Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cloud Computing - A Business Case

There are significant insights that vendors of cloud computing could take home from the Vanson Bourne survey, commissioned by 2e2. And there is much work to do out there in the market, along with perfecting their technology in Cloud and keeping pace with the evolution. To begin with, given the fast evolving technology of cloud computing, the current buzz word in IT services for business, there is considerable apprehension among businesses regarding where they stand with regard to the technology. While businesses have a broad idea of the concept of cloud, they are also trying to make sense of the numerous models available and the pace of change in cloud computing arena.

The survey reveals that the majority of businesses are still not sure if cloud computing would fit their business model. Further, even if businesses do see an opportunity to reduce costs in IT infrastructure by switching over to cloud, they are not sure as to how to go about implementing them. One factor that adds to the confusion is the number of models available of the concept, which makes businesses baulk at the prospect, not being sure as to which ones to implement. And one important and critical concern, as is only to be expected, is about the loss of control they could face, using software as a service - businesses are apprehensive of losing control over their IT infrastructure. Add to that, their current IT service agreements that they may be in the midst of, there is considerable reason why a majority of businesses are resorting to a ‘wait-and-watch’ approach.

The marketing issue for vendors is one of influencing consumer perceptions of cloud’s usefulness to business, while addressing their concerns. As is typical in the introduction of any new product into the market, making clients make the transition from an existing technology to a new one needs demonstration of benefits, along with educating consumers, in the light of their current circumstances.

Cloud vendors should perhaps pitch for a hybrid model, rather than expect an overnight adoption to cloud technology, which would provide a mix between the traditional and cloud models of computing. It may have to start off with an analysis of the existing IT infrastructure, checking the amount of inter-dependence of the various components, to see if the business would have scope for, and would benefit from, cloud computing. It would be good to act in the consumers’ best interests, given the concerns voiced by many of the IT managers in organisations that are still contemplating the merits and demerits of cloud. The increasing pace of evolving technology is a challenge as well as an opportunity. Cloud does lead to increased server utilisation from the current levels, reducing carbon footprints and adding to green value of business. Microsoft, meanwhile, has announced that the manufacturing industry stands to gain out of cloud computing, where lower costs, better sharing of and access to information across international boundaries and the reduced response time that cloud blesses their businesses with, are reportedly the chief benefits. Microsoft has been going full throttle with its DIRA framework. And HP is serious about Cloud and SaaS as well. 

With the benefits out there and given the reasonably high levels of uncertainty about the adoption of cloud in business, there is a big chunk of opportunity up for grabs for vendors who gain the trust of businesses and enlighten them through education, taking a practical approach to business needs and constraints.    

Friday, April 1, 2011

Entrepreneur and Business Ideas - Independence is the Key

Entrepreneurship has, by definition, never been an easy path for the novice. People at work tend to keep reflecting on the ultimate possibility of starting a business at some point in time, with all the intent to cut loose from the grind of employment. "Why be your boss' subordinate, when you can be your own boss?" "Starting your own business", indeed, an enticing thought that keeps pushing one toward the brink, before the practical realities of life drive some "sense" into the dreams, making people stick to the safer option that employment is.

Those who do make the decision to travel the rough, however, need to be clear about an undeniable reality - being one's own boss comes with a good deal of risk and responsibility. Business is commitment to the core, and exposes entrepreneurs directly to the firing line. And business is responsibility for one's decisions, processes and means. The key factor is absolute independence, which is an idea that might catch the new businessman unaware. Any degree of dependence on a professional body or government for advice, suggestions or provision of a safety net, is only bound to make matters worse when faced with the actual consequences of one's decisions. To quote Lord Sugar, "Do not expect to get any advice from the government about what products you should make, what ideas you should pursue, what services your business should provide or how you should market your products and generate income, because that is what you are supposed to do". Business ideas demand analysis based on facts, not just whims of fancies or a rush of adrenaline.

The daunting task is to get accustomed to the realisation that it's all for the entrepreneur to handle his or her own baby. Starting a business takes a lot of planning and foresight to make a quality judgement whether one is really prepared for the decision. If one could consider his personal situations, his professional experiences, the markets, consumers, the industry, competition, the state of the economy, and most importantly, the level of financial preparedness that one is in, the answer whether or not to take the ultimate decision to set out on an entrepreneurial venture would reveal itself, founded firmly on business ideas. And it takes an objective mind to make the ultimate call towards the road of entrepreneurship. Becoming a successful entrepreneur is much farther than it may seem. 

