Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Digital Transactions in India

Growth in small value transactions using digital payments will power Digital India.

Times of India reports that fuelled by rise in smartphone penetration and adoption of mobile wallets by small offline merchants, the Indian digital payments market is set to grow by 10 times in the next four years to be $500 billion or 15% of the country's GDP, says a report jointly by Google and the Boston Consulting Group. By 2020, the country's Internet user base will reach 500 million, and half of them will make digital transactions, the report said.

India's digital payments revolution is being led by mobile wallets enabling micro-payments in a country where bank accounts are still a big deal. The Google-BCG report said that over 50% of person-to-merchant transactions was expected to be under Rs 100. Over 60% of digital payments value is expected to be contributed by offline points of sale such as unorganized retail, eateries and transport. 

Rajan Anandan, MD of Google India and South East Asia, said, "Supported by progressive regulatory policy, the digital payments industry is at an inflection point and the top 100 million users will drive 70% of the gross merchandise value -- a clear indicator of the growing importance of the digital consumer." The report also predicts that the value of remittances and money transfer that will pass through alternate digital payment instruments will double to 30% by 2020.

Monday, 25 July 2016

India's Reverse Brexit and Regulatory Cholesterol: GST

Will GST be India's reverse Brexit and get rid of its regulatory cholesterol?

Economic Times publishes an article by Sachin Bansal: Imagine a warehouse of more than one crore square feet in Central India - around five times the size of the largest football stadium in the have an eight lane high world. It would have an eight lane highway that is connected to all four corners of the country on one side. It would have one of India's largest railway container terminals for handling enormous goods trains on another side. It would have an all-cargo airport terminal operated by a partner on another side. And on the fourth side would be a cluster of manufacturers supplying the warehouse in real time based on big data analytics of national demand and inventory for their products. This warehouse is not even on the radar today but can become a reality with the GST Bill. Passing the GST Bill - India's reverse Brexit moment that will end state-by-state rules and create a national market for goods to be supplied from anywhere to anywhere - will create millions of formal jobs.   

Currently, supply chains for e-commerce companies are not optimised but distorted by regulatory cholesterol that prevents us from offering customers the lowest cost or fastest delivery. We are unable to supply goods worth more than Rs.5,000 to UP because our customers have to go to a tax office and complete paperwork. We are unable to keep goods from our 90,000 suppliers in our warehouses across Karnataka due to double taxation. We often face confiscation of goods and cash in Kerala because of their approach to tax domicile, which conflicts with supplying states. With GST, all of this will be history. A seamless national supply chain that is agnostic to supply or demand destination is urgent, important and overdue for three reasons. First, it is India's development trajectory to reduce poverty. Second, it will improve enterprise productivity. 

Finally, it is about empowering consumers and producers.   Let's look at each of them in more detail.   We need to evolve very differently from China as we do not have the same global manufacturing and trade opportunity China had in 1978. Plus, democracy imposed some very desirable but real fixed costs on infrastructure building and growth. Harvard professor Ricardo Hausmann suggests that the best predictor of sustained prosperity is "economic complexity" and India's economically complex economy is a great opening balance for building on domestic consumption growth to reduce poverty. Essentially, instead of the traditional formula of large manufacturing, exports and large enterprises, I think India's destiny lies in services, domestic consumption and small and medium enterprises.   

The second point of enterprise productivity is important because poverty can be eliminated by improving productivity. We are thinking hard about individual productivity like skills and education, but we must recognise that India's problem is not jobs but wages. Our official unemployment rate of 4.2% is not fudged. Everybody who wants a job has one, just not at the wages they want. India's enterprise stack is largely informal, unproductive and built on self-exploitation. Of our 63 million enterprises 12 million don't have an office, 12 million work from home, only 8.5 million pay taxes, only 1.5 million pay social security, and most tragically, only 18,000 have a paid-up capital of more than Rs 10 crore. Drying this swamp is key. The US economy is nine times our size but only has 22 million enterprises. Ninety per cent of India works informally (this is the same number as 1991 and means that 100% of net jobs in the last 20 years have been created in informal enterprises).

