Stanford Technology Ventures: Classroom experiments in Entrepreneurship

Check out this brilliant video! Excellent example of out of the box thinking. The winning team's solution is truly genius!!

If you had five dollars and two hours, what would you do to make as much money as possible? In this clip, STVP Executive Director Tina Seelig recalls a classroom exercise in creative thinking and entrepreneurship that posed this quandry to student teams. The results were manifold and varied, often taking advantage of locally needed services, niche markets, and valuable time. These in-class experiments contain many valuable lessons on creative thinking in the start-up realm, including skills, ideas, and innovation as assets that always lend value.

Google Wave: My First Impressions

Google wave has been one of the hottest topics in net for the last few weeks. Earlier this month when Google opened up Wave for demo most people in the tech world were anxious to check out this cool tool. Lucky me - one of my friends @kuppurao sent me an invite few days back and I finally got the glimpse of the much hyped Wave. Overall it's a cool & geeky tool with a lot of great features. However it's too geeky for common man. When I first looked at the Wave I had no clue on how to use it. I rarely go through a manual to learn a product, I mostly play around and learn the tool. This is one of the very few tools and in fact the first Google product where i had to go through help files, demo videos etc to use this!!! After around 2-3 days(7-8hrs of hands on time) of playing around/learning I am finally beginning to understand Wave and appreciate it.

Here's are some of the things I learnt from using Wave:
  • Each Wave is equivalent of an email. Only difference, it's dynamic and real-time where multiple people can collaborate with each other(Its a marriage between IM and Mail with few productivity apps thrown in the mix).
  • Similar to emails each conversation will be a separate Wave thread. You can tag the Waves(similar to tagging in Gmail) and organize them into directories for easy reference.
  • In traditional email you only include people or distributions lists in the recipient list. In Wave you can include Bots(robots used for automation) as well in the recipient list. Its essentially an automated program added as participant in Wave. Example of bots: if you enter any address it will automatically show it on a map, enter stock ticker and it will fetch stock price and display etc. Btw any bots that you are using will have to be part of your contact list. You need to first add them to contact list and then include it as wave user for using it.
  • You can embed/include gadgets into the Wave. Example: Video conference, White board, Maps, Polls etc. All the people in the Wave can utilize and collaborate with these gadgets.You need to install the gadgets in Wave first before using it. 
  • You can only communicate with other people that have Google Wave account. If you have only few friends in your contact list you will not be able to use it effectively. As you get more and more of your friends/colleagues in Wave and start using this as a replacement for email and IM, you will start realizing the true power & benefits of Wave. This is very similar to Telephone -  When it was invented and only few people had access it wasn't of much use. When world wide connections were established and millions of users were added it enabled real-time communication and its power was unleashed. It led to exponential increase in productivity.

Here are my thoughts on Wave:

  • This tool is few years ahead of its time. I expect it to take around 3-5yrs before this becomes mainstream.
  • From an end user perspective this is one of the most complex Google products i have seen to date. Still trying to come to grips with the fact that i had to learn to use a Google product!! Google has to simplify this and make it more easy for common man to understand in order to get them to use it.
  • This would be a great tool in an enterprise where teams can use this to collaborate amongst themselves (Ex: Creation a document/proposal, Working on presentations, brainstorming ideas etc.). I expect adoption to be led by enterprises than consumers.
  • Google needs to include a standard set of bots, gadgets etc that can be used from get go. In addition to this they should have an  app directory/store (Similar to Apple. I heard its coming down the line) where users can browse and install whatever apps/bots they need.
  • Google needs to automatically identify your friends/connections thru social networks and suggest to add them to your contact list. It should focus on getting more people into your contact list without much effort from you.
  • Adoption of Google wave is going to be gradual until it reaches a certain threshold(no of active users) when  it will take off and you will see massive adoption. Also lot of the features in Wave will be replicated in competitor products and as people become more familiar with them the usage will grow rapidly.

Overall to sum up while I was initially not very impressed with Wave, once I got hang of it I am beginning to appreciate it. I am impressed and awed with the foresight and vision of its creators to have thought out and developed such a complex product. This is a disruptive innovation from Google that will eventually kill our email system in its current form. Google has once again proved that its one of the very few companies in the world that has made creation of disruptive technologies/products a habit!

 If any of you are on Wave pls include me in your contact list and you can start using this as a mode of communication with me. I hope to use it actively. My Wave ID is Shogun1947. Pls share your thoughts and experiences with Google Wave. I would love to hear them!

Here are some useful links if you are trying to learn/use Wave:

How a flu invades your body!

Check out the attached video. Its an very interesting visual representation of how a virus enters our body and spreads. All the stuff shown in the video happens in a split second!

Morgan Stanley Economy & Internet Trends

Here's an excellent presentation from Morgan Stanley on economy and internet trends. One of the key trends predicted here is on mobile internet. Iphone has dramatically revolutionized mobile internet. You can see the steep increase in mobile internet adoption, usage and bandwidth consumption since the launch of Iphone. Going forward mobile is going to drive internet penetration into developing countries and the day is not far when mobile internet usage will be higher than desktop/laptop users..

Morgan Stanley Economy Internet Trends

Hawaii trip Fotos - Maui & Haleakala National Park

Hawaii trip Fotos - Big Island & Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii trip Fotos - Oahu

The Science of Motivation

Here's an excellent speech made by Dan Pink in TED regarding motivation. Motivation is a key aspect of our lives that keeps us going and egging us on to achieve greater heights. Dan talks about the shift that's happening in the motivation approach in corporate world from the carrot and stick approach of the industrial age to intrinsic motivation of the knowledge age. Intrinsic motivation taps on our inner desire to do things because - they matter to us, we like it, they are interesting and its part of something more important. The key building blocks of intrinsic motivation are:

Autonomy - Urge to direct our own lives
Mastery - The desire to get better and better at something that matters
Purpose - The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

I tend to fully agree with him based on my experience. While compensation is an important part and an employee needs to be adequately compensated to retain him, intrinsic motivation is a key aspect to keep them motivated and to enable them to perform effectively. In the corporate world this is achieved by setting clear goals, empowering and enabling individuals to perform at their best.

Pace of Life!!

I came across this excellent article in WSJ - Not so fast regarding the pace of life. This article is bang on target and really got me thinking. So here I am with this blog to air my views!

