Manufacturing in India

Writes the Economist:

An increasing number of India’s old-economy firms have quietly restructured. Spurred on by the threat of foreign competition, they have discovered how to make internationally competitive goods by shedding labour, designing new products and improving management. They are cashing in on the same low labour costs and technology-astute employees that have helped India in software and outsourcing. In the process, this has given Indian firms the confidence to search out markets in developed economies and even to buy operations abroad.

Many of India’s old industries, such as machine tools, general engineering and basic textiles, remain mired in inefficiencies and protectionism. But marked changes are being led by the vehicle sector, where exports of components more than doubled in the past four years, to almost $1 billion. There have been big improvements in drugs and consumer products too. That has helped manufacturing growth to rise to 7% a year. The gradual liberalisation of the economy from 1991 helped to motivate change, but the main catalysts were a slump in demand four years ago, competition from China, and the threat of markets being opened up by the World Trade Organisation.

Google and Search has a commentary by George Colony of Forrester Research in light of its coming IPO:

Google’s a great company, with smart people and fantastic technology. But perspective is the order of the day, not irrational exuberance. Google can’t survive on search alone.

Factor one: Competition. Google has made lots of enemies. It is destroying the pop-up ad business and shifting ad revenue to paid search, of which it is the leader. MSN, AOL, Yahoo and other sites are getting bypassed and deconstructed by Googling users that don’t need the walled gardens of portals to ensure content relevancy. The control freaks of Redmond do not like it when anyone starts bypassing their monopoly or slapping toolbars on top of their operating systems and browsers. Microsoft loves complex software like search. Remember, the company started in the languages business. Taking down Google with better search is in its strike zone–this is a business it understands, unlike game consoles or TV.

Factor two: no barriers to entry. What was the search engine you used before Google? (Mine was AltaVista.) How long did it take you to switch to Google? Seconds. How long will it take to switch out of Google? Seconds. All great businesses are built on a monopoly. The Internet monopoly often hinges on high customer switching costs (online banking, Amazon one-click buyers, eBay). Google has no natural monopoly–there are no walls protecting Google’s market position.

Factor three: The Web is changing. Google is a step in the long march to better search. Yes, Google’s scheme yields fantastic results. But the Web is inexorably dynamic. During the next five years, it will move from containing primarily file-based content (HTML pages) to containing more executable content (e.g., online gaming or new structure imposed by Web services such as XML). When that happens, the usefulness of link-based search will wane. Simply stated, Google is very much of the times, with no advantage in the more structured, executable Internet that lies ahead.

Is Google’s search good? Yes. Is the company worth tens of billions? No.

Disney’s Use of Blogs and Wikis

Getting people to work together productively is one of the challenges that organisations face. The emerging catgeory of social software promises to help. Ross Mayfield blogs a presentation by Mike Pusateri, Elisabeth Freeman and Eric Freeman on Disney’s experiences and learnings in using blogs and wikis:

– RSS feeds and Weblog software are useful for multitude of business need where information flow is critical. Its not about opinion its about information flow
– RSS feeds are for much more than weblog sndication
– Use of RSS feeds is inexpensive comparatively
– RSS aggregation into Outlook integration was critical.
– Client side aggregation needs to move toward server side aggregation
– Need for authentication is immediate