Posts tagged 'US'

Time Management – when you run a Start-Up

When you’re trying to start your own company, one of the biggest obstacles can be effective time management.

Even if you’ve got the necessary business skills, a talented team and funding (if at all) to get started, you’ll still need to make sure you’re using your time as efficiently as possible. Here, I would like to quote The US President Dwight D. Eisenhower who supposedly once said:

“The most urgent decisions are rarely the most important ones.”

Eisenhower was considered a master of time management, i.e. he had the ability to do everything as and when it needed to be done. With the Eisenhower method, you will learn to distinguish between what is important and what is urgent.

Whatever the job that lands on your desk, begin by breaking it down according to the Eisenhower method, then decide how to proceed. We often focus too strongly on the “urgent and important” field, on the things that have to be dealt with immediately. Ask yourself: When will I deal with the things that are important, but not urgent? When will I take time to deal with important tasks before they become urgent? This is the field for strategic, long-term decisions. Below matrix will summarise all of the above:

eisenhower_matrix

Another method of organizing your time better is attributed to the multimillionaire Warren Buffett. Make a list of everything you want to get done today. Begin with the task at the top of list, and continue only when you have completed it. When a task has been completed, cross it off the list.

Better late than never. But never late is better.

November 18th, 2014

Facebook not quite “Home” yet on mobile phones

Apparently, Facebook “Home” is not to be, not yet at least.

The Android application launched by Facebook to create an FB overlay on the Home screen of the phone was supposed to be the big bet by FB to control the first touchpoint screen for a smartphone user. But due to poor reviews by initial analysts, Facebook is said to be revamping the FB Home application. The device which was supposed to launch this was HTC One and in US, AT&T was to be the exclusive carrier for this. In UK, operator EE and Orange were planning to launch it. The social network is said to be encouraging the carriers to delay the launch to give the firm more time to create a more palatable user experience.

The battle for the phone user is becoming more intense as time goes by. With smartphones overtaking web users globally, it is of paramount importance for tech firms to own the phone customer and drive more and more smartphone traffic to these firms’ offerings, in order to attract ad revenue and other commerce monetizations.

Without a doubt, Facebook social network application remains one of the top apps on all mobile systems including Apple iOS and Android. But Google, Facebook, wireless carriers and other media are jostling for more and more of user attention on phones as well as real estate on the limited phone screen, which are the next evolution of internet cycle.

Facebook released the following statement on Thursday evening via Engadget: “Following customer feedback, Facebook has decided to focus on adding new customization features to Facebook Home over the coming months. While they are working to make a better Facebook Home experience, they have recommended holding off launching the HTC First in the UK, and so we will shortly be contacting those who registered their interest with us to let them know of this decision. Rest assured, we remain committed to bringing our customers the latest mobile experiences, and we will continue to build on our strong relationship with Facebook so as to offer customers new opportunities in the future.”

htc-first-2

HTC First aka “Facebook Phone”  (Photo: Courtesy / HTC)

After extremely disappointing sales of the HTC First, Facebook will reexamine the Facebook Home before expanding its operating system to more phones in more countries.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he would’ve rebuilt Facebook as a mobile exclusive app if he had the chance, so clearly offering a solid mobile experience means a great deal to Facebook. In this regard, the Facebook phone was a brilliant idea and makes a great deal of sense — like Google and Android, a true Facebook phone would allow Zuckerberg & Co. to have complete control over the user experience and ad strategy. The HTC First was the company’s first attempt at such a device — Facebook would focus on software while HTC would focus on hardware — but with the phone failing so soon after its initial release, Facebook will need to take a long look in the mirror. 

Failure of the HTC First may be blamed on Facebook’s decision to make Facebook Home features too accessible to other mobile users on Android and iOS, or maybe Facebook will realize that the Facebook Home features were not that stellar to begin with.

