EQ/PQ

Most people have a tough time dealing with politics and all sorts of mental pressures at the workplace in addition to personal tensions. This often creates friction with our peers unknowingly. One of the outcomes from the mental turmoils is creation of groups of so called friends and foes. One of the basic purposes of workplace friends is to listen to our sufferings, sympathize and bad mouth our foes. Further, these friends are also the people via whom all our personal and official details get leaked in office. In reality, it has very often turned out that the foes whom we hate so much and are always busy mentally abusing as the possible sources of all our troubles, are actually in same conditions as us, just they don’t get along with us.  Further, if we came across such foes at social places after quitting the organization, mostly they turn out to be much less of a monster than what we thought they were, although our ego prevents us from recognizing the same. Also the friends who seem to be the best of well wishers we can have, fade away from our life slowly and eventually after we quit. Thus, it is very important how we act and display our emotions at the work. What is really important is to maintain a “pleasant” relation with the strategic people . Now pleasant in no-way means being fake. Be earnest, help, share and liven up your collegues, maintain great rapport with the boss but always keep emotions out of it. Its best to disassociate the emotional side from the professional side for avoiding troubles.

#Quote Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t do

This quote by Donald Trump speaks more than just the words. Business success is often about choosing which projects to go for and which to leave, even if they appear attractive. Not always do all firms have the capability to deliver a “waao” project, even if the same is offered to them. The same works on the personal front also. A man needs to recognize his limitations before jumping onto “opportunities”.

Impossible is nothing vs. Superstition

Though out the history we have seen or read about great men and women preaching that it is only hard work that pays off, there is nothing called luck. Is it really so?

No matter what people say, when it comes to actual practise we see innumerable instances where in spite of their talent, men have taken the aid of superstition while performing the task they excel at doing. Let us consider some of the most popular as well as distinct instances.

India is a country known for religion and unfortunately when there is religion can superstition be far behind? If there is one profession in India which pays well irrespective of actual talent and proof of success then it is ASTROLOGY. Astrologers predict what probably even science cant at few instances. The most funny astro superstition must be the addiction to K by the famous bollywood producers namely Karan Johar, Ekta Kapoor or Rakesh Roshan.

But if we have to give an instant of some really wacky superstition then lets remember the 10 wickets haul taken by Anil Kumble at Delhi in the cricket match against Pakistan, Sachin Tendulkar used to hand over Kumble’s sweater and cap to the umpire before he was to bowl an over and kumble used to take a wicket.

However, barring obsession with astrology India isn’t the only nation where superstition dwells. Every human being, irrespective of nationality and religion is superstitious to certain extent.

If we recollect history then we shall remember that Napoleon Bonaparte feared cats (ailurophobia) and the number 13 whereas Winston Churchill petted black cats to obtain good luck.

Michael Jordan always wore his blue North Carolina shorts under his Bulls uniform for good luck.

However, if we have to list some of the weirdest superstitions then it would be of Jennifer Anniston won’t board a plane without stepping on with her right foot first and tapping on the outside of the plane. Coldplay’s Chris Martin has a pre concert ritual, he doesn’t go on stage without brushing his teeth.

One of the most famous superstitions is that in the year 2012 the world is going to end. Who knows? I say live your life today so that there is no regret for tomorrow 😉

How to choose a career

Everybody knows that skills are important for getting and keeping a job. Employers expect you to list relevant skills on your resume. They ask about your skills in interviews. And they expect you to develop skills on the job so that you will remain productive as new technologies and new work situations emerge.

But maybe you haven’t thought about how closely skills are related to job satisfaction. For example, let’s say you have enough communication skills to hold a certain job where these skills are used heavily, but you wouldn’t really enjoy using them. In that case, this job probably would be a bad choice for you. You need to identify a job that will use the skills that you do enjoy using.

There is an interesting tool freely available online to guide you for such a big decision making step: Its called a Job-Match Grid. This mentioned grid makes a match with the skills in you, with the drives in you, to a possible set of career choices. This ensures, even if you are good in a particular domain, but do not have a passion for the same, you don’t end up 10 years down the line as a dead bone, dried up emotionally, because although you have made a lot of progress in doing what you do well, it does not fulfill your emotional needs expected from the job.

To know more about the Job-Match Grid, check out the ebook “100 fastest growing careers” by Michael Farr, or mail me to get a complementary copy of the same.

