Posts filed under 'Cloud Computing'

Social Collaboration Platforms

Social Collaboration Platforms

Social Collaboration Platforms

Organizations increasingly want their workers to perform faster, smarter and be more productive. In order to achieve this goal, collaborative technologies are picking up across the world in large organisations and slowly in smaller companies too. This helps in transforming the way organizations turn knowledge into actions. Social collaboration platforms are vital as they create new ways for employees to work faster and smarter while increasing productivity.

Collaborative technologies aren’t new and have been around for some time, running since a long time and there is a competition like Olympic but there is no gold, only silvers. In order to transform truly and increase productivity, the organizations first need to combine collaborative technologies with business processes. There are proven results when the work is done in this manner. Secondly, organizations need to design the collaborative behaviors that foster quick results. We should encourage the utilization of collaborative tools. But, simply having the collaborative tools for the organization is not enough. Last but not the least; we need to unleash full power of the talent available in any organization.

A type of business software that joins broad social networking aptness to work processes is called a social collaboration platform. The paramount objective of collaboration software is to enable the employees to share information and resolve business complications more efficaciously. The purveyors take a different approach in order to build social collaborative platforms. It can be built either by joining a social layer to bequest business application or by embedding collaboration tools into fresh artifacts.

There are some attributes that all successful social collaboration platforms share. These attributes are accessibility, integration, a common set of functions, issue tracking and messaging. A number of social collaboration platforms just look like Facebook and employees are accustomed to using in their private life. However, we should know that Facebook and Twitter are not the only social platforms available; there are other social tools also that are available for enterprise users.

It is to be noted here that as the companies are headed towards broad deployment from small pilots, critical success factors like a social collaboration policy needs to be defined besides selecting a long-term vendor.

Let’s discuss some of the features from some popular social collaboration platforms:

A Window into Your Enterprise

From tactical teamwork to enterprise collaboration – It gives access to real-time information from across teams and locations, all in one place.

Transforms Intranet into an Intelligent Workspace

It engages people across teams and geographies. It enables employees to work, share, find, discuss, manage, connect, create, collaborate and have fun. It helps companies move beyond the traditional intranet to an ecosystem that delivers results.

Idea Voting

Collaborative voting has been added to the existing Idea and Page Tracker widgets, facilitating collaboration between colleagues and resulting in better business ideas.

Multi-Language Support

Enables users to view and contribute content in multiple languages

Mentoring Assignments

New Mentoring functionality assigns experts or ‘Mentors’ and pairs them with employees or ‘Mentees’ to collaborate and complete a certain project, task, idea definition, leadership development goal, etc., empowering employees with greater skills and talent growth.

Capture, Retain & Access Knowledge

It enables storing of files centrally, working on documents, tracking comments and inviting feedback. You can browse the member directory to find co-workers. Meet the right experts and minimize the effort in searching for information that matters.

Content Creation

Web-based content creation tools enable teams to work together, creating pages that are available to everyone to contribute to and benefit from. With wiki pages, online spreadsheets and blogs, your valuable information is always updated and no longer locked away inside individual inboxes.

Access

Accessible any time from multiple platforms such as the web, mobile devices or your desktop client. No matter where you are, you’ll always be able to access your critical business content, and connect and share with your peers. Enable your employees to access information, contacts, stay in the loop on project status changes, and make necessary updates from anywhere, anytime.

What kind of platforms are you using for knowledge capture and sharing inside your company? Your inputs would be appreciated…

January 3rd, 2016

E-commerce : Definition & Its Types

E-commerce (eCommerce) or Electronic Commerce, a subset of ebusiness, is the purchasing, selling, and exchanging of goods and services over computer networks (such as the Internet) through which transactions or terms of sale are performed electronically. Contrary to popular belief, eCommerce is not just on the Web. In fact, eCommerce was alive and well in business to business transactions before the Web back in the 70s via EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) through VANs (Value-Added Networks). E-commerce can be broken into four main categories: B2B, B2C, C2B, and C2C.

1. B2B (Business-to-Business)
Companies doing business with each other such as manufacturers selling to distributors and wholesalers selling to retailers. Pricing is based on quantity of order and is often negotiable. The whole organization has to target other one rather than focusing on individual customers. Though the customer would be focused as the goods and commodity B2B has deal with, its going to be used by the end customer.

