Sunday, September 22, 2013

How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio manages the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates. Here is a brilliant presentation by him on how the economy works


Friday, November 18, 2011

Email is dying and How...

Interesting graph that tells a story..  Ask anyone in age group 12-20 years...Email is so passe.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Google wants to own your Wallet...

Or should it be –How Google will end up owning your wallet? 

Yesterday’s launch of Google Wallet was a watershed moment for the payments industry. Google announced an app that will turn shoppers’ phones into their wallets. Google Wallet enables consumers to store their credit cards, coupons, loyalty and gift cards securely on their phone, so they can pay, redeem offers, and earn loyalty points - all with a single tap of their phone. It is in a field test now and will be available to all consumers this summer. 

But what makes this so unique? - it’s putting the wallet in a single app on your mobile phone

Google Wallet has been designed for an open commerce ecosystem. Since Google Wallet is a mobile app, it can do more than a regular wallet ever could, like storing thousands of payment cards , loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, and Google Offers . Every offer and loyalty point can be redeemed automatically with a single tap via NFC.  Google Offer is in direct competition to Groupon, and we are likely to hear about launch sometime next week.

Google Wallet is not a simple replacement of an ordinary wallet; it is an example of the ‘Wallet of the future’. Launched in partnership with MasterCard, First Data, Sprint, and Citi , Google wants to move your wallet into your phone. Here is the product launch Video.
Stephanie Tilenius, vice president of commerce at Google, announced at the launch “We are about to embark on a new era of commerce. We believe that 2011 will be the year of mobile local commerce. Just TAP, PAY and SAVE”. She said “The world of commerce is ripe for a new wave, we are on the verge of major shift in payments and therefore commerce. Google is uniquely positioned to bring about this shift and accelerate.” 
To meGoogle Wallet is the perfect coming together of Mobile and Local Commerce. It brings together Merchants, Payments Network, Carriers, banks and other pieces of ecosystem to make this possible. 

Think of it, there are over 3 billion mobile phones worldwide, and over 40% of the world’s population carries a mobile phone, far more than use a computer or have access to internet. Mobile Phone is fast emerging as a ‘preferred’ transaction medium. Smartphone sales grew 72% in 2010, and 300 million smart phones sold in 2010 globally. There are several other forces accelerating the pace of customer adoption. Read my earlier post on M-Commerce to understand this better. 
.


How Various blocs are coming together? 
Study the Google Model carefully, and you will understand the cleverly crafted master-strategy.You will see how the various blocs (refer image) are falling in place in a manner, mutually reinforcing. The Offer and Wallet models allows Google to get extremely valuable customer information, correlated directly to sales in the physical world, and allows to place relevant offers and serendipitous advertisement, when shoppers are in stores, ready to spend money and even more receptive to coupons and other discount offers. 

Currently Google is not taking any 'cut' from the payments revenue; However Google would make money by selling coupons and advertising that come along with the experience. This isn't Google's first attempt at electronic payments. Google "Checkout”, online payment service launched in 2006, met with limited success.


Evolution of Payments: 
In the past few thousand years, the world of payments has not changed much—from coins, to paper money, to plastic cards. Now we’re on the brink of the next big shift. In the Initial phase of ecommerce, it was about leveraging the html and web technologies to bring consumer online, very similar to how we shop today. In 1994, it started with Amazon and eBay, and even today continues in a similar manner. But, this is about to change now. 

With smart phones, mapped Geo-locations, and NFC- the online and the offline world are converging. The Payments industry is moving beyond plastic and is fast embracing the digital currency. Smart phones have fundamentally changed how consumers interact with mobile technology. This new centricity is profoundly changing the customer experience. 

This shift and increasing convergence of Banking, technology and information is creating customer value and new business models. This is just an inflexion point, the significance of this shift in Mobile Payments and Digital Money will be more apparent with rapid consumer adoption. 

Click to enlarge
Why should customer be interested? 
Because Google has created a new kind of incentive for people to use Google Wallet. The new system will be compatible with Google Offers, a Groupon-style deal’s program, credit cards, and store loyalty cards. If you have been following the Local commerce and Deal Commerce (aka Groupon , Living Social etc) space, you  will understand the potential and customer interest.
Over time, consumers will be able to save each of these offers directly to their Google Wallet. That means consumers will get the benefit of carrying their offers with them at all times. 


