Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Yahoo and Maktoob - Social Web Growing Up in the Gulf

Yahoo will be acquiring Maktoob.com.  Click here for details.

About four years back, while working with Mr. Khurram Hamid who was leading digital mobile marketing for P&G out of Dubai, I met with Mr. Ahmed Nassef, GM of Maktoob (website here) to review their web and social network analytics capabilities.  Ahmed stated his goal of becoming the Yahoo of the MENA region.

Maktoob impressed me with what they were trying to build.  More importantly Maktoob Research (website here) was starting to develop deeper understanding and garner insights on the Arab consumer.  I had worked on the definition and concpet of the Muslim consumer for P&G and felt that Maktoob was leading the way in social networks and social media for the Arab populace of MENA.

Congratulations to Ahmed and Maktoob employees!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Governments and Innovation

I heard Jim Greenwood (bio here), President & CEO, Biotechnology Industry Organization state on CNBC:

"Government can spur innovation, it can incentivize innovation... but the government cannot innovate."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Asia Poised for Innovation

A chat with friend and advisor Mr. Martin Ertl, CIO Bombardier Transportation highlighted that the most recent patent applications for alternate energy and/or clean energy have been coming out of China and at a steady pace and massive rate.

The following article from the McKinsey Quarterly, "Asia and the elements of innovation" by Eric Drexler could not have been more apropos to my conversation with Mr. Ertl.  The article discusses some of the key differentiators of Weatern and Asian cultures and why Asia looks to take exponential lead in innovation.  The article states:

"To become a world-class center of technological innovation, a society must have three basic elements:
• drive—a culture that supports change and hungers for it
• human capital—the personal abilities that make world-class technology possible
• a capacity for mobilization—a society’s ability to pursue ambitious new goals

Having personally experienced education in South Asia, I can attest to the following, though it is changing:

"Cultures differ radically in their attitudes toward education. In the rising societies of Asia, education is a top priority, far above, for example, sports. During national exam season, when students study for the test that will determine their future in higher education, I found that Indian newspapers carry science and mathematics quizzes that would stump most US college graduates. Recent physics tests given to US and Chinese students entering comparable technically oriented universities produced distributions of scores that had little overlap. In Chinese societies, scholarly students have a status among their peers like that of athletes in the United States and run little risk of being marginalized, ridiculed, or beaten. In India, I found that students chase after the autographs, not of entertainers, but of scientists."

Read the complete article here.

Stephen Roach: I'm starting to worry about China's economy

Via Mr. Tony Tsai, CEO – BHG Retail Innovation Institute and EVP Operations – The BJ Hualian Hypermarket Co.:

"This is an article written by Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, which is posted on the website of the Financial Times. Its original title is "I've been an optimist on China. But I‘m starting to worry". On the surface, China appears to be leading the world from recession to recovery. After coming to a virtual standstill in late 2008, at least as measured quarter-to-quarter, economic growth accelerated sharply in spring 2009. A back-of-the envelope calculation suggests China may have accounted for as much as 2% of annualized growth in inflation-adjusted world output in the second quarter of 2009. With contractions moderating elsewhere, China's rebound may have been enough in and of itself to allow the global gross domestic product to eke out a small positive gain for the first time since last summer.That's the good news. The bad news is that China's recent growth spurt comes at a steep price. Fearful that its recent economic short- fall would deepen, Chinese policymakers have opted for quantity over quality in setting the macro-strategy, the centrepiece of which is an enormous surge in infrastructure spending funded by a burst of bank lending. A macro strategy that exacerbates troubling imbalances is ultimately a recipe for failure. In many respects, that's what the global crisis and the recession of 2008-09 are all about. China will not get special dispensation from the most critical lesson of this post-crisis era."

See the complete article here.