--social media strategies for Bangladeshi businesses worldwide
--public speaking on Bangladeshi businesses and social media
--paid product/service/website reviews of Bangladeshi companies
Interested to place an advertisement for your business?
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
I personally believe in the Bangla saying 'aagey dorshondari porey goon bichari', I do get confused from the outside when I pass by say Westin, LabAid or Radisson and United Hospital. Both appear to me to be very attractive, both allure me of the 'service' inside. Its just that one would be in the hospitality sector and the other would be a..hospital. But the flashy decors and outlook do sway my fancy once in a while. Impressed with the 'dorshondari' we wanted to focus more on the 'goon bichari' of the hospitals, as I think the 'goon' or quality of service I would get in a hospital is more vital to me than the one I would get to pamper myself with in any hotel.
For some known or unknown reason, I've heard people saying that they don't trust our doctors. No matter how flashy and modern infrastructure our hospitals have, no matter how modern and German-made our medical equipments are, we do not seem to get the 'mental satisfaction' that we so desperately seek in neighboring India, Thailand or Singapore. The Bangladeshi medical tourists also point out that for some reason or the other, 'our hospitals' always diagnose wrong, so the prescription that follows, is consequently wrong too. So you are wasting your money, time and unfortunately...your life too. So their piece of advice is not to waste any of those...and seek 'peace of mind' and 'value for money' in Kolkata, Delhi, Vellore, Bangkok etc. Most of the tests done in our local hospitals would usually say that either you are completely fine, nothing is wrong OR you need an immediate operation.
Why do we hear this ever since we became patients ourselves? Brand gurus might be able to enlighten us whether our hospitals and especially the doctors need to re-brand themselves or not. But service branding is more difficult and medical service we are talking about? Well I guess we need better answers than that. Say Apollo opened in Dhaka and supposedly have created a brand value among the affluent who think they are elites in the society and they should be treated in Apollo. But many of them have secretly sidelined their dissatisfaction with the treatment they received there. Same goes for Square Hospitals. Having a few white skinned doctors or Indian doctors (Apollo) certainly helps for marketing stunts, but in the long run, I need myself and my loved ones to be in safe hands...when they are unwell. So you get nearly full marks in your external attractions, equipment quality and ofcourse advertisements and Habib's jingles etc. But what about my diagnosis? what about the cost? what about your cold-shouldered doctors who think they know all? what about grumpy staff? I am still shy in giving any marks on these criteria.
It goes without saying how much money is channeled out with Bangladeshi medical tourists. We keep on building 'aalishaan' hospitals and promotional campaigns. But how do you change the perception? How do you cure...the service...and the disease? How do you make our corporate hospitals more hospitable to patients? More patient with patients? I patiently wait....while time and life tick away.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Upon seeking help in the call centers of a renowned telecom company of the country, the 'near-machine-like' agents kindly advised those women to 'please register a GD with the local police', as 'they don't have any provision to block calls to certain numbers from certain numbers'. When asked if he is aware of mig33, he said 'his operator' is not providing 'that service' yet! I regret to say but I have found many a call center agent of not only telecoms but also that of banks to be extremely artificial, lacking knowledge of their product/service range and a complete waste of airtime (hotline charges more). Why will our telecom operators not bother about introducing a service to block unsolicited calls?
Thanks to new entrants, lowered tariffs, intense competition, the operators are willing to advise to sacrifice 'a few' customers' privacy, comfort. The more texts the happy perverts send to 'anything as long as there is a female voice on the other side of the phone', our operators are making money, so they are happy, making the perverts happier. Everytime they make sick calls and the other party unknowingly picks up, who makes money? Our telcos do. And when your sister or mother or wife or friend decides to get a new SIM to get relief from this 'operator sponsored' harassment, who gains again? I am sure you are clever enough to guess.
So two pronged request....you better introduce this user-initiated call barring for specific numbers, if you can provide hundred FnFs to hundred specific numbers, if you can track my call record, you better help me keep my peace of mind. Otherwise, who knows any female acquaintance dear to you might be the next victim of this evils of mobile technology. Thanks for the recent ads in the newspapers regarding documents/procedures to be followed while procuring new SIMs. But prevention is better than cure, so act fast.
Lastly, please install some emotion/life in your call center agents. I, in my daily life, don't say 'Shubho oporanno', 'Shubho Shondha' etc and don't read from scripts when talking to people. And I don't like to waste my money asking for help and being guided to square one by airy advice from your agents. So humanize them, let them know what you are about and make them help us.
Growing Perversion Worries All But them....Grameen Phone, Warid, Aktel, Banglalink....get worried before you and your loved ones get worried for the wrong reasons.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Coming to the organizer of this super flop-show event....which is the leading Private Business School in the country who promoted it as more of a Job Fair rather than a Career Fair.If they would have shown a little bit prudency, their own existing as well as ex-students would have been benefitted.