Twisted fate

Rajiv could feel that slowly he was slipping away. Inside his head he was experiencing something mixed; a dizzy feeling as his body was becoming numb slowly and also a bliss, lightness, something he hasn’t experienced in days or probably months. He could feel a bright light flooding the room as he closed his eyes and also distant voices shouting his name. His hands fell sideways and the empty bottle rolled out of his hands which was filled with sleeping pills some 20 mins ago. As he slipped into unconsciousness the voices became clearer. One of them, a particularly distinct female voice was asking him to give an explanation for whatever has happened.

Rajiv Mehta was one of the main partners of Mehta and Mehta, one of the leading legal consultants of India. He was one of the most suave guys who has reached his position in a short span of 8 years. He was also one of the most famously ill-reputed mentalists in his organization and a would be entrepreneur, all thanks to his inlaws, the founding members and also partners of the firm. He was particularly effective where the dealing became rough. The smoothness of his behavior was also sharp enough like a razor to cut anybody’s fate into pieces if it didn’t suit his way in the organization. This particular morning Rajiv was looking forward to interview young and beautiful ladies who have come for the post of his assistant. In between the interviews he drifted in his thoughts, he needed to shut his wife from going public by taking her for their fourth honeymoon. Just then he came crashing back to reality. Dia Malik, the lady who was standing in front of him made him come back to all his sense, he could not think of anybody better who would suit his requirements better. At that moment he was sure that she was somebody who could engulf his clients mind enough, to make them a continuous provider of fat cheques, again and again. She maintained her poise all through the interview and Rajiv found himself smitten by her charm and also by the fact that her knowledge was surprising high about how he functioned. She completed his thoughts even before he could speak it out. After he completed the interview, just for the sake of being formal, he could not help himself from asking her out for dinner which she gladly accepted. Rajiv was high and she was holding his hand laughing, he wasn’t sure when or how it began but he had shared with her details about all his holdings, about most of which even his wife isn’t aware of. He felt like he was flowing along with the water. She took him to her flat and he gladly went along. But along the way he could feel that he was loosing control over his body. Then everything went blank.

Next afternoon Rajiv woke up with a severe headache. He was lying in his bedroom but he couldn’t figure how he reached there. His servant Ramu informed that he was found banging on the main gate by the watchman at the middle of the night. He had his tea and opened the tv and moreover was shocked to find some 200 smses in his inbox. However he was more surprised when he found his name flashing on the screen of one of the most popular business channels. Beside it was shown a recorded video where he was accepting that he is handing over all his property to  Miss Dia Malik, his eldest daughter. He accepted that his dream of creating Mehta and Mehta was fulfilled by marrying his wife, the main partner of the firm some 22 years ago for which he planned to eliminate his late wife Sunaina Malik and by giving away his daughter to a couple who has lost their child. Rajiv Mehta went blank for sometime. After about an hour he went to the washroom and took the bottle of sleeping pills which his wife took occasionally.

Rajiv pulled his eyes once and saw his wife’s face before the whole room went dark….

100 Fastest Growing Careers

All of us want a great career. For someone who is about to take the big leap into the unknown, an intriguing question that torments his mind is what prospects does the future hold for him in the particular career track? What are his growth prospects and is it just a job for him or will it provide truly a career worth pursuing?

A recent research by Michael Farr has attempted to find out the top 100 fastest growing career paths. The figure below lists them out.

Maybe this should help before you think about a career choice, or decide to run the rat race. Do let me know what you feel about this.

Bringing home the Digits with Digital Signage

Digital signage is on a meteoric rise, both in Europe and the US. Originally utilized as branding and advertising on high streets, landmark sites and sports events, digital signage is now being utilized as a successful in-store marketing tool; revolutionizing retail and providing a whole new dimension to customers’ shopping experience.

Research in 2007 indicated that around 75 % of retail purchasing decisions were made in store, highlighting how underused digital signage was in relation to a marketing opportunity. Yet the Return on Investment (ROI) figures have been increasing every year, highlighting that there is still room for improvement for retailers keen to employ digital signage to its full potential. In 2009, a Digicom survey found that 78 percent of customers felt that in-store digital signage displays made a particular product more attractive than if it was advertised via standard print signage.

