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Showing posts from July, 2015

India's Digital Business in Need of Bricks and Mortar

Economic Times reports that e-commerce companies and startups are now the biggest office space takers in India outpacing India's IT firms for the first time. This is good news for the commercial property sector unless of course there's a Indian e-commerce bubble in the making.
SJP @DigitalAsian

FaceBooking the World

BBC News reports "Facebook has built its own drone that will bring Internet connectivity to remote parts of the world, the social network has announced. The drone - which has a wingspan of a Boeing 737 - will operate as high as 90,000 feet in the air, and can stay airborne for 90 days at a time. Facebook said the drones would be able to offer Internet speeds of 10 gigabits a second. They will be tested in the US later this year. It was designed in the UK by Facebook's aerospace team, said Jay Parikh, Facebook's vice president of global engineering and infrastructure. "Our goal is to accelerate the development of a new set of technologies that can drastically change the economics of deploying Internet infrastructure," Mr Parikh said."
With news also that half the online world is on Facebook, it seems that Facebook wants the other half as well. Amazon and now Facebook seem to be big on drones now.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Digital Disruption of Labour

Times of India reports that the on-demand labour model is all but flourishing in India. Recognizing the power of a marketplace to bring on disorganized supply and demand, following the success of the cab aggregation model, various products and services ranging from laundry to last-mile delivery are also adopting a log-in, log-out approach to bring on suppliers and service providers.
And yet the touted model is showing its first signs of flounder where it all started. In the Bay Area and across the US, on-demand startups have been slammed by worker classification lawsuits from part-time contractors demanding employee benefits. Home services marketplace Homejoy, backed by Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz among others, shut down amid such allegations; while Uber was most recently charged with a $7.3 million fine in California. With startups on this side of the world increasingly providing protection and benefits to lure on more providers onto their tech platforms, will the model …

IT Without the IT Personnel: Will HR Become Obsolete?

Economic Times reports that India's $146-billion information technology (IT) industry is consistently haemorrhaging more people than ever before, even as the sector and large companies such as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys achieve greater size and scale with each passing year. Over the last four quarters, India's largest software exporters TCS, Wipro and Infosys combined have lost roughly over 100,000 people between them, ET's analysis shows. According to at least two CEOs of India's top 10 outsourcing firms, metrics like gross addition of employees are becoming increasingly irrelevant and companies are also strategically starting to manage attrition, amid the advent of automation and emergence of newer technologies such as cloud computing. SJP @DigitalAsian

Avoiding Digital Dementia

BBC News reports "A new kind of memory technology is going into production, which is up to 1,000 times faster than the Nand flash storage used in memory cards and computers' solid state drives (SSDs). The innovation is called 3D XPoint, and is the invention of Intel and Micron. The two US companies predict a wide range of benefits, from speeding up scientific research to making more elaborate video games. One expert described it as a "huge step forward". "There are other companies who have talked about new types of memory technology, but this is about being able to manufacture the stuff - that's why they are making such a big deal out of it," says Bob O'Donnell, from the consultancy Technalysis."
Faster memory technology will benefit m-commerce also.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Reducing Uninstalls: Getting Indian Consumers to Go Mobile

Times of India reports that whenever Jafer Khan, a 22-year-old student in Chennai, runs low on money for mobile data, he sends his two cents' worth to the country's largest e-commerce firms. He makes a quick buck filling surveys on which mobile application introductions failed to convince him or by reviewing new app features. Khan may not know it but he is essential to the mobile strategies of online marketplaces, which onboard people like him through tech startups for a raft of services such as feedback on demand and Big Data-driven push notifications that nudge cart-abandoning consumers to complete their purchases. 
At least half a dozen ventures have emerged around the estimated Rs 94,500-crore ($15 billion) Indian e-commerce industry, capitalizing on its bid to fuel transactions on mobile phones and reduce app uninstalls and find ways to push consumerism as the small screen becomes the dominant portal for online shopping. Airloyal, which runs customer engagement for e-ret…

What Tech Company will upstage Amazon?

