Ways to Crowdfund Your Startup

The concept of crowdfunding isn’t waiting to hit it big – it already has. The numbers plainly tell the tale with more than 600 crowdfunding platforms around the world raising billions of dollars in the few years that it has rested high in the public consciousness. What exactly is crowdfunding? It’s exactly what the name implies; a way to raise money for almost any project by soliciting small donations from many individuals. There are a variety of ways to go about crowdfunding your business startup. Here are some of the most effective. Continue reading “Ways to Crowdfund Your Startup”

Top 17 Social Media & Digital Marketing Trends in 2016

Digital trends are increasingly becoming important to understand and thrive in the era of digital marketing and social media which will drive e-commerce and mobile commerce through web 3.0 technologies.

2016 has been an eventful year for social media and online marketing. With the pace of technological developments becoming faster paced, these trends aren’t likely to die down soon. And the marketers who have adopted them are already gaining an edge over competitors. Continue reading “Top 17 Social Media & Digital Marketing Trends in 2016”

Key Tips You Should Be Knowing About Successful Acquisition

If you are thinking every feature and the process remains the same when it comes to an acquisition, then you are wrong. But, the principle remains the same where two organizations/companies, having different owners, join hands to function together in order to achieve a common goal. There is no doubt that with an abundance of deal structures and the whole process of valuation, of a target company, being arduous, acquiring a business is more of an art as compared to science. Continue reading “Key Tips You Should Be Knowing About Successful Acquisition”

Reasons Your Employees Shouldn’t Fear Making Mistakes

All humans are trying to run away from the failures. At first, kids try to hide an “F” received at school, then we feel ashamed because of a bad test score, and, when a person grows up, he continues avoiding mistakes and failures at work. No one wants to be associated with failure. But who said that failures and mistakes are not able to lead us to success?! A student who lacks the time and therefore cannot complete the assigned dissertation may just give up on this idea without even trying doing something and as a result will not graduate. On the other hand, if a student devotes some time to come up with a solution to this problem, and, for example, asks for help at some custom essay writing service, it gives him or her chance to succeed. It means that fear and inactivity can harm more than taking a risk. Continue reading “Reasons Your Employees Shouldn’t Fear Making Mistakes”

Ultimate Guide on Online Tools for Market Research That Will Work for Your Business

Being successful isn’t easy. It always involves working hard, being smart, and having a bit of luck. Whatever business you run, researching the market where youoperate as well as the whole industry is vital for its success. There are initially two types of research: Continue reading “Ultimate Guide on Online Tools for Market Research That Will Work for Your Business”

Dedicated Server vs VPS vs Cloud – the differences.

Going to host your website? Let’s know the differences among dedicated server, VPS and cloud server to find out which option is best for your business.

Nowadays, people are communicating and getting services over the internet in a highly efficient manner. This was totally unimaginable till a few years back! The image below shows the number of internet users across the globe, and their number has been increasing exponentially per year since 1993: Continue reading “Dedicated Server vs VPS vs Cloud – the differences.”

20 Things You Need to Know and Consider Before Buying Life Insurance

It goes without saying that investing in life insurance is a big deal. Life insurance is defined as a bipartite contract between an insurance policy holder (an individual) and an insurer (an organization), where the insurer promises to pay a pre established beneficiary (often close family members like wife, children, husband, or parents) a pre decided sum of money (the benefit) in exchange for a periodically paid premium, upon the death of the insured policy holder. The policy holder typically pays a periodic premium (say monthly or yearly) or a one time lump some payment towards the insurance policy. Since it is a considerable investment, at the end of the day, no one wants to purchase the wrong insurance or pay for a plan that’s far beyond their needs.

Keeping that in mind, here are 20 tips to help you get the best insurance for your needs. Continue reading “20 Things You Need to Know and Consider Before Buying Life Insurance”

5 Things You Need to Know When Hiring an Outsourcing Business

Every business, just like every single thing in nature, is constantly striving towards one thing – growth. Stagnation is not an option – with  fierce competition in almost all areas of business, standing in one place means that you’re actually going backwards and that’s not something you should allow.

Without question, outsourcing has changed the way business is done. The reason behind it is simple – outsourcing is a simple solution to many problems businesses are faced with on a daily basis. For a single project to be completed, it needs to go through several phases, each equally important, if we want the results to be satisfactory. However, it often happens that there’s not a big enough workforce or not enough time to be dedicated to individual phases and that’s exactly why we turn to a brilliant shortcut called outsourcing, because it enables constant expansion. Continue reading “5 Things You Need to Know When Hiring an Outsourcing Business”

Addressing big data challenges in smart cities

Big data is changing the way, technology is being leveraged to conduct business as usual activities is a more efficient manner. The emergence of Internet of Things, allows greater flexibility and governance, in urban development and its subsequent management. This has led to the emergence of the concept of smart cities, which is believed to revolutionalize urban settlements across developing, emerging and developed economies. Continue reading “Addressing big data challenges in smart cities”

Business Fundas gets Blog of the Day at Blogging Fusion Blog Directory

It was a pleasant surprise to get an unexpected mention at the Blogging Fusion. The editors of Blogging Fusion, a top blog linking directory, shared the news with the editor of Business Fundas. Continue reading “Business Fundas gets Blog of the Day at Blogging Fusion Blog Directory”

A Very Happy New Year 2016

As the years pass by, we need a moment to recollect what we did in this year. Let us connect and recollect where we interacted. What did this mean for Business Fundas, another year in its glorious history. We had a case study published in Harvard. We had grown our followers across digital media by 2.13% to a whopping 1.48 Lakhs subscribers.