Some of the companies were there about whom people don't even know.I would not like to give all the blame to the organizer and promoting partner but also to the visitor.You would be surprised to know that i saw one gentleman standing infront of Nestle stall and asking one employee of Nestle that'what business you do Sir?'
So,the so called Career Fair had everything....all rotten ingredients to spoil the cooking!
HELSINKI, July 20 (bdnews24.com/Reuters) - Nokia launched a service on Thursday which it said would cut the time a GPS-enabled cellphone takes to pinpoint its whereabouts, opening new opportunities for location-based online services.
Nokia hopes the service, available for users of its flagship N95 phones, will cut the startup time to one minute, from up to three minutes currently. The slowness has so far hampered takeup of cellphone navigation.
"It will be reliably under one minute in most countries," Ralph Eric Kunz, head of Nokia's navigation and mapping operations told Reuters in an interview.
Handset makers see GPS-based navigation as one of the next big value-adding offerings and even at this early stage.
Analysis firm Berg Insight has forecast annual shipments of handset-based personal navigation devices in Europe and the United States to reach 12 million units by 2009, compared with 1 million in 2005.
While most assisted-GPS technologies use mobile carriers cellsites to find locations faster, Nokia's new service bypasses operator networks, using data from SIM card and new software which helps the phone to catch satellite signals.
GPS chips use satellites orbiting the earth to determine the exact position of the user. They are found in car navigation systems, which have surged in popularity in recent years, and the technology is now making the jump to mobile phones.
Nokia's N95, with a 700-euro price tag, is not within reach of the wider market, but the Finnish firm aims to bring GPS chips to a wide array of its phones. All Nokia's GPS phones will have the new service, Kunz said.
Nokia hopes the service will boost prices of its phones in the longer term, and increase the appeal of mobile search services.
Nokia bought into the navigation industry last year through its acquisition of German firm Gate5 and started to offer free maps and routing data in February 2007, while charging extra fees for navigation.
While a few years ago personal navigation device makers like Dutch TomTom shrugged off possible rivalry from the handset industry, they have now acknowledged the potential risk to their business.
Do we have GPS data mapped to our city streets yet? I'm guessing no. But could this one day become a standard feature on most cell phones?
We know ISO, Superbrands, VeriSign (for digital security certificate) and so on which came from the international arena. Why don’t a local private company come and win the heart of the people with trust? That company will strictly maintain the quality of local products/services. Why do people go today for ISO, Superbrands and VeriSign’s certificates? Because they created such image inside the consumers and then the consumers feel free to select the certified product/service by those companies. If a Bangladeshi company aim to be such company, then people must welcome them. But they all will have to do is to win the heart of the consumers. If a local company can manage the quality, then why should we go to those foreign companies to buy their certificates with huge money? May be for exporting the product foreign company’s certificates are needed. It is true that we don’t export everything. So, what we don’t export, those can be certified by that local company. It could be certified product or service. For example, “X” restaurant is achieved “NO BHEJAL” certificate. Then people will go more to that restaurant. Of course, this certificate will add a brand value to that restaurant to get more customers. But in this case, honesty is really needed for the certificate issuer and the company should keep it in their mind, “Just don’t sell the certificates; instead, let them achieve”.
This way could help us to be a BHEJALBIHIN country. And then we can fly in the rocket as we have no BHEJAL in our pockets.
One-to-one business meetings between the local business entrepreneurs and visiting 50-member Chinese economic and trade delegation will be held today (Sunday) in the city's Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre. Assistant Minister of Chinese Ministry of Commerce Wang Chao, Chinese Ambassador in Bangladesh Zheng Qingdian, Ministry of Commerce Secretary Feroz Ahmed and DCCI President Hossain Khaled will also remain present on the occasion.Bangladesh-China business dialogue will be followed by purchase contacts signing ceremony between 11 Chinese importers and 11 Bangladeshi exporters for export of raw jute, leather, sea-food, herbal and pharmaceuticals medicines, textile, ready-made garments, chemicals etc from Bangladesh to China. Chinese conglomerates -- Sinochem Corporation, Chinatex Group, China National Light Industrial Products Import and Export Corporation, China Grains and Oils Group Corp, China Mecho Corporation, China Textile Resources Corporation (CTRC), China National Native Produce and By-Product I/E Corporation, COFCO Grains and Oils Imp and Exp Co, China National Service Corporation for Chinese Personal Working Abroad, China National Complete Plant Import and Export Corporation Limited, and China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation (CMEC) -- with interest in items like jute, leather, sea-food, herbal and pharmaceuticals medicines, textile, ready-made garments, chemicals, fuel oil and petroleum, gas, fertiliser, hotel, real estate, rubber etc will remain present in the one-to-one business meetings.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Whilst time is money as well as we people lead busy life, therefore we cannot wait up for reviewing the complaints by the mobile phone operators/authorities and hang up until they take necessary action. Now the question is who else can set us free from this situation? Of course mobile phone operators can save us from this problem. However to do so, they need some modification between their servers and software to add such service: “create ignore list”. The thing is that, this service will let the people create a blacklist. And after that the blacklisted number(s) can never be able to disturb that person any longer. Hey, mobile phone operators - listen up! We people are waiting for this service to come up in our hands.