2. B2C (Business-to-Consumer)
Businesses selling to the general public typically through catalogs utilizing shopping cart software. By dollar volume, B2B takes the prize, however B2C is really what the average has in mind with regards to eCommerce as a whole. Having a hard time finding a book? Need to purchase a custom, high-end computer system? How about a first class, all-inclusive trip to a tropical island? With the advent eCommerce, all three things can be purchased literally in minutes without human interaction.

3. C2B (Consumer-to-Business)
A consumer posts his project with a set budget online and within hours companies review the consumer’s requirements and bid on the project. The consumer reviews the bids and selects the company that will complete the project. Elance empowers consumers around the world by providing the meeting ground and platform for such transactions.

4. C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer)
There are many sites offering free classifieds, auctions, and forums where individuals can buy and sell thanks to online payment systems like PayPal where people can send and receive money online with ease. eBay’s auction service is a great example of where person-to-person transactions take place everyday and now a days its growing in numbers. This business can also be treated as Marketplace, where users get online login in one web-portal itself and these users are nothing but one being buyer and another being the seller.

 

Companies using internal networks to offer their employees products and services online–not necessarily online on the Web–are engaging in B2E (Business-to-Employee) eCommerce.

G2G (Government-to-Government), G2E (Government-to-Employee), G2B (Government-to-Business), B2G (Business-to-Government), G2C (Government-to-Citizen), C2G (Citizen-to-Government) are other forms of eCommerce that involve transactions with the government–from procurement to filing taxes to business registrations to renewing licenses. There are other categories of eCommerce out there, but they tend to be superfluous.

July 12th, 2013

Uniware : A Unicommerce Application

What is Uniware ?

Uniware is SaaS application for end-to-end management of order fulfillment. It manages online procurement, warehousing, shipping, dropshipping, inventory and returns effectively at one place. Uniware requires no extra investment in hardware and no license to purchase, its pay per use basis. The architecture is very flexible and unlimited scalable as per the growing business model with Secure & Adaptable SSL, API data sharing.

Let’s walk through some major features of Uniware:-

1. Order Fulfillment

• Send order immediately to Uniware through API or upload orders through excel
• Automatically allocate inventory to orders
• Specify category specific fullfilment SLAs
• Prioritize orders based on category SLAs, courier pickup timings
• Generate pick tickets at multiple systems optimized for picker traversal path and bucket size
• Optional sku validation of item at invoicing
• Print invoice in line with taxation rules with CST and VAT preloaded into the system
• Print shipping labels according to the courier specifications and proper routing codes (again preloaded)
• Generate manifest and add packages to manifest on a scan
• View and track complete order history
• Handle partial / complete cancellation or Holding of order till dispatch

2. Alerts As Configured

Dashboards to keep managers updated about warehouse operations and enable them to take needed actions in time. Customized reports on sales, returns etc which can be scheduled on timely basis to track the performance of the company.

•Monitor real time progress of the warehouse operations, picking and fulfillment velocity
•Set SMS/Email alerts on critical orders, low AWBs, inventory expiry
•Schedule daily/weekly digests on sales, inventory, returns
•Notifications on every order status update

3. Procurement
•Enables procurement of same SKU from multiple vendors
•Automatic performance based and manual vendor rating system
•Role based access and complete Purchase Order (PO) life cycle management
•Set reordering levels configurable in multiple ways
•One click PO creation against back orders or reorder levels
•Reconcile invoices against GRNs and manage vendor payments

4. Controlling Inventory
•Automatically assign inventory to a location for put-away with manual override
•Store products in unique or multiple locations based on bin/inventory characteristics
•View all receipts or customize views by filtering on selected criteria
•Cross-dock facility for faster fulfillment of on-demand orders
•Inventory serialization (barcoding) support for uniquely identifying items right from sourcing to fulfillment and even returns

5. Shipping Tracking

•Integrated AWB assignment, tracking and COD reconciliation for all your shipping providers
•Supports shipment consolidation from same location to save shipping costs
•Automate shipping provider allocation on historical performance basis
•Configure ship-together and provider allocation rules based on custom item attributes

6.  Integration
Time to market is extremely critical in the competitive landscape that exists and therefore Uniware is pre-configured to an extent possible.Uniware has integration time of less than a week.

