A winning framework for market entry strategies

A market entry strategy is the planned method of delivering goods or services to a new target market and distributing them there. When importing or exporting services, it refers to establishing and managing contracts in a foreign country. Few companies successfully operate in a niche market without ever expanding into new markets but most businesses achieve increased sales, brand awareness and business stability by entering a new market. Developing a win-win market entry strategy involves a thorough analysis of  multiple factors, in a planned sequential manner.

When an organization makes a decision to enter an new market, there are  various issues that needs to be thought out. These options vary with cost, risk and the degree of control which can be exercised over them. The simplest form of entry strategy is often exporting, using a direct (agent) or indirect method (counter trade). More complex forms include truly global operations which may involve joint ventures, or export processing zones.

An organization wishing to enter a new market faces 3 major issues:

  1. Marketing – which markets, which segments, how to manage and implement marketing effort, how to enter – with intermediaries or directly, with what information?
  2. Sourcing – whether to obtain products, make or buy?
  3. Investment and control – joint venture, global partner, acquisition?

Firms can follow the mentioned steps in sequence to create that successful blend of strategies while entering a new market.

Planning these few steps in details would ensure that firms face less risk while entering a new market during expansion. Although there is no absolute success mantra to enter a new market, these activities would significantly lower the risk exposure of the firm and create a winning scenario.

Have you read our article on the Porter’s Five Forces analysis of industry competitiveness? This is a must-read article for anyone planning to get into a new market.

Read more about market entry frameworks.

Beowolf Clusters: Cheap supercomputers for poorer pockets

The demand for faster calculations can’t be met by only relying on the speed increase resulting from advances in computer technology as high end super computers are that much costly. One of the solutions to this problem for ‘not-so-deep-pockets’ is the distribution of the numerical tasks to a set of machines. So how to provide supercomputer capabilities cheaply? The answer is Beowolf Clusters. This process is called parallelization because the computers complete their tasks in parallel instead of the traditional step‐by‐step (serial) execution. As computer codes have been updated to use this new paradigm, the demand for parallel computers has grown. In general, such computers need to have:

  • A large number of CPUs for the actual processing
  • A pathway that enables the different processes to communicate with each other.

Cluster is a widely‐used term meaning independent computers combined into a unified system through software and networking. At the most fundamental level, when two or more computers are used together to solve a problem, it is considered a cluster. Clusters are typically used for High Availability (HA) for greater reliability or High Performance Computing (HPC) to provide greater computational power than a single computer can provide. Beowulf Clusters are scalable performance clusters based on commodity hardware, on a private system network, with open source software (Linux) infrastructure. The designer can improve performance proportionally with added machines. The commodity hardware can be any of a number of mass‐market, stand‐alone compute nodes as simple as two networked computers each running Linux and sharing a file system or as complex as 1024 nodes with a high‐speed, low‐latency network. Class I clusters are built entirely using commodity hardware and software using standard technology such as SCSI, Ethernet, and IDE. They are typically less expensive than Class II clusters which may use specialized hardware to achieve higher performance. Common uses are traditional technical applications such as simulations, biotechnology, and petro‐clusters; financial market modeling, data mining and stream processing; and Internet servers for audio and games. Beowulf programs are usually written using languages such as C and FORTRAN. They use message passing to achieve parallel computations. This clustered computing is being looked upon as the savior to the problems of the budget issues of SMEs which create an entry barrier for them to use high end analytics and computation intensive processes.

7 reasons why Apple’s I-Pad may fail.

Amidst a lot of hype as always, today 27th January, 2010, Apple launches the I-Pad. While it is being viewed as the product that will rejuvenate Apple’s revenues for years to come, a question many staunch Apple fans (and those who are not fans of course) will ask, is it really worth the hype? Apple has always created a market even when there is none. Will it be successful yet again this time?