2. Harry Potter himself is now the 30th most wealthy individual in USA, even wealthier than the likes of Micheal Dell (CEO Dell) and Eric Schmidt (CEO Google)
3. Some of his grand revenue sources are - Advertising ($380 million), DVD sales ($1 billion +), packaged good licensing ($11.8 million), music ($13 million+), books ($9 billion), movies ($4.4 billion) etc.
6. Some newspaper or magazine could have published a special Potter supplement and sell it separately in news-stands from the day of the launch.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I wonder, why don't I bother to switch to Warid too? I realize that its not that I am a blind fan of GrameenPhan....I mean GrameenPhone...which would make me religious about their services and I would consider switching to other operators as betrayal to my beloved 'neel pankha'. I don't even bother to go through the flashy advertisements by any operator as a matter of fact. Why is this so? The reason is plain and simple. I am suffering from the inertia to take the cumbersome pain to inform ALL my friends, foes, families, colleagues, strangers that 'Hi, from now on, my number is not 0171....anymore...its 016....please update your address book'. Also I have formed some sort of attachment to the number that I own. These are the prime two reasons I don't want to quit GP's mobile services. I believe that I have become professionally and personally too networked with other people to request them to bother about my number change. My brother could take the pain, as he has less acquaintances, he bothers about money, I bother about being bothered and bothering people I know.
In the UK, you can't distinguish if a number starting with 079...o78..etc. belongs to which operator. The operators there have been pushed to that extent by the demanding customers that they can keep their existing number and still switch operators. T-Mobile, Virgin, 3, O2, you cannot know which is which, the number is yours and you know that for sure. If I was given that opportunity here in Bangladesh, I would have loved to experiment more with what Warid has to offer, what Aktel says, and what does BanglaLink promise. But as a mobile user, my hands are tied and the terms are dictated by the operators, so I am locked in to the number and to the operator too. Ask me if I am happy with my current operator? Do I have a choice?
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
A short video on Dohatec and its chairman Luna Shamsuddoha was screened on the occasion, stressing the company's competence, excellence, quality and value it delivers to the clients. Dohatec was the only company outside North America to be presented. While recognising Luna and Dohatec, Microsoft placed the map of Bangladesh on a massive screen, highlighting the country as a source of quality software. "We all thought it was a fantastic video interview with Luna, introduced by Allison Watson at WPC. The use of the images from the original Dhaka video was superb, and the narrative by Luna was absolutely world-class," said Microsoft officials. Featuring Dohatec at the inauguration of WPC was a great honour, and the exposure would benefit the company immensely, said a press release. Dohatec, a Gold Certified Partner, receives support through the Microsoft Partner Programme that has vast technical and sales resources with worldwide presence.
Hats off to Dohatec. I don't want to know how they did it, all I know is that they did it, what the endless series of seminars in home and abroad couldn't do, what the expensive participations in foreign IT fairs couldn't do.....the much needed branding of Bangladesh as source of quality software. Critics are welcome to discuss about the quality of software and the methodologies, industry jealous peers can point fingers at any direction, but the end justifies the means. Dohatec has taken not only their brand name but the brand of the country in the homeground of Microsoft....excellent achievement Dohatec, keep it a trade secret, we don't want to know how you impress Microsoft, we are impressed because you made us proud and encouraged too. Anybody reading this from BASIS please learn a few tricks of the trade from Dohatec, who has shown that WE can do IT too.
Playin’ in the street gonna be a big man some day
You got mud on yo’ face
You big disgrace
Kickin’ your can all over the place
Job will job will rock you
Job will job will rock you
Buddy you’re a young man hard man
Shoutin’ in the street gonna take on the world some day
You got blood on yo’ face
You big disgrace
Wavin’ your banner all over the place
Job will job will rock you
Job will job will rock you
Buddy you’re an old man poor man
Pleadin’ with your eyes gonna make you some peace some day
You got mud on your face
You big disgrace
Somebody better put you back in your place
Job will job will rock you
Job will job will rock you
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Our batting....is unreliable, inconsistent and shaky. Our services, products are to some extent, more or less, unreliable, inconsistent and shaky. Starting from GrameenPhone's frequent call drops to 'bhejal' in Beximco Pharma's medicines to grumpy, gloomy faced counter staffs at airports, hospitals, banks etc. reinforce the similarity that what we are offering to our consumers is not pure, not sincere, kothao na kothao golod thekei jay.
Our bowling....does not have pace and it hardly spins....so does our corporate strategy and marketing....for our kind but sad information, we are yet to market 'Brand Bangladesh' overseas due to numerous reasons. As our bowlers cannot offer variety in their bowling and wait eagerly for the opponent batsmen to make mistakes and get out, similarly we wait for 'that deal' to happen, rather than going out in the sun ourselves and grabbing it.