•Ready plugins for popular shopping platforms like Magento, Prestashop, Shopify and more
•Pre integrated shipping providers
•In built taxation category mappings for easier and faster configuration
•Easy csv upload/insertion APIs for vendors, catalog, SKUs etc

7.  Secure & Adaptable
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) ensures the flexibility needed in today’s environment to keep up with changing business demands. That’s why Uniware inventory, warehouse and shipping solutions are built using SOA framework making it easier to adapt to new requirements without costly and time consuming customization. Easy to use and consistent user experience leading to reduced training time and costs.

•Service Oriented Architectue
•SSL (https) data transfer security
•Horizontally scaling architecture to take up the load of millions of SKUs
•SaaS model, immediately available, no hassles of maintenance, free upgrades…
•Engaging and approachable graphical user interface (GUI)
•Easy APIs/JSON integration for every actions
•Ready plugins for popular shopping cart solution like magento, shopify, prestashop…

June 11th, 2013

A Fresher Should Have At Least One In Resume : Five Booming Tech Fields

After spending these many years in educating oneself, the one and only ultimate goal is to get a Job…! But how to get it and why most of them are not getting it? Is it the recession hindering or competition is tough? All these question’s answers point to one thing- Same Resume Content.

Recession and Competition inversely varies each other, balancing it is bit difficult. The thing that only matters is: How your resume stands different from others? A very simple answer lies in Tech & Skills part. That’s what you have to do, upgrade your Resume with one of these booming tech domains and see the difference. Let company approach you, you don’t have to approach them…..!

1 . Mobile OS – Trend has been changing so dramatically that now you won’t find silly Mobiles in everyone’s pocket, most of them are using Smartphones, Tablets, iPad, etc, and world is pivoting towards it. It’s all about Android, IOS, Windows, Blackberry, etc.  The functionality and graphics provided by these OS’s are simply awesome! Learn the tech, develop an App and launch it to the App Store and you are in the market and if you really bombard the market, one of the Mobile developing companies will hire you…..!

2 . E-commerce – Who cares to go to the shops and purchase a thing? Everyone wants to relax at home, view the product on site, compare it, place an order and they’ll deliver to your doorstep. That’s what E-commerce means and its growing and growing day by day. Learn various E-com technologies like, Magento, WordPress, Prestashop, etc,. Develop a basic E-commerce site for yourself and launch it or highlight in your resume about your knowledge or start a service base program with your friends where you can develop an E-commerce website for others.

3 . Social Media Marketing – Everyone is aware with Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc,; Most of them are aware with Marketing like sales, product, etc,;  But very few are aware with a thing called Social Media Marketing. This is the field where all companies are going for,  Marketing via Social Media in most inexpensive way.  Who wants to pay 1000 bucks for advertisement where it can be achieved by 10 bucks. Get familiar with and try implementing instead of surfing it.

4 . Cloud Computing – Cloud is very cutting edge technology in the market and still most of them doesn’t know about it.  Amazon, IBM, Eucalyptus, etc., played a major role in Cloud Computing.  You want to access a resource from point A to B Cloud will help you, want to download in a faster way Cloud will help you. Still India is yet to flood with this concept as it is quite expensive and rare thing to implement and execute., but future is in and within Cloud.

5 . Big Data– The name itself suggests what it is, it’s like Big Dam storing trillions gallons of water….! On any field or domain, one has to deal with data storage and manipulation and it never decreases.  Big Data has already influenced the market on very large scale. Facebook, Google,  EMC and most of them are on this side of Big Data. Master in it and go for it.

May 21st, 2013

Business Development Plan : Do’s And Don’ts

By – Prof. Nandini Vaidyanathan – Founder & Mentor @ Carma Venture Pvt Ltd. Date – 10th May, 2013

Prof. Nandini has worked for many MNC’s for almost 20 years, within many domains and fields, she’s Board of several companies, Mentor & Promoter of Startup(forstartups.blogspot.com), India’s leading Strategist in management. She has even been a Teaching Entrepreneur in US, UK Premier Business School, Princeton, IIM-B, etc, etc, etc. If I still continue to introduce her, then I think I’ll just end up with her intro itself.