Current figures demonstrate that on average, digital signage solutions deliver an 18 percent increase in sales. This figure is substantial when, on average, only two in every 100 consumers make a purchase in an ordinary retail environment. It is not surprise then that in Europe, digital signage installations are set to rise by a whopping 144 percent over the next three years. According to a new survey by POPAI, this figure doesn’t look like slowing after 2013 either.
With this swift growth in mind many of the industry’s top protagonists will meet at the Next Generation Retail Europe event (hosted by GDS International) in March 2011 to discuss the importance and growing various types of digital signage. Among the high-profile retailers in attendance will be Giorgio Armani, Marks & Spencer,  McDonald’s, Tesco, Carrefour, Diesel, Edeka Zentrale, Sainsbury’s and Pearle Europe, who will each send key executives to the meeting to discuss digital screens, interactive kiosk technology and in-store broadcast networks among other discussion points.

“[Retailers have] learned a lot of lessons, says Mike Gatti, Executive Director of the Retail Advertising Marketing Association. “We’re seeing retailers are bringing their screens down to shelf level, they’re embedding them with a lot of products, and they’ve really tailored the messages a lot more so they are able to deliver the message quickly and a lot more effectively to the customer.”

Other issues within the digital signage realm include linking the necessary hardware, software and media players together to promote a continual, uninterrupted campaign, and sustainability, where companies can utilize solid-state players, which help its carbon footprint. All of this and more, will be discussed at the  Next Generation Retail Europe event next March.

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This Article is authored by Jake Mazan, who is a guest author at Business Fundas. He is a Senior Research Analyst cum Manager at NG-Online News.

Social Schooling

Today we are much more connected as a society and more and more schools are using online networks to manage classes at schools and educational institutions.  It is the time to capitalize on the popularity of social networking rather than fighting the inevitable?

A recent research (Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project) found that 73 % of online teenagers use social-networking sites. They are regularly updating their Facebook / Twitter / MySpace accounts and use social networking to keep up with the latest news from their peers.  Currently most social networking activity takes place off work schedule officially (or behind the back) and not in the classroom but a change to harness the power of social media is welcome and institutions are hoping to incorporate social networking into lesson plans. B-Schools like Harvard and Carneggie Mellon are already doing it. Its up to the rest to follow.

Today, thus it makes sense to have specialized social networking tools within the classroom, enabling educationally relevant academic matter for all students.  This is not for students to communicate with classmates but to communicate with other students from within the school, or state or country or even internationally throughout the world.  In essence, creating a broader network where students can learn from each other.

“The Web 2.0 evolution has enabled educational institutions to connect in transparent and impactful ways, achieving a greater competitive edge. However not all institutions have taken the full advantage of this movement. While over half of students report using social networking tools for educational purposes, faculty are not exploiting these tools to connect with students, instead preferring traditional methods of communication.” Next Generation Education Committee.

e-Business solution providers are now in the process of developing social networking aademics tools for usage in the schools.  The trend towards a more collaborative and open learning / open source environment has been fueled by the explosive adoption of mobile devices among both students and faculty.  This has made colleges and universities some of the most intensive adopters of wireless technologies and hence is well positioned to adopt social networking technologies for e-learning.  The aim of providing seamless and secure access to data to students is so they are able to share knowledge, manage and build content while build their social network is the goal of the future netizens. This surely looks geared to position them to make better informed decisions while they are on campus or at school.

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This Article is authored by Jake Mazan, who is a guest author at Business Fundas. He is a Senior Research Analyst cum Manager at NG-Online News.

FDI and Economic growth

The past decade was marked by the increasing role of foreign direct investment (FDI) in total capital flows. In the late 90s, FDI accounted for more than 50% of all private capital flows to developing countries. This growing change in the composition of capital flows has been synchronous with a shift in emphasis among policymakers in developing countries to attract more FDI, especially following the 1980s debt crisis and the recent turmoil in emerging economies. The rationale for increased efforts to attract more FDI arises from the belief that FDI has several positive effects which include productivity gains, technology transfers, the introduction of new processes, managerial skills, and know-how in the domestic market, employee training, international production networks, and access to markets.

If foreign firms introduce new products or processes to the domestic market, domestic firms may benefit from accelerated diffusion of new technology. In other situations, technology diffusion might occur from labor turnover as domestic employees move from foreign to domestic firms. These benefits, in addition to the direct capital financing it generates, suggest that FDI can play an important role in modernizing the national economy and promoting growth. Based on these arguments, governments often have provided special incentives to foreign firms to set up companies in their country.

