Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai attack -- An act of "cowardliness"

11/26 : I had to deviate away from what I write otherwise and I have just a few things about yet another attack on the Financial Capital of India:
  1. Horrifying
  2. Catastrophic
  3. Cowardly
  4. Insane
I pray for peace and harmony in times to come and may these terror attacks never strike us again .. I hope we all can stand together against these and our system, political in particular move away from fighting internal conflicts to getting together against such unruly attacks.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Widg"e"t for android forked for SAP/Oracle !! Can this feat be achieved

Off late I have been writing on Web 2.0 and metaphors of several such things which have made IT a common mans terminology. I myself have started getting my hands dirty these days in an attempt to understanding the emergence of technology and architecture that's making the business mammoths run away from IT products and embrace service providers proving service over the web. I read a recent article on Netsuite targeting SAP R3 customers where we can see that SAP can also have a run for their money(may be I am overreacting) if they do not realize that today's customers' needs have become stronger and the fulfillment more difficult.

Today's enterprises are not looking at solutions that are complicated, difficult to implement, have a huge cost associated with them which they can boast of. Rather they want something that is simple to use, not so difficult to maintain and easiest to let go if the service is not the classy self that these product vendors claim of. Also with the growing awareness and capabilities of Web people have started understanding nitty gritties of terms like cloud computing (derived from grid computing), fuzzy logic, smart system etc. All these concepts have started showing off its true colours to business which is the logic behind terminologies like Saas and SOA infact few of the biggest online marketplaces like Amazon have strengthened their backbone with significant improvements in internal efficiencies with the adept use of cloud architecture.

Software as a Service which people from IT world fondly call as SaaS meaning in laymen terms delivering software over the internet,  is the talk of the town in the bizz world today. Here's my take on why I feel enterprises are convulsing towards a web based system:
  1. Key objectives today being having a system that's configurable, virtual (decreasing the actual size) and scalable (now ain't that what growing organizations want looking at the plethora of M&As and consolidations happening )
  2. SaaS and SOA becoming bed fellows with continuous evolution of architecture and the IT majors like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Dell making a foray into it
  3. The model being that of a hosted one where post implementation scenarios are more to just pay the hosting fee
So now this is where I feel like asking some questions about this megatrend called SaaS some of them being :
  • Will the product vendors like SAP and Oracle really look at providing softwares which will be no different from Amazon or e-bay?
  • What change will an Operating System like Android (for those who are not aware Android is the latest OS out of Google's stable) get to the web world
  • Can we ever have add on gadgets which enterprises can make for themselves that would seamlessly fit into the ERP's of the world
  • Or will these ERP's just cease to exist in times to come and the new league (of extraordinary gentlemen's) in form of SaaS softwares come in and take over the market (and this time it will not be by storm)
Have gone through several collaterals on SaaS, Web 2.0, SOA et al, but I felt that the eight reasons made by Phil Waineright on why SaaS will surge in 2008 are some bold and blinding revelations which one should sit and ponder over and if given a chance act. Feel like ending this post with an inconceivable point in times to come on how about having a ERP solution that has the face of facebook, computing capabilities of amazon, an engine like e-bay, a relationship building capability of of Linkedin, analysis capabilities of w3Schools and so on. I am expecting an enterprise solution from Google's or Amazon's stall that can be a panacea to our voes.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Six degr"e"es of separation shrinking even further

Think of two subjects and do a search on Wikipedia, you'll realize that these 2 subjects are related to each other somewhere within the range of six links. This might be the average with the maximum link of separation being close to 12 but have we ever thought how true it is for the people in the first world and second world who are really separated by only six degrees of separation. (I will not get into the real existence of first, second and third world country because in times to come, and infact even now this division of worlds will cease to exist). 

Some proven experiments done say that this degree of separation might really be just a 5 degree of separation, but will this remain what it is and will the social networking sites and various other modes of getting people together and reuniting lost friends and families decrease this separation further. It has become so easy for one in the networked world to search an information about some individual these days. I agree that not everybody accesses the web world with the same degree as others but amongst all those who are currently reading my blog if they try to identify how far they are with any of my network on facebook they might realise that its nothing more than 5th degree. And I have tried this, myself. 

