Tag Archives: Asia Pacific

Asia-Pacific, Middle East new focus areas for IT services firms #Press #Media #Mint

Indian software services exporters have begun sharpening their focus on countries like Japan, China, Malaysia, Australia and those in the Middle East, given the growth potential of these markets.

In the June quarter, the top five Indian software services exporters posted an average growth rate of 11-15% in Asia-Pacific and other emerging markets.

Growth from the Asia-Pacific region for India’s largest information technology (IT) services company, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), was up 34.9% from a year ago and that from the Middle East rose 20% in the same period. Wipro Ltd, which has been in the Middle East for over a decade, saw its Middle East and India business grow 13.8% in the June quarter from a year earlier.

For Tech Mahindra Ltd, India’s fifth-largest software services exporter, the Middle East is a priority due to government-led information technology initiatives, like the recent eight-year engagement it signed with the Dubai Economic Council to provide solutions to make Dubai a “smart city”. Tech Mahindra also has the contract to provide data solutions to power the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Qatar.

The move to emerging markets is logical, given the high growth potential in these regions, even though it is on a lower base, say experts.

South East Asia’s competitive and rate-sensitive market allows for smaller deals, especially from countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, which are of particular interest to mid-tier firms, said Ravi Menon, IT analyst with Centrum Broking Pvt. Ltd.

Sangeeta Gupta, vice-president of software lobby body Nasscom, said that exploring business in countries like Japan, Korea, Indonesia, China and continental Europe makes sense “as 80% of incremental revenue is projected to come from these markets by 2020”.

Sid Pai, partner at research and consulting firm, Information Services Group (ISG), pointed out that while developed markets like the US and Europe are growing a mere 2-3% annually, markets in continental Europe like France, Germany and the Nordics are largely underpenetrated but have an addressable market opportunity of 30-40% per annum.

“Other emerging markets in Asia-Pacific like Japan, China and India, which currently contribute barely 5% to revenues of IT services players, have a potential to grow by 30-40% per annum as well,” he said.

Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and chief executive of Greyhound Research, agreed that the Asia-Pacific region “will remain the fastest-growing emerging market, especially Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China, which offers a lot of sophistication in terms of varied deals”. However, growth in the Middle East, he said, was restricted to regions like the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Egypt.

According to Cathy Tornbohm, vice-president of research at research firm Gartner Inc, “clients need a range of delivery locations for people-based processes. This is for proximity for ease of visiting sites, cultural fit, languages and time zones”.

For instance, global business process management firm Aegis Ltd, a part of the Essar group, which recently sold its American unit Aegis USA to Paris-based business process outsourcing firm Teleperformance for $610 million, said it would use some of the earnings for acquisitions in Korea and Japan.

The move, according to Sandip Sen, global chief executive of the company, “is to complement its Malaysia business, which will be the hub of its operation in South Asia, after the acquisition of Malaysia-based Symphony BPO in March”.

The Middle East market “offers opportunities of an emerging market as well as an advanced market, which is rapidly deploying world-class technology, comparable to the developed world”, said Kamal K. Singh, founder and chief managing director of Rolta India Ltd, a software engineering firm.

About 12-15% of Rolta’s revenue comes from emerging markets, and “most of the contracts we win here are with government and public-private partnership projects”.

Meanwhile, even the Indian government, said R.S. Sharma, secretary of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology “is seeking to identify new non-English speaking markets, like Africa, Latin America, China and South East Asia as it looks to promote small and medium size enterprises in the segment”.

He added that the government has formed an expert council, which has members from different industry lobbies, to figure out what could be done to extend India’s presence in these markets.

Source: Mint

The Social CIO #Press #Media

Enterprise technology decision makers are increasingly leveraging social network and technologies to foster growth in their organisations.

Social technologies are playing a major role in fostering growth among organisations and enterprise technology decision makers are leveraging social networks in numerous innovative ways. There are some key verticals like BFSI, telecom, retail and hospitality which is using social technologies to reach out to their customers. Interacting with the customers on a regular basis allows enterprises to know their requirements and this helps in coming up with offers or products that are liked by the customers.

According to Atul Nigam, CIO, Micromax India, “Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkden allows us to reach our customers and get to know what are their requirements. CIOs can play a major role in providing apt business analytics to identify a specific trend and that helps in coming up with offers/promotions which customers can relate to. Our company has seen tremendous growth in the last five to six years and for us to sustain this growth rate, we need to know our customers better and social technologies plays an integral role in identifying this.”

Enterprise technology decision makers are leveraging social technologies to provide analytical insights about consumers. This in turn is helping enterprises to be more customer-friendly and focussed in their approach.