Continue reading “A Very Happy New Year 2016”

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

In an independent survey conducted by Business Fundas, where we sent a questionnaire to our 20,000+ strong twitter followers consisting mainly of social media marketers, we tried to find the perceived benefits of social media marketing. The responses of the questionnaire were analyzed for understanding the perceived benefits of social media marketing and the responses of the same are demonstrated in the diagram below.

The survey was administered through not only our twitter followers but also to numerous followers and subscribers of our mailing list and finally 534 responses were collected on our questionnaire, all of who are marketing experts on social media websites and have their own online marketing venture.

The responses clearly portray the perceived benefits of social media marketing campaigns by the marketers.

From our personal analysis, it appears that today, social media marketing can become even more fruitful to reach out markets for small businesses targeting social consumers and probably investments on marketing through social networks like Facebook are more likely to generate better results. Also targeted advertisements in search engine (since that is where most consumers first turn to for information query) are also more likely to impact sales conversion figures.

However, bigger firms are more likely to benefit from greater brand awareness, greater brand recall and greater brand association from investments in social media marketing. So purely from a Branding Exercise,  social media marketing makes sense to larger consumer focused service providers or product marketers.

By the way, did you read our article on how to attain success in Social Media Viral Marketing?

Business Fundas features in Ivey Case Center

To all our readers, I feel happy to let you know that the case study titled “Growing the Online  Portal of Business Fundas” has been accepted by Ivey. This was a case study on web analytics and web 2.0. Business Fundas is a blog, which was initiated in 2008, and has now over 65,000 subscribers, and gets a lot of traffic (more than companies like tata steel, nomura, etc). This case (like other Ivey cases) will also be available from Harvard Business Publishing. We would like to thank the followers and readers of Business Fundas for all your support throughout these years. Continue reading “Business Fundas features in Ivey Case Center”

Literature Review of Supplier Selection Criteria

Title: Literature Review of Supplier Selection Criteria

  • Author: Arpan Kumar Kar
  • Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
  • Email id: arpan_kar@yahoo.co.in

Abstract: Supplier selection literature in procurement management has witnessed a plethora of evaluation criteria, for selecting suppliers. This study prepares a list of all the generic supplier selection criteria, which is prevalent in the existing purchasing literature. The objective of this study is to facilitate an understanding of the different supplier evaluation criteria, which is present in the existing literature, so that future methodological studies in the domain are facilitated by the usage of the appropriate evaluation criteria. Continue reading “Literature Review of Supplier Selection Criteria”

SocialCRM tools selection using Delphi method

Title : SocialCRM tools selection using Delphi method

 

Gaurav Khatwani

Email ID: g_khatwani@yahoo.co.in

Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak

 Abstract: Various organizations have started adopting SocialCRM tools for their customer relationship management activities. This gives an opportunity to develop technique that can assist organizations in selecting SocialCRM tools based on experts’ decision within organization. While techniques have not been described in details, the focus has been on exploring how business can execute the process of selecting SocialCRM tools based on Delphi study.

This paper must be cited as follows: Khatwani, G. (2014). SocialCRM tools selection using Delphi method. Business Frontiers, 7(1), 1-5.

Keywords: SocialCRM, Delphi, Selection, Prioritization, Ranking

Download the complete article here.

Deciding Advertising Rates in Online Media – A Practical Guide

Title: Deciding Advertising Rates in Online Media – A Practical Guide

Arpan Kumar Kar
arpan.kumar.kar@gmail.com
Assistant Professor: Indian Institute of Management Rohtak
Abstract: Deciding the advertising rates for online media can often be very challenging. Most  bloggers and webmasters fall into a dilemma while deciding the advertising rates for websites and blogs. This essentially is a multi-criteria decision making problem and needs a systematic approach  for deciding the rates. This study identifies 8 criteria which may be used for deciding the pricing strategy for any publisher. Further this article provides a systematic approach to decide the best valuation of advertising rates for a web based publishing platform, be it a blog or website

This paper can be cited as follows: Kar, A.K. (2012). Deciding Advertising Rates in Online Media – A Practical Guide, Business Frontiers, 6(1), 1-10.

Keywords: Social Media, Web 2.0, Online Advertisements, Pricing, Rates,

Download the complete paper here:

Demystifying empowered leadership: A CEOs Experiment in developing high performance workplace culture

Title: Demystifying empowered leadership: A CEOs Experiment in developing high performance  workplace culture

 M M Bagali, Professor, Strategic HRM, and Coordinator, research in Management, Jain University CMS Business School campus, Bangalore – 560078, India. Email: mm.bagali@jainuniversity.ac.in

Abstract: During turbulent days, organizations are increasingly seen to innovate ways to manage business. One of these innovations is in the area of developing and managing human resources. Experience has shown that developing human resources often results in achieving a sustained organizational growth. Various strategies are being adopted by business organizations in this regard. One also sees a paradigm shift from an approach understood as ‘welfare approach’ to that of an approach commonly known as the ‘empowerment approach’. This approach of employee empowerment has seen interesting outcomes and hence has been accepted almost all across the world. This paper is an empirical study of Indian industry 1. It highlights some unique strategies adopted for managing human resources in this industry. The efforts have paid large dividends to the company. The workforce is committed as well as efficient. The business organization has succeeded and has been able to achieve global standards. This paper makes an attempt to advocate the cause of employee empowerment and calls upon practitioners to shift their practices from that of welfare orientation to empowerment. The paper also makes an attempt to demystify the concept of employee empowerment.