Our fielding....is full of energy and we have shown that we can dive sometimes to save a few boundaries. We also have seen that we are very bad at direct hits. Our young managers are full of energy and are willing to take risks too, if given enough support from the crowd, captain and team mates. However for some unknown reason, they are not very good at hitting at the stumps from a distance when it is needed the most.....to run out a batsman, to outsmart a competitor in the market.
Our Captains....are mere gentlemen and very nice human beings in nature (not sure about their cricketing skills). They are modest, timid, humble and it shows in the field from their body language. They prefer to pray, not play, so that either rain saves our face or the opponents gift us their wickets, but we hardly push them to the point where they are bound to give up. Our managers are, in general, more risk-averse than they are risk-takers. They prefer to be coached by 'foreign' mentors and follow by the book, they don't come up with something innovative and improvised when the match is on and we are already in the field.
Our team....is full of down to earth young lads, who are friendly and polite. Remember in Pakistan, when Rafique decided not to run out Umar Gul even when he was out of his crease. Our veteran bowler showed a gesture of good sportsmanship....and we finally lost that match too. I would love to be arrogant with foreign opponents when it is justified to be, rather than hanging around them with the 'ji hujur ji hujur' attitude! But unfortunately what we do is, show our arrogance to our own teammates, our own colleagues, which does not help us in the long run does it?
Our language...is improving....thanks to English lessons in British Council, Bashar does it pretty well, Ashraful is struggling but I am sure he would manage a 6 in IELTS in any case...but who cares...as long as he bats well...and does not continue his inconsistent talent. Bangladeshi executives better hone their English armours to face the media during the prize distribution ceremonies. We are not rich enough like the Japs or the Chinese so that our money would speak for us, so English...more English..and perhaps Chinese is the way out. Also I really admire Mashrafe and Shahadat's fiery glares to opponent batsmen, I hope someone would teach them some Bangla gaalis too to apply on the batsmen. Lets be aggressive and rude when and where it is fine to be, and lets not repeat a 'Rafique temper tantrum drama' during practice.
Our Test status....is under serious doubts....we did win a few challenging games against the big boys and we got carried away in jubilations and complacent hiccups. Our fairlytales are always short lived when we test our patience and temperament in test cricket. Some fireworks in one dayers might do the job for that day, but test cricket....infact cricket as a whole, is more a mind game rather than a body game. So fireworks don't even take us to the 4th days in test matches and we lose by an innings and 123 runs. Our management tactics better not be like our one day cricket. Management, is after all, an attitude...its a state of mind. We are playing test cricket when we want to manage. And when we are fighting for market share in our home ground, we have the home advantage, but do we realize that we are merely playing national division cricket there, we better gear up with our helmets (and groin guards) to play on foreign soils.
So the summary is that our Bengal Tigers are mere Tiger cubs now. But we can do it. We need to sharpen more our claws and jaws to grab a bigger piece of meat and market share, of our competitors, not of our team mates please. We want to be proud of you...Bangladesh Cricket...and Bangladesh Corporate.
Once upon a time, some brilliant marketer came out with the concept that with catchy songs and out of this world dance routines, the Bengali imagination can be captured. That began the never ending era of “Song and Dance” TV advertisements - one whose glorious journey still exists even when we run deep at the heart of 2007.
Which leads to the biggest question of all - is there life after the “song and dance, jingle based” advertisements in Bangladesh?
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
The rise and fall of so many authors can be contributed to that short list. If books sounds obvious how about Billboard top chart? This music chart has been the overarching authority of defining the kings and paupers of music for decades. In short, if the song is in the Billboard chart then it must be good, hence downloadable.
It doesnt stop there. We consult IMDB for renting and buying movies. We check the box office numbers before deciding on which movie to check out in theaters. Our obsession with “Top Lists” stems from one simple premise that benefits both supply side and demand side - it helps us simplify our choices and gives us some much needed PR push.
With that established, i present a criminal situation of not having single, reliable top chart for any categories here in Bangladesh. Movies? No. Music? No. There are some so-called top charts here and there, found in magazines and papers. But they lack the prpoer sampling scope or the validity in technique and can never work like a proper “Top Chart”. And if asked, the cause of this absence will be attributed to difficulat mechanism.
The mechanism of creating such a chart is not that complicated. We just have to have a very transparent sales receipt reporting and acumulating system. With presence of such value adding softwares, its an “up for grab” opportunity for any media house. In recent times we have seen plenty of newspapers and TV channels popping out here and there. In such a hyper-competitive scenario, introducing such “Top Charts” can be a fantastic differentiating point for media houses as well as increase its readership and TRP.
But more importantly, we as customers will be greatly benefitted from this. With the number of categories, products and options increasing in geometric progression everyday - presence of such a filtering process that can tell us what is good and what is not good - is the just the thing required.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
To aptly comprehend this notion, let us digress a bit to understand how companies raise capital from the stock market. Looking at it by and large, one economic agent (the company) borrows money from another agent (shareholders) to meet its current demands for liquidity. The investors extend the credit line as they expect to benefit from the company’s future cash flows.