"Unique because combining Offers, Loyalty and Payments in an Open Platform"


However, even with strong tailwinds to support the adoption, there are some challenges to be overcome: 
  • What about Non-Android phones? If Google Wallet is really an open platform, it needs to be cross-platform. How does Google plan to integrate in the larger ecosystem? 
  • Dependency on Mastercard PayPass terminals: Google Wallet only connects to MasterCard PayPass terminals. There are more than 135,000 of those in U.S. stores and restaurants, but that's only a small fraction of the total number. 
  • What about Mobile Carriers other than SPRINT? ; especially when other carriers are planning their own Mobile Wallet. AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA have formed their own consortium to create a wallet- ISIS, that will compete with Google's.
  • Competition from other Payments and Card Companies: Visa has also launched a similar initiative, read the blog announcement . It plans to launch a digital wallet product in the U.S. and Canada later this year and already offers a mobile payment program at retailers around the world. Visa has agreements in place with Bank of America, Chase, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo for mobile payments. 
Benefits to Retailers: 
With the integration of coupons or offers into Google Wallet, Retailers can target customers by offering discounts directly within search ads to check-in offers to offers in Google Places.  (Think Ad-sense, FourSquare, GrouponNow, and Facebook Places etc).

The integration of offers into Google Wallet will enable merchants to close the loop by directly connecting their online and mobile advertising with offline purchases. In addition, Google Wallet provides merchants with targeted foot traffic and a way to engage with customer’s in-store; thus enhancing the customer experience. Their sentiment is captured in this video: 

So what else happened in Payments space this week? 
Earlier this week, Square, the company founded by Twitter creator Jack Dorsey announced its mobile payment plans. On Monday, Dorsey showed Square’s way of replacing wallets and cash registers without using NFC. 

Using this Square App, instead of NFC, users order and pay with an iPhone application, where their credit card information is stored. At checkout, they give their name to the cashier, who will need to use an iPad as a register in order to complete the transaction. This just might render the cash register and POS terminal useless. But this calls for a separate post some other time.

Also there are two other stories worth following:
Why Paypal is suing Google Executives?  and Who will win at Mobile Payments Google or Square?

Please do leave your comments and share your views. I look forward to reading them.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Internet IMPACTS - Growth, Jobs and Prosperity

The Internet has transformed the way we live, work, socialize and meet, and the way our countries develop and grow. Two billion people are now connected to the Internet, and this number is growing by 200 million each year. But the magnitude of the economic impact of Internet-related activities is not obvious. 

There are many studies on the impact of IT or telecommunications but little analysis on the global impact of the Internet on growth, jobs, and wealth creation. Does the Internet really create wealth or just displace it? How large is the economic impact of the Internet in objective terms? etc. 

To this effect McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has come out with an excellent research report “Internet matters: The Net’s sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity with an aim to estimate the magnitude of the impact of the Internet on the world economy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Google Advisor : Making financial products comparison easy

Financial decisions are some of the most difficult decisions we face. Be it, finding the right credit card and mortgage or finding the right insurance product for our family. Due to information asymmetries, it becomes increasingly difficult to find the right product or option. While consumers now have instant access to more information than ever before, this has also made it much harder to find exactly what you want. 

With this in mind, today, Google has rolled out a fantastic tool for consumers. Google Advisor is a comparison tool which allows users to get information on financial products. It allows you to compare offer options for your credit cards, checking and savings accounts, CDs or mortgage. With Google Advisor, the search company has entered the consumer finance comparison space. Currently the service is only available in United States and it is a matter of time, before we see international launch.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Re-inventing Management for the 21st Century.

Management 1.0 was invented by people long dead or long retired, but with rapid change happening at an exponential pace, the organisations are facing a fundamentally 'different and new reality'.  They face a world, where knowledge is fast becoming a commodity, and it is extremely difficult to have a sustainable differentiator.

The 'command and control' model of industrial age is being challenged. A new management model-more open, collaborative, flexible and adaptable to human beings is called for. The 'Pyramid' structure of management is already giving way to 'amorphous' structure in this 'new knowledge world'.

Here in this short 15 minutes video, Prof Gary Hamel, celebrated management thinker and one of my favorite 'gurus', makes a highly energetic, strong and passionate case for 'tearing down the old management structures and re-inventing the management practices relevant for the new-new world'.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The changing face of banking- Growth of Social and P2P lending Platforms


Have you ever visited Zopa, Prosper, and Lending Club? For the uninitiated, these are some of the front-runners in the ‘rapidly’ evolving world of P2P (aka Social) Lending.
Peer to Peer lending goes by many names. It is also called social lending; person-to-person lending or p2plending.It can be defined in this simple way: individuals lending money to other individuals without a banking intermediary.

P2p lending sites hope to disintermediate banks and get credit flowing to individuals and small businesses.