  1. While it looks sleek and captures the mind of all tech-enthusiasts, every one will admit that this product can not be the replacement of a smartphone or a palmtop due to its size.
  2. It has the potential to be a great e-book reader and internet browser, but will users like a gadget only suited for that purpose, given that tablets of that size pack the same features (except the wireless carrier connectivity) and lots of processing power and data storage capacity. Also, colored screen may not increase the overall ebook reading experience on the i-Pad, given its shorter battery support, as compared to the other e-book readers
  3. Is it worth the time for serious gamers, given its processing and memory configuration?
  4. It does not sport a 16:9 aspect ratio, the standard for wide-screen entertainment, and by not doing so makes the iPad much less interesting for watching movies. This may affect sales.
  5. I-phone’s huge list of applications will also run on the I-Pad. But will the usage of I-Pad revolutionize the development of applications as never before? Unless applications are developed custom made for I-Pad, the product will not see the meteoric success of the i-Phone.
  6. The users would be keen to experience something radically different from the windows mobile, the Android sets and the ever stable Symbian phones. This the I-Pad may not be able to deliver, given its technical configuration.
  7. Lastly, the price tag may appear too high even for the brand exclusivity, even for staunch Apple fans.

Apple has always been a great marketeer and has added value to the consumers even with products which were present before the “Apple way” became popular. What Apple provides its customers is the ooomph factor of being associated with the company, the exclusivity maybe. This positioning amongst its fans has always been the USP for the company. Because of its size, processing capabilities and functionality, it may be rejected as yet another gadget which fall in between the mobile phones (iPhone) and the laptops (Macbook), and thus fails to meet both requirements. But will that be enough to ensure a great reception of the i-Pad from the Apple’s fans? Will the early adopters be inclined to try out the hype? Only time will tell.

How to tackle the problem of security breaches in call centers

Outsourcing is the mantra of the day. Today, many large MNCs, all across the globe, outsource activities like customer relationship management activities to cheap labor countries where English speaking skills are not a problem. A major concern in such outsourcing is the security in customer’s sensitive data.
It has been estimated by a research that the average cost of security breach is $6.4million in 2009 and this cost is spiraling up, growing as fast as 90% sometimes, YoY. Security breaches incur costs from the following heads:

  • Customer Notification and Follow-Up
  • Cost of Lost Customers
  • Legal Costs
  • Customer Restitution
  • Damage to Brand and Company Image
  • Regulatory Fines and Penalties
  • Increased Security and Audit Requirements
  • Employee Downtime

Call centers have to keep audio calls transcribed for meeting legal requirements as well as for training purposes. In such a scenario, the cost of a breach becomes very high. Privacy protection for voice recordings is a technology to detect and mask private information from the audio recordings of the conversations. It has been applied to in telephonic conversations between agents and customers in CRM centers. In such settings, the system picks up calls from the recording system and masks out sensitive data such as credit card details, social security details and other sensitive information before storing the recordings. It is customizable to other settings easily where different types of data needs to be masked out. This technology can be extremely useful comply with various security legislation and compliance standards applicable to voice recordings. Fewcompanies actually are not meet the masking requirements and so go for multilayered 128 bit encryption of transcribed call data.

Today, multiple companies provide such security solutions. Few such companies are IBM, Envision, NICE, Protegrity and Vontu Solutions. These solutions either  mask sensitive data before storing transcribed call recordings or provide multi-layered security through encryption  or both.

Comparative analysis of Facebook, MySpace & Orkut

Facebook, MySpace and Orkut are three of the most popular social networking sites available today.

Facebook is a social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook with his college roommates and fellow computer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes while he was a student at Harvard University. MySpace is a social networking website headquartered in Beverly Hills, California, where it shares an office building with its immediate owner, Fox Interactive Media, owned by News Corporation. Orkut is a social networking website that is owned and operated by Google Inc. The website is named after its creator, Google employee Orkut Büyükkökten and has over 100 million active users currently.

Facebook, Myspace and Orkut have a rank of 1, 12 and 77 respectively as of today amongst all websites. The following figures compare the visits profile for the three sites.

Traffic percentage wise of daily internet users, daily reach Facebook is way ahead of MySpace and Orkut.

Comparing the traffic of each individual sites, from geographical location, an interesting trend emerges.

It is apparent that United States is by far the biggest user of Social Networking sites, and is the biggest traffic contributor for Facebook and MySpace. Similarly, Orkut is more popular in India and Brazil.

