Netcore’s Emergic

Every once in a while, I like to write down (to remind myself!) what we are trying to do in Netcore. Here is my latest effort.

Problem Statement

– SMEs are caught in two traps: technology and marketing
– Computing is still expensive
– Business benefits of using technology are still not clear to most SMEs
– As a result, SMEs use very little of computing hardware and software
– SMEs do not have access to real-time information
– Supporting and managing technology is still a challenge
– There is no easy way to sell software to SMEs
– SMEs find it hard to find other SMEs for tapping business opportunities

Solution Outline

– Demonstrate how connected computers and the Internet can help SME business
– Create/propose a reference IT architecture for enabling intelligent, real-time SMEs
– A connected computer for every employee for less than USD 10 per month
– Integrated Software Bundles, built around only handle information once
– Development platform for ISVs to build vertical / local solutions
– Managed services to remotely manage IT at SMEs
– A virtual marketing and connection mechanism for SMEs

Netcore’s Solution: The Emergic System

– All-in-one server software: Pragatee and Emergic MailServ/Topsight/Enterprise
– Appliances for Server and Clients: Server Box, USD 50 thin clients
– Affordable Computing Solution: thin clients, thick server; cut system TCO
– Desktop solution: Emergic Freedom, Redesigned desktop / rich clients / dashboard
– Integration with Cellphones for real-time access to information
– Software development platform for ISVs: Visual Biz-ic
– Localisation of solution: languages, accounting/business process needs
– Social Network Software: for people to connect with other people
– Information Marketplace for SMEs: Emergic.Net
– Software Distribution Network to reach out to channels and SMEs
– Remote Support and Technology Management Centre
– Themes: Affordability, Simplicity, Integrated, Managed

This is an ambitious and wide-ranging set of things to do in the coming years. The challenge will be executing simultaneously on all aspects to put the entire solution in place for SMEs. It is about taking technology and making possible a different world for SMEs, especially in the world’s emerging markets. Slowly and steadily, we are getting the various elements of the solution in place.

At times, I wonder if the breadth of what we are trying to do is too much for a still-small company like ours. But then I also realise that if we have to bring about a transformation in the way SMEs use technology and do business, we will have to do it and co-ordinate the buildout of all of the components of the system.

The Emergic vision has evolved over the past 2+ years, and will continue to do so. We now have to increase our focus on implementation and taking the solutions to market.

A Video Screen out of Thin Air

The monitor / display has rapidly become the most expensive part of the computer – when it comes to the low-end PCs. I have always dreamt of a mechanism where one can project on an image on a wall, doing away with the monitor – a solution which should cost no more than USD 25 for the display electronics. While I don’t expect something like to happen any time soon, wasn’t I pleasantly surprised to read this CNN story:

In a museum in Tampere, Finland, Ismo Rakkolainen’s fog machine conjures up the Mona Lisa on an invisible sheet of water particles.

Thousands of miles away in Hermosa Beach, California, a graduate student passes his hand through an image of a DNA strand produced — apparently out of thin air — by a modified video projector.

The two inventions represent the latest front in advanced computer displays — eliminating the screen altogether.

While unlikely to replace the desktop computer monitor, so-called walk-through displays could eventually be put to use in product showrooms, museums, and military training facilities.

Anil Ambani on Entrepreneurship

[via Jayesh Matani] Anil Ambani of Reliance Industries recently gave a convocation address at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad. Some excerpts:

The first, and perhaps most important, requirement for success, as an entrepreneur, is a passion for your work. To be able to look forward, to every new day of work, with a sense of optimism, with a sense of purpose, with a sense of challenge, and with a view to enjoying the work you are doing!

Far from being a solitary pursuit, entrepreneurial success is a highly collaborative process. A good entrepreneur has to bring out creative ideas and the entrepreneurial spirit from all his people. This can happen only when the sense of passion, and romance, of building a successful business, is shared by the entire organization.

[Another] important attribute for success as an entrepreneur is the necessity of dealing with people, in every walk of life, at a very human level, building, and nurturing, relationships, preserving ones humility, and never losing family and social values.

Successful entrepreneurship demands constant raising of the bar to achieve higher and higher levels of performance, encouraging people to stretch and sweat, to venture where few others would think of stepping out, to take calculated risks to achieve growth on an exponential scale, to never give up, to take every obstacle, or setback, or even outright failure, as a learning experience.

Successful entrepreneurship is not just based on brilliant and innovative ideas, powered by a constant flow of energy. What is ultimately required is hard action and results.

Good entrepreneurs have the ability to execute – to effectively marshal resources to achieve end objectives to ensure that there is no gap, between what the entrepreneur wants to achieve, and the ability of the organization to deliver it.

Entrepreneurship also involves, taking what most people might consider to be big risks cutting across accepted boundaries, going against the status quo, defying conventional wisdom.