Key Words: Empowerment; Ownership culture; Leadership; Global Organization

This paper must be cited as: Bagali, M.M., (2013). Demystifying empowered leadership: A CEOs experiment in developing high performance workplace culture, Business Frontiers, 5(1), 1-19.

Download the full paper here.

Strengthening Rural Management Education in India

Title: Strengthening Rural Management Education in India

Ansu Abraham, Assistant Professor, Xavier Institute of Management, Jabalpur – 482 021, India

Email:ansu.abraham@ximj.ac.in

Abstract: Rural India is drawing more attention than ever before. To develop rural India, we need rural managers. Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) recognized this need way back in 1979 and started a course in Rural Management. However, at a later stage, realizing the need to meet the growing managerial needs of ‘all types’ of organizations connected with rural economy, management institutions groomed their students to serve them too.This paper reflects certain concerns associated with the present Rural Management Education system, and proposes some changes for its strengthening. The first concern is related to the course curriculum. There is leakage of students from development sector to allied sectors. After completion of RM, most of the students join allied sectors or even mainstream business. Here, the concern is about the quality of workforce joining these sectors. Another concern related to curriculum is the limited rural exposures offered to the RM students. In earlier times, most of the RM Schools offered two rural exposures. But in due course, this tradition has disappeared. This has affected the quality of education. Similarly, the lack of rural exposure to allied specializations such as Agribusiness, Rural Marketing, Rural Finance etc.is also a matter of concern. The second concern is related to the visibility of RM Schools during admissions. At present, the enrollment to RM is also based on CAT, MAT etc. A separate All India level entrance test specifically for RM is the need of hour. Also,the premier institutions are not in the top 20 list of B School rankings, because of the ranking methodology which is tailored for the mainstream business schools. The third concern is related to the leakage of Rural Managers to other business sectors. “Alumni in corporate’ is becoming the thrust for some institutions. ButRural Managers need to serve the Rural Sector. Hence there is need to attract and retain young talents. Several changes need to be brought to the present RM education system to make it attractive and strong. All the proposals which are shared in this paper can be made possible with the support of subject experts, management, faculty and the students. Their combined effort will strengthen the system.But someone has to take the initiative; set an example; and lead.

 Key Words: Rural Management, Rural Managers, Conventional B Schools

This paper must be cited as follows: Abraham, A., (2013). Strengthening Rural Management Education in India. Business Frontiers, 4(1), 1-8.

Download the full paper here.

Entrepreneurial Resourcefulness -Is it a Function of Gender?

Title: Entrepreneurial Resourcefulness -Is it a Function of Gender?

Dr. Purna Prabhakar Nandamuri

Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing & Strategy, IBS, IFHE University, Hyderabad, INDIA.

E mail ID: prabhakar.nandamuri@ibsindia.org .

ABSTRACT: Fostering positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship is high on the policy agenda of several economies. It is the obligation of the prevailing education system to charge the graduating youth with entrepreneurial orientation. It is appropriate to spot out the influence of the fundamental factors such as age, gender, education, and family income and background   on entrepreneurial orientation. Previous research profoundly concludes that gender plays a major role in entrepreneurial activity and women have less motivation for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial behaviour is a function of entrepreneurial resourcefulness. However, the nature of dependence of this trait on the other independent characteristics has not been made explicit or empirically testable to date. The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of the independent variable – gender, on the dependent trait – entrepreneurial resourcefulness, of management students. A sample of 200 final year post-graduate management students are selected randomly from leading management institutes in Warangal region which pass-out around 2000 management graduates every year who face a bleak opportunity for entrepreneurship and look for employment. The responses were tested with ANOVA and t-test with the help of SPSS-19. The findings establish that gender had a profound impact on entrepreneurial resourcefulness. The male group establishes a comparatively stronger preference for resourcefulness than their counterparts. As the generic limitations of time and money confine the generalizability of the findings, further research of a larger sample with wider geo-cultural background may help to establish the findings.

KEYWORDS: Entrepreneurial orientation, entrepreneurial resourcefulness, Demographic factors, Gender, Management students. Post-Hoc Analysis.

 This paper can be cited as follows: Nandamuri, P.P. (2013). Entrepreneurial Resourcefulness – Is it a Function of Gender?, Business Frontiers, 3(1), 1-13.

Download the full paper here.

Websites as small but a significant market space in India: A forecast

Title: Websites as small but a significant market space in India: A forecast

P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan                                                           Arpan Kumar Kar            

(p.vigneswara@iimrohtak.ac.in)                                             (arpan.kar@iimrohtak.ac.in)   

Indian Institute of Management Rohtak                              Indian Institute of Management Rohtak

Abstract: Due to a sudden change in the regulatory guidelines in India, a surge in the web-space requirements is anticipated among companies based on paid-up capital size. The objective of this guideline is to enhance the transparency in the corporate governance and signal the growth potential of the firms to the investors from India and abroad. This article explores the potential market size of website creation and maintenance for the 6.5 lakh companies, for whom this regulatory guideline may impact more.

 This paper can be cited as follows: Ilavarasan,P.V., Kar, A.K. (2012). Websites as small but a significant market space in India: A forecast, Business Frontiers, 2(1), 1-6.

Download the full article here.

Cryptography in the Banking Industry

Business Frontiers, Vol. 1, No. 1.

Title: Cryptography in the Banking Industry.

Publication date: Oct, 2012.

Authored by Arpan K Kar, Supriya K Dey

 

 

This paper can be cited as follows: Kar, A.K., Dey, S.K. (2012). Cryptography in the Banking Industry. Business Frontiers, 1(1), 1-7.

Abstract: The development of cryptographic techniques has seen a lot of applications in the banking industry. This whitepaper focuses on the review of the major cryptographic techniques which has been used extensively in the banking industry, for the implementation of data security norms and the fulfillment of compliance requirements. While techniques have not been described in details, the focus has been on exploring the business implications of these developments.

To download the whitepaper, please visit this link: Cryptography in the Banking Industry

Keywords: Cryptography, Banking, Security, Finance industry

Business Frontiers is a premium series of refereed open source white-papers on critical emergent issues and classic topics in business and management including but not limited to marketing management, technology management, e-business, finance, economics, human resources, organizational behavior and general management. Articles published as open source white-papers in Business Frontiers are copyrighted using a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Please visit the publication page for more details on Business Frontiers. For submission of original articles for publication, please read the Guide for Authors and the Call for Papers.

SEO Tips for Google Panda Update

Most of the webmasters and digital marketing professionals struggle to understand the nuances of Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimization, especially when it comes to understanding the theory with a deeper perspective than is presented in most blogs and online forums.One of the burning issues that has hit the Web-Masters is how to tackle the Google Panda, after it was released in late 2011. SEO tactics deployed by most web-masters have seemingly failed and many reliable and white hat sites are drastically getting downgraded ever since the Google Panda was introduced.

Google Panda was introduced to weed out “content farms” and low quality sites which strive to make a living by producing low quality content. New dimensions that has been added in Google Panda are that it analyzes websites based on an self-learning AI algorithm, which looks for similarities between websites people found to be high quality and low quality, based on surfing behavior. There is also a high probability that there is an increased usage of Image Analysis  with Text Analysis to identify original content. There is also a higher importance to content recency based on content type. Also, which sites and which articles connect to you from which sites, matter a lot.

Google Panda has been criticized by renowned web-masters since many a time renowned websites had “scraped” content and yet the original lesser known site was penalized. Also, it appeared to impact an entire site’s ranking or specific section, rather than just the individual pages on a site. Also it adversely impacted sites where most of the traffic came from “ever popular” content but were of smaller scale (e.g. Websites with niche content, Personal blogs).

So what does that leave you? If you are a web-master, you are probably worrying how to ensure that all the effort you have put in to develop your website does not go down the drain.While age old SEO tactics like getting good quality back-links still do the trick, it is important to realize that there are some basic differences which needs to be addressed, if you want to ensure that your web-site is recognized by Google Panda as a high quality site.

So we have brought out few pointers on what not to do, if you are attempting to optimize your website based on the guide-lines from Google Panda.

  1. Never keep a high percentage of duplicate content. This might apply both to a page or a complete site. So content that you may have on headers or footers, if they are repeated across pages, should never increase more than 25% of the content across all the pages.High percentage of boilerplate content (similar static content) is a strict negative pointer from Google Panda.
  2. A low amount of original content on a page or site is always bad. It is a good practice to ensure when you make a post, you should have more that at least 300 words in every post. Semantic analysis is done by Search Engines nowdays, which can actually trace the quality of content that you may have posted in your article, which is new from your older articles or novel from other content in other web-sites.
  3. A high percentage of pages with a low amount of original content will drastically downgrade your SERP rank. So it is important to ensure, that you create a post only when you have substantial content to make a new post. The age old thought that you should post frequently irrespective of the post content is way dead. It has been attacked by Search Engines besides Google, to weed out content farms.
  4. A high amount of inappropriate adverts, especially in the beginning of the page, showcases the focus of the web-page is only revenue. Hence Panda will recognize that page and a site as being a Content Farm.
  5. If the page content and page title tags do not match for the search queries a page does well for, it will be taken as an attempt to play around with key-words. Text snippets will be analyzed through Symantec Analyzers to ensure there is high consistency between the meta tags and content.
  6. Unnatural language on a page including over-optimization of SEO will be harshly penalized. Google is increasingly becoming efficient to recognize Black Hat SEO tactics.
  7. High bounce rate from a particular web-page or web-site or even low visit time on pages or site, less than 30 seconds, will be recognized as a low content web-page or website. Also low percentage of users returning to a site, without search, will be an indicator that the site has low quality content where visitors do not return. These are strong indicators of the content quality and quantity in a website.
  8. Low click-through percentage from Google’s results pages (for page or site) as and when it appears in Google Search will ensure that the page ranks even lower for consecutive searches, for the search criteria.
  9. Low or no quality inbound links to a page or site (by count or percentage) is always bad. However, low quality backlinks is judged by the relevance of the web-page where it is linked to, by analyzing the text snippets of the mentioned paragraph. If a page is mentioned where it won’t have substantial semantic linkage to the content, it may get penalized.
  10. Low or no mentions or links to a page or site in social media and from other sites is also bad. It is of critical importance that new people share your content. Typically, most SEO professionals link up with a group to promote their content by exchanging votes/shares. Over time, the same group of professionals share the links and posts of a site get shared by the same group, and within the same group. The search engines today can track the sharing pattern through web-mining and this is a serious negative pointer for a web-sites. Sharing or mentions across pages or new profiles is the new mantra for success. Even if you hit Digg’s first page by exchanging votes, you are likely to be recognized by Google Panda as a Link Farm.