Technology has made phenomenal strides in the last century with the advent of phones, television, computers and finally the internet. These inventions have been very beneficial in connecting us, bringing us closer by shrinking distances & breaking down geographical barriers. Never in the human history have we been more connected, updated on global events and in touch amongst ourselves than in the last few decades. However one of the key unintended consequence of these inventions is, they have been shrinking time and increasing the pace of our lives. I am sure most of us would be feeling this in our day to day life. Each passing day and each new technology/gadget competes for a slice of our time. It invariably eats into our personal time earmarked for us, our family and friends.

One of the key shifts that occurred along the way is that the definition of Speed has changed from sense of urgency to efficiency/speed of doing things. This puts a lot of stress on individuals. We are constantly racing the clock with too many things to be completed (both personal and official) in too short a time. Add in the peer pressure, competition and distractions it takes stress to stratospheric levels and we are always out of time. We hardly get time to take a breather, relax and enjoy the simple things in life. By the time we look back and realize this, our life would have passed by on the fast track and you end up wondering what you did with your life. Infact the last decade of my life seems to have vanished before I knew!!

Most of the technologies today are very addictive. We cannot imagine a life without our cell phones, TV's and computers/internet. The addiction has reached levels where you become nervous/restless when you don't have these gadgets around. We are unsure of what to do or how to pass time. If you look back in the not too distant past(10-15yrs) most of us didn't have phones, computers, internet etc. We had a much more balanced and happier life, spending time with our family and friends and doing things that mattered most to us. While tech allows us to be more connected we seem to be losing the personal touch.

One of the biggest things that worries me is that our pace of life is increasing each day/year. Continuous improvement seems to be the order of the day - We are constantly required to do things faster, in lesser time, more efficiently. We seem to be caught in this vicious cycle and are constantly pressed for time and stressed out. Is this pace of life sustainable? Is it possible to stall or reduce the pace of life? What can we do to claim our life back and slow down the pace? Will it ever be possible to be fully cut off from this reality - No Phones, TV, Internet, newspapers etc and not having to worry about doing this or that on-time(Not retirement ofcourse!)?

I seem to have more questions than answers. I would like to hear your thoughts/experience and any answers you might have for some of the questions I have raised above. Thank you for taking time to read thru this and look forward to your comments.

Gartner Hype Cycle 2009

Analyst Firm Gartner has released its latest Hype cycle (2009) detailing out some of the latest technology trends for 2009 and beyond. Pls check out the same.

Source of the above images: Gartner, RWW

You could click on the images to get a better resolution version. When i upload these images it gets a little blurry in blogger.

For more details pls refer the following links:

Gartner Hype Cycle 2009: Web 2.0 Trending Up, Twitter Down

Gartner's 2009 Hype Cycle Special Report Evaluates Maturity of 1,650 Technologies

Circle of Life

Whew! At last am back blogging after a couple of months break. Last couple of months has been crazy with lots of travel & work. Finally i managed to take some time away to blog.

I would like to cover a very interesting concept called circle of life in this post. This came up during a discussion i had with a colleague few weeks back. Given the hectic lifestyles we are in we were discussing on a variety of topics on time management, priorities in life, work-life balance etc. He drew out this very interesting picture which i have elaborated below.

Our life can be pictured a set of concentric circles where we as an individual are at the center with the other aspects of of life like family, work, community etc encompassing the core. For us to be successful in the outer circles we need to ensure that we have the inner circles in order and are taken care. If we dont take care of the inner circles the outer circles will eventually breakdown. The order of priority in life reduces as we go from inner to outer circles. Lets do a deep dive into each of the circles of life.

At the core of our life is us as an individual. For us to be happy and successful in life we need to first and foremost take care of our-self. There are two parts of an individual - Mind and Body. For us to lead a happy life we need to ensure fitness of both mind and Body. To keep our body fit we need to spent some time on exercise, yoga etc. Meditation is a good exercise for the mind. It helps with relieving stress and helps you focus better. Only if we are healthy and happy can we lead a good family life and professional life. So taking care of self should be the top priority.

The Second layer after self is family. We need to ensure that we are spending adequate time with our family and are taking care of them. The family can be both your immediate family(Spouse, kids) and extended family like parents, siblings etc. These are the folks that stay with us thru the ups and downs in our life. In some cases your close friends may also come in this layer. This layer is key bcos they provide us the emotional support and provide meaning to our life. Only if you have a good personal life can you have a good professional/external life. This should be the second order of priority for an individual.

The Third layer after self and family is work. For us to be able to sustain ourself and our family we need to work. Work provides a means for our livelihood. For us to be successful at work we need to ensure that our inner circles of self and family are taken care. If the inner circles are not in order or we have issues in inner circle it will automatically impact our performance at work. While you may not see the impact immdly it will definitely catch up. At the same time if we don't take care of this layer it will affect our sustenance and will impact all other aspects of life. So this should be our third order of priority.

The outermost circle of life is the community. It basically means how are we contributing to improvement of the community? For us to be successful and happy in life and live in harmony with our society we need to give back to the community/society that nurtured us. We have a moral obligation to help/contribute to the society. Here again for us to be able to effectively contribute to the community our inner circles - self, family and work needs to be in order. For example if you are having personal problems or you are out of job you cannot effectively contribute to the society. This should be our fourth order of priority.

For us to be successful and happy in life we need to ensure that we balance our life across all these four circles and we allocate time for each of these circles in the order of priority mentioned above. While we may have short term pressures preventing us from balancing our life we need to ensure that we get back to equilibrium as soon as possible to prevent long term disruption/issues in any of circles.

Pls let me know your thoughts on the same.

TED Talk: Nandan Nilekani's ideas for India's future

Brilliant speech by Nandan Nilekani in Ted about imagining India. Nandan is the visionary CEO of Infosys and the author of the book 'Imagining India'. As part of this speech Nandan explains four brands of ideas that will determine whether India can continue its recent breakneck progress.

Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed by Jared Diamond

'Collapse' is an excellent read. In this book Jared Diamond tries to analyze what caused some of the major civilizations of the past to collapse and what can we learn from their failures. The book is divided into three major sections. In the first two sections Jared does an in depth analysis on several past and modern societies and the factors that led to their success/failure. In the final part of the book he tries to come up with some practical lessons that we can learn from the failure of past societies and how do they apply in today's context. Overall the key message from the book is that environmental destruction and unsustainable development are key reasons for failure of successful societies.

Jared picks an diverse set of societies from different geographies, time periods and cultures for this analysis. He has come up a 5 point framework for analyzing each of the societies. The key factors of the framework include environmental damage, climate change, hostile neighbors, friendly trade partners and society's response to environmental problems.