Facebook has fumbled on mobile before, when it launched it’s first mobile site using the mobile browser channel – with poor user feedback on that approach, Facebook later changed course and focused on more cleaner mobile apps, but this was much later in it’s lifecycle; Facebook mobile has a history of bouncing back. The early years of Facebook mobile efforts were limited to working on a common mobile website version of it’s platform addressing multiple platforms like iOS and Android with one approach. It later realized that that approach did not augur well and got into building platform specific Facebook apps, which have been superb hits since.

The last note above take one back to mobile site vs mobile app debate, which continues to simmer in the mobile development world. So far, it seems, the Apps are winning with many firms (eg Financial Times) having switched from a common http://m.xyz-firm.com approach to custom mobile apps for each mobile platform. More on this later in this space.

(with extracts and ideas from International Business Times article dated May 24 by Dave Smith)

May 26th, 2013

Texting program helps track, manage patient satisfaction but tablet apps get better feedback

Some US hospitals use text messaging to identify how patients feel about their hospital stay, and track down the source of any unpleasant experiences, according to a story published by MedCity News recently.

The texting program–CareWire, by vendor Healthy Heartland–communicates with patients before and after their stay, providing appointment reminders, procedure information and questions about their experience in the hospital. The most useful segment of the program, MedCity reports, is a post-discharge text sent to patients a few hours after they leave the facility. The text asks the patient to rate his or her experience on a 0 to 10 scale. CareWire uses an algorithm to parse out the reason for any low scores, such as the type and time of the visit, which doctor the patient saw, and other relevant data. Customer service reps then can follow up immediately on any low scores.

Hospital officials tell MedCity the program has boosted patient satisfaction rates, although they don’t say how much. Brett Long, the health system’s vice president of strategy and growth did say that the program has been so popular, they expanded from an initial five-facility pilot project to using the service at all 19 of its primary care locations, with plans to later roll out to specialty clinics, etc., as well.

The big value is in getting patient opinions in real time. However, It’s not the only way to get faster (and more) response on patient surveys. Some hospitals, like Brockton Hospital in Massachusetts, have mobile-enabled their surveys for tablets, rather than texting, according to another MedCity News piece.

Brockton uses a commercial app, Survey on the Spot, that is loaded onto an iPad. Staff hand the tablet to patients just prior to discharge for completion. Hospital officials indicate it has improved response rates and satisfaction as well.

In India, we did a texting promotional campaign for Fortis chain of Hospitals back in 2008, to huge number databases in Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana regions of North India promoting Fortis Hospital’s new OPD facility and generated huge patient line-up on their opening ceremony. From then on, Fortis chain of hospitals is a regular user of texting facility for engaging their current and prospective patients.

(For complete story, read here)

September 16th, 2012

Over view of M2M and Internet of Things (IoT) & issues being faced…

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) refers to technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices/systems of the same ability. M2M started with point solutions, created for one specific task. However, in the not too distant future we will get to a point where it is more common for devices to be connected than not. Then we get to the Internet of Things (IoT) where we might get a sharing of data across different sectors and between different devices in a way that wasn’t envisioned when M2M first came about.

The ROI for connected machines is rapidly expanding to a much wider market. E.g.

• Forecast for cellular M2M Connections range between 287 – 400 million connections by 2016 (Ref.: Pyramid research).

• Annual revenues from M2M services have been forecasted at US$35 billion by 2016 (Ref.: Juniper Research).

Both traditional vertical market applications and new cross-sector services are likely to exist, based on a data rich environment. These will vary immensely between the enterprise, or B2B, and B2B2C worlds. Connected homes and connected cars provide current early examples of the direction this is heading towards.

The Internet of Things is about utilizing data from billions of connected devices – the value is in the data. In order for this to happen, much more is required to get these devices to connect seamlessly. Getting billions of devices connected easily and cost-effectively in a way that allows interoperability is critical and does not yet exist. Evidence of this lack includes the high return rates (up to 90%) for home alarm and control products. M2M platforms are one key to solving this challenge.

Storing consumer data in the Internet of Things will create new security issues involving personal data and its acceptance quite different from those related to enterprise data storage. Educating consumers about the security and privacy of data – and its benefits – is and will be increasingly important. The value of stored data highlights key differences between B2B/enterprise and consumer behavior.