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Bing Thing

Bing is on and is on the move. And Bing is slowly eating into the market shares of Google in the highly competitive US Search Engine market. What Microsoft missed out on in the early days of the internet age, it is trying to catch up using its Bing Search Engine.

And, its moves are taken note of by Google. It is widely believed that Google's Caffeine Test Search engine is in response to Microsofts's Bing. So, how is Bing different from Google and Yahoo Searches?

While the engines are still being reverse engineered by experts, apparently, Bing provides a lot more visuals in its search results than the traditional Google - in the form of picture results and videos - at the top of the page, with news and blog results relegated lower down or even to the second page. And, Bing seems to be geared up more to selling stuff on-line rather than merely disseminating information to seekers.

Caffeine from Google (that's the code name of an initiative by Google that has seen its top brass put their brains together, evidently to combat the Microsoft offensive in search engine space) seems to be more in line with the Bing effect, with pictures and video results finding their way upwards than the results churned out by the conventional algorithm.

Bing has reportedly been gaining market share month after month from May, with its latest figures standing at 8.9%, at the expense of Yahoo and Google. That's enough to keep Google on its toes.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Profits Rise

Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway has reported a 14% increase in its profits for the second Quarter. That may not be news for people accustomed to the Warren Buffet ways of earnings.

The multi-billionnaire investor, the second richest man in the globe next only to Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, according to Forbes, and known for his philonthropic inclinations, made a $1 billion profit on a 10-month old investment in BYD, China, after shares of the car and battery maker quintupled. An icon larger than life, Warren Buffet has three principles to offer to people who want to make it big in the financial markets: 1. Do not lose money; 2. Do not forget Rule One; 3. Don't get into debt.

Mr Buffet does not see the economy getting into over-drive anything soon, but he definitely feels corporate America and the Government's initiatives have been in the right direction, doing what they could in the current decline. So, what are Warren Buffet's secrets to winning in the financial markets? "Using seventh grade math and common sense to analyze a company's underlying economics; buying a business not a stock; ignoring the fluctuations of the stock market; and, most importantly, maintaining a margin of safety."

Masters of the trade always make their works look too simple to be anything spectacular. Nevertheless, their methods are worth incorporating and emulating.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ford Gains Market Share and Boosts Production

Ford gains Market Share - and has set its production sights higher than what they were last quarter. The struggling icon has shown fresh signs of resilience as it has ignored nay-sayers and has kept its foot on its pedal.

Ford has upped its production forecasts by 10,000 vehicles for the coming quarter to 495,000 and has set its fourth quarter productions targetted at 570,000 units - not a mean achievement for a brand that had taken its eyes off the quality ball in ambitious extravagance a few years back and had lost track. Ford, that lost its sheen then has steadily been on the decline, its fortunes getting only worse with the recession.

Having avoided Federal funding - the only car maker among the Big Three to do so - Ford has capitalised on the "Cash for Clunkers" bonanza and is cashing in on the new excitement on American roads. How far this monetary push will take Ford is a question on everybody's minds. For now, Ford is busy meeting new demand - and wouldn't complain on that either.

Has the Recession Ended?

Alright. So, the official US Umemployment figures are showing signs of improvement in the job market. What was at 9.5% is now at 9.4% – which is good, for an economy desperate for some fresh air.

But is this really an improvement at the heart of hearts? Has the recession ended? Has growth returned yet? Well, these may be questions that would be answered as the economy takes its own course. True, IT companies have fared well this quarter, the chips are up, cars have started moving out of showrooms and further stimuli are ready to be loaded for deployment.

But a marginal decline in joblessness is nothing more than a good sign. What is required is substantial improvement in indicators – and fundamentals. Unemployment at almost 10% is quite a deal. The consumer has to walk into the stores and open up his wallet. The temperature may be back to normal – but the immune system is still not at its best. Let’s give it some more time, shall we?

Geithner Pitches for Increased US Debt Limit

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is at it again – having gotten into financial crisis management mode ever since he tool office, he is setting it up for the US Debt limit to be increased.

The $787 billion package is still in the system pipelines before it could induce some of its desired effects towards economic recovery. The “Cash-for-Clunkers” bonanza to the ailing automobile industry cost an iitial $1 billion and now additional doses are being ramped up to boost auto fortunes.

Clearly, the Obama Administration is not going to stop shot of an all out effort at getting the economy back on track. Further fiscal or monetary stimuli would need hefty borrowings – and Geithner is busy doing the math and pitching his case for Congress approval.