While it may seem natural to argue that FDI can convey greater knowledge spillovers, a country’s capacity to take advantage of these externalities might be limited by local conditions. In an effort to further examine the effects of FDI on economic growth, research indicates the same from the recent emphasis on the role of institutions in the growth. In particular, there is great emphasis on the role of financial institutions and many economists argue that the lack of development of local financial markets can limit the economy’s ability to take advantage of potential FDI spillovers.

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This article had been written by Rajeev Malhotra and edited by Arpan Kar. Rajeev has done his Masters in Financial Engineering from an Ivy League B-School from the United States. Besides his MBA, he also holds a CA and a CFA degree. He is currently working with DSP Meryll Lynch, USA.

The Future of Apple products

So whats the next level of innovation Steve Jobs is going to announce next? The I-Pad appears to be an extended and enlarged version of the I-Phone. Following this trend, we may very soon be introduced to the i-Board and then to the i-Mat from the Apple Innovation Labs.

The future Products of Apple

Time to ask Stevey, Whats next on your cards?

Impact of Economic recession on Chinese energy markets

The energy sources of China are extremely rich in natural gas and coal, but relatively sources are lower in petroleum. Thus, today China is over increasingly getting more an more dependent on coal, which accounts for 68.7% of total energy that is consumed in the country.On the positive side, the renewable energy segment has increased from 8.8% in 2008 to 9.9% in 2009, but coal is still an essential player and irreplaceable in the Chinese energy market. (Source: Frost and Sullivan Research)

The global economic recession impacted the Chinese energy markets in multiple ways. Demand and supply was affected as the Chinese were forced to change their coal export policies in line with the slump. By reducing the degree of coal exports, the stock and the supply side of coal developed a large surplus over the demand, which decreased the price of coal in the Chinese markets for local consumption. These pulses left by the economic recession have been felt by other industries that are also related to the coal industry, like the thermal power generation and cement industries. Due to this recession in the energy markets and the decrease of the profitability of those 2 industries, China was forced to limit production, thus reducing the use of coal.

Our verdict is in order to follow the rest of the world in energy development, China has to make more use of sustainable energy.

Economic recession’s impact on Chinese solar power market

With the support of the Chinese government, the solar power industry has rapidly grown into the one of the largest industries in the world. However, the solar power industry’s structure and technology have not kept up with the rapid growth. As a result, problems have creeped into this sector in China. Thus surprisingly, cost is high in China for the generation of solar electrical energy. Furthermore, a minuscule civil market exists and the technology is grossly outdated. Thus the Chinese solar power market may face several industrial problems due to the economic situation.

The biggest barrier to further development as faced by local Chinese solar power companies is financing. Although the solar power sector in China is among the fastest growing sector in the world, to develop this emerging sector, the country needs to dedicate a lot of financial resources. Many different solar power projects can only continue with a large dedicated monetary commitments in R&D. The economic recession badly affected the solar power companies. The securities market and banks are the major financial source for such high technology companies. After the economic crisis, the level of supervision and control for Chinese securities market was promoted for issuing IPO and the banks also increased the requirements for credit. This will continue to impact the supply side of the Chinese solar power market. If companies cannot keep their liquidity, they will face bankruptcy.

Another impact of the economic recession is the reduction of foreign dependencies in the solar market. Chinese solar power industry is mainly dependent on foreign sales. The economic slowdown has influenced the sales of Chinese manufacturers. When the USA entered the economic downturn, foreign trade with other countries decreased, specifically for China and the export of solar power products. Additionally, other factors to slow down Chinese solar power market developing speed are the inferior technology and high production price.

Economic recession’s impact on Chinese wind power market

The Chinese wind power market has not been heavily influenced by the world economic recession. The wind power market can be considered the most mature among the renewable energy sectors because of its early development, relatively mature technology, and widespread application.

