TECH TALK: Envisioning Tomorrows World: SMEs

For small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the coming world of teleputers, Ubinet and M-Web can help in making computing technology a utility that can help automate their businesses much faster. Today, SMEs in emerging markets have a low adoption of computers. As a result, many of their business processes are still manual and paper-oriented. This needs to change. It is not just about buying more computers. Rather, it is using computing as a utility to ensure that information is digitised at the source, and business processes and workflows become electronic.

A number of innovations taken together can make this happen. Teleputers connected to docking stations each with a keyboard, monitor and mouse can provide the big input-output capability that information workers need. The M-Web can be home to software-as-a-service applications much like what Salesforce.com is offering but at a magnitude lower price point. When an information worker is away from the desk, the teleputer doubles as a mobile phone making possible access to the required information via the Ubinet. Open-source software can be aggregated together to put together a range of industry-specific applications on the server-side. A monthly pricing model can make it affordable for businesses to make it available to every person in the organisation.

Another platform which could be useful for SMEs is an SME Trade Information Marketplace (STIM) which can help SMEs generate new business opportunities. Think of STIM as a yellow pages on steroids built around the publish-subscribe model. SMEs can post what they want to buy and sell. A matching engine can then provide them with alerts as the new updates come in. This can help enlarge the leads that SMEs need to grow their business.

Endnote

Many of the ideas discussed here are likely to come to fruition within the next couple of years. Indian entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to build out businesses in these blue oceans leveraging the technological innovations that are occurring. Investors need to think of putting an ecosystem of companies together to build out this digital infrastructure. Indian companies have the advantage of a large domestic market which they can target first and then expand to other emerging markets. What is needed is a mix of vision and will to make tomorrows world a reality.

Continue reading TECH TALK: Envisioning Tomorrows World: SMEs

Time-savers

[via Atanu] Julie Mogenstern gives some tips:

Shorten your workday. If 10 hours isnt enough, try nine-and-a-half. Losing 30 minutes of work time each day makes you organize your time better. No longer will you tolerate interruptions… make personal phone calls from the office… or chat around the water cooler. Your pace will pick up, your focus will sharpen, and youll soon find that youre getting more done despite the shorter workday.

Dont look at E-mail first thing. Instead, use the morning to focus on your most important tasks. Most peoples minds are sharpest in the morning, and completing important responsibilities before lunch creates a sense of relief and accomplishment that can carry you through the afternoon.

Search Report

Piper Jaffrey has released a new report:

[The] report titled, “The User Revolution,” discussing the new advertising ecosystem and the rise of the Internet as a mass medium. In the report, the team outlines its expectations that global online advertising revenue will reach $81.1 billion by 2011, representing a 21 percent compound-annual-growth-rate (2006-2011).

The report defines user revolution as a major trend that is happening primarily with consumers, who are taking control of content consumption and branding. “The historically passive consumer is changing rapidly, not only becoming more informed and confident about purchase decisions, but also increasingly taking control of the consumption of information and content that used to be distributed by networks, studios, publishers and retailers,” said Safa Rashtchy, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray. “We believe this will cause a significant rise in prominence of the Internet as a major content consumption and marketing medium.”

Indian Economy

India Knowledge@Wharton writes about the views of two economists on what could derail the ‘India Express’:

Shanta Devarajan, who serves as chief economist for the World Bank’s South Asia region, takes issue with the popular notion that there simply isn’t enough infrastructure — power, water, transportation networks, etc. — to sustain India’s robust economic growth rate of more than 8.6%.

“All this talk about infrastructure is missing the point,” Devarajan insisted. In many cases, the problem lies in mismanagement of the existing infrastructure, which gets gummed up in patronage politics. For example, he said, the “free” provision of water means that little money exists for maintenance or upgrades that could supply water around the clock. Clean, ubiquitous water on demand, meanwhile, is one of the marks of a fully developed country. Such well-developed infrastructure makes a country more attractive to foreign investment.

Arvind Subramanian, a division chief for the IMF’s Research Department, thinks that people need to adopt a more nuanced view of government’s role. He lamented the popular notion of “private sector ingenuity and public sector ineptitude” as an oversimplification. India’s blistering economic growth, which took root in earnest during the 1980s, actually owes much to having serviceable, if imperfect institutions, and to considerable reform within them, he said.

Searching in Malls

The New York Times writes:

Search engines made it easy to find items at online stores. Now the Internet is poised to solve a more vexing problem: finding items while you are at the mall.