Though the concept of six degree of separation has remained the same for last 30 years. Infact a movie named "six degrees of separation" was made in 2006 on the subject based on another drama  featured in 1993 on this subject, showcasing how people are connected with each other and what this connection can do. But now is when I feel with the advent of these social networking avenues this degree is getting more channelized. I am sure that people would have never taken this seriously in the earlier days but in times to come this would become a stronger selling point over the net as if utilized effectively, word of mouth which already is the strongest point of marketing would grow even further and faster. With mobile marketing and the refinement of 3G Technology and Mobile 2.0 (again a concept) and the evolution of 4G Technology it will become easier and easier for marketers to reach out to consumers and the viral marketing would be easier than ever before. But as Malcolm Gladwell says in his book Tipping point that behind every thing to happen there is a reason behind it to happen, I really feel that the face of modern day marketing would be in understanding how this six degrees of separation can be used better than ever before. Also am looking at that epidemic called social commerce and internet to reach the tipping point from where marketing ans sales adepts will have no looking back !!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

N"e"xt generation search - Necessary evil or necessarily an evil

What is it that Google, Yahoo and MSN have in common. They all do search the same way as others except that google has gradually become the unanimous winner when it comes to the no. of areas from where it gathers its data from

So what is it that is still lacking in the search results?
What if I want my results to be more coherent to what I think and want rather than get the similar mundane results that every other user gets?

Am sure with the web that the search engines and others are trying to build around people they would certainly know in times to come each and every users every single need. So how about explaining it with an example - We have an user who searches for the term "baseball", considering that this user is based out of Chicago and he has bought online tickets through the google desktop, of the much awaited Cubs v/s Sox match already he might be looking for more details about the two teams under discussion rather than getting the results on places that sell baseball bat. Another scenario my friend on Orkut has been visiting websites that talk about the countries where baseball is played as he and I have to together write an article on baseball playing nations. So my search results on Google Chrome (Just to make sure no doubts are left, Google took full control of Orkut in 2007 )should be able to throw results that match results similar to that of my friends.

This might sound very sweet and easy and a lot of people will give a thumbs up to a search like this. Scour a new generation search engine which is trying to give users a similar opportunity to get customized search (luckily they are still leaving it to the users to rate and tag search pages) like this but aren't we giving too much intelligence to the system. Isn't technology being empowered way too much so that the system might some day start thinking beyond humans could imagine. I keep going back to thinking what John Mc Carthy must have had in mind while coining this term and can the 2001 movie on AI be a reality in times to come. Though I am a strong advocate of Google but at times I really think that Google someday might become an evil beyond what people could have thought of.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wher"e" is it going

While I was away following the US Financial crisis rather the forthcoming global financial crisis and see a mammoth like Lehman Brothers fall to what people call bad debts, my favorite topic of discussion has not been discussed much by others either.

The SAP's and Oracle's are no longer fighting to get new clients, they are only shielding themselves from not facing the brunt of existing clients and wait for a slow exit. Is this financial crisis only affecting the financial sector or the IT sector or is it affecting all other sectors. Tourism dipped, Auto dipped, Infrastructure was on a rise until recently, the demand for textile and clothing in the USA and the Europe has gone down. The only solace that govt. must have had is that the global crude oil price has come down to the present $ 107 over last 2-months, from the peak level of $146/barrel 4-months back.

The new start ups which were growing MoM and YoY and they were doing wonders in getting C2C and B2C links and were being profitable within months from starting, where are they all gone now, why is it that nobody is talking about them now and no new flamboyant entrepreneur with a great idea is coming up with a new start up, are questions that I keep pondering !! Is the year of 2000-01 going to be revisited and if yes then are we going to face once every decade this kind of slowdown ..