Successful entrepreneurs always focus on goals, not on possible hurdles along the way and that is why they are not paralysed into immobility, but keep moving ahead. All entrepreneurs are faced with adversity at some point of time. The secret is to convert every adversity into opportunity, and keep moving on.

More Sun Talk

Interesting comments by Greg Papadopoulos in this interview:

You have this exponential improvement in computing, but ERP is not getting exponentially complex. So you would certainly expect it to get cheaper. If you went to a CFO and said, “I can give you a million times more computing power,” they would say, “OK, I’m not going to close my books every millisecond, so you are going to give it to me at a millionth of the cost.”

The cost of computing is, in fact, the management of this stuff. That’s where 80 percent of the dollars are going. It is the fact that once you get just beyond the component level, the assembly (of applications) is an exercise left to the user. It’s not engineered.

If you believe in the growth of the network and the growth in demand for services on the network, we’re squarely about how you provision those services and that is certainly in the context of how people think about data centers today. What’s the kit–both hardware and software–that you need to provide the foundations of a service delivery platform? And that is network computing.

Sun is saying the right things, but focusing on the wrong markets. Come to the emerging markets with the total solution, Greg. They are waiting.

Fortune has a report and analysis of Sun’s software strategy:

[Sun’s Java Enterprise System] includes Suns Solaris operating system, of course, along with an applications server, a full e-mail and messaging system, a directory (necessary for managing all the users and locations on any network), authentication technology using Java, and portal software for running websites for both internal and external customers. That is essentially all the software infrastructure a company needs, on top of which it can deploy applications like SAP, PeopleSoft, or highly specific homegrown programs.

“The next wave in software is not about directories or e-mail, says Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz. That was the last wave. Our pricing puts an exclamation point at the end of that sentence. Commoditization is the perfect word. Dell has made great theater of the fact that the hardware is commoditized. We think they are half right. The whole system is commoditized.”

The big architectural argument Sun is making with this strategy is that, as software infrastructure becomes commoditized, it makes more sense for companies to buy an integrated package that just gets the job done. That way they can spend their real effort building distinct applications that run on top of the basic package and offer competitive differentiation.

These next few months will be very interesting in the software business. Sun aims to commoditize the software business, but it would take a lota whole lotfor the entrenched software providers like IBM, BEA, and especially Microsoft to even think about anything close to commoditized pricing.

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Web Page Analyzer

[via Viswanath Gondi] Web Page Analyzer offers suggestions on how to improve display time of a page.

I ran it for my blog – the home page is 140K+, which is quite large. This is going to be a problem with most blogs. Maybe, we need to think of reducing the posts put up or days shown. Or maybe, people read most of the content in an aggregator.

TECH TALK: Next Billion: The Road Ahead

There are many other innovations which can be pooled together to create more useful technology solutions which can make life and business easier for the next billion users. Voice-over-IP reduces the cost of phone calls. The USD 50 thin client can double up as a gaming console, and link players into multi-player gaming networks. Smart Cards can provide identity, security and a form of micropayment. Tivo-like capabilities at the server can help users record their favourite TV programs and play them back at will. Ultrawideband and other wireless services can provide broadband to bandwidth-starved users.

The need is for a technology ecosystem to be constructed in the emerging markets. This is one in which computers (hardware and software), cellphones, connectivity, content, community and commerce come together simultaneously to create for a complete different world one in which opportunities abound. This is the new world that we can create. These are the new horizons which are opening up in front of us.

It is only innovative, out-of-the-box thinking which can make this possible. What we have seen so far over the past quarter century is computing and the Internets first revolution. It has seen the magic of microprocessors, software and networks come sequentially to impact lives for the top of the people and enterprise pyramid across the world. The time has now come to take the revolution to a market that is 10 times larger. This is market which will see many of these innovations come together simultaneously. What took a quarter century to accomplish now can be done in a fifth of the time. The next five years can see us take the benefits of computing to the next billion people.

What is needed is a re-invention of the computing industry built around the twin themes of affordability and utility. The objective is the same making technology a utility, and part of the fabric of people. This is technologys next frontier. It is a throwback to the 1970s this new world needs the likes of its own home-grown Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to take computing to the next level. Each of these disruptive innovations represents a business opportunity for smart entrepreneurs. In most cases, the components are there what is needed is a different lens through which to view the new, emerging base of users.

The road ahead will be constructed by entrepreneurs from the very markets that are being created. These entrepreneurs see the world around them and also understand the inexorable pace of progress in the world of technology. Just as the new breed of thirty-something film-makers in India is challenging the status quo creating products that were hard to imagine a few years ago, so will this class of entrepreneurs create the disruptive innovations which will take their people, markets and countries forward. The next billion computer users are waiting. Are we up to the challenge?

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