Facebook, where users consciously share information with others, provides a possible device model – set up your devices and tell each what you’re willing to let it do. Data ownership then becomes an issue. Who owns the device, who owns the data and how far can you share it? Also, how do I opt-in or opt-out? This is a business issue as well, making the right tools available so that the information can be shared in a secure way.

Scaling up and collecting massive amounts of data is a major challenge. There is a need, though, not to get too far ahead of the reality of the way people see value coming from applications. For example, automobile manufacturers had only a few people managing connected cars a short time ago; now hundreds are involved, across multiple departments. E.g. in case of a car crash, car sends data like location and impact of car crash data, to nearest fire station, police station, hospital etc. That creates a major challenge that must be resolved before creating new business models and sharing data with other industries.

M2M Market Examples :

VERTICALS FEATURES VALUE
Automotive • Vehicle Tracking 

• Traffic Control

• Manage a Fleet of Vehicles

 

  • Use less fuel
  • Have fewer Accidents
  • Gain logistical efficiency
  • Integrated IT / Finance
Security • Environmental / Subsidence / Utility AMR & AMI Monitoring 

• Home Security

• Water, Gas, and Electricity Meter Reading

 

  • Conserve electricity
  • Match supply & demand
  • Lower costs
  • Increase collections
Finance & Retail • ATM / EPOS / Kiosks/ Stock Control / Gaming 

• Digital Signage

• Point of Sale : Speed / Reliability / Security

 

  • More customer interaction
  • Interaction on Demand
  • revenue opportunities
Healthcare & Medical Devices • Patient Monitoring 

• Telemedicine

• Emergency Vehicle Response

  • Fewer Doctor visits
  • Higher quality of care
  • Real time patient assessment

 

Overall M2M areas could be:

  • Utilities
  • Fleet Management & Logistics
  • Connected Vehicles
  • Remote Assets Monitoring
  • Digital Signage
  • Smart Security
  • Smart Vending
  • ATM/POS
  • Public Services ( Safety , Transport etc. )
  • Smart Homes
  • Consumer- Connected Devices
  • Telemedicine… and many others…

Even when verticals are quite similar regulations may vary on a regional basis; individual countries may decide that health data should stay within its borders, for example, requiring data localization. Cellular M2M has been built around the telecom voice model but is actually in the Internet world. Regulators and operators need to adjust their perspective accordingly. Many operators recognize that data is a larger business than voice in the future, with LTE needed for data, not voice. The data business should not be constrained by the traditional voice model.

Scalability is about getting connectivity quickly but it’s not all cellular and doesn’t rely entirely on telcos. Large volumes of devices will be connected with WiFi or 802.15.4 radios connecting to an existing wired network. There are connectivity challenges within that part of the ecosystem as well.

M2M projects take anything from 12 to 24 months. Customers need this time reduced to get to market faster in any way possible, including getting help on device deployment, speeding up certification, and so on. Some of the biggest debates in contract negotiations involve data ownership, data usage, and indemnification around IP; these are major legal issues. Liability is another major legal issue — what happens when eCall doesn’t call or an alarm system doesn’t reach the central station?

Beyond connectivity, who will be responsible for the acquisition, analytics, and storage of large quantities of data? Some M2M customers generate hundreds of Gigabytes of location-based data every month, sending information updates every second; multiply this by 10s of thousands then millions – these are very sophisticated problems. IT companies are more likely to solve them than telcos although some are in the midst of M&A activities with data analytics and “big data.”

(Source: Excerpts from a recent Ericsson round table on M2M in CTIA; CellStrat Research)

July 28th, 2012

Apple sued over its use of ‘iBook’

Apple and five major US publishers are going to be sued by the US Justice Department on the grounds of ‘price rigging’ concerning the iBooks store found on Apple’s iPad tablet and iPhone. It’s believed that when Apple first launched the iPad and iBooks the company came to an agreement with these publishers which would effectively ‘strong arm’ every other distributor to follow the rules set out by Apple. Believed to be concerned that if by joining Apple their books would go the same way as iTunes with songs being cheap and standardized the publishing companies demanded an alternative.

