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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Asia Pacific: China and India: New Tigers of Asia - Morgan Stanley Report

The rise of China and India is the most important economic force in the world. Together, they account for 40% of the global population of working age and 18% of the global economy, on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP). For two decades, their economies have been growing twice as fast as the rest of the world. On present trends, it will take just two decades before their share of the global economic pie will match their share of the global population. Indeed, in a decade, China's economy should surpass that of the US and India’s should be bigger than Japan's (using PPP). Some Key excerpts from the report authored by Andy Xie and Chetan Ahya are: Over the next 10-15 years, we see the development models of India and China converging. Both low-cost countries will be driving forces in the trade of goods and services, with their exports possibly rising from a combined 12% of the global total today to 20% by 2010 and 30% by 2030. (Our calculation internalizes euro-zone intra-regional trade.) Such an outcome could result in a restructuring of the global economy, in several ways. Neither India nor China is self-sufficient in exhaustible natural resources — with a few exceptions in the case of India — and rising demand for such relatively scarce commodities will make them more expensive. With both countries having vast pools of low-cost workers, that will inevitably depress prices for manufactured goods and tradable services. While that might lower wages in some industries in other countries, consumers across the globe would have greater purchasing power.
If the Indian economy grows 8 percent annually, and if Indian households mimic their Chinese counterparts' propensity to own cars relative to incomes, then in a short span of four years India's car market may more than double to rival China's 2003 total of 1.76 million units.In the worst-case scenario -- in which the $575 billion economy expands no more than 6 percent a year, and Indians are more reluctant than the Chinese to splurge on new cars - it will still take only eight years before India becomes the world's fourth-biggest passenger-car market after the U.S., Japan and China.

On Problems in India-- Almost three-fifths of the power India generates yields no revenue because of theft and distribution of free electricity to farmers. That means industrial power users pay rates that are among the highest in the world, and are double of Chinese levels. That's a big drag on India's export competitiveness.
-- High customs tariffs in India, amounting to 15 percent of the value of goods imported into the country, curb consumption. In China, where tariffs are only 3 percent of the value of imports, Consumer durables are a third cheaper than in India.
-- India's labor productivity in manufacturing industries is in disarray because of the country's neglect of basic education. In an eight-hour shift, a Chinese worker produces 35 shirts. An Indian worker manages 20.

India and China are creating new rules for global manufacturing and services output dynamics.Surplus labor in China has already had a major impact on global inflation, and India has an increasing role to play in influencing this trend.China has already achieved a 5.9% share of the US$7.5 trillion global goods export market. India, with its more recent entry into the services export arena, has built a 1.6% share of the US$1.7 trillion global services export market. We estimate that India's share has reached almost 2% (closer to 5% in the outsourcing market) of the US$450 billion global IT services market. It is likely to follow a similar trend in the IT-enabled business process outsourcing market of US$775 billion, where it currently has a share of only 0.5%. Global companies are best poised to benefit from India and China's greater annexation of overseas product and service markets. Indeed, most of the growth for such companies could come from the industrialization and globalization of India and China.


Lighting the GE Way via FC

GE is working as hard as it can to kill off its lightbulb business -- before someone else does.A cross-disciplinary team of scientists at the GE research center in New York wants to develop a new kind of electric lamp using an emerging technology called organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), most easily thought of as light-up plastic.What's most striking about GE's renewed interest in innovation is not so much the technologies themselves, but how the company gets them from lab to market. "As a scientist, you have to figure out what makes this place tick. And it's not just technology," Duggal, a scientist at GE, says of GE's research center. "If you can't sell a project, then you're going to have a hard time here." So OLEDs may not be GE's most cutting-edge research project -- that might be its nanotechnology or molecular-medicine efforts. But it is a technology that may one day save GE's flagging lighting business by, ironically, driving a stake through the lightbulb as we know it. So OLEDs provide an intriguing window onto how the company integrates long-range research into today's strategic planning and how new ideas get through the system without getting thwarted, blocked, or worse. Amazing spirit behind this research idea, funding and execution - the GE touch is obvious.

Friday, July 30, 2004

IT Architect: Metaphor or Oxymoron by Jeff Tash

Traditional architects in industries like construction have more authority compared to an IT architect. Business tend to look at IT architect as a support service provider and this limits the ability of IT architects to provide best value to Business says Jeff Tash in this article.Traditional architects play a “central” role in construction projects. They’re in charge of creating multiple different layers of blueprints. The individual subcontractors doing the actual construction work only need to see their portion of the big picture. Each one is only interested in their individual set of blueprints. But, in the end, it’s the architect’s responsibility to make certain that everything “works” -- that the final structure does not collapse under its own weight.Now, by contrast, turn your attention to IT. These architects are “self-driven.” In other words, IT is driving the architecture process -- not the client. Furthermore, unlike traditional architects, IT architects have almost no authority. They must operate chiefly from a bully pulpit -- hoping to rally support for their ideas and methods. IT is burdened with an unreasonable responsibility. Business management perceives IT as purely a support function. And unlike with construction projects, IT architects rarely get to respond back with regard to what can or cannot be accomplished.Nothing is going to improve until this gap between IT and business people is bridged. Before IT architecture can begin to emulate traditional architecture, a solution must be found so that business people can understand what their choices are and what the costs are going to be. Only then will IT architects possess real authority like their brethren in the construction industry.


The Myth of Disruptive Technology by John C. Dvorak

In the latest PC Magazine, John Dvorak attacks "The Myth of Disruptive Technology."One problem in our society is the increasing popularity of false-premise concepts that are blindly used for decision making. The amount of money squandered during the dot-com era because of "paradigm shifts" and "new economies" is staggering. People actually believed that all retailing would be online and that all groceries would be delivered to the home as they were in the 1920s, despite changes that make delivery impractical. Who cares about reality? We have a disruptive technology at work! John Dvorak writes,"In the Harvard Business School alumni bulletin highlighting this nonsense, there is a list of supposedly disruptive technologies. Not one is disruptive. At the top of the list are electric cars supplanting gasoline vehicles. On what planet? Internet sales supplanting bookstores. Hmm, Barnes & Noble is packed with people. Restaurants are being affected by the disruptive technology of grocers' takeout. Are you laughing yet? Motorcycles being affected by the disruptive technology of dirt bikes—does anyone see a pattern here? Is this an April Fools' gag? James Burke's marvelous PBS TV series Connections offers a better explanation for disruption. When there is true disruption, it comes from inventions, regulatory and social change, complementary technologies, coincidence, and demand".Dvorak concludes,"There is no such thing as a disruptive technology. There are inventions and new ideas, many of which fail while others succeed. That's it. The concept of disruptive technology is not the only daft idea floating around to be lapped up obediently by the business community. There are others. But the way these dingbat bromides go unchallenged makes you wonder whether anyone can think independently anymore".

Craig Venter's Epic Voyage to Redefine the Origin of the Species via Wired

he cracked the human genome, now he wants to collect the DNA of everything on the planet. Wired writes, "A lot of people wonder what happened to J. Craig Venter, the maverick biologist who a few years ago raced the US government to sequence the human genetic code. he's in the midst of a scientific enterprise as ambitious as anything he's ever done. Leaving colleagues and rivals to comb through the finished human code in search of individual genes, he has decided to sequence the genome of Mother Earth.

What we think of as life on this planet is only the surface layer of a vast undiscovered world. The great majority of Earth's species are bacteria and other microorganisms. They form the bottom of the food chain and orchestrate the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients through the ecosystem. They are the dark matter of life. They may also hold the key to generating a near-infinite amount of energy, developing powerful pharmaceuticals, and cleaning up the ecological messes our species has made. But we don't really know what they can do, because we don't even know what they are. Venter wants to change that. He's circling the globe in his luxury yacht the Sorcerer II on an expedition Venter and is capturing the DNA of varioys species on filter paper and shipping it to be sequenced and analyzed at his headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. The hope is to uncover tens or even hundreds of millions of new genes, an immense bolus of information on Earth's biodiversityHe certainly talks big. "We will be able to extrapolate about all life from this survey," Venter says. "This will put everything Darwin missed into context."

Collaborative Innovation Networks: Peter Gloor via Bill Ives

Bill Ives points to Peter Gloor’s new book, COINS @ Tipping Point – How to Convert Organizations into Collaborative Innovation Networks. It defines COINs as “self organizing cyberteams of intrinsically motivated people who get together around revolutionary new ideas and concepts.” Peter uses the development of the internet as a prime example of a COIN in operation. The book also looks closely at the experiences of the Swiss sailing team that created and then raced the Alinghi to victory in the America’s Cup. The book explores three main questions:
• What are Collaborative Knowledge Networks
• Why are Collaborative Knowledge Networks better than conventional organizations?
• How can my organization become a Collaborative Knowledge Network?
Peter was the former e-business practice lead for Deloitte in Europe and draws on his many relevant experiences there, as well as prior industry experience. Examples come from companies like DaimlerChrysler, Novartis, Intel Deloitte, UBS, HP, and IBM. It makes good reading and the COIN movement looks interesting.

