You have to have your heart in the business and the business in your heart

Thomas J. Watson as always comes up with a great one liner. So what does he mean?

Its obvious that you need to be passionate about what you do to be successful in your endeavors, but it appears he is also talking about the famous Shakespearean “nature” vs “nurture” dogma here also. Are successful entrepreneurs born and not made? In that case, a lot of B-School education would fall flat on its face. Is this quote indicating that formal training provides one only a platform to move on in business?

Another great quote flashes to the mind: “Great leaders are born and not made”.

By the way, do check out Cornerstone LMS. They offer great learning solutions.

Any suggestions on these viewpoints on success of entrepreneurs and leadership?

Google Priority Inbox-Revolutionizing emails

Check out what Google has to offer now along with its core offerings in email. Google is planning a launch of its priority inbox, where, each user will mark mails as being more important and less important. Based on the priorities of individual users, obtained from feedback and text analysis of the mails more viewed by the same, incoming emails will be prioritized.

And intelligence ensures that users don’t need to set up rules to make the sorting happen. The feature takes its cues from things like who users e-mail the most and what messages are open and replied to rather than being skipped over.

Priority Inbox is scheduled to be rolled out to all Gmail users over the next week or so. Users just have to look for the “New! Priority Inbox” link in the top right corner of their Gmail account.

A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain

Ever heard of private banks financing the needs of the really needy? They don’t. That’s because the really needy customers will never have the monetary disposition to pay off the interest which is applicable for their risk profile. Isn’t that a tragedy of errors for these financial institutions?

E-Governance Failures – Can it be averted?

E-government, in short, allows the private sector to operate in areas that used to fall strictly within the public domain. The challenge for policy makers is to recognize that what is good for business is consistent with good government. Planners start with grand visions of on-line services but then flounder amid cross-agency squabbling. Or they fail to attract enough users or get sidetracked by expensive high-tech bells and whistles. Research on e-government efforts around the world has helped to identify three critical lessons for their proponents.

First, don’t underestimate the resistance of government employees to change. Washington State overcame this barrier by creating the Digital Information Academy. Mandated by the state’s governor, the academy helps departments map their existing services, encourages them to rethink the design of their services, and tries out new processes on focus groups. By involving government employees, the academy makes them less fearful and gives them a stake in e-government’s success. To ensure cooperation among departments, the governor required all of his chiefs to sign contracts stipulating the services they would put on-line within a specified time frame. When friction arises, the academy mediates.

Second, e-government services don’t justify the investment if citizens and businesses don’t use them. The majority of the people of almost every country don’t have Internet access (Exhibit 3), so e-government initiatives must include efforts to increase Internet penetration and usage. Most countries will have to develop channels other than personal computers in homes. In Dubai, for instance, where PC-based Internet penetration is under 15 percent but mobile-telephone penetration is over 50 percent, e-government will eventually adopt wireless applications. In Hong Kong, where Internet penetration is more than 40 percent, the government is nonetheless building e-government kiosks in shopping malls, supermarkets, and railway stations.

But access isn’t enough: e-government must also give the public financial or other incentives to use the Internet for transactions. In the United States, for example, people who file their tax returns on-line get their refunds deposited into their bank accounts within three weeks—half as long as it takes those who file paper returns to get a check in the mail. More than 30 percent of US tax returns are currently filed on-line.

Finally, e-government can be either a profit engine or a financial black hole, depending on the strategy and mind-set chosen. Its cost ranges from $30 million for department-specific efforts to over $100 million for fully integrated service portals. Unless vendors too invest at the outset, governments must justify these commitments by identifying, up front, the specific ways in which costs will be cut and users will be served more cheaply and conveniently. The National Information Consortium, for example, agreed to provide e-services to the citizens and businesses of the US state of Virginia in return for a cut of every transaction.

E-governance – The way ahead

A new way to the new economy is on the cards.

E-government, in short, allows the private sector to operate in areas that used to fall strictly within the public domain. The challenge for policy makers is to recognize that what is good for business is consistent with good government.