I hope you enjoyed going through these guidelines on how to protect your web-site from Google Panda downgrades. Do let me know if you have any queries. You could also check out few of the good service providers for web marketing. Also, check out the free ebook “Advanced Guide to Digital Marketing” for more details on digital marketing, the theories and advanced concepts.

Debt Crisis in Europe

The woes of the economic slowdown and financial crisis in 2011 is largely attributed to the debt crisis in Europe. This is not a recent happening and bubble started growing from as early as 2009. The 3 of the highest exposed countries; namely Greece, Ireland and Portugal, collectively account for six percent of Eurozone’s gross domestic product (GDP). Continue reading “Debt Crisis in Europe”

Supplier selection criteria and models

Purchasing is among the most important activities in supply chain management, since it is the primary point of contact with most supply-chain partners. A major area in purchasing management is that of Supplier Selection Problem (sometimes called the Vendor Selection Problem). Research in this domain started in the early 1960s and over 175 studies have attempted to address this highly critical issue of procurement management. “Vendor selection criteria and methods” have reportedly been the highest area of interest in operations management research.

A wide variety of selection criteria have been used in different studies for the evaluation of suppliers which have varied due to the differences in requirements in different industries and also often had been purely firm specific. Typically the variety of supplier selection criteria that has been used has exceeded 50 criteria in over 65 research papers working on finding new criteria for evaluation of suppliers. These criteria have been enlisted in the matrix shown below.

Some of the most popular criteria in supplier selection which has been used in over 10 research papers and have also been widely cited are relative price, compliance with the delivery schedule, quality of the delivered goods to specifications, production capabilities of the supplier, geographic distance (of the warehouse), technical capability of the supplier, management capability of the supplier  and financial position of the supplier. All these supplier evaluation criteria have found massive application in the studies in this domain and are marked by subtle differences in terms of relative importance, as perceived by senior procurement practitioners.

Similarly another area of keen interest is the models which has been used to provide decision support to the supplier selection problem. Over 35 different mathematical models have been used for providing decision support to this extremely critical issue of procurement management. A study by Ho, Xu and Dey (2010) reveals that the Analytic Hierarchy Process, Mathematical Programming and Data Envelopment Analysis are the top 3 modeling paradigms used to provide decision support in supplier selection problems. Many other novel techniques like multi-attribute-deterministic models; mixed mathematical programming, outranking techniques; weighted sum of products; interpretive structural modeling; fuzzy set theory, neural networks; intelligent agent based techniques; TOPSIS, fuzzy multi-attribute frameworks; rule based reasoning models and multi-objective programming models have also been used. Typically the evolution of supplier selection models have been as described pictorially below, due to the evolution of the nature of selection criteria, from quantitative to a mix of quantitative and qualitative criteria.

As the trend highlights, there is a paradigm shift in the nature of the mathematical models used for supplier selection with a change in the requirements in the nature of business, mostly in the manufacturing industries and the maturity of the discipline. No wonder the area has attracted so much of attention to the consulting practitioners and theory developers in academia alike.

Do mail me if you have any queries regarding this post.

The content in this article is an original piece of research made to further the purpose of education only. You may NOT copy, distribute and transmit the work for any purpose without the express written permission of the author. Neither you may alter, transform, or build upon this work without express written permission from the author (arpan.kumar.kar@gmail.com).

What is Quality Research and a Good Research Paper

Often a question that plagues many a beginner research student is the major question: What is good research or How to write a good research paper. Often, this becomes a major headache for students striving to complete a dissertation for their masters programme or even their doctoral programme. So what are the dimensions of a high quality research or a high quality research paper that one needs to keep in mind while writing the same?

Typically, as I would go about it, a good research should follow a simple methodology which should transcend to a publishable good research paper. So here are the few basic steps which one should follow while writing a good research paper.