Imitation is the Sincerest Flattery by Grady Booch on Microsoft

Grady Booch says, "Its been fascinating to watch Microsoft try to follow the very path that Rational forged a lifetime ago, namely, the creation of a suite of tools that support the software development lifecycle, not just the activities of coding. The latest brick in this well-worn path that Microsoft is walking is their vigorous pursuit of patents, something which will require a bit of catchup since IBM has led the world in patents for the past 11 years (and shows no signs of letting up)".Grady is the author of six best-selling books and has published several hundred articles on software engineering, including papers published in the early '80s that originated the term and practice of object-oriented design. He says, this represents a subtle yet significant recognition of the critical importance of improving the activity of software development by teams - not just individuals - and the protection of essential software intellecual property as a means of driving innovation and economization, says Booch and adds that there's still a lot of exciting stuff we'll get to do in the coming years.

A perspective on supply chain managament and product life cycle management

Mohan Srinivasan, Leader of SCM practice of satyam talks about SCM and PLM Mohan articulates in his own unique way about the drivers of SCM and PLM solutions and elaborates the need to have a robust methodology for implementation for lasting business value. The ability to relate sophisticated IT system benefits to business performance is the key linkage for generating value out of consulting and creating competitive advantage to business.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Europe Suffering From Productivity Paralysis? via Bweek

since 1995, Europe has trailed America in productivity.Boosting labor productivity is the key to creating higher profits, improving living standards, and keeping prices stable. For decades after World War II, Europe kept pace or even surpassed the U.S. in productivity growthThe gap is even widening. This year the U.S. should record productivity gains of 3.3%, according to Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union. That's almost twice the rate of France and Germany and well above the British rate (yes, even dynamic Britain is struggling in this area). Europe now has an hourly output per worker some 20% below American levels.The productivity numbers have become so alarming that European Central Bank boss Jean-Claude Trichet warned about the problem in a July 1 speech. The Dutch, who have seen their once-robust economy stumble, are getting worried. "Future economic growth will require a substantial increase in our productivity," says Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst. Patricia Hewitt, the British Secretary of State for Trade & Industry, has made improving productivity a top priority: It's the only way Britain can close a still-considerable gap in living standards between British workers and their U.S. counterparts.Europe is not seeing the same productivity bang from information technology that the U.S. has enjoyed over the past decadeUniquely European factors -- from stiff job-protection codes to hidden barriers against competition -- amplify the problem.Europe also simply doesn't have as large a tech sector as the U.S. That matters because fast-growing technology companies are themselves major contributors to productivity growth. According to McKinsey & Co., the IT sector generates 2.3% of total GDP in the U.S., but only 1.3% and 1.5% in France and Germany, respectively. McKinsey says that the U.S. tech sector accounts for more than a quarter of the entire economy's productivity growth. (Some studies suggest it is much higher.) In contrast, a smaller IT sector generates less than 20% of productivity growth in Europe.Only a systematic surge in IT spending, increased focus on R&D,coupled with serious labor-market reforms,would change the dynamic in Europe.

South Korea leads the Broadband wave via News.com

South Korea has made significant progress with many forms of digital technology. Citizens can get "video on demand" online, often even with high-definition video, for less than Americans pay to rent a DVD. Low-income students use high-speed Net connections to take free tutorials for the national aptitude test, an SAT-like exam that can determine college admissions and future job paths.Online gaming is a massive cultural phenomenon, with three TV channels dedicated to the subject and good players attaining the fame of American sports stars. In addition, South Koreans spent more than $1.6 billion shopping online in the first quarter of 2004, or about twice as much per capita as U.S. residents .South Korea has launched the equivalent of a space program in technology, with an aggressive strategy in broadband and online industry.South Korea is the global role model for deploying broadband technology.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Intel CEO wants an employee attitude check via News.com

Barrett, who is known to often speak his mind on topics ranging from politics to the PC industry, turned his attention to Intel's own employees last week in a memo that addressed the string of product delays and production problems.
"I recently spoke to Intel's senior managers about our execution," Barrett said in the memo, e-mailed to company employees on July 21. "Yes, I spoke bluntly and directly, because to me, there is nothing more essential to Intel's success than its culture of operational excellence and our performance to values such as discipline, results orientation and customer orientation. I spoke bluntly also because it is part of our culture to address our problems with honesty and to resolve to fix them." "Our business is complex, and we have set high expectations for ourselves. Therefore, it is critical that everyone--beginning with senior management but extending to all of you--focus intensely on actions and attitudes that will continue Intel's strong track record of technology leadership leading to outstanding company performance and satisfied customers," Barrett said in his memo. "Finally, I was direct because I wanted senior managers--whose job it is to set expectations to all of you and to provide direction and coaching--to have no doubt about the need to improve our performance."
Craig is trying to change things internally inside Intel as many planned product launches have not materialised.

As It Goes Public, Google Says It Is Worth Up to $36 Billion via NYTimes

The popular Internet search company, which is attempting to sell shares to the public in an unconventional auction, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday that it expected its shares to sell for $108 to $135 each.That would value the company at $29 billion to $36 billion, putting its market value just below the $38 billion value of Yahoo, a larger and far more mature Internet company. The most valuable Internet company, eBay, is worth $49 billion.The company will use what is called a modified version of a Dutch auction, in which prospective investors indicate how many shares they want and the maximum price they are willing to pay. In a classic Dutch auction, the final price would be set at the highest price that will allow all the shares to be sold.Google with a revenue of $1.47 billion last year shall command a marketcap of 29-36 billion dollars , a tad lower than Yahoo marketcap.At this price, Google is more valuable than Mcdonalds and SONY!!Crazy!!!


EDS - Tough times via BWeek

Any rebound at the ailing tech-services giant is likely to be slow. Even management is pointing to 2006 as a return to growth.The 20 billion dollar giant is struggling to grow and is losing marketshare to its rivals IBM and Accenture regularlyFor more than a year investors in ailing Electronic Data Systems (EDS ) have nurtured hopes of a turnaround even though the technology-services giant's sales kept sliding and it posted loss after quarterly loss.Investors are probably in for more blows in the coming months.EDS's management doesn't foresee growth until 2006.EDS needs to refocus its sales strategy, analysts say. For months, it has concentrated on grabbing midsize, single-function contracts of less than $1 billion, partly because while "larger contracts look good [on the balance sheet, they] take longer to transact.EDS needs to focus not only on grabbing these larger contracts but also on convincing potential customers that its current struggles won't hurt its ability to provide solid service. Yankee Group surveys show that large corporations perceive EDS as not stable. Given this, they might hesitate to send it business or could ask for concessions to account for the added risk.Tough job at hand for the EDS top management.Service companies can sustain wins only by better business models, high class management talent, dynamic corporate culture and delivery excellence - EDS is widely perceived to be scoring poorly in most of these parameters -it is not scoring the highest in any compared to its peers.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Music in the Digital Era - Using Econometrics to Model via emigroup

This paper is attempting to model statistically and quantify the music business, modeling rigorously the various determinants of CD sales, investigating, using state-of-the-art econometric techniques,the likely reaction of music consumers to new, legitimate on-line musicservices. The paper captures the trends and shifts in the music industry and evaluates the market impact of alternative strategies in the legitimate on-line world. The model correalates among other things music industry's growth with increased braodband penetration. GDP growth and more importantly arrives at an inflection point around 2004 for a major take-off of the digital music world. Interesting read.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Jeff Bezos on Word-of-Mouth Power via Bweek

Amazon.com boasted one of the best-known brand names on the Internet almost from the time it opened its virtual doors nine years ago. But slowing growth and mounting losses as the dot-com wave crested in 2000 tarnished its reputation as a business. Chief Executive Jeffrey P. Bezos, however, never stopped pushing his obsession to please customers. Now, that persistence has paid off -- not only in recent profitable quarters and recharged growth but also in the value of Amazon's brand.According to the latest BusinessWeek/Interbrand survey, Amazon's brand ranking rose 22% last year. Very insightful Bezos views - "The right way to build a brand is by delivering a great service. Customers learn about who we are as a result of interacting with us. A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well. People notice that over time. I don't think there are any shortcuts. We don't do any television advertising, and we take all of the money that we would put into television advertising, and instead put it into things like free SuperSaver shipping [free shipping on most orders over $25], lower product prices, category expansion, and invention of new features.We take those funds that might otherwise be used to shout about our service, and put those funds instead into improving the service.If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful. Articulating the Amazon brand -It's about starting with the customer and working backward. And it's about invention. Our two very strong cultural attributes at the company are innovation and customer obsession. We don't want to start with an idea and work toward the customer. We want to start with a customer problem and then invent to a solution".Bezos talk is always interesting - this one focussed on Amazon is all the more so.