The webinar was awesome, never got so many meaningful and important things to learn just within 2 hours. Prof. Nandini was clear and sound, very straight to her points that were to be conveyed to the audience. So let’s get to her talks about Business Development Plan, I’ll narrate point wise:-

What is a Business Plan ?
“A Business Plan is nothing but your Wishlist that you want within specified period of time, anyhow. Make sure Entrepreneurship and Wishlist goes hand-in-hand.”

  1. If you are a new Entrepreneur, forget everything else and first approach to get Mentorship from a good Mentor, without which you may have very less chance to survive for long.
  2. Don’t ever write a plan just because you’re very eager or desperate to start a business or to attract an investor. Write a plan to capture an vision and fulfill your Wishlist.
  3. Don’t do copy-paste in your business plan, don’t come with a plan and say currently this is there in the market and we can do the same in an efficient way, never think of it. Your plan has a product, if someone sells this product to you then how much you’ll spend from your pocket? The more the price figure comes, the stronger your plan is…!
  4. Don’t make a business plan that has monopoly kind of business, research for the competitors and make a plan that defers from them. No one can win without competitors, if you don’t have competitors what you’ll compare & with whom you’ll compare, they’re the one who’ll point out your defects. Eg- Imagine everyone in the world with Mercedes Benz…!
  5. Don’t ask or refer your business plan to any of your friends, family members or relatives, they’ll support you because they wanna see you happy, they’ll speak what you want to hear. Eg. Hitler asked his Army Chief during war, “What’s our status?”. Chief:”We are going to win”. Ultimately Germany got defeated. Hitler:”Why you lied to me?”. Chief:”That’s the thing you always wanted to heat from us…!”
  6. Equity is Entrepreneur’s Blood, don’t plan to donate it at very early stage. Don’t let anyone rule over you, your team and your org. at an early stage. If you still need to raise funding at early stage, don’t look for Venture Capitalist, look Strategic investor. Never divide your Equity in 1:1, keep at least 51:49 ratio to make good future decisions in an easier way.
  7. Don’t consider that market is easy to cover with your awesome product, you are still a Starfish and Big Whales are already roaming there in the market. Have a point in your business plan that how your product will change, influence and grow the market. Get a Differentiator in your plan.
  8. Differentiator in plan can’t always be only in ideas, it can be in Execution too. Eg. Lays Vs. Bingo. Lays introduces itself in market flavours by flavours whereas Bingo introduced by 12 various flavours. They say every Bingo retailer in the market will have at least 12 packets…! Whatever Differentiator you have, it should be very unique and innovative.
  9. Market research is very important to get boom into the market. Eg. Kurkure researched that most of them want snacks while working on computers, so they introduced Kurkure in Cyber Cafe’s initially and boomed the market.
  10. Have your idea feasible, scalable and profitable. You should plan for innovation but not at that extent that it becomes hard to implement. It should be profitable, it you can’t take out profit from your idea, then just generate it. If one is not interested in generating the profit, then tell him to book his/her domain as .org instead of any other.
  11. During hiring process decide you want, a cat or a camel, because later you can’t expect them to change as per your expectation. Even if you get your cat, decide you want which specific cat- big, small, fat,etc. If you can groom your employee, you’re intelligent Entrepreneur, if you can’t (most of them) then deal with them.
  12. Discuss your plan with every employee, you know the plan very well because its your baby, but do your team know the plan? Does your team know what are your dreams and for what they are working? If you make your employees to work for the salary, they won’t deliver you your expectations, because they don’t know actually.
  13. Use simple English to communicate, simplify the high-tech and jargon words so that every one gets your idea thoroughly.
  14. Don’t chose Co-founders like tomatoes and potatoes. Every Co-founder should have complementary skill set. All should want same thing from the company. All should share same value.
  15. Best point to raise fund is when you don’t need it, that will make you stand above the VC’s. Raise funds only and as per your requirement, if you go for more than your requirement, you may lose control over your expenditure.