  1. First challenge is choosing the topic of the research. How does one identify what topic is actually a good topic of interest? A major point to ponder would be is the problem statement significant enough? How relevant is the context in the current scenario? If there is substantial past literature which has been already published, then it is likely that it is a good research topic, broadly. I would advise students who are yet to establish themselves in the academia to refrain from choosing topics which may be interesting, but would have very less literature to support the building blocks of the same.  Choose a title for your work, which brings out its essence within 5 to 12 (maximum 15) words.
  2. Research studies typically have 3 important dimensions: Applicability (relevance of the study to the outer world), Rigor of methodology (to allow replicability of the study and the findings and thus the falsifiability of the theory), and the generalizability of the findings/results/theory generated through the study. However, many senior researcher feel that it is difficult to address more than 2 of these dimensions stringently while conducting a research, without compromising the 3rd dimension.
  3. Next start with a thorough literature review in the area in which you are planning to do a study. Typically remember, most quality research papers would have more than 30-50 citations and these researchers would have gone through 3 times the number of cited literature while developing the study. Not only a detailed literature review clarifies what could be the possible contribution in the paper, but also will help you to get a very strong idea on what could be the possible ways to go about the research methodology for such a problem. While conducting a literature review, it is of paramount importance to validate the degree of authenticity of the sources based on which you would build your work.
  4. After a thorough review of literature is conducted, it is time to define the contribution of your study. Always remember, the best research works are often those which strive to make a small yet significantly clear contribution. Attempting a huge amount of contribution often affects the quality of the work.
  5. Next is the step of designing a research methodology.  Every research would be having an ideal methodology based on the focus of the study, the limitations of doing research in the problem domain and replicability of the methodology across other studies with a similar focus. typically research is often evaluated based on the methodological rigor with which the contributions are evaluated and subsequently highlighted.  However, due to practical reasons, one needs to remember that limitations of available resources like access to data, technology, connections and other factors often limit the scope of following a “tailor made research methodology” and this often is an inherent issue of the problem under investigation. Not all studies can follow the ideal path due to lack of resources available to travel on the same. However, research methodology is of paramount importance and care should be taken to ensure that the best possible methodology is undertaken while planning out the research design.
  6. Then comes the major question of going about with the planned methodology. In various studies, this phase would be different. Sometimes methodologies need to be modified from the one that was planned, in due course of progress in the study. In social sciences (business management, other social sciences) this would essentially be the data collection phase, while in the domain of technology, this may entail the development of algorithms/hardware to meet the objectives to extend existing theories. This is followed by the stage where the analysis is done (on the data collected, or through the new proposed algorithms or using new technology) and the results need to be rechecked with existing literature for their validity on how they concur yet extend the same. Every details in these steps should be noted so as to allow the replicability of the study by another research following your methodology on a similar problem.
  7. Finally the last question is how to go about writing a great dissertation paper. Ideally the paper should have few mandatory sections like a brief introduction to the topic highlighting its significance and what you contributed, and the boundaries of your study. Next important section is the detailed review of existing literature in the topic so as to be able to bring out the existing gaps in the same. Next important section is writing in details about the contribution of your research and compare the same with the existing literature, and highlighting what existing theories it takes forward or contradicts. Then comes the theory section where you should describe in details what is your main proposition (including the model) in the paper, by building on the blocks taken from existing literature. Then you should give a detailed explanation of your research methodology through which you attempted to provide empirical validation to your propositions in your study. Then you should discuss the results of the research after it is conducted. Finally in the conclusion section, you should discuss the significance of your propositions/findings and highlight how it concurs with existing body of knowledge and yet takes it further, or disagree with the existing body of knowledge, suggesting reasons for the the same. Some research papers would also like to end with few notes on the limitations of the study and future research directions for someone to extend your work.

Hope this helps all the students who are writing their dissertation paper. Do get back to me if you feel any important dimension which has been missed here, can be added back. Also, if you have any clarification, feel free to shoot them to me.

Global financial & economic crisis in 2011

The financial crisis in late 2000, sometimes referred to as the Credit Crunch or the Global Financial Crisis, is generally considered by many economists to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The financial meltdown resulted in the collapse of super Financial institutions with power status, the bailout of mega-banks by the central governments, and plummeting stock markets around the world. However, in 2011, the world may be witnessing something which may be equally big, or maybe even bigger.  The WWII economic crisis and conditions are still extremely fragile. Probably turning short-term debt into long-term loans was the biggest trigger for this economic recession in 2011.

Some may call me to be somewhat more pessimistic in my outlook than is required, but here are my reasons to believe so.

  • The economy in US is in dire straits. The housing sector is yet to recover and high unemployment is troubling the super-power. The US is drowning in negative equity and job-less homes. Tax cuts may be short term evasive measure, medium and long term fiscal reforms may be necessary to pull US economy through this period. The recession in 2008-2009 is still making its presence felt in US, by depleting the reserves of the economic super-power. The tremble caused by BNP Paribas and Lehman Brothers is yet to subside full. Recently, US has been downgraded from its rating by Standard and Poor. The economists are suggesting long term reforms in banking,  such as raising capital ratios and switching from wholesale to retail funding, while filling in short-term gaps in capital. However, the banking industry would be subjected to a slow recovery in this track.
  • Japan has lost its AAA rating long back. The growth prospects for the once economic super-power is pretty poor.  Currently Japan’s national debt actually in excess of 200% of its GDP but its bond yields remain extremely low, since the growth prospects are not looking bright. As an effect of this, Japanese production has declined by over 15% in recent times.
  • The major debt that Greece is facing and the crisis thereof  not cured by the massive Eurozone and IMF bailout. The current bailout support may expire by 2013, and there has been no major financial restructuring in Greece. While the Greece government is sold out to Germany, this is even a bigger cause of concern because now the government will not even be able to print bills to increase inflation to depreciate its own assets. With the huge debt on Greece, the rest of EURO-Nations are equally strapped in the rear to come out with policy changes that may liberate them from this dire straits.
  • The crisis in the Irish national banking sector far from over. Even after receiving a staggering level of bailout assistance from the EU and IMF to cover the country’s insolvency, thanks to the Anglo Irish Bank and the other minor Irish banking institutions, the Dublin decision makers were forced to inject nearly $5 billion into Allied Irish Banks, another bankrupt institution. Ireland policy makers really need to figure out how to service this public debt, without triggering a shiver down its economy.
  • Europe in general is under severe economic stress. Without a major restructuring of debt, progress seems almost impossible. Debt burdens may continue to spiral upwards, and in several EURO using nations a debt write-down is very likely. German, French, and British banks hold most of the national debts, and a shiver there may trigger a collapse of the balance which apparently is resting on a spindle.
  • China, which seemed apparently less touched by the economic crisis in the west, is suddenly increasing its interest rates in an almost desperate effort to control price inflation. While China, the manufacturing super-power of recent times, strives to control the inflation within, this is almost an indicator of less attractive options to invest, outside the country, and even maybe within the country. Are we witnessing a scenario where the market demand has been saturated and the manufacturing sector is growing wary of the same?
  • India, which is evolving as an open market economy is not free from the crisis. Although Agriculture is still India’s most engaging “career”, most of the recent economic growth has been fueled from the services sector (IT, ITeS, Banking, or even tourism in few states). The welfare of these industries thrive heavily on the welfare of the counterparts in USA and to an extent in Europe, whose needs the service. The IT and ITeS alone has an average exposure of exceeding 52% to US markets and 34% to European markets, as per a report in Financial Times. On an average the services sector enjoy an exposure exceeding 82% to European and US markets. The meltdown of the economy in the western powers may be sufficient to trigger one in India.
  • With the advanced economies under such severe stress, emerging economies, may be slightly  insulated from major impacts, which can cause a huge eruption of their regular life. Worldbank says that the financial stress for the emergent economies may be over. However, since the development in these economies are heavily dependent on foreign direct investments from the economic super-powers, the development is likely to hit a stagnation. Is this an indication that the next financial tremble will arise from the developing economies?