The book starts off with a detailed analysis of modern day Montana - considered to be one of the most natural and pristine states in US and analyzes some of the problems faced in Montana society due to mining, logging, non-native species etc. In the next few chapters he analyzes some of the past societies starting with Easter island where the natives had deforested the complete island while competing with each other to build more and bigger statues. He then briefly covers the collapse of Pitcairn/Henderson societies, Anasazi's of American southwest and Maya civilizations. This is followed by analysis of some successful societies like New Guinea, Tikopia and medieval Japan(Tokugawa era). He wraps up this section with detailed analysis of Vikings and Norse Greenland society which had failed after surviving for more than four centuries. Jared concludes that the Norse society failed due to its inability to adapt to the harsh Greenland environment, clinging on to unsustainable European lifestyle and last but not the least - not mingling and learning from the Inuits(locals).

The second section of of book covers about the challenges faced by some of the current societies and their outcomes. Jared starts off with the Rwandan Genocide and the factors leading to it. He then talks about Hispaniola and contrasts how the two countries of this island(Dominican Republic and Haiti) with the same history and environments had responded to their challenges differently leading to different outcomes - Dominican Republic is thriving whereas Haiti is on the verge of collapse. He goes on to analyze how the rapid growth and industrialization of China is impacting its environment and affects the quality of life if its people. Finally he wraps up the section with an analysis of some of the challenges faced by Australia and their response to it.

Based on the detailed analysis Jared reasons that past societies had made their disastrous decisions due to - Failure to anticipate, Failure to perceive, Rational bad behavior, Disastrous values and unsuccessful solutions. He sums up the current day scenario and details some of the actions taken by governments and corporates to protect the environment. He concludes the book on a positive note stating that the awareness of environmental issues is increasing and that governments and corporates are taking it seriously and acting on it. He is fairly optimistic about the success of our society.

Overall it was a very interesting read. Jared has done an excellent job by providing indepth details and doing a thorough analysis using a logical framework. The only comment i have is that most of the past societies he has taken are fairly small(except Mayas) and have fragile environments. However his point that environment destruction is a key factor leading to failures is valid and true. It would have been good if he had analyzed the failure of any major civilizations. Anyways this book has spurned my interest in studying the demise of major historic societies like Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Indus Valley and Chinese civilizations. If you have any pointers to these pls let me know!

Are we entering an era of pandemics?

Swine flu has been on top of news for the last couple of weeks. It has been spreading across the globe really fast and on last count around 21 countries have confirmed cases of Swine flu and another 20 more countries had suspected cases. The speed at which this pandemic has spread across the globe has been mind-boggling. The first reported case of Swine flu was in Mexico on April 2nd 2009 and the virulent strain of the swine flu was discovered on April 16th only. Within a short span of 3-4 weeks this has spread to 40 countries across 5 continents putting millions of people at risk!

This is not the first time the world has seen pandemics. The biggest one in the not too distant past was the 1918 Spanish flu. This pandemic claimed an estimated 50 million plus lives across the globe. Some of the other significant pandemics that caused large scale impact include 1958 Asian flu,1968 Hong Kong flu etc. The more recent pandemics in this decade include SARS, Avian flu etc. Never before in the history of humans has the risk of being affected in a pandemic of a global scale that too within a short span of time been higher. The pace of spread of these pandemics gives us very less time to respond/find cures.

Some interesting patterns that i see based on these are:

a) These pandemics seems to be occuring more and more often (3 significant ones so far in this decade)

b) Most of these virulent strains are resistant to known anti-biotics and drugs and are increasing harder to cure using our current medicines

c) The speed with they spread across the globe is rapidly increasing with each outbreak

Increasing trade and travel between countries has been acting as a catalyst speeding up the proliferation of these pandemics. As global population is getting aggregated into ever-growing cities, more and more people are crammed into smaller places/close proximity. In lot of 3rd world countries the living conditions & hygene in these cities are really bad. This exponentially increases the risk of both creating a pandemic and being exposed to a pandemic. If you notice another interesting trend, more than 60% of all infectious diseases are caused by 'zoonoses' - pathogenic viruses that originate in animals and jump to humans. Some of the classic examples of zoonoses include SARS, bird flu, HIV/AIDS, West nile virus, Ebola etc. A lot of these are very lethal and we still dont have a cure yet. Zooneses are caused due to increasing human/animal interactions & clashes due to declining habitat.

Taking a step back, while we have made gaint strides in science and medicine in the last century our risk to getting exposed to these pandemics has only increased. The complexity of newer diseases has outpaced the growth of science and technology. Whether knowingly or unknowingly we may have contributed to this increased risk of pandemics thru pollution, decreasing quality of key natural resources - air/water/soil, deforestation, shinking habitats, unsustainable population levels, genetic engineering, wide spread use of harmful chemicals like pesticides/insecticides, dumping of radio-active wastes etc. These bring home a simple fact that nature is infinitely complex and sensitive, playing with it can affect us in ways beyond our comprehension. Pandemics is nature's way of re-establishing the equilibrium that was disturbed by humans. The sooner we start realizing this simple fact and start acting responsibly the better the chances of our future generations enjoying the quality of life that we enjoy today.

Here are some interesting links/articles on this topic:

Age of pandemics - Excellent article by Larry Brilliant in WSJ
Swine flu tracking map by

Pls let me know your thoughts and comments on the above!

Rapid growth in technology & innovation - What about sustainability?

I came across this excellent video on speed of Technology and innovation in YouTube. It really puts things in perspective of the progress we have made in the last several decades/century. 20th century has been the most event filled one in terms of technological progress, innovation & growth in the human history. Never before have we seen several disruptive innovations on a global scale (Ex: Airplane, Automobile, Television, Telephone/cell phone, Computers, Internet etc) within such a short span of time. We made huge progress in almost all fields, most notable amongst those include medicine and science. Technology and innovation has been instrumental in elevating our quality of life and life expectancy. It has shrunk time & distance and enabled us to communicate and express ourselves better. It has made the world one global village!

While there are many positives due to technology, there are also several negatives. We have developed several mass destruction weapons and biological weapons that has potential to destroy the entire life on this planet. We are our biggest enemy and our biggest risk today! In our enthusiasm to advance technology and improve our quality of life we have forgotten the whole concept of 'sustainability'. We have been abusing our planet and have been depleting its resources at a rapid pace. We have been polluting our environment, triggering off large scale environmental changes and global warming. While technology may seem to elevate our quality of life in the near term, if we don't reduce our impact on the environment and fix these issues immediately our future generations will have a drastically reduced quality of life and there is a possibility that their very survival will be threatened.