Some thoughts on :
  1. Is this slowdown going to become more frequent in the times to come and knowing that US economy which is still the locomotive of global economy will gradually run out of steam ?
  2. Are the emerging Asian giants strong enough to drive a revival in world economic momentum ?
  3. Will the reliability on e-business continue as it is and even grow further in times to come or we are going to look back and decide on what has gone wrong while adopting e-business and take evasive or corrective measures ?
  4. Are the SaaS and SoA going to continue gaining more and more importance with the cost cutting spree that companies are running towards?

As far I am concerned I would continue being a strong advocate of e-business as that's what I feel will be the driver in times to come..

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Link"e"d in - Colligating jobs,partners & friends

Link"e"d in as the name says really has been instrumental in creation of one of the strongest and inviolable networks (one of its kind as there aren't many professional networks in this sea of social networking sites). And very easily Linked in has scaled up beyond being just a professional network to a combination of network and job portal that's has quality jobs (or does it not..)

What's surprising about Linked in is that while there were pioneers like monster, dice, jobsearch, ladders (Another website with a different model of functioning), sixfugurejobs (quite an ambitious name) who have been working on assisting jobseekers and headhunters to get the right fit, but post the advent of Linked in I personally feel that the process of job search will actually alter in the coming few years. I really don't know what could one get by the recommendations in Orkut or Facebook except for some ego massage but in Linked in the recommendations assist the user to apply for a job and might really help the user get a career push as well. I know enthusiasts are going to come back and corner me for other social networking sites are not just targeting professionals but infact they are actually doing what they are meant for. But I would leave that for discussions and as a subject for one of my next blogs.

I would actually give the credit for what Linked in is to its founding members and the Management team. Reid Hoffman has worked with iconic companies like PayPal, eBay, Allen Blue who mastered concept of social networking during his stint at socialNet, and Lloyd Taylor who worked with the biggest ever online company, Google. And then the current team of Linked in including CEO Dan Nye who managed the Investment Management business at Advent Software and CFO Steve Sordello who previously worked as CFO of Ask Jeeves.

I am not taking names just to promote them (and neither am I getting money for promoting Linked in) but to drive the point that each and every individual from this team actually gets a lot to the table from their diverse backgrounds and that's clearly visible from where they are headed to.

I am sure all these social-professional sites would be scaling themselves to a different business model but in Linked in I can see a big consulting company in the times to come with expertise on each and every industry vertical or horizontal and the stakeholders would just be the loyal members and these stakeholders would get a share of the pie of the consulting assignments they would be part of. Even if this sounds far fetched how about having the potential to be the No.1 providers of professional headcounts for any possible profile with their vast sea of networkers and information about the various job profile details. (And needless to say as networking sites, they are and they will remain pioneers in professional networking and we all know that networking is going to remain macrocosmic).

I would really want to understand from the fellow experts and enthusiasts in e-business as to how these socio-professional networking sites would be evolving themselves and whether their is a need for them to really evolve (going back to my previous post on change or perish, I think they will have to evolve)

Fac"e"book --> Tumblr.. moving towards Gen V(Virtual) .. POS

Recently "Tumblr" founder David Karp was in picture for having come up with one of the easiest platform for users to start blogging and I decided to have myself registered into it. When I looked at the features I realized that there is nothing out there that can actually differentiate Tumblr with other blogging sites, but that's what it is and we already have .17 mn registered users on that website. So what does this imply are we saying that tomorrow Facebook, Orkut Twitter and others will have to get meatier to keep up with the competition or will they just the way they always have will keep churning more users and keep making money out of the advertisements. Atleast that's the only mode of making money that these social networking sites have and the model seems to be well accepted in the e-business world.