Many factors go into enterprise productivity but the main one is market access: connecting with buyers.   The final point is about consumer and producer empowerment. The majority of India's 600-million-strong transacting consumers do not have access to quality products at affordable rates. Similarly, lakhs of producers are denied market access. Because of geographical constraints and artificial restrictions placed by the current tax regime, quality products are expensive and affordable products suffer from poor quality. Here technology can come to the rescue post-GST. The `India stack' framework for transactions (paperless, presenceless and cashless) is being first applied magnificently to finance but has huge implications for production and consumption once GST is passed. An unintended consequence of implementing the India stack across supply chains will be big data analytics for government that will not only improve compliance but greatly expand formal economic activity and create a virtuous cycle for credit, employment and wage rises.   

One of the most remarkable books about India is The Integration of Indian States by V P Menon. It describes wonderfully how the 562 maharajas that administered more than 40% of India's land and 25% of our population in 1947 were brought into the Indian state by 1951 in a project led by Sardar Patel, which secured the political unity of India. 

Passing GST will have similar impact on our economic unity. It will be a gift to first-generation entrepreneurs who don't have connections or money but just the courage of their hearts, the sweat of their brow and the strength of their back. Coming soon after Brexit - the UK's economically baffling decision to leave the European Union - passing GST would also signal to the world that India's economic ambitions have new rocket fuel. India's regulatory cholesterol has been hostile to small entrepreneurs. GST rights that wrong and makes a new appointment with India's missed tryst with destiny. This is one that she must keep.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Second-Time Entrepreneurs

VCs may prefer second time entrepreneurs.

Economic Times reports that failure isn't such a bad word any more.   A generation ago, many looked askance at entrepreneurs, and to have a venture fail was proof of all that was wrong with 'doing business' -the fact that it wasn't a "stable" or "dependable" line of work.  Today, the rate of failure in a world where 'starting up' is a catchphrase isn't that much lower.  A recent study by startup tracker Xeler8 shows that 43.7 per cent of startups have gone bust since June 2014, most of them in hyped sectors such as logistics, e-commerce, food tech and analytics. What's changed, though, is the fact that it isn't seen as such a bad thing.   "If 40 per cent is the failure rate, I believe we are in good shape," says Shripati Acharya, co-founder of Prime Venture Partners."   

As venture capitalists, 70-80 per cent failure rate is expected because entrepreneurs are overcoming fairly significant odds. I'd say our ecosystem is doing better than other parts of the world," says Acharya.   The average age of these failed ventures was 11.5 months, although the 32 venture capital funded startups lasted a little longer. So once an entrepreneur fails, does he or she get a second chance? More than just a second chance, it seems. The Xeler8 data shows that most failed entrepreneurs took corporate jobs or joined other startups, while 24 per cent started another venture.   

"As venture capitalists, we love second time entrepreneurs because failure teaches more than success," says Acharya. "I am not surprised that most founders prefer to go to corporate jobs after a let-down. It could be because they are looking to build a financial base before taking the plunge again," he says. "Most failed entrepreneurs remain active in the startup ecosystem and it is likely that they will return."   That's exactly what Thirukumaran Nagarajan, co-founder of Bengaluru based startup Ninjacart, which connects farmers and brands to retailers, did. "When I first built EduRaft in 2011, it was a great idea -I had 80,000 parents visiting the site a month. What I didn't know was how to monetize that traffic. It was after I worked in TaxiForSure that I learned about the startup ecosystem," says Nagarajan. "I learnt about funding, how to scale without cash burn," he says.   Ninjacart is Nagarajan's fourth venture. 

"My first was a CFA coaching institute, FinIsFun, but the working hours were gruelling and the returns weren't worth it. So I tried to open a Fresh Menu type venture called Appatakar biriyani, but had to close due to police pressure," he says. It was joining TaxiForSure that made him realize what he wasn't doing right. "The TFS startup ecosystem and its founders helped me start right again," he says. Ninjacart bagged $3 million in funding this March.   

Focusing on the problems of early stage failures is Axilor Ventures, started by S D Shibulal, Kris Gopalakrishnan, Ganapathy Venugopal and Tarun Khanna. "Typically, when one asks a founder about the idea, it is something no one wants or an idea the founder wants to perfect for himself," says Venugopal. "What is crucial is to understand the problem that one is trying to solve and gauge willingness to pay."

