Business & Entrepreneurship · Technology

What is it about user doing everything?

So there was a time when it was grocer’s job to service you, to suggest you which brands to try, to deliver stuff at your home if you are a long time patron of the shop etc. etc. And then came self-service stores.

There was a time when going to a feast or a meal invitation means being serviced by people, being pressed to taste this and that. And then there were buffets.

There was a time when there were good reporters, good editors and we used to read content having their kind of flavour. And then there was Web 2.0 and the “all powerful user” and universality of “user generated content” and digg.coms.

I am happy about the first two. I do not feel going ga-ga over the last one. There can never be so many items in a store or so many dishes in a lunch/dinner that I can not make my choices. And in any case I can try things out and then take my decision. Not so in case of information. I can use a soap, taste a dish and decide whether I want it again or not. Not so with information. There is no “repeat use” of information. You have invested time in reading it and that is it. I would like to get something that is good and I do not always have competency to know what is good. So, I want somebody to do that job of selecting things and issues for me. The job that good reporters and good editors used to do (hopefully still do).

But of course, there are topics about which I may be knowing quite a bit. In such cases I would like to have more and more information and then judge on what to keep in my mind and what to forget. In such cases I do not need good reporters, rather lot of information which I can filter out for myself. But even in such cases I would like to read from focussed sources, which talk about the specific topic.

This is how I would like to summarize my take on the recent debate emerging from comparisons like “Slashdot vs Digg“. I would prefer reading Slashdot because as of now there is nothing there in which I have an expertise and would like to delve deeper in to. When due to unfiltered user submitted content the amount of content is too high, unfocussed sites become kind of useless. I still scan through Digg just in case I land up on something useful and there have been times when this has happened. But I would not spend time in seriously reading Digg. If someday I decide to dig deep into some topic, I would look for more focussed sources of information. Or may be use something like Google Alerts.

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Business & Entrepreneurship

Postoffices and retailing

Now, you’ll get your tea through post!

The above was an interesting piece of news. Assam tea to be sold through post-office network. There are several reasons for which I like the idea –

  1. The brand “Assam tea” gets popularity and reach.
  2. The end-consumers have a less expensive way to get the genuine product. Even when you actually visit the place, unless you are an expert you really do not know what is it that you are getting sold in the name of a prodcut from that particular reason.
  3. The huge postoffice reach and infrastructure is finding a good use. This concept should be taken further. As we are living in the age of privatization and liberalization, it is likely that several old institutions would become obsolete. However, many of them have built good reach and infrastructure over the years. Productive new usage for them should be found for the benefit of the economy…

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Business & Entrepreneurship

Intel

As a B-School student one can not be “not-aware” of the famous “Intel Inside” campaign and strategy. As they put it, it made people to think what was inside their computer. However, in my last trip back home I was forced to think over the kind of damages it can do (proably it did not do so in case of Intel, but the potential). Was talking with my brother about the computerization in the branch of SBI where he is posted. He was ranting badly about the dysfunctinoal nature of the computers provided – “Sometimes, they would not start at all, sometimes the programs would not run, sometimes the Internet does not work etc. etc.” And then came the expression which I did not how to react to – “And all this despite the fact that they have Intel!! All the PCs have Intel Inside written on them!!

Well you know, you have to be careful about whom you want to understand what is there inside your computer 🙂

A related news that I get now is that Intel is now trying to change its well-established tagline of “Intel Inside“. No, no – I do not claim that it is for any such reasons as I have figured out :)). They are revamping it becuase they do not want their brands to be identified just with microprocessors when they are present in other important segments too. Now, that’s risky – isn’t it? If you are assoicated with too many things, something like above is more likely to happen. But apparently it has been after extensive market research. Let’s put that to test.

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Business & Entrepreneurship · Thoughts

मुझे लगना है बस मुझ जैसा

I could not help notice two advertisements on this trip back home. One was for No-Marks cream and the other for Afterbath Cream. Pardon me if you think I have seen it too late, but its only when I am at home that I watch television – hence the timing.

First one disappointed me. It appears that nothing can beat the craze for fairness out here.No-Marks अब double role में – दाग-धब्बे हटाए और गोरा बनाए (I do not claim that I remember the words exactly – but this was the gist). So – no – you can not sell unless you make people गोरा and hence marriagable!!

Afterbath cream seems to have taken a bold step – “ना गोरी, ना साँवली, ना श्याम, ना श्वेत……. मुझे लगना है बस मुझ जैसा”. I would love to see it succeed over the get fair – get married theme. But is that likely to happen yet? 😦

Translations

  • No-Marks अब double role में – दाग-धब्बे हटाए और गोरा बनाए = No-Marks now in double role – Removes marks as well as makes you fair.
  • ना गोरी, ना साँवली, ना श्याम, ना श्वेत = Neither fair, nor …., nor black, nor white
  • मुझे लगना है बस मुझ जैसा = I just want to appear like myself

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Business & Entrepreneurship · Technology

Threats and Products

Some of you may have noticed that a rather inactive blog has made its way to the blogroll of this blog again. Yes, yes the last one on the list called “Blogroll People”.

I declare openly that I was technologically blackmailed into doing that 😀 What does that mean you ask? You – technologically illliterate! Got no time to explain really.

