Friday, March 31, 2006

Entellium on SaaS

Recently, their were reports of information misrepresentation between two SaaS players—SalesForce and Entellium. Sadagopan points to the response by Natalee Roan, CMO of Entellium, who takes out time to respond, to what she terms as “inaccuracies and lack of integrity in the document.” She gives her take on “business practices she finds incredulous in this industry.” It makes for an interesting read from one of the industries insiders (albeit fairly new at this game). She says:
  • “Hosted CRM companies get to market a monthly fee and then charge a year or more before you even get started.
  • From my vantage point, the worst thing that ever happened to Customer Relationship Management is that it became productized into "CRM" so companies don't have to bother living up to the words behind what they are selling.
  • They turn the sale into a "features-functions" war rather than take the time to understand what you need. Even the way they arrange their product line is designed for the consummate "up-sell." By design, they leave out 1 or 2 key features that force you to move to the next product for a considerably higher price - and you can't mix and match the lower priced products with the more expensive ones.
  • The few that market Service Level Agreements (SLAs) offer a mere few paragraphs with no teeth - and the largest of them all only offers SLAs to a select few customers, despite numerous and lengthy down-times. Those CRM companies that do claim an SLA force you to keep track of uptime and chase them for your money. They also say nothing about back-up schedules, downtime notifications, incident resolution times….all critical items in Software as a Service, or hosted solutions.
  • The industry seems to intentionally avoid standardization just to keep their high prices in tact, with hundreds of partners waiting to take a bite out of the unwary buyer. Somehow we've been trained to think that it's acceptable to have to pay yet more people to get a product to work as advertised. And they've pulled the greatest marketing ploy of all - to make you believe your business so special that this extra work is needed in the name of "customization". The entire industry is a feeding frenzy on the customer.”
“Let me summarize: Even with hosted CRM companies that advertise "No Software" -You buy more features then you can possibly use, on a long-term agreement that you pay for up-front, with no service guarantees if something goes wrong. Further, you wind up paying them to support their own product, and needing them or someone else to make the product work the way they told you it would before you signed on the dotted line in the first place.”{emphasis added}

IMHO: SaaS still has some issues to overcome, but it is making big strides—and fast!! SalesForce’s trust site is one step in the right direction. There is a lot of innuendo and propaganda going around (where is it not??), and somebody needs to cut to the chase and clarify the picture for an industry which is built on customer trust. This is the currency they will not want to lose, cannot lose. They do and they are dead, especially with the big guns gearing up to take on the small guys.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mistakes in Customer Strategies

From the CRM Mastery E-Journal, few excerpts from the book Passionate & Profitable by Lior Arussy:

“After decades of relentless effort in putting the customer first, it seems that the holy grail of customer delight continues to elude big and small corporations alike.
In Passionate & Profitable (John Wiley & Sons), [Lior Arussy ] holds up a mirror to show executives the 10 fatal flaws their companies make -- from "putting lipstick on a pig" (hiding faulty business processes behind cosmetic marketing and customer service initiatives) to taking "technology shortcuts."
Executives go to CRM seminars, read the right articles, learn the right things, but when it comes to the crunch they fail to act on their learnings. They know but they don't do. "Education without execution is just pure entertainment, and Lior illustrates this beautifully in his book," says Tim Sanders of Yahoo.
However, all is not lost. Salvation comes from making the right critical choices, as many as possible from among the 10 in Arussy's list. From defining the role of the customer in your business and clarifying the kind of relationships you seek with customers to actually deciding which customers to select and which to drop. From avoiding silo-based ways of viewing the customer to adding innovation and value through post-sales dialogue.

A proponent of CEM (customer experience management), Arussy brings this all together in his chapter on customer experiences, which, as he rightly claims, are the building blocks of customer satisfaction and the catalysts for differentiation.

"Wow" customer experiences are delivered by inspired, passionate employees, but only when there is a lifelong commitment on the part of the company, not one-off initiatives with an eye on quarterly results or fashionable but soulless CRM programs. You can't fake it, either with customers or employees, Arussy says.”