Times of India reports that it's official: Amazon is bigger than Wal-Mart.  Amazon shares surged almost 10% on Friday after the e-commerce powerhouse reported a surprise second-quarter profit and a better-than-expected 20% jump in revenue.  The sharp increase in shares brought Amazon's market value to $247.77 billion, more than its biggest rival, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, signaling a sea change in retailing. Amazon, which just turned 20, is now valued higher than the world's largest retailer.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores is valued at about $230.53 billion. The company, with 11,767 stores worldwide, still has much higher sales, $485.65 billion in the year ended January 31, compared with Amazon's $89 billion in annual revenue last year.  But investors applauded Amazon's ability to keep costs in check while growing its revenue. Amazon credited the profit to continued strength of its cloud-computing business and strong revenue growth both domestically and ab…

COD Wars in India: Cash on Delivery E-commerce

Times of India reports that city-based Gurudatt Nadiger started selling containers, vessels and other home requirements on major e-commerce platforms this February. After five months and over 15,000 units sold, Nadiger realized that he had lost more than he had gained, particularly when product after sold product was returned to him.
"If a consumer orders a product and then returns it, I have to pay for the logistics for both ways, plus commission, plus tax. For a product costing as less as Rs 200, if the customer returns it, we incur Rs 80-100 on all this," he said. Cancellations and returns are a big problem that all online sellers face. The risk is especially high in sales made through cash on delivery (COD) mode of payment, which has been one of the defining pillars of India's e-commerce boom. 
While the number of mobile wallet users is estimated to jump five-fold from the current 3 crore to 15 crore by 2019, COD still accounts for 60% of all e-commerce orders, acco…

Digital Dangers for Drivers

BBC News reports that "Several car infotainment systems are vulnerable to a hack attack that could potentially put lives at risk, a leading security company has said. NCC Group said the exploit could be used to seize control of a vehicle's brakes and other critical systems. The Manchester-based company told the BBC it had found a way to carry out the attacks by sending data via digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio signals. It coincides with news of a similar flaw discovered by two US researchers. Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller showed Wired magazine that they could take control of a Jeep Cherokee car by sending data to its internet-connected entertainment and navigation system via a mobile-phone network. Chrysler has released a patch to address the problem. However, NCC's work - which has been restricted to its labs - points to a wider problem."
Digital dangers for drivers. People will begin ordering cars with old-fashioned analogue radios.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Turning the Tables on Walmart: E-commerce in India

Times of India reports that after starting a business-to-business e-commerce site, Walmart Stores is now eyeing the sale of fashion products directly to Indian consumers. Walmart is exploring the possibility of selling its 'George' brand of clothing and home products on third-party e-commerce sites, according to a person familiar with the development. "Walmart is in a very early stage of exploring the market for George," the person said, asking not to be identified.
"George is Walmart's largest private label and is a more than $2 billion brand." The person said the world's biggest retailer wants to capitalize on the growth of the fashion market in India. George is owned by Asda Stores, the UK retailer that Walmart acquired in 1999.
"I'm afraid I don't have any details to share. We're constantly reviewing markets where we believe George will perform well, but there's no more to it than that," Jo Newbould, a Bentonville-base…

Digital Diagnosis: Your Smartphone Says a Lot about You

Times of India reports that the more time you spend on your mobile phone, the more likely you are suffering from depression, says a study. According to researchers, depression can be detected from your smartphone sensor data by tracking the number of minutes you use the phone and your daily geographical locations. The team from Northwestern University found that the average daily usage for depressed individuals was about 68 minutes.
For non-depressed individuals, it was about 17 minutes. Spending most of your time at home and most of your time in fewer locations was also linked to depression. Also, having a less regular day-to-day schedule, leaving your house and going to work at different times each day, for example, is also linked to depression. "With phone sensor and GPS data, we can detect if a person has depressive symptoms and the severity of those symptoms without asking them any questions," said senior study author David Mohr from Northwestern University's Feinb…

India Begins to Address the Problem: Location, Location, Location

Times of India reports that as e-commerce and last-mile delivery services are making their way into the daily lives of urban India, the holes of the country's largely incomplete address system are starting to show. Any end customer can relate to the lamentable experience of trying to communicate directions to a government employee or a delivery boy armed with jewellery, a letter from a loved one, or the day's lunch.
Seeing this, startups such as Zippr and wWhere have come up to 'revolutionize' the location data industry, overwriting obsolete addressing systems with specific short codes that, if all goes according to plan, are to be shared with governments and delivery providers alike to facilitate hassle-free and efficient services.
Zippr lets users create random four-digit, four-number codes that identify any dwelling, slums included. "We want to produce a standardized form of address, and then integrate services from both the private sector as well as the gover…

