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?

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.

Customer_Knowledge_Management

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.

Customer_knowledge_Management_Framework

  • 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.

Complexity and Adaptivity of Buyer-Supplier Networks

Buyer-Supply networks are composed of multiple numbers of firms from a variety of interrelated industries. Such networks are subject to shifting strategies and objectives within a dynamic environment, guided by (micro factors) internal factors of the individual firms and also by the (macro factors) industry dynamics of the same. Today, supply chain management  involves adapting to changes in a complicated global network of organizations. As a result, buyer-supplier network decisions and the optimization of the same have become the center stage and concerns the scrutiny of the top level managers.

Two emergent challenges that managers frequently have to address when making these decisions are the structural intricacies of their interconnected supply chains and the need to learn and adapt their organization in a constantly changing environment to ensure its long-term survival. Complex interconnections between multiple suppliers, manufacturers, assemblers, distributors, and retailers are the norm for industrial supply networks. When decision making in these networks is based on non-complex assumptions problems are often hidden, leaving plenty of room for understanding and improving the underlying processes.

Along with managing the complexity inherent in the inter-connectivity of their supply networks, organizations have also started to learn the benefits of being adaptive in their behavior. Because organizations exhibit adaptivity and can exist in a complex environment with myriad relationships and interactions, it is a natural step to identify a supply network as a CAS. Research indicates that that supply networks should be recognized as CAS by providing a detailed mapping of each property of CAS to a supply network.

  1. A CAS consists of entities that interact with other entities and with the environment by following a set of simple decision rules (i.e., schema). These entities may evolve over time as entities learn from their interactions. In contrast to relational modeling, which tries to use one set of variables to explain variation in another set of variables, CAS examines how changes in an individual entity’s schema lead to different aggregate outcomes.
  2. A CAS is self-organizing. Self-organization is a consequence of interactions between entities. Self-organization is defined as a process in which new structures, patterns, and properties emerge without being externally imposed on the system. Because the behavior in complex systems comes from dynamic interactions among the agents and between the environment and the agents, the changes tend to be nonlinear with respect to the original changes in the system.
  3. A CAS coevolves to the edge of chaos, just like coevolution, positing that a CAS reacts to and creates its environment so that as the environment changes it may cause the agents within it to change, which, in turn, cause other changes to the environment.
  4. A CAS is recursive by nature, and it recombines and evolves over time. Furthermore, from a macroeconomic viewpoint, it can be posited that industry supply networks are interrelated within a national or international context and interact together as a CAS in a larger context.

Supply chain research has gained a lot ever since the conceptualization of buyer-supplier networks was done through CAS. What do you think should be the way ahead?

adapted from pathak et al.,2007

The Role of Karma in Organizations

“Karmanye vadhika raste ma phaleshu kadachana, Ma karma phala hetu bhurba te sangostav karmani” — (Chapter 2:47) Bhagwat Gita.

[You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to doing your duty.] Continue reading “The Role of Karma in Organizations”

Growth Strategies of Web Based New Generation Firms

The cyber world has really come alive with the onslaught of WEB 2.0 technologies. Today, many start ups are being formed by students and entrepreneurs across the world. The web based firms with often no brick and mortar presence have been generating enviable returns, considering the low investments made on them. No wonder, students and young entrepreneurs have started viewing these businesses as endless oceans of opportunities. Continue reading “Growth Strategies of Web Based New Generation Firms”

Schneider-What matters is not the Sex but the Beer

Schneider, the Beer manufacturing major, created a lot of waves with this banner advertisement. This caught the active imagination of the youth and created quite a stir. With an overdose of sexual content, yet not actually displaying the same, this suggestive advertisement became of of the most recognized advertisement of recent times, with a very high brand recall. Continue reading “Schneider-What matters is not the Sex but the Beer”

Rethinking the way MBA is taught

David Garvin, Harvard Business School professor, explains why today business education is at a crossroads. Is MBA only a platform for launching a student, or is there a need to provide something different for the students.Should business schools start preparing students on other finer aspects of life like skills and responsibilities? What is missing in our educational system. Continue reading “Rethinking the way MBA is taught”

How Companies Expand in Emerging Markets for Sustainable Growth

Growth has been always competitive in already developed markets. So for sustainable growth, emergent markets are being targeted by all MNCs. Krishna Palepu, Harvard Business School Dean, explains how multinationals and local companies can win in emerging markets. Check out this fascinating video. Continue reading “How Companies Expand in Emerging Markets for Sustainable Growth”

‘Feel Good’ for summer!

Summer is here – let’s hear a BIG cheer!

Now whether you are getting ready for a cruise around the world, a trip to Paris or simply a few days away to the coast, Boots are keen to let all women know that they can lend a helping hand with the holiday packing process… whether it’s finding the right suncream, insect spray, fake tan, sunglasses etc etc etc Boots wants women all over the UK to ‘Feel Good’ this summer. Continue reading “‘Feel Good’ for summer!”

TV Idents becoming more inspiring…

For a long time TV channels have wanted to brand themselves apart from others using ‘idents’. Idents are the clips you see between programmes clearly branding the channel you are watching. The use of this method of branding has become ever more popular with different TV channels, due to the rise in the number of channels available to the viewer now (what with digital channels becoming a popular fixture in people’s lives). Continue reading “TV Idents becoming more inspiring…”

The evolution of Gmail

Gmail, the number one web based email platform, used by billions of users, globally, has evolved in leaps and bounds over the years, from the html mail it used to be, to the advanced functions which it has incorporated in recent times. Today Gmail is a free, advertising-supported webmail, POP3, and IMAP service provided by Google that billions of users use every minute on this planet, making Google the most used website with the Number 1 Alexa ranking. Continue reading “The evolution of Gmail”

What motivates better performances in organizations

What makes some employees tick?

Employees need various kinds of motivational incentives in organizations. Not always the best paying organization has the highest employee satisfaction score, and thus a higher performance. So what makes employees deliver their best. Check out this wonderful video. Continue reading “What motivates better performances in organizations”

Information sharing in Buyer Supplier Relationships

A supply chain is essentially a network of inter-connected and interdependent organizations mutually and cooperatively working together to control, manage and improve the flow of materials and information from the suppliers to the end users. The very definition shows how important information sharing plays a huge role in the management of the supply chain, since today proper SCM focuses on how firms can best utilize their suppliers’ processes, technology and capabilities to enhance their own competitive advantage. Continue reading “Information sharing in Buyer Supplier Relationships”

Beer Advertisements

Beer advertisements have always pictured an oomph factor. Is it because beer is positioned as a macho drink that will sell well with an overdose of the sex-factor?

A research did demonstrate a correlation between alcohol beverage advertising and alcohol consumption. However, it has not been proved that alcohol advertisements cause higher consumption. However the alcohol industry, from its actions, evidently believes that effective alcohol campaigns not only increase a producer’s market share and also brand loyalty. That branding is what the beer manufacturers target with splashing the sensual advertisements of beer “babes” and “macho” men, both of which are supposedly attainable only by befriending “Beer”. Continue reading “Beer Advertisements”