Why Fast Is in Retail Fashion via FC

Just as the advent of the hamburger helped accelerate culinary and car culture, other aspects of retail -- from shorter product development cycles to "pop-up stores" -- are quickening.Hamburger - Invention mirrored a major shift in human behavior, the humble burger has come to symbolize our preference for a faster retail experience.This now world-famous quick meal was reportedly inspired by a harried customer who wanted to eat on the run.The need for speed quickly spread to other retail sectors, as well. Supermarkets added carts and fast checkout lanes. Malls gained instant photo kiosks. Drugstores began selling food. Department stores hired personal shoppers. Meanwhile, consumers had discovered yet another timesaver: shopping by catalog. Buyers, ever harried, wanted to shop faster still. That was made possible by the Internet. From nearly zero sales in 1985, online consumer transactions will rise to $92 billion in 2004, excluding travel, according to Forrester Research. The trend points to a future where most merchandise will be purchased online.Doing more in less time is also visible in other purchase patterns. In 2002, 23% of mall shoppers browsed compared with 37% in 2000, according to ICSC Research Quarterly. An interesting article.


Listen to your customers or risk losing them by GM's Tony Scott

Don't like your car? In the future, says General Motors's CTO Tony Scott, you'll just download a new one.Tony Scott has a simple message for people who make hardware and software: Listen to your customers or risk losing them. As both carrot and stick, General Motors's (GM) affable chief technology officer wields an annual IT budget of nearly $3 billion. It's that kind of spending power that led many to credit Scott with prompting the recent détente between Sun (SUNW) and Microsoft (MSFT).It's maturation, standardization, and commoditization. The industry is going through a transformation -- one the auto industry and railroads and other big industries have already been through. I'll make a car analogy. Imagine if GM shipped you a car that you had to assemble yourself, and mechanics had to come to your house just to put it together, and it had no warranty. I think somebody would come along pretty quickly and say, "We've got a better idea on how to make and sell cars."When you go to a gas station now, you can stick the nozzle into the gas tank and it works. But in the early days of the auto industry, there were 2,000 car companies, nothing was standardized, and demand far exceeded supply. In that early era, you could do whatever you wanted. The tech industry has by and large been in that same mode. But that's now changing.People in the Valley are terrified of the idea that Silicon Valley might turn into Detroit. In that scenario, innovation and growth slow, and margins look more like -- well, GM's margins. The whole culture here has been built on startups and innovation. A very interesting interview.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Nokia and Ericsson: the contrasting tale of two Nordic mobile giants via Yahoo

Ericcson, once almost written off is rebounding and is expected to get stronger, while the once revered Nokia is losing significant ground.Just a week after Nokia reported a five-percent drop in sales and a weak forecast, sending tech stocks skidding and prompting economists to worry that the mobile phone giant played too dominant a role in the Finnish economy, Ericsson announced a forecast-busting second quarter, pulling stocks back up and giving rise to optimism about more jobs and a stronger Swedish economy. While the neighboring goliaths largely pursue different parts of the mobile market, with Nokia concentrating on phones and Ericsson focusing on networks, there is more to their contrasting fortunes than differing external factors.Analysts credit Ericsson, which only recently exited 10 consecutive quarters in the red, with having taken advantage of a market upswing to turn a sour situation into a booming success. At the same time they chide Nokia for letting huge opportunities lay fallow.


Outsourcing: Renegotiating for value via Mckinseyquarterly

Mckinsey Quarterly's article on renegotiation for value writes, "many long-term IT-outsourcing agreements fall out of sync with a company's business needs and technology costs. After all, an outsourcing contract reflects a five- to ten-year forecast of a company's IT needs and a fair price to pay a vendor for meeting those needs. The size of the gap between what many companies are currently paying for IT outsourcing and the potential savings is surprising, however".Companies can obtain much better terms from their IT-outsourcing vendors by renegotiating their agreements. The article says, given the plummeting cost of technology and recent innovations in systems-management tools and processes, that gap may be substantial, especially for deals signed in the past two to five years. In real life experience—with companies in sectors as varied as banking, insurance, media, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications—this mismatch can represent as much as 20 to 40 percent of the total cost of the contract, or hundreds of millions of dollars a year, depending on the size of the deal.To capture the biggest savings, companies should focus on specific situations. Contracts with heavy infrastructure costs, for instance, are a good target, since prices for hardware and storage have dropped by 25 to 36 percent each of the past three years while software prices have stayed relatively flat. Corporations whose needs have changed or whose usage of wide-area networks, computer-processing capacity, or data storage has risen or fallen sharply should also revisit their contract terms. In addition, older agreements and outsourcing arrangements that were not open to competitive bidding are likely to have large gaps between what companies are paying for IT services and the actual cost of providing those services.
The article highlights huge scope for cost reduction by outsourcing customers, if approached in a structured manner( Personally, I am not so convinced about this level of cost reduction) - Hope that India based Offshore service providers are factoring this line of thinking in devising their future strategies.


Microsoft's possible acquisitions and growth strategies via Bweek

Even after its huge dividend payout, Gates & Co. still have plenty in the till to fund expansion, especially through acquisitionsAfter it makes a onetime special dividend payment of $32 billion in December, it will still have more than $20 billion in cash. And thanks to its profitable Windows and Office monopolies, it's racking up $1 billion in cash every month.That's enough to buy a lot of growth -- whether through acquisitions, product upgrades, or new business expansion.
Possible acquisition is Siebel Systems (SEBL ), a specialist in customer-management software. Even SAP (SAP ) remains a possibility. Though the deal is officially off the table, some analysts believe talks could resume if Oracle eventually buys PeopleSoft, putting pressure on Microsoft's server business.The most intriguing and dramatic deal would be for services giant Accenture (ACN ). The company, which has a market cap of $24 billion, is a powerhouse in the lucrative consulting and business outsourcing arenas. Already there are affinities between the two companies: Ballmer sits on Accenture's board, and the two companies co-own Avenade, a boutique consulting outfit that specializes in Microsoft technology.


The 9-11 commission complete report

The 585 page well written report about the run up to the 911 events. The Sep 11 events have chabged life in America and elsewhere in the world. Many things have changed all over the world - form airport security to hotel check-in procedures. Sep 11,2001 - I was in Washington D.C having passed the Pentagon station 15/20 minutes before the pentagon mishap.I still remember the chaos and was witness to the american people reaction for several days after the event - many americans were busy taking video shoots of all prominent buildings, hoping to preseve the images for posterity. I still remember the eight hours that it took Santhana and me to return back to my place of stay - which usually takes less than 30 mts. My colleagues Elangovan and Shahul travelling in a different direction took almost 6 hrs to return back to their place. So many memories.

The Art of Strategic Innovation -Costas Markides via Asideconsulting

Costas Markides,Professor of Strategic and International Management, London Business School defines strategic innovation as :The discovery of a new way of playing the game in your business, which is fundamentally different from the way most other competitors are playing the game. Strategy is finding answers to 3 interrelated questions:
i. who will I target as my customer
ii. what shall I offer to these customers
iii. how can I do this in an efficient way
Strategic innovation is the discovery of a new "who-what-how" position in the business - a position that all other competitors have missed. By discovery of this new position, we discover an untapped source of value in our industry.
In this brilliant interview Costas Markides explains strategic innovation in detail, how this differs from Michael Porter's approach and finally identifies obstacles to strategic innovation as under:
The greatest obstacles in my mind are our own mental models, the unquestioned assumptions, the stereotypes and beliefs that we individually and as organizations, have. They don't have to be explicit, they don't have to be written down but they are there nevertheless. They are like our genes, they control our behavior and we don't even know that they do so. Every organization has a lot of sacred cows which they are unwilling to bring to the surface and question. And these sacred cows condition what an organization does, what the people in the organization do. The first thing we need to do is to question these sacred cows. These sacred cows have to be brought out, questioned and sacrificed before anybody can come up with any new ideas
. Very refreshing and insightful interview.

Faster, cheaper, better via Economist

The ability to build powerful computers cheaply, combined with growing commercial demand for high-end computing power, is creating a renaissance in the field of supercomputing.Two applications in particular have driven the development of supercomputers: the modelling of climate change and of what happens inside a nuclear explosion—the second of which is necessary because of the ban on actual nuclear testing that is obeyed by established nuclear powers.Supercomputers are also good for modelling the way proteins fold and, it has been thought, should be useful at helping to predict which drugs might work.For more than two years, the fastest computer in the world has been the “Earth Simulator”. Built by Japan's NEC, this machine is used for climate modelling. The two next-fastest computers are used to model nuclear weapons at America's Department of Energy.

Software ain't what it used to be by Nicholas Carr via IHT

Microsoft's decision to return $32 billion to its shareholders may be a wise business move, but it is also an admission of defeat: The company is confessing that despite years of trying, it has not found an attractive way to invest its cash reserves.The software industry's sluggishness is not just a reflection of the vagaries of the economic cycle. It is a manifestation of a fundamental, if often overlooked, characteristic of the industry's product: Software never decays. Machinery breaks down, parts wear out, supplies get depleted. But software code remains unchanged by time or use.For software companies to grow, therefore, they have to give buyers good reasons to throw out perfectly serviceable versions of programs and install new ones in their place. Until recently, that hasn't been a problem. The rapid growth in the power of microprocessors, combined with ever-shifting computing standards, forced companies to replace or upgrade their existing programs at a breakneck pace. The case for continuing to upgrade (both desktop software and hardware included) these programs is weak and getting weaker.The same trend is playing out in complex and expensive enterprise applications - the programs that underpin business processes like accounting, customer service and purchasing.Nicholas Carr concludes by saying, "Software companies are smart and inventive, and they will continue to come up with new, if ever more specialized, products. The industry will remain a large and important one, but it seems fated to resemble more and more a traditional, mature sector like manufacturing.It is no longer unthinkable to say that software's glory days lie in the past, not the future". Looks to me that Carr's facts are right but the inferences are debatable. I beleive that the areas untouched by modern IT systems and the global trade and heightened competition would make companies invest more and more in IT and contiune realigning processes and chasing different business models.

