Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Education in China and India

Here is some interesting data from US News and World Report on education in China and India and a comparison to USA:

"China's investment in high school education rose from $4.1 billion to $13 billion between 2001 and 2006, an increase of 212.6 percent, according to a report released August 21 by the Center for American Progress and the Center for the Next Generation."

"India spent $44 billion on education in 2008, a substantial increase from the country's $11 billion annual investment in the late 1980s. The influx of cash bolstered high school attendance and graduation rates."

Here is something though I was not aware of:

"High school graduates in India and China are going on to college—and unlike nearly 50 percent of U.S. college students, they're finishing. Many of them graduate with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math."

Read the article here.

Amazon.com: Creatively Destructive

Amazon.com - I will remember the days when Amazon.com started, internet based book seller, hard to find books.

Today, Schumpeter would be smiling to see his concept of Creative Destruction realized in this company.  Amazon has successfully ushered in a new way to deliver on the same need, upending incumbents:

"Within a few years, Amazon.com’s creative destruction of both traditional book publishing and retailing may be footnotes to the company’s larger and more secretive goal: giving anyone on the planet access to an almost unimaginable amount of computing power."

Like water for a human, computing holds the same for the 21st century organization, from a university to a for profit corporation. And the ones who learn how to successfully harness this power for extreme acceleration of time in their businesses, or exponential cost reduction, or etc. will be the leaders in their sectors. See multitude of examples in the article, linked below.

"Action in the Cloud, Amazon Reshapes Computing" in The New York Times here continues with:

"According to an executive with knowledge of Amazon’s operation who was not authorized to speak publicly, just one of the 10 data centers in Amazon’s Eastern United States region has more servers dedicated to cloud computing than does Rackspace, a public cloud company serving 180,000 businesses with more than 80,000 servers."

The question is, who will lead when everything starts to go at the speed of light?

"The efficiency of this hyper-aware environment is already remaking jobs for many and will most likely dislocate more. “You can now test a product against millions of users for just a few thousand dollars, or start a company with just one or two people,” said Graham Spencer, a partner at Google Ventures, which invests in data-heavy start-ups that rely on such cheap computing. “It’s a huge change for Silicon Valley.”"

Friday, August 24, 2012

Digital computing through analog?

Robert McMillan of The Wired "Enterprise" blog writes that the Department of Defense through DARPA is funding a new program that "will investigate a brand-new way of doing computing without the digital processors that have come to define computing as we know it."

"The aim is to build computer chips that are a whole lot more power-efficient than today's processors - even if they make mistakes every now and then."

Daniel Hammerstrom, the DARPA program manager behind the program, "wants the UPSIDE chips to do computing in a whole different way. He's looking for an alternative to straight-up boolean logic, where the voltage in a chip's transistor represents a zero or a one. Hammerstrom wants chipmakers to build analog processors that can do probabilistic math without forcing transistors into an absolute one-or-zero state, a technique that burns energy."

The program is called UPSIDE - Unconventional Processing of Signals for Intelligent Data Exploitation. Read details here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Entrepreneurs and Innovation

"Anyone who has tried a hand at starting a high-tech business—seeking to turn a clever research idea into something customers will pay good money for—quickly learns that everything taught in business school is next to useless. The mistake is to think of start-ups as just smaller versions of established businesses. They are nothing of the sort."

This quote is apropos to the extreme. And breakthrough innovation that has the capacity to enable Schumpeter's vision of Creative Destruction still remains the domain of the entrepreneur.

The above excerpt is from an article in The Economist discussing Osterwalder's "Business Model Innovation", which has been a contributor to my success as an entrepreneur through the recent down turn.  See the article "Innovation: Difference Engine,Pilgrim's Progress here.  See Osterwalder's website here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

21st Century Global Brands - Made in China

Schumpeter articles in the The Economist are a delight to read. The latest one sums up an interesting generality about manufacturers and their approach to branding products and companies:

"... managing a portfolio of brands is complicated and demanding: people who made their fortunes manufacturing things may not be suited to the airy-fairy world of brand management."

Schumpeter writes:

"Americans can stop worrying about China’s plans to take over their country. The worst has already happened: on July 25th Lenovo, a Chinese computer firm, announced a deal to sponsor the National Football League. America will continue to provide muscle-bound linebackers, but the Chinese will provide the clever laptops and desktops that make their tussles possible."

Thus begins the article "Brand New" in The Economist here. The story of Lenovo is a case study in what else is there to emerge from the world's most populated country. Yet, it seems that the leap from becoming a global brand is not an easy one.

"Only four emerging-market brands make Interbrand’s list of the world’s 100 most valuable: Samsung and Hyundai of South Korea, Mexico’s Corona beer and Taiwan’s HTC."

The article discusses the book "The New Emerging-Market Multinationals" by Amitava Chattopadhyay, of INSEAD, and Rajeev Batra, of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Beyond the two common best practices for global growth, economies of scale and local knowledge, the article highlights, per the book, three more ingredients required for the emerging-market player to go global.

"The first is focus: they should define a market segment in which they have a chance of becoming world-class. ... Lenovo focused on computers for corporate clients before expanding into the consumer market."

"The second ingredient is innovation: firms need new products and processes that generate buzz. HTC produces 15-20 new mobile-phone handsets a year. Natura releases a new product every three working days."

And finally, I believe, the most important one:

"The third ingredient is old-fashioned brand-building. Emerging-market bosses must grapple with many traditional branding puzzles. Should they slap the company’s name on the product (as Toyota does) or another name (as Procter & Gamble does with its stable of brands, from Gillette razors to Pampers nappies)? How can they market themselves effectively in multiple countries without busting the budget?"

Innovation for the sake of innovation leads nowhere, perhaps a nice collection of artifacts. Marketing the power of the innovation is essential to build the dream that the customer or consumer must aspire to, hence, forming a symbiotic relationship between the growth of the name to becoming a brand name to being a global brand.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Conflict as Thinking

Margaret Heffernan's excellent TED talk, "Dare to disagree". I extrapolate from her talk that for creative thinking to occur constructive conflict whether within oneself or with a thinking partner must occur. Enjoy!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Physics: Noble Prize vs. Milner Prize?

It has always been contentious when no more than three people share a Noble prize for invention or discovery.  And the further requirement of the associated validation.  Enter Mr. Yuri Milner, successful entrepreneur.  Mr. Milner has created one or more annual prizes of $3 million for the most influential thinker in fundamental physics.

From The Economist:

"Crucially, recipients earn the prize for inspired contributions that have yet to be experimentally verified, a tactic the Nobel committee eschews. If these later prove beautiful but wrong, so be it. The principle, Mr Milner explains, is to afford the world’s best brains the financial freedom to pursue fundamental ideas wherever these take them. It may have the added benefit of keeping some imaginative physicists away from Wall Street."

Read details here.