Seems like a great read. Look forward to a review of this on this site in the near future.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

John Wookey on Oracle's roadmap

From a Computerworld interview with John Wookey, the head of app development at Oracle:

“Customers have been getting comfortable and conversant with what the [Fusion] plan is, and they’re translating what it means into their own current deployments in PeopleSoft or the E-Business Suite. We have very happy customers coming back and buying additional products. We’re doing very, very well going head to head with SAP.


Siebel had really good technology, and we’re embracing that in Oracle. [Another piece] on the CRM side is that we have integrated the organizations. We’re planning Siebel 8.0, with some enhancements and a service-oriented architecture. Siebel 8.0 is under way and targeted for late this year. In addition, we plan to work aggressively to integrate Siebel CRM capabilities into Oracle and PeopleSoft ERP systems. We’re looking at packaged integration, and we have a project under way, and this year, we’ll deliver integration. Horizontally, it will be around quoting and order management flows and integrating Siebel OnDemand into the PeopleSoft and Oracle ERP back-end systems. Vertically, Siebel has financial industry service sales force automation, and we’ll integrate it into our core banking applications. Also, their life sciences product had good [sales force automation], and they had a clinical trial management system similar to our own academic research applications and that will be integrated. It’s all laid out, but we haven’t announced specific timing


Later this year, there will be a major release of the Oracle E-Business Suite, Version 12, and PeopleSoft Enterprise, Version 9. J.D. Edwards Version 8.12 will come out in the next few months. There will also be another release of J.D. Edwards, EnterpriseOne 9.0, approximately 18 months after that, focused on very specific customer-requested enhancements. We’ll also come out with J.D. Edwards World, No. A9.1, early next year. There is a major set of enhancements for both Oracle 12 and PeopleSoft 9 [CRM] coming out.


The year 2008 is when the Fusion Suite hits the streets. But, there are a lot of things happening later this year. We’re releasing libraries of Fusion reports. Using XML, customers can see how they can extract and manipulate information for reporting. We’re building libraries for reports on top of PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards and the E-Business Suite that customers can use today. This will be the basis of Fusion reporting. And Fusion has much better tools for doing reports.”

IMHO: Oracle is progressing well on its way towards Fusion. While skepticism will remain, I think if anyone, Larry might just pull it off. In my view, Siebel will lead the Oracle charge in the CRM space which is really hot right now. This might just convince Oracle to treat its CRM business in a totally different way than the other package products it has. The CRM space, as far as Oracle is concerned, is pregnant with possibilities. Look forward to some interesting days ahead....

Friday, March 24, 2006

SaaS-IDC's Top 10 Predictions

Jim Berkowitz covers the IDCs "Top 10 Predictions for 2006: Software as a Service":

The SaaS market will jump from $2.3 billion worldwide in 2003 to $8.0 billion by 2007, a 28-percent five-year CAGR.

IDC Top 10 Predictions for SaaS:
  1. Large ISVs will spin off on-demand versions of products
  2. Small and medium enterprises will remain a "tough nut to crack"
  3. Microsoft will strengthen SaaS resolve
  4. Software on-demand providers will focus on partnering
  5. ini-ecosystems will emerge to extend the reach of software on demand
  6. SaaS enablers will continue to aid availability of on-demand offerings
  7. Merger and acquisition activity will continue
  8. SaaS providers will concentrate on improving offerings and customer service
  9. Hosted AM will become a stepping stone toward on-demand delivery
    SaaS will help drive a software industry transition to subscription licensing

I have covered SaaS predictions earlier, here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


SOA is a much touted term nowadays. So, here are my two cents. Let us start with some definitions:

Definition 1: A service-oriented architecture is essentially a collection of services. These services communicate with each other. The communication can involve either simple data passing or it could involve two or more services coordinating some activity. Some means of connecting services to each other is needed.” {Source}

Definition 2: “A service-oriented architecture (SOA) is the underlying structure supporting communications between services. In this context, a service is defined as a unit of work to be performed on behalf of some computing entity, such as a human user or another program. SOA defines how two computing entities, such as programs, interact in such a way as to enable one entity to perform a unit of work on behalf of another entity.” {Source}

Now, while the definitions, and most of the chatter seems to focus on technology, we got to understand that technology is only there to support business objectives. In effect, the shape of the technology is directly derived from the focus of the businesses it is going to serve. So what is the impact of SOA on business?

