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Growth Strategy

 Time period 2008 onward have been filled with turmoil and economic disasters. Numerous leading institutions closed down, other suffered heavy losses.  The picture is still very fuzzy with Nokia shedding 4000 jobs; RIM gasping for fresh air and expected to shed additional 2000 jobs, HP will shed around 8% of the workforce.    These are the periods that leadership requires new ideas, new blood and new paradigm to recuperate and thrive.  Having said that over a period of time many institutions have created and argued growth strategies and would like to share McKinsey model that is somewhat closer to well established Ansoff Model; it argues that businesses should develop their growth strategies based on:

Operational skills
• Privileged assets
• Growth skills
• Special relationships

Growth can be achieved by looking at business opportunities along several dimensions, summarized in the diagram below:

Operational skills are the “core competences” that a business has which can provide the foundation for a growth strategy. For example, the business may have strong competencies in customer service; distribution, technology.

Privileged assets are those assets held by the business that are hard to replicate by competitors. For example, in a direct marketing-based business these assets might include a particularly large customer database, or a well-established brand.

Growth skills are the skills that businesses need if they are to successfully “manage” a growth strategy. These include the skills of new product development, or negotiating and integrating acquisitions.

Special relationships are those that can open up new options. For example, the business may have specially string relationships with trade bodies in the industry that can make the process of growing in export markets easier than for the competition.

The model outlines “7”  ways of achieving growth, which are summarized below:

  1. Existing products to existing customers: The lowest-risk option; try to increase sales to the existing customer base; this is about increasing the frequency of purchase and maintaining customer loyalty.
  2. Existing products to new customers: Taking the existing customer base, the objective is to find entirely new products that these customers might buy, or start to provide products that existing customers currently buy from competitors.
  3. New products and services: A combination of Ansoff’s market development & diversification strategy – taking a risk by developing and marketing new products. Some of these can be sold to existing customers – who may trust the business (and its brands) to deliver; entirely new customers may need more persuasion.
  4. New delivery approaches: This option focuses on the use of distribution channels as a possible source of growth. Are there ways in which existing products and services can be sold via new or emerging channels which might boost sales?
  5. New geographies: With this method, businesses are encouraged to consider new geographic areas into which to sell their products. Geographical expansion is one of the most powerful options for growth – but also one of the most difficult.
  6. New industry structure: This option considers the possibility of acquiring troubled competitors or consolidating the industry through a general acquisition programme.
  7. New competitive arenas: This option requires a business to think about opportunities to integrate vertically or consider whether the skills of the business could be used in other industries.

Are you being outsourced

Sometime in 1893, the first automobile run on gasoline was introduced by Dureya Brothers and since then the industry focus has been speed, fuel efficiency, comforts and automation. On the flip side the automobile industry is continually outsourcing the human jobs to mechanization rather the population of robots is surpassing the population of humans in automobile manufacturing facilities.  

It is good and bad news.  Bad news because jobs are being lost to automaton; good news because it is pushing  humans to continuously enhance their skills and raise them above the capacity of mechanization.

The technology is indeed moving at a tumultuous pace in every domain including medicine, architecture or robotics.   We have to pace faster than the automation; and if we don’t;  sooner we would see our jobs being outsourced to automation.  Hence what is the solution ?  Stop being mechanical and continue reinventing yourself; stop being robotic and enhance the human element.  Be more curious, be more creative and be more constructive.  This is an abstract answer the more qualified answer would be

–    Ask yourself what have you CONTRIBUTED today?

–      Ask yourself what did you CHALLENGE today?

–      Ask yourself what did you CREATE today?

–      Ask yourself what did you LEARN today?

Do more of the above and apply these questions to your THREE lives – Professional, Social and Family.  And if you can continually deliver a positive answer every day of your life than your position is secured in the future else prepare yourself to be outsourced to automation.

Impromptu feedback from Students of Smartlife program

Feb: 10, 2012: The 2nd batch of English speaking and personality development class being conducted under the umbrella of   This was a six months program reflecting a total of around 24 classes.  Listen to the impromptu feedback from the participants.

When the class started the students were reticent to stand up and speak, express their thoughts but over a period of three months their attitude changed, the mindset progressed and they were happy to stand up and speak their mind.  The participants came from less privileged background that includes professionals  wherein asking for a raise, getting environment to stimulate the brain cell or getting extra time for recreational activities is a luxury.

Video or Die

January 2012: YouTube’s Robert Kyncl, the head of global partnerships, at CES 2012 made bold claims that very soon 90% of all web traffic will be video; that’s  a huge number designed to get anyone’s  attention.   Kyncl said that in the next 10 years, 75% of all new channels will be Internet channels.   Makes sense, since pretty soon all channels (television or web) will be available on TVs, computers, and pretty much any device. Everything’s going to be Internet-based.  Imagine the possibilities for new clients the future holds for you!

YouTube logged a trillion hits in 2011.  It means video is not only the content variety of the moment, it’s the content variety of the future for years to come.  It means video is everything, and any business–big or small–that refuses to believe in video, is taking a huge risk of being forgotten.