The need of the hour is to channel our knowledge and innovation to develop sustainable technologies that reduce our impact on this planet. While the last century had been focused on developing new technologies that improved our quality of life, this century should be focused on fixing these technologies, making them sustainable and reversing some of the damage we have done. In order to do that and ensure the survival of our future generations we need to drastically increase the pace of innovation of sustainable technologies.

A lot of political will and investments are required to trigger the next wave of disruptive innovation. In the last decade the awareness of our 'unsustainable development' has definitely increased. However our reaction to it has been somewhat muted and it is not coordinated. We need to shed our differences, geographical boundaries and unite as a single force. We need to act really fast and decisively for us to succeed. The next 2-3 decades will be critical and will determine the course of our future. It will be interesting to see if we can achieve this transformation in our lifetime!

Pls share your thoughts/comments on the above.

Believe in yourself!

One of the most widely reported and talked about story this week has been the appearance of Susan Boyle, a 47 year old singer on the show 'Britain's Got Talent'. This has been the most viral video ever with around 50 million views within 72 hours! As part of the show she attempts to sing 'l dreamed a dream' song from Les Miserables and it was a fabulous performance. The complete audience & judges were stunned and they gave her a standing ovation.

I found this video very inspirational. Here are some of the key learning's from this:

- Belief in self: In life you will always have people who would mock you and doubt your capabilities, having self-confidence and believing in yourself is very critical to success. Initially when Susan came on the stage, both judges and the complete audience were being very cynical and were mocking her. Susan did not let this affect her. She held her nerve and went on to give a fabulous performance. This was possible due to her self-confidence and belief in self.

- Appearances can be deceptive: Most of us typically tend to form opinions on a person based on looks, without interacting/making an effort to know them better. The same happened in Susan's case as well. Everyone including the judges were very skeptic about her and mocked her initially. However at the end of her performance they were stunned. Don't form opinions based on looks alone. Take time to know them better before forming opinions.

- Talent & hard work triumphs: If you have the right talent and work hard you will surely succeed irrespective of the adversities faced. Inspite of all the odds against her Susan went on to score the highest rating in the show due to her talent and hard work.

Check out Susan's performance. Its 7 minutes spent well!

Grazie Susan Boyle! from seb fil on Vimeo.

Dream of flight in a high-tech wingsuit

This guy rocks!!! Wingsuit jumping is the leading edge of extreme sports -- an exhilarating feat of almost unbelievable daring, where skydivers soar through canyons at over 100MPH. Ueli Gegenschatz talks about how (and why) he does it, and shows jawdropping film.

Ueli Gegenschatz takes flight just about every way a human can: paragliding, skydiving, BASE jumping (from the Eiffel Tower), and most breathtakingly by donning a wingsuit and soaring.

Internet penetration: An analysis

Came across this interesting presentation by Microsoft on Internet trends in Europe. Europe & North America are leading the pack in terms of internet penetration & usage. By 2010, Internet is expected to overtake television as the primary media as Europe. Europeans are expected to spend more time in Internet than on television! This is a significant milestone in the history of Internet. With this Internet has truly gone mainstream. The trend in North America is similar.

Asia is lagging global Internet penetration by a sizable margin. In terms of absolute number of users Asia is the highest (Thanks to China), However in terms of % penetration we are still a good 5-10yrs behind NA/Europe. Current internet penetration in Asia is in the mid-teens. Internet penetration in most major developing countries in Asia ranges between low single digits to 20%, compare this with Europe/NA where the penetration is north of 70%.

Listed below are major stumbling blocks and some of steps that could help with improving the internet penetration in Asia:

PC Penetration: PC penetration rates in Asia are very low. Of the developing countries china leads the pack with around 22% penetration but rest of the populous countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia etc are lagging behind with single digit penetration rates. Making PC's more affordable(tax holidays etc.) and enabling easy availability of loans/low interest loans etc could help with improving the penetration.

Network Infrastructure: Internet bandwidth & Broadband penetration is very low. Per capita bandwidth availability is a fraction of what you see in developed countries. Also bandwidth charges are still high. Massive increase in bandwidth capacity coupled with drastic decrease in bandwidth rates is required to increase broadband adoption rates.

Regional language support & content: Currently a major portion of internet is in English/European languages. Most of current penetration is driven by urban users who are conversant in English. As more rural population/non tech population come online, serving localized content in regional languages is critical to increase penetration and make internet more relevant to these rural users.

Computer literacy & Internet awareness: Literacy rates in most of these countries are low. Computer literacy rate is even lower. Increasing computer literacy and internet awareness is very critical. This should be become a core part of the education system and should be mandated in all schools.

Utility apps: One of the most effective ways to improve internet penetration is by making it more useful to people for their day to day functions - online utility billing/payments , Online taxes, Online registration, online accounts(Banks, Brokerage etc), online shopping etc. Both Governments and corporates should aggressively invest in internet enabling key functions. Making things useful for people and enabling them to do all their tasks from the comfort of their home is a sure fire way of improving internet adoption.

Mobile internet: Globally in the next decade mobile internet users are expected to overtake PC users. Mobile penetration in Asian countries is fairly high. Enabling utility apps(mentioned above) through mobile internet would be a good way to increase penetration. This should also be complemented by lowering of mobile data rates.

By 2020, I expect Asian internet penetration to catch up with penetration levels in NA/Europe. I also expect global internet user base to exceed 5 Billion users (4-5x today's user base).

Future of War: Is Terminator/Matrix scenario going to be a reality?

I saw an interesting TED speech by P.W. Singer about the future of warfare. As part of his speech Singer shows how widespread use of robots in war is changing the realities of combat. He shows us scenarios straight out of science fiction -- that now may not be so fictitious.

A lot of these technologies are either operational or in prototype today. The day is not far when you will see battalions of robots/machines, and warfare would be fought from remote. One of the key aspect of this robotic warfare is that the profile of soldiers is changing. Soldiers of tomorrow will be techies/nerds that will be remotely operating the robots and directing the warfare from the safety of their desks. This is like an extension from some of the video games that we see today. Some of you techies out there watch out there is an interesting career option opening up for you :) On a positive note ,this is a great innovation and will result in lesser fatalities during war.