In a Service-oriented model, it becomes easier to just “plug and play” different applications. Interoperability increases, since you are already publishing services, and hence the effort for integrations go down. The technology becomes more adaptable to changing business needs, and hence the quality of applications increases. SOA also helps you leverage existing sources of data. For example, if you are publishing you customer (or consumer) information as a service, any new application using which needs this data can just consume the service. Hence, discrepancy in records is avoided by having just the one source of information.

SOA major benefit is what I choose to call ‘future readiness’. As an organization moves towards SOA, its readiness to handle changing business scenarios (and evolving business processes) increases. This also reduces the cost of future development, and the implementation time & effort. Quality of the applications increases as well.

That was just one side of the coin though. There are numerous challenges to SOA as well. Specially in large organizations where disparate legacy systems exist, unaware of one another, or at least integrated point to point on a need basis. If such organizations don’t have some “backbone” applications, it becomes difficult to manage and maintain the SOA, because there is not sufficient communication between the different development silos.

Interesting perspective on SOA, here and here. Do let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Niel Robertson writes:

"In the last few weeks, has made two pretty subtle but important announcements. First, they announced the concept of sandboxes. A sandbox is essentially a copy of your production data which can be used for development and testing. As SF pushes AppExchange and users start to experiment with integrating 3rd party components, there is clearly a need to be able to "play around" in a development sandbox before releasing integration or application changes straight to production. Also, as applications become more complex and critical, you can imagine a testing phase similar to UAT (user acceptance testing) becoming part of the standard development cycle. All of this I find very ironic, as one of the key benefits of is that it does not have a development cycle and multiple environments. This is one of the curses of the packaged application infrastructure, where an implementation is not just production but development, testing, and in many other cases 1 or 2 more systems (e.g. DMO in PeopleSoft or Pristine in JDE). Any features must be systematically moved from DEV to TST to PROD in a labrious release process.

The second, more recent announcement is that (and SugarCRM) now are part of the Eclipse IDE movement. This means you can get plug-ins for Eclipse and develop composite apps in the same way you would develop other applications. So, whether we like it or not, the VP of Sales is no longer becoming your key developer, its headed back to the IT department. "

{emphasis is added}

IMHO: I had covered SaaS earlier, here. In my opinion, although SaaS is gaining, and will continue to gain, momentum it will be more due to the alternate pricing mechanism, rather than due to quicker development cycles or reduced complexity or higher efficiency. I see a convergence back towards the packaged application way of development, but the pricing and the pay-for-use model will make it an enticing option in the future.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Book Review-"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team"

Just finished reading “The five dysfunctions of a team” by Patrick Lencioni. Nice book. Although it does not present rocket science, it does help you see your team in a different light, and put some words to that uncomfortable feeling about the team. The text is simple, and presented in a story-like format to make it fit for quick consumption. The language is crisp, and the focus clear.

The story is set in a Silicon Valley start-up which is plagued by team problems. The problems are presented through discussions within the team, and it is explained how the dysfunctions are all related and feed on each other. The dysfunctions range from Lack of Trust to Inattentiveness towards Results. Any team leader, or manager, or even team members will definitely relate to it.

There is also a questionnaire to help you assess your own team (Insert Evil Grin here!). Coming soon, the results of the experiment on my team.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Product Review-Oracle SQL Developer

The SQL Developer is the latest application that Oracle has to offer. It is a querying tool, a tool to write and check out your Stored Procedures and PL\SQL programs. A graphic interface is provided to browse through your database objects.

The SQL Developer is written in Java, which seems to be the product of an in-house Java Development project in Oracle (Project Raptor). The entire app is coded in Java, in order to be able to provide a cross platform tool. The App runs on all platforms Mac OS, Linux, Windows which have JRE. For those who don’t have Java 1.5 JDK they have provided it at the site.