EBay + Facebook = Social Banking  

These sites can be considered a combination of eBay and Facebook.com- a place where consumers come together to loan and borrow money from each other. The success of these web based P2P lending communities can be gauged by the strong growth in their numbers and loan volume.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The M-Commerce Revolution Is Here

Some Statistics and trends:
  • EBay generated $2billion in global mobile sales in 2010 across 190 countries. 
  • PayPal’s worldwide mobile transactions have skyrocketed from $25million in 2008 to $500 million in 2010. 
  • Smartphone sales grew 72% in 2010; 300 million smart phones sold in 2010 globally. 
  • There are over 3 billion mobile phones worldwide. Over 40% of the world’s population carries a mobile phone, far more than use a computer or have access to internet. 
  • Mobile Phone is fast emerging as a ‘preferred’ transaction medium. 
  • Online Commerce is gaining share vs. Offline Commerce as consumers change their behavior and expectations with rapid development in technology.


    The Mobile Commerce Opportunity

    Any discussion of the potential opportunity must first start with a basic understanding of what we mean by “Mobile Commerce.” Mobile commerce is comprised of two categories(1) Mobile banking and (2)Mobile payments & Money transfers. Mobile banking refers to situations where the mobile phone is used as an access channel to financial services. Mobile payments and money transfers refers to situations where the mobile phone is used as a payment device to affect the transfer of value from one party to another.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    The Future of Education - Khan Academy

    If you want to see the future of education...it is here...The Global One world Classroom...Watch this video by Sal Khan (Bill Gates Favorite teacher) and now imagine the possibilities.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Facebook Deals- Shifting business Models

    Facebook Deals , when launched in Nov 10, allowed users, who "check in" at a location using their mobile phone to Facebook Places, to receive rewards and offers via their mobile device.

    But now, Facebook is extending this to include offers from local businesses. Soon Local businesses will be able to sign up to use this feature, and people will be able to find Deals.

    So how does it work? And how will it be different from daily-deal market leaders Groupon and LivingSocial? Well to begin –All deals offered on the Facebook platform will be around “social experiences,” i.e. “things you can do with your friends”; but how will users pay for these deals? … this is where Facebook Credits become useful!

    To know more about How Facebook deals work? Check the following video

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Book Review : The Facebook Effect - David Kirkpatrick

    Mark Zuckerberg celebrates his 27th birthday on May 14th; and what an achievement for this 27 year old!, founding (and holding 24% stake)  one of the most remarkable companies of our times, valued anywhere between $50-65 billion. 

    Perhaps the most significant event in modern history has been the birth of social media networks. David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook effect is an excellent description of Zuck’s genius, an inside story of how Facebook came about and the events and ideas that have shaped its development.

    I found the early days of Facebook very inspirational. As it turns out, the story is fascinating, and somewhat complicated. 

    First impression: Wow!, I would love to work at Facebook. After reading this book, I am more impressed with its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

    Many of us use Facebook nearly every day, some of us multiple times a day, without giving much thought to how the world's most popular social network came to be. This book takes us right inside Mark Zuckerberg's head to understand the ‘potential of Facebook. 

    The book is divided in two parts, the first part is a fascinating corporate history revolving around reticent founder and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg; the second is a thoughtful, analysis of the ‘Future of Facebook’.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Innovation and Collaboration

    Delivered a talk at IMRB(Indian Marketing Research Bureau), Delhi on 10 Sept 2010. Here is the presentation..

    Also here are few quotes on Creativity:

    • "The things we fear most in organizations - fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances - are the primary sources of creativity." - Alfred North Whitehead
    • "The chief enemy of creativity is 'good" sense.'" - Pablo Picasso
    • "As competition intensifies, the need for creative thinking increases. It is no longer enough to do the same thing better, no longer enough to be efficient and solve problems." - Edward de Bono
    • "Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things." - Theodore Levitt

    Friday, July 30, 2010

    Fault Lines- Raghuram G Rajan




    Yesterday, I attended a Global leadership Series Lecture by Professor Raghuram G Rajan, where he discussed in detail some of the factors outside the financial sector that led to the financial crisis. 
    While most of the news stories and public discussions over last two years have focussed on the 'greed of banking community', his observations on how the hidden fractures still threaten the world economy were quite insightful. He also shares these insights in his latest book 'Fault Lines' .

    Well, the immediate suspects for this crisis seem to be – bankers, rating agencies, the Fed, Fannie and Freddie etc; but if we dig deeper and analyze, What went wrong? it becomes abundantly clear that, it was a crisis where not only the private sector was to blame, but also the government. It was a crisis caused by the faulty interface between the two.

    Fault lines such as~Growing 'inequality' and Thin( or completely absent) Social Security net create tremendous pressure on the political community to find the easy route. i.e make cheaper credit available if they can't create that many jobs(as witnessed in the push for universal home ownership in the United States-extensive lending by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac etc, low interest rates, targeted and relaxed lending to sub-prime borrower etc).

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Open Innovation

    In a world where strategy life cycles are shrinking, innovation is the only way a company can renew its lease on success. It’s also the only way it can survive in a world of bare-knuckle competition.