According to Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research, IT organizations are struggling to deal with the invasion of multiple consumer-driven social technologies inside corporate firewalls. Employees continue to use these tools — with or without IT’s knowledge and approval — to help them improve their performance and do their work more efficiently. Employee adoption is catalysing many companies in Asia Pacific to proactively use (or at least plan to use) social tools as part of their IT setup, giving users the choice to adopt new tools to improve productivity and hence improve employee satisfaction.

CIOs across verticals agree that social analytics can play a key role in enhancing customer experience.

According to KK Chaudhary, CIO, Lanco Infratech, “I vouch for social analytics and I have witnessed many of my peers helping out their marketing team in getting to know different aspects of customer behaviour. Although, we are into power and do not need to interact with our customers via social medium, but I feel there are many verticals where one needs to interact directly to the customers and social technologies helps a lot of achieving this feat. At Lanco, we use internal social tool which helps in connecting with the employees and also makes them updated with the new developments in the organisation.”

Source: CIO & Leader

Android may rejuvenate Nokia #Press #Media

While analysts are not calling the Nokia X Series smartphones a game changer, they are upbeat about Microsoft’s strategy to tap into the sub-Rs.10,000 phone segment.

In the age of smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system, Microsoft seems to have half acknowledged that if it has to succeed in phones, it makes sense to ride on Google’s open technology.

The company launched the Nokia X smartphones, which for the first time are using Android’s open-source software, and are priced in direct competition with Samsung, Sony and Indian phonemakers such as Lava, Karbonn and Micromax.

The Android open source software, which has minimal licensing requirements, is used on a wide array of mobile devices with different form factors. The X Series announcement, which was first made at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, had received mixed responses from analysts.

Tony Cripps of Ovum seems to have concerns around how the X-range of smartphones will tilt the balance in favour of Microsoft. However, he believes that Nokia’s strength in emerging markets will help the company get back its lost glory and, more importantly, further the cause of adoption of Windows phones in India.

However, others believe that this is a masterstroke from Microsoft. “There are no Windows Phones at the Rs. 8,500 range and in emerging markets if you do not have a sub-Rs.10,000 phone, you will be off the radar,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst with Greyhound Research.

Affordability is key

Multinational and Indian companies have used the Android route to build smartphones in a market were the majority of users seem to veer towards affordable phones.

Talking to Business Line, Nokia India Sales Director Raghuvesh Sarup said the need for an affordable smartphone that can meet user needs, such as quality apps, free music streaming and access to Nokia Maps, is an opportunity for Nokia, which enjoys good brand equity in India.

Narrowing price gaps

“Growth in the smartphone market is being propelled by the launch of low-end, cost competitive devices by international and local vendors, which are further narrowing the price gaps that exist between feature phones and smartphones,” says Manasi Yadav, Senior Market Analyst with IDC India.

The hunger for smartphones in India is growing and this is reflected in the numbers. According to International Data Corporation, in 2013 the smartphone market surpassed 44 million units, up from 16.2 million in 2012, making it one of the fastest growing markets globally.

Source: Hindu BusinessLine

CA Technologies bets on mobility solutions #CATechnologies #Mobility #BusinessToday

New York-headquartered software firm CA Technologies, which has been struggling globally to break away from its legacy mainframe business, has launched its mobile device managed solutions in India.

“Increasingly more and more people are bringing their own devices to the workplace,” says Sunil Manglore, Managing Director of CA Technologies India. “The solution will help CIOs (short for Chief Information Officer) support devices within the (company’s) IT infrastructure.”

Manglore adds that his discussions with CIOs, his potential customers, are about technology trends like bring-your-own-device and big data. “Bring-your-own-device is putting a lot of pressure on CIOs, and they are worried about data security,” he says.

The growing population of millennials – those born in the 1980s and later – is particularly keen on using their own devices at the workplace.

A few weeks back in an attempt to woo enterprise users, CA Technologies launched its service called Nimsoft Monitor Snap and offered it free of cost to customers. Here the application can be downloaded from the website and be used to monitor up to 30 mobile devices. The user, however, has to pay a contract fee if he needs to support more than 30 devices.

In May, Mike Gregoire, CEO of CA Technologies in an interview to ZDNet said: “The areas to improve are… Our company’s been in business for 37 years and we carry a little extra weight. I think we need to go on a little bit of a diet and get in the gym and work out a bit.”

But, Manglore says that India is slightly different, as there is very little mainframe business in the country. In India, CA Technologies has been typically involved in large-size tenders such as government contracts for IT infrastructure deployment and maintenance, but is now trying to branch out into private sector contracts in banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) and telecom companies.