In many countries, particularly in emerging markets, e-government efforts can benefit private start-ups. E-government, for instance, involves investments in the public Internet infrastructure that would be too costly for individual companies. These investments finance gateways for electronic payments (in coordination with financial institutions) as well as encryption-and-decryption technology that ensures the security of electronic transactions.

Furthermore, e-government forces policy makers to establish a regulatory and legal framework to protect privacy and intellectual property insofar as they are involved in e-commerce. Examples of such frameworks include the Electronics Transactions Ordinance, in Hong Kong; the Electronics Transactions Act, in Singapore; and the Digital Signatures Act, in Malaysia.E-government also gets global information technology companies involved in everything from the design of systems to the development of applications. In the course of building the necessary infrastructure, those companies make significant investments in the local economy. Their local presence makes it easier for nearby companies to utilize their services or to partner with them.

Finally, e-government benefits private Internet ventures by increasing the number of World Wide Web–savvy locals. For this electronic new regime to succeed, government workers must have sufficient IT skills to maintain the system, and the general public must have the knowledge to take advantage of it. To ensure the diffusion of the required expertise, Malaysia has joined forces with world-class IT companies, such as Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Electronic Data Systems, to employ and train local people. Hong Kong offered computer training in community centers and blitzed the territory with television advertisements promoting Internet usage and with home videos on how e-government efforts work. Most governments in emerging markets also encourage Internet use by offering access through kiosks and computers in libraries and other public places.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s Memorable Dawn of Independence Speech

Today is our Independence Day. And what better way to celebrate the same than by remembering and honoring the day when it all started. If there is one place on this earth where all the dreams of men and women have found a home since when we began the dream of existence, it is with our Mother India. May we do justice to her and recognize her role in our lives, how we are indebted to her for our success and happiness.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY TO ALL MY FELLOW INDIANS.

Customer Knowledge Management

Coined in 2002 by García-Murillo and Annabi, customer knowledge management is the newest thing in the series of customer value management (See customer life time value management & customer network value management). Gathering,  managing,  and  sharing  customer  knowledge  can be a highly valuable  competitive  tool that  companies  and scholars have not yet considered to the extent possible it can be done. Today, the insights of the customers should be used right from the very beginning from the product development stage to the final stages of the product life cycle. García-Murillo and Annabi (2002) gives a pretty comprehensive framework of knowledge management, across the entire continuum, that a firm needs to practice throughout the  value chain to deliver value for the potential customers.

Having customer insights and managing the same through good processes and is important for getting  better and more timely design of new products and services; early warning of possible turbulence and competitive intelligence; customer commitment and loyalty; and deriving the maximum benefits from the synergy of collaboration. So how should one manage the insights customers may have effectively to draw the maximum value for the firm?

Today, a lot of informal knowledge lies in the knowledge portals available in the web.  There are so many blogs and online forums where there is a high level of potential customer engagement, through mutual exchanges of information and discussions. Knowledge management through the mining of such unstructured data is one of the surest way to capture the customer sentiments and knowledge. If the insights can be successfully incorporated into the processes while the firm is developing a product, it may be a sure gateway to success.

Today many companies are incorporating a higher degree of customer engagement activities in their relationship management strategies. It is being felt that active voice of a customer can have an effect beyond the customer’s lifetime value and the customer’s network value. The insights can be actually incorporated within the product finalization stage itself, so that the customer can be engaged and bound into a relationship, even before the product is formally launched into the market. Not only this tactic draws higher brand recognition, it paves the path for a higher relationship development of the firm with its customers. Gibbert et al. provides an excellent framework for managing the knowledge of customers through three focused strategies, namely, Prosumerism, Team based co-learning and mutual innovation.

