TIME 100

[via Sadagopan] TIME lists 100 people who are shaping our world. Two Indians in the list: Nandan Nilekani and Vikram Akula. More on Vikram Akula:

Vikram Akula is using advanced technologysmart cardsto make venture capital available to more of the 800 million people in India who live on less than $2 a day. In the hinterland, where there are few landlines, let alone ATMs, the founder of SKS Microfinance is starting to dispense loans, typically $116, on smart cards, which its loan officers had been using to record repayments electronically. The plastic approach intrigued Visa International, which is now pairing SKS with cell phone-based card readers. The cash-free system is more efficient and safer too. As Visa’s emerging-markets chief, Debbie Arnold, put it, a cash-laden loan officer “might as well carry a big bull’s-eye on his back.” Akula, 37, has already made SKS one of the fastest-growing microlenders, having dispensed $52 million to 221,000 clients since 1998. SKS keeps its default rate below 2% by using software that provides real-time data. When he spots a red flag, he says, “we’re on it like a swat team.” Such transparency has attracted Silicon Valley types, with David Schappell of Unitus, a nonprofit venture-capital firm devoted to microfinance, likening SKS to the little coffee shop that became Starbucks.

Internet TV

Robert Young writes:

In my view, the big reason why its so difficult for programmers to pick potential winners is due to the inefficiency and limitations of the broadcast medium itself. Due to the scarcity of prime time slots thats inherent in the linear programming format, programmers are forced to choose a very small percentage of available projects/shows. So for every project that gets the green light, there are countless others that didnt make the cut. And the probability that potential winners were rejected is very high. As Mark points out himself, some of todays top rated shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives and American Idol almost didnt make it on the air. But what if programmers didnt have to take such high risks and they didnt have to choose that one from a pool of a hundred or a thousand. So instead of making that one big bet, what if they took the same development dollars and spread it out amongst a number of different projects. This is precisely what Internet TV will allow them to do something they really couldnt do effectively and efficiently on broadcast TV.


Dave Pollard writes:

There is a reason why people like conferences with a lot of unscheduled time between sessions, and why the hallway discussions are frequently more animated than the discussions in the conference rooms. Some people believe it’s because the quality of speakers is inadequate (specifically because they lack the ability to make complex, important subjects understandable and interesting), but I’m inclined to believe it’s more because most people get more value out of one-on-one and small-group conversations with both peers and experts, where they get to discuss the issues and get answers in the context of their particular situation. This is the same reason that students often get much more value out of personal coaching than they do from listening to lectures.

At one extreme, Unconferences can be totally unscheduled meetups, with no set topics (just an umbrella theme), self-organized in real time using Open Space or some similar technique. You spend the time talking about the issues you want to talk about with others who want to talk about the same issues. Everyone is an equal participant, and everyone needs to take the responsibility to prepare for the sessions by pre-reading and thinking in advance about the subjects.

Mobile Content in India

[via ContentSutra] Red Herring writes:

Indias wireless-game market will generate annual revenues of $336 million by 2009, according to projections from Delhi-based Nasscom, the India software industry body, and U.S. research firm InStat/MDR.

Short messaging service (SMS) tends to dwarf all comers in the value-added services, accounting for 80 percent of Indias VAS market. Next comes ring tone downloads, followed by games. Alok Shende, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan, reckons a 6 to 8 percent VAS share for games is about the norm. Even in Korea, VAS accounts for just 16 percent of a mobile operators total revenues. Of this, games take up about 10 percent, he says.

Its a nice story so far, but Pyramid analyst Nick Holland points out that there are obstacles to growth: a third of Indian mobile users, for instance, remain cut off from serious gaming for lack of decent handsets like Java-enabled phones that support games.


InfoWorld has a special report. “Mobile broadband lets you log on through one account, anywhere, at Wi-Fi speeds. Is the hotspot era over?”

TECH TALK: Blue Ocean Strategy: Thinking Shift

While researching on blue ocean strategy, I came across an interview given by one of the authors, W. Chan Kim, to the Jakarta Post. Though the context is about Indonesia, much of what is Prof. Kim says is applicable to us in India also.

First, never try to imitate anybody, because as long as you benchmark with somebody, at the best you will be like them. Meanwhile, the person you benchmark is ahead of you. You will never close the gap.

My second suggestion is that rather than focusing energy on the red ocean, focus your energy on the blue ocean, on the positive and creative. Pay attention to what they are doing, and how they are doing it differently. You need to focus on positive moves not only in terms of focusing energy and emotions.

Third, you start to educate and train them in this knowledge, how to do it. For instance what is the blue ocean. How to create a blue ocean strategy? So they understand the fundamentals, they understand the differences. You create intellectual debates among people.

You should start from somewhere else, you cannot expect everybody to be aware. So you plant the seed to grow. What I understood from my meeting with the businessmen, there is a really hidden energy out there and as I said from the beginning, they are growing better, because there is the energy of business. There are many people who really think they should go to win in the market place, not based on political favor but based on economic strategy. Obviously, there are a lot of things to improve, a lot of political things to clean up. There are a lot of things to focus on.

The Blue Ocean strategy is about the conversation. The entire process in the blue ocean strategy is not about the answer to the issue, but it is about the process of solving the problems. It means that people need engaging conversations to produce a creative blue ocean. When you develop strategy, it means you need an architectural process to follow.

Blue Ocean means having conversations. It is a process of learning, how politicians are having conversations with the people, how the private sector is having a conversation with the public sector, how employees can have a conversation with the employers.

In India, entrepreneurs need to focus on creating blue ocean strategies. As incomes grow in India, there are numerous opportunities that are emerging. Take up any vertical, and one can start thinking about how it could be different given the emergence and availability of technology. For example, in the music industry, aggregate revenues from mobile phones (via ringtones and ringback tones) are now larger than the actual spend on cassettes and CDs. The mobile industry is a blue ocean for the music business. How can this same thinking be taken to other verticals? Therein lie tomorrows opportunities.

Tomorrow: Two Large Blue Oceans

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