Fostering Empowerment through Entrepreneurship

When the word empowerment comes to mind, we as professionals immediately think about being a manager in an organization with a certain set of responsibilities etc. I feel the greatest potential of fostering empowerment is by encouraging entrepreneurship outside an established organization.

The biggest employer and economy driver in the US is small business and that is what I feel we should promote in India. According to the Small Business Administration’s Office, 44 percent of new jobs in the United States are created by startup companies, 55 percent by the growth of existing firms, and only 1 percent by relocation. These startup firms create about 70 percent of new economic growth.

Contrary to popular misconception, most new businesses don’t fail. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 66 percent of new businesses survive for two years or more. Many are sold to other firms or morph into different enterprises as they outgrow their original structure and seize new market opportunities.

Some of the benefits of small business include fostering the growth of local economy, creation of local jobs and development of local infrastructure. All these benefits are something that rural India needs badly to offset the exodus of people into the now bulging cities and develop the C and D class towns and villages into economic centers. Needless to say that such a possibility has other effects on the infrastructure where private – public enterprises start looking at such areas and start development programs to gain a foothold on emerging markets.

One example where a infrastructure company has done well in the rural market is Aircel Ltd which is a mobile service provider in Tamil Nadu. Who thought when they bought the license for rural Tamil Nadu that this company would be super successful in their rural circle?

Circling back our biggest labor force is in the rural areas and it is very important that we empower our youth in India and show them the ropes on how to become responsible entrepreneurs and thereby help India develop our local grassroots economy where it’s needed most.

There are a couple of ways of going about the same. The first is of course by encouraging our agricultural sector which has enormous potential to be more efficient in supply chain thereby providing more benefit to the farmer and the second being in terms of enhancing the output of our farmlands thereby helping our small farmers be more self reliant vs the current trend of them going deeper in debt and slide towards becoming laborers.

Fortunately for India over the last few years there has been an explosion of Micro Finance NBFC’s which are providing an opportunity to the poor and needy to develop small businesses to sustain their families. These Micro Finance organizations are steadily helping lift our rural and urban poor from poverty. In fact the mission statement of one such organization Ujjivan (www.ujjivan.com) is “Provide financial services for customers to enable them to be free of poverty within five years of starting their relationship with Ujjivan “.

Besides these there are some other interesting rural entrepreneurship encouraged by multinational corporate which are definitely helping. Two good examples of this MNC-Rural Entrepreneurship philosophy at work are:

The first example is how HOV Services has developed their “Business Associate” program all over south India to train and empower people with minimal capital and infrastructure to start Mini BPO centers. Under this initiative it developed a model where HOV personnel will provide guidance to set up a center and provide training to the local organizations work force. Additionally HOV guarantees a base amount of work in return for adherence of their global accepted quality standards.

Over the last ten years HOV Services has developed thirty plus business associates in various C and D class towns and has helped these entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses through this partnership.

Another example is how Hindustan Lever developed Shakti, a program that trains rural women to operate as entrepreneurial distributors of consumer products in villages of fewer than 1,000 people. This effort generates annual sales of roughly $250 million in villages that would otherwise be uneconomical to serve. Hindustan Lever’s Shakti program provides annual cash flows of roughly $25 million to its female distributors.

The business model—”scalable, embedded distribution”—reduces costs and promotes a company’s reputation by enlisting trusted community members to provide the distribution infrastructure for goods. Hindustan Lever’s Shakti program has expanded from 50 villages with 150 rural women in 2001 to 80,000 villages with 25,000 women entrepreneurs today, has created a four-week training program for all participants and employs some of the company’s leading entrepreneurs as trainers.

All the above go to show that we can empower our rural youth build sustainable enterprises by providing the right resources and guidance.

Therefore my friends the next time you are approached by someone with a business plan, give them your help, support and if possible their first opportunity to demonstrate their services as this will help develop our nation into a thriving economy based on highly motivated and talented entrepreneurs.

Cloud Computing Best Practices

A new IT boom in recent years has dramatically changed the way people use operating systems. In modern economic and business environments businesses are constantly looking for cost-effective applications and IT solutions. Cloud computing platforms are being used to deliver business functions. The growth in business uses of cloud computing increases the expectations of users and simultaneously the responsibility of vendors to provide outstanding service in the cloud computing arena.