“We are also trying to strengthen relationships with large enterprises,” he says. “They are not driven by the tender game and we don’t lose a deal because of one dollar.” Typically, contracts with private companies also fetch higher margins for IT firms.

CA Technologies is also helping banks and telecom companies understand the end user experience at, say, an ATM counter or a multiple mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. “We have started discussions with all the major telecom operators,” says Manglore.

“It is a step in the right direction as companies today want solutions. CA has traditionally been a tools’ company,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research. “This will add more value to CA’s prospective clients.”

CA Technologies has created an overlay of analytic tools to understand customer behaviour and provide feedback. Manglore sees these new businesses growing at a run rate of 30 to 40 per cent every year.

Source: Business Today

The benefits of communication #Media #Press #afaqs

If you thought just having a well documented corporate benefit strategy was enough to attract and retain talent, you might be in for a surprise. A majority of the respondents to the 2013 Asia Pacific Benefit Trends Survey said value perception does not increase noticeably as benefits spend increases. In other words, improving employee perception of the value of the benefits should be a key objective for the organisation.

Benefit programmes typically account for one-third of employee compensation costs and are considered an important talent management strategy to differentiate from the competition. It is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but a ‘must-have’, agree most employers. However, the dilemma is, how should a company increase the perceived value of benefits offered while also managing costs?

Having a benefits strategy that is linked to the business strategy can serve as a significant competitive advantage for employers, says Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder & CEO, Greyhound Knowledge Group. “The issue is more than just communication. HR needs to make a business case and convince the CEO and CFO why the company needs an inclusive rewards programme. The HR department should make, an employee engagement index, and measure it quarter-on-quarter against the amount invested. It should be able to quantify how much employee engagement has increased at the end of four quarters against the given Rs X crore of investment,” he says.

An employee benefit programme is no longer just a strategy to attract and retain talent – it has become an engagement tool. According to Gogia, employees should be asked what they want in their benefit programme. Most companies use a one-size-fits-all approach to their group employee benefits communication strategy. However, a tailored approach with the message designed for specific employee segments is more effective, he says. Not just employee demographics, but also the channel in which that message is communicated is important.

“There are 3Cs to an employee benefit communication programme – it should be concise, consistent and have cadence. HR must create a year-round benefits communication plan, use simple and clear language, explain the business realities of any changes and goals and treat employees as business partners,” says Gogia.

However, employees value different benefits according to their personal preferences. A flexible benefits programme, which allows employees to choose benefits that suit their current situation, is becoming a popular strategy, finds the Towers Watson study. Although traditional benefits such as annual leave, medical and life insurance remain the most prevalent, new lifestyle-related benefits, such as a gym membership, flexible working hours, buy or sell annual leave are also on the rise. The study says employers must look at total health management approach rather than just providing benefits that treat illnesses.

For any benefit plan to be effective, it has to be communicated well. Companies should broaden the use of the internet to provide resources and information. Most companies use the internet to offer basic plan and coverage information. However, some innovative companies have successfully used the internet to promote wellness, preventative care and stress reduction. Smart companies, like IBM and Microsoft have enabled all employees to blog and have incorporated those blogs on their websites.

That said, communication alone is not going to make much of a difference. Companies must help employees make the best benefits choices by educating them so that they can avoid confusion and needless worry about their benefits decisions.

In sum, by clearly aligning the vision of employee benefit programmes with the employer’s business goals, HR will function as a business partner. Effective benefit communications will ensure that both employers and employees get the most from the investment in benefits.

Source: afaqs

How messaging apps are beefing up their user base #Press #Media #BusinessToday

Jun Masuda of Line Corp with some of its sticker characters

Jun Masuda of Line Corp with some of its sticker characters
Smileys were always popular, but they never got the cult status that stickers – the new, larger emoticons – have gained. The fad, started by the Line messaging app in Japan, is now big enough to prompt TV shows featuring sticker characters in the country, and local versions of stickers in other countries. But the biggest indication that the stickers from Japan had become a global phenomenon came when Facebook adopted them, first on mobile and then on web chat.

Characters such as Cony, a cartoon rabbit, and his bear friend Brown, are more than conversation fillers when chat junkies are at a loss for words – they are good business. Line Corporation, which owns the Line messaging app, made $27 million in the second quarter of 2013 from these expressive chat icons – about 27 per cent of its $101 million revenue for the period. The app’s revenue grew 66.9 per cent over the first quarter, powered by impressive growth in traditional markets such as Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. Growth in numbers – crucial to the monetisation of these apps – will depend on growth in new markets, such as India.