Elements Of Business Plan:-

  1. Have a snapshot summary; its easy to read index page than 1000 pages of a novel.
  2. Product and Customer must be focused.
  3. Hire a team that is die-hard, self-motivated and that can fly your ship.
  4. Market & Competitors. Your every competitor has a drawback, make it your strongest point.
  5. Good monetisation model excluding ads.
  6. Don’t have just one innovation, have a whole pipeline, a series of innovations.
  7. Budget planning for at least 3 years. Revenue and Expenses must have assumptions.
  8. Milestones- break your plan/wishlist into milestones.
  9. Monthly Profit & Loss Sheet should be there.
  10. Differentiate between Risks & Opportunities.
  11. Plan your Elevator Pitch. Say you are in elevator with Warren Buffet and you got just 30 secs to impress him so that he’ll give you a check in 30 secs, what you’ll say?
  12. Build Evangelical Team that will bring Evangelical Customers.
  13. Check where you stand . Give customer what he wants -> Colgate gave. Give customer more than he wants -> Google gave. Give customer which he never dreamed of -> Facebook gave.

So these were the great advices and suggestion by Prof. Nandini represented here in front of you. Hope you found it interesting and learned at least one point to follow your journey of Entrepreneurship…!

May 14th, 2013

Main Themes from Nasscom Product Conclave (7-8th Nov), Bangalore

(from our Bangalore desk)

I attended this conference in Bangalore earlier this week – it was most interesting with hundreds of company execs, entrepreneurs and thought leaders speaking about product innovation, development strategies and emerging technologies.

I will list some major themes I picked up at this conference:-

  • In India, next decade belongs to Product development and these will have major impact on business and social empowerment.
  • Hiring best practices and product quality differentiate successful organizations and individuals from all others.
  • In the new world, individuals and professionals which take initiative and drive innovation will take their organizations to leadership positions. This applies to large and small firms alike. These individuals will be the ones in most demand going forward.
  • Design and Image is crucial in the new world – this translates to User Experience and Engagement in all we do. Think Apple or Amazon.com
  • The big opportunities are in Smartphones / tablets, Mobile, Cloud, Analytics, Big Data, Social – all usual suspects. These are all big enablers of new innovation and present opportunities for growth. At the same time, these technologies create a level playing field. As a result, larger firms now find that small startups can cause immense disruption in the former’s usual businesses – hence executives in the larger firms must think like entrepreneurs to create new opportunities and ensure customer delight via superb delivery and engagement.
  • India has 900 million feature phones and only 10% of these are smartphones. So Mobile Apps and Enterprise Mobility offer incredible opportunity growing forward – this is true of western markets as well, as Enterprises there adopt mobile in a big way for all their applications. Mobile has truly gone from Mobile Also -> Mobile First – >Mobile Only strategy. Now, major new programs and initiatives in leading firms are planning to do a Mobile only strategy.
  • Cloud Computing is the new way of doing almost everything in IT for end clients – IT investments are shifting to Cloud at an incredible space – so much so that most new projects or initiatives are looking at Cloud as a preferred solution over an in-house hosting strategy.
  • Big Data is not a fad – with all the Social channels and frenetic transaction activity, Big Data is a problem which is growing in size everyday – as such, it offers major opportunities for solution providers and product developers to slice, dice and analyze, in order to achieve actionable intelligence and business decisioning.
  • Open source technologies are now fully mainstream and driving major new development.
  • Collaboration and leadership are key aspects in driving success. Most new innovation requires good collaboration and partnership skills as well as passion to succeed.
  • Naveen Tewari, Founder and CEO of InMobi, said that the three critical factors for success for a startup are :
    • Thing Big – you can do it
    • Hire the best
    • Focus on product quality. Good products sell themselves
  • Naeem Zafar, Founder and CEO of Bitzer Mobile as well as more than a dozen startups earlier, said that for each CEO, the main responsibility is “Don’t run out of money”.
  • IBM-mers Peter Coldicott (Chief Product Architect), Robert High (IBM Fellow in IBM Watson), and Daniel Yellin (Enterprise Mobility Chief Engineer) spoke about IBM’s Smarter cities program, Cloud and the new IBM super-computer Watson which is making waves.
  • Sharad Sharma (ex-MD, Yahoo India), spoke about product entrepreneurs as transformers of the society.
  • Deep Kalra, Founder and CEO of MakeMyTrip, spoke about his entrepreneurial journey and the Indian startup ecosystem.