Business owners require that cloud computing platforms meet their expectations, in fact delight them by complying with the highest standards of service. Since businesses are entrusting these cloud operating systems with valuable & vital data they expect these standards to be met. The seven best practices of cloud computing which are generally accepted by most vendors are:

  • Security

Users demand world class security software & protocols protecting their critical information. Security is a broad term, not just user privileges and passwords. High end security solutions are imperative for businesses, especially for vendors handling confidential user data. Cloud computing platforms must abide to comprehensive, stout policies and protocols to guarantee maximum levels of

  • Physical Security
  • Network Security
  • Application Security
  • Internal system Security
  • Data backup Security
  • Third party certifications
  • Secure internal policies & procedures

 

  • Transparency & Trust

Cloud computing platforms should be able to provide customers with detailed information about service delivery and performance. These factors involve:

  • Accurate, timely and detailed information about service performance and maintenance activities
  • Daily data on service availability and transaction performance
  • Constant proactive communication

 

  • Multi tenancy

Multi tenant architecture allows for advanced scalability and faster improvement at lower cost. Single tenant systems are not designed to handle large scale business operations and constant improvement for success. Multi tenancy provides users the following benefits:

  • Efficient service delivery, with low maintenance
  • Consistent and reliable performance based on efficient, large scale architecture
  • Rapid product release cycles

 

  • Scalability

A large customer base means better and high quality feedback for future innovations. A huge customer community provides opportunities like collaboration between customers, creation of communities with common interests and fostering best practices.

Cloud computing platforms must have the ability to scale many customers and the resources to ensure high quality standards, performance standards and security to all users. Users also require cloud computing applications to be able to innovate and upgrade to meet changing environments. A vital customer demand for cloud computing vendors is quick & accurate support for their issues.

  • High performance

Cloud computing vendors should be able to deliver consistent high speed performance to its users globally. The platform should have detailed historical data to back performance issues like average page response time and average transactions per day.

  • Data recovery & fail safe

Vendors are responsible for valuable customer data, they are required to protect this data by running the service on multiple data centers with broad backup capacity, data archives and failover capabilities. Cloud computing services should be capable to account for all potential system failures. A complete fail safe and data recovery plan involves:

  • Creating multiple copies of customer data in real time
  • A multi level backup, that includes saving on disks, on virtual drives and tape drives to ensure high speed recovery with minimum data loss

 

  • Readily Available

Vendors delivering cloud computing application should have the capability to deliver readily available software and must have the infrastructure to do so. The requirements for a high available cloud computing application are:

  • Facilities with reliable power, cooling and network infrastructure
  • Readily available networks, servers and software
  • Metrics with detailed historically available data on the entire service

Businesses looking to lower costs and demanding higher efficiency from IT are rapidly turning to cloud computing. The volatile shift in demand and supply of IT services drive the change in services and the way they are offered. The increased use of alternative OS platforms changes the way businesses operate and the vendors who deliver these services.

 

 

Exploring the Tablet Marketplace – What lies beyond iPad?

The era of desktop PC and even the laptop is over and the tablet PC age is upon us. Apple Inc. changed the way computers are applied to human life with their iPad tablet. With people constantly on the go, the wireless tablet PC technology is fast changing computing technologies. Sleek & simple yet innovative designs appealing for both professionals and students alike, Apple’s trendy and portable (more portable than a notebook PC) products have distinguished themselves from the traditional desktop PC.

The innovative touch design that began with the Apple iPhone & iPod, soon found its way into the iPad tablet PC. This actually triggered a domino effect with all other IT hardware giants like HP, ASUS, and Samsung joining the race. Even cell phone company, Blackberry, has introduced the ‘BlackBerry Play-Book’ to mark their entry in the tablet PC market.

In its first year, the Apple iPad sold over 19 million units, which is 3 times the sale of the iPhone when it was introduced. Trend analysts have forecasted that by 2015 there will be over 200 million tablet PCs in the world sold by both Apple Inc. and competing vendors.