Banking Empire Strikes Back: Battle for your Digital Dollar

Economic Times reports that shaken by the online shopping frenzy, a string of high-street banks like SBI, Axis and Yes will launch mobile wallets to take on pre-paid issuers like Paytm and MobiKwik who lure customers with easy payment option and attractive retail offerings. 
M-wallets — electronic saving accounts that can be used for shopping using mobile handsets — would help banks overcome the edge that pre-paid users have. Till now, banks have been pushing products like Internet banking and credit or debit cards as more and more customers turn familiar with online transactions. 
But even as card spends rose, banks were with competition from a new animal - m-wallets. These new breed of service providers had an advantage over banks: while a bank customer using debit or credit card for online payment has to key in details like the 11-digit card number, the card's expiry date and card verification value, a m-wallet user can close a transaction by keying in a single 4- or 5-digit p…

Chip Scientists Wanted: Made in India Chips

Times of India reports that India is considering a proposal to make it mandatory for the strategic sectors of Defence, Space and Atomic Energy to use 'made in India' chips in an initiative that will meet not only national security needs but also kick start the domestic semi-conductor manufacturing business that has been struggling to take off. Sources said that preliminarily talks on the matter have already taken place and a meeting that included top government representatives from the strategic departments of space, atomic energy, information technology and defence research took place at the Niti Aayog recently.
At the heart of the issue is the setting up of two semi-conductor fabrication facilities in India that were cleared by the UPA government in 2013 but have still not taken off given a lack of direction and government support for the very high investment units. Officials say that the government is aware that 'made in India' chips and electronics are necessary i…

A Chip Off the Old Block

Times of India reports that IBM says it has achieved a breakthrough in making computer chips even smaller, creating a test version of the world's first semiconductor that shrinks down the circuitry by overcoming "one of the grand challenges" of the tech industry.  The microchip industry has consistently created smaller and more powerful semiconductors. However, the more chips shrink the greater the physical and technological hurdles become.

Today's servers are powered by microprocessors that use 22 nanometer or 14 nanometer node chips.  IBM, working with a development partners at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, says it's figured out how to create 7 nanometer chips.  To get to the width of a human hair, you'd need roughly 10,000 of them. A strand of human DNA, in comparison is 2.5 nanometers.

The company last year announced a $3 billion investment over five years to advance chip technology to meet the growing demand that cloud computing, big data, mobile products…

Evolution in E-commerce: Impressing Modi with Chai Carts

Times of India reports that with Paytm and Shopclues posing serious competition to the established order of Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal, the current e-commerce race is not only about acquiring customers, but also chasing sellers to list on their platforms.  The stated goals are ambitious — Flipkart and Amazon aim to more than double their merchant numbers to 1 lakh sellers by the end of the year. Snapdeal is hungry to onboard 10 lakh sellers in three years—a target Paytm's five-month-old marketplace aims to reach in two years.

"The game is evolving from just being about acquiring merchants to staying relevant and meaningful continually for these sellers," said Vishal Chadha, senior vice president, market development at Snapdeal. "It is not difficult to get new sellers on board as of now as long as your brand proposition and promise is absolutely clear."  Just as customers are not loyal to specific e-commerce sites, nor are sellers who are hungry to garner …

Showrooms without the Bricks and Mortar: Online Retailing Evolves

Times of India reports that just like many apparel store customers, fashion stylist Pankhudi Singh used to visit local stores where she would find and try on outfits that she liked. Wondering if she could get a better deal online, she would then search on her phone for similar items on major fashion e-commerce sites; yet she is stuck trying to find the right fit online.  Not for much longer. Flipkart recently launched its image recognition feature to search for similar products based on a picture input, following in the footsteps of Myntra. This online product discovery function works particularly well for mobile marketplaces, prompting startups such as Wazzat Labs and Mad Street Den to create business models that ease the sales conversion from offline to online.