The event is one power-packed event with almost 1300 delegates which included almost 150+ blue-chip speakers and thought leaders from India and abroad. The presence of so many Silicon Valley luminaries seems to indicate that action in Bangalore is accelerating and many westward folks are now looking east to this part of the world for next revolutions in tech and digital.

Kudos to Nasscom, Nasscom President Mr Som Mittal and all the dedicated NPC volunteers for putting together what we consider is a remarkable show.

For more updates from this event, click here.

November 12th, 2012

PaaS – Platform as a Service

The Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) market is predicted to reach $20.1 billion in 2014. Huge brands occupy this emerging space, including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Salesforce.com. Many newer startups enter the market each month, too. The recent trend is that more features and functions win the day, especially those with the ability to instantly provision resources for PaaS-built applications, such as elastic storage, compute, and database services.

(via Giagaom)

October 19th, 2012

Big Data helps firms hire and retain workers

(excerpted from Wall Street Journal article titled “Meet the New Boss: Big Data” dated Sept 20th, 2012)

New hires are being put to a different kind of tests now, in order to be selected as employees of firms. These firms have found that traditional methods of hiring and talent acquisition have a lot of problems and often lead to wrong hires or people who leave the firm very fast, causing losses in training and recruitment. The new process involves replacing human hunches with software-based testing and decisioning for hiring and talent acquisition.

Various small and large talent management software firms have come up to help companies sort through talent and find the right fits. Firms like Xerox are using software from Bay Area startup Evolv Inc. to scan call center workers who are likely to stay for at least 6 months – the time needed to recoup Xerox’s $5000 investment in training a new hire. Evolv tools tell Xerox that an ideal hire lives near the job, has reliable transportation, uses one or more social networks (but not for more than 4 such networks), tends to be creative but not overly inquisitive.

Big tech has spotted the opportunity in this area. IBM recently acquired Kenexa Corp for $1.3 billion. Kenexa has Data analysis tools to help hire and retain workers. Oracle acquired job applications firm Taleo and SAP acquired SuccessFactors, which specializes in performance tracking, recruiting and compensation.

Evolv software helps grade Xerox applicants into Red, Yellow or Green categories, Xerox only hires candidates who score Green. Welcome to the new hiring paradigm – computers will test applicants for suitability now.

Such automated hiring processes and tools help in removing biases, which might be based on manager discretion, appearances, gender, age or other in-person traits. Certainly, such tools help in better ROI on hiring in terms of lower attrition and better candidate fitment. However, such software can also weed out certain categories which are protected by law, eg senior citizens or women or race-based, leading to legal issues for firms hiring. Xerox is not using the data from Evolv testing which pertains to measuring distance from work, for fear of being singled out about race-based hiring (as people of certain race may live in certain areas far from town).

Laszlo Block, a senior VP at Google and a Director at Evolv, said software will supplement hiring decisions but will not supplant broader hiring practices. In the long run, such software might be used to device promotions and performance appraisals.

Kenexa screened 30 million applicants last year for thousands of clients. Their test show that lengthy commutes raise risk of attrition in call-center and fast-food jobs.  People who move a lot are also likely to attrition faster.

Welcome to the new hiring manager and boss : Big Data

To read the complete WSJ article, click here.

September 25th, 2012

Apple iPhone 5 is here : CellStrat opinion

As if you have not heard enough about iPhone 5 already, here is more of it :)

Apple announced iPhone 5 on Sept 12th. The other big thing that happened that day was Quantitative Easing version 3 announcement by US Federal Reserve – one wonders, it was a synchronized announcement – just kidding.. Certainly, some market analysts have said that iPhone 5 may do more for US GDP growth than Fed’s QE3..amazing..

Well, intentional or not, both the announcements have a dramatic impacts – QE3 will accelerate the stock market rise around the world, fuel more inflation etc. Apple announcement will lead to Apple maintaining it’s hegemony in the smartphone ecosystem. I know, I know, some of you are on side of the table which is less than enamoured by the new iPhone 5. However, our take is that the ecosystem of Apple is much too strong and still underestimated by most. The vertical integration of iTunes, Macs, iPhones, iPads, licensed content in there, seamless charging via iTunes, cross-device synch capabilities are so intense and so transformational in the tech world, that few can match up with Apple prowess over the marketplace. Apple ran out of online inventory of iPhone 5 in one hour of opening the sales..validation enough of a huge pent-up demand out there.