Who knows how deep we actually are in this mess? Commodity prices are coming down, but that is probably the only brighter news in this downcast. Do let us know what you feel.

Knowledge Management – The way forward.

The source of a sustainable competitive advantage for any organization is derived from the access and subsequent exploitation of resources, and today, knowledge is being heralded as the most important of such resources that is available to organizations (Drucker, 1993). For the larger and mature organizations, often process capability knowledge is the primary source of advantage, whereas for the organizations seeking to grow and out-grow competition, in addition to process capability knowledge, knowledge management focus would also include market knowledge, rapid product development, or the creation of knowledge through research. However, it is important to recognise that even mature organizations need to create knowledge to avoid falling into the stagnancy pit. This is exactly what knowledge management attempts to provide more succinctly to the organizations. Knowledge management aims are to create conditions under which competitive advantage can be maintained, by creating,  acquiring, retaining and exploiting the knowledge for the welfare of the organisation.

Knowledge management is the way organizations today are attempting to make the otherwise intangible knowledge tangible and distributable, throughout the organization, in search of the illusive competitive advantage. Today, in this evolving world where insights on data or business intelligence plays an extremely crucial role for the sustainable development of an organization, knowledge management has become a key area of focus.

Beckett et al. (2000) has provided an interesting framework by which many organizations are actually managing their data within with a growing focus to manage the data outside the organization also. Through research, the authors highlight how effective knowledge management can provide a wider scope of continuous improvement to obtain benefits for the parent organization, by providing higher quality information, better quality information, removing information asymmetry, and subsequently increasing the levels of organisational expertise which can be applied to it to create substantial improvements for the organization.

The sole focus of organizations today is to convert internalized tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, so that it can be commoditized and less dependency is there on an individual for being the source of knowledge. With a high attrition rate in organizations across industry, it becomes extremely pertinent that knowledge once created within the organization stays inside the organization and does not become unusable once the creator of the same changes base, within or outside the organization. That is the sole objective of the initial knowledge management systems.

For improving the knowledge management practices within the organization, companies today are increasingly adopting rewards systems, collaborative systems, post-project reviews, knowledge mapping, establishing communities of practice with cross-project learning platforms, creating expert directories, competence management systems, best practice transfer, mentor-mentee relationships, knowledge fairs, formal knowledge repositories, measuring and reporting intellectual capital, knowledge brokers, social media and social network mining systems.

While it is important for organizations to understand the importance of knowledge management systems, even one aspect that many organizations often overlook is using the knowledge outside the boundaries of the organization, but within the value chain. Realizing this, the recent focus has been the development of customer knowledge management systems, where customer tacit knowledge is use to co-create value for the customer in the best possible way, and finally value for the company. Another group of stakeholders who are being introduced into the knowledge management realms are the supplier networks, where knowledge management is often used to create otherwise non-contactable value for the stakeholders. The way forward for knowledge management systems into the future is to capture the tacit knowledge outside the organization but within the value chain (and within multiple stakeholders) to create value for both.

Today, it is pertinent that all the senior executives of organizations realize the potential benefits of effective introduction and management of knowledge management systems, that can benefit the organization. Today, while organizations are facing increasing levels of competition due to the effects of greater competition, knowledge management provides an important way for organization to utilize the most valuable resource available to them, to gain competitive advantage.

Top Social Media Marketing Channels

In an independent survey conducted by Business Fundas, the top channels as perceived by social media marketers were identified and ranked. For this study, the over 20,000+ twitter followers (and also other social media marketers on twitter) were presented with a questionnaire for understanding the perceived importance of the various media for these marketing experts with a conversion of 1034 respondents for the study. Based on the results, the following results were obtained:

The top social media marketing channel based on our survey results was search engine. It performed extremely well as a channel to improve brand or service or product awareness, as well as a channel to improve conversion rates from potential leads to actual customer engagement.