    Not every management innovation creates a competitive advantage. Some are incremental. Some are wrongheaded. And many never pay off. But’s that no excuse not to innovate.

    There are different flavors of innovation and can be stacked in the increasing order of importance as follows : Operational Innovation, Product and Service Innovation, Strategic Innovation, and Management Innovation.

    With rapid transformation of businesses , the nature of relationship between consumers and the firm has changed radically.

    Let’s take an example here of Open & Collaborative Innovation.


    Who can forget the Ford Model-T? - large assembly lines , massive production units in Detroit, you could have any car as long as the color was black ( assumption here was that the end consumer is an undifferentiated lot).

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Cell Phones- Transforming Rural Life

    Just saw this wonderful presentation by Iqbal Quadir: The power of the mobile phone to end poverty. Iqbal is the founder of hugely successful Grameen Phone.
    I am convinced about the power of Mobile telephony as an effective poverty reduction tool. Experiences like the Grameen Phone have shown that provision of phone connectivity to a village serves several purpose- it leads to the economic development by helping individuals and business gain economic efficiency through communications; it promotes social and economic development for individuals who own and operate the telephone enterprises.
    One of the basic principles of the Information Age is that information can be a source of power, efficiency and cost savings.

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    Find your 'ELEMENT' : Sir Ken Robinson

    Michelangelo once said “I did not create David, I merely discovered him. He was there within the stone, all I did was to chip-off parts which were not David”. So true, this statement clearly defines the role of parents, teachers and business leaders. Our job is to help discover the true talent by providing the right environment.

    Sir Ken Robinson, a world renowned educationist and creative thinker, outlines the same in his excellent book: The Element: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything.
    Here in this video-talk, Sir Ken, in his trademark humor, talks about the book and the need to find one's passion.
    Don’t miss it.

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Profit vs Market Share

    And the debate continues....

    I have  friends who work across various industries-FMCG, Retail, Telecom, Technology, Financial Services etc. We meet-up quite regularly and I often end up asking them a naive' question: So how is the company doing?



    And invariably their answer is: "Great! we have the largest market share in this product category";" My territory market share has gone up by x% "; " Oh! We are feeling some pressure, our market share is falling".

    Does this sounds familiar? , almost everyone seems to be talking about 'Market-Share', but very few talk about 'profitability'. So let me share my perspective on the same…

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    Delivering Happiness -Zappos.com

    Here is an excellent presentation by Tony Hsieh -CEO Zappos.com
    Please note the vision statement:
    "One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the US will be online. People will buy from the company with the best service and the best selection. Zappos will be that company" Important point to note..'they call themselves 'service company' not 'shoe or clothing company'.
    Most important - their product is 'happiness'

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Vision shared-vs- Shared vision


    "The empires of the future are empires of the mind." — Winston Churchill
    I promise to keep this post really short.

    First a small exercise, if you are a senior manager in your company, go out and meet few frontline employees, and ask them this simple question: What is our company’s Vision?
    Are you surprised with what they have to say? I bet you are…

    So, is it important to have a vision for the organization? More importantly having a ‘shared vision’ rather than 'sharing a vision'.
    We generally find so-called elaborate ‘vision statements’ adorning the wall in corporate headquarters or maybe briefly mentioned in ‘annual shareholders’ report.
    But, is that enough?
    A vision is like ‘soul’ of the company; its aspirations, and like north-star, guides it into the future. A vision can only be effective if it is espoused by each and every member of the organization.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    It is okay to fail...

    Let me begin by asking few questions?

    -How important do people in your organization see innovation to be in their day-to-day jobs?
    -How well is your organization recognizing and exploiting the diversity of its people's talent?
    -To what degree does senior management encourage innovation by demonstrating that-'it is okay to fail'?


    We literally see organizations struggling to create a sustainable culture of innovation. We know that mistakes and failures are critical part of the innovation process, but what is really required is an attitude towards acceptance of failure.

    Friday, February 20, 2009

    Consumer Finance - the way forward.

    A colleague who follows my blog suggested that I share my views on Consumer Finance (CF) industry. Consumer finance companies across the globe today hold the second largest share of consumer installment credit (after commercial banks).

    Having keenly followed- the consumer credit processes and trends in the Indian market, key forces shaping the region’s consumer credit business, and understanding the functional capabilities of a successful business model; I decided to take a 'helicopter view' in terms of what went wrong with Consumer credit Industry (India story in particular)? But more importantly the way forward?

    So let me do a quick brain-dump of questions/challenges (I rather see them as opportunities) for the Consumer credit industry…… (Not in any order of importance)
    • Reality check: What is the current state of the industry, what are the challenges to expect and where are the opportunities for growth? Defining the strategy for profitability, surviving and thriving in the midst of market volatility and slowing global economy. How the industry will shape up in the future?