Lack of NFC or some other popular features, now commonplace in other smartphones, will not deter iPhone 5 in creating breakthrough success once again for Apple sales. What most people fail to realize about Apple is that it does not usually toe the line created by others – it creates new models which, in many cases, become the benchmark over time. Coming back to NFC, Apple did bundle a feature called Passbook in the new iPhone 5 – a loyalty and coupon management feature – this is not payment enabled but it could evolve into a Digital Wallet. Many leaders like eBay, Square, Paypal are making do without NFC in Mobile Payments and quite successfully at that. It is likely that NFC may never become the mainstream mobile payment tech if Apple and others listed here do not push it.

As to what Apple iPhone 5 does pack, it has a laundry list of neat features :

LTE (4G capable), Thinner, Lighter, bigger screen (4 inch diagonally), all new Apple-designed A6 chip, better retina display, improved camera (although megapixels remain at 8 megs), enhanced HD video recording, 5 rows of icons on the screen, improved Siri assistant, new lightning connector, new Apple mapping app, better iCloud integration, 700,000 apps, new iOS 6 OS, Passbook loyalty feature, the list goes on and on.

To view all iPhone 5 features, click here.

As far as we can visualize, we still feel demand for iPhone 5 will be back-logged and people will go gaga over this device the world over. Apple mobile leadership is far from being threatened, not until they make major blunders or others truly can provide a neat vertically integrated ecosystem. So far, we see only Amazon as being anywhere close to providing the vertical ecosystem with Kindle platform. Samsung tried but it is missing many major components for creating a complete ecosystem, music partnerships to begin with, among other things. Google does not try as their focus is entirely different – to monetize via search engines on Android devices.

So – for now, it is Apple’s world to rule in the mobile arena, until somebody else “does an Apple” on them.

September 17th, 2012

Mobile Payments dogfight

Recently, we heard that Starbucks – the behemoth in coffee retailing business, invested in Square – the American Mobile Payment startup; as well Starbucks stores will be accepting payments via Square mobile app. Starbucks already had their mobile wallet solution and had seen a record number of transactions via this platform, wherein the customers would just wave the starbuck app barcode on their smarphones in front of a reader in a Starbuck store and the amount gets deducted from the user’s Starbucks mobile wallet.

Now Starbucks is betting on Square – that zingy startup which has attracted tons of VC money from big name investors. Starbucks buyin gives Square the credibility that is needed by the tech firm to sell into big name retail. So far Square app was popular for mobile payments, but primarily limited to thousands of small businesses which had adopted this solution. Starbucks approval puts Square square and centre in the Mobile payment contender space – along with the traditional digital payment firm Paypal. Paypal has been experimenting with Mobile Payments for sometime now and has the backing of millions of consumers and merchants who use Paypal daily for moving around money online.

Paypal, in turn, announced a partnership with Discover Card financial services, Paypal mobile app will mediate a Discover payment in select stores. Discover is the smallest of the 4 big Credit Card vendors in United States. Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards are working on their own mobile payment solutions or partnering with other internet and telco players. Discover is relying on Paypal to carry the smaller card vendor into the Mobile payments vertical (although Discover works in Mobile Payments via telco partnerships as well).

It seems like a dogfight between Square and Paypal has begin to try to dominate this upcoming area. Although there are other heavyweights in the ring – namely, ISIS (telecom carrier joint venture), Google Wallet, Apple potentially, banks and some others. It would be interesting to see what tricks Apple has up it’s sleeve. Apple is a killer firm which, when it enters a market, comes up with such innovations that few are able to compete with it.

The Mobile Payments space is fragmented and there is no clear winner or dominant player yet. The complexity in financial regulation and the difficulty in scaling this business over a large number of merchants has kept this area into the hobby domain so far. As it seems, it seems to be breaking out now with some startups and large firms making aggressive moves to create a market in this now. We watch this space with keen interest.

As far as India goes, there are local startups who have tried to tackle this space – firms like ngpay, paytm, obopay and some others. But most are still small and captive scale is not there yet. Many of these firms have survived in India by doing things other than Mobile payments. Eg Ngpay has become a mobile shopping mall, PayTM has gotten into recharge business and so on.

August 23rd, 2012

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