Source: 90% Of All Web Traffic Will Be Video – YouTube Dropping Bold Predictions

  MVT Video Products

Best tips to reduce risk of Cancer

Cancer is threatening the lives of many and a recent report from the World Health Organization revealed that cancer could claim the lives of four million people worldwide in the next “10” years, if appropriate attention is not given to it immediately. The incidence of malignant tumors is rapidly increasing, raising the need for more public awareness campaigns about cancer, not only on the World Cancer Day – February 4, 2012, but all year round.

Research says that we can decrease risk of developing Cancer by following proper diet, exercise and abstinence from tobacco.  So let me share “7” tips on what can help us reduce the risk of cancer. Source: The Week – February 5, 2012

  1. Exercise every day for “20” minutes and cut on sedentary lifestyle.  Take a walk, climb the stairs or park your car farther from the office and home.
  2. Eat more vegetables, fresh fruits, beans and whole grains.
  3. Avoid sugary drinks, carbonated drinks that have high calorie content.
  4. Reduce consumption of salt or salty foods.
  5. Limit the intake of red meat or processed meat.
  6. Stop smoking.
  7. Mothers should breast feed kids till “6” months and then add liquid food with breast feed for the subsequent 6 months.  This reduces the risk of breast cancer.

12 habits for a successful 2012

In this post I am sharing tips to successfully prepare for 2012 by adopting “12” new habits, one habit a month.

Research says that if you practice anything for next 21 days it becomes a habit. Research also says that we humans are not built for multitasking.  We perform better when we are working on one idea or an activity at a time.  On the flip side it is also important that you rid yourself of old unproductive habits and clear the clutter.  Hence to begin with, list down your “12” non-productive habits; one for every month that you will replace with more productive habit.

1. January 2012 : Time Management:  Here I would share two tips

  • Proactive: Don’t leave anything to the last minute, be proactive. When you touch something complement it and never plan to come back.  Think long term.
  • Prioritize: 80% of the impact is generated by 20% of your activities.  80% of the profit comes from 20% of the sale hence make your choices wisely.  Learn and practice making right choices. Every day reserve your best time for the day and resources for making right choices.

2.February 2012: Healthy Eating Habits: Adopt healthy eating habits, rich breakfast, lunch followed by early dinner before 8:00pm.  Increase intake of fresh fruits and minimize intake of artificial flavored food and junk food

3. March 2012: Exercise your body: Exercise for 30 minutes at least 4 times a week, a vigorous exercise bringing up your heart rate.

4. April 2012: Exercise your mind: Practice meditation and brain exercises such as Sudoko, Cross Words, Lumoisty and measure the progress after one week, 2 week and after a month.

5. May 2012: Exercise your Memory: Practice remembering names of people that you meet.  Your name is the sweetest sound to your ears.  Hence purchase a memory training course and practice remembering names of people that you meet during the events, seminars and forums.  See the difference on people face value when you address them by their names.

6. June 2012: Get up an hour early: And you will have 30 extra hours in a month.  Utilize the time for planning and creative thinking or utilize the time to learn a 2nd language.

7. July 2012: Smile and Laughter: Practice laughter for 20 minutes a day and practice smiling throughout the day.  Research says that 20 minutes of belly laughter is equivalent to exercising for 20 minutes.

8. August 2012: Take up a Class: Take up pottery classes, or take up cookery classes.  Choose your passion and join a professional training institute.

9. September 2012: Books: Develop habit for reading books for your professional and personnel growth.  Read one book a week and you would have completed 4 books in the month.  Highlight, make notes and put the book’s content to practice.

10.  October 2012: Birthday Month: I was born this month and since this is a special month; I will make it special for others by practicing act of thank you, gratitude and helping others every day of the month.  Take up classes for blue collar workers.  Work with them to uplift their spirits.  This is a payback month.

11. November 2012: Networking skills: Sharpen your networking skills.  Attend forum, seminars and make new friends and connections on the social media.  Set your daily, weekly and monthly target for new friends and connections.  Set target to turn one stranger into a friend everyday.

12.  December 2012: Persistence: Be persistently continuing with your “12” healthy habits for the year 2013.

This is my calendar and you too can build your “12” habits calendar and celebrate a successful year.


Mobile phone a health trap ?

Last Sunday while parking my car at  Dubai Airport Terminal 3; I kept my parking ticket along with my Mobile phone.  While returning back and trying to pay for the ticket, machine rejected the ticket.  I tried couple of times more and machine rejected the ticket.  Hence I approached the ticket booth and told him my dilemma.  The gentleman at the counter asked did you keep the parking ticket next to the mobile.  And I said yes.  He replied don’t do so in the future it demagnetize the parking ticket.

I was taken aback that electro-magnetic waves from the mobile phone could affect the magnetic striped parking ticket even if kept along for not more than 20 minutes.  Then what effect mobile phone could have on our body when most of us are spending increasing amount of time on the mobile phone talking and texting?