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Facebook retracts?...but why?

    Something very interesting happened yesterday….

    In a late-night blog post responding to the recent outcry over a recent change to Facebook's terms of service, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social network's TOS will revert to a previous version.


    So what really happened? If you dig deep, you will notice the real reason behind this retraction. Facebook found itself in an unenviable position in the face of strong public activism. Now this public/consumer activism is not something new, but of late this silent force has gathered quite a momentum with advent of technology. So here we had 80,000 + facebook users signing up for People against the new Terms of Service’. Facebook certainly was not prepared for this backlash from its own user base.


    Most organizations today are grappling with a force that they don’t understand, one that is growing all the time. This force is broad, ever shifting, ever growing, and it is global. It encompasses blogs, discussion groups, Wiki’s, You tube... Consumers whom we have never met are rating the company’s products in public forums that we have no experience with or no way to influence.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    How are you different?

    Thinking about Future..... read a very interesting quote today. "Any piece of knowledge I acquire today has a value at this moment exactly proportioned to my skill to deal with it. Tomorrow, when I know more, I recall that piece of knowledge and use it better." - Mark Van Doren.

    Truth be told , this statement succinctly captures the essence( and future) of knowledge worker. How will you differentiate your self in future? Is it on the basis of information you hold(or have access to)?
    Fundamentally speaking information will cease to be the differentiator.Everyone would have access to any(read same) information that one needs. Google is just a step in that direction( any information/or the source of information is just a click away); Web 2.0 will look at creating more interactive tools for the Users.


    So what is it, that will differentiate a Knowledge worker?

    Monday, February 2, 2009

    The economics of giving it away

    Tough time calls for questioning!....especially in a period when ‘free’ goods and services online are becoming more and more popular…what are the challenges that entrepreneurs & business leaders face today ? Why the ‘zero-sum’ model doesn’t work alone?

    How to monetize services when you are operating in a ‘freemium economy’- An economy where ‘few’ pay but ‘many’ use?. Imagine would some of the larger web 2.0 companies be around if it wasn’t for free services. Would consumers pay for Facebook, MySpace or Digg? I think the answer in most cases is ‘no.’
    I think online businesses will have to look at providing real value to the users. Paid subscriptions can work only where there is true additional value provided. (LinkedIn is a good example)

    So with the changing marketspace, Web startups now are having to comeup with a business model that brings in real money while they are still young.

    Chris Anderson has a very interesting take on ‘the economics of giving it away’. He talks about the rapid shift in business model (mostly online) and why now ‘cash-flow’ is the king. I think this is a good read for anyone interested in online space. Chris has an advice for all would be entrepreneurs – ‘it’s now time to innovate, not just with new products but with new business models’.

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Tata Jagriti Yatra(2)

    I recently completed this wonderful journey across the length and breath of the country.Yatra was good fun(more on that later).Wanted to provide these quick links :

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    Awakening Entrepreneurship: (Jagriti Yatra 2008)

    I wanted to do something similar for a long period of time- get to know the real India, meet up with social and business entrepreneurs, understand what drives them, study their business model and assess the impact, and all this in a highly charged up environment with bright, young, and ‘fresh’ minds.

    Surely enough,I signed up for TATA Jagriti Yatra, the moment my friend Jayanti Datta told me about it. This is going to be exciting- 18 days on a train, 13 villages and town, exchanging ideas with 350 + participants, 8000 km, meeting and learning from 18-20 real ‘change makers’.


    Tata Jagriti Yatra '08 ( 24 Dec 08 to 11 Jan 09) is a train journey across India to meet with and learn from bottom-up innovators and entrepreneurs who are changing and challenging the definition of ‘Impossible’ at a grass-root level.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Bootstrapping!

    Bootstrappers , as we now know, are people who build their businesses with sweat equity, not by writing intricate business plans, pursuing investment bankers, or wallowing in market research. Instead they focus their energy,intelligence,and skills on creating business that can thrive in a competitive environment. Bill gates bootstrapped Microsoft;Masaru Ibuku bootstrapped Sony,Pierre Omidyar bootstrapped eBay etc.

    Guy Kawasaki wrote an excellent piece recently on American express Open forums : The Art of Bootstrapping. Have a look...

    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Is it still a logo ? if it changes everyday

    I asked a simple question to some of my friends in Branding,Marketing,and Advertisement -" Why is a company Logo important?and if it changes everyday-Is it still a logo?.
    I was frowned upon at first and then in a very kotleresque manner was doused with marketing gyan; some obvious answers..