Through various consumer surveys, research analysts have come to know that over 30% of the people demand ultra portability and optimized functionality in their tablet PCs. It wouldn’t be surprising if Apple Inc. will release an iPad 3 with a completely new design and OS. Hints of future innovation came when Apple shifted away from Infineon as its chipset maker to Qualcomm for all of its mobile devices.

Although a brilliant innovation, the Apple iPad still lacks many features that can be added to the innovative tablet design. The future of the iPad is actually brighter than other tablet manufacturers since the design initially came from Apple. The most basic addition to the tablet PC design is the inclusion of a touch pen that can benefit business users, medical personnel and students alike.

Furthermore, the iPad is capable of having a DVD/Blue-Ray drive on the side or at the vertical base. Additional storage space will be the defining factor in the future. With more people adopting the cloud computing design, the technologies that can be embedded in the tablet PC are countless. There can also be the addition of free virtual storage space, virtual OS and other virtual software available on purchase.

With the tablet PC concept, the opportunities and market potential for manufacturers is limitless. As future holographic tablet designs are being developed we can not forecast what PC manufacturers will bring forward in the near future.

 

 

 

Amazon Android App Store vs. Apple iTunes Store – A SWOT Analysis

The Apple iTunes App store is an exclusive service for iPhone, iPad, and iPod users allowing them to download games, applications Podcasts and eBooks directly to their iOS devices. Applications are priced on demand of the developer. The average price of applications on the iTunes store is $2.5. There were a total of 515,132 apps on the iTunes store as of May 2011.

The recent release of the Amazon Android App store has shaken things in the mobile app industry. With possibly no other competitor but Google and Apple, Amazon have cashed in at the right time. The store currently offers users an astonishing 3,800 app with more being added everyday. All software is given an expert review and customers have a chance to sample applications via Flash interface before they can buy it. The Amazon Android app store also offers a free app of the day as a promotion tactic.

Apple iTunes Store SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • iTunes Store has a wide range of applications to download from
  • Apps can be easily downloaded anytime & anywhere small price tags
  • There is a large collection of free apps

Weaknesses

  • Games rather than applications and eBooks have been the top performers on iTunes Store
  • The iOS platform is highly dependant on 3rd party developer apps

Opportunities

  • Professional development companies are now entering the market
  • Apple Inc. is developing major devices like the iPad and iMacs

Threats

  • There is cutthroat competition amongst software vendors and device manufacturers
  • Lack of useful application delays progress, especially for business

Amazon Android Apps Store SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • Amazon is a leading brand name, the Amazon App store can benefit from the brand loyalty and brand awareness
  • A large consumer base of over 30 million people
  • Excellent Customer Relationship Management an ability to record buyer behavior
  • Expert & User reviews to encourage sales
  • The ability to test apps before actually buying

Weaknesses

  • There is a risk of weakening the Amazon brand image by associating with something unrelated to books
  • Apps are only executable on Android mobile phones
  • Apps may be priced higher since developers suggest price

Opportunities

  • There is great opportunity to partner with professional developers like Zynga and Rovio
  • Amazon can contract developers to develop apps strictly for their Android Apps venture
  • If Amazon can delight their customers with more innovative and useful apps they can gain high consumer loyalty
  • Amazon similar to Google can partner with mobile manufacturers to have preinstalled Amazon App Store shortcuts

Threats

  • There is high competition from iTunes Store & Google Android Market
  • There is competition from other companies like Verizon and Vodafone
  • There is a small market that uses Android mobile devices

Although they have started off with fewer software, but some of the features presented by the Amazon Android App Store are simply brilliant. There is probably a competition war on the horizon. The Apple store is only full of dedicated software for iOS devices rather than for all Android phones. This limits them to an iOS only market. This is though where App Stores like that of Amazon are strong. The Amazon App store has very tough competition from the Google App Market, so they should be more concerned about developments from Google rather than worrying about iTunes.

 

NICE Adaptive WFO is the Winner of the Technology Innovation Award for Contact Center Excellence from Leading Analyst Firm | Business Wire

NICE (Nasdaq:NICE) today announced that it is the winner of the 2016 Technology Innovation Award for Contact Center Excellence. NICE was selected base

Source: NICE Adaptive WFO is the Winner of the Technology Innovation Award for Contact Center Excellence from Leading Analyst Firm | Business Wire

Best practices on Workflow for Content Aggregation, Authoring and Publishing

Who is a Content Aggregator?