The results for the best channel for creation of awareness for the service or products are as displayed in the graph below:

As these results indicate, some of the more popular and initially perceived important social media channels like Twitter, Digg, Reditt, Stumbleupon received lesser votes in confidence when it came to actual performance in terms of a channel to increase service or product or brand awareness.

Similarly, the top social media resources to convert potential customers to buyers are as follows:

As is evident from the results of the graph, the top resource, as perceived by the social media marketers in both cases are search engines. This was closely followed by Facebook and Youtube. However, some of the more popular and initially perceived important social media channels like Twitter, Digg, Reditt, Stumbleupon received lesser votes in confidence when it came to actual performance. Maybe since these are perceived as more of a media for capturing interesting sources of stories and / or multimedia, they are losing their importance as channels of social media marketing.

Do let us know what are your feedback about the social media marketing channels. How do YOU draw traffic to your blog? Is that a sustainable source of traffic or does that depend on daily marketing efforts and link exchanges amongst colleagues to promote your content? Do let us know.

Value Creation Strategy – Business Model

To create sustainable, long-term value for all the stakeholders of a firm, it is important to explicitly establish an appropriate stakeholder value target. However what would constitute the “success” condition for all the stakeholders of a firm would vary from the goals of individual stakeholder. For an investor in a firm, value may be seen as through higher market price of his stocks and bonds, where as, for a mid level worker, value may mean better returns in terms of satisfaction from the job, maybe in terms of pay grade improvements or in terms of job satisfaction. Although, what constitutes “value creation” may be dependent on stakeholder perception, for a generic strategic framework, there is a need to conceptualize a generic framework to achieve a target so the value may be created for the firm as a whole, in strict strategic sense.

The key to reach this target and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage is the alignment of business strategy, financial strategy, technology strategy, marketing strategy and investor strategies. One such model developed in strategic management literature is that of Strategy Maps.

In Strategic Maps framework, value is created through 3 main organizational resources, namely Human Capital, Information capital and Organization Capital.

As depicted in this model, value for a firm is essentially created through the interaction of  four processes, namely, “Operations management processes“, “Customer relationship management processes“, “Innovation processes” and “Regulatory and Social processes“. Under each process, there are lots of transaction level processes which create value. Monitoring and strategizing on the value creation of  transaction level processes is the functionality of Mid Level management in the organization which may be termed as “Ploy for Value Creation“. Focus here could be “Ploys” for improving cost structure or improving asset utilization within the firm. The objective at this level is to focus on productivity enhancing strategies.

For the executive senior management, strategy formulation for the purpose of “Value creation” would have a different focus. Their objective could be to expand the revenue opportunities through entering a new marketdecide a growth strategy for a product or market, or focus on Business Diversification strategies. In short, the role of the executives would be to evaluate various growth strategies for the firm, which could lead to huge revenues and thus economic value creation in the near future, upon realization of the plan post implementation of the strategy.

There are many other strategic frameworks for the creation of value for businesses which have their individual merits and limitations.  Another popular framework for value creation is that of Prahlad et al. (2004)

Do let us know if you have any query.

 

Supply Chain Value Management

No doubt that the efficient management of the Supply Chain is crucial for any business, but the grasping question always comes is how does it create value for the firm? More still, how can that value be better managed so as to create competitive advantage for the firm?

While the Value Chain analysis as developed by Michael Porter in 1985 argues as being efficient for creating a sustainable platform for value generation for firms so that they may achieve competitive advantage in the industry, the proposition is not without major limitations, like all other popular frameworks in strategic management literature.

Theory of Economics is one of many possible ways to define and measure value. 

While operationalizing the definition of value, it is crucial to note whether the exchange that creates this economic value is between business entities i.e.  Business to Business (B2B) – or between a firm and a consumer – i.e., Business to Consumer (B2C).

Since Supply Chain is intrinsic to creation of economic value between business entities only, we focus on B2B value creation. There are 3 forms of value that is created in B2B type economic transactions that is widely accepted in strategic management literature focusing on Supply Chains.

  1. Technical value, which is intrinsic to the resource being provided and occurs in almost every economic exchanges.
  2. Organizational value, which is built upon the context of the exchange, and may derive from a range of factors such as ethical standards, prestige, reliability, and association.  This may help the organization get more than the normal economic value from the transactional point of view, in terms of helping the same to achieve some degree of competitive advantage.
  3. Personal value, which is derived from the personal experiences and relationships involved in the exchange of resources and the benefits provided to the entities associated with the firms bounded by the economic exchange.

Value in supply chain gets created through the following processes:

  1. Supply chain modeling must be done quantitatively and objectively. Understanding of the goals objectively is crucial for its success.
  2. The major challenge in an excellent supply chain network is not to build a model but to model the sensitivity of one variable against others optimally. A simple model can work fine in many cases. However, supply chain experts (OR & Analytics Professionals) should be involved immediately when doing multi-layered inventory strategies, industrial engineers and operations.
  3. The fundamental building blocks of work are the methods and standards for the tasks. Value creation occurs when the changing business dynamics can be effectively modeled regularly to drive maximum benefits. (remember the Theories of Constraints?)

So creating value from supply chain should be a major focus for all manufacturing companies.

This is crucial to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of not only the supply chain in particular, but for the overall firm productivity.

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