Still it was seen that the economic recession did have significant impact on international market demand; but the market for Chinese wind power is mainly local and the percentage of wind power produced is relatively small when compared with total electricity production using thermal power and hydro-power. Thus the situation for the Chinese wind power market is different from the solar power market, which is mainly located at the beginning of the value chain. The margin for Chinese solar power manufacturers is low enough that the solar power manufacturers could easily go bankrupt due to a poor economic situation. Also the major source of capital investment in the Chinese wind power market is from government funding. Even if many foreign investments quickly drew out from Chinese companies, it would not impact the entities’ normal operations. Overall, the wind power market would likely keep growing, but at a lower speed than before due to the influence of economic recession.

From the whole renewable energy sector point of view, the economic recession had some impact on the development of the renewable energy, but it was a relatively small effect because using renewable energy has been recognized as the best known practice to ensure sustainability worldwide. The Chinese government pushed out more and more stimulus and subsidies policies to encourage investment in renewable energy. Also, the particular nature of the Chinese renewable energy sector have played a part in helping China avoid serious pressures from the economic slowdown. For those reasons, the issues of how to help China maintain their strength in this segment should be the core for the future development of Chinese renewable energy sector.

In order for China to remain a strong market player in the renewable energy industry the following strategies are suggested:

  • First, the manufacturers must increase innovation in an effort to move into a more profitable area on the value chain.
  • Meanwhile, the standards and regulations will play an important role in protecting and regulating the industrial participants.
  • Finally, the government stimulus and subsidies will aid in attracting more FDI, venture capital investment, etc. Chinese manufacturers will have to enhance enterprise competitiveness, especially technologies with proprietary intellectual property rights, to prevail in the intensive competition with foreign companies for Chinese renewable energy market, because enterprise competitiveness is the basis of the survival and development.

This Article is authored by Jake Mazan, who is a guest author at Business Fundas. He is a Senior Research Analyst at Frost and Sullivan. He takes a keen interest on Asian Markets and their impacts on Global Markets.

The path to success is to take massive, determined action

“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.”- Anthony Robbins

Robbins summed it up in simple language. You need to have the heart to take big decisions, sometimes even risky to taste the sweetness of success. But decisions only become fruitless unless implemented with equally thoughtful implementable plan of action. The confluence of both is necessary for success.

The Most Profitable Consumer Segment

Today, the youth within the age gap of 20 – 30, commonly called the twentysumthing has become the most profitable segment for marketers. After all, this slice of the larger young adult market is nearly 38 million strong (and growing), spends more than $150 billion annually, is predisposed towards early adoption, and the bulk of its brand loyalties are still in a state of flux.   Outperform your competition and you’ll generate immediate gains to the bottom line while building lasting brand loyalties.  Miss the boat and you risk giving away a priceless competitive advantage.

TODAY’S TWENTYSOMETHINGS

To be successful, packaging must address the unique mindset and leading behavioral drivers of today’s young adults.  The market’s psyche is driven by several key factors:

Rapidly Evolving

Young adults are evolving at warp speed in language, lifestyle, usage, consideration set, and attitudes.  What’s cool today, may be passé tomorrow: brands can become obsolete faster than a speeding train.

Market Savvy

Today’s young adults are acutely aware that they are a highly desirable target market.  In a time when advertising has infiltrated pop culture, twentysomethings are well versed with the dynamics of marketing and sales: they’ve “been there, done that”.  Don’t be fooled… the market may look naïve, but it’s composed of highly experienced and enlightened consumers.

Cynical

Having been touched by crime, AIDS, drugs, corporate downsizing, and an endless parade of political scandals, twentysomethings expect to be mugged by marketers.  (Sad, but true.)   Product claims are instantly interpreted as hype and greeted with intense skepticism.

Time Crunched

Packaging can, and should, help facilitate faster decision-making.  Young adults live in an accelerated culture where time is a precious commodity.  No matter what their age or socioeconomic status, they are struggling to balance work and leisure.   Products and services that deliver increased productivity or improved quality of life will be duly rewarded.

“Adventure Seeking”

With the advent of the Global Village, young adults are taking full advantage of what the world has to offer in music, food, culture, fashion, travel, ad infinitum.  They love to “adventure seek” and have the financial resources to do so.  Except for a few lucky brands, young adults typically brand surf from one product to the next.  As such, this audience is usually the first to adopt a new product, brand, or line extension.

Culturally Diverse

Today’s young adults are the most ethnically diverse group in American history.  Remember, folks, this is the “MTV Generation”.  A gangster rap video here, an alternative rock video there, Tommy Hilfiger in the inner city, FUBU in the suburbs have blurred the lines that once formally separated one ethnic group from another.  The implications on packaging strategy have yet to be fully understood.