"I find the idea really international as fashion giants like Neiman Marcus have used this technology for their apps," said Singh on her experiments with the new Flipkart feature. A substantial portion of e-commerce

Banking on App Ideas: E-banking Evolving

Times of India reports the relatively low cost of developing apps has triggered an innovation boom in banking. Features are being added to mobile apps on a weekly basis as against Internet banking where changes have been gradual. On Tuesday, Axis Bank announced the first biometric authentication for mobile transactions, while ICICI Bank's mobile app now allows account-holders to send cash to contacts through a code which can be used for cardless ATM withdrawals.
The two leading private banks announced new features as they relaunched their mobile banking apps. Axis Bank's fingerprint ID feature is available on the iPhone and other high-end phones that have the hardware for fingerprint scanning. Axis has also joined ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank in 'watch banking' with a solution for the iWatch. While the earlier trend was for banks to try and squeeze in features of Internet banking into the mobile interface, the current year has seen banking apps with features that are nati…

Didn't Think Indian Politicians had Nightmares - Mumbai Photo Library

Image
Copyright CooperJal Ltd 2015 All rights reserved
SJP @DigitalAsian

Digital Infrastructure Growth: Sky's The Limit?

Times of India reports that strong demand boosted sales of infrastructure products like server, storage and ethernet switches for global cloud IT by 25.1% year-on-year to $6.27 billion in the first quarter of 2015, research firm IDC has said. The industry segment had an estimated revenue of $5.01 billion in January-March quarter of 2014. Cloud computing facilitates sharing of technological resources, software and digital information. It operates on a pay-per-use model, helping companies to cut costs as they do not have to invest heavily in infrastructure.
According to various industry reports, public and private cloud services is expected to be a multi-billion opportunity for IT firms as clients move to the cloud to host their data and applications to become more agile and increase cost efficiencies. Public IT cloud services spending alone are estimated to grow to more than $127 billion in 2018. Interestingly, cloud accounted for nearly 30% of the overall spending on IT infrastructur…

Digital Content Gives Opportunity for India's Regional Languages

Times of India reports engaged in various initiatives under the government's 'Digital India' campaign, global tech giant Google is focusing on key areas like bringing more Indic language content online and helping 20 million small and medium enterprises set up Internet presence by 2017. Though India is now the second-largest Internet market in the world, there is still a great deal of work to be done, Google VP and managing director, South East Asia and India, Rajan Anandan told PTI.
"That is why we are excited to be a partner to the Prime Minister's vision for Digital India, with its focus on empowerment, development, growth and governance," he added. PM Narendra Modi had launched the government's ambitious 'Digital India' programme at the Digital India week. The event was attended by who's who of India Inc and top executives of foreign companies, who committed to invest Rs 4.5 lakh crore for the ambitious campaign that aims to provide telep…

Digital Dialogue in India

Times of India reports that Indian Prime Minister now wants to hold a Digital Dialogue on social media after his recent launch of Digital India.
Also TOI reports people are forgetting important information because they've handed over responsibility for remembering it to their phones, a new study has found. Most people can't remember the phone numbers of their children or their schools, or their work, the study by Kaspersky found. But 47% of people could remember their home phone number between the ages of 10 and 15. 
The forgetting seems to be a consequence of people never needing to remember because the information is always accessible on a phone, with 53% of young people saying that their smartphone has all the information they need to know. The effect, called "digital amnesia" by the cybersecurity company, applies across all age groups and equally between men and women, it said. 
As we give over the power of information to our devices, the risk of losing them bec…

Putting the Cart before the Horse: Internet in Rural India

Times of India reports that in an innovative move to educate rural women about the Internet, Tata Trusts and Google India announced a special programme to send 1,000 specially designed 'Internet Cycle Carts' to remote villages. Built on the back of a regular bicycle, the carts are modelled on India's traditional distribution system used to ferry everything from ice-creams to industrial goods and will help empower the rural communities. The cycle cart operator or 'Internet Saathi' would train women and act like the postman, who was the single point contact for the village with the outside world both for information and communication.
Tata Trusts will manage the on-ground rollout with its partners, while Google India will invest in providing the Internet-enabled carts and training content, bringing India closer to the Digital Vision. The launch was attended by Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata and Google India and southeast Asia vice president Rajan Anandan. The Cycle…

Novel Litigation: Selling Books Online

Times of India reports that writer Amish Tripathi's latest novel, which retells the story of Ramayana and turns it into a gripping thriller, is now scripting the latest battle in the digital world, as a spat over its online selling rights between Amazon and Flipkart has reached the Delhi High Court. Westland Ltd, the Tata Group-owned publisher of the 'Scion of Ikshvaku,' has dragged Flipkart.com to the Delhi High Court, alleging that the e-commerce company is violating copyrights and IT Act by selling the novel on its platform.
Westland says it has signed a two-month exclusive deal with Amazon to sell the book through its online platform. Flipkart, however, denied any violation. "Flipkart is a marketplace which helps sellers connect with customers across the country. The matter is sub judice before the Honourable Delhi High Court, which on 30 June 2015 declined to pass any restraint order against Flipkart India or any of the sellers on the sale of the said book,"…