You dont get colloged arteries by eating one packet of potatoes chips but accumulated over a period of time it can give you a heart attack.  So is talking on mobile phone a health trap ?

This is Life

Last week I read an article wherein a nurse said that while tending to people on death bed, she realized that they had very few but specific regrets in life;

  1.  They should have spent more time with family
  2.  Should have missed office and attended my sons or grandsons school program
  3.  Should have talked to my friend

These were regret but none said that they should have attended more office or made few more dollars.    Having said that when I talk to younger generation in their mid 30s, the response is in unison; I should have taken that offer, I should have refused that offer, I wish I could make few more dollars.

The two parties have the same body, eat the same food and breathe the same air.   But there were two major differences between the two; people on death bed did not have time whereas people in thirties thought they had time. People on death bed talked about relationship and experience whereas people in mid thirties talk about material things?

This is life; glass is half empty or half full; prerogative is yours.


Cloud computing…expect hiccups along the way.

Cloud Computing is a hot topic of discussions in every technology forums.  Enterprises are implementing, Businesses are planning and Governments are practicing. Vivek Kundra – CIO of the United States (2009-2011) during his Dell World 2011 keynote address said that “The federal government’s shift in strategy to the cloud saves taxpayers $5 billion annually at this time.”   Having said that there are “10” typical challenges to the Cloud computing that every business must answers when moving towards Cloud environment.

1. Data Location:

  • The question is where is your data stored and who could access the data ?  Is it in the jurisdiction of a country where government can access data?
  • Check what does your local legislation stipulate about moving your data on cloud ?  EU data protection directive states that privacy sensitive data should always be located within the European Union.
  • Are there any incidences wherein political or geo-political frictions can compromise your data integrity ? For example a secret court order mandated Google and Sonic reveal WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Applebaum’s Gmail contact list from the last two years.

2. Data Segregation: How is your data segregated from others data?  What happens when others data corrupts the server?

3.  Regulatory Compliance: Customers are ultimately responsible for the security and compliance with regulatory laws (e.g., SOX, HIPAA etc) of their own applications that are hosted in cloud. All departments of your organization must be involved when going towards cloud and explore what is the local regulations stipulated for moving your data on the cloud and the cloud service provider complies with the legislation of the customer’s country.

  • Lesson: Must explore that your service provider is aware of the regulatory compliance and practice. Track your local regulatory compliance because they keep changing.

4. Data Recovery: Find out how the data will be recovered in case of systems shut down or any catastrophe.  Or what are the business continuity plans in case of an eventuality.   Most of the time service provider does not tell you where the data reside due to multiple data center, but they must tell you how the data will be recovered or what if you decide to change the service provider.

  • Some 150,000 Gmail users logged in to their precious account only to see a blank slate. Thankfully Google was able to revert beyond its failed multi-layered backup strategy and reach back to archaic backup tapes-yup tapes.
  • Microsoft’s Hotmail experienced database errors at the end of 2010 – the result: Thousands – 17,000 users to be exact – of empty email inboxes entering 2011. Fixing things up lasted for 3 days but not all users will have their account restored – the other 8 percent of users have to wait for 3 days more.

5. Data Access: How can you control the access to applications and your data.  A clear strategy must be laid down by the service provider and agreed by the customers.  Is it based on license, site and how secured is it? What has service provider done to provide secured access to your data ?

6. Business Viability: What happens if the service provider goes bankrupt or the businesses are bought over by another business? Have a clear exit policy.

7. Contract Termination: If you need to know what happens to your data once the contract is terminated and what are the risks involved in data migration at the time of entering into the contract.

  • Does the service provider have any provision regarding data transfer?
  • For how long do they store user’s data after termination of contract?
  • Is your data protected after termination of contract?
  • Is the service provider liable for any loss of data?

Systems Breakdown:

  • When Amazon Web Services, the online retailer’s cloud computing arm, went dark, along it took down  HootSuiteReddit and Foursquare, among others.
  • Salesforce’s hour-long outage outraged tens of thousands of businesses. This was a serious blow to cloud computing from one of the first cloud computing giants.
  • A network update started off series of events that disrupt services to the Amazon cloud clients for four days. You can learn about the details of the outage from Amazon’s explanation below.
  • Caveat: When choosing a cloud provider, you need to know whether it can offer you better backup via redundancy than yourself. If it’s not better, then why bother signing up with the provider?

9. Bandwidth: Bandwidth is another challenge in some countries that limits business response to public cloud.  Hence estimate; is the bandwidth sufficient to address the services?

10. Security: Another important questions that comes to mind is how secured is your connectivity and what are the recommended options provided by the services provider to secure the pipe.  Do they care to provide the security consultancy and peace of mind; because you need peace of mind to focus on your core business activity?

You must understand that cloud computing is rapidly evolving; so expect hiccups to happen along the way. Be sure you have a way or two as your safety net – something that can help you thrive when your chosen cloud services go wrong.

Happy New Year 2012