Now let us envisage a young, promising professional , with a sound educational background and a bright, prosperous future ahead of him. He starts (or rather shoots off) off his career with a salary of TK 40,000 and expects his income to rise at an average rate of 10 % per annum over his 30-year career. A little bit of napkin calculation tells us that his expected life-time income stands at Tk 3.2 crores. Now he can aggregate a portion of this life-time income, chop it off into shares and sell it in the stock-market. Let’s assume that this individual agrees to pay out 10 % of his annual income (Tk 32 lacs) as dividend. Due to the higher volatility of this investment, the share price would adjust to make it a high return investment. In this manner, he can raise around Tk 1.5 crore from the stock-market to produce a yield of 20 %. The investors are happy because they earn a higher rate of interest (the higher rate of interest covers adequately for the ultimately defunct value of the shares). The young man is happy for obvious reasons (he is now young, well-educated, promising & rich-an irresistible combination).
Surely in practice, development of such financial instruments would involve more careful deliberations. However, what I have tried to prove here is that, in principle, the idea is tenable.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
FROM THE ECONOMIST
WHERE is everybody? Being able to monitor the flow of people around a city in real time would provide invaluable information to urban planners, transport authorities, traffic engineers and even some businesses. Bus timetables could take account of hourly or daily variations; advertisers would be able to tell which billboards were most valuable. Such information can be collected via traffic helicopters, roadside cameras, police patrols, sensors embedded in roads, tracking units in vehicles, data from public-transport turnstiles and surveys. But the resulting picture is often inadequate, expensive—or both.
A new scheme devised by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) takes a different approach. Given that almost everyone in the developed world now carries a mobile phone, why not use the data from mobile-phone networks? Such networks have to keep track of where subscribers are, as they roam from cell to cell, in order to route calls and text messages. The MIT researchers have been testing the idea using anonymised data from two European operators, Telecom Italia and Mobilkom Austria, to analyse where mobile phones (and therefore people) are at any given moment.
The results take the form of luminous maps adorned with moving and colour-coded arrows, dots and patches of light that indicate the speed and population density of people in the city in question, with an accuracy down to a dozen or so metres. “You see how the city is pulsating,” says Carlo Ratti, who is leading the research as head of the SENSEable City Laboratory at MIT.
The new approach has a number of advantages over other methods. Sensors embedded in streets can accurately count vehicles, for example, but cannot count passengers or detect pedestrians and cyclists. Sensors and cameras also fail to provide “origin-destination” (OD) statistics—jargon for information about where people are travelling to and from, and how long their journeys take. Such information is usually collated using surveys, which are very expensive to carry out. Using data from phone networks promises to be much cheaper. “It's pretty simple: you just need a digital map and you show the data,” says Hannes Ametsreiter, head of marketing at Mobilkom Austria, which is working with MIT to map the city of Graz. “This could be an opportunity for us.”
With markets becoming saturated and mobile operators' revenue-growth slowing—there are already 112 mobile devices for every 100 Austrians, for example—providing information about travel patterns could be a lucrative opportunity for telecoms firms. One potential customer is Seat, a firm based in Milan that provides real-time traffic maps that drivers keen to avoid traffic jams can call up on the internet before setting out. The company gathers information from roadside cameras, Italy's national toll-road operator, the police, and satellite-tracking systems installed in more than 220,000 vehicles across Italy. All this costs a lot of money and provides only a partial picture of the state of Italy's roads.
Paolo Cellini, the head of Seat's internet division, says using data from mobile-phone networks instead would dramatically improve the service. He estimates that within two years Seat will sell subscriptions to onboard navigation systems updated in real time with information on traffic levels and average speeds. After that, Seat will provide traffic forecasts produced by correlating past traffic patterns with variables including weather, the date and nearby events, says Mr Cellini. He expects to pay telecoms operators more than €30m ($40m) a year for access to their location data.
City-planning departments offer another important market, says Ricky Burdett, architecture adviser to the Mayor of London and the director of last year's Venice Architecture Biennale, at which MIT displayed a prototype real-time map of Rome (see picture). London is preparing for a projected additional 1m inhabitants in the next 15 years, and people-movement maps “will be invaluable” in planning housing and transport. Politicians will take to the technology because it can provide solid statistical backing for politically unpopular planning decisions.
Follow the people
It is not hard to think of other uses for the technology. Estate agents, for example, might be better able to appraise commercial property by determining how many pedestrians pass a given storefront. Advertisers would appreciate knowing how many eyeballs pass a hoarding and how those numbers vary between weekdays and weekends. And tourism authorities might change their promotional campaigns abroad after noting which nationalities (identified by their home networks) spend most time in town and which prefer to lie on the beach.
“People-movement maps could lead to improvements in transport planning, traffic-light placement, signage and road layout.”