    • A good and unique logo is the first step to achieve brand recognition;
    • It shows what the company is about and it attracts people and is a good marketing tool to market the product;
    • A companies advertising and promotional efforts should be centered around brand image. A logo represents that image without saying anything. Its an extension of the brand and should merit its qualities; etc

    Well I don't' disagree with the marketing and traditional views, but was wondering :-" Do we place too much importance on a Logo?". Google is a company that changes its logo almost everyday, and still is one of the most popular brands.

    My quest led me to an interesting old post by Doug Edwards -director of consumer marketing and brand management for Google 1999-2005.

    I will be happy to hear from readers what they think about this.....

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Letting volunteers build your business

    Everyday millions of people make all sort of voluntary contributions to companies-from informed opinions to computing resources-that create tremendous value for those firms' customers and, consequently for their shareholders.In the Oct 08 issue of HBR, Intuit co founder Scott Cook suggests that companies should collaborate actively with their customers. This might not seem an insightful idea at first , but more deeply he explores the idea, the more profound it becomes.

    Now the concept of user contribution isn't new, but the companies such as Google, ebay,Skype,Honda, Procter & Gamble, Hyatt, Amazon etc.- have created a user contribution system, methods for aggregating and leveraging people's contribution or behaviours in ways that are useful to other people.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Do Schools kill creativity?

    Sir Ken Robinson in his Out of our minds asks the same question.
    "Throughout the world, companies and organizations are trying to compete in a world of economic and technological change that is moving faster than ever. They urgently need people who are creative, innovative and flexible. Too often they can't find them. Why not, and what should be done about it? Why is it essential to promote creativity? Organizations everywhere are concerned as never before with promoting creativity and innovation. Why is this so important? What's the problem? Why do so many adults think they're not very creative (and not very intelligent)? How do we lose the confidence to be creative? What should be done? Is everyone creative or just a select few? Can creativity be developed? If so, how? "
    I remember an old quote by Picasso “All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” Children often have extraordinary capacity when they are young, the problem is they start squandering it when they grow up.

    Hence the question : Do schools kill creativity ? As we grow-Do we educate out of creativity? Many a times people change careers(stream) in schools, because the thing that they were good at was stigmatized.
    Do we in our ecosystem( schools, communities, organisations) do the same?

    Have we created an environment wherein it is uncomfortable to be different; not okay to fail or make a mistake.This straight jacket approach of living is depriving us of the immense possibilities (many a Picasso, DaVinci,Beethoven are getting lost in this one way traffic ).
    Think about it....

    Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    Is The Importance of People Overrated?

    Scott Belsky of Behance.com has written an interesting post on American Express Open Forums.
    He writes about the importance of 'chemistry' in successful teams.

    So what is Team Chemistry?
    Team chemistry or team cohesion, can be defined as a group dynamic that occurs when members of the team work together and make a united effort to accomplish the goals and objectives of the collective whole.

    But the vital question is - Is chemistry a result (by product) of success or the cause of it ?

    Still a good read....

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Hot, Flat, and Crowded


    I have just started reading this new book by Thomas Friedman ...an eye opening account of current global environmental crisis. Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the astonishing expansion of the world's middle class through globalization has produced a planet that is 'hot, flat,and crowded'. In just a few years it will be too late to fix things-unless there is a worldwide effort to replace our wasteful, inefficient energy practices with a strategy for clean energy.

    He calls for Code Green . The world is getting crowded and hot. More people tapping computers and on the road means more competition for resources, more emissions. It's all "intensifying the extinction of plants and animals, and strengthening of petro-dictatorship." 

    Please note that there were just 1 billion people on this planet in the year 1850. The population has gone up by 6.5 times ( to current 6.5 billion) in the year 2008. No other species has seen this kind of growth in numbers. This number is likely to go up further to 9 billion by 2050. This raises the most important question:

    Monday, September 22, 2008

    What is Tuangou?

    The power of groups, the clout that crowds can exercise to get what they want, is nothing new. What is new, however, is the dizzying ease with which like minded, action-ready citizens and consumers can now go online and connect, group and ultimately exert influence on a global scale.
    Welcome to the world of 'CROWDShopping'.
    Tuangou.es is a collective buying website in Spain. Tuangou essentially means (in Chinese of course!) 'tuan' -group and 'gou' - buy. Tuan gou ( teambuying in chinese) emerged from china in online chat-rooms,and graduated to more organised websites. Popular Chinese sites that are enabling crowds to first group online and then plan for real world shopmobbing are TeamBuy, Taobao and Liba.

    Saturday, September 20, 2008

    Don't Wait Too Long to Become an Entrepreneur

    There was a good post recently on Harvard Discussion forums. Noam Wasserman initiated a conversation on 'when is the perfect time to become an entrepreneur' . He talks about the challenges faced by people transitioning from being big-company employees to becoming entrepreneurs.