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Augmented Reality eBooks and Ed-Tech Bots

eBooks get a new lease of life with AR.

Times of India reports that Augmented Reality (AR), a technique which enables superimposing digital objects over physical ones, thanks to its high levels of engagement and the 'intrigue' factor, is one of the emerging trends in the nascent education technology and eBook space in the country.

AR app firm, London-based Blippar, has plans to engage with the education ecosystem to look for potential uses of AR to enhance learning experiences. "Conversations with different stakeholders — colleges, schools, boards and publishers — are ongoing. We have Blippar Education as a separate vertical. In a couple of months, we will be closing a few deals. There is a huge shift towards visual-based education here," said Arnav Ghosh, managing director at Blippar India.

If AR is one emerging trend in ed-tech, bots is another. Bots are used to run automated tasks like revisions, feedback and announcements. These are tasks that any teacher or course provider will have to waste a certain amount of time every day.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Making Hyderabad Smart

Hyderabad, the capital of the new state of Telangana is trying to get smart. The state government is implementing plans to slowly transform Hyderabad.

Times of India reports that the Telangana government has said that it has partnered Cisco Systems, a global major in planning, designing and implementation of smart cities and Paradigm Mtuity to plan 'Smart City Hyderabad' by identifying relevant technology interventions. According to an official release, a pilot project will be implemented near the bustling hi-tech city area to showcase real benefit of implementing smart solutions and the impact of technology on society and human well-being. "In due course of time, the results of the pilot phase will be carefully studied by key government officials to advise Cisco and Mtuity on the technology interventions/use cases most relevant for bigger expansion across multiple pockets of Hyderabad city," it said.

VC Brand Ambassadors

Economic Times reports that Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni is set to be the brand ambassador for a Venture Capital firm, Secured Venture Capital. Secured VC is based in Australia and is led by former Australian cricketer Craig McDermott. Dhoni will be the brand ambassador of Secured Venture Capital for Indian Subcontinent as the VC firm looks to invest in startups in the region and also scout for Indian investors for its fund. 

Secured VC usually funds startups at the seed stage and also late stage tech entrepreneurs. McDermott said his firm will look at investing in startups in India and the subcontinent and Dhoni will help them get the reach into these markets. "We invest in areas such as pharma, financial investment platforms, realty, environmentally sustainable innovations and dairy. We will like to do similar investments here," he said. 

Secured VC will also look at raising a fund from Indian HNIs and have a $100-million fund here. "We have a few startups in Australia and elsewhere that we would like to bring to the Indian market. We are already talking to an Indian company to bring a built-in solutions product," he said.


The Disconnected: Fear of the Disconnect

The Disconnected: Fear of the Disconnect

Times of India reports that it is not high roaming bills but the lack of Internet connectivity is the biggest fear of Indians while travelling, a survey revealed on Wednesday. Nearly 34.5% of people feared the lack of mobile network while travelling while just 6.9% are afraid of high roaming bills, said the survey conducted by web browser Opera and lifespan accommodation company Wudstay. "Internet connectivity is an important pre-requisite for travellers. People prefer being connected to the Internet in order to share updates when on the move," said Sunil Kamath, Vice President, South Asia and Southeast Asia, Opera. About 7.8% Indians are concerned about losing their smartphones during the journey.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Reliance Jio trying to do to the mobile what Microsoft did to the PC

Reliance Jio trying to do to the mobile what Microsoft did to the PC.

Times of India reports that as Reliance Jio Infocomm gets set for the commercial launch of 4G services, it is partnering almost all smartphone makers to bundle three months of free data and voice with handsets. A first for the Indian market, this is seen as away of ramping up users rapidly while providing a push to smartphone sales, said two executives aware of the plan. A deal has been struck with Samsung and sales of the devices have already begun, said a retailer. A pact with Apple is also said to be in the works. "Reliance Jio's launch will be phased and based on smartphones that have cleared all tests," said one of the two.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Search engines for IoT

Search engines for IoT

Times of India reports on Shodan, the backdoor to the internet. is the search engine for the internet of Things (IoT) and everything else that Google cannot search. With just a basic search on the internet, you could find the control system of a hydroelectric power plant or traffic control to an entire city. It's a secret gateway to control the world of connected devices. Shodan isn't significantly different than a web crawler like Google. Shodan crawlers browse the internet and when they discover a device, they collect metadata about it. While Google crawls for websites. Shodan crawls for devices.