The average time spent by the users of each site also present a nice comparative analysis.

What might be the cause of such variation of consumer preferences since all three apparently offer variations of the same food on a slightly different plate? Any suggestions?

Data source: http://alexa.com

7 secrets to successful online marketing

Some e-markets become success stories while others fail. Time and again, e-markets like e-Bay and Amazon.com have become super success stories while certain sites like Rediff-shopping have sustained themselves in the onslaught of internet marketing.

So what makes these companies perform better than the others, which failed to sustain their business. What makes certain websites tick and others to fail?

Research has indicated that there are few factors which affect the intention to purchase a certain product from a given website.

To make sure your website addresses these criteria, the following things need to be addressed with very high importance.

  1. First you have to draw your customers. To do so, you need to have a separate marketing strategy for search engines (Like Google).  Make sure the website i solid in depth keyword research.  A good keyword density of about 5-6% is necessary. Internal linking to related posts and use of HTML tags like heading ,bold and italic tags helps a lot. Spend efforts on link building too.
  2. Referring sites like blogs and forums, social media sites (Twitter/Facebook) and word of mouth help a lot to build up vendor reputation and spread product awareness. Connect with your current or potential customers through blogs and discussion forums and spread your campaigns.
  3. You have to keep them interested in your offers for long enough to trigger the purchase intention. Ensure you have all the relevant information on the website.
  4. Ensure that the website is not cluttered. Always avoid information overload. This distracts the customer.
  5. Ensure that the customer can access the payment portal very easily. An intention to purchase must be taken care of as soon as it is triggered.
  6. Ensure the customer of his privacy and security if he needs to put in sensitive information online. Adhering to international standards helps a lot. Focus on having his faith.
  7. Ensure there is a mechanism for feedback in the website. It pays to satisfy a dissatisfied customer. The returns from such a customer can be astronomical as his brand loyalty increase a lot.

Following these simple yet highly effective tips can change the way your customers perceive your website and your offerings. These simple tips will enhance the effectiveness of your websites a lot.

Try them out and let me know if you have any more inputs.

Top 10 trends in Information Management technologies

Information management appears to be the talk of the day amongst all technology buzz. Information management or IM is the collection and management of information from one or more sources and the distribution of that information to one or more audiences. Management means the organization of and control over the structure, processing and delivery of information.

In a recent research by Gartner, certain concerns surfaced following the recent boom of information creation and management concerns. A research was carried out on what type of technology development focus would actually help to lower such challenges in information management.

A brief description of the research is provided below.

As this study indicates, the issues need immediate scrutiny. The problem is that very few firms are actually addressing it, and most are simply choosing to look the other way.

These technologies are viewed as strategic because they directly address components of the information management grand challenges. Thus, attention to the issues should be paid by CIOs, information architects, information managers, enterprise architects and anyone working on a team evaluating or implementing an enterprise content management system, a business intelligence application, a master data management system, document-centric collaboration, e-discovery, information access or a data warehouse system.

Business houses need to give the problems some thought before they become too large to be addressed.

Speech technologies: The way ahead for inclusive development

Research institutes like IBM Research Labs, Media Labs Asia, NCST, C-DAC, institutes like the IITs, IIMs among others, have taken up dozens of challenging projects to try filling the gap of ‘Digital Divide’. The private sector is not behind, with companies like NIIT, HCL, Infosys, Wipro and TCS having demonstrated cases for taking computers to the common man.

The rural kiosks is one of the more successful of all the attempts for o people empowerment and development in which many organizations are trying to apply ICT for socio-economic development. A number of kiosk based projects have been implemented by n-Logue, Drishtee, ITC e-Choupal, Media Lab Asia and other such initiatives. These initiative had been a great success, but now the question is, can they be taken to the next level? If so, how can ICT play a role there?

So how can these initiatives move ahead. one technology which has been identified to have huge potential is speech technology. The benefits of speech technology can be realized for the following industries:

The potential benefits that speech recognition, speech synthesis, voice authentication and conversational systems will bring to the Indian population (for people with physical disability, for people with education disability and for speech enable education) has been estimated by our research as close to $100 million.