    His advise : Waiting for the "perfect time" to make the jump is usually futile, for there's no moment that's truly perfect. So even if you're early in your corporate career, when a winning new-business idea comes along and sparks an entrepreneurial passion in you, carpe diem.

    I think the best or right time is when you see a right opportunity...time doesn't matters . I was reading a report on "India business houses -Family Fortunes" by a leading equity brokerage firm. Of course the names were obvious-Tata, Birla, Premzi, Mittal, Ambani , Aggarwal(Vedanta), Goenka(RPG), Singh(DLF) etc . The common points across all success stories were :
    (a) Ability to identify opportunity well ahead of others;
    (b) Effectively using leverage (OPM);
    (c) Appetite for risk;
    (d) Perseverance -not giving up in the face of difficulties ; Passion.

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    McKnight Principles

    William L. McKnight, who served as 3M chairman of the board from 1949 to 1966, encouraged 3M management to "delegate responsibility and encourage men and women to exercise their initiative."

    His management theories are the guiding principles for 3M. His basic rule of management was laid out in 1948:
    "As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative. This requires considerable tolerance. Those men and women, to whom we delegate authority and responsibility, if they are good people, are going to want to do their jobs in their own way."Mistakes will be made.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    The Future of Internet Search


    Today on the Official Google Blog, Marisa Meyer posted an in-depth look at what the future of Internet searches holds. She shares many interesting thoughts.. She asks a lot of important and interesting questions on the direction of search and how searches will be performed in the coming years.

    The most interesting ones she touches on are the "location" and "social" values that can be attached to search.

    To search for ‘pizza’ or ‘water hole’, location plays a key role. So if Google knows where you are –it will help deliver relevant results.The social aspect is also worth noting. How do we cull the collective information of our friends -- or simply those around us -- to find the information we need.

    Here are some of her thoughts:
    Search needs to be more mobile -- it should be available and easy to use in cell phones and in cars and on handheld, wearable devices that we don't even have yet……..

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    'Lose the Battle to Win the War'

    A wonderful story - in Corporate Dossier, Economic Times, 22 August 2008 . 

    A learned sage was in the middle of a very narrow bridge when he saw a powerful king approaching from the other side.
    “Please turn around,” said Shakti-muni, “So that I may pass.”
    “No, you turn around,” thundered the king, “So that I may pass.”
    “But I stepped on the bridge first.”
    “Yes, but I can push you back.”

    “That’s not fair. Know that I am a teacher, a priest and the most respected philosopher in the land. Hence, I must be given the first right of passage.” Argued the sage

    The king sneered, “I built the school you teach. I pay for the rituals you perform. Without me as patron, you would not be able to indulge in philosophy. So you must give me the first right of passage.”

    Friday, August 8, 2008

    The Paradox of Adjacency

    An interesting article appeared this morning in The Economic Times : The Paradox of Adjacency by Ashish Singh and Chris Zook of Bain and Company. I have written to Ashish with my views.

    Yes Nokia-India is a successful example of ‘adjacency strategy’. While product proposition for entire consumer spectrum (BOP included) and Product Innovation did contribute to its success, there were other factors which contributed in equal measure, such as: Quick to identify the Opportunity (1995)-ahead of Change curve, Localizing the business strategy, Focus on core business ( Nokia only had mobile phones , while other players had consumer electronics and home appliances) etc.

    Google is another great company at identifying ‘adjacent opportunities’. From Google search to Google Video to Google Books to Google News to You tube ....

    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    The art of collecting stories



    Just watched an inspiring talk by Jonathan Harriss at TED.com (Artist and computer scientist Jonathan Harris makes online art that captures the world’s expression — and gives us a glimpse of the soul of the Internet).



    This guy sure knows how to tell stories.....'the baloon project is captivating

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    Ask Questions?

    Ask the question, play the fool. Don't ask the question, stay the fool.

    In today’s world, the old ways of doing business no longer produce the results nor provide the value they once did. Organisations are constantly faced with having to find new and better ways of operating. Consequently, one of the top challenges that leaders face is that of enhancing creativity within themselves and within others.

    In taking on this challenge we must first comprehend the intimacy of the relationship between creativity and thinking. Our ability to be creative depends upon our capacity to think, which in turn depends upon our ability to question not only our practices, but also our beliefs and assumptions. We must learn to question the limits of our thinking. It is through this manner of questioning that we are able to rethink our thinking. Thus, the quality of our questions determines the quality of our creativity.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Should every company have a corporate blog?

    Mario Sundar, Community Evangelist at LinkedIn makes some very good observations : Should every company have a corporate blog?

    We are witnessing the evolution of corporate blogs in transforming organisations culture.
    Corporate blogs enable the humanisation of entire value system . This collaborative culture encourages the exchange of ideas and information in a boundryless environment.