The Rumors of Email's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated via Matt

The future prospects of email analysed well

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Outsourcing Is In With IT via ITUP

The pace of outsourcing is not slowing down.If the results of a couple of recent surveys pan out as expected, we can expect plenty of IT outsourcing over the coming year—and on a pretty massive scale, too.TPI says that 18 to 20 "megadeals"—ones it defines as contracts that exceed a billion dollars—could close by the end of the year. The market-research firm adds that the second quarter of 2004 saw a 35 percent increase in the value of IT-outsourcing contracts over last year's second quarter, meaning that wider scale outsourcing of IT is already on the rise. TPI's findings, if accurate, basically confirm a recent trend toward long-term, full-scale shifting of enterprise-IT services from companies to outsourcing providers, complete with transfer of IT staffs to the service provider. A decade from now,the in-house IT department at large enterprises may not even exist.

Managing Personal Information and Knowledge - Tom Davenport via Stephanie Carlin

Davenport says that the average worker spends three hours and 14 minutes a day using technologies to process work-related information—more than 40 percent of an eight-hour workday. The tools and technologies designed to make life easier often have the opposite effect and consume too much of an individual’s time and energyDavenport adds: “the idea of managing personal information to transform KM will take off for many reasons. First, people are swamped with information and knowledge. Few people today believe they do not get enough information. In fact, we get plenty of information, and we need to use it more effectively. Second, thanks to the Internet, Google, and other knowledge resources, there are greater expectations for information access. Third, because of self-service strategies employed by many large organizations, employees often feel they are on their own. Finally, devices and tools for personal information management are multiplying, and they do not always integrate well with other knowledge tools in an organization. Just when it seems like you figure something out, something else that is better and faster comes out, and you need to relearn a new technology or tool. As a result, there is a greater need to focus on managing personal information and knowledge.”


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

A guide to doing business in China via Mckinseyquarterly

One of the biggest hurdles is coming to terms with the real China, a land of great geographical, social, political, and industrial diversity. As a starting point, it's essential to cut through the thicket of misunderstandings and misinformation about doing business there. Clearing them up won't guarantee the success of investments, but it will at least increase the chances of getting the foundations right, particularly at a time when fears that the country's economy is overheated are further complicating decision making.China lends itself to sweeping statements. Here are a few making the rounds: China will be the next economic superpower; its economy is still state run; foreigners don't make money there; relationships count, so a partner is needed. These provocative claims can start a conversation, but they are hyperbolic, misleading, out-of-date, or just not true.Generalizations about China may be interesting conversation starters but are potentially dangerous distractions for companies considering investments there. The best advice is to focus on your own industry and operating issues. Performance in China varies greatly within industries, and the market operates on the winner-takes-all principle. The main concern is to become that winner by responding nimbly to fast-changing market dynamics and by relying as much as possible on skilled local managers, who are still rare in China. For companies operating in sectors that are not yet fully deregulated, the focus should be on creating a competitive advantage before the gloves come off. Merely transferring Western business approaches that fail to match China's reality won't work

Commonsense advise about Google IPO

Reasons Google Could Become a Penny Stock.Google is a great website, but a lesson of the dotcom bubble is that a great website is not always a great business, advises Dr. Steve Baba.Google’s expected IPO has attracted enormous, one-sided, positive buzz from Google fans, techies nostalgic about the boom years, and day traders hoping for quick profits. The article lists Google’s many potential business challenges, several of which could turn Google into a penny stock. While this may look a little far fetched -pl. remember Altavista's downfall and the rise of Yahoo in the search space.

Photography Companies Try a New Approach via NYT

For several years, photography companies and retailers alike have watched desperately as sales of their favorite cash cow, camera film, were plowed under by the merciless juggernaut of film-free digital photography. The companies kept hoping that sales of in-store services to turn electronic images into prints would pick up the slack. They never did.Why not? Because, consumer research showed, a lot of amateur photographers did not realize that it was as easy to drop off a digital camera's memory card for processing as it was to drop off a roll of film. And those who did were often loath to give up control of an expensive card holding hundreds of nonreplicable photographic memories. The purveyors of photo printing services have certainly tried to get the word out.The industry's latest answer to the conundrum is to pepper stores with self-service kiosks where consumers can edit photos and make their own prints from digital memory cards. Tens of thousands of kiosks are now in drugstores and discount stores. So, with such critical mass finally achieved, the companies are rolling out the advertising cannons.Kodak intends to set up 20 wireless kiosks at the Olympics in Athens - the first time the company has set up a center at an Olympics site that serves amateurs as well as professional photographers.The pace of opening self-service kiosks is so heady that even owners of photo specialty stores - who, logic would dictate, would bridle at any suggestion that consumers do anything self-service - have stopped fighting the trend and are welcoming it instead.


Esther Dyson on Social Networks: The Good and the Bad

Release 1.0's Esther Dyson examines the promise - and confusion - around social networks such as LinkedIn, Orkut and Plaxo in a useful article that appeared on July 15, 2004. She makes a great point:“In the end, the value isn't how many people you can link to, but rather how strong those links are. (There's a difference between business services such as LinkedIn, where the focus is mostly on increasing efficiency and limiting contacts to valuable ones, and the more social and would-be portal sites, such as Friendster or Orkut, where the focus is more on increasing the number of contacts. And, of course, some people use either kind of service for the opposite purpose, which only confuses things.) Esther Dyson adds,"I went to the Plaxo site and there are over 2,500,000 members and counting with over 800,000,000 connected contacts. Soon they will pass the number of blogs. What does this mean?" Very interesting insight.

Another air show, another row via Economist

Airbus and Boeing are both forecasting a recovery in demand for aircraft after a three-year slump. Airbus is the more bullish of the two, having delivered more planes than its American rival for the first time last year. This ascendancy has led Boeing to renew its complaints about subsidies to Airbus.There are conflicting signs as to which way the airline industry is going. There is a rash of new low-cost airlines, many of which want nimble, short-haul Boeing 737s, or something similar. As for long-haul flights, some airlines value the number of seats above all, others fuel efficiency. On Sunday July 18th, on the eve of Farnborough, Boeing was able to boast that it had received downpayments for 200 7E7s—from Japan’s ANA, Air New Zealand, First Choice and Blue Panorama, among others. Two days later, Airbus crowed about a 24-strong order from Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, including four A380s.Overall, Airbus’s order book continues to look better than Boeing’s.

Cellular phones changing to become more big and versatile via NYT

The cellular industry's long pursuit of ever-more minuscule phones has shifted into reverse, giving rise to bulkier wireless handsets with larger color screens and small versions of standard qwerty-style computer keyboards to send e-mail and instant messages.The multifunction devices are beginning to find an audience beyond gadget lovers, according to cellular executives, who hope to put their digital wireless networks to use for more than voice traffic. We are also beginning to see deployment of RFID chips in mobile phones - This opens up many possibilities like - going to the airport with mobile phone and RFID tag instead of an eticket, restaurants making use of this technology in unique ways to identify and collect payments from customers etc..

Cheap, Easy RFID? via Informationweek

Microsoft prepares to enter the radio-frequency ID market by tuning its products and collaborating with partners.For months, Microsoft has been ramping up development as it prepares to enter the RFID market in the first half of next year. Its engineers are coding RFID specifications into three of the company's enterprise-resource-planning applications--the Axapta, Great Plains, and Navision suites--and into BizTalk Server, which plays a central data-integration role in Windows environments.Windows may get an RFID injection next. The windows platform will be RFID-enabled.Within the operating system, RFID support probably would be akin to a device driver, the piece of code that allows a printer or a network device to work with a computer.Microsoft is sizing up the RFID market, from top to bottom, to see where it should push hardest. Microsoft's expanding activity will influence the broader market.Microsoft is expected to drive standards and influence how data is managed as it's transmitted from readers.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Blog readers more affluent and mature via Kathleen

Kathleen points to an interesting survey about bloggers that cites new information about blog readers being more affluent and mature than previously thought. Some of the survey findings :Far from being young kids with little money in their pockets and lots of time on their hands, the survey found that blog readers are older and richer than many people suppose. Exactly 61% of the blog readers that responded to the survey are over the age of 30, and 75% make more than $45,000 a year. In fact, nearly 30% of the respondents are between the ages of 31 and 40, and over 37% spanned the ages of 41 to 60. And nearly 40% have a household income of $90,000 or higher.
A partial profile of blog readers reveals:
• 54% of their news consumption is online
• 21% are bloggers themselves
• 46% describe themselves as opinion makers
More importantly, from an advertiser's point of view, in the last six months:
• 50% have spent more than $50 online on books.
• 47% have spent more than $500 online for plane tickets.
• 50% have contributed more than $50 to a cause or candidate online
• 5% have contributed more than $1,000 to a cause or candidate online

A full 67% of respondents claimed they have clicked on a blog ad. Asked what they did after clicking, 39.4% said they donated money, and 22.3% said they purchased a product or service.