Developers who have used TOAD and other high end querying tools won’t find anything new in this. But the thing to look out for in SQL developer is the ‘Delivered Reports’ features. More about this later in the post.

The App uses the normal JDBC for connection to Databases - but it isn’t ‘raptor’ enough, so they didn’t release it as Oracle Raptor and stuck to Oracle SQL Developer. It uses the thin JDBC drivers so there’s no need for any installations as such, which makes it one of those unzip and use applications.

  • About the interface, it’s pretty much a nice piece of art. Got a cool bluish look and nice icons and stuff- if it was not Oracle it definitely would have come with Skins and Themes.

  • Well, making a connection is painstaking; of course JDBC connectivity doesn’t come that easy. You have to give the Host name, SID and all to get your connection, developers who are already spoiled by tools like TOAD which reads from your tnsnames.ora would find it a big pain with the connectivity.

  • But once you get connected it’s pretty much ‘do-anything’ feel in SQL Developer. You have the tree structure which lets you browse through the objects in the Database, the filter options for your objects are very limited- that’s one thing you’ll miss from Toad

  • The Create Object option in the right click Context menu, though, is quite cool, no need to remember those long syntaxes, just a few entries, some check boxes and click ok your object gets created.

  • Oracle is moving slowly to the drag drop culture that you see in MySQL Query Browser with the-drag your objects and get your query feature.

  • The query outputs can still be exported to various formats like CSV, XML, and simple TXT etc.

  • There is this Snippets feature that comes with SQL Developer that gives you your Aggregate functions, your datetime functions etc that you use in your everyday queries. The PL\SQL Programming techniques was quite a surprise, with syntaxes for FOR loops etc.

The best feature of Oracle SQL Developer is the Data Dictionary Reports which gives you pretty much anything you want to know about your database. There is this provision for User-defined reports which adds a bit more value to SQL Developer.

Well to sum it up all, I still feel it’s an application not for the Developers it’s an application that kills the developer. It’s taking all the fun of coding from the Developer, of course you might argue that the logic will still remain with the developer but the whole drag and drop thing might not work for the contemporary developer. It makes him or her feel like Schumacher in a fully automatic F1 car, it’s too damn boring. I wouldn’t say it’s fast, there are high end query tools that query much faster than this. No wonder they dropped the whole Raptor theme.

Verdict: A nice tool for beginners to start with their SQL and PL\SQLs.

Hat Tip: Bijou.

I had written about the SQL Developer earlier here.

GIO 2.0-The future of the enterprise

(Via Sadagopan) IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook brings together a diverse set of contributors from many disciplines and areas of influence to examine each of the focus areas. For 2005 & 2006, 248 thought leaders from nearly three dozen countries and regions, representing 178 organizations, gathered on four continents for 15 “deep dive” sessions to discuss three focus areas and the emerging trends, challenges and opportunities that affect business and society.

A very interesting report to read (available here). The focus areas were:
  • The Future of the Enterprise

  • Transportation, and

  • The Environment

Some startling patterns emerged. For instance, for the future of the enterprise:
  1. Enterprise-free as against free enterprise. Activities driven by a common set of interests, goals or values will glue together the involved entities, with the traditional organization playing the role of facilitator.

  2. Job fluidity is here to stay. In the 21st Century, the workforce will be much more comfortable with changing jobs frequently. As a consequence, an increasingly “specialized enterprise will emerge.

  3. Smaller is better. Large businesses will learn to inculcate the flexibility and adaptability of smaller businesses, becoming in effect, an aggregation of small specialized enterprises.

  4. Leaders will need to be very different in the new business world. Maybe some pointers can be gained from the very popular MMOGs. They will have to deal with a high level of complexity, uncertainity, and will have to make rapid-fire decisions.

  5. Innovation will have to be ingrained into every fiber of the new enterprise.

Social Networks, collaborative innovation, are themes that pervade the report.