Rome will probably be the first city with commercially available people-movement maps. When MIT presented its project, called Real Time Rome, to Telecom Italia last year, the top management at the Italian telecoms giant gave the scheme its backing. So did Rome's mayor, Walter Veltroni, and the city's transport authority, ATAC. Fulvio Vento, the director of ATAC, says the new system will allow him to scrap an expensive annual OD survey of 2,000 people, which costs more than €60 per respondent to carry out. Mr Vento says the maps will give his planners extraordinary and unprecedented power to shuffle the schedules of Rome's 2,100 buses as demand shifts throughout the day. It could also lead to improvements in traffic-light placement, signage and road layout. Roma Metropolitane, the city authority for Rome's expanding subway network, also says the maps will be a boon to planners.
Samarcanda, a taxi firm based in Rome, is providing free consulting services to the project in return for access to the data. The company's boss, Giovanni Coco, says his drivers still choose their routes based on habit and experience. “It's a disaster,” he says, “we need help.” Transport planning will provide a ready market, in short, but plenty of other potential uses for the technology are waiting to be discovered. People-movement maps would appear to have a colourful and pulsating future.
Dhaka gridlock and traffic is the bane of my existence. The fly in my ointment. The cockroach in my Coke. The finger in my eye. The kick in my pants. The perfect metaphor for us as a people and as a nation (?). The rage-induced ulcer that is burgeoning in my stomach lining. Wait, the last one might not be a metaphor. Could this in any way be part of a future solution for us? It's not short-term, that's for sure, but since flyovers aren't working (that is when one is actually completed--they just expedite your travel time from one traffic jam to another) and city planners (or those who claim to be) and traffic cops are clearly clueless in the art of traffic management, would this help?
Modeling traffic flow would be a prerequisite if we ever decide to act intelligently about city planning and traffic. This kind of data could influence everything from traffic light timing/sequencing, location-based approval of commercial property licenses for businesses, etc. It could also enable all kinds of cool location-based services (which are actually already possible given the number of mobile phone towers around the city). How about simply creating an interactive digital map of Dhaka streets and overlaying a service a la Mapquest or Google Maps?
On a side note and as a simple example, one of my personal favorite LBS utilities on my cell phone is Geominder which allows me to set alarm reminders based on location after I "teach" it some of my key locations. For example, I could set an alarm for "Don't forget to buy bread next time I pass by an Agora". For other examples, see Meetro (location aware instant messenger and social network for your cell), Smarter Agent (location sensitive real estate searches), Loc-Aid (track the location of friends, loved ones, colleagues, find a date, etc.), Loopt (location based social networking), and Socialight (discover great places/reviews as you walk around).
Anyway. Get back to work you lot.
The Bangladeshi trio's winning venture focused on industrial waste management to help export-earning industries to meet global compliance requirements.
"We fail to comply with global standards over and again because of lack of emphasis on waste management," said leader of the winning team Zeeshan Rahman at a press conference Wednesday.
"Most of our industrial units do not manage their waste properly. We aim to provide services in managing waste in an environment-friendly way," he said.
Zeeshan and friends, Joydeep Choudhury and Baizeeed Md Nur, are all second year BBA students in the Institute of Business Administration at Dhaka University.
They won the 'Best of the Best' award last month in the regional final of the six-month long competition, beating five other teams representing the best young entrepreneurs from Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.
It was the first time that Bangladesh had taken part in the awards, which have been held since 2000.
The Bangladesh team's business plan on industrial waste management for the export zone areas in Savar, Dhaka, won over the juries in the competition.
The achievement also helped the young students to overcome their fear of competitors from more advanced countries.
"We have been able to know ourselves. As a nation we have a tendency to underestimate ourselves. It's not good. We have a lot of talent in this country. We are definitely capable of building a positive image of our Bangladesh," said Zeeshan.
The young entrepreneurs, taking note of global consumer demands, are now aiming to establish a company providing services to manage industrial waste.
"At present some NGOs are working on domestic waste management. None is working for industrial waste management although the issue is gaining some prominence," said Baizeed.
Baizeed mentioned the country's tannery, textile, knitting & dyeing and ready made garments industries and said entrepreneurs in these sectors face difficulties in ensuring global compliance standards with respect to the environment.
"Almost 90 percent of tannery units are red-marked. Buyers will not place orders unless these units improve their standards," said Baizeed, adding that ISO requirements were also necessary for garment industries.
"We will start our work after completing our graduation. There is much preparation for to be done for the project before we start," he said.
Joydeep, the third member of the team, stressed the importance of government support in realising such ventures. He suggested initiatives be taken especially to nurture young talent.
"It's high time to groom up our generation as we represent the future," said Joydeep.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
BusinessWeek has posted the results of their online user survey on “Asia’s Most Admired Companies”. The results have skewed towards those businesses that have gone global, used technology, and innovated.