In an email interview with ETtech, John Matherly, the founder of Shodan, narrated how and why he set up Shodan in 2003. A computer security whizz, Matherly, wanted to develop a software that would let security researches share their results to help analyze internet at scale. Since it's impossible for a single person to crawl the entirety of the internet for data, Matherly looked at P2P technology as means of crowdsourcing the effort. However, it was impossible to prevent users from submitting false results. Matherly ended up creating a P2P tool that would simply release all the information collected.

SJP @DigitalAsian

Billionaires want their own startups

Billionaires want their own startups

Times of India reports that when billionaire investor and e-commerce sceptic Rakesh Jhunjhunwala committed to become the biggest investor in Exfinity Fund that backs business-to-business technology ventures, last November, he only did what bricks-and-mortar industrialists have been doing for a while--putting their money into the country's burgeoning consumer internet and tech startups, trusting them to strike it big. It is also their way to hedge against the disruptive power of online businesses.

Ratan Tata, the 78-year-old chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, has invested in 36 startups, including Ola, Paytm and Bluestone. Marico chairman Harsh Mariwala has invested in Securens, Wooqer and even beauty products e-tailer Nykaa, while Ness Wadia of the Wadia group has invested in Bengaluru-based ticketing platform Explara. What brought Jhunjhunwala on board Exfinity was the depth of its team. After a 45-minute meeting with former Infosys board members TV Mohandas Pai and V Balakrishnan, the 56-year-old 'Indian Warren Buffet' agreed to add tech firms to his $1 billion (Rs 6,653 crore) portfolio. Pai, who has backed Exfinity Fund and co-founded Aarin Capital, said promoters of large businesses are slowly getting over their reservations about the technology industry.


The serious side to smartphone games

The serious side to smartphone games

McDonald's Japan shares have gone up on reports that say Nintendo's Pokemon Go will be launched there in a deal with McDonalds. The smartphone game Pokemon Go has caught the media's attention. McDonald's Japan jumped more than 11%, and Nintendo fell almost 10%. Nintendo's shares have jumped this past week, doubling its market value, mainly due to Pokemon Go. WSJ and TechCrunch have stated unnamed sources saying that Pokemon Go is going to be launched in a tie-up with McDonalds.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Regulators can't deter Tech Giant from its Future Plans

Regulators can't deter Tech Giant from its future plans

Amazon has received a patent for "docking stations" for its delivery drones that will be built on e.g. lampposts or churches and allow the drones to recharge and pick up packages. Amazon is trying to convince regulators on allowing it to deliver parcels by drones. Not very successfully so far but that hasn't stopped Amazon from applying for patents and testing its drones.

The latest patent describes docking stations which could be installed on any tall structure. It would allow a drone to land, recharge and drop off and pick up goods. Amazon has the idea of a "central control system" which communicates with the docking stations. 

SJP @DigitalAsian

Rating talent online - future of candidate selection for jobs

Rating talent online - future of candidate selection for jobs

Economic Times reports that the future of job interviews is here and it looks influenced by on-demand ride service Uber.   The model, created by startup Monjin Interviews, is built around a video database and a platform where candidates meet interviewers purely based on their skills.   

This is how it works: A candidate joins Monjin. Intelligent scheduling allows the candidate to get scheduled with the right interviewer on the network on basis of their skills. The interview happens virtually, and is video-recorded, indexed, tagged and rated. The video is streamed across devices and is immediately available for subscribing employers. Employers can rate the candidate and interviewer just like on Uber, or Airbnb where users can rate a property.   An employer looking to hire can see for himself how a candidate performed during the interview. 

The company gets its revenue from employers subscribing to the service. Monjin is founded by Abhijit Kashyape, former lead-talent at Accenture, and entrepreneur Ashutosh Kulkarni. It received a $1.8 million (`12 crore) funding from angel investors and promoters.   The Pune-based startup, which has 40 employees, is looking to raise $5 million for growth. "The platform is self-aggregating and self-curating; hence every day and every hour interviews keep happening and they get consumed by the growing community of Monjin clients," said Kashyape.   "The entire process flow of creation to consumption takes place in the auto mode." 