IMHO: Though it might seem paradoxical, the focus is shifting from the enterprise back to the individual, just as we saw in marketing some time back (a shift from mass- to one-on-one marketing). Social networks are predicated on the individual, and the new-age enterprise will have to find something beyond the traditional ESOPs, bonuses etc. to bind together its workforce. Traditionally, Indian firms have been slack at this, and it shows in the high rates of flux in the workforce. They have to tighten up in this area, and guard there intellectual capital zealously, otherwise with the demand side competition increasing, attrition will only go northward.

A summary of the report is also available here.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The $100 PC

Dan Farber reports on the $100 PC:

"At PC Forum Novatium Solutions demoed its $100 PC appliance (without keyboard or display, which adds about $75) for emerging markets. The Nova netPC and Nova netTV are based on thin client (server-based, zero administration for users) and mobile phone technology. "We have the guts of mobile phone and use the business model of phone industry," said Rajesh Jain, co-founder of the Mumbai, India-based company. "We reduce the price of the thin client by about 50 percent, moving away from the Intel architecture, and change the business model to suit emerging market customers." It's like a cell phone in square box and a bunch of I/O ports.


Software is provided at $10 per month, and supports Unix and Windows terminal services. The license for Windows software and terminal services has to be purchased separately, but an open source, Linux-based desktop stack is available for free.


Novatium has 20 pilots underway in India, the U.S, South Africa, Mexico, Austrailia, New Zealand and in some European countries. The official product launch is in April, Jain said. …….. "The real opportunity is in the annuity business, and we have not decide{d} to work with partners or do it ourselves," Jain said. Service providers could also serve ads on the devices as part of the revenue generation scheme, he added."

If anyone sees a review of this, be kind enough to point me to it.

Oracle's SQL Developer

Oracle has just released the production version of it's SQL Developer. Says Oracle:

"{SQL Developer is a} graphical tool that enhances productivity and simplifies database development tasks. With SQL Developer, you can browse database objects, run SQL statements and SQL scripts, and edit and debug PL/SQL statements. You can also run any number of provided reports, as well as create and save your own."

I have been seeing Toad and similar products till now. Look forward to a review of this on this site soon.

Monday, March 13, 2006

On SaaS

Rajesh Jain points to Amy Wohl's predictions about the software-as-a-service market:

"1) This market is growing in a serious way. I would expect a company of anysize to be able to purchase all of the software function it wants and needs as a service, rather than as traditional software, installed within its own firewall, within 3 to 5 years.

(2) Of course, I don't expect every company to want to move all of its IT needs to the SaaS platform in that time period. I do expect even large companies to move functions that are used only occasionally or only by small numbers of users to an outside service provider.

(3) SaaS will increasingly look like a great solution for commodity problems like Email, for companies of any size. Remember, having Email supported by SaaS means outsourcing your Spam problems, too, and most of your virus problems as well.

(4) Look for large traditional software players to start to seriously offer SaaS-based alternatives to their traditional software offerings. These have to be serious, full-function alternatives rather than Microsoft's recent foray into on-line services, offering incremental services to Office users, but still requiring the customer to install Office on every workstation and multiple Microsoft servers within the firewall.

(5) Watch the innovator companies like Google figure out how to be SaaS vendors beyond the consumer function they offer now. Inevitably, they'll offer software to the small business market and they may decide to move beyond that into services that appeal to the remote workers of large companies, for example."

Friday, March 10, 2006

Demanding more from IT

Sadagopan writes:

“IT today consumes more than half the capital investments around the world and software alone consumes more than ten percent of global capital investments. Obviously, the rigor that goes into traditional investments would begin to get applied in future IT related investments. With the exalted status that IT enjoys with business, it was probably the case; hitherto IT got away with liberal treatment. While SAP routinely claims, companies that run SAP are 32% more profitable, Nicholas Carr points to a to be released report assessing the relative profitability of SAP customers from Nucleus research with key findings therein –“SAP customers are 20% less profitable than their peers”. Carr writes, “Nucleus Research looked at the 81 public companies that SAP lists as customers on its own website. It determined the return on equity (ROE) earned by each company, based on formal financial filings, and then compared that number with the average ROE for the company's industry, as calculated by Hoovers. ………….
Clearly time to demand more from IT – not for damning IT but for finding better business models for IT companies and more importantly to make user organizations optimize better to get better yields.”