Without question blog readers are biased toward the Internet. On average they said 54% of their news comes from online sources, with newpapers running second at only 16.5%. But, according to the survey, blog readers suck up information from everywhere. They are media-mavens: 21% subscribe to the New Yorker magazine, 15% to the Economist, 15% to Newsweek and 14% to the Atlantic Monthly. Nevertheless, the survey found that " blog readers are united in their apathy about traditional news sources: 82% of blog readers say that television is worthless or only somewhat useful as a source of news and opinion. 55% percent say the same about print newspapers. 54% say the same about print magazines."


Sunday, July 18, 2004

Global services sourcing - A perspective via columbia university earth institute

As the outsourcing wave progresses, the earth industry of columbia university has come with an assessment of the current practices,issues and roadmap for future. A comprehensive report co-authored by Nirupam Bajpai, Jeffrey Sachs,Rohit Arora and Harpreet Khurana - this report has been presented to the President and Prime Minister of India as well. A must read for all interested in outsourcing.

Scott McNealy Takes On His Critics via Bweek

Their reasons for why we were doing so well [during the boom] were as wrong as their reasons for why we aren't doing well now, Scott Mcnealy says of analyst's views on Sun's current performance Scott says,"We're fundamentally focused, much more so than any company I see out there. At some point, I've either got to listen to the open letters or sit down and think through this stuff. I've never seen as much conventional wisdom in our industry as I see right now.I wanted to get our product lines fixed, and we did. We focused entirely on raising the quality levels, the support levels, price performance.... We've got all that laid into place. Now we're driving consolidation, labs consolidation, facilities consolidation. We're taking our back office and putting it into the front office of our key partners, which they certainly like, and they can run their business on Sun as they go to market.We just had a lot to do. The first year after the bubble, we took capacity out. The second couple of years, we've been working on getting the product lines organized. Quite honestly, we didn't execute all that well when we were growing 40% or 60% per year. What the analysts miss is we were making all of the mistakes four or five years ago, right at the peak of the bubble". Sun should survive - survive as a strong player to provide a credible alternative to IBM and HP in the high end server market.

From baggage to tires to beer, industry is rapidly embracing RFID as the ultimate tracking technology via MIT technology review

Some innovative uses of RFID technology in core business and their success is beginning to be reported As we wait for the Jan 2005 walmart deadline to be reached for embracing RFID technology by key walmart suppliers, initial reports of RFID technology by Delta and British brewery -coorg raises confidence that this system shall reap huge rewards.Previously, the breweries owned their own kegs and managed their shipment and returns—a costly and labor-intensive process. Trenstar, the logistics company hired by Coorg bought the kegs from these companies and outfitted each with an RFID tag. The breweries now contract the keg coordination with Trenstar, which provides detailed audit trails of exactly where the kegs are and when they’re due back. “The biggest benefit to brewers from RFID is the reduction of asset loss,Breweries lose on average five to six percent of their kegs every year. This has been cut by more than half already"
RFID implementation by the British breweries also had some positive unintended consequences. Because the technology provided an audit trail for each keg, the breweries were able to claim tax credits on the amount of beer left in each keg. Typically, a brewery is taxed on the amount of beer shipped out. With an airtight audit trail now in place, breweries weigh the kegs upon their return and receive tax credits on the bottom swill or, if the keg was defective, the full keg. "Companies save roughly $1 to $12 per keg, depending on how much beer is left in the container,The tax credit alone paid for the early implementations of this system!!”


South-of-the-Border Silicon via Bweek

Most of the world's computer chipmaking capacity is based in Asia, where outfits in China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Korea crank out the millions of silicon wafers needed for PCs, cell phones, and a myriad of other electronic devices.Aided by private U.S. real estate capital, the government of Mexico, and the Mexican state of Baja California, Ron Jones and Daniel Hill -- both chip-industry veterans -- say they're looking to build in the town of Mexicali a 10,000-acre industrial park that will be known as Silicon Border and cater to chipmakers and other high-tech businesses. Lisa pointed this article to me. This is a good initiative - spreading sources across continents - having a mega fab plant in North America is definitley needed - Remember epoxy resin shortage some years back as a plant manufacturing this in Japan had to shut down due to a fire. More investments in chip manufacturing has many ramifications - in general good for the consumer and the semiconductor industry.

Can china challenge India as a low-cost home for software development via NYTimes

It is clear today that India has the leadership, in terms of market share, for software development and outsourcing. The reason for that is that they had an early jump start. They began by being more Westernized and having more English speakers. A lot of guys who came over here from their institutes of technology and got trained here have now gone back. A lot of the start-ups during the Internet bubble were Indian, and a lot of the resources here in Silicon Valley were the holders of H-1B visas, who also transferred back after the bubble burst.Over the past couple of years, we've seen China really put the pressure on by bringing their skills sets up. They have the language barrier.Between the two cultures, there are some distinct differences. One is that we see more and more services going into India, the complete service, everything from consulting services to a full customer center where you have your phone systems set up with people answering them. It's all tied together. Having been established for a while, the Indians have a methodology and a process that's very familiar to those of us in the Western world. China hasn't really used that and is just now beginning to adopt it.India has processes and methodology from the 90's. It's old. China gets to look at all the mistakes of the Indian outsourcers and learn from them. And China gets to use the new technology that we and others have developed over the past year, but India is handicapped. China did the exact same thing with wireless technology. They were so far behind that they said: "We're not going to lay copper lines all over China. We're going to go wireless."So they are closing the gap. They will catch up. They are three to five years away. My take: Considering the size of the opportunity, advances made thus far and the dynamics of the industry - India should maintain leadership for next 10-15 years - But that requires very different mindset in investments, marketing, branding, superior infrastructure and more professionalism by Indian software company managements - India is there - but need to be more alert and responsive to emerging challenges. The current advances that Indian companies have is really substantial.I do not agree that chinese can challenge India in this space in the near future.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

From Intel Inside to Intel Everywhere: Will the Chipmaker's Strategy Work? via Knowledge@wharton

Intel wants a piece of Intel technology touching every human on earth, every minute of every day, in every aspect of their lifestyleIntel over the years quietly has been expanding its horizons well beyond chips for laptop and desktop computers. It's already developed a major business in chips for server computers – powerful machines used by corporations and governments – and also offers to sell nearly complete servers.It has taken steps towards a similar strategy in the arena of data storage equipment. In addition, Intel has set its sights on wireless communications and is angling to play a key role in designing products for the "digital home." Intel is definitely moving ahead with full speed.

What We Learned In The New Economy via FC

At the dawn of the Internet era, many old-line companies were indeed unresponsive and inflexible, leaving themselves vulnerable to new competition. Many still are. But those big corporations, it turned out, had other things going for them. One was, well, bigness, which brings leverage over suppliers and customers, plus access to capital markets. Established companies also enjoy powerful distribution channels, brand awareness, and relationships that aren't toppled quickly. All these theroies are getting busted as the power of the internet and the increasingly better performance being pumped out by may ebusiness enterprisesI reread this article after sometime to see whether I agree with the theme of the article -only to find that I tend to agree more, not less.

Revisiting the Bell curve in the age of telecom and outsourcing via Philip Greenspun

Statistically, due to their sheer hugeness, you'd have to expect that there are more really smart people in India and China than the total population of the U.S. The Bell Curve advocates sorting people by IQ and stratifying the mot successfule, successful and less successful layers. Phil argues, "If the sorting-by-IQ process were efficient across international borders you'd expect that an American with an IQ of 100 should be making less than an Indian with an IQ of 120. Given that a lot of brilliant well-educated people in India are getting paid less than $5,000 per year, this is a bit worrisome those of us here who are fat, dumb, and happy. [Imagine that you were running a company. Would you rather employ a local high school graduate with an IQ of 90 or an Indian college grad with an IQ of 130 via Internet link?]". Phil greenspun also raises questions about maintaining the standard of living in the US,given that the younger americans are on an average getting dumber and telcom, outsourcing and better people are available to be employed elesewhere at a more economical price.

Searching for The New York Times via Wired

The NYT published information do not show up in search engines like google on top even on traditional topics like many things about the business operations of a traditional publisher that has ventured online, the reasons are simple but the solutions complicated. The New York Times requires that its users register, which makes it difficult for search engines to spider its content. Perhaps an even more impenetrable barrier is the Times' paid archive. Because it stows material more than a week old behind an archive wall, you have to cough up $3 per article. Since few are willing to pay for content they can get free elsewhere, search engines, which often base results on relevancy (read: popularity), will continue to dis the Times -- as well as other media sites that make you register or pay for old news (The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal).