Toyota( ) Japan
- Lenovo (
- Infosys (
- Nintendo (
- Acer (
- NHN (
) South Korea
- Baidu.com (
) China SingaporeAirlines ( ) Singapore SingaporeTelecom ( ) Singapore
- Wipro (
- Posco (
The more perceptive of you will surely have noticed a trend.
By Joanna Chung in
Published: June 27 2007 03:00 | Last updated: June 27 2007 03:00
Microfinance is quickly becoming a popular corner of the capital markets as more investment banks and investors see the business of providing small loans to low-income individuals in poor countries as potentially profitable as well as a powerful tool for development.
However, some experts say there are obstacles preventing the microfinance sector from reaching its full potential, including the absence of a global framework that mainstream investors can use to assess properly the risks associated with the sector.
A transparent and globally acceptable method for rating microfinance institutions would help to open up the asset class to a much wider universe of investors than would or could invest in unrated securities, industry observers say.
"The lack of consistent metrics for analysing micro-finance institutions has hindered investment at a time when microfinance is growing at a significant rate," says Cynthia Stone, chair of the Emerging Markets Council at Standard & Poor's.
"Despite the level of interest, mainstream investors need standard metrics before they can invest in this particular sector. By creating standard metrics the market understands, it will draw out institutional and other investors who were on the periphery or have stayed out of the market."
Ian Callaghan, head of the Microfinance Institutions Group at Morgan Stanley, says that access to a greater scale of capital is needed and that means tapping a pool of investors that do not necessarily have a social objective but are looking for diverse investments.
"Microfinance has so far been mostly funded by development banks and socially responsible investors but they do not have the access to the kind of capital that is needed to satisfy the growing industry's needs," he says.
Activity in the microfinance sector has been growing in the last few years and has involved increasingly complex deals. Last month, for instance, the first publicly rated microfinance collateralised debt obligation - which pools together packages of bonds - raised more than $100m. The deal was rated by S&P and completed by BlueOrchard, which specialises in the management of microfinance investment funds, and Morgan Stanley.
Mr Callaghan says: "It helps that investors can look at a piece of rated paper that they can compare with other rated paper that comes across their desks."
In a recent report providing recommendations for a rating methodology that can be used to rate microfinance institutions (MFIs), S&P predicted that greater transparency and globally acceptable standards could see volumes of microfinance-related securitisation deals surge.
S&P expects to rate an additional two to three microfinance CDO transactions and around 25 MFIs in the coming months, with CDO issuance levels potentially reaching $500m by the end of 2007. As the existing microfinance institutions become adept at handling new inflows of funding, and more MFIs enter the market, securitisation volumes could reach between $1bn and $3bn annually over the next decade, the agency says.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
An interesting article on how greater transparency can translate into creating real strategic and tangible value for an industry or firm, and not just as a “nice to have”, lip service or PR ploy. The important factors here are: being upfront about and properly assessing risk factors, having a standard set of metrics to facilitate comparison, greater innovation in financial product development (e.g., structured finance vehicles like CLOs/CDOs),and to a certain extent divorcing, for lack of a better word, “passion” from capital investments decisions (i.e., admittedly simplistically put: create a business model that creates real value while supporting a social charter which can therefore stand up to the scrutiny of dispassionate investors and have a fighting chance of being sustainable). Of course, an adequate investor base and climate is a necessary prerequisite (so maybe the whole thing is moot when it comes to
While the MFI industry is clearly in need of the above, would it be a leap too far to say that other sectors in
Monday, July 9, 2007
's mom-and-pop stores perish with the arrival of modern supermarkets? Fortune's John Elliott reports. India
By John Elliott, Fortune
June 27 2007: 12:57 PM EDT
(Fortune Magazine) -- Suresh Prasad sells groceries from a 12-by eight-foot store opposite a new Reliance Fresh supermarket in the southern Indian city of
Venu Gopal owns a slightly larger store opposite another supermarket a few kilometers away. Sitting on a stool behind a glass counter topped with plastic bottles of sweets and surrounded by closely packed shelves of rice, lentils, fruit juices and other groceries, he sells two or three sweets to children, a single cigarette to another customer, and tiny tobacco sachets every few minutes. "Our customers," he says, "come for small quantities."
Those are hardly the dire scenarios of doom forecast by opponents of
"Definitely there is room for both," says Doma Trivedi, a franchisee of one of Reliance's most successful supermarkets in Hyderabad, whose wife and brothers continue to run the family's kirana a few kilometers away. "Everyone will have his own business. Smaller shops give credit and cater to people shopping on their way home from work, while Reliance Fresh gives correct measured weights and guaranteed prices."
Reliance Industries, the parent of Reliance Fresh, along with other retailers, including Wal-Mart (Charts, Fortune 500), which has teamed up with Bharti Enterprises, wants to change the way Indians have shopped for generations. So far 220 Reliance supermarkets have opened in 20 Indian cities since the rollout began last November. Plans call for 2,500 outlets in the next four years, including 500 hypermarkets.