Monjin claims to be the first ever video database of active and passive, as well as deeply assessed, candidates who have been given a rating. Anirudhha Thakur of Monjin says he has completed a dozen interviews.   "The profile I have interviewed for is a developer's. I get complete freedom to interview the candidate as long as I stick to a broad structure." Technical questions that are practical in nature are asked. Candidates are also given case studies.   "Duration of the interviews can be between 35-40 minutes and an hour," Thakur said. He works for the technology centre of a multinational bank. Parag Satpute, country manager at engineering company Sandvik Asia, he previously hired through executive search firms and professional networking sites like LinkedIn.   

"This is a more cost-effective and reliable way of hiring because candidates are vetted. One round of filtration has taken place and this is more than the CV; you are actually looking at video interviews of candidates," Satpute said.   The model is seen to be useful for operative roles, sales and IT services. "IT companies interview and hire significant numbers and they need to be cost-effective. The real opportunity for employers is having an externally validated database of candidates," said Milan Seth, partner at EY.   Monjin is banking on a factor that is critical in candidate selection but may not be readily available at companies — domain knowledge of the interviewer. "This (lack of domain knowledge by the person who asks questions) leads to candidate dissatisfaction, credibility loss, positions remaining open, etc. Monjin plans to fill in the gap," Kashyape said.   

Pune-based Anshu (named changed on request) had a video interview on Monjin eight months ago, which led to a couple of calls from potential employers. The questions on Monjin were about SharePoint and .NET (dotnet), areas of his expertise.   While Anshu has decided to stay in his current job, the Monjin interview helped him benchmark himself in the job market. "It's like somebody doing the first round of interview for you which gets played to people who are actively searching," he said


Monday, 18 July 2016

Global VCs entering India and changing the startup ecosystem

Global VCs entering India and changing the startup ecosystem.

Economic Times reports that a new set of global venture capital investors armed with deep pockets and a long-term view of the market is stepping up to back Indian Internet companies at a time those who poured money into the sector in recent years are slowing down pace of investments. New York-based Stripes Group and Thrive Capital, and Sands Capital from Virginia, US, are among those taking a bet on a slew of companies such as ticketing platform BookMyShow, healthcare technology venture Practo and grocery portal Bigbasket.  These funds with their unhurried investment style, deep domain expertise and focus on minute due diligence are introducing a strikingly different flavour to the Indian startup sector, accustomed to the frenetic pace of investments led by investment firms such as Tiger Global, hedge funds and strategic investors like Japan's SoftBank. Take, for instance, the recent Rs 550-crore investment in BookMyShow led by Stripes Group. The deal was two years in the making with talks advancing in the final six months.  

"This was not a deal which happened with a gun to everyone's head," said Dan Marriott, managing partner at Stripes Group. The New York-based investment firm manages a corpus of $1.2 billion and has backed companies like online meal kits provider Blue Apron and education technology company Udemy.  Stripes has looked at a number of businesses in India, and currently has three people evaluating opportunities here. According to Marriott, discussions with BookMyShow started when the market "was very hot", but although "things have cooled down, it didn't change our conviction on the company", he said.  Sands Capital, which focusses on "concentrated growth" investments over the long term, has over $47 billion under management. Entrepreneurs who have engaged with the firm say metrics sought for evaluation include NPS (Net Promoter Score, a measure of customer satisfaction), while the firm also commissions independent surveys of customers. "We haven't come across any investor (seeking) such deep analysis of the sector and company," said an entrepreneur whose company has been evaluated by the firm twice in the past four months. "We are still engaging with them, since they take their time before making bets," he added. Sands Capital has also evaluated an investment in India's most valuable startup Flipkart. Its venture arm is also an investor in logistics player Opinio. In the US, the firm has backed startup unicorns such as Lending Club, AppDynamics and DocuSign. 

