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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ruthless Web Users

When people go online they know what they want and how to do it, says Jakob Nielsen, the usability guru. The annual report into web habits by Jakob Nielsen shows people are becoming much less patient when they go online. Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave. Most ignore efforts to make them linger and are suspicious of promotions designed to hold their attention.

Look at the observation here : "In 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go and 60% use a deep link that took them directly to a page or destination inside a site. In 2008, said Dr Nielsen, only 25% of people travel via a homepage. The rest search and get straight there, pointing out that search engines (though imperfect though) rule the web. The findings are significant indeed. To drill deep or scan wide is always a challenge for web surfers and at a time when the choices seem to be multiplying by the day, it is only to be expected that surfers would like to land directly at the information that they are seeking. This imposes a pressure on the web designers - with searches going beyond home page. The branding, usability, navigation will have to be looked at every page in the site, given that surfers can and will land inside any page.Homepage sheen would not suffice to be seen as a trendy and sticky site. This alos portends an important trend here -online advertising may prove to lot more tougher and whoever gets it right would dominate the market - a clear reason why Google dominates online advertisement space. No complaints - this helps the cause of usability, information architecture and the state of web adoption improve for the better.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Global Aspirations Of Emerging Giants

The explosion of the growth of the automobile industry is indeed mind boggling. In a recent visit to Asia, I noticed a phenomenol explosion of automobiles on the road. Besides several well known brands, a new wave of asian headquartered automobile players are moving aggressively into the market. Hyundai for example is rolling out far more sophisticated models in the Korean market than those available in the US markets. The Tata's are making huge leaps in the automobile world stradlling from the Nano to buying premium auto brands like the Jaguar & Land Rover. The chinese are working hard to expand their global footprint in the automobile world, though they suffer from a serious image problem.

One chinese manufacturer named Cherry tied up with Chrysler to make cars for western markets. Its interesting to see how this relationship pans out. Ten year old Cherry wants to expand globally on its own. Its CEO explains in this conversation the challenges that lay ahead for it :

Chery has four major challenges :

" -First, we are facing a shortage of qualified people. To deal with our rapid growth in both domestic and overseas markets, Chery’s management and technical specialists all have to take multiple positions, some of which they may not be good at, and that is not sustainable.
- Second, there’s an issue with brands. Chery brands already enjoy good awareness in China for inexpensive, low-end cars. We want to move gradually toward the higher end of the market but still ensure customer loyalty and sustained growth.
- Related to that point is product quality. Chery must improve its product quality along the whole value chain instead of just focusing on the production line. This requires fundamental improvements in important processes such as product development, supplier management, logistics management, production management, and sales and after-sales services.
- Finally, Chery needs to raise huge amounts of money to maintain its growth. The cash flow generated from day-to-day operations would not be sufficient to support our global ambitions, so Chery needs better access to the capital markets, perhaps by being listed on domestic or overseas stock markets or both".

The only thing that has been downplayed here is the supply ecosystem for the automobile industry - in china an ecosystem gets created owing to cheap capital - one will have to see how Cherry could scale up on that on a global basis . Nonetheless, these points are very well said and I liked the sequence in which would think Yin Tangyao, Cherry's CEO has listed the issues : people, brand, quality and capital - in that order would make a huge difference towards global business.



Friday, May 09, 2008

Tech Conferences

Saw this interesting news item titled Tech Conferences: A Breeding Ground of Disease. In this case, Attendees were exposed to a norovirus, which can cause flu-like symptoms. As someone being a regular in the conference circles, this is definitely a matter of concern for participants. I do believe that conferences/places where people come from various parts of the world are a potential breeding ground. Most of them arrive in from far off places - air travel, pollution all contribute to fostering flu. I was in India few days back for a large meet and had to suffer form one such - did not know for some time that a similar thing happened to most of the attendees ; came to know after mail exchnages happened post the event. Luckily, I got the attack almost as the event winded down but it affected my programs for the next couple of days. Whats the solution? May be conferences showcase medical support availability in the venue as well to provide reasonable support beyong highlighting what can be prevented - though it may look a little odd to provide such things in tech conferences. Individual judgement and concern for others is the best form of prevention. Last year, I was in an important conference : suddenly I had a bout of cold - I immediately got out of the meet and headed home immediately, though it was tempting to stay back. There's no equivalent to such responsible behaviour.


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