Apple’s answer was very simple, they would move to the ‘Agency Model’ where the publishers would set the price and Apple would take a straight 30 per cent cut. Of course Apple was happy with this but only on one condition, that no other distributor would then be able to undercut them. This in turn then force the publishers to demand ‘The Agency Model’ with the likes of Amazon’s Kindle Store. The Justice Department will aim to prove that this action was taken with both Apple and the publishers in full knowledge of the consequences.

Both parties have denied collusion and have argued that by raising prices across the board they have allowed the industry to thrive making booksellers more successful.

It’s not known when the Justice Department will make its move, or indeed if it will at all. However all eyes will be turned to Apple, who recently had to change another aspect of their iBooks eco-system when it came to their iBooks Author app.

(Source: Wall Street journal)

March 12th, 2012

MobileHealth: Orange to launch connected pacemaker

Orange and medical device vendor Sorin are to launch a cardiac implant that enables patients to wirelessly upload data about their heart condition to a doctor, according to Thierry Zylberberg, Executive Vice President, Head of France Telecom Healthcare, speaking to Mobile Health Live ahead of Mobile World Congress. The connected pacemaker will launch in Europe and the US from this summer.

The two companies have been working together for some time on the pacemaker, which enables users’ heart data to be sent to a doctor by 3G, 2G or landline. Currently patients have to visit a hospital every three or six months to have an implant’s memory downloaded. Read More

February 29th, 2012

Are you listening? Twitter users want complaints read, addressed

Following study was conducted by Maritz Research in 2011.

It’s no secret that social media has revolutionized how consumers communicate with businesses. Instead of complaint letters exchanged over weeks, a quick 140-character tweet can garner a direct response within minutes. A recent poll conducted by Maritz Research and its social intelligence arm, evolve24, found that frequent Twitter users who have used the social media tool to complain about their customer experience with a company overwhelmingly want those companies to be listening to their comments. And, these tweeple want their public complaints addressed.

According to the September study, while only 1/3 of these respondents actually received some type of follow-up after they tweeted their complaint, 83 percent of survey participants who received a follow up to their tweet said they liked or loved hearing from the company they complained about. And just under 75 percent of those people who received a response were very or somewhat satisfied with the response they received. A little more than 15 percent said they were either very or somewhat dissatisfied with the company’s response.

For the two-thirds of respondents who didn’t receive an answer to their complaint, a similar number, 86 percent, also would have liked or loved to hear from the company. However, a striking 63 percent said they would hate or not like it if the company contacted them about something other than their complaint.

“In today’s business environment, social media is having a profound impact on the level of service customers expect,” says Anthony Sardella, senior vice president and managing director at evolve24. “Businesses cannot effectively compete without being tuned in to social media to improve the customer experience. But they must get the messaging right. The best brand marketing provides responsive customer service, and does not use a customer experience event as an opportunity to sell something.”

While the study reinforced the trend of using Twitter as a way of getting a company’s attention, Sardella says all methods of customer service and support should be treated with the same consideration.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Consumers expect companies to understand their individual wants and needs. If that’s responding to a complaint via Twitter, YouTube or the old-fashioned phone call, businesses need to have the right tools ready to listen, understand and respond,” says Sardella.

In September 2010, Maritz Research acquired evolve24, a business analytics and research firm that uses traditional and social media to measure perception, reputation and risk. Through their combined capabilities, both companies offer business clients customer experience research that is more relevant and actionable, helping companies improve their businesses and their bottom lines.

Methodology:
Maritz Research conducted its Twitter study between September 9 and 12, 2011, during which it surveyed an online panel of 1,298 US consumers, who had pre-identified themselves as Twitter users who frequently tweet, had complained via Twitter about a company with whom they do business, and who were at least 18 years of age. The survey had a maximum sampling error of 2.7 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

January 7th, 2012

Indian e-commerce – nuances and challenges

Everybody and their grandma in India now knows that Indian e-commerce market is set to explode – it is expected to go from current 7 billion dollar (of which 6 billion is online travel alone) to 40 billion by 2015 – ie in 3-4 years.