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    Idea Spotting

    Sam Harrison is his book IdeaSpotting makes a very important distinction between 'data-based insights' and 'exploration based creativity'.
    He states that there is nothing wrong with backbone data or raw statistics. They are fine as far as they go. The problem is they do not go far enough.
    To spot ideas, one need insights. Lots of them. Because Ideas aren't spotted in forms. They are spotted in sights- those revelatory insights seized only when you roam new turfs, meet new people and have new experiences.
    • Light bulbs weren't invented by exploring candles.
    • Iron ships weren't made by exploring wood boats.
    • Skyscrapers weren't designed by exploring bungalows.
    • Cell Phones weren't conceived by exploring landlines.

    To get past what's stifling you, Move beyond what's staring you in the face.

    Indeed one of the best books on Innovation and creativity that I have read recently....Highly recommended!

    Friday, June 27, 2008

    One to One Innovation-CK Prahlad

    CK Prahalad and M S Krishnan in their new book " The new age of innovation' drive home a very interesting point.
    N=1 and R=G ( N= Personalised co created experiences , R=G Global access to resource and talent).

    The book reveals that the key to creating value and the future growth of every business depends on accessing a global network of resources to co-create unique experiences with the customers, one at a time. Even if the company is dealing with a hundred million consumers, each manager must focus on one consumer experience at a time. The firm can provide the platform around which customers can co-create their own experiences. ( Eg Google, My Space , Apple IPod , Starbucks etc).

    Check these links...
    ( Tutor Vista - Online Tu ting try spotting N=1 , R=G)
    ( Pomarfin - a Finnish company known for left foot concept, which offers customised footwear for men using foot scanning technology).

    Thursday, June 26, 2008

    Lessons of the Square Watermelon

    A great story doing round these day….This story is a great reminder of the power of creativity and innovation. The story revolves around the growing of square watermelons in Japan. I'm posting the story verbatim.


    Japanese grocery stores had a problem. They are much smaller than their US counterparts and therefore don’t have room to waste. Watermelons, big and round, wasted a lot of space. Most people would simply tell the grocery stores that watermelons grow round and there is nothing that can be done about it. But some Japanese farmers took a different approach. ”If the supermarkets want a space efficient watermelon,” they asked themselves, “How can we provide one?” It wasn’t long before they invented the square watermelon.

    The solution to the problem of round watermelons wasn’t nearly as difficult to solve for those who didn’t assume the problem was impossible to begin with and simply asked how it could be done. It turns out that all you need to do is place them into a square box when they are growing and the watermelon will take on the shape of the box.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    Cognitive Inertia

    How did Kodak respond to the threat of 'digital Camera' in 1980's ?What factors distinguish successful firms from unsuccessful firms?

    It’s a common observation that many firms, especially large firms, are limited in their tendency to exploit the abundance of lucrative opportunities that surface from within the firm. As a result of the incumbent firm’s failure to support exploitation of these opportunities, some intra-preneurs are encouraged to become entrepreneurs by founding a start-up organization. In many a cases, founders of these new firms would have preferred to exploit their entrepreneurial discovery within their previous firm, given sufficient management support and resources.

    So what went wrong? Research suggests that cognitive inertia is one powerful explanation as to why established firms are not as innovative as young, less established firms. Gladwell throws in a very interesting perspective to this.

    Friday, June 20, 2008

    The Ant philosophy by Jim Rohn

    Over the years I've been teaching kids about a simple but powerful concept - the ant philosophy. I think everybody should study ants. They have an amazing four-part philosophy, and here is the first part: ants never quit. That's a good philosophy. If they're headed somewhere and you try to stop them, they'll look for another way. They'll climb over, they'll climb under, they'll climb around. They keep looking for another way. What a neat philosophy, to never quit looking for a way to get where you're supposed to go.

    Second, ants think winter all summer. That's an important perspective. You can't be so naive as to think summer will last forever. So ants are gathering in their winter food in the middle of summer.
    An ancient story says, "Don't build your house on the sand in the summer." Why do we need that advice? Because it is important to think ahead. In the summer, you've got to think storm. You've got to think rocks as you enjoy the sand and sun.

    Thursday, May 1, 2008

    Seven Highly Effective Ways to Kill Innovation


    Come on Smart guys,Do your Innovation Check....

    Innovation killer#1: Believe that innovation will “just happen.”
    Innovation killer#2: Tell everyone to “think outside of the box,” hold a brainstorming session, then call it a day.
    Innovation killer#3: Lay the success of innovation solely on IT’s shoulders.
    Innovation killer#4: Create an obstacle course for ideas.
    Innovation killer#5: View “different” and “new” as bad.
    Innovation killer#6: Hand over the good ideas to the Legal and Accounting departments.
    Innovation killer#7: Be very, very afraid of failure.

    Complete article is available here :