Sophisticated (Sometimes)

The market is incredibly sophisticated across a variety of product categories, but by no means all.  The average young adult may be quite knowledgeable about high involvement categories such as fashion, electronics, music, computers, and entertainment.  In fact, in such categories, their role as Early Adopters and Influencers is nothing short of profound.  Conversely, peripheral categories (read: MOST product categories) are low involvement and, hence, call for split decision making.   “Um, I’ll take that… ah, THAT piece of gum please.”  Packaging can play an instrumental role in young adult purchasing because the market is NOT as sophisticated about most product categories as it would like you to believe.

Also, this segment is strongly categorized for having a very strong network value. Social networks play an important role in this segment.

If you do have a product for this segment, do ensure that you consider these factors while developing your marketing mix and designing your 4Ps or 7Ps as the case may be.

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing

Hellen Keller sums it all.  Without risks, a business is sure to face stagnation and then ultimately death. Taking risk is crucial for tasting success in your business endeavors. However, what is important to remember that the returns you are expecting from the project(s) is proportional to the risk level.

Mahalaya – The day heralding the Durga Puja

We, the Bengalis wake up on this day, listening to the dream music to our ears, the recitation of Birendra Kishore’s Mahalaya poetry. This heralds the  traditional 6-day countdown to Mahasaptami. Goddess Durga visits the earth for only four days but seven days prior to the Pujas, starts the Mahalaya. The enchanting voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra fill up the predawn hours of the day thus marking the beginning of ” devipaksha ” and the beginning of the count-down of Durga Puja.

Ayi Giri Nandini Nandita Medini, Visva Vinodini Nandinute Giri Vara
Vindhya Shirodhini Vasini Vishnuvilaasini, Jisnunute Bhagavati He ShitikaNthakutumbini
Bhoorikutumbini Bhoorikrute Jaya Jaya He, Mahishaasuramardhini

How long do Bengalis all over the world wait for this day? For us, the Bengalis, the clan producing the sons like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Rabindranath Tagore, Netaji Subhash Chandra, Bose, Satyajit Roy and so on.. this is what the Christmas is to our Christian brothers, the Id-ul-fitr is to our brothers of Islam, and so on. We, the “Bongs” across the world keenly wait for this day when we may return to our roots and look forward to a week full of magic with all those artifacts that we are identified with.

While our current Gen-X may sometimes be lost when it comes to identifying with our roots, this is the day that knocks us back to our senses and makes us get back to what we hold so dearly, our cultural roots. The expectations and memories from the Durga Puja are so high amongst our clan that where-ever we are, at that moment, we all hope or wish that were we in Kolkata when the puja will happen. We guys eagerly wait to don the Punjabis while our female counterparts dress up in Saris in anticipation of creating a few fluttering hearts, and sometime, ensnare a hopelessly romantic dolt with her charm.  The kids dress up and play, firing their toy-guns (caps) and the occasional sound of crackers and very recently, whistles and horns, play the perfect foil to merry-making. This is the time when the “Mashimas”,  “Boudis” and “Didis” with that “Para’r danpite meye” unite to play with the flavor of the crimson magic. This is the time we unite across generations and pay homage to our seniors. This is the time when nuclear families reunite in infectious joy. This is the time when the elderly, stop harping about the tormenting life, and enjoy the fruits of harmony with their younger counterparts. This is the time when the school going kids, are relieved of their burden from those nightmarish study-books and they are free to reign their world of fairy-land.

Yes, this is what Durga Puja brings to us. But unfortunately, although we “Bongs” would like to share the magic with all our Non-Bong friends, they would really not be in a position to savor the actual flavor of this delicacy. But, true to our roots, it is through the pursuit of these differences and these identities of our culture, we find meaning in our life. Otherwise, we are just another robot planted on this tormenting planet wonder, to play our role on the grander stage of life.

Three cheers to the Mahalaya, which heralds the Durga Puja.

And I wish I could do better justice to our roots with an ode to our cultural roots, but unfortunately, I have my limitations as a serious poet.

Why should you have a Corporate Social Network

Often, there is very little to differentiate between the winners and the “not-winners” in the race for corporate seniority in the industry. What creates that illusive competitive advantage for those who actually succeed. In most cases, it is not capabilities to deliver the goods that count but the winner’s socializing capability. So what benefits does a Corporate Social Network brings to a professional?