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Scanning a Paperless Horizon via NYT

Fujitsu and Xerox/Visioneer can scan stacks of paper, unattended, with marching-band precision - both sides at once, in fact - and convert them into PDF files on your computer, ready for searching, sorting or sending. Quite a progress in digitization track.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Billions To Save -Businesses are working hard to reap more efficiencies from supply-chain processes via ITUP

In a global market moving at lightning speed, the costly and laborious business of implementing standards to improve information flow along the supply chain often takes a backseat to quick workarounds that get the job done--for the moment. The quest for efficient supply chains led companies worldwide to spend more than $5 billion on supply-chain-management technology last year.

Monday, July 12, 2004

How Blogs Work in 7 Easy Pieces via Streamline

Summary of How Blogs Work in 7 Easy Pieces The seven steps are explained through notes and diagram. Extremely well written - A must read for all new bloggers/ those interested in blogging.

SAP-Microsoft talks underscore harsh market reality via News.com

In the Microsot, SAP merger talks, Microsoft was looking to gain long-sought enterprise clout through the German company's upscale customer base. What would SAP gain out of this? SAP like other ERP players found that ERP sales was coming down and the Harsh market reality is hitting them up. Thanks to Senthil for pointing out this excellent article There are several discernible trends that are reshaping the market. Amongst them are: A. After the twin blows of the technology bust and the national recession forced them to live with less,companies want the software they already own to more closely model how they do business rather than buying anything new. B.The average deal size has shrunk for ERP players. C.Unlike desktop applications or operating systems, sale cycles for enterprise resource technologies are notoriously long, with customers taking 15 months or more to make buying decisions. Companies only replace systems every 15 to 20 years, according to AMR, which means that major deals are few and far between. D.The proposed merger would have given SAP reach into the relatively untapped small- and midsize-business market, which all enterprise software makers covet.SAP does not have much experience in the low end of the market with high-volume, low-cost sales--that's what Microsoft is very good at. E.Forrester predicts that for SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft, maintenance revenue will remain at more than 40 percent of overall sales for the foreseeable future.At this level, maintenance revenue would be greater than the services revenue and substantially greater than the license sale revenue.


Sunday, July 11, 2004

The McKinsey Global Survey of Business Executives , July 2004 (Registration required)

The second McKinsey Global Survey of Business Executives finds that corporate leaders are still confident—especially about hiring, IT spending, China, and India—though they’ve tempered their earlier enthusiasmThe latest McKinsey Quarterly survey of some 5,500 senior corporate leaders around the world shows that executives from a wide range of industries and regions remain broadly positive about the global economy. These executives have curbed their optimism since early this year, but many plan to step up hiring as well as spending on information technology. The most vigorously upbeat sentiment comes from India, where executives voice strong confidence in the new government's ability to advance economic liberalization, and from a rapidly expanding China, which is confident that it will continue to attract massive foreign direct investment.A particular bright spot everywhere turned out to be information technology, where investment apparently is on the rise. Half of all chief information officers (CIOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs) who responded to the survey and nearly 40 percent of all other executives indicate that their companies are planning an increase in IT spending over the next six months. Indeed, nearly a third of both groups of respondents say that their companies intend to raise spending on technology by 11 to 25 percent.
Throughout the article the sentiments about India and china remain strong - North American executives are more optimistic about India and there is almost a global unanimity about the desire to use more of Indian talent.

Mobile TV coming of age via BBCworld

With mobiles starting to dominate our daily lives, there is growing interest in the idea of TV on the phone.Mobile TV has been tried before, never with much success.There is the problem of getting decent reception while you are on the move, let alone the issue of battery life and watching programmes on a tiny screen.A method called time-slicing means that at least the receiver is not on all the time."Time-slicing is a way of making the device's battery last a lot longer because it isn't running all the time," explained Mr Squires of Nokia."What's actually happening is that the programme it's receiving is being sent to it in very intense bursts of data, and between those bursts it allows the device to completely shut down, apart, obviously, from the screen and the sound."To the user it looks like the programme is being received constantly, all the time, but in fact the device is in a sleep state for the majority of the time."Receiving the programme in short, high-speed bursts means that the signal is received a few seconds before it is needed, and that buffering means that the device can also cope with short breaks in reception. So if you go under a bridge, you will not lose the picture.Korea and Japan are way ahead of the game and have been testing several methods of reception for a couple of years.The existing Korean 3G network is fast enough to stream live TV. It is basically broadband TV on your mobile.


The Innovation Specialists via TIME

From nanotech (in your washing machine!) to stem-cell research to Internet businesses, innovations are coming fast and furious. Meet 10 leaders who are helping to shape the future of communications, entertainment, medicine — and LaundromatsA very timely and relevant list - at a time when several corporations( Microsoft included - Even recent Steve Ballmer memo included) are beginning to firmly beleive that Innovation is a key element for sustainable success. TIME has attempted to provide a perspective about the role of key innovators.

How Computers Are Changing Careers via HBSWK

Technology has indeed changed the face of work, but not in the ways many people once predicted. In a provocative new book, economists Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane discuss the kinds of jobs that are likely to endure and the kinds that will fall by the wayside—and the resulting impact on society. Their book, The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market, asks and answers four questions:

What kinds of tasks do humans perform better than computers?
What kinds of tasks do computers perform better than humans?
In an increasingly computerized world, what well-paid work is left for people to do both now and in the future?
How can people learn the skills to do this work?
Strange as it sounds, computerized work creates both high-skilled and low-skilled jobs. With a few exceptions, it is the "middling skilled jobs" that are most at risk."rules-based" repetitive work occurs most frequently in clerical jobs—particularly back office work—and in assembly line work. These jobs are also vulnerable from a second direction because the ability to describe a job in rules makes it easier to move the jobs to a lower wage country with minimal misunderstanding.Conversely, three main types of work cannot be described in rules:
1. Identifying and solving new problems (if the problem is new, there is no rules-based solution to program).
2. Engaging in complex communication—verbal and non-verbal—with other people in jobs like leading, negotiating, teaching, and selling.
3. Many "simple" physical tasks that are central to janitorial work, waiting on tables, and other service work. Very important and relevant research.

Supply chain management and emerging technologies via optimizemag

The process of managing the supply chain has changed considerably in the past few years. Technologies such as Web services, mobile and wireless computing, Web portals, business intelligence, and radio-frequency identification are being deployed in significant ways at a growing number of large companies, after a period of tight budgets hindered many implementations.Meanwhile, information security, business continuity, collaboration, and regulatory compliance have taken on greater importance at many businesses, influencing supply-chain decisions and practices"The most promising technologies enable greater visibility into goods, such as supply-chain event management, warehouse management, and transportation management,Many enterprises are looking for individual products to help generate quick ROI, rather than committing to full suites".Enterprises that reengineer processes and deploy supply-chain applications strategically will gain more of a competitive advantage than those that view supply-chain improvements as a cost-cutting tactic.


Saturday, July 10, 2004

A CIO Conversation: Intel's Doug Busch via Searchcio

Intel Corp. is best known for delivering innovative products and services to external businesses and consumers. But what about the innovative products and services it creates and distributes internally? Doug Busch, vice president and CIO at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker, has made productivity his No. 1 priority.The things we've been focused on for four to five years are all about taking full advantage of the Internet and e-business. We've made tremendous steps in these areas. We've also transformed the way Intel's internal business processes work and the way individual people work. Mobility is a fundamental way people do their jobs. Through these [mobile] initiatives, we are able to keep 16,000 people up and running. The response time to get problems solved has changed dramatically. Intel was never a big voicemail culture; we rely more heavily on e-mail and audio meetings. So keeping our people up and running and keeping response time to a minimum is important. Very insightful response from Doug Busch - makes interesting reading.

Gates and Jobs, Together at Last via NYT

The new musical explores the lives of Mr. Gates and Mr. Jobs, a founder of Apple, from their teenage years to the present, and includes supporting characters like Apple's other founder, Steve Wozniak, and fictional female love interests.

Implored to 'Offshore' More via Washingtonpost

report by an influential consulting firm is exhorting U.S. companies to speed up "offshoring" operations to China and India, including high-powered functions such as research and development.In blunt terms, the report by the Boston Consulting Group warns American firms that they risk extinction if they hesitate in shifting facilities to countries with low costs. That is partly because the potential savings are so vast, but the report also cites a view among U.S. executives that the quality of American workers is deteriorating."The largest competitive advantage will lie with those companies that move soonest," the report states. "Companies that wait will be caught in a vicious cycle of uncompetitive costs, lost business, underutilized capacity, and the irreversible destruction of value." This article is related to the BCG report on offshoring BCG report on offshoring. One of the author of the report - Harold L. Sirkin says,Offshoring production will mean that American companies lower their costs and raise their productivity, and although some jobs will be lost in the process, pouring the surplus money and workers into new industries means "you'll create jobs you wouldn't have otherwise," he said. Trying to fight the trend, and preserve jobs by making it difficult for firms to lay off workers, "means you become a zero growth economy," with fewer jobs in the long run, he added.


