Raj's Lab

Strategy and Entrepreneurship


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Interesting Links This Week: 21st July 2013

The favorites of this week:

8 Senior Executives share their thoughts on 8 different tips to bring some order to this chaotic lifestyle and some sanity too. stallLink: http://www.fastcompany.com/3012559/unplug/8-ways-to-bring-sanity-to-your-crazy-wired-life?partner=newsletter

Should you get off the internet for sometime? Will that be good – how? What does getting off the internet mean? Can you handle it? Some experiences from one who actually tried it. Link: http://www.fastcompany.com/3012521/unplug/baratunde-thurston-leaves-the-internet?partner=newsletter

Some interesting thoughts on how to break growth stall http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7180.html?wknews=02202013


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Internationalization – Beyond The Internet

Looking at the hype around ecommerce and the moderate success being enjoyed by some of the companies, a lot of traditional Rotating_earth_(large)businesses are foraying into the web. While enticing a lot of these businessmen to create website, fan page, twitter handles etc,  is serious business for web development companies, what is it for these traditional enterprises themselves?

Does an ecommerce enabled website a proven route to going global? Is a well designed and enabled website a strategy to gain a share of international trade? What could happen to the web if every enterprise decides to have web presence? Internationalization especially for the emerging enterprise is a luring alternative to tough strategic thinking. While distances have reduced, access has not proportionally increased. This has only led to the rapid proliferation of bad strategy. Going beyond borders should be the result of a well thought out reason and plan .Especially if you are a startup or a small business, whose resources are limited, and for whom wrong experiments can be fatal, time must be spent on why, where, how and for what of going international?

In about a week from now I will be addressing over twenty CEOs from various developing countries on the topic of internationalization. As I  fine tune my thoughts for the presentation I shall also share aspects that I come across on this forum! I am excited about the possible discussions, learning and interesting questions that may crop up at the session. I shall attempt to capture and share these for continued and more lively discussion in this forum post the session!


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Flyt’s Flight

A ‘flyt’ was cancelled recently! flipkart flyte

Neither is the spelling a mistake nor was it announced by an airline.  For a market which is used to cancellations, reschedules poor service etc this may not be too much of a surprise. But what we are referring to here is the recent suspension of a particularly future looking service by one India’s popular ecommerce company – Flipkart!

Why did Flipkart suspend this service? http://ibnlive.in.com/news/flipkarts-flyte-fails-to-fly-against-the-piracy-wind-to-shut-down/394883-11.html Any company cannot exist if its customers don’t patronise its services. Flyt was one such service with respect to electronic content consumption.

What could be possible indicators from the above experiment for Flipkart and the others who are tracking the ecommerce industry?

  • Does it explain the maturity of the Indian online market?
  • Is it an indication of how intellectual property will be received and consumed?
  • Is it an indicator of the true depth for online consumption?
  • Is it an indicator that the internet at present is simply a sales counter for physical goods?

What’s interesting for me is to see what the next set of experiments will be with respect to retailing online content, consumed online and offline electronically. For this will tell us where we are heading with so many startups rushing to the net as their solutions for sustenance and scaling!


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The Business On The Net

Any ecommerce venture in India can be considered a hot startup. There is excitement, there is opportunity, there is promise, there is e-commercepotential and there is a huge market.  There are a lot of enabling mega trends as well. But like a typical startup it has assumptions and risks. While on the long term it is clear India’s domestic consumption is going to increase, whether and how the internet will act as a distribution channel remains a question.

In these turbulent conditions, Amazon.in made its entry this week. A veteran in the field of online business enters the playground filled with young and nimble start-ups. With many Indian Start-up’s ecommerce enterprises finding the economics of the game still a puzzle, is Amazon’s 10,000 orders that piled on its day one an indicator of market potential or a threat to existing and emerging players? http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/amazon-now-in-india/article4783615.ece

While the country rises in affluence and the internet reaches every home and hand-held, there is money going to be spent on convenience. There is a lot of potential but there is also at present a huge lack of strategies that are being formulated and tested. The winner at every stage of this game is going to be the one who has the most agile organization armed with a strong strategy.


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Privacy – what does that mean?

During the course of one of my travels i chanced upon a conversation with a fellow traveller. Such conversations are rare these days, considering the fact that trust to share thoughts with strangers is reaching an all time low. Many times we hear small children being advised not to talk with strangers and importantly not receive any food from them. Surprisingly, most grown-ups behave that way. Sounds amusing! I felt so when i actually ended up catching up with this co-passenger with whom i shared the journey. Though the exchange between us remained around our work and our opinions around general environmental happenings – this led me to think further on this aspect of talking with strangers.

With over 4 billion mobile phone users, 800 million Facebook users, 70 million bloggers, 500 million twitter users (all approximate figures) – and all of these numbers growing at many times the interest rates in India, so much information is being shared on the web. Once upon a time information was scarce and accessibility was power. Almost all of us who grew up during the 80’s and 90’s in India would have seen people make money out of the simple accessibility to information. Many such businesses are disappearing (not surprisingly) as more and more information becomes available online. Thanks to search engines like Google, all it takes to reach information is only a worthy search.

Opportunities: With the volume of data being captured by automated systems across the world increasing – many entrepreneurs are beginning to look at trying to mine intelligent information out of the heaps (mountains) of data. While the utility of the information being gathered is unlimited, it requires a lot more effort from people to make intelligent use of it. While large organizations claim to provide a better experience by analyzing your history of purchases and behaviors, it is also becoming annoying when someone always prompts what you would buy. The thrill of shopping could also come down – isn’t it? While we debate on where we should draw the line of supporting and stop intruding into the personal lives of people – the opportunities that lie in front of enterprising entrepreneurs is simply amazing. There is space for a whole lot of people to tap into this abundance of data and find useful information which can help governments govern better, help law enforcement agencies to nip crimes in the bud, help companies service customers better and even help people handle their lives better by suggesting intelligent ways of re-organizing activities.

Threats: Yes! As stated above, drawing the line has to happen. How people use information and what they do with it should be within the realm of appropriate behavior and without intrusion into personal lives. A simple way is to check if this piece of information was yours’ or your family member’s, would you still do what you are doing with it. The decision is simple and straight. But for this, values should be inculcated in the minds early (as early as school). Once this is done, we can actually have a transparent society which knows its limits and therefore create a peaceful environment. Hope this will not remain an utopian dream!

While there are voices shouting about privacy and many policies and laws being enacted as we encounter crimes, this can only be a catching up game. It is important that instead of trying to weed out all wrong possibilities (we must, but in parallel), we must also attempt to look at aggressive propagation of good and rational behavior. This is important as otherwise, it may become more difficult to control an already uncontrollable, fast paced society.

Coming back to conversations with strangers – we may think that we are quite careful by not involving in conversations with strangers who we meet, but the sad part is, strangers who we have not met at all actually know more than you can share on a single journey. No, i am not suggesting that we should converse more (by many standards, we are already a noisy society), but we should be more careful about conversing with inanimate objects like the computer!

Happy Browsing and Happy Conversing!

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