  1. Personal Branding: did you know that each member of a social network adds about U$ 80-U $ 100 to the brand value? Your depth of “intimacy” with your contacts in your corporate social network will determine this added value to your personal brand. In short, if Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are on your contact list in Linked-In, it helps to increase your personal branding.
  2. Relationships Based Organization: Today, when in a big firm, everything is standardized, we are moving into a relationship based management to deliver that inch extra. Generally, contacts with different types of stakeholders are kept in databases but, they are not organized in groups and segmented in order to build long term relationships. The same is true to all contacts of all employees that there are spread among various social networks.
  3. Knowledge sharing: Corporate social networking is one of the most popular and easiest ways of facilitating knowledge sharing, either by posting articles, wikis or by acting as a simple repository of several files as text editors, spreadsheets, presentations, etc..
  4. New leadership identification: It helps to strengthen group activity, and thus it is paramount to nominate a team of group leaders. This leadership must be naturally stimulated. The company will be able to observe styles and attitudes of each professional and reward them fairly whenever they create real value.
  5. Transparent relationship: By the time the company organizes all its stakeholders, starting by its internal collaborators, clients, suppliers in several specific groups, it opens a very strong and positive relationship channel with all of them creating the possibility that each stakeholder bring their respective relationships to the same business environment.
  6. Active & identified communication: the company starts offering to everyone an environment, in which, the communication can flow both ways actively in an identified and transparent manner. Company will know with whom it is talking to, what is being discussed and what the concrete results are because the platform itself documents all exchanged ideas.
  7. Market test: instead of spending a fortune in market research, how about having your own and qualified sample, make an in-house test and have a more reliable and real time result?
  8. Stakeholders loyalty: It is to be recognizes that there is a challenge to overcome by the time the company is exposing more. However, by facing and solving problems directly and by finding intelligent and creative solutions involving each stakeholder specifically, the company will consolidate its brand before the market and will attract the best opportunities besides making all stakeholders loyal and having them bringing new businesses to the organization. This is only possible if managers have a corporate social network which is not only wide but also deep across organizational hierarchies.
  9. Central, global & local management: Corporate social networking is all set to evolve to a central relationship point among all with several modules like payment gateway, web-conferences, mobile solutions,  CRM, reducing tremendously the operational costs of new business search and allowing the global  reach by having strong presence on the Internet while reinforcing its local presence.
  10. Lock-in effect: Considering that in general, people are fairly resistant to changes and that everyone competes for time and attention of the superiors in an organizational hierarchy, the one, who is better poised to affect their decisions will have conditions to create a a lock-in effect hence nullifying competition from co-workers.

What is Customer Network Value

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” – Jeff Bezos.

Customer Network Value is the Value generated from the network (Both social and professional) by the acquisition of new customers through word of mouth advertising.

Jeff Bezos, the founder, president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Amazon.com never said anything truer when it came to realize Customer Network Value. Typically it has been seen that for both B2B products and especially for B2C products, word of mouth proves to be a better media for advertising than most other media, and actually the returns on investments are that much higher.

Typically every customer has their own Customer Life-time Value (CLTV) to the firm. But very few managers realize that this is only a small fraction of the value that can be generated from a customer. The social and professional network provides another great source of value to the firm, potentially called the Customer Network Value.
Customers, on an average, through their network can potentially rope in, 2-5 times their own life time value (revenue), from their network, if they are satisfied. A satisfied customer, on an average, brings in 2.8 new customers to your firm, in the B2C segment, through word of mouth.

Not only by creating customer satisfaction, you are increasing his life tme value to the firm, by increasing customer loyalty, but also you will increase the customers network value and rope in new customers.

And all this extra network value for almost zero cost of acquisition. This is of prime importance in today’s business scenario since typically, cost of new customer acquisition is 5 times than to retain an old one. Although it is difficult to determine the exact origins of this value claim, the earliest sources that we can find attribute it to research conducted by the Technical Assistance Research Project (TARP) in Washington, D.C. in the late 1980s. Around the same time, other loyalty pundits claimed exactly the same findings as their own (for example, the Customer Service Institute, Consumer Connections Corp., and ITEM Group).