But do we see an evolution in these social networking websites. Are these social networking sites going to remain what they are with the several widgets and application incorporated them or the architects of the web world and future entrepreneurs or some existing giant going to come up with more models to make these social networking sites a bigger point of sale. The reasons why I see in what I say happening, in times to come are cited below:

  1. A dedicated user base which is increasing exponentially on the web with the advent of Web 2.0

  2. A targeted audience for selling, easily meeting the criterion's for selling a product with the multitude of groups and communities being formed online

  3. Detailed profiling of the users available in the hands of the content managers who can easily do segmentation, targeting and positioning with the current set of information

  4. We haven't yet seen the end of marketplaces and aggregators, some new player might astonish the world with something bigger because technology never fails to throw surprises at us

    This thought certainly needs more discussion and deliberation as to what the future of Social Networking is ...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"e" tales

IBM sold primarily through its "brick and mortar" model before this huge giant named Dell transformed the way computers were sold. It wasn't just a strong focus on Supply Chain with the JIT (Just in time) inventory and decision to just assemble (that aspect has a different e-tale on its own) and not manufacture, but also a focus on having an on-line customer service where any customer would get the first response to their queries in within 2 hours and an appropriate link to the Dell website for any kind of support that's why Dell is called the pioneer in providing on-line support to their customers through the website.

Shopping stores were dictating terms before a bunch of guys decided to start a marketplace that could increase the purchasing power of the customer manifold by launching a portal named e-bay. Not that there was a dearth of marketplace, they were in plenty and everybody had focused on either B2B or B2C but e-bay realized the true potential of having a C2C marketplace (with specific focus on how to sell second hand stuff with their selling tips) and end users embraced this concept with open arms.

Each of Amazon, Citibank, Sears, Overstock have epitomized online selling and are continuously transforming themselves to meet the end customer needs.

While amazon claims that they are the biggest seller on the earth and there logo signifies they can sell anything from "a" to "z" with an arrow going from a to z and living up to the expectations of being the No. 1 book sellers the latest to come from their stable is a "Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device" which is a Revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper.

Overstock on the other hand with its over sized "O" to signify that they have all thats in this sphere which is directed towards the shape of the earth and, now are close to the real world when they advertise on the net that "Carlos Boozer " who would be playing for US in the Olympics '08 is sponsored by them.

Sears typically plays with the human mind of buying products only when they see a discount available on it through any form. Hence they have promotions of Sales and Coupons on their website and its affiliates. So if we look at it the typical advertising angle of "Aware-Interest-Trial-Adoption" Sears focusses directly on Adoption as they know that giving discount coupons would immediately take an user to the last hurdle of purchase if they are really interested in buying a product.

There's never a famine of examples and if you pick up any of the Marketing books you might see all these compani"e"s listed in them, but the point that I am trying to drive here is that how these companies are continuously enhancing themselves to live upto the expectations that have been set on them by the users and how competition is making them evolve continuously.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wh"e"re's Google headed ...

Google - a company that has literally reinvented the wheel by having a business that runs entirely in a virtual world. It's like having a whole new world with its own countries, states, languages, politicians, musicians, movie makers, scientists, doctors and a continuous aggregating population that's all gaga about this virtual world.

When I think how Google has evolved in the last 10-12 years from being a search engine dedicated to the Stanford University to now being a company that seems to be making the moves that no other company can match. AdSense & AdWords, Doubleclick, Orkut, Google maps, Google grid, blogger, Google checkout, translator and they all have direct competitors in aQuantive, Real, Facebook, Yahoo maps, Paypal( who had imagined Google's credibility to be at par with paypal) ... and to sum it all a solid user profiling by means of :

  1. The Google cookie
  2. Personalized search
  3. G-mail (All the contents of mail are actually scanned by Google)
  4. Google documents and spreadsheets
  5. Google Toolbar (Spyware that logs every click you make)
  6. Google web stats (Provides them with not only site-wide but also user-level statistics)

I am sure as times go by Google would be doing acquisitions of some Content Management softwares, proxy server vendors, ISP's so that they can reach uninterrupted to their users.. But moving on will that be it.

