Monday, January 28, 2008

'Modern Indian businesses are keen on implementing CRM concepts in their day-to-day operations'

CRM and creativity

Nokia, Charlie Chaplin, Google, Azim Premji, Annadurai, Sachin Tendulkar, Shakespeare, Dhirubhai Ambani, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Rahul Dravid, space journey, Narayana Murthy, how television works, Lakshmi Mittal, and vitamins.

The common thread for all these is that Naga Subramanian Chokkanathan, director of education and innovation in Bangalore-based CRMIT (, has authored a book in Tamil on each.

'Just having more money doesn’t much contribute to happiness'

‘Economics cannot promise wealth, but can avoid disasters’

Like the majority, you may find economics hard to understand. Yet, virtually nothing in our lives is untouched by it. Not even culture.

As a teacher of the very subject, Mr Tyler Cowen, who by the way has primary research interest in the economics of culture, is not what you would call a geek. In fact, he loves restaurants so much that he can’t stop talking ab out it and finds blogs so fascinating that he started The Marginal Revolution.

It was not surprising, therefore, when the Holbert C. Harris Professor of Economics at George Mason University, US, and Director of the Mercatus Center came out with his book curiously titled Discover Your Inner Economist.

Every nation is free to evolve, in international law, principles of governance to best suit its ideals and priorities

International taxation has become complex

Complex tax laws pose problems both in interpretation and implementation. Which is why tax legislation and treaties should be simple and understandable to the common man and those in trade, reasoned Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar of the Bombay High Court when speaking at the International Tax Conference, organised by IFA (International Fiscal Association) India and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), in Mumbai on Wednesday.

“International taxation has become too complex an issue. It has made the legal circles rethink the jurisprudence of tax jurisdiction… Innovation in applying settled legal dictum is the need of the hour,” he emphasised.

Basel compliance is a challenging task at multiple levels in the bank

Seven issues that will keep banks busy on the Basel front
Basel II may sound like the name of a movie sequel. In banking circles, however, the phrase evokes a big shift that is fast approaching.

For starters, ‘Basel II Framework’ refers to a document titled ‘International Convergence of Capital Measurement and Capital Standards: A Revised Framework,’ released by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) on June 26, 2004, and supplemented in November 2005 by an update of the ‘Market Risk Amendment.’

The companies are ultimately responsible for the quality of their products, regardless of where they are made

‘It’s too late to turn away from Chinese products’

On the Google, ‘India’ gets 619 million web finds. For ‘China,’ the results add to one billion plus 20 million. It may be a consolation that India scores nearly 4,000 more ‘news’ results than what China gets.

Let’s face it: China is a colossus in the world economy. So much so that to ignore it from any of the business equations may be as impossible as not noticing an African elephant passing by.

Monday, January 21, 2008

‘Critical skills’ or ‘life skills’!

‘IQ gets you hired, EQ gets you promoted’
What are the factors that play a major role in the success of individuals? Bookish knowledge, academic qualifications, and tech gyan? “Not enough,” say Naresh Purushotham and Lakshmi Kruti Vasan, co-founders of Crestcom India. You would also need a whole set of soft skills, including a positive attitude, and tact in dealing with people, even while being persuasive and motivational, they insist.

Back in 1994, the duo had promoted Counter Point Management Plus, an early franchisee of Crestcom International Asia, to “market and deliver training in the areas of sales, recruiting, customer service and particularly management skills development.”
Each month, thousands of executives and managers from more than 200 major cities in 50-plus countries on six continents participate in Crestcom Training, says “Versions of the training are available in more than 25 languages.”

Exports account is significant for most emerging market economies

Current credit crunch is more than bursting of ‘bubble’
If you find the web of international economies and money incomprehensible, take heart. You are not alone. That is how it is: “beyond comprehension,” says Satyajit Das. He is the author of Traders, Guns & Money, a book that talks about the known and the unknown in ‘the dazzling world of derivatives.’

It is ‘part thriller, part expose,’ describes Das, talking to Business Line, over the phone from Mumbai. “The whole point was to make it a fun read and teach something about the business and how these markets work in a non-technical way. It’s also satiric, irreverent and black in its humour — is that too many adjectives?”

