Using Gmail for Business

Many small businesses are now contemplating using G-Mail for business. But is it worth it?

Google’s webmail and complimenting applications (YES, THESE ARE OFTEN FREE ALSO)  require no hardware or software and need minimal administration, creating tremendous time and cost savings for businesses. While these can be entirely browser based, the mails can also be pushed and thus accessed offline too.

Some of the features that Gmail offers ts privileged users are as follows:

  • Each user gets 25 GB of email and IM storage, which is 50 times the industry average. Gmail Business Mail for SMEs/MSEs are designed so employees can spend less time managing their inboxes, and thus increase productivity in the office. Time-saving features like message threading, message labels, fast message search and powerful spam filtering help employees work efficiently with high volumes of email.
  • Gmail is securely powered by the web, so you can be productive from your desk, on the road or at home, even when you’re offline, using your laptop, or even your I-Phone or smartphone.
  • You can Sync your emails with Outlook & BlackBerry. At no extra charge, Google Apps supports over-the-air mobile access on BlackBerry devices, the iPhone, Smart phones, Windows Mobile, Android and many less powerful phones.
  • Gmail provides excellent spam protection. Powerful Gmail spam filtering helps you stay focused on what’s important. Postini filtering lets you customize your spam protection.
  • When you trust your company’s information to Google, you can be confident that your critical information is safe and secure. Google’s information security team, including some of the world’s foremost experts in information, application and network security, are focused on keeping your information safe. Google and many other customers trust this system with highly sensitive corporate data.

So what are you waiting for? Go GET GMAIL for your BUSINESS..

Its much more than what our normal Gmail users get for a minimal price.

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid – Marketing Strategies

Economically speaking, the “Bottom of the Pyramid” is the largest and also the poorest socio-economic class of people across economies. This consumer segment consists of 2.5 billion people who live on less than 2.50 dollar per day. The phrase “bottom of the pyramid” is used in particular by people developing new models of doing business that deliberately target that demographic, often using new technology. This segment of consumers have also been referred to as the “Base of the Pyramid” or more commonly the “BoP”.  This consumer segment has drawn the attention of the biggest marketing firms due to the sheer earning potentials from volumes of sales with low margins.

The consumers at the bottom of the pyramid have a very distinct buying behavior as opposed to the other consumers. While the rest of the consumer segment derive value from products through 3 sources, namely attribute based satisfaction, consequence based satisfaction and finally, goal based satisfaction,  it is our belief that the consumers at the BoP derive value / satisfaction mostly from the innermost ring or the first level/source of satisfaction. Because of their spending ability, this class of consumers tend to be very conscious about the core benefits obtained from the purchase of any product or services.The probability is high for success of products which fulfill the attributes of the lower bases of the consumer need model provided below.

While every the most profitable consumer segment in current economic times is the youth within the age gap of 20 – 30, commonly called the twentysumthing, the sheer volume of possible purchases in this consumer segment has become a focus for marketers. While every product offers benefits to its consumers not only from its core attributes, but also from its fringe attributes (benefits from outer levels), this class predominantly derives maximum satisfaction from the core attributes of products only. Product extensions and ego-based attributes have little impact on the consumption and buying behavior of this consumer segment, who would in fact, perceive the extra benefits as being something, they are having to shell out quite a bit extra, even if the marketing firm does not charge for them. While “extras” in the product marketing mix may consist of other value adding product extensions, care needs to be taken while deciding on the basket of goods for such consumers. Thus the probability is high for success of products which fulfill the attributes of the lower bases of the consumer need model provided below, namely which fulfill the physiological need and the security needs the most.

Pricing strategies also play a major role for the success of marketing strategies in such a consumer segment. While place and promotion offer very meager sources of value or utility, a low pricing of products is often a mantra for easy acceptance on a new product introduction. Price premiums are not easily tolerable in this highly sensitive value-sensitive consumer segment. Thus it has been seen that companies rage low-price war to capture the market of this segment, and many success stories which have been glorified are that of Nirma cake soap, Tata Namak, and other brands which churned billions of dollar by targeting this segment.