Anyway, more importantly why he is included here is that any hate mails after trying what I am going to write about currently should be directed to him. In any case, there should be a feedback link somewhere on the relevant site, which you can use. But what I mean is that I take no moral/ethical/legal/whatever else responsibility. 🙂

But then I am blogging because I sort of liked the idea of Krawler – oops no – Krawler[x]. 🙂 Before getting into the product, it was kind of interesting to see that while everyone else is betting on taking everything online (Windows Live and Google+Sun Office Suite and what else not!), they are trying to bring something that has been there online on to the Desktop. The social collaboration network!! Right – it sits right there on your desktop. No logging on to the Orkut and “Not Donut for you” messages 😀

What I have said here is just a general concept. The potential usage are many. One I can think of immediately in the context of IIML is replacing the claroline based course management system. The maintenance of server appears to be hell of a problem and almost always there will be a last moment fight of getting the relevant PPTs and other files during the exams. Lo! Claroline is down!! This Software has a module to support similar functionalities and once a course is shared, eveyone subscribing to it becomes a source of the files. So, long as there is even one node alive on the network someone needing it should be able to get it. Yeah – right! The usual P2P funda. But customized in a way that is going to be useful.

And then there are the features implied by the descriptor “Social Collaboration Network” too. There are several levels of groups you can form, content-sharing can be done, has an in-built messenger etc. etc. Before I bore you enough, why do you not just download it and see if there is something useful there… Right – its free.

Also, I have not been able to explore it fully. So, can not give an exhaustive description right now.

Before I end, let me remind. I take no responsibilities whatsoever for any damage caused. Even if you are too impatient to give feedaback, you know why the link has been added in the blogroll. 😀

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Business & Entrepreneurship · Thoughts

Quality, and not just quantity

Ensuring India’s offshoring future

The above article from McKinsey Quarterly brings out the issues that have importance beyond what the narrow scope of the title of the article suggests. My favourite being the quality of education and educated that we produce. Long back I had touched upon this after returning from IITK once. The idea of islandish institutes like IITs and IIMs vs. the university system.

Even if it can not be solely called the fault of the islandish system that University system has almost broken down in India, they have their share all the same. Somehow the deserved attention has not been given to the universities. And that means, while we have the gap between educated and uneducated, we further have a huge gap between elitely educated and not-so-elitely educated. Okay, some amount of gap will always be there. There will always be more aspired-for and more respected places. But we have to agree that the education-class-division is too much in India and it’s not just a matter of perception. The facilities, the quality, the sincerity of people involved, all vary, and vary substantially. Talk of a discipline like engineering and you know the range of institutions that exist and their quality. Compare a discipline like engineering with one like humanities and differences become all the more glaring. If we need to grow fast, if we need to do something about equality of opportunity and if we need to use our much touted Human Assets for achieving all this, this is an area that can not be neglected. To quote some figure from the same article –

HR managers at MNCs will consider employing only 10-25% of country’s graduates… The proportion of suitable graduates also varies by field of study: just 10 percent of the Indian students with generalist degrees in the arts and humanities are suitable, for example, compared with 25 percent of all Indian engineering graduates. (Italics added)

What will happen to the rest? (Somebody may emphasize the MNC effect there – but it is still an indication of the situation, isn’t it?)

I am only pointing out a problem here. I do not have an overnight solution, but would talk about the issue later anyway.

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Business & Entrepreneurship

MBA problems…

I have decided to change the date of this post whenever I update it, so that it comes to the top. However, for the information of the posterity, this post was first made on December 1, 2005 at 9.28 PM IST :-D. The additions are at the end of the list.

Probably all we do in an MBA programme is “learn” some jargons and tools (other than preparing CVs of course – the season starts tomorrow!)

But it”s astonishing to see how little people understand of even these jargons and tools at the end of the programme. That motivates this post. I am no Guru, and it is likely that if you persist deeper into these, you will stump me. But still I dare :-D. It”s unlikely that I will recall too many things at one go. So, we will see how to update it. And please do not feel offended if I mention things which seem too trivial to you. People actually mis-understand them!

  • Being a small player does not mean one is niche player. Niche is defind by very specific needs of a certain set of consumers, and not simply by the size. If the size of the segment is too big, more companies can cater to it; so it probably won”t be considered a niche. But a small customer base, by itself, is not a niche segment. Existence of a niche segment is driven by the market realities and not by how large (small) a customer base the company is serving.
  • Regression and Correlation do not prove causality! Simply no! They only say whether the variables are moving together or not; and not whether they are causing each other or not.
  • 30 is not a sample size for statistical significance (whatever that statement means). Only thing is certain statistical tests give reliable result only above a sample size of 30. It does not mean that if you have taken a sample size of 30, it is a *large* sample. Go large. Larger the sample, more realiable the results. Nothing stops you at 30…
  • Segments can not be assumed to exist just because there are two kinds of products in the market. Segments are defined by consumer characteristis and not company”s whim to introduce products.
  • Opportunity & Strengths in SWOT analysis are not the same. Nor are Weaknesses & Threats the same. Things can not be put arbitrarily in those heads. Opportunities and Threats are external to the firm, Strengths and Weaknesses are internal.
  • Significance tests are not carried out on census data. That”s simply meaningless. Significance test is meant for sample data. (Carrying out significance test on census data was a joke cracked during a guest lecture at which nobody in the class laughed! 😦 The speaker had to say “It”s a joke!!”)
  • You can not go on using the same questions for psychographics in all your surveys! I would not be surprised if the psychographic questions used in all the surveys today was designed some 5 years back for a completely different purpose. For each study you have to decide if psychographics are important at all and if so what psyhcographic variables should you measure. Then you could develop your own scale. There would be ways to validate it. But most likely you would use one of the scales already used and validated by someone else. For the information of IIML students, there is a book in the library called Marketing Scales (something like that), which gives an extensive list of scales that have been reported in various studies.

More later…