A content aggregator is a person or an organization that purposefully collects web content and applications through various online sources with the intention of resale or reuse. There are mainly two kinds of content aggregators: those who only collect information through different sources for their websites and those who collect and distribute information to cater to the needs of their customers. The latter procedure is known as “Syndication”. iSyndicate, ScreamingMedia and moreover are some of the increasing number of companies that offer aggregated content for resale. Various Extensible Markup Language (XML) formats are rigorously making content simpler to aggregate and redistribute.

What is Content Aggregation?

Content aggregation is the task of collecting and managing content for use of an audience. Several different products and services might be taken as a source of providing aggregation. For example, a newspaper is a form of an aggregation of content through newswire services, journalists and other mediums of information.

A library or bookstore aggregates journals, books and other forms of media for general people, professionals and academicians to use or purchase. The cable services aggregate video channels and other related media content by means of common distribution method to local or regional audiences. Various online services such as MSN, Yahoo and AOL gather information from traditional publishers and non-traditional sources to present to the regional and global audiences.

Database services such as Factiva, LexisNexis or Thomson Dialog aggregate professional information, journals and news generated by other publishers for the purpose of distribution to individuals.

A – Best practices models on content aggregation

“The New Aggregation is the procedure of building the focus of development of products and services on those particular features of the content aggregation model which appropriately suit the needs of particular audiences that can contribute assertively in the procedure of content production, aggregation and distribution.”

Content aggregation has undergone a drastic change because of two key reasons that are: the usage of cheap and powerful computers and the Internet. The mediocre laptop or desktop is capable enough to gather, generate, store and distribute huge amount of information in an efficient way. Even, the low-cost, pocket-sized Apple iPod can store 40 GB of information.

The traditional model of aggregation is highly production-centric which builds a monolithic service. Contrarily, the new aggregation best practices model overthrows it. It gives institutions and individuals the chance to choose particular features of aggregation products and services through various suppliers via the aggregators and other agents without any liaison via network connections. Above the value chain, institutions and individuals might feed content to increase its professional and personal value in return gain value from each other via personal transactions or business.

Comprehending the institutional and individual users as major components of the aggregation model is a critical aspect in building-up services-driven growth model. The features which were previously provided by many aggregators as the essential components of the production chain are now replicated by tools available to their clients. These clients are capable of merging them in modern ways to build content value more efficiently than the traditional aggregators and publishers. Here are some of the best practices models on content aggregation.

i) Commercial agreements

  • Agreements for accessing the objects of content
  • Objects might be distributed before collecting licensing fees
  • Redistribution monetized and encouraged
  • Agreements might be free of distribution channels
  • More often no billing, direct billing through original suppliers or billing through other parties

 

ii) Collection

  • Content often never gathered for permanent storage or indexing only the data
  • Client often gives storage if required
  • Often automated with no supplier involvement

iii) Normalization

  • Content usually developed to highly accepted industry standards with no alteration needed
  • Standards are open, public and effortlessly accessed
  • Quality control often given by peer assessment

iv) Value – Added Content

  • It is often user-driven
  • Independent and two-way sources
  • Created or stored in content objects or local depositories

v) Indexing

  • Indexes usually consist of all applicable content, whether licensed or not
  • Indexing might consist of input from content users such as usage, links etc
  • Indexing might also consist of vigorously created taxonomies

vi) Storage

  • Content storage often circulated, content recovered and stored at separate archiving services, client’s and individual publishers’ sites
  • Records retention requirements based upon regulatory policies and archiving standards

vii) Retrieval

  • Search engines able to locate both well-structured and unstructured content
  • Finds across multiple sources in multiple locations – including client sources
  • Simple searches along with Advanced searches
  • Instinctive search interfaces, some of which will be using natural language

viii) Access control

  • Multiple access models such as open access, layered access, federated access or digital rights management
  • Rights management and copyright management interfaces enable efficient monetization of redeployment

viii) Distribution

  • Electronic media along with physical as a service choice
  • Mainly public network deliverance to local network
  • Distribution from numerous nodes and sub-distribution points that includes download portals, publisher’s sites, clients and individual users and download portals.