Pointers for Successful and Sustainable e-Business models

While there has been so many e-business ventures, very few actually even live to see the light of profit. A major reason for this is that business never think properly in depth before going online. There are so many aspects that the CEO needs to give time to think before going online, and not do it just because its the way others are going. Few such questions are as follows:

  • First and foremost, the top management needs to deliberate on the nature of the business and the industry. What are the core competencies of the business. Will that be enhanced by going online?
  • What about the navigational structure and the way the organization functions? Will the culture embrace such a change effectively? What are the chances of talent loss to competing firms due to the cultural changes and process changes?
  • How would the existing customers react to the change? Is there a customer retention plan in place? Will the move help to reach out to new potential customers?
  • Is the business geared with the proper technological architecture? Have the processes been remodeled to fulfill service demand?

Do keep in mind that the technological architecture has to be designed keeping the service planned, in mind. The architecture preferably needs to be custom fit with your business process. If you are doing the reverse, i.e. fitting your processes to the architecture, do try to weigh out the pros and cons of the switch of the business model to the new business model. Then the above questions become relevant even more to ensure that the company stays healthy and safe.

Top 15 Quotes from the Management Guru Jack Welch

John Francis “Jack” Welch,  is an American chemical engineer, businessman and author. He was Chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001. Welch’s net worth is estimated at $720 million. Jack Welch is such an authority on the subject that many master of organizational leadership programs put a focus on his principles of management. Following are few of his top rated quotes on management.

  1. Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.
  2. If you pick the right people, and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it you almost don’t have to manage them.
  3. Give me a highly successful unionized industry.
  4. If change is happening on the outside faster than on the inside the end is in sight.
  5. Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.
  6. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.
  7. Control your own destiny or someone else will.
  8. Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.
  9. An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.
  10. Number one, cash is king… number two, communicate… number three, buy or bury the competition.
  11. The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.
  12. The Internet is the Viagra of big business.
  13. If GE’s strategy of investment in China is wrong, it represents a loss of a billion dollars, perhaps a couple of billion dollars. If it is right, it is the future of this company for the next century.
  14. My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.
  15. Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while.

Do share if you liked these quotes from the Management Guru Jack Welch.

Simple things we forget

1. We earn to live but we don’t live to earn
2. Office is a place where nobody is concerned about anything other than self interest. I f somebody is friendly then that person obviously wants something out of you. Be cordial, friendly, but never sacrifice your own interest. Learn to say no with a smile at times. People in office love you only as long as you listen to everything they say like an idiot
3. Health is wealth, once lost it never comes back
4. If you work less one day, then you can obviously make up in the future. But if you loose your health, no office is going to compensate you for that
5. Our health is dependent on food, sleep and happiness. It is very essential to relax so that the body can sustain in the long run
6. Nobody in this world can love you or care for you more than your mother and your life partner
7. We always think that we are achieving a lot, but years later when we look back we see that we have missed out on a lot of things in life

Generic Strategies for the Ultimate Competitive Advantage

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage” ~ Jack Welch

Today, the firms operate in an even more competitive industry dictated by an ever unparalleled dynamism. Jack Welch never said anything more meaningful. In current times, when change is the only thing that is constant, a firm’s ability to learn, and more importantly “unlearn and then relearn” creates the most important distinguishing factor for sustainable competitive advantage.

Michael Porter’s framework for competitive advantage probably explains few of the focus issues firms may keep in mind while formulating strategies at the top level.

However, this is the way to achieve sustainable competitive advantage and a firm’s top executive needs to understand the core to his firm, based on which he can take this call. However, due to the dynamism of the industry structure, he needs to continually analyze and re-evaluate his strategies, based on the core.

A firm probably has multiple dimensions of personality traits, talents, resources and skills, and hundreds of other characteristics, but what is it that when all the others are surgically removed distinguishes the character of the firm at the very core? This is essentially the key which needs to be leveraged successfully and innovated upon continually to attain that otherwise illusive competitive advantage.

So how does one recognize one’s core?