Microsoft Community Blogs

Just could not believe that Microsoft has opened a blog portal providing the gateway to various blogs of Microsoft employees. Hats off to Microsoft for being the pioneer in this effort. I liked the simplicity and the direct communication -"Blogs are Web sites which share a few common characteristics. They are updated frequently, written from the point of view of an individual, written in an informal tone, and usually expose an RSS feed for syndicating the content into various forms of aggregators.You can use the directory below to find weblogs about Microsoft technologies written by Microsoft employees. Use these blogs to get insights and opinions about using (and creating!) Microsoft technology and software."

Friday, July 09, 2004

Destination Wi-Fi, by Rail, Bus or Boat via NYT

Millions of passengars commute all over the world daily through public transport. Providing Internet access on vessels and vehicles is not as simple as adding it to a fixed venue, like a restaurant or even a convention center. Boats, buses and trains have metal skins or hulls that block wireless signals. They move, often at average speeds of 20 to 100 miles per hour, requiring a system that can rapidly and seamlessly hand off a signal. And they could have large numbers of simultaneous users, many of whom are already working on laptops during the voyage. Transport service companies have taken various approaches: relying on a combination of cellular towers and satellite data links, erecting dedicated antennas in a line of sight or at points along the route, or limiting service just to terminals or stations on either end of a run.Airlines, too, are looking at making Wi-Fi connections available to passengers, and face some of the same challenges. Two competing services, Connexion by Boeing and Tenzing, provide Internet access (at $10 to $30 per flight) by connecting to satellites relaying service from the ground. Many service providers hope to project this facility as an incentive to convince more to use public transport all over the world.


Small devices and security concerns via eWeek

As as the cost of RAM chips and hard drives continue to fall, a wide and growing variety of small and inexpensive devices are available with substantial memory capacity. PDAs, cell phones and smartphones typically have up to 64MB onboard, and often support removable media. "Thumbnail drives" can put a gigabyte of storage on a keychain, and portable hard drives can place 80GB in a jacket pocket. Collectively, these devices make possible the uncontrolled transfer of large quantities of data into and out of business networks.The Gartner Group discussing the security risks associated with the proliferation of small USB- and Firewire-enabled electronics and peripherals, says that the cellphone might be a trojan horse.According to the Gartner report, the problem originated with the release of Windows 2000 and the wide deployment of systems able to automatically recognize USB and Firewire connections. This advance placed high-capacity, high-speed and easily connected storage in the hands of end users, and dramatically reduced the control that IT staffs excercise over the flow of data into and out of their networks.Gartner identified two distinct types of threats posed by portable storage devices. First, they can act as a delivery mechanism for viruses and other malicious code that might otherwise be blocked by firewalls and mail servers. Second, they provide an easy method for users to steal large quantities of sensitive corporate data and intellectual property. In response, Gartner suggests a variety of practices for restricting the use of such devices and limiting employee access to sensitive data, ranging from banning portable storage devices entirely to an increased focus on data encryption and digital rights management.A lot more needs to be discussed about the use of micro devices from security perspective.


Consolidation fever hits software product makers via Bweek

As earnings fall and competition stiffens, many will have no choice but to merge or die. The hunt is already on vast fortunes were built over the last two decades as the leadership of the computing world shifted from hardware to software. Yet, every day seems to bring fresh evidence that the era of boundless growth for software may be over.That growing financial pressure will likely spark a powerful wave of consolidation throughout the industry over the next few years. Investment bankers say half of the sector's 600 publicly traded companies are likely to be eliminated. "I do think there's going to be a lot of consolidation in the software sector. As IT [info-tech] spending slows, it's harder for companies to grow organically. Big companies will add customers by acquiring smaller companies," says Paul Crisci, an investment banker at Jefferies & Co.'s Broadview unit, which specializes in tech deals.Some analysts doubt that the consolidation will be quite that dramatic. Many smaller, unprofitable companies have cut costs and have lots of cash on their balance sheets. That means they can hang around "like vampires," slashing prices and depressing margins industrywide. "There might be a need for consolidation, but that doesn't automatically mean it will happen," says analyst Bill Whyman of investment researcher The Precursor Group.About one-third of the industry's profits are concentrated in the hands of the 20 biggest players, according to Simon Heap, a software merger specialist at consultant Bain & Co. That was O.K. during the bull market of the 1990s, when the benchmark of success was fast revenue growth and a hot IPO. But earnings have replaced revenue growth as the new measure of success on Wall Street.About one-third of the industry's profits are concentrated in the hands of the 20 biggest players, according to Simon Heap, a software merger specialist at consultant Bain & Co. That was O.K. during the bull market of the 1990s, when the benchmark of success was fast revenue growth and a hot IPO. But earnings have replaced revenue growth as the new measure of success on Wall Street.Acquirers have one thing working in their favor this time around, however: The price of target companies has fallen since the '90s boom, reducing the risk of overpaying. And given the passage of time, it's easier to evaluate the strength of a company that's being acquired.Consolidation won't be a panacea for software's woes, but it's bound to help the industry adjust to the realities of a maturing market.


Microsoft on the Trail of Google via NYTimes

For years, Microsoft's own Web search page, MSN Search, has finished a distant third place in the search-engine popularity wars (behind Google and Yahoo). The company's new plan is apparently to remake MSN Search in Google's image.The Googlification of MSN will occur in two phases. The first, a cosmetic makeover, is now complete and ready for your inspection at www.search.msn.com. The new look consists of an empty white screen that loads blissfully quickly, even over dial-up connections, and an empty, neatly centered text box where you're supposed to type in what you're looking for. The search page is ad-free and, except for the MSN logo, even devoid of graphics. (On July 4, however, MSN added a waving-flag graphic, an imitation of the way Google's witty artists dress up its own logo on holidays.) In short, MSN Search couldn't look more like Google if you photocopied it.For many searches, the results are pretty much the same at Google, Yahoo and MSN Search, which is to say outstanding. Search for "convert yen to dollars," "divorce statistics for Brazil," "5-string banjo tuning" or "oh susannah sheet music," and no matter which of these services you use, the very first search result is a direct link to the information you want. (So often is the first listing what you want, in fact, that you begin to see the appeal of the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button on Google's home page. If you click on this instead of the regularly scheduled Search button, you go straight to the Web page that Google considers most likely to have your answer, bypassing the results list entirely.)But do enough searches, spend enough months, and Google gradually re-earns its reputation for superior accuracy. Search for "history of Phillips screwdriver," for example, and you'll find the answer hiding behind the very first result on Google and Yahoo-but not until the fourth listing in MSN Search's results. (Caveat searchor: Search-engine companies are constantly tinkering with their search formulas, so your results may not match the ones described here.) Microsoft has done a beautiful job de-gunking its home page and removing paid ads from your search results. Will its new search technology attain anything even close to Google's "relevancy?" It's too soon to tell. But if it's successful, Microsoft will have demonstrated its brilliancy, boosted its own importancy and taken another irreversible step toward world dominancy.

A Physics of Ideas: Measuring Memes in Real-Time via Nova Spivack

One of the main obstacles to productivity today is the growing problem of information overload. Information overload results because we lack effective tools for automatically organizing information collections into meaningful and relevant chunks. A new approach to measuring the physical properties of ideas as they move in real-time through information spaces and populations such as the Internet. It has applications to search, information filtering, personalization, ad targeting, knowledge discovery and text-mining, market research, trend analysis, intelligence gathering, organizational behavior and social/cultural studies The concept is based on applying classical physics to memes that move through information spaces over time. In the past,Individual published filtered personalized newsfeeds. They aggregated content from thousands of sources and then filtered it into strategic news feeds tailored to the interests of their customers.Here Nova Spivack outlines a new aproach towards aggregating information feeds. Interesting.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

web services intermediaries - a shootout via Infoworld

WSIs (Web services intermediaries) are a unique class of middleware for managing and monitoring Web services. Useful for everything but the smallest of Web services applications, WSIs provide important features such as message routing, security, exception handling, abstraction, message transformation, and logging.As vendors fine-tune their products, add features, and improve usability, WSI options are getting better. Over the last few months, several new versions of WSI products have popped up: Actional Looking Glass 5.0, AmberPoint SLM (Service Level Manager) 2004, Grand Central BSN (Business Services Network) 4.0, and Infravio Ensemble 4.1 (the component I tested is now known as X-Broker). Each of these products differs significantly in their approach to intermediating Web services, but a cursory review of their feature sets doesn't readily reveal that difference. The significant contrast is in the metaphors they use for management and the presentation of information; each WSI emphasizes different aspects of the intermediary game. Grand Central 4.0 is a hosted service, whereas Actional's approach zeroes in on service monitoring; Infravio uses contracts to define relationships; and AmberPoint SLM manages performance with service-level objectives.Deciding which of these four tools is right for your organization will require careful consideration of your needs and the relative strengths of each product. Evaluate the WSI's management metaphor and compare it with your organization's engineering and operations philosophy. Also, be sure to evaluate the reporting and user interface based on your organization's needs.If you get those things right, any one of these products will provide you with a proven, stable management platform for building reliable Web services applications. They are polished, ready to work, and do what they advertise.WSI selection depends on your organization's Web services architecture and reporting needs. But no matter which of these products get choosen, each provides all of the essential Web services management features that you'd expect from a Web services intermediary. A very comprehensive and objective analysis of the four products, extremely well presented as well.