Google Acquires Writely

Google has acquired Writely, a maker of MS Word-like word processor which runs in a browser. It lets the users collaborate online, share documents instantly within their browsers. This positions Google better to take on Microsoft in the desktop application space. With the launch of Google Calendar (they are testing it now in selected regions), a Microsoft Outlook Calendar type application, called the CL2 they have created another small component to take on MS. Writely fits perfectly into the mould. It is still in beta, but you can expect more from it pretty soon. Really looking forward to testing it out. Look out for a review on this blog as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Against Eve Teasing

Atanu Dey points to a project in Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore (as well as online) seeking to deal with Eve Teasing:

"Blank Noise Project: The project seeks to recognize eve teasing as a sexual crime and establish the issue as something that may be normal, but is unacceptable. The Blank Noise project works both online and on the streets of Bangalore, Mumbai , Delhi. We invite you to come along "

Invention Vs Innovation

Knowledge@wharton on Innovation vs Invention:

" Many companies spend a great deal of time and effort on measuring innovation, according to Jim Andrew, senior vice president and head of innovation at the Boston Consulting Group. “While none of these measures individually may be perfect, a suite of measures allows you to get your arms around measuring the progress of innovation,” he said. “It allows you to learn and change as it becomes necessary.”


According to Andrew, many different ways exist {to measure innovation}. “We have found in our work that companies should measure three main things,” he said. “First, you should track the outputs of the innovation process. Next, you also need a set of measures to track the inputs. This is where innovation can be most precisely measured. People track the amount of money they spend on research, and they also track specific people. In our experience, human capital is in much shorter supply than financial capital. The scare resource is always your best people. The third area is the effectiveness of your process. To sum up, you’ve got to measure inputs, outputs, and process performance.”


To understand innovation, you first have to distinguish it from invention; too many people confuse them, according to Linda Sanford, an IBM senior vice president. A company’s portfolio of patents reveals its smarts as an inventor. IBM, for example, remains formidable in this regard, racking up record numbers of patents for the last decade. But patents aren’t enough. Their technology has to find its way into products.

Not all innovations are created equal. Paul Schoemaker, a Wharton adjunct professor of marketing, pointed out that many people cite only of “hits” like the Blackberry or Starbucks coffee shops when talking about innovation. “But some companies don’t play that game,” he said. “They play a percentage game of incremental innovation, like Toyota. And some companies aren’t really innovators at all. They play a loss-avoidance game."."

A very interesting read. Innovation is a term much bandied about nowadays, just like TQM or TPM or Six Sigma in the recent past. Fear is that it is not that well understood. At my organisation, an attempt at measuring innovation is there, but again it is not well understood. Ambiguity and subjectivity in measurement, making it impossible to get a bird's eye view in all areas of business for the organization, is another roadblock to effective measurement. Wonder how we can improve in this area?

Dashboards as a Mgt Tool

Businessweek on dashboards:

“The dashboard is the CEO's killer app, making the gritty details of a business that are often buried deep within a large organization accessible at a glance to senior executives. So powerful are the programs that they're beginning to change the nature of management, from an intuitive art into more of a science. Managers can see key changes in their businesses almost instantaneously -- when salespeople falter or quality slides -- and take quick, corrective action. At Verizon, Seidenberg and other executives can choose from among 300 metrics to put on their dashboards, from broadband sales to wireless subscriber defections.
Still, dashboards have drawn some flak. Critics say CEOs can miss the big picture if they're glued to their computer screens. Other critics fear dashboards are an alluring but destructive force, the latest incarnation of Big Brother. The concern is that companies will use the technology to invade the privacy of workers and wield it as a whip to keep them in line. Even managers who use dashboards admit the tools can raise pressure on employees, create divisions in the office, and lead workers to hoard information.
Still, most management experts think the rewards are well worth the risks. They caution that executives should roll out the systems slowly and avoid highlighting individual performance, at least at first. They also underscore the need for business leaders to spend time up-front figuring out which metrics are the most useful to track. But that's a question of how to use the technology, not whether to implement it.”