Will Google stop there or are we looking at an Googoperating system that would be available online for each and every user to download based on their need. Imagine having a customized Operating system with all the add-ons like docs, spreadsheets, project, communicator, video driver, audio driver depending on your system specifications and user needs and a varying cost for this operating system as you pay for only what you use - " A $50 for the first time installation ", I know it's far fetched but can it really happen and if it does happen then the Microsoft's, the Mac's and the LINUX's are certainly going to have a run for their money. OR say how about taking the Oracle's and SAP's headon by having the most effective and efficient Transportation Management and Warehouse Management systems by letting the user's decide based on Google maps and Google earth as to what can be the best location for a W/H or a Route or least to say partner with an organization and tell them that your employees don't look happy with your company and in last one month we have had 1300 of your employees looking at job portals through i-Google desktop.. Though I am sure they would not want to do the last and loose out on such a loyal customer base ...

Was wondering if there are people who think like me and I am sure experts have written a lot about the next move on Google so any pointers to that will be appreciated and never know we might have a new story brewing up for yet another book " Google - The chronicles lead to a bigger story"!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"e"lectronics products - Dell or Amazon !!!

Whenever I plan to buy an electronics item after looking at all other opportunities like e-bay(could have left e-bay aside as these guys are primarily resellers and work on a marketplace model), best buy, deals4all, circuit city, buy and several other online vendors my gut insists me to keep going back to Dell or Amazon (Not considering the one time opportunities available with vendors like woot, dealcatcher etc).
I wonder if this is something to do with just me or it happens with others as well. I am sure and the numbers can talk that all the former set of online vendors that I mentioned too have loyal customers and they have been pioneers in doing a several strategies that has wooed people to them. But even then why is it that Kotler's and Drucker's of the marketing world just don't have too many words for these other vendors. I can cite some reasons for the same :
  1. The brand built for over (at least) a decade
  2. A strong focus on customer satisfaction and customer retention
  3. A strong collaborative relation with the payment & logistics partners
  4. Solid technology focus as support functions
  5. Economies of scale (knowing that most of the other vendors are present only in US)
  6. Outsourcing

I am sure that these points are cliche' as they have been repeated over and over again by people but the point I am driving here is that these brands have done it over years and hence they manage to be No. 1 or No.2 in the business they are in and this trend is suspected to continue further. So what about these other vendors, do these vendors come take advantage of the windfalls during peak periods and then focus on regular sales if any from their loyal customers.

So some questions that I pose to myself and to the rest of the people who would be interested in participating into this forum are:

  • How long would these vendors survive?
  • Are we on the edge of another dotcom burst?
  • If most of other vendors manage to meet even 4 of the 6 points I mentioned above then what changes would the leaders have to do further to ensure that they remain leaders?
  • What can be some new initiatives taken by the other vendors so that they can get a First Movers Advantage (FMA)?

To answer these questions I just have a one line answer " change or perish " and this principle needs to be followed by not just the followers but also the leaders else we might expect another burst in the years to come.

Any takers .....

The word e-business

"e-business" this word is become ubiquitous today and each and every company and the marketing gurus across the globe are advising companies to embrace e-business open heartedly.

When I talk to people in the business world and specially if he is a marketing guy all that he would talk about is how e-marketing and e-advertising is changing our outlook towards promoting our company and examples like Google's ad-sense, double click and Microsoft's acquisition of aQuantive are given. If the same question of how business is embracing the "e" to a manufacturing guy he would immediately quote e.g.'s of the SAPs and Oracles of the world(which are still just ERP's and not completely run with the e-ngine) and of the Sterling Commerces and Aribas on how these best of breed packages are making the supplier relation so manageable and how web has helped them build lasting partnerships... And similarly if I talk to a Human Resource professional he would immediately lay out the best practices that are being adopted to have an internal (and this no longer remains internal with excessive amount of outsourcing done on the HR front) portal within the organization through which the employee can get the best of benefits and all the queries, suggestions, salary disbursement, leave tracking et al happen effectively, and all this to keep the internal customers happy... One can go on and on and the e-business saga is becoming an integrated part of each and every organizations and departments.

In one line I would describe e-business as "Virtual world being created at the backend in organizations to make the front end look like a child's play".

Curious if adepts/tyros can give me more such one liners to really define "e-business" ....