The Economist is positive on RFID progress

The Economist says,"Contrary to some recent reports, the roll-out of revolutionary smart-tag technology is still going to plan".SO THOROUGHLY have the lessons of the internet bubble been learned that the launch of any new technology is now invariably accompanied by much talk from industry observers about dangerous hype and inevitable disappointment. A case in point is radio frequency identification (RFID), a new, super-cheap version of which may, its backers hope, be destined to transform everything from shopping to warfare. As soon as RFID's boosters alerted the world to their innovations, reports of dire setbacks began to circulate. Yet if anything, the surprise is how well the roll-out of the new technology is meeting early expectations.RFID systems are made up of readers and “smart tags”—tiny microchips each with an attached antenna. The tags can be stuck on everything from milk cartons to hospital patients. When prompted by a reader, the tag broadcasts the information on its chip. Unlike the traditional bar-code, which smart tags aim to replace, RFID chips give every tagged object a unique identification. (A bar-code describes only a class of objects, such as cans of Coke.) Companies hope to use RFID to track the trillions of objects that circulate the world every year in planes, lorries and ships, through ports and warehouses, on to shop shelves, through tills and into homes and offices. Accurate tracking should eventually save hundreds of billions of dollars a year as it improves distribution, reduces theft, cuts labour costs and shrinks inventory. Governments also want to use RFID to reduce drug counterfeiting and improve military logistics, among other things. As RFID price tag falls,As prices fall, demand should continue to grow, from tens of billions of tags in 2006, to hundreds of billions by 2009, to perhaps trillions a few years later. As prices fall to a fraction of a cent, most organisations dealing with physical logistical challenges should find valuable uses for the new tags. Some may one day even thank Wal-Mart for introducing them.


Behind the Scenes at Yahoo Labs via Searchenginewatch

Dr. Gary Flake is Principal Scientist & Head of Yahoo! Research Labs. In this wide-ranging interview, he talks about the daily work of researchers at Yahoo Labs, and what they're doing to make search better. Dr.Flake explains YRL's mission is,"To produce reusable R&D results, explore areas that fall between the cracks (i.e., between BUs), and look for -- or perhaps produce -- R&D results that could disrupt the industry. Steering the activities of a group with this sort of mission requires that one take a very holistic view of R&D and see the value of diversity. By this, I mean we explicitly choose to do a lot of things in vastly different ways. We work on short, medium, and long term projects. We have activities initiated by a scientist or engineer, but we also have some efforts which are done in response to an executive goal. We work on fundamental algorithms (occasionally producing deep theoretical results), but also ground our efforts to business problems. We also work on individual products, infrastructure improvements, or even business strategy. Dr.Price expands on the state of search technology currently as,"It's easier for me to point to what web search should be and then highlight the differences. If web search were perfect, then it would produce an answer to every query that would be as good -- or better -- than if the smartest people in the world had as much time, data, and contextual information (about the user) required to fulfill the query; and it would do all of this in a split second. In other words, the search engine would be an artificial intelligence (AI) so smart that if a correct answer could be found in theory with close to infinite resources, then it would find it. If a correct answer did not exist, then the search engine would give you the next best thing: an approximation, or perhaps even an explanation as to why your query has no perfect result. (And by the way, if we realized all of the above within my lifetime, I would consider myself lucky. That should give you an idea of what sort of time frame I am talking about.)Alternative interfaces, like cell phones, voice, and snazzy graphical results are all nice, but in the end they represent relatively easy technology problems when compared to the challenges involved in realizing our hypothetical search engine. What really matters is what is under the hood.Today, search engines have almost no understanding of words or language in any significant way. They exploit the statistical properties of words and links, but in no way is there anything going on akin to understanding. Search engines don't recognize user intent, can't distinguish goal-oriented search from browsing search, and are completely ignorant of the subtleties of how different concepts relate to one another. Moreover, they completely lack wisdom -- i.e., they are very poor at distinguishing between trivia and something profound. ".In the second part of the interview, Dr.price talks about the fusion of structured and unstructured data and that theseapproaches will add a lot of utility to the lives of most users. A very insightful interview from a legend - the third part shall be published next week.Must read to understand emerging trends in search technology.

Excerpts of Steve Ballmer's memo sent to employees via Seattle Times

Seatle Times has published excerpts of Steve Ballmer's memo sent to Microsoft employees. This gives an insight into the challenges being faced by Microsoft. The invincible giant is trying to change.. To be watched closely.

The Argument Over IT -Interview with Nicholas Carr

Nichola Carr elaboarates on his HBR article theme in this interview. His original thesis,"while IT's value will increase as it becomes more standardized and ubiquitous, the ability of any one company to use IT in a distinctive way to gain competitive advantage will diminish until...it will make more sense to manage IT as a commodity input—something that is absolutely necessary but [that] isn't going to set you apart from competitors." made waves in the IT and Businesworld when published last year Nicholas Carr holds the view that "IT matters enormously as an essential component of business today. You can't run a business without it. But does it matter strategically? Is it going to set your company apart from your competitors? The answer increasingly is no, and it's counterproductive at this point to think of IT in that way and to invest in IT with that kind of hope".

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Amid Belt-Tightening, Microsoft Talks of a Bright Future via NYT

In his annual e-mail message to Microsoft's employees yesterday, Steven A. Ballmer, the chief executive, declared that the personal computer industry and his company were still growth businesses, and he predicted that the number of PC's in use worldwide would increase 60 percent, to one billion, by 2010.But Mr. Ballmer left no doubt that Microsoft must behave more like the mature company it has become to reduce the constant scrutiny it faces from antitrust regulators around the world and the pressure it increasingly faces from investors. Microsoft invested when most technology companies shed workers and projects during the industry slump, and as a result its expenses have increased faster than the company's revenues over the last three years "This year, we are targeting nearly $1 billion in efficiency improvement and cost reduction across the company, primarily by rethinking how we do things."Part of the rethinking has included Microsoft's recently announced moves to reduce coverage for employees on branded prescription drugs and to reduce the discount that employees receive on purchases of Microsoft stock to 10 percent from 15 percent."Belt-tightening is what more mature companies do," observed Michael Cusumano, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In a telephone interview yesterday afternoon, Mr. Ballmer said he was more optimistic about Microsoft's prospects than at any time in the last three years. He noted the strength and upward trend in its mainstay desktop software businesses, server software, and the encouraging improvement in emerging businesses like its MSN Web sites and Xbox video game consoles and games.Mr. Ballmer also added that Microsoft was more confident about competing against the rising challenge of open-source software like the Linux operating system, which is distributed free. Microsoft's competitive response is to emphasize what it contends is the lower total cost of owning, maintaining and supporting its Windows operating system.

Much of Mr. Ballmer's lengthy e-mail message - an annual document about strategy and the state of the company - focuses on the management steps taken to do everything from trimming costs to improving product design to reducing security flaws in software products. And Mr. Ballmer alluded to the tricky balance that must be struck when placing tighter management controls on a company known for its freewheeling, entrepreneurial heritage."This will be a place with some structure, but structure that aids teamwork, not politics and bureaucracy," he wrote. Steve Ballmer is really whipping up things inside Microsoft and Microsoft has a really tough time out in the marketplace. This is both a challenging and exciting time for Microsoft.

Feld reviews -Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is magnificent and his new book - Free Prize Inside: The Next Big Marketing Idea - is a winner.This book takes you on a romp through the way to help you understand how to make your product or service remarkable. I've often been (mis)quoted saying things like "marketing is useless" when in fact what I mean is "the way most people do marketing is useless and a waste of money." Seth has always approached marketing in a revolutionary way under his thesis that everything we do is part of marketing. If you aren't a Seth Godin fan, try his blog and his books.In addition to his rants on marketing, Seth - like me - has strong views on PowerPoint. He's written an Ebook called Really Bad PowerPoint that you can buy on Amazon or download free if you've bought Free Prize Inside (using the honors system). Feld writes," As your Free Prize Inside this post (and part of my continuing quest to make the world a safer place for venture capitalists), following is an excerpt from Free Prize Inside (with Seth's permission, of course). It's called Special Bonus Tactic: Avoid Really Bad PowerPoint.
PowerPoint was developed by engineers as a tool to help them communicate with the marketing department - and vice versa. It's a remarkable tool because it allows for very dense verbal communication. Yes, you could send a memo, but no one reads anymore. ... PowerPoint could be the most powerful tool on your computer. But it's not. Countless soft innovations fail because their champions use PowerPoint the way Microsoft wants them to, instead of the right way.

Bullets Are for the NRA.Here are the five rules you need to remember to create amazing PowerPoint presentations:

1. No more than six words on a slide. EVER. There is no presentation so complex that this rule needs to be broken.

2. No cheesy images. Use professional stock photo images.

3. No dissolves, spins or other transitions.

4. Sound effects can be used a few times per presentation, but never use the sound effects that are built into the program.

5. Don't hand out printouts of your slides. They don't work without you there.
Go ahead - just try to follow rule #1. Thought provoking, isn't it? Get the book - read it - and make something happen. It's worth it." Both Feld and Seth Godin are interesting personalities.
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