Friday, February 18, 2011

The 'Sutra' of Entrepreneurship

The sutra of entrepreneurship is great leadership. An entrepreneur has to sail through thick and thin of the unchartered territory. Unless a start-up is steered by great leadership, it is difficult to pull through especially during the rough weather. The downturns can percolate negativity faster than one can realize. Only a positive frame of mind can think innovatively, build an engaging culture, come up with identifying opportunities during the bad times and in turn lead the people. It takes a true entrepreneurship spirit to identify and take up new challenges and turn them into opportunities. Such positive framing can come only if there is passion and meaning attached to the work that you are doing. Whenever there is a meaning attached to whatever you are doing it no more feels like a chore and it automates innovative thinking. My view is, for an entrepreneur, it is the feeling and satisfaction generated in the sub-conscious due to creating and giving, which brings out the meaning to him/her.

Talking specifically about Women Entrepreneurship, the ‘centered leadership’ model developed by McKinsey, highlights ‘meaning’ as one of the important factors which help women into leadership. This model has been developed by putting in research around the specific need of professionally aspiring women and their experiences. To be precise, according to McKinsey’s model, meaning, is finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose. 

My book on WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP, tries to highlight [Prologue] that there are many diverse industries with opportunities. You should know yourself [your strengths and interests or passion which brings about positive energy] and should be able to understand how to identify opportunities. Once your start-up and business model are aligned with your strengths, showing the meaning to you and addressing an industry gap or presenting a better value proposition, then everything will fall on the right track. Buy a copy today and read the interesting businesses that some of the enterprising women are running; what made them choose what they are doing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

SaaS - An Opportunity or A Threat to Indian IT/ITES Industry

The most quickly adopted cloud-computing model is SaaS (Software as a Service) due to the relative ease with which it can be implemented for key yet mundane IT enabled tasks in an organization. This straight away leads to a debate whether SaaS is an opportunity or a threat to the IT/ITES outsourcing industry in India.

To come to a logical conclusion it is important to understand what SaaS is. SaaS, put simply, is software provided as a service over the internet, either on a subscription basis or pay-per-use basis. It certainly is a revolutionary concept as it presents low-cost upfront investments to maintain and upgrade software applications.

For many verticals like Manufacturing, Human Resource Management, Education and Retail it makes strategically viable to move to the SaaS cloud and offload some overheads of IT. SaaS becomes another way of presenting outsourcing method to these verticals. Some of the operations such as payroll management, sales lead generation and sales tracking can follow standardised protocols and hence go the SaaS-way, only this time much cheaper.

Specifically some of the tasks handled by ITES-BPO industry such as data entry, data conversion, accounting, back office operations etc. can well be moved to the cloud of SaaS. With high attrition rate in Indian BPO industry and increasing cost of maintaining employee benefits and employee satisfaction, SaaS model can surely pose a threat to ITES-BPO industry of India. An industry which is works on ever squeezing margins this could be a matter of concern.

On the same lines it may pose a threat to the India IT outsourcing industry to some extent. Whereas this may seem gloomy, but the bright side is that Indian IT/ITES industry has come of age and has a long standing reputation of being the best in terms of outsourcing services provided. With a long track record of about 25 years, our key players of this industry can include SaaS as a model to provide some outsourcing services. Their outsourcing experience should enable them to standardize key elements of processes of such functions which are usually outsourced. They should be able to move up the value chain faster and include SaaS in their service offerings. Moreover, moving to SaaS would help them scale faster and reduce redundancy within their organizations too.

In a nutshell, how I see this is – a threat which is posing a bigger opportunity.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Vertical Ad Network - An Opportunity

In many of my previous articles I have propagated the importance of starting out with focussed target segment. Tight segmentation will result in optimum utilisation of resources. In my book Women Entrepreneurship: Role of Women Entrepreneurship Towards more Inclusive Economic Growth, I have highlighted the importance of identifying niche segment for start-ups.
The growing online culture in India has forced the advertisers to budget for Internet as an important medium to reach the customers. This has caused an explosion in online ad network industry. At the onset of it, the online ad networks were mostly horizontal in nature and this industry evolved in a clutter. While on one side the publisher inventory was on the rise, there was not enough of any inventory aggregation in any specific vertical so as to make scalable profitable business sense. But the trend is changing and the ad networks are focussing now towards aggregating publisher space for verticals. Even advertisers are more interested in strategically targeting the growing online communities through the verticals. Hence vertical ad networks [online] is for business case today.
Like in any other marketing stint, it pays to target a tightly segmented market. This makes it logical for the advertisers to aim at online verticals as a part of their online marketing strategy. For e.g., if I have to sell any baby product, then it makes a lot of sense for me to approach such vertical ad network which has the publisher inventory from the websites/blogs/discussion boards etc. which serve the online women community with certain other specs like income, marital status, working/non-working etc. This plan will definitely work better than going through horizontal ad networks where I do not know the nature of the publisher inventory. In simple terms, as an advertiser, I am increasing the odds in my favour if I approach vertical ad network rather than try to hit the target in a clutter.
Though vertical ad networks are common in the US and UK, India has just started witnessing the growth of a few vertical ad network companies. There is a huge potential in this industry and this is one of the hot trends for internet as the medium of communication today. Approximately ad networks get about 5-6% of online ad spends in India whereas in the US and UK markets the average lies between 11%- 15% of the total online ad spends excluding the online spend for Google. Certainly with all other trends like increase in broadband usage in India across tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 cities, and introduction of mobile devices with internet access, it makes a lucrative business model to be explored.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What are the Traits of Women Entrepreneurs?

What are the unique traits which make women as harmonising counter-parts in the corporate world? What makes them see an opportunity or what triggers their networking skills? Whether as entrepreneurs or key decision makers women definitely have some skill-intelligence qualities which are better demonstrated by them than by their men counter-parts. Other than education, which can depend on a lot of circumstantial reasons, women do have few unique traits which can make them very good leaders.
Physiological Advantages:
Biologically, a man’s brain is 10% larger than a woman’s brain. But that does not necessarily conclude that all types of skill-intelligence are higher in men than in women. It is found that a female brain has more nerve cells in certain parts of the brain. Female brain has a larger corpus collusum which gives women an ease with which they can multitask. The brain-structure gives them advantage over men. Men tend to use left-brain more and hence are usually good with numbers and solving problems. The grey-matter, which allows thinking is 55.4% in women and 50.8% in men.
This brief anatomy of a human brain tells us that women are naturally good at fostering relationships, not just with friends and family but around her professional world too. This translates into unique networking quality which is seen as an important corporate leadership quality. Her multitasking skill translates into effective managerial and organizational skill which is so very important to put the processes in place and execute the ideas into a flourishing business. Her natural skills lead her to nurture management & leadership around her professional world.
In my book Women Entrepreneurship, you will find the various qualities that make it important to understand the need to push Women Entrepreneurship. It is a corollary to a study done by McKinsey, followed by 19 case studies of women entrepreneurs.