While these technologies are great and very progressive the flip side is, these robots/devices are prone to be/will be hacked. It opens up possibilities where terrorist groups consisting of few hackers can wire the devices to attack innocents or turn against the countries that own them. It reduces the entry barrier to terrorism and will enable a very small group of terrorists to cause great damage. Size, number of people they have, funding etc. will not matter any more. Total dependence on technology is the biggest risk in this electronic warfare.

Check out the below video:

This video has got me thinking and too many questions are floating in my head - Is the scenario portrayed in Martix, terminator etc going to be reality in the not too distant future? Is there a possibility we might see it in our lifetimes(next 4-5 decades)? This is a great innovation/achievement however given our long history of conflicts and wars is this a direction we should be taking? Finally what are the options available to mitigate some of the risks caused by robotic warfare?

Pls share your thoughts on the above.

Photo Credit: joberrr

90% Tax on bonus: Are we being fair?

AIG bonuses has been the top issue in the news for more than a week now. Almost everyone including media, politicians, public are emotionally charged up. There is so much bad blood and negativity out there. Is all this hype & knee jerk reactions justified? I don't think so. We all seem to be carried away by this hype created/fueled by media & politicians and are failing to look at this in a bipartisan and level headed manner.

I agree that careless decisions by some of the senior banking executives led us to this current situation. In reality most of these execs who were responsible for this crisis have already left or have been forced to leave the financial institutions. They have made their money and have got away scot-free. The folks that are remaining are the folks that were working in profitable units of the banks(not involved with crisis), or those that have been hired/charged with fixing this crisis and getting things back in control, or relatively junior folks that merely followed orders. These are the folks that are working hard today to keep the system running, These are the folks that are trying their best to help us recover from this crisis. Is it fair on our part to penalize them?

One of the things that is happening today is generalization, rather than picking out and punishing the folks that caused this crisis, we seem to be indicting the complete banking community and focusing our ire & hatred on them. The politicians that are pushing for the 90% tax on bonuses today are the same folks that legalized & encouraged complex risky instruments like CDS etc in the name of liberalization. Don't they have an equal or higher responsibility for this bubble? Implementing the 90% taxation of bonuses for all bankers is a gross violation of individual rights(failing to pay for the work done/wrongly appropriating the money) and discrimination of banking community. This is no different than racial or ethnic discrimination, in this case discrimination is based on industry. This is also gross misuse of powers by the politicians. I can understand this happening in a Tanzania or North Korea but not in the US. The majority of folks impacted by this law are innocents. I'm surprised that there isn't any level headed person in our political system, that can rise above these silly politics and come up with a bi-partisan, honest and just solution.

Lastly, we seem to be looking at just one side of the coin. Here's a letter by an AIG executive to the CEO highlighting other side of the coin. I hope some of the media personalities and politicians that are fueling this hatred get to read this and realize their mistake.

Pls let me know your thoughts on this issue.

Photo Credits: fintag, hanneorla

High Altitude Wind Energy

Came across this interesting TED video on high-altitude wind energy. Its amazing that we are just scraping the surface of alternate energy. We are just getting started with wind power as an energy source and currently less than 1.5% of world's energy comes from wind. This is one of the most rapidly growing alternate energy source. Along with solar, wind represents the only renewable source of energy that is substantially larger than the world's current energy needs(72TW capacity vs 15TW global consumption today).Most of the wind energy we are harnessing today is in the lower atmosphere (ground level) where the efficiency is low. This video talks about harnessing wind power at higher altitudes. This is a green field technology with high potential.

High-altitude wind energy has the largest energy per square foot of all of the renewable energy technologies (wind, solar, tidal, hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal) and a very low cost. Capturing a small fraction of the global high-altitude wind energy flux could be sufficient to supply the current energy needs of the globe. This is achieved through the use of high altitude kites & Air-borne wind turbines. Technologies exist today to harvest this in a large scale and this has potential to change the energy landscape.

About this talk

In this brief talk, Saul Griffith unveils the invention his new company Makani Power has been working on: giant kite turbines that create surprising amounts of clean, renewable energy.

About Saul Griffith

Inventor Saul Griffith looks for elegant ways to make real things, from low-cost eyeglasses to a kite that tows boats. His latest projects include open-source inventions and elegant new ways…

Photo Credits: Ronnie44052

Auto Meltdown - End of an era (Part III - Final Part)

In my earlier blogs in this series I had covered about the current state of auto industry and how the US auto industry got into this mess. In this post I be focusing on my thoughts around the future of the auto Industry.

Auto Industry is in a serious need for disruptive innovation. The internal combustion engine technology was invented in 1870's in Germany. It is the same technology that has been running our cars for well over 130+ yrs!! While there has been improvements, optimizations etc the base technology is still the same. Compare this with other fields - Energy/Power, Medicine, Telecom, IT, Aviation or any other field for that matter, we've had multiple disruptive innovations and technology has evolved leaps and bounds during the last century. Due to cheap availability of oil, the auto industry was complacent and failed to innovate. The auto industry in the current state is not sustainable. The technology running our autos need a complete refresh and be environment friendly for the industry to recover and maintain its growth. Since the beginning of this decade awareness of this issue has increased amongst auto companies. Huge amounts of money is being pumped into research in alternate technology cars. I expect this to spawn off a wave of disruptive innovations in the next 1-2 decades. We are currently at the beginning of this cycle.

Alternate energy/Clean tech cars are the buzz words these days. In terms of technology, Electric plug-ins leads the pack, Some of the other key alternate technologies that hold a lot of promise incude fuel cell, Solar etc. It will be few more years before these technologies mature. While all the auto majors(GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda etc) are researching in new technologies and are in various stages of development of alternate energy cars, there is a slew of VC funded startups that are working in parallel to come up with nextgen cars. Some of these start ups like Tesla, Aptera, Fisker etc are in advanced stages and plan to roll out their cars in the next 12-18 months. I expect some of these new startups to take off and go mainstream(if they dont get acquired!). This transition into alternate tech cars is going to shake up the industry in the next decade. Those players that are not in the forefront and capitalizing on this trend would get left behind and eventually perish. I also see the current gas-electric hybrid cars to be more of a stop gap till alternate energy cars mature . These will eventually get replaced. I expect this transition to clean tech to occur in the next couple of decades.