So how will people benefit from these technologies?

  • The speech technologies have finally been adapted to the Indian need, and companies like IBM, OnMobile, LatticeBridge, Nuance and Haikya (to name the bigger few) has developed support for Indian English, Hindi, Punjabi, Oriya, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali and Rajasthani
  • People with visual impairments can (currently over 10mn of Indian population) can actually use such technologies such as voice authentication and speech recognition and get banking services.
  • Desktop & embedded speech technologies may be used in e-governance initiatives for content delivery and e-commerce. Agro-dependent people can use these technologies to get real time content and can take part in transactions over the internet.
  • Speech synthesis with Indian languages will have a huge application in the Indian education industry. Primary education and secondary education can be provided using these conversational systems much more effectively.

Thus, these technologies can provide huge benefits to the Indian users. Similar usage may be adopted after language support is developed all over the world. What now is needed that initiatives like n-Logue, Drishtee, ITC e-Choupal, Media Lab Asia and others give these technologies a deeper look and try to implement the same so that fast inclusive development can be achieved.

How would you try to implement such technologies?

Please provide your valuable suggestions.

Understanding mobile commerce: How can it be successful

Mobile Commerce (m-commerce) refers to any transactions conducted through a variety of mobile devices over a wireless telecommunication. M-commerce was initially expected to experience a substantial growth for  rapid proliferation of mobile device adoption and the obvious advantages of accessibility of service anywhere, anytime.

However, most m-commerce applications, excepts for very few personal applications like the ring tone or caller-tunes have failed. Some factors which have hindered consumer’s usage of mobile commerce applications include cost of access, credit card security, difficult navigation and low access speed.

Following the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM),  two key determinants of technology adoption are perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use.  According to this model, both perceived usefulness and ease of use influence the attitude of individuals towards the use of technology, while attitude and perceived usefulness of the technology predict the individual’s behavior to use the technology. Since  m-commerce is a new way of doing business and promises delivering the business in new way the TAM could be useful in predicting user’s intention to adopt new services and applications. Prior studies have extended TAM with constructs such as perceived playfulness, perceived enjoyment and others.

Based on research, it has been found out that subjective norms and perceived behavioral control impact perceived ease of use and intention to adopt m-commerce which implies that marketing strategist seek to produce peer impact rather than rather than external impact.An emphasis on friends who have adopted m-commerce would be better than individuals with high level of personal innovation. The practitioners can also prioritize and allocate resources accordingly. Moreover, m-commerce service providers should emphasize on differentiation to make application more useful and easier to use than their competitors.

Businesses are yet to realize the fortunes hidden in m-commerce. It is a buried goldmine awaiting exploitation, provided the consumer requirements could be properly understood. Given this background, what products would you have launched with m-commerce?

Can we get computer security for free

Gone are the days when you needed to shell out a huge amount of money to buy security for your laptop or personal computer. Today, most of the anti-virus developers provide anti-viruses and anti-spyware for free. The revenue generation model for these companies have undergone radical changes and transactional viewpoints have become a talk of the past.

Today most antivirus developers like Panda, AVG, Kaspersky, Avira, Avast, Bit Defender and many more provide a free home edition for usage on personal computers. These free antivirus are geared up pretty much to solve all normal security challenges one may face. Of course, they also have an advanced feature option ( for complete protection ) for which an user is expected to pay.

So how do you get it for FREE now when previously it used to pinch your pocket quite a lot to buy these software?

The current market is often ruled by the laws of freeconomics. More often than not, these antivirus packages come with toolbars and adwares. While the user is mistakenly taken into a ride that he is enjoying a premium product for free, he becomes part of the many towards whom advertisement campaigns are directed. While the user gets a product, the usage of which results in lowering of perceived threats from viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans, the companies get to advertise through their products to the customers directly.

So whats the other part of the story? Do companies take a sneak peek into your activities online so that they may direct more targeted campaigns towards you, which would be more tailored to suit your needs?

Lack of anti-virus gives you a head ache. Now does a free one do the same for you?