In view of this, dozens of new ecommerce startups have launched in India and some of them are increasing market share at a breakneck speed. Some of these include Flipkart, Snapdeal, Exclusively.in, yebhi.com, babyoye.com, myntra.com and several others from large brands as well as startups.

But Indian ecommerce is not like that in the West – where online credit card payment and cheap shipping are the order of the day. India has presented these online commerce vendors with its own unique challenges – eg. :

  • COD : customers are reticent to use credit cards online. COD or Cash on Delivery is the preferred method for payment for most online sales.
  • Free Shipping : Indian online customers do not want to pay for shipping – as a result, Indian ecommerce vendors have to bite the bullet on shipping as well.
  • Categories for online shopping : Indian customers so far are mostly interested in online travel purchases – but when it comes to other products like toys, baby products, household items, books, music CDs and such, physical stores still take more than 99% of the customer pie. Of course, now electronics, books and apparel are some products gaining traction in online sales.
  • Where are the profits ? : Of course, it is well known that most India ecommerce startups are taking a loss on online sales – just to grow market share. One expects a market shakeout on this sooner or later and only the strongest (and well funded) ones will survive this fight to the top. We feel that the shakeout will begin to happen over the course of next year with several pulling the plug on their ventures or being bought out by other stronger ones.

Above list highlights some major challenges for the Indian ecommerce players. Enter Indian Jugaad – or Indian version of “make it work somehow“. New services like Gharpay and chottu.in have been launched to tackle the COD cash collection challenges, as well as product delivery in some cases. These services are building networks of collection agents in various circles or cities and provide Cash on delivery collection services as well as product delivery for the major vendors like Redbus.in, Myntra and Flipkart. Within months of launch, these services have signed  up many leading online vendors as customers.

Well – one has to admit – when it comes to India, it is all about “Jugaad Karo“. In India, if there is a problem, there is always a “Jugaad solution” lurking somewhere – it is upto creative entrepreneurs to find such gaps and exploit them to make new ventures.

December 14th, 2011

The Indian Web and Mobile Markets by the numbers

(excerpted from GigaOm Pro article at http://t.co/20B9JVyo)

Katie Fehrenbacher with Gigaom is traveling with Geeks on a Plane in India. She writes following stats provided by Google CEO Rajan Anandan to the Geeks on a Plane group :

Rajan Anandan on Indian internet scene : “We’re probably in 1996 in the U.S. in terms of the Internet market in India.”

Here’s the stats from Anandan’s deck. India has:

  • 1.2 billion people
  • The 9th largest economy in the world, with $1.7 trillion GDP
  • 600 million people below the age of 25
  • 22 languages
  • 250 million in the consuming class — these are the folks that buy e-commerce
  • 900 million mobile accounts, with 600 million unique mobile subscribers (many people have more than one account)
  • 30 million PCs — it’ll be a mobile broadband world
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU) is $3
  • 100 million Internet users, and 120 million Internet users by the end of 2011
  • By 2015 there will be 300 million to 400 million Internet users
  • 37 percent of Internet users access the web from home, 27 percent from an Internet cafe, 22 percent from an office, 3 percent from school
  • There are 50 million mobile data subscribers
  • 5 million access Internet only on the phone
  • In 2010/2011 e-commerce emerged as a $7 billion market, with $6 billion of that going to online travel
  • By 2015 the e-commerce market is expected to be $40 billion
  • 67 percent of e-commerce customers by electronics and cell phones. 18 percent buy apparel.
  • 15 million 3G mobile subscribers
  • Broadband is 250 kbps to 500 kpbs fixed line
  • The use of smart phones will grow 52 percent CAGR
  • There are 37 million Facebook users
  • Google Plus use is bigger than Twitter use
  • 23 million unique users on YouTube India
  • There will be $1.3 trillion in online ad spend in 2011
  • The English Internet will not scale beyond 200 million, says Anandan
  • 159 million read Hindi newspapers and 31 million read English newspapers
  • There will be a massive tsunami toward vernacular content on the web, says Anandan
  • 70 percent of non-travel e-commerce is “cash on delivery” (no online payments, buyers pay cash when goods are delivered)
  • This cash on delivery market has a 30 percent return rate
  • Web 1.0 and 2.0 are happening at the same time in India, says Anandan.