Next turning to key markets for car consumption US market is past its peak demand. As highlighted in my earlier post due to easy availability of credit & low fuel costs the demand had spiked during the last decade causing an auto bubble. The net new sales of 17-18M vehicles/yr is not sustainable. I see this number settling to between 12-15M vehicles/yr in the near to medium term(once we are out of this recession). US will be upstaged by China as the top car market in the world. Over the next decade I expect the car consumption in China, India and other developing countries to fuel the growth of car industry. This is the beginning of end of US domination of auto industry.

To sum up this series, we are currently in the midst of an unprecedented shake up in the auto industry. I expect this change to unravel over the next decade and will result in changing the complete landscape including technology, key players, key markets etc. It will be interesting to watch which players survive and which players will perish in this shake up. The time is here to clean up the auto industry and recreate it as a more sustainable and green industry!

Pls let me know your comments and thoughts on this series. Pls feel free to share your views on how you think the auto industry would evolve in the next 1-2 decades.

Photo credits: geeksg, cobra_x, Solaris_bot

Who should be blamed?

Here's an excellent post "Bankers aren't special.. But Banks are" by one of my friends from the banking industry. As part of this post she talks about the double standards where we praise banks/bankers when they generate great returns and slam them when things turn sour. Here's my detailed response to the same.

I agree with her view that bankers get paid more as banks are wealth creation engines. Here are couple of points I would like to add on why bankers are paid more - high level of complexity/highly intellectual nature of their work(similar to IT) and high level of risk they deal with as part of their jobs- higher the risk higher the returns! Rightly so that they get paid more.

Banking industry is all about trust and reputation. One of the reasons why people are upset today is because the trust that people had on the banking system & reputable financial institutions is now broken. Lot of people lost their lifetime savings, 401k's and big portion of their hard earned wealth due to unsustainable/risky investment practices of banks. As a layman a lot of these practices looks way too risky to me. I fail to understand how these smart bankers failed to see the inherent risks/defects in the model.

I feel that banks were focused more on short term profits than long term stability/sustainability. Otherwise how else will you justify the leverages(Investment banks have a leverage of 30-40 times their asset base) and risk taking ability in the system? These days its all about the number game. Most banks/banker's performance is judged by the short term returns they generate and in turn their bonuses are based on the same. This blinded their view on the risks and biased their thinking towards short term profits.

I dont think its a problem with the banks alone, this is an inherent problem with our system (Btw I'm not a socialist, I'm a hardcore advocate of open markets). Who should be blamed for this mess - The Banks? Bankers? Government? or we as individuals who perpetually crave for higher returns? To give you a small example when we are putting our money in a fund/bank most of us by default put our money where there is a higher return and in a normal scenario we hardly care about the risks. When we encourage banks to take higher risk, generate higher return and provide them with our money how do you expect the banks to take the blame?

While i still hold the banks/bankers accountable as it is their responsibility to take the right decisions to safeguard/grow our wealth, we as individuals are equally responsible. We need to wake up to the fact that with higher returns come higher risks and be cognizant of this when we push our bankers to generate higher returns. We as stock holders need to realize that companies/banks cannot keep growing forever and generate unreasonably high returns, we need to take a long term view. To conclude, we need to keep our greed in check and come to grips with reality. End of the day its your money that is lost and you are the one who is affected!

Pls let me know your views/comments on this post!

Photo Credits: Nick.Hider & ilovepiano

Auto Meltdown - End of an era (Part II)

In my previous post I covered details on the current state of auto industry and the reasons that led us into this bubble. In this post I will be focusing specifically on US auto industry and how it got into the current mess.

The top 3 American auto companies(GM, Ford, Chrysler) are teetering on the brink and are currently going through the worst crisis of their lifetime. They have been piling up huge losses, losing market share to Japanese, Korean and German auto majors, their shares have been battered and are trading at 50-70yr lows and are almost on the verge of collapse due to a steep drop in sales. Feb '09 was the one of their worst months in several decades and most of them saw a big drop in demand - GM's YoY sales reduced by 53%, Ford reduced by 48% and Chrysler by 44%. For Q4 2008 GM alone lost around $30 billion and Ford lost around $5.9 billion. All the top 3 companies are running low on cash reserves, their corporate rating has suffered making it both expensive and tough to borrow in the market. They are currently looking to the US government to bail them out.

The decline of the big 3 companies started couple of decades back in the 80's when Japanese cars started making headway into US market. Here are my thoughts on some of the reasons that led them to the current state:
  • Lower Product quality: Japanese cars are known for their quality and reliability. This was one of the key factors that helped them differentiate effectively against American cars and grab market share. The big 3 had ignored this for too long. By the time they started to improve their product quality, the flood gates had been breached and Japanese cars had established themselves in the US market. Though the gap has reduced over the last decade still Japanese cars are ahead of US manufactures in terms of quality and reliability.
  • Lack of Innovation: The big 3 got too comfortable and were slow to innovate. Japanese cars had better technology & fuel efficiency than the equivalent American cars, which lagged Japanese cars in terms of technology by few yrs. Classic example is hybrid vehicles. Toyota had a head start on competition in hybrids. US car manufacturers are also lagging in their research for alternate technology cars. The internal combustion technology has been around for over 100+ yrs around and cars today are still based of the same technology that ran cars beginning of 20th century. Compare that with technology change in computer industry! The fact that oil is finite is well known. Car manufacturers are just waking up to the fact and developing alternate technologies.
  • Slow to change to evolving market trends: American cars are traditionally known for their big, powerful and gas guzzling vehicles. Over the last few years due to steep increase in price of gasoline and increased awareness of environmental issues, consumers are starting to migrate to smaller more fuel efficient vehicles. American car manufacturers had failed to forecast this trend. They suffered heavily when oil prices shot up last summer due to their weak line up of small cars. In the small car market they are the underdogs today.
  • Higher Cost of ownership: Though the purchase cost of American cars tend to be a little lower than equivalent Japanese cars their operational cost is higher due to lower fuel efficiency and lower reliability(especially as they age). The expected lifetime of American cars is also lower than Japanese cars. These factors together result in higher cost of ownership for American cars.
  • Unsustainable Labor agreements: American car manufacturers had entered into unsustainable labor agreements with union back in the sixties when they were doing well and were flush with lot of cash. They are stuck with these contracts now and the cost of benefits/Pensions runs up to around 10% of car cost. This is unsustainable and is a big drag on American companies, forcing them to spend valuable cash into benefits than in R&D.
  • Spread too thin and wasted money in acquisitions: Over the last couple of decades American companies spent lot of their cash on buying up multiple brands. They were looking at acquisitions as a key strategy of growth (inorganic growth). If you look at their portfolio there will be multiple cars from different brands in the same segment with little differentiation. Each of their brands were also fighting against each other and grabbing market share. A lot of these acquisitions were also overpriced and were not managed well. Classic example is Ford acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover. Ford sold them last year after losing billions of $'s. In comparison, Toyota & Honda were very focused on organic growth and invested in their improving their products. They invested in improving the technology, quality and reliability of their products and used it to effectively differentiate and grab market share.
All the above factors had led to a gradual decline of American car companies over the last couple of decades. The last straw to break the camel's back was the sudden increase in oil price last summer and subsequent credit crisis/depression leading to a steep fall in demand. At this moment of crisis they are stuck with a line up of big, powerful vehicles that are not in demand anymore, precariously low cash reserves, excess capacity etc. Though their very existence is in question now, I think they will survive this crisis. However they are past their peak and I doubt if they can ever get back to the original market position.