IMHO: the most important line in the above is “spend time up-front figuring out which metrics are the most useful to track”. The decisions you make depend on the quality of the measures you choose. If you are choosing metrics which objectively display the various facets of your business, dashboards will work. They will bring transparency, accountability and objectivity to the decision making. But the downside is that if the incorrect metrics are chosen, it will hurt just as much. Risk & Rewards—works every time!!!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Paul Stamatiou writes (Via Rajesh Jain):

School work, business proposals, universally accessible storage, data backup, important documents - there are many reasons why you might want to have secure online storage. Having all of your important files online is more convenient and safer than toting around a USB memory stick. A relatively new and revamped web service called plans to make online storage as easy as possible without skimping on the features. With 1GB of storage for free and up to 5GBs for a small fee, you can easily safekeep files and share them with contacts....Online storage is a volatile industry. Server space is at a premium these days. The only way Gmail is even able to cope with their outrageous offerings and large user base is by compressing their data. Assuming each person uses their ~2.5gigs of storage (not that anyone ever uses the entire thing, attachment size is limited to 10MB) with text, Google can compress that space to only a few hundred megabytes. However, with users are encouraged to store all types of data and media. Nothing will be compressed and that is a secret to why the service is so fast. New users can get 1GB of box space for free with paying users getting 5GB for $4.99 a month.”

First Mover Advantage

Seth Godin Writes:

"There are a million markets. Markets of one, or markets of small groups, or markets of cohorts that communicate—the market often belongs to the first person who brings you the right story on the right day.

The market is splintering more than even some pundits predicted in 1998 (that would be me). Which means that the idea of monolithic marketing messages to monolithic markets makes no sense. The race is now to be the first mover in the micromarkets where attention matters.
Of course, those micromarkets are leaky. People don't cooperate. They talk to each other. So pretty quickly, that splintered market coalesces into something bigger."

This ties in perfectly with what I covered on the Long Tail earlier.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Globalisation & Complexity

This was the theme for PwC’s 9TH Annual Global CEO Survey, which throws up some important findings.

A brief about the results:

  1. Globalisation will have a positive effect on most businesses in the coming years
  2. Over-regulation, trade barriers, political instability and social issues are the most pressing challenges to globalization
  3. BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), not in that order, are the most interesting emerging markets for the CEOs
  4. Cost cutting is only one aspect of globalization. Other incentives include finding new customers and better servicing existing ones
  5. Complexity is rising, being an inevitable by product of doing business today
  6. The advantages of going global, though, outweigh the disadvantages

Satyam’s Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju is interviewed. He talks about Globalisation and what it means for India in general and for Satyam and other Indian IT companies in particular. He says that Indian companies are winning large deals (when asked about global companies willing to take up smaller deal) and hence, the playing field is level. He also talks about the capabilities that Satyam is building to prepare for the future—leadership, entrepreneurialism, adaptability, delivery excellence and tech/domain competencies. A very interesting conversation, do not miss it.

Other CEOs interviewed are Raul Calfat (Votorantim Int.), Dr. Li Lihui (Bank of China), Fred Hassan (Schering-Plough Corp.), and John Stewart (National Australia Bank). Specially liked Dr. Li Lihui’s talk.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

ACM on offshoring

(Via Sadagopan):

ACM released a new report - methodically researched and compiled professionally – result of several months of efforts. The report focuses on issues and trends centered on tech job migration and how it relates to economies governments, funding and educational systems. The New York Times reported on it saying,” The study concluded that dire predictions of job losses from shifting high-technology work to low-wage nations with strong education systems, like India and China, were greatly exaggerated”….

The report finds that thirty percent of the world’s largest 1000 firms are offshoring work, but there is a significant variance between countries. This percentage is expected to increase, and an increase in the amount of work offshored is consistent with the expected growth rate of 20 to 30 percent for the offshoring industries in India and China. The report does an assessment of various national policies towards offshoring and finds almost all are reasonably progressive except China, which the report finds as the most protectionist of the countries studied here in terms of trying to protect its emerging domestic IT market from foreign competition. The report concludes,” The future, however, is one in which the individual will be situated in a more global competition. The brightness of the future for individuals, companies, or countries is centered on their ability to invest in building the foundations that foster innovation and invention”.