One may argue that achieving “customer loyalty” may be a step towards achieving a sustainable competitive advantage. It’s not a secret that loyal customers are good for an organization or brand. You don’t see too many executives saying they don’t want more of them. But in spite of that what intrigues me is how few companies truly acknowledge, take care of and leverage those loyal customers in a way that measurably accelerates market share and recurring revenue while mitigating competitive risk and reducing sales & marketing costs. But in spite of  “customers” being a crucial focal point for business, it is required to recognize that in current times, the very nature of business is evolving. With the very definition of a firm’s role in an industry or even the definition of the industry under such a strict evolution, it is crucial to note that the very target customers are deemed to change in this dynamic market structure. So identifying and acquiring new customers, in spite of the spiraling costs of new customer acquisitions, may play a key role for sustenance.

Thus a firm’s source of resources for the “Ultimate Competitive Advantage” is much more than the sources of revenue. Smaller firms whose ability to learn and “unlearn and then relearn”have reaped the benefits in the past. The problem started after they grew to a certain size where they couldn’t stay so nimble on their feet, and faced competition from other firms, who were more adaptive to the dynamic industry structure.

Sometimes, one tends to think that probably a firm’s organization structure and the culture is the inherent and most important source of competitive advantage. But how can a firm leverage that to quantifiable profits since at the end of the day, business decisions are based on ROI figures and financial achievements. This is probably where a firm needs to rediscover itself.

Live to earn and die saving

People spend a third of their lives learning to earn money, a third to earn money and another third of their lives to save their money. It is a matter of debate which third of their lives is more important than the others. No risk no return is the fundamental law of money, if you have less qualifications to earn good money, chances of good income are still there but people will agree that probability is low and risks are high.

What we consider here is the government’s role in defining someone’s savings pattern? The government allows a person to hoard only a certain amount of cash or assets, the rest has to be either paid in taxes or locked into the free market or with the government. While this is a fundamental reason that keeps the economy running from an individual’s point of view, it is highly perplexing what to do with his money.

On one hand the government gives you the option of depositing your money with it and losing your money like slow poisoning thanks to higher inflation rate than deposit interest rate, or losing it altogether if you belong to one of those countries whose government is more unstable than a twig in a storm. On the other hand, the government encourages you to invest in the stock market and also incentivizes you by offering tax savings on long term capital gains, the catch being you can’t get out of the market without losing if you are caught in a downturn and anyways in the long term a balanced portfolio will give you an inflation-adjusted return of only around 10% on an annual basis. A lower than 10% return with the half dozen hedges so that you don’t get a heart attack when you are being hit left, right and centre makes a common man a most unlikely candidate to succeed in saving his money too much.

While GDP defines the spending power of a country’s population is it really good to have a population which spends all of its money for goods and services, or a population which saves and increases its asset base? The answer to the question is same as whether it is better to have a perfect process line producing output from input with zero inventory, or to have some inventory in place. A perfect system is only good as long as it lasts, in an imperfect world concessions have to be made, only time will tell if the concessions provided by the government to save our income can really boost the country to the status of most desirable place to live in or just a huge economy.

With Regards,

Arindam Acharyya

Apple vs Microsoft-Who will win the battle for the crown?

Stevey plays against Billy boy again. Bill Gates of Microsoft fame and Steve Jobs of Apple fame face off for the second time, enlisting Halo’s Master Chief and Justin Long as back up. Seriously, between Apple and Microsoft, Innovation in new products has always been a race for eternity. So who will win this long battle?

Watch out for this battle of Titans, which is bound to capture the fancies of all technocrats!

 

SME Lending : A Growth Strategy

SME lending in India has been a neglected target market since the independence. Though, government tried to propagate SME lending using regulations and incentives, however, somehow beneficial impact was never visible and SME lending always remained a poor cousin to other activities of lending institutions.