Please let me know your thoughts on the above. If I've left out any more key factors feel free to add to the above.

In my final post of this series I will be covering my thoughts on the future of auto industry.

Photo credits : dsheubert

Sylvia Earle: Here's how to protect the blue heart of the planet

Check out this excellent presentation by Legendary ocean researcher Sylvia Earle. As part of this session she shares astonishing images of the ocean and shocking stats about its rapid decline -- as she makes her TED Prize wish: that we will join her in protecting the vital blue heart of the planet.

As she rightly points out, environment destruction is visible at land and people are beginning to take note of it and start acting on it. In the oceans the destruction is not visible to the eye however the impact is equally bad if not worse. Protecting oceans is very critical for survival of earth and to prevent mass extinctions and climatic changes. She calls for creation of protected marine areas across the globe to help sustain and protect the ocean life. Excellent one!

Auto Meltdown - End of an era (Part 1)

This is the first of a 3 part series on Auto Industry meltdown. As part of this post I will be covering the current state of auto industry and my reasoning on what led to this bubble.

Current State

February 2009 has been the worst month for US auto industry in decades. The overall auto industry demand has fallen to 4 decade lows of 9.1M vehicles in 2009. The top 3 US companies sees their demand halved from last year's base. GM was the worst with 53.1% decline, Ford 48% decline and Chrysler 44% decline. The Japanese car companies fared slightly better than US companies however still took a significant hit. Toyota saw 40% decline in sales, Honda saw 38% decline and Nissan 27% decline. There is a virtual blood shed happening in auto market both US and globally.

US has been the top auto market in the world for years peaking at 17M+ vehicle sales in 2007. China was a distant second coming in at around 7M+ vehicles in 2008. For the first time in history Chinese car sales exceeded US car sales in Jan 2009. Is this going to be trend in future?

Auto Bubble - How did this happen?

Over the last couple of decades US has been experiencing an 'Auto Bubble' similar to the housing bubble or the dot com bubble. The demand in US auto industry is unsustainable. Overall there are around 251M vehicles in US and 199M licensed drivers this translates to around 1.3 vehicles/driver. I think this would most likely be the peak vehicle ownership ratio. It will start going down from here and eventually settle down between 1-1.1 vehicles/individual. Here are some of the key factors that led to this bubble:

  • Low interest rates and easy availability of credit in the last couple of decades fueled an increase in consumption(similar to housing) leading up to a bubble. It will be interesting to check out the foreclosure(or equivalent) rate for auto industry.
  • Low cost of Fuel - Low gasoline cost in US meant low operating costs for owning a car. This spurred people to travel more and buy more cars and less fuel efficient vehicles. In fact the average miles/gallon in US is 17.1 which is very low by global standards. People really didn't mind this low fuel efficiency till recently due to low fuel cost in US(one of the lowest in western hemisphere).
  • Reducing ownership cost -Technology improvements, innovation and automation has made cars more affordable and cheaper to operate at the same time offering more features and comforts. Opening up of US economy to Japanese and Korean cars also contributed to this trend.
  • Increase in disposable income - Over a 30 yr window between mid 70s to mid 2000's the average car price of american cars increased by 15% in constant currency terms. The average per capita income increased by more than 270%.
All the above factors led to building up of a bubble over the last couple of decades leading to peaking of demand in 2007. When the economy took a turn for the worse last year due to credit crisis things really started falling apart and auto companies started taking big hits with a drastic reduction in demand culminating in halving of their sales this Feb.

Please let me know your thoughts on the above. If I've left out any more key factors feel free to add to the above.

In my next post I will be covering my analysis of how Detroit got into this mess

Microsoft Office Labs vision 2019

Check out this excellent video & presentation on future of technology in 2019. Microsoft’s Business Division president Stephen Elop unveiled the latest production from Microsoft Office Labs called "Office Labs 2019" at the Wharton Business Technology Conference, starring stock photo men, women and children playing with the next-generation of communication, collaboration and production technologies.

Microsoft office labs vision 2019 - Video


A Glimpse Ahead - Presentation by Steven Elop


Pls click here to see the transcript of this session.

The technologies showcased above looks exciting and revolutionary. Excellent vision of future tech by Microsoft. It will be interesting to see how well they deliver to this vision!

For more details check out the below links
Started Something blog
Microsoft Business Division Virtual Presskit
Steve Clayton's Blog - Geek in disguise

Planning to invest in Real Estate? Watch out the market hasn't bottomed out yet!

I came across this interesting graph on index of American home prices for the last 120 yrs that was originally produced by Professor Robert J Shiller and later updated by a reader and posted at Shiller had initially come up with this analysis as part of his book 'Irrational Exuberance'. The magnitude of the rise in housing values during this boom cycle was in excess of 100%, that too within a short span on 6-8yrs. In some of the hot markets like Florida, California, Nevada etc the price increase was much higher than the national average. No wonder the fall has been equally dramatic! Comparing this with the previous boom/bust cycles puts lot of things in context and brings out the magnitude of the bubble. As you can see from the chart, while the real estate prices has come down by a significant margin in the last couple of years, we are still at the mid-point and have a long way to go before the markets bottoms out.

Note: The above chart is an adaptation of the classic Shiller housing price chart with updated data. The original graphic is via NY Times.

Here is another interesting graph from Reggie Middleton's boom bust blog. The below graph is an extrapolation of the Robert Shiller's analysis in comparison with interest rates, population growth, building costs etc and it highlights at what point the market is expected to bottom out. As you can see from the below graph, the interest rates and building costs came down during the 80's and 90's, setting the stage for this historic boom. Another interesting statistic to note is that, the last time the housing crash happened back around 1920 it took almost 25 yrs for the market to recover!