RDE’s origin is rooted in three seemingly unrelated areas

One of the many ‘elephant jokes’ in Wikipedia reads: “Q: How do you shoot a blue elephant? A: With a blue elephant gun.” Crude, because it is always a better idea to shoot with a camera, rather than a gun!

Next question, “How do you sell blue elephants?” To this, you can find an answer in Selling Blue Elephants ( by Howard Moskowitz and Alex Gofman. The book would tell you ‘how to make great products that people want before they even know they want them.’ For instance, suppose you got an assignment to launch a new credit card for your bank, as begins a suggestion in, “how do you make consumers pick your offer out of hundreds and hundreds of look-alikes?”

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The annual need for urban housing units is almost half a crore

Dwelling on low-cost housing demands

Low-cost housing or LCH is slowly getting high on the agenda of developers. While this is understandable, because of the enormous gap between supply and demand, what should be worrying is that high land cost, and lack of connectivity owing to poor infrastructure are proving to be major impediments to LCH in India.

Add to this, the minimum cost of building. “We can have some saving in cost by doing prefab/new construction technology, however the total saving is not very high,” says Mr Vishal Goel, Associate Director, Real Estate Practice, Ernst & Young.


The development of infrastructure is another important source of expenditure

The number of tax havens has tripled over the last three decades
Offshore tax evasion increases the burden on honest taxpayers and undermines the fairness and the integrity of tax systems, says Mr Jacques Sasseville who heads the Tax Treaty Unit, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, at the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Such evasion constrains the freedom of governments to design tax systems that reflect their own values, he rues.
“It was in this context that OECD member-countries launched two initiatives,” he recounts, in the course of a recent e-mail interaction with Business Line. The first was an initiative on tax havens launched in 1996; and the second was the work that led in 2000 to a new international standard on access to bank information for tax authorities.

Globally, the automotive sector is in transition in many markets

Price competitiveness, a critical success factor in auto sector

India will necessarily remain an integral element in the long-term strategy of every significant global automotive player, declares Mr Kapil Arora, partner, automotive services, Ernst & Young.
“All players are sharpening their focus on developing and executing their business strategies to take advantage of this market which will be critical to achieving future growth and profitability. Let the race begin,” he flags off, during an e-mail discussion with Business Line, on the emerging trends and challenges in the Indian automotive sector, as a backdrop to the Auto Expo in New Delhi.

Excerpts from the interview:

‘Use your limited resources well’

Cost management, no longer an option

It may not be long before customers start demanding to know the costs of each activity in greater detail, and to extract more value from the fiercely-competing global service providers, predicts Mr V. Srinivas , Chief Financial Officer, Satyam Computer Services Ltd.

“ABC or activity-based costing, and ‘lean’ principles may clamour for more attention in cost management,” he adds, during the course of an exclusive interaction with Business Line recently.

Excerpts from the interview:

Accounting of costs is less important than upstream management of costs

A four-step cost-competitiveness roadmap for Indian manufacturers

Local demographics and the economy may be acting against Japanese automobile sales, pushing the latest tally to a 35-year low, yet their business abroad is brisk. And, the leading industry players in the Land of the Rising Sun continue to bring out innovative and environment-friendly models at continually lower costs.

One may wonder if Japanese automakers, well known to have already achieved high cost efficiencies, still see a role for cost management. Can any incremental gain from cost management be too insignificant to pursue?

The labour cost advantage that India enjoys will not vanish in the medium term

Cost advantages can erode if infrastructure doesn’t deliver

With only hours to go for the grand unveiling of the all-new small car at the auto event in New Delhi, one thing is no longer debated. That a viable ‘people’s car’ will increase the overall penetration of cars, since many people who do not own cars or any vehicle will now be induced to buy one.

“The fallout could be far reaching,” observes Mr Yezdi Nagporewalla, National Industrial Director for KPMG’s Industrial Markets and Auto practice. “Increased congestion in cities could force taxing of vehicles and improvement in public conveyance infrastructure. Manufacturers would look to penetrate deeper into B and C towns and rural markets,” he elaborates, during the course of an e-mail interaction with Business Line.

The greenhouse gases released will harm the driver’s grandchildren’s generation, not so much the driver himself.

Oil is the problem, not cars

The new small $2,500 people’s car from the Tatas, to be unveiled on January 10, has been stirring debates, be they about how the one-lakh car will change the auto world, or more practically, how it will inexorably add to the load on roads.

But there are also massive opportunities that are not to be lost sight of, says Mr Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, author of Power to the People ( ).

“Indian carmakers and energy companies can leapfrog ahead to a cleaner, smarter and more sustainable paradigm of growth,” he avers. “Cars do not have to be as dirty as the giant gas-guzzling behemoths commonly seen on American roads, for example.”

Accepting responsibility will result in an organisation losing lawsuits stemming from the crisis

Laissez faire and ‘spin’ do not have a place in crisis management

Be it a chemical leak, faulty batteries, or even an abrupt power cut, organisations today are increasingly delegating a hefty part of their responsibilities to crisis ‘communicators’ or ‘doctors’, who employ various methods and spins to save the day, leaving the public wondering if, in the process, safety has been compromised for financial gain.

“Such gains are short term and short sighted,” emphasises Dr W. Timothy Coombs, author of award-winning book Ongoing Crisis Communication ( ).
In an exclusive e-mail interaction with Business Line, Dr Coombs reveals how the most common measure of crisis response effectiveness is media coverage. The author, who has consulted companies in the petrochemical and healthcare industry, feels that while culture will always shape the crisis management process, no two situations can be similar for the true-blue crisis manager.

Excerpts from the interview:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Microsoft Hardware is the leader in India and across the world

In the game

The Entertainment Industry in India is currently in a consolidation phase, says Mohit Anand, Country Manager, Entertainment and Devices Division (EDD), Microsoft India. “The boundary lines between films, music and television are fast disappearing. Skills and resources are being pooled extensively,” he adds.

Besides adaptation to high-end digital technology, the entertainment industry is also witnessing an increase in R&D (research and development) by the companies, says Anand, during the course of a recent interaction with eWorld.“Companies are spending extensively to make customer-specific products which are a result of a thorough market and customer research. In terms of employment, an estimated 6 million people earn their livelihood from the entertainment industry and this number is all set to grow.”

Being optimistic keeps an analyst in the good books of management

Read between the lines on analyst-speak

With coverage of the stock markets expanding sharply, ‘analyst’ reports and recommendations are now widely available to every lay investor. But should investors take these sound bytes at face value?

Maybe not, observes Mr Siva Nathan, Associate Professor in the School of Accountancy of Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, US. He feels that full service brokerage firms (firms that offer complete advice) have transported their US model to India and this brings with it several problems.

Friday, January 4, 2008

There are significant costs of convergence

Convergence of accounting standards entails significant costs

A survey of accounting industry leaders from around the world has found overwhelming support for convergence of accounting standards, as a recent story in informs.

“According to a survey of 143 leaders from 91 countries, conducted by the International Federation of Accountants, 89 per cent indicated that convergence to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) was ‘very important’ or ‘important’ for economic growth in their countries. Nine per cent said it was ‘somewhat important,’ while only 1 per cent said it was not important,” states the December 4-dated article.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The US being the largest economy, slowdown will definitely have an impact on the Indian economy

In 2008, look beyond Sensex when investing

The Year 2007 was one of the better years for investors in stock markets. Starting off from just 60 points shy of 14,000, the magical year saw the next peaks fall like ninepins. Doubling in value, the Indian bourses truly created wealth.

What about year 2008? Will it be different? Which sectors to bet on? “Look beyond the indices,” advises Mr Bhavesh Shah, Vice-President (Research) of Asit C Mehta, Mumbai.
“Investors should do their homework before investing in stock market, if they are taking investment decisions in the absence of any professional guidance,” he adds, in the course of an exclusive interaction with Business Line, over the e-mail. “Market efficiency will increase only when there are informed investors.”

Excerpts from the interview:

The Indian IT industry has traditionally focused on and gotten very good at arbitrage

‘ADDING value scorecard’ in IT

Add value, not just more volume, exhorts Pankaj Ghemawat, author of Redefining Global Strategy ( Deploy the ‘ADDING value scorecard’ he advises.

The acronym stands for Adding volume, or growth; Decreasing costs; Differentiating or increasing willingness-to-pay; Improving industry attractiveness or bargaining power; Normalising (or optimising) risk; and Generating knowledge (and other resources and capabilities).