Some Internet sites that have found success in India:

Thanks to Gigaom for the above post.

December 14th, 2011

Book Review : “India Inside : The Emerging Innovation Challenge to the West” by Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam

“India Inside : The Emerging Innovation Challenge to the West” is a new book authored by Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam, renowned professors at the elite London Business School. The book is published by Harvard Business Review Press and released in Nov 2011.

This book is about the “invisible” innovation which India today provides to a multitude of corporations and entities around the world. The book starts with questions like “Where are the Indian Googles, iPods and Viagras?” and “Can Indians innovate?”. Valid questions but which make slight of the fact that innovation is much more than consumer facing direct innovation. Indian ingenuity is enmeshed in so many products other multinationals make – likes of GE, Microsoft, IBM, AstraZeneca, Intel, Motorola and many others.

Globally Segmented Innovation :

As Western firms have outsourced large parts of the IT and research work to their Indian divisions and R&D labs, the skill profile of the Indian worker is increasing and firms are increasingly entrusting them with higher-end tasks. In this regard, the authors talk about the Skills Ladder concept – which says that when one creates an army of talent at the bottom of the product development pyramid, it is likely that innovation leaders emerge from this lot and remain in the geography where they are situated – as such, one can say that, thanks to Western outsourcing, a huge no of Indian engineers and innovators are being trained and are likely to boost the local innovation ecosystem via new entrepreneurial ventures or contributions to domestic economy.

In short, there is a talent shift to Asia from the Western hemisphere, which in turn will lead to accelerating growth and innovation in that part of the world.

Outsourced R&D :

For multinationals, Indian service providers like Wipro, Infosys, Tata and HCL are conducting outsourced R&D in labs all across India. Wipro pioneered the concept of outsourced R&D with it’s innovative Product Engineering Services division or PES starting way back in early 80s. Infosys products like Finacle and others like i-Flex have become global leaders in banking and finance. Outsourcing of R&D to India-based outfits creates talent pools in that part of the world and self-perpetuates further innovation and increased western investments.

Process Innovation – An Injection of Intelligence :

Indian call centers are often staffed with folks who are normally more qualified than a mundane call center job. This has caused the so called “injection of intelligence” into the mundane call center and BPO processes – processes which the Western world had written off as commoditized and boring. As a result, call center outsourcer 24/7 is injecting analytics-driven market intelligence into customer service calls and interactions – thereby increasing web / phone consumer loyalty and conversion rates. Higher qualified Indian talent is converting routine BPO processes into more strategic higher-value initiatives for western clients, thereby increasing ROI on outsourcing even more.

Management Innovation – The Global Delivery Model :

Infosys and other Indian IT firms have pioneered the global outsourcing and cost efficiencies which can be achieved in large projects. Saving costs and making the process faster, leaner and efficient is certainly innovation in it’s own right.

Visible Innovation – Frugal Engineering :

The emerging Asian middle class is known to demand and desire Western style products at cheaper cost. The Indian concept of “Jugaad” - or an ability to make do with less resources and still get things done, is now finding acceptance as a strategy in global Boardrooms. Tata Nano (and more recently Aakash tablet, I might add) are changing the debate of value vs cost. Developed markets are fascinated by Indian creations like Tata Nano and are studying such models closely to see how a quality mass market product can be developed at such a lower cost.

The authors also acknowledge the India’s innovation challenges eg slow bureaucracy, lack of infrastructure, lack of capital and population’s risk-averse nature. However, the Indian innovation train has started and few can turn the clock back now. As such, authors provide recommendations to both Indian and Western firms as to how to leverage or face the oncoming Indian innovation onslaught. We highly recommend this book to those who are interested in learning about the India’s growth and innovation story.

CellStrat Book Rating : **** (4 out of 5 stars)

December 1st, 2011

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