One of the important parameters to consider for market recovery is the foreclosure rates. So far the housing bubble has led to foreclosure of around 2.3 million homes. In 2009, with all the economic issues and lay-off's that are happening, this trend is expected to accelerate further leading to foreclosure of around 2.4 million more homes. Looking at a longer term, around 8.1 million homeowners are expected to lose their homes by 2012. So we are in for a prolonged real estate downturn. If you are planning to invest on a home, wait and watch for another year or two before you take the plunge!

For those interested in reading more you could check out the below links:

United States Housing bubble
Causes of the United States Housing Bubble
No Ceiling yet on Home Losses: Report: Expect 8.1 Million Foreclosures by 2010

How to Survive the Economic Downturn?

I was reading an interesting case study in HBR blogs couple of days back. The case study was about a Home improvement store chain whose sales/profits were going down. The company was faced with a tough decision to cut costs in order to survive. Headcount reduction seemed to be the only course of action. The author lays out the various thoughts of the company's leadership team and employees and asks for our opinion on what is the best course of action.

This seems to be a pretty common occurrence these days with lot of companies facing similar situation. Economic downturns & recessions are an inherent part of capitalism intended to shake up the market and weed out the weak companies. It’s all about survival of the fittest. Companies can either become stronger or weaker based on their response to the crisis and the actions take take during these tough conditions. As part of this blog I've attempted to list down the possible solutions they can adopt to survive and thrive in the downturn. These solutions typically fall under three major categories which are:

Optimization & Cost reduction solutions
These solutions are aimed at reducing wastage in the system and costs.

Solutions for fixing issues/Problems
These solutions are aimed at identifying the root-cause for sales/profit decline & fixing them.

Growth enabling solutions
These solutions are aimed at improving the competitive advantage of companies and enabling them to come out ahead of their competition.

There is no single solution that will fix the issue. Companies need to undertake a combination of all the three major solution categories listed above in order to sustain & emerge stronger from the downturn. Here are top 10 solutions that companies could adopt during tough market conditions:

1. Eliminate excess fluff

Most large organizations as part of their growth create lot of redundant roles, position and non-critical functions. All the roles and functions that are non-critical need to be reviewed and pruned down as appropriate. In addition for each of the functions we need to analyze if there are ways and means in which productivity could be improved thru automation etc and if it can be performed with reduced effort. If feasible some of the people displaced thru this reorganization should be re-trained and deployed in core functions. Companies could also explore options like outsourcing their manufacturing, services etc to low cost locations to reduce cost.

2. Weed out the non-performers

In most environments non-performers are a big drag on the system. They generally are very negative and low on morale. Not only is their productivity impacted they also impact the morale of the good people in the system. Identify the bottom x% of non-performers and weed them out of the system.

3. Reduce Wastage

Wastage of resources is a big drain on enterprises. In normal working conditions these go unnoticed. This is good time to ‘go green’ and reduce wastages in the system. Some of the examples of reducing wastage include – Utilize power saving techniques, Encourage Paper-less office (reduce consumables usage), Reduce T&E expenses (utilize collaboration tools, video-conferences etc), Optimize supply chain (Just in Time, low inventory etc).

4. Renegotiate contract with Suppliers/Vendors

This is a good time to relook at the contracts with your suppliers and see if some of the rates can be renegotiated. Most enterprises get into multi-year contracts with vendors/suppliers and are stuck with the high rates thru the conract. These rates would have looked attractive at the time of signing contracts however due to market pressures they could have reduced later. As an example during the early-mid 2000’s companies that had multi-year contract with telecom service providers realized that as an outcome of dot com burst telecom prices came crashing down due to huge availability of bandwidth however lot of companies were still stuck with old pricing. Some of them pushed their carriers to revise the pricing based on current market conditions.

5. Identify reasons for fall in sales and fix it

This is one of the most important activities that a company needs to do. In a lot of cases companies attribute fall in sales to macro economic conditions and dismiss it. A good indicator for this would be to check how your company is performing its industry and some of its key competitors. If the company sales is falling more than its competition it’s an indicator for a problem. Some of the reasons that could impact sales include Product quality, Customer service, Differentiation, Market perception of the company/product, Cost etc. A detailed root-cause analysis needs to be done to identify the problems and appropriate action items need to be taken to fix it.

6. Identify loss making division/products and fix them

In a lot of cases there might be specific products/divisions in the company that might be pulling down the whole company. Identify the non-performing divisions/products and fix them. In case some of these are non-core to the company it may be divest them. It also makes sense to run each of these products/divisions as separate profit centers.

7. Identify what’s core to your company and focus on it

One of the foremost strategies recommended during downturn is to focus on core operations of the company. Over course of time companies tend to deviate off their core offerings and venture into multiple areas. Companies need to clearly identify what is core to their operations and stick to it. In order to be successful they need to have razor sharp focus on their core operations and continuously invest in it to stay ahead of the field. All non-core operations could be spun-off and divested from the company. This would also help to generate much needed cash for running the core operations.

8. Improve differentiation against competition

In order for enterprises to be successful they need to successfully differentiate against competition. Companies need to constantly ask themselves the question - why would customers want to buy their products/services? They should identify unique value proposition that customers would get by engaging the company. Differentiation can be in terms of superior service, Higher quality, Unique features, Customer experience, Better value for cost etc.

9. Invest in Innovation and research

Innovation is a necessity in order to drive sustained growth and market domination over the long term. Companies need to be aggressive and encourage innovation and invest in research to help develop new products and new ways for delivering services to customers. Innovation could also help with operations more efficient thereby driving down cost/Time to Market etc. As an example companies like Google, Amazon, Ebay, Facebook etc kept their focus and invested in innovation and research during the dot com bust and have emerged as the industry leaders today. Similarly American car manufacturers are in the brink of collapse today as they did not innovate for the last few decades.

10. Invest in talent

Challenging market conditions are the best time to hire the top talent in the market. Lot of good talent will be available in the market due to lay-off, company closures etc during challenging times. Successful companies are constantly on the look-out and hire the best talent in the market during challenging times.

I have made the above list generic so that it will fit a wide range of Industries. Pls let me know your views on the above solutions. If you feel that there are other ideas in addition to the ones i have listed above pls feel free to add to this list.
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