Ray Lane at TiE Bangalore

I have been tracking Ray Lane's perspective on the enterprise software space for sometime and found Ray's presentation titled – "KPCB In The Software Industry" equally interesting. Ray lane builds on the growth opportunities in the enterprise software space –web enabled enterprise opportunities and enterprise software adoption.

Ray Lane is a General Partner at KPCB. He is also an ex-president of Oracle. This one is an enlightening presentation on the state of the Software/ Services market. Salient points:

  1. Although industry growth is slowed, it is continually evolving (because of it???)

  2. Top 15 companies in the space account for 85% of the revenue, and the big are only getting bigger

  3. Focus will be more on innovative business models, moving from Product to Service model. This will have an impact on all the attributes of today’s business—from Architecture, Product & Release Mgt, to Pricing & Licensing and Customer Service.

  4. India and China become big influences

Great presentation. From the TiE Bangalore Event.

Naming Conventions

Atanu Dey on the idiocy of naming “conventions” in the subcontinent:

Isn’t it a marvel that India actually has roads, airports, ports, parks, colleges and universities, hospitals, research labs, theatres, governmental programs, non-governmental institutions, monuments, etc etc, all named after those who were primarily responsible for the disaster that is India? It is something that I often find myself puzzling about. Why are Indians so slavish in elevating those who were arguably bad for India? Here is what I mean. Have you heard of Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi? When they named the road, did they even bother with the fact that Aurangzeb was a tyrant and butchered the people of the land? Do you think that the Jews will ever name streets after Adolf Hitler?
Actually, the Indian subcontinent has that amazing ability to elevate as heroes those who screwed them over. See Pakistan, for instance. They actually name their weapons after those whose armies raped their women and their lands centuries ago. Those plunderers are worshipped in the land of the Pure (Pakistan) as their liberators. Take Bangadesh, for another example. The Pakistani army slaughtered anywhere between three and six million East Pakistanis and yet Bangladesh today considers Pakistanis to be their heroes. What is the matter with these idiots?

Well, what’s in a name, eh? A lot, apparently. Especially when it comes to the collective IQ of the people of a land. Next Step—General Musharraf Road, coming up in your neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

If MS packaged iPod

YouTube - microsoft ipod packaging parody . Hilarious.

Preparing for Change

From The Art of Possibility:

"A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying, SITUATION HOPELESS STOP NO ONE WEARS SHOES. The other writes back triumphantly, GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY STOP THEY HAVE NO SHOES."

While change, constant, unceasing and plentiful, has gotten a lot of columnspace, specially in the context of technology implementations, most of the times recognizing the need for a change is not so straight-forward. When talking about large, lumbering organizations it is at least as difficult to identify and prepare for change, as it is to actually go ahead and change them. Having been closely involved in a CRM product implementation within my own organization, I will try and share what I think are the necessary ingredients (within Organization Leaders) to preparing for change.

The first has to be Vision, the ability to see into the mid- to long-term future and what the organization wants to do with it. That will dictate what assets have to be developed, how they will be utilized in the future that we are talking of, and hence, the competence needed to actually make that utilization. This is the most important step towards identifying and preparing for change. Once you have identified the end state objectively, it will be much easier to chart out a way to get there.

Secondly, breadth of perspective. If a small part in the bigger scheme of things is tweaked, changed, fine-tuned it is bound to affect other related parts. So, it is very important to realize how that small cog interacts with all the other cogs that make the organizational wheel go round. This also helps in identifying the related aspects to change, apart from the primary change we are driving towards, which might not directly help the organization in achieving the end state but can very well stall the march if not changed.

Third, and we will end the discussion for the time being with it, is the focus and courage to embrace short term pain for longer term benefits. While a lot of convincing is needed for people to buy into the change, there has to be total commitment to change from the top if the change has to succeed.

So in conclusion, for any organization wide change to succeed, well thought out, coordinated action preceded by a lot of reflection is needed, once it has been decided where the organization wants to go.