The retailers' plans are generating opposition from wholesalers, other middlemen, and leftist political parties, which estimate that small-scale retailing provides livelihoods to about 20 million urban workers and 12 million rural vendors. To stem such opposition, Reliance has been opening bulk-buy stores called Ranger Farms in the early-morning hours that allow street vendors to buy at wholesale prices from the Reliance supply chain, thereby increasing their margins.
That hasn't stopped the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which initially focused on blocking foreign investment in the retail sector, from calling for restrictions on the number and size of large stores that can be opened in a single locality. They also want protection for farmers who sell to large retail chains and will, they fear, be bullied into accepting low prices. Reliance and Bharti argue that their supply chains will replace corrupt officials and middlemen who run the current purchasing and distribution system, and reduce waste of up to 40 percent of produce sent to urban areas.
A look at the potential impact shows many of the opposition's fears to be exaggerated. "India is at the beginning of a process of change, and customers are looking for something more modern, but there is no risk of serious unrest or job losses because only a limited number of small vendors will be affected," says Arvind Singhal, chairman of Technopak, a retail consultancy in New Delhi. He says that small players will be hit but that the impact will be limited to areas near supermarkets. By his estimate, 6,000 to 8,000 supermarkets will open across
This, he points out, is a small fraction of the total, and many will switch to selling increasingly popular products such as mobile phones or toiletries, or rent out or sell their premises. Set that alongside Technopak growth forecasts - that $330 billion in sales will reach $900 billion by 2015, of which modern retailing will account for 27 percent, with numbers employed rising from 40 million to 62 million - and it is clear that market expansion should more than compensate for the impact of new stores.
But for vulnerable small traders operating on the margin, these forecasts are of little help today. In
Similarly, Selva Kumar, who runs a kirana 100 meters from a Reliance outlet in Chennai, says, "We have lost 40 percent of our business, and that's the future. We're not closing, but there'll be no growth."
There is less opposition in
At Reliance Fresh stores, wide choices of produce are neatly arranged on shelves and in big display baskets. There are ten varieties of mangoes and 14 kinds of apples, some on sale. Signs hang from the ceiling, and smartly uniformed staff in red T-shirts add to the mood of efficiency.
More residents of
But it's not all smooth sailing. Reliance has found its "fresh" tag hard to justify as summer temperatures have risen above 40 degrees Celsius. On a recent tour of several
Not surprisingly, Komanduri calls this a "learning curve." India has few refrigerated warehouses, and no retailer has tried to develop countrywide supply chains for fresh produce, linking collection points in rural areas to processing depots near urban centers. Reliance Fresh has been trying - and failing - to cope with 175 varieties of fruit and vegetables at the height of summer (down from 243 in winter).
Customers have noticed. "It's good value here, better than other supermarkets, but there are difficulties with the quality, especially apples and papayas," says Rama Tibrewal, a middle-aged Reliance shopper in
It would seem that Reliance will be able to eat into small retailers' business in big ways only when quality improves and its stock widens to include household items, which is now happening across all its stores.
The future rapid growth of the retail sector, together with shoppers' preferences in developed markets around the world for both big and small outlets, should mean that the impact on the mom-and-pops will be far less than feared.
From the July 9, 2007 issue
Clearly Bangladesh is on a much smaller scale when it comes to comparing national economies and geographic size (not just in terms of sheer physical distances, but also connectivity and mindset) , but does the burgeoning Indian experience have any relevance to our retail industry?
The areas where there seems to be some rhyme (not sure about reason): (a) is there room for both the Agoras and the "mom and pop" retail outlets (i.e., so called tong shops and modir dokaan), or will the former eat the latter’s lunch?; (b) the need to strengthen the urban-rural supply chain through better logistics and infrastructure (especially for food and produce); (c) eliminating waste, inefficiency, corruption and unjust competition in the purchasing and distribution system by profiteer officials/syndicates/middlemen; and (d) is it possible to find “win-win” situations where large corporates, including multinationals, can create mutually profitable market presence (like Reliance opening in the early morning so that even street vendors can get access to the efficient and modern supply chain).
Sunday, July 8, 2007
But I hope this remote control alignment by Papa Telenor is not making the creative minds of our brand managers idle and they have enough on their plates to keep their minds active. I understand that what they are doing is strictly decided by Papa Telenor, they are merely following instructions regarding logos and branding. The best thing they have done on behalf of Telenor so far is change overnight the old 'good ' logo ' and put on new make up with their 'neel pankha' even in the remotest corners of Bangladesh...we had always been good in following foreign instructions hadn't we? Coming back to djuice logo, I feel sympathized with creative, innovative young minds of GP who must have had something more meaningful, more local and more attractive in mind. But what to do, you give some you get some, we got Nobel prize, they gave us 'their' logo.
So we have Shezan juice from Pakistan, Frooti juice from India, Pran juice from Bangladesh and now we also have djuice from Norway. Its just that the last one is not available in Agora, you have to look for it across the road.