It needs to be initially identified what the current constraints are existent for the SME lending. It is recognized that Government should take initiative to operationalize SFCs in big Scale, and professionally run rather than bureaucratically. Subsequent sections focus on how SFCs or financial institutions need to first evolve a strategic focus on the sector by understanding the client & his needs. The SFC needs to re-engineer the SME lending value chain with the intention to develop a long standing relationship with the SME clientele set. The modifications needs to be executed across the critical areas via marketing execution, product development , streamlining of operations through internet integrated delivery channels & application of advanced risk modeling techniques.
As the relationship evolves over time, the firm is able to indulge in relationship lending due to reduction of information asymmetry which lowers supervisory costs & increases account profitability for the firm. Through retrained & empathetic staff dealing with SME clients, the interaction level deepens. Finally the SFC by donning the role of a Financial Consultant transforms from a lending institution into a one stop solution for all the financial needs of the SME client.
At the end the concept of Fund Financing is also suggested as an approach. The focus in the further studies has been made on traditional sources of Financing as SIDBI, is coming out with processes to replicate and innovate the present schemes to suit SME needs.

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This article is authored by Mukesh who is an alumni of Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. He has been associated with Crisil and has been recognized as a young thought leader of India.

Demand and Supply

There is a saying that toomuch of anything isnt good. Coming to thing about it, different people have different needs. But irrespective of whether someone is a lawyer or criminal, a housewife or a CFO, there is one common need which is as defining as the need for food or clothes and that is Recognition. Everybody wants to be recognised be it their work, their way of displaying love or even in silly sibling rivalry. And the strange thing is, unconsciously, what someone wants for self, they start doing the same for others. Its like an indirect signal of the hidden desire. Again when someone is denied of something for too long, something which they consider is their rightful want, they start shying away from it and often do the opposite of what they really want. Yet most people wander why they don’t get back the worth of what they are giving to others. Most people who work too hard in office complain that they are the ones who handle all the pressure while the guy who lazes around has the bonds most with the boss. Or while giving away everything for the sake of love, what most get back is distance. I guess what most people don’t understand is that the law of demand and supply work beyond economics. Whenever we give too much into something, the demand from us automatically decreases. I know its horribly unfair, but its true at the same time. By making too much of us available, we don’t let the other person miss us. When a boss gets more than what he wants for, his expectations keep on increasing, and he just knows that he has someone who can complete everything even without directions. This is why one of the chief reasons we shout first on our mom the moment anything goes wrong, while we cant do that with someone else as we know that mom is always there for us irrespective of how we behave. But if we could always control the way we behaved, then there wont be anything natural with our behaviour. We would be like human robots with just the right smile and the right words. We are the way we are by birth. But at the same time after learning the same lesson repeatedly, its better to check the way we act at times, rather than saying “ this is the way i am..cant help!!!”

Hope i didn’t sound too political.

Signing off for the time being, catch u later frds!!

Priy@nka

Top searches in the Internet in this year

For all those who follow Google trends, this would barely come as a surprise. From a research done by a group in the United States, it has been disclosed that the following articles have been the source for the hottest search globally in 2010 and is also expected to reign till mid 2011 to a large extent. The group analyzed the searches done in Google, Yahoo, Bing, ASK and AOL Search. These collectively account for 99% of the total search engine usage and are ranked as the top search engines in order, as per usage.

What was actually less anticipated was the lower rankings of the FIFA world cup, as compared to few other unexpected rank holders.

And finally, without any more ado, we present you the top 10 searched topics in the internet in 2010.

1. Haiti
2. Malema Julius
3. Earthquake
4. Bafana
5. Nelson Mandela
6. World Cup
7. Cape Town
8. Soccer
9. Zuma
10. Kaizer Chiefs

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This Article is authored by Jake Mazan, who is a guest author at Business Fundas. He is a Senior Research Analyst cum Manager at NG-Online News.

How to build a Successful Business Model or a Business Plan?

Business Models are crucial for the success of an enterprise or even a startup. So what do you need to focus on while building up your business from scratch? A Business model or a Business Plan (B-Plan) helps you to plan this properly.

  • What are the firm’s core capabilities?
  • How does the firm deliver value to its clients? How does the network with its partners/collaborators (value chain) add to its core competencies. How does the value chain model collaborate with the firms current strategies?
  • What is the cost structure in the business vis-a-vis that of the firm?
  • How is the value proposition unique and sustainable in the long run?
  • How does the firm manage its distribution channels and relationships / liasons with the customers?
  • How is the targeted customer contacted, acquired and retained?
  • What are the sources of revenue and the structure of the same?
  • How does the vision/mission statement adhere with what the firm is doing now and what it is planning to do in the future.

