BRIC Report

Indra Sharma summarises key points from the latest BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) report by Goldman Sachs [2003 report]:

The share of the four nations in world growth could double from 20% in 2003 to 40% in 2025. Industrialisation in India and China could push the world growth rate to above 4% over the next few years.

By 2025, BRIC could have over 200 million people with incomes of over $ 15,000.

In global oil, China’s contribution would remain high but is likely to peak in 5-10 years and would decline steadily thereafter.

In oil, India’s impact will become more important and its contribution to global demand growth could overtake China’s in 15 years. India’s share of actual oil demand could nearly double and gradually converge on China’s by 2025. China and India together will then account for almost one-third of the global oil demand.

India’s growth in car ownership is expected to be slower than China’s over the next few years. While India has the potential for a three-fold increase in car ownership over the next 10 years, China can achieve the same in the next three years.
In India, the middle class is expected to increase 14 times in the next 10 years, compared to 10 times in China.

TV and Search Will Merge

John Battelle looks ahead:

Compared to the unpredictable and untraceable value of a magazine ad or television spot, search looks pretty damn compelling. But at the end of the day, three lines of text sitting next to a set of results is a pretty meager way to declare your brand or inform a consumer about your new products or services. Clearly, there is room for both kinds of advertising intent-based (search), and content-based (TV). But what if the two were to merge?

Before you dismiss the idea as mere speculation, let me lay out a scenario in which such a beast exists. First, imagine that a majority of households have a digital video recorder of one kind or another (such an event is predicted to occur by the year 2009, according to Forrestor). Further, imagine that this DVR has a search history of everything youve watched and are planning to watch (this is already done by most DVRs). Further still, imagine that this history is with your tacit approval – blended with an edited profile of your online searching habits, forging a marketing precise of your likes and dislikes, your wants and needs (doing this is a matter of a marketing deal between DVR providers and search engines). Perhaps you use Google Desktop Search, or A9, or Ask, or Yahoo – it matters little, all of them create a search history already.

Making A Better Open Source CMS

Jeffrey Veen offers many suggestions. “a content management system should be designed to empower writers and editors to do content creation and maintenance themselves. I’d like to see it take a step further: empower designers, information architects, and site owners with the ability to make the CMS work for them.”

The Myth of the One True Device

Jon Udell writes:

I know that being tethered to a high-powered general-purpose computer is not the normal human condition, and never will be. Phones really are becoming the ubiquitous common denominator. I foresaw the decline of the PDA, and opted to skip them. It always seemed to me that when many functions collapsed into one handheld device — including communication, music, photography, personal information management, and digital identity — that device would be, first and foremost, a phone. Now that smart phones are becoming more credible, I’m quite keen to use them. And as an infoware developer, I’m always interested in reaching the widest possible audience. Even if I didn’t want to use mobile devices myself (and I do), I’d have to respect the installed base.

Pervasive connectivity and ubiquitous computing don’t depend on the device you tote in your briefcase or clip to your belt. Or anyway, they shouldn’t. The environments we visit, as well as the ones we live and work in, could provide for our communication and computational needs. Service portability would, in many cases, trump device portability.

The ultimate freedom, to me, would be the freedom not to have to tote my TiBook everywhere, because I’d know its generic equivalent would be waiting for me in all of these places. Identify to the device; flow your preferences and data and applications to it; use it for a while; wipe the slate clean. To make this scenario real, we’ll need to completely decouple our software, preferences, and data from hardware. As well we should. That way, when your laptop is lost, stolen, or broken, you need not suffer a stroke.

What we need is a network “commPuter” – which offers both communications and computing via a centralised grid.

The Future is Mobile

Russell Beattie writes:

In just a couple of years, every single person who works in technology is going to be doing something related to mobile phones. Every single programmer, DBA, manager and tester is going to be dealing mobile data services in one form or another. You can sit back and resist change and come up with excuses on why you don’t want to accept and learn about the new world of mobility or you can get on the bandwagon as we head off into the future. It’s your choice. But you can’t just sit on your hands and wait for mobile technology to come around and look like stuff you already know, because it’s not going to happen.

Mobile phones are profoundly new devices which are going to affect the lives of *billions* of people around the world – starting *yesterday*. People who’ve never seen a computer, watched TV or even owned a telephone will have a mobile phone of their own, connected to the rest of the world for the first time. Those of us already knee deep in the information age will be able to better manage the information around us and be better connected with our friends and our family. We’ll never be without information when we need it or entertainment when we want it. We’ll never get lost again. We’ll never be disconnected (in a good way – every phone has an “off” button).

Mobility is going to change life as we know it – in some places it has already shaped world events and changed history. The ubiquity of the technology is the key to all of this and the lowly mobile phone is the shape of the box in which all of this possibility is kept in. It’s not the computer or the laptop or the PDA, and it’s not WiFi or WiMax, it’s the modern mobile phone.