 

B – Best practices on workflow for Authoring

It requires a lot of attention to create content for the local as well as international media. It should be ensured that content is clear for all kind of audiences. There are six basic categories that significantly help translations for international audiences that assist in creating and maintaining consistency throughout the world. These six categories are:

  1. Style
  2. Grammar
  3. Terminology
  4. Punctuation
  5. Cultural sensitivity
  6. Iconography

 

Along with categories, there are some more changes that will help develop the consistency of the overall content. These are:

  • Usage of an appropriate and constant tone right through the content.
  • Write in active voice where applicable and use present tense.
  • Avoid the present participle, infinitive and past participle forms of verbs when starting a sentence
  • Avoid noun series and put limit to compound phrases to less than or three words
  • Avoid using homophones, homonyms and homographs.
  • Make sure the basics of a sentence are similar.
  • Avoid highlighting culture-specific symbols and standards
  • Do not make use of (s) to pluralize a singular word. Instead make use of plural form
  • Do not use national symbols or flags

C – Best practices on workflow for Publishing

The publishers must enable their content to be easily aggregated by everyone at all times. Several publishers have employed online registration processes to give some level of control and knowledge of the users. This develops proliferation of “choke points” that diminish the value of content from the user’s perspective because of the inconvenience.

As a publisher, one must try to distinguish between agents that can perceive the content rightly and agents that have the ability to manage the implementation and fulfillment of commercial terminology. The publishers have largely relied upon the traditional aggregators to provide distribution and implementation of usage of commercial terminology.

Publishers should focus on building more enhanced content objects. Content normalization is now in the hands of commercial publishers who have the capabilities of traditional aggregators. The commercial publishers become liable to pay more attention to the electronic content packaging for use and reuse.

The New Digital World

Although efforts were being made for more than a decade to convert most of the things that we use into digital format, the advent of eBooks and tablets has completely revolutionized the way we live and interact. The launch of PDF (Portable Document File) was a significant initiative in making documents available in digital format.

Today, millions of books are available in PDF format which can be bought from online stores. It’s interesting to note that although most of these have been digitalized from their paper prototypes, many eBooks today are being composed solely for digital use. On the other hand, tablets have shaped the way we communicate, shop and read. Its impact on our lives is huge.

But how has the launch of eBooks and tablets changed our lives?

Book Reading Practice and Acquiring Information

Tablets have made it possible to take a large stock of books with you and read wherever you are. Digital books are easy to manage and are usually preferred because you can get information about a number of topics from the internet at the same time. Tablets also made it possible to share documents such as resumes, financial charts etc with other people.

Amazon’s Kindle has made eBook reading easy and convenient. You can carry hundreds of books with it, shop for new books online and its use gives you an original paper book feel. High quality eBooks are available from different stores and features such as dictionary and bookmarking etc. make reading an enjoyable experience.

E-Magazines and News

While paper magazines are in high demand, prospects of e-magazines look quite promising. E-magazines are composed digitally which can be accessed by users after paying a subscription fee. Besides giving you convenience and portability, E-magazines can actually be more useful to you because of their dynamic nature. If you are reading an E-magazine on a tablet, you can shop for similar magazines or get more information about related products.

With the advent of tablets, traditional newspapers are going out of use. Today, people can log on to websites at any time of the day and get news from around the world in a snap. In this way, they can get up-to-date news with every passing second.

Marketing

The marketing sector seems to have received the most profound impact from the digital world. Online marketing has allowed companies to reach thousands of people with minimum cost. Online marketing is more predictive and traceable, and it allows you to select your audience.

People having a tablet can see advertisements on web pages or on social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube or twitter. An online marketing strategy is more effective and easily translates into sales due to the feature of online shopping. People are more informed when they are online and they can compare products and take better decisions.

Staying in Touch

With the advent of email, traditional mail had already gone out of use. With the launch of tablets, people are now able to communicate in a completely different manner. They can post messages and stay up to date about activities of their friends through social networking sites, wherever they are. Today’s messages are much more than a string of characters; you can use videos, images and a number of interactive applications to convey your feelings. Digital Technology has indeed shaped the way we interact with people.