The problem of professionals

Three professionals were riding in a car: a hardware technician, a systems analyst, and a programmer. The systems analyst is driving and when they come to a steep hill he finds that the brakes have failed and the car is accelerating out of control. So, the driver starts pumping the emergency brake, downshifting the gears, and rubbing the wheels’ rims against the curb. He finally manages to bring the car to a stop.

The three professionals climb out and assess the situation.

Hardware technician: “Let’s try and fix it. I’ll crawl under the car and take a look. ”

Systems analyst: “No. I think we should get someone qualified to fix it, a specialist in brakes.”

Programmer: “Why don’t we just get back in and see if it happens again?”

Moral of the story: There’s an urgent need to come out of your comfort zone to taste success

EQ/PQ

Most people have a tough time dealing with politics and all sorts of mental pressures at the workplace in addition to personal tensions. This often creates friction with our peers unknowingly. One of the outcomes from the mental turmoils is creation of groups of so called friends and foes. One of the basic purposes of workplace friends is to listen to our sufferings, sympathize and bad mouth our foes. Further, these friends are also the people via whom all our personal and official details get leaked in office. In reality, it has very often turned out that the foes whom we hate so much and are always busy mentally abusing as the possible sources of all our troubles, are actually in same conditions as us, just they don’t get along with us.  Further, if we came across such foes at social places after quitting the organization, mostly they turn out to be much less of a monster than what we thought they were, although our ego prevents us from recognizing the same. Also the friends who seem to be the best of well wishers we can have, fade away from our life slowly and eventually after we quit. Thus, it is very important how we act and display our emotions at the work. What is really important is to maintain a “pleasant” relation with the strategic people . Now pleasant in no-way means being fake. Be earnest, help, share and liven up your collegues, maintain great rapport with the boss but always keep emotions out of it. Its best to disassociate the emotional side from the professional side for avoiding troubles.

#Quote Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t do

This quote by Donald Trump speaks more than just the words. Business success is often about choosing which projects to go for and which to leave, even if they appear attractive. Not always do all firms have the capability to deliver a “waao” project, even if the same is offered to them. The same works on the personal front also. A man needs to recognize his limitations before jumping onto “opportunities”.

Impossible is nothing vs. Superstition

Though out the history we have seen or read about great men and women preaching that it is only hard work that pays off, there is nothing called luck. Is it really so?

No matter what people say, when it comes to actual practise we see innumerable instances where in spite of their talent, men have taken the aid of superstition while performing the task they excel at doing. Let us consider some of the most popular as well as distinct instances.

India is a country known for religion and unfortunately when there is religion can superstition be far behind? If there is one profession in India which pays well irrespective of actual talent and proof of success then it is ASTROLOGY. Astrologers predict what probably even science cant at few instances. The most funny astro superstition must be the addiction to K by the famous bollywood producers namely Karan Johar, Ekta Kapoor or Rakesh Roshan.

But if we have to give an instant of some really wacky superstition then lets remember the 10 wickets haul taken by Anil Kumble at Delhi in the cricket match against Pakistan, Sachin Tendulkar used to hand over Kumble’s sweater and cap to the umpire before he was to bowl an over and kumble used to take a wicket.

However, barring obsession with astrology India isn’t the only nation where superstition dwells. Every human being, irrespective of nationality and religion is superstitious to certain extent.

If we recollect history then we shall remember that Napoleon Bonaparte feared cats (ailurophobia) and the number 13 whereas Winston Churchill petted black cats to obtain good luck.

Michael Jordan always wore his blue North Carolina shorts under his Bulls uniform for good luck.

However, if we have to list some of the weirdest superstitions then it would be of Jennifer Anniston won’t board a plane without stepping on with her right foot first and tapping on the outside of the plane. Coldplay’s Chris Martin has a pre concert ritual, he doesn’t go on stage without brushing his teeth.

One of the most famous superstitions is that in the year 2012 the world is going to end. Who knows? I say live your life today so that there is no regret for tomorrow 😉