How ever big may be the multiplicity value, it boils down to one thing, Customer’s network value cannot be rejected in current times.

 

By the way, did you read our article on customer lifetime value estimation and management?

How to Launch a Successful Product

“A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one”.

Henry Ford never said anything wiser. But essentially what is a good product or a bad product.

Technically a product may be great, but it may not meet the requirements of its target segment. Understanding the gap which no products available in the market is fulfilling is one short yet simple strategy to create a good product, and more importantly, a successful brand.

So how should companies go about it? Consumer focused market research is the only solution. So how to go about the same?

  1. First do an exploratory study to gauge the needs which your target segment may be facing which are yet to be met with.
  2. Then do an internal analysis to match the firm competencies vis-a-vis the gap faced by the target segment, to propose few product types with hypothetical specifications.
  3. Do a in-depth interview to review if the proposed product types meet the needs of the segment, or if at all, they are needed. Many products fail because they do not address any market needs.
  4. Do a conjoint analysis and/or a factor analysis to determine specifically what is required by the target segment.
  5. Go back to verify if the same matches with the internal competencies of the firm, and do a feasibility study for the proposed project.

Applications of Fuzzy Set Theory and Fuzzy Logic

Fuzzy set theory provides a major newer paradigm in modeling and reasoning with uncertainty. Though there were several forerunners in science and philosophy, in particular in the areas of multivalued logic and vague concepts. Continue reading “Applications of Fuzzy Set Theory and Fuzzy Logic”

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business

Henry Ford never said something more meaningful. A business has more implications on the society and environment in which it functions. Its not only the philanthropic activities which matter but activities like “Go Green” paves the way for a sustainable development and a better future for generations to come.

Understanding what an organizations Corporate Social Responsibility may be, may turn out not just an attempt for brand building in the long run, but a survival strategy, in the changing era of government intervention and policing.

CSR policies today, more than ever function as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby organizations would monitor and ensure its support to law, ethical standards and even international norms or expectations. Consequently, today organizations are embracing responsibility for the impact of its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere, just to ensure a humanitarian face towards the ecology within which they thrive. Furthermore, CSR-focused businesses would proactively promote the public interest  by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality. Essentially, CSR is the deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making, and the honoring of a triple bottom line: people, planet, profit.

Today, CSR is not just a thing that companies may choose to do, but it is gradually turning out to be strategic inclination of major MNCs getting positioned for a better future. Today it has become a key component while evaluating a brand value and its recall value. Considering this take by the MNCs, can even the smaller and medium sized enterprises neglect whatever CSR is possible, in their disposition?

United States’ Strategic Sourcing Initiative using e-Governance

USA, the largest economy in the world is facing a fiscal crisis, even now. Ever since 2003, its major economy bearer states like California, there was a major projected budget deficit. The Government took adequate care to approach the problem and to tackle the imminent crisis, but even though the black ages are gone, the repercussions from the shock still exists. The goverment launched many programs, one of which is the majorly popular California Strategic Sourcing Initiative, to control spending and stimulate the revamp of the economy. These focused primarily on the way the state purchased goods and services.

These programs aimed to identify saving opportunities. The focus to do so was through strategic sourcing. This was achieved by establishing new contracts or renegotiating existing ones. A team consisting of key professional procurement staff was created to achieve this goal, and not only at a short term goal, but to look towards achieving this as a sustainable long term process. Rather than a one time program, these initiatives were designed as an ongoing program to save money in the long term and position the United States to com out of the economic slump.

e-Governance played a crucial role in the revamp of the economies. Information Technology was widely used to issue electronic RFPs and conduct reverse auctions. The usage of these technologies also helped to streamline processes and speeded up the savings potential. Consulting firms like A.T. Kearney helped in the processes by developing cross-agency and departmental training programs, in which the procurement staff members were taught new skills in the area of spend analysis, e-sourcing, reverse auctions and e-negotiations. This training, which took place in classrooms and on hands, ensured that the team was well positioned for the change. Change management was the crucial success factor in this initiative.

In the coming few years, these strategic sourcing initiatives are expected to create savings in the tune of billions of dollars. The first wave of the program is already completed, and thus the spend categories have been identified, addressed and initial savings have been achieved which helped to forecast future savings. This e-governance strategic sourcing initiative has demonstrated how economies can be revamped using e-governance and information technology.

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?