The entry of this new breed of investors is filling a yawning gap in the market for growth capital, which has grown acute this year, as firms that closed mega rounds beat a retreat. Venture capital investment dropped to $1billion in the first half of 2016 compared with $2.85 billion invested during the same period last year. The number of deals also fell by 35 per cent to 183, according to data from risk capital data monitoring service NewsCorp VCCEdge.  "Hedge funds were a large set of investors 18 months back, and they are no longer present. They were looking at an opportunistic game with valuations going up rapidly," said Vipul Parikh, cofounder at Bigbasket, which raised a $150-million round earlier this year from investors including Sands Capital and Abraaj Capital. 

Domain expertise is the other attribute these new funds are bringing to the table.  HBM Healthcare Partners, which recently backed online pharmacy 1mg, is a case in point. Earlier this month, ET reported that Bengaluru-based Practo is in talks with Thrive Capital for a new round of funding.  The deal will be the first India investment for the firm founded by Joshua Kushner.  The 31-year-old Harvard graduate had earlier set up technology enabled health insurance company Oscar. Stripe Group's Marriott was a member of the board of Nasdaq-listed Ticketmaster, and also led corporate strategy and development for the firm. "We didn't have any thematic or macro focus on India, but we just found a great business which happens to be in India," said Marriott. Industry experts believe the entry of these conservative but committed funds into India will act as a shot in the arm for a sector where sky high valuations have driven away several investors. "Now, larger private equity investors, who were on the side lines, and later-stage tech investors, who have been missing in India, will start to pay more attention as the market matures and valuations become sensible," added Parikh of Bigbasket, which has held talks with hedge funds but consciously decided to go for a PE firm when raising capital.  

The entry of long-term investors is also expected to help drive more modest and sustainable valuations for Internet companies. For instance, when Practo raised its last round of financing, its valuation jumped over three times to over $500 million. But in the current round it is likely to be around $600 million, a more modest but significant upside given the current environment. "The number of investors coming in are fewer, and they are more seasoned players who will do 1-2 deals and not pepper the market with 8-10 deals like the last time around," said Niren Shah, managing director at Norwest Venture Partners, which has backed companies such as furniture retailer Pepperfry and online travel portal Yatra.  


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Cloud Computing and Data Sovereignty

In the Economic Times, Chris Chelliah reports that businesses looking at cloud computing in Asia Pacific are concerned about where their data is stored, but do they need to be? In my conversations with customers across Asia Pacific one thing is clear: they all want (and usually need) to adopt the flexibility and benefits of the cloud. Industry statistics agree: a recent Frost & Sullivan report found that 59 % of decision-makers in the region cite cloud computing as their main short-term priority.  CIOs in APAC are being pressured by their business to move as quickly as possible to these flexible, cost-effective infrastructures. However, as with any new journey, there are obstacles - perceived or real - that arise, that can be circumnavigated by a mixture of making the right choices and dispelling some common myths. Often when talking cloud, one of the first questions on the table is around the physical location of data centers. 

This is not surprising because data sovereignty can be a crucial factor in many countries, both in Asia Pacific and elsewhere.  In Indonesia, for example, regulations stipulate that financial data cannot be stored outside the country without prior approval. In Singapore, meanwhile, any company sending data outside the country must take measures to ensure the owner of the overseas data center is compliant with Singaporean data protection laws. 

It is worth noting that even there, things are changing around data sovereignty. The new Trans Pacific Partnership, for example, negates countries from mandating data sovereignty provisions. "A recent Frost & Sullivan report found that 59% of decision-makers in the region cite cloud computing as their main short-term priority". There are clearly regulations; and they must be adhered to, but often these issues are a smokescreen for the organization. 

This is emphasized by the fact that even in those industries that tend to be most impacted by regulation - the public sector, telco and financial services - many organizations are already benefiting from the cloud in some way; for non-critical application or around test and development.  In fact, for the most progressive organizations I talk to, other than for data that by law has to reside in a particular location, those CIOs who are actively embracing cloud don't actually care where it is housed. That's the beauty of cloud for these businesses: where it is run or what underpins it is far less important than the fact that it supports their processes and enables them to be more responsive or operate cost effectively.  