Biometric Payment Systems becoming the Norm

BBC reports that "Mastercard is testing a smartphone app that uses facial recognition to verify online purchases. Users in the trial can hold their phone up as though taking a selfie to approve transactions. "The new generation, which is into selfies... I think they'll find it cool," the firm's security expert Ajay Bhalla told CNN. One security expert told the BBC facial recognition should be complemented with "extra layers of security". "Google tried facial recognition on Android phones and there were a lot of problems in the early days", said Ken Munro, security researcher at Pen Test Partners. "People realised you could take a photo of somebody and present it to the camera, and the phone would unlock.""
Moving a step closer to making biometric payment systems the norm.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Smartphone Growth will Fuel Digital Content and Services

Times of India reports that buoyed by growing sales, India will overtake the US to become world's second largest smartphone market by 2017, says a report. According to international research firm Strategy Analytics, global smartphone sales are forecast to grow from 1.5 billion units in 2015 to a record 1.7 billion by 2017. China, India and the US are the three big countries driving smartphone growth worldwide. "India will soon overtake the US to become the world's second largest smartphone market by 2017 behind China, selling an impressive 174 million units," the report said. 
"We forecast global smartphone sales will grow from 1.5 billion units in 2015 to a record 1.7 billion in 2017," said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics in a statement. India is fast becoming the next major growth wave. "India's growth is being driven by low smartphone penetration, expanding retail availability of devices, wealthier middle-class consumers,…

Creating Trust in Mobile Banking for M-Commerce to Grow

Economic Times reports every year, millions of dollars are stolen from customers' bank accounts by hackers, or due to the carelessness of customers. JP Morgan Chase systems were hacked and the names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of 83 million account holders were reportedly exposed in one of the biggest data security breaches in history. As was the case with Tesco's customers. Even though banks in India haven't reported any significant breaches yet, their giant leap in the digital world to enhance customer experience exposes them and their customers to potential losses. 
Trust in mobile banking or m-banking and mobile payments needs to improve significantly if m-commerce is to take off. Once current users become comfortable with the security in place that will then drive further people to m-banking. 
Indians may trust in their God but until they begin to trust in the mobiles also, m-banking and m-commerce will not become widespread in India.
SJP @DigitalAs…

Mobile App Growth: It's All APPening in India

Times of India reports that As Indian mobile app usage outpaced global app usage, mobile app usage in India grew 131%, as per Yahoo's latest report. Growth in app usage far exceeding its global peers, driven by country's obsession with mobile app shopping, which contributed to 19% of their time spent on their smartphones (second only to gaming, which took 25% of user's time). App growth in Asia stood at 77%. "The shift from e-commerce to m-commerce is accelerating, with Indians engaging with their mobile shopping apps almost round the clock," Christopher Klotzbach, head of product marketing, Flurry from Yahoo, told ET.
The Flurry team from Yahoo analyzed data gleaned from over 700,000 apps and 1.8 billion devices from across the world, and the 42,000 apps and 82 million devices from India, that use Flurry. Phablet is the fastest growing mobile device globally, with growth in India outpacing growth in the US -- 38% of user sessions in India are on phablets vs 21%…

UK Likes Click Farming in India

Times of India reports that  low-cost IT workers in India are populating what have been described as "click farms" in fake Internet traffic to help British companies boost their online presence, according to a media report. An investigation by 'The Times' newspaper found that western companies are being offered packages costing as little as $1 per 1,000 clicks to increase Internet traffic or purchase 1,000 to 10,000 Facebook "likes" or Twitter followers. 
The newspaper's reporter posed as a potential customer for a British singer seeking to boost his online profile and was offered a range of services by several providers in Delhi and Mumbai.  "I can give you 1,000 likes on Facebook in six to seven days," Navdeep Sharma, whose company Indian Facebook Likes specializes in what he calls "social media optimization", told the newspaper. "It will take double the time for 2,000 and so on. Once the numbers increase, it will get faster.…