Confronting Reality

I just bought Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan’s new book “Confronting Reality.” 800CEOREAD Blog has interviews [1 2] with the authors. Excerpts:

Charan: we have significant change underway. There are periods, such as now, where you have unidirectional change. Everything is changing. Starting in March 2000 when the Federal Reserve began to change high interest rates, combined with the dotcom era and other key factures you are seeing a stretch period starting then and now with a different kind of a change. And business leaders have to anticipate and perceive the nature of this change, and then either take advantage of this dynamic or adapt to it. We are trying to stimulate this fundamental skill in every manager. In the past you had most people just saying that change is everywhere. This was largely exhortations on their part. In our book we take you through the nature of change in a granular way and give you hooks to dissect this change. We dont just say that significant change is upon us. We tell you what needs to be done about itand that is to confront reality,

Confronting reality means recognizing new opportunities or an extreme threat to the business you are in. One such opportunity is iPod. The music industry faced issues such as piracy. And Steve Jobs took a hard look at this and created an industry from it. Another extreme involves the company Thomson, which realized that its core business, the paper industry, was less attractive than it had been in the past, and so it sold out at the peak of the market. This enabled the company to transform itself and in the process double sales and growth.

Bossidy: I dont think this book is about change. The principle message is to try to take a realistic standing of where you are. We provide a business model, which, if applied correctly, gives people a standing of where they are as a business. Look at the business envirronment, the people, the strategy. If you are honest in assessing these characteristics you can get a pretty good handle on where you areand understand whether you have to change or not. There are many people who change simply for the sake of change. We argue that it is as important to not change as it is to change. Developing this realistic assessment of where you are gives you choices and options.

Bossidy: There seems to be a certain type of person who is more suited to confront reality. They have courage, can contain their ego, be capable of dealing with failure, and are willing to grow themselves and change. People who have been successful with one model and insists on staying with the same model will not be successful in the next decade. The trick is to stick to the same principles and values while changing strategies and operations according to the demands of different business environment. You must be adaptable and light on your feet. Those who are defensive and internally protective will have the most trouble in the next decade. internally will have the most troubles in the next decadewill have the most trouble.

TECH TALK: My Life as an Entrepreneur: Part 2

How did you get into the business that you’re in? First explain what your business is.

I will answer this in two parts. The first part will deal with IndiaWorld, and the second with Netcore.

IndiaWorld emerged out of my earlier failures. Because none of my previous business ideas worked, I had to look for something else. From my readings in 1994 , I realized that the Internet was something fascinating and the potential to bridge distances and make geographical barriers. I combined this with the difficulty I had in getting access to India-related information when I was in the US. So, I thought that the Internet would be a great way to bridge this gap. [I wrote about the early days of IndiaWorld in a series of articles in 1997: 1 2 3 4]

Netcores Emergic vision came about from my determination to take the Internet to 100 million Indians. I wrote about this vision first in late 2000. Since then, the ideas have evolved substantially to where they are now combining thin clients (network computers), a centralised computing platform (grid), leveraging open-source software and aggregating available content, and making it all available to users for an affordable monthly fee. I firmly believe that building out a digital infrastructure is the only way countries like India can address the challenges that they face in educating their youth, removing pain points in government-to-citizen interactions, building real-time enterprises and thus removing inefficiencies in supply chains, and creating an entertainment platform for the growing middle-class. The solutions for this will not come from the existing IT companies who have a legacy infrastructure to protect, but have to be created bottom-up by entrepreneurs with a good understanding both of technology and the realities of the local market.

So, IndiaWorld was built on the early failures and setbacks that I encountered, while Netcore is being built based on a long-term vision about ensuring the availability of a connected computer to every family, employee and student in emerging markets like India.

How did you set your business up? What type of business is it? From your website it seems as if you are located out of India. How does one go about setting up a business in India?

I set up IndiaWorld with funds saved during my employment in the US some part of it was lost because the first 2.5 years I couldnt do much right! My family also helped in bootstrapping the venture with some additional funds. My father had an office, so I started working from a room there. Netcore was much easier I am currently investing in the business from the money that I got from the sale of IndiaWorld. Interestingly, in IndiaWorld, I did talk to VCs through the five years that I ran the business, but for various reasons, I could not get an investment from any of them.

Setting up a business in India is much easier than it was a decade earlier. It helped that my father was an entrepreneur. He took care of a lot of the administrative procedures (of which there are many), and so I was left free to focus on the business. There are various approvals needed for setting up a business, but these can now be easily outsourced to professional agencies. So, I would say that setting up a business is not very difficult in India. What is harder is deciding what to do!

Tomorrow: Part 3

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