things individuals owned and paid for upfront. By borrowing ideas from mobile phones and taking greater account of local conditions, some new schemes show promise of a better chance of making computing accessible. The Economist points to a few alternative noteworthy developments therein:
In England, a group of people have devised a device that allows one PC to be used by many people at once. In much of the world, a PC costs more than a house. Mobile phones are used to link the shared PCs to the internet. The organisation is called Ndiyo (the Swahili word for “yes”), and was founded by a former researcher at AT&T. The impetus has come from the thinking that one need not have to cut-down computers for poor people but make sure they get what everyone else get to use, by looking at new models to reach them. Ndiyo’s system, a small, cheap interface boxes allow multiple screens, keyboards and mice to be linked to a single PC cheaply via standard network cables exploits a little-used feature in operating systems that permits multiple simultaneous users. Success rate - Internet cafés based on Ndiyo's technology have already been set up in Bangladesh and South Africa. While, earlier, I had wanted Google to come up with innovative solutions for low cost computing, in reality, Microsoft, not to be outdone,has devised a plan to provide PCs to the poor using a business model borrowed from pre-paid mobile phones. Called FlexGo, the scheme is designed to appeal to people who cannot afford a PC because it is too expensive to pay for one all at once, or because their income is irregular or cyclical (as with farmers). Google may realise that there are tons of money that it can potentially make through unique streams of AdSense, when the reach extends.
FlexGo is a rent-to-buy arrangement in which the customer determines the frequency of payments. People pay around half the price of the computer and software at the start and then pay to use it by buying scratch cards. Once their credit is depleted, the machine goes dark, just as a mobile phone does. Microsoft has also released a scaled-down version of its Windows operating system for developing nations, called XP Starter Edition - the expectation is that by removing features and dropping the price, it hopes to reduce software piracy, as well. Cisco is chipping in with support for the free “networking academies” run by local technical experts in 63 developing countries. A combination of vision, guts, innovation, entrepreneurism, favourable policy regulations all are coming together to make this happen - the mission is nothing short of true revolution - the multiplier effect this can bring would be mind boggling.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Adding Billing To Web Service Functionalities

We recently covered the various new rollouts of services from Amazon. As expected, this is part of a larger scheme of things. Amazon is now bringing its invisible back-end operations front and center. Amazon has now begun to rent out parts of its IT infrastructure as Web services. Typical customers are like social-networking startups or media-sharing arenas. They can use Amazon's S3 database service to store their users' photos and videos, rather than buying their own servers. In another service, the Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, business customers can offload computing-intensive tasks to temporary "virtual servers" at Amazon's data centers. Latest in the list : two additional services, Webstore by Amazon and Amazon Fulfillment, that allow outside companies to build their own commerce sites around Amazon's software, then ship products using Amazon's own warehousing and shipping network. Bezos brings out that at times Amazon was using less than 10 percent of capacity. He highlights that thought more than underutilization, these are actually tools for and more developers to lower the "cost of coordination" as the web-scale applications are hard to run reliably at a small scale, and it doesn't get easier as the scale increases. Read this interesting podcast of Bezos himself.
Is this a game changer?The view is storage and hardware vendors shall fight back and stroke CIO’s to insource more with better deals. With discretionary spending coming down, the propoensity to take risks may also be less for established enterprises, except in the case of startups - they may see some attraction towards these solutions,atleast in the exploratory stage when the scale and financial outgo are minimal. With growth, people may seek more independence and that coule be seen by having more control through insourcing!! For amazon, these are outcomes of adding billing functionalities to existing web services. This is like the scholarly journey - one will find ways and means of using these services and in the process define the market for these

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