That said, for those that are at the start of embarking on their journey, there are various options to consider.  "When talking cloud, one of the first questions on the table is around the physical location of data centers. This isn't surprising because data sovereignty can be a crucial factor in many countries, both in Asia Pacific and elsewhere". There are sets of workloads or applications that make sense to run on-prem and on-prem only - whether that's governed by regulatory or data sovereignty or your own policies. So businesses should work out what they are - but be prepared to review that on a regular basis. Not long ago, ERP was one of those mission critical apps that no one could envisage in the cloud. Now it is one of Oracle's fastest growing product areas. 

There are also workloads that make sense to potentially run in a managed service, where businesses still get the benefits of cloud, but are still using an environment that gives them more control. There are adjacent workloads that run in the public cloud. In addition, we believe that for the next 10 years or so, many of these workloads may move back and forth, depending on whether they are in test and dev or production. "That's the beauty of cloud for these businesses: where it's run or what underpins it is far less important than the fact that it supports their processes and enables them to be more responsive or operate cost effectively".      

Businesses therefore should look for a platform that enables seamless portability to the environment that makes best sense: private cloud, public cloud or on enterprise-owned systems. A powerful way of enabling this is to physically bring the public cloud back to the customer premise - meaning data, workloads and applications can be easily moved between on-premise and on-cloud. Oracle's Public Cloud Machine is a good example of this approach. The location issue is important, but not all encompassing. Delaying or dismissing cloud adoption just because of this would leave an organization behind its competitors. It is more mindset than regulation. This new freedom brings exciting times. "Businesses should look for a platform that enables seamless portability to the environment that makes best sense: private cloud, public cloud or on enterprise-owned systems".

Saturday, 16 July 2016

5G Race Heats Up

Tech firms pushing governments for 5G networks a.s.a.p.

Times of India reports that US regulators on Thursday paved the way for a lightning-fast next generation of wireless services in a move that made the United States the first country to set aside an ample amount of airwaves for so-called 5G wireless applications and networks. In an act that could have far-reaching effects for American consumers and businesses, the US Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to open nearly 11 gigahertz of high-frequency spectrum for mobile, flexible and fixed-use wireless broadband.

Companies including Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc already were moving closer to adopting 5G, the fifth generation of wireless technology. New 5G networks are expected to provide speeds at least 10 times and maybe 100 times faster than today's 4G networks, the FCC said. There is a worldwide race to adopt 5G. South Korea and Japan plan to deploy it by the time they host the Olympics, in 2018 and 2020, respectively. The European Commission, South Korea, China and Japan are all working on 5G research efforts.

Friday, 15 July 2016

War of Attrition in Startups

War of attrition in startups. Startups finding ways to find and retain talent.

Times of India reports that Infosys has relaunched its employee stock option plan (ESOP) for junior to middle-level management staff as it looks to rein in rising attrition that stood at 21% in the April-June 2016 quarter. However, the company is not "unduly concerned" about the jump in attrition, which read 17.3% in the March quarter and 19.2% in the year-ago period.

"Today, we relaunched our ESOP programme after a gap of 10-years plus, after about 13 years. We are rewarding about 7,500 of our employees from junior to middle level management with restricted stock options and we will extend it to middle management to senior leaders and title holders subsequently," Infosys chief operating officer UB Pravin Rao said. He added that the company continues to focus on reskilling employees and has also revamped its leadership development programmes. ESOPs allow employees to own equity in the company, which is seen as a morale booster for them.

AR, AI and IoT Investment

Augmented reality (AR) game Pokemon Go has caught the media's attention. Tech firms are investing huge sums in AR and AI and IoT.

Times of India reports that companies are investing 24% of their average IT budget on Internet of Things (IoT), on par with cloud computing or data analytics, according to a report by British telecom major Vodafone. IoT is a network of physical objects and equipment with sensors that are connected and can exchange data to deliver advanced capabilities. The report noted that 89% of firms investing in IoT have increased their budgets over the last 12 months.

Vodafone's fourth annual 'IoT Barometer' report is a global survey involving more than 1,096 companies across Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan,  Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, UAE, UK and US. It said IoT technologies will be critical for the future success of any organisation. Almost 63% of IoT adopters are seeing significant returns on investment. The report observed that 46% of the companies surveyed intend to develop new IoT-based products and services over the next two years. The study found that more than half, or 52% of consumer electronics companies, are using IoT technologies as the basis for a new generation of applications for connected homes.