Technology companies like NearbyNow of Los Altos, Calif., and GPShopper in New York have introduced mobile Internet applications that allow shoppers to use their cellphones and PDAs to search the inventory and prices at the local mall, save them wasted steps and, sometimes, turn up last-minute bargains and promotions.

Virtualisation Effect

WSJ writes:

Computer users are…cutting the cost of buying and maintaining servers and reducing energy bills needed to keep them running. But the trend — exploiting software that uses a technique called “virtualization” — could be starting to take a toll on computer makers.

There was a surprising slowdown in unit sales of x86 servers in the fourth quarter, according to two prominent research firms, Gartner Inc. and IDC. For example, IDC found that sales grew just 1.1% to 1.85 million units, compared with 8.8% growth in the third quarter. That is the worst performance for the market segment since the dot-com bust, and IDC analyst Matt Eastwood lays the blame largely on virtualization.

“It’s a fact,” agrees Thomas Bittman, a Gartner analyst. Though companies will still buy servers, virtualization “is absolutely going to have a slowing effect” on server sales.

TECH TALK: Envisioning Tomorrows World: Imagine

The big opportunities in tomorrows world lie in creating solutions to alleviate daily inconveniences in urban India and to increase incomes in rural India. The PC Internet is limited by various factors low installed base of PCs, poor broadband penetration and access that is for the majority of the audience limited to cybercafes. By contrast, a world built around teleputers, the Ubinet and the M-Web can create new opportunities.

Imagine the nearby kirana store lets call it Ajay Kirana. It can now publish regular updates on deals and even unsold perishable items. My mother may want to subscribe to Ajay Kiranas updates on her teleputer. She can then decide once she gets the update if she wants to get the bread at half-price. Or, imagine a toy company providing regular updates to new parents on what are the best toys to buy along with parenting tips. This does not have to be limited to text it can come with rich media attachments. Imagine a TV broadcaster sending out updates at 8:30 pm providing a small preview of the 9 pm soap opera my wife would love a service like that!

Small book publishers could build relationships by sending out regular updates of new books to subscribers, and even take orders and payments via the teleputer. For those who would like to listen, there could be audio serials sent out daily. Imagine getting a small abstract from religious scriptures to begin ones day.

In rural India, the teleputer can be the instrument for person-to-person classifieds. People could publish what they would like to buy or sell via their teleputer (which could either be owned by them or be shared device). Subscribers from nearby villagers could then be alerted if their needs match what has been put up.

The multimedia-rich teleputer could also be used by job seekers for creating multimedia profiles of themselves. The same idea could be applied for those seeking marriage partners. In fact, small videos could also be made of cars and apartments for sale. Subscribers could then get much more than a simple text description.

There are many such innovative ideas which can come into play once the digital infrastructure has been created. Perhaps, the biggest opportunities lie in rethinking education and healthcare around a school-in-a-box concept (as put forth by Atanu Dey) and personal healthcare records, respectively.

Tomorrow: SMEs

Continue reading TECH TALK: Envisioning Tomorrows World: Imagine

Technology Addiction

BBC News writes:

The seemingly exponential growth of portable technology has sparked fears that people are becoming addicted or swamped by gadgets and their uses.

One major consequence of this phenomenon is that the line between work and private life is much more blurred, now that e-mail and phones provide a 24-hour link between employers and staff.

Experts believe that even the decision-making process of the average person can be adversely affected.

However, others think that the bombardment of various communications can enhance the brain’s ability to process information.

Mobile Gaming

WSJ writes:

According to Juniper Research, the mobile-gaming market is likely to increase from about $3 billion today to nearly $17.6 billion by 2011. But despite that robust growth, the industry will need to overcome technical and pricing issues if it is ever to become a mass market.

“The mobile phone opens up markets that have never had a console gaming market, India and China being the two biggest prizes. So there’s a big opportunity there to target a whole new audience,” said Chris Coffman, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media. “There are plenty of risks there, too — price points for the games need to be low, and there is the danger of piracy.”

Social Networking Next Phase

The New York Times writes:

[There is] a significant shift in the way companies and entrepreneurs are thinking about social networks.

They look at MySpace and Facebook, with their tens of millions of users, as walled-off destinations, similar to first-generation online services like America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy. These big Web sites attract masses of people who have dissimilar interests and, ultimately, little in common.

The new social networking players, which include Cisco and a multitude of start-ups like Ning, the latest venture of the Netscape co-creator Marc Andreessen, say that social networks will soon be as ubiquitous as regular Web sites. They are aiming to create tools to let ordinary people, large companies and even presidential candidates create social Web sites tailored for their own customers, friends, fans and employees.