  • Alvin Toffler (1980) first used the expression “prosumer” to denote that the customer could fill the dual roles of producer and consumer. The CKM process transforms the customer into a co-value creator, endowing them with new competencies and benefaction opportunities.  It liberates the customer from the platform of only past, accumulated knowledge by stimulating the knowledge within them for the co-production of value.
  • In team based co-learning, the inter-linkages with the customer base and their interactive joint learning with the customers require a higher level of engagement of the firm with the customers. Customer may be actively involved in the product refinement itself.
  • Mutual innovation is possible when the firm actually starts incentivising the potential customers for the mutual creation of value. This is often feasible only if custom made products are being manufactured, and less feasible for standardized products.

In all the three cases, it is evident that there is immense benefits that can be reaped if customer knowledge management can be done to co-create value with the customers. The insights of the customers can be of extreme significance to sustainably market a product throughout the product life cycle. Hopefully, in the future, a higher degree of customer engagement will be available while developing the product itself and throughout the PLC curve.

Coco-Cola Goes Crazy for Harris!

Now it’s not very often a fantastic TV ad has the opportunity to make a comeback and bless our screens for a second time, but fortunately Coco-Cola have decided to bring back the ‘Yeah yeah yeah, La la la’ TV ad featuring DJ Calvin Harris. What I love about this ad is how Mother, the creative agency, have injected some much happiness and colour into the creative. The slogan ‘Open Happiness’ fits brilliantly with the look and feel of the marketing activity. I can’t help but feel uplifted and carefree listening to the cheerful music and watching the bright scenery. I also like the cleverly designed machine! The ad is perfect for summer – which conveniently brings me on to their reason for bringing back the ad. So why?

Why bring the ad back?
Coco-Cola initially used the ad as part of their £50m European marketing plan in summer 2009.  After hitting our screens last year Coke have decided to use the ad to promote an on-pack summer promotion. The promotion claims to give away free gig tickets every hour during August 2010. Coco-Cola fans can also enter the hourly prize draw online via the Coke Zone website: www.cokezone.co.uk to win even more prizes! I love how Coco-Cola have been able to effectively reuse their ad material to strengthen their brand’s messages as well as capture a sense of history with the consumer, which they can share together. The new promotion is using a lot of online activity which is encouraging greater engagement with the brand too.

 Why not watch the ad for yourself and see what you think:

 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer !

FBI vs Wikipedia – Is it another conspiracy theory?

First a one line introduction to both the FBI and the Wikipedia, just in case a reader is not able to link it. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency. Wikipedia is a multiple language supported web-based, free-content knowledge management portal based on an openly-editable user supported platform. Over the years, Wikipedia has become a reliable source of information on almost any available topic.

In recent times, there has been a clash between the FBI and the Wikipedia management, on the usage of the logo/seal of the former, in its knowledge distribution page on the same. In a letter sent to Wikipedia’s San Francisco office, the FBI said that “unauthorized reproduction of the FBI Seal was prohibited by US law”, as reported by BBC.

What intrigues me is what could FBI possibly have to gain or prove by stopping the usage of the FBI seal in the site where the latter can only be condemned of trying to spread knowledge about the former organization in a much controlled and structured way. I could have still understood had FBI raised a case of misrepresentation of its duties/activities but no such case has been registered publicly. Interestingly, the same FBI logo has been used in multiple other websites without the consent of FBI, but till date, no website has been sued for the same, unless the logo was used with an harmful intent or misrepresented the intelligence organization.

This very aspect incites me to think that there is probably some bigger agenda that is not surfacing. Has Wikipedia, inadvertently started sharing information which could compromise national security or peace? Or has Wikipedia knowingly not agreed to remove information which may cause the same, citing information protection laws for the same.

In such a case, while bringing the subject to lime-light would be certainly dangerous, this may be a strategy to attack the knowledge dissemination website, diverting public focus on some other agenda, and at the same time, make the organization accede to the requests of the FBI. While it is also possible that FBI is actually doing what it is claiming in their letter, but my mind is at unrest to accept that.

We may never know what may be the reason for such an action. What do you think?

Disclaimer: By the way, this is entirely a personal view, and no way am I making any claims on the topic, which may be sensitive to certain people.
Nor do I have any intentions to propagate a conspiracy theory.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency.