Tuesday, 5 January 2010

iPhone Killer at last? Google Nexus One

Smartphone industry is getting to be the most exciting industry to watch around. While Nokia and iPhone are battling their lousy patent wars, Google has unveiled the Nexus One which has got raving reviews so far (doubt every body who writes about it would have used it). People have already started talking it to be an iPhone killer?

Apple , Nokia, Samsung, Motorola , HTC control around 70% of the smartphone traffic among themselves (source admob report) out of which Apple has a lions (well not exactly) share of around 32 %. Whilst the smartphone market existed for quite sometime, Apple redifined the market by its innovative iTunes based business model and unique tie-ups with single carrier to make the product exclusive and more demanded. This month the AppStore downloads have exceeded more than 3 billion downloads and needless to say a significant revenue to Apple.
In bare naked truth , Apple has created a big revenue stream by letting the innovative deveopers across the world to go crazy on their imagination, providing them a good infrastructure (iTunes) to sell their products and presenting the customer a great device to tap this apps. In essense it is an ideal ecosystem of customer, developer and apple.

So far so good. But Google seems to have a different strategy which tells
1. No carrier lockin
2. Operating System is OpenSource (go and modify on your own)
3. Standards are pretty much open and you wouldnt need a specific make of a laptop/desktop to create apps (like Apple)

While Apple has to play a defensive game of protecting its turf, Google has nothing to lose but everything to gain. The Nexus one demonstration (if it were to be believed) portrays a fantastic 5 MP camera . Noice Cancellation and ultrafast processor for making it  a great device esp for Gaming which could take Nexus to a different plane.

Needless to say the smartphone industry got revolutioned only after Apple and Google is a follower but doesnt need to go through the learning curve and risks like Apple did. It just needs to do better than Apple (which is quite hard) and take the features to masses where it could strike it hot.

Inspite of the revenue that iPhone generates it accounts for only 1% of the cellphone market and there is a huge customer base who could turn to smartphone usage if the entry barriers are lowered. I think this is exactly what google wants to capture.

Google could heat up the play by the following strategies
> Promoting the carriers for stickiness (unlike the struck ATT with Apple)
> Connect the Apps to Google AppEngine
> Provide a cool interface to buy apps (like iTunes)
> Consolidate it various apps to a bundle

This would help Google in many ways
> Increase Android adoption and hence make avenues for getting it more matured
> Gain strong entry into the Smartphone (remember Apples rejection of Google Voice etc)
> Make competitors like MS and Apple work more harder and make them spend money over a new avenue

Whatever said and done , the space is heating up and getting interesting to watch.
Nokia , Are you listening?

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Top Tech trends 2010 for BFSI domain

Gone are the gloomy days of  2009 and here comes 2010 with a ray of hope.

So what are the top technical trends(leaving the more interesting topics like Outsourcing, BPO, ADM to the experts) that would influence the financial technosphere in 2010.

The technology trends are characterised by the economy that is still recovering , the credit market that is still picking up and businesses who are still puzzled about whether to spend or not. On the whole the world economy is moving but not yet lubricated to the extent that it was during the 2007s (a bit of over lubrication it was) to catch up full spending mode.

While there are different ways to classify and prioritize trends, the technology trends are direct result of the business sentiments which inturn is the result of the economic climate. So what are the key drivers that would drive the financial technosphere 2010?

a. Surviving till the world is back to its normal ages (incurring low costs and reducing fixed costs)
b. Incremental investments that could bring immediate benefits (no 3yrs ROI types) and stay competitive
c. Addressing cant-wait regulatory initiatives

In very simple words anything that would not create a visible difference to topline or bottomline is quite hard to justify to the business who holds the kitty tight.

The following are the macro trends which would make a difference (if applied appropriately) and potentially improve the efficiency of the operations and acquire more customers.

Trend # 1 : Mobile Computing
With the strong adoption of the smartphones (around 180 million units out from iphone, blackberry, nokia etc) , the life stlye of the consumer is changing drastically.
From establishing identity about oneself , doing shopping till executing financial transactions the mobile phone industry is revolutionizing the way we lead our lives. The emergence of smartphone apps which can detect your location and push location specific information to you make it more interesting than the traditional push type applications.
2010 could be a starting point for those mighty finance apps.
Applicable Business Areas : Client / Sales Force Servicing

Trend # 2 : Cloud Computing and SaaS
While there are quite a lot of hype around Clouds , this is nothing but an evolved Application and infrastructure hosting IMO. What would be interesting is that organizations could push commoditized business process to the cloud and stop worrying about the associated headaches (scale-in, scale-outs, infrastructure). This is very akin to me having to host a email server, guard it from hackers vs buying a google professional email account with my preferred domain name.
Companies would prefer to have a SLA based delivery
Applicable Business Areas : Commoditized business process like Quoting, Mortgage/Pension Calculators , FNA's

Trend # 3 : Utilizing Social Media
The Gen Y (25-35 ageband) has adopted the social media like never before and content generation has been moved from the hands of few (traditional media and publishers) to anybody who could create a twitter/facebook etc accounts.
There are two things which organizations have to take a note on. The first being revenue generation from the Gen Y by playing their own social media game and the second is to guard the brand from the onslaught of public and competitors mudslinging.
A customer could be better profiled by bots which can trail his/her activities across the social web.
2010 could be an era where the Content Management industry would move away from traditional Workflow, Document Mgmt and Web Content Management to deliver results that makes more sense/benefits to the business
Applicable Business Areas : New Business, Understanding consumer behavior, Marketing

Trend # 4 : Advanced Analytics
With the consolidation across the Business Intelligence and thanks to Microsoft for having opened the BI holy-grail to the SME's, there has been increased adoption of Business Intelligence and industry would move away from low value-chain reporting to high-end analytics which could shed lights on understanding more about the consumer behavior, buying trends and their associated predictability
The advanced analytics could play a critical role in Risk Management as well for e.g the Reverse Stress testing would need huge sets of datapoints where a combination of Analytics and Functional Testing (from a business scenario perspective).
While the Tier 1 players would concentrate on the niche segments like Data mining, Predictive analytics etc, this gives a great opportunity for Tier2 and Tier3 player to level the game with their Tier1 contemporaries.
Applicable Business Areas : Corporate Performance Management, Risk Mgmt, Fraud Prevention

Trend # 5 Solution Choreography (sorry, i havent coined a simpler term yet )
With SOA having reached a house-hold status, the industry is moving towards buying components that could be assembled to deliver a business value rather than building things from the scratch or locking themselves with a costly package. More organisations would move towards buying points solutions and stitching them together using industry standards like BPM, ESB etc
Applicable Business Areas : Revamping legacy applications which are costly to maintain and rapidly deploying new applications

Trend # 6 Green Computing
If companies don’t spend on this the CEO and the Board may look cruel for not doing their part to save our little planet. Organisations would spend a sizeable amount of data-center consolidation, reducing energy consumption etc.

Lets take a stock by December 2010.