Line made a dramatic Indian debut in July, raking up five million active users in three weeks. Global Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Jun Masuda says its success marks a transition from open social networking services to closed ones. “People are tired of social networks,” he says. “You don’t talk to people you don’t know, so why should you contact them on social networks? Line is where you talk to people who are close to you. This format does not tire people.”

The closed model is Line’s USP, and in Japan it is popular among couples. This also explains why people are willing to buy stickers within the app. After all, how many would do that to impress a boss? Line users send 7 billion messages a day, including a billion stickers. They also play games within the app, buying virtual items when stuck at a hurdle. These in-game purchases account for 53 per cent of revenues this quarter. Line plans to launch video calling this fall, besides Line Music and Line Mall, in Japan. It claims a user base of 230 million.

WeChat and its Chinese version,Weixin, claim over 300 million, which, according to the GlobalWebIndex, makes WeChat the fifth most used app in the world, with presence on 27 per cent of all smartphones. This is also why WeChat, owned by Chinese Internet giant Tencent, can afford to spend big on customer acquisition outside its base in China.

WeChat is not forthcoming on revenues, but Tencent’s results for the first half of 2013, announced in mid-August, show that about 76 per cent of its $4.5 billion revenues comes from value-added services. WeChat makes money through apps on the platform as well, as by letting brands create pages to reach out to their customers. In an e-mail interaction from Hong Kong, spokesperson Katie Lee was noncommittal about whether a similar model is possible in India. “The success of WeChat really boils down to social experience and value we bring to users,” she says. “We are working on the business model for international markets.”

Monetising Tricks
Brand pages are proving to be the best way to monetise these apps, especially in countries such as India, where in-app purchases are yet to gather steam. “Companies want to use our huge user base for promotions,” says Masuda.”Stickers from companies can be free for users, but companies will have to pay Line for putting it online.” He cites the examples of Hollywood studios, which create sticker sets to promote movies such as Iron Man 3 and Monster University. In India, Sony was among the first to open an account on Line.

BlackBerry, too, has jumped on to the bandwagon. It is all set to take its popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to the Android and iOS operating systems, and is testing its BBM Channels service, which will allow brands and content providers to maintain a page to post messages and video for their audiences. “They can see who is visiting the page and engage with them,” says Annie Mathew, Director, Business Development and Alliances, BlackBerry India. “This also lets them create targeted and location-based advertising.” BBM has 61 million users globally, and traffic exceeds 10 billion messages a day.

The Indian market has its own demands. So while Line rolls out Indian stickers and support for local languages, WeChat’s money is on emoticons of Indian celebrities such as Parineeti Chopra and Varun Dhawan, as well as a tie-ups with Bollywood production houses.

With a Dabangg Salman Khan and a cigarette-flipping Rajinikanth on its sticker list, BhartiSoftBank’s Hike seems to have the home advantage. “We wanted to find a solution for fragmentation, so that people would not have to use multiple apps,” says Kavin Bharti Mittal, Head of Product and Strategy at BhartiSoftBank (BSB), a joint venture between the Bharti Group and Internet company SoftBank. “That is why we started with a Hike-to-SMS feature, which is a very powerful feature in India. This is now about 30 per cent of the one billion messages we do a month.” Hike users can message even offline contacts. Mittal says this is needed, as 70 per cent of Hike users are based in India, where there is a “tendency to switch off data services often”.

Launch Pad

Though Hike is not yet monetised, Mittal sees it as a large distribution platform on which he can promote the other BSB verticals, such as gaming and coupons. “It is important for a company like ours not to focus on revenue too early. You need to have the right product and business strategy first. Our focus is on getting to 10 million first.”

To achieve this, almost all messaging app companies have tied up with mobile manufacturers to preload their apps on new devices. Mark Ranson, a South Korea-based associate analyst on research firm Ovum’s consumer team, says the possibilities are almost endless once the service has scaled. He says: “They can launch anything, depending on the market. Content services could be very popular. We are also coming to a stage where people are willing to pay even for messaging.”

However, he concedes that in India, scaling up may take longer as far as revenue is concerned. “In Japan, users are willing to pay a lot for digital content. People will get more accustomed in time. But companies such as Line Corp and Tencent are not concerned with monetisation in the short term – they just want to become the largest player.”

The Giants
No discussion of scale can ignore WhatsApp, which has over 300 million users globally and a monthly average user (MAU) base of over 200 million. WhatsApp reportedly has over 20 million users in India, although in an email response to Business Today, business development head Neeraj Arora said only that the “company was seeing tremendous growth in India”. WhatsApp has a unique monetisation model – users pay $0.99 after a year of free use. Until July, the company charged iOS users this amount upfront. “With around 30 per cent of WhatsApp users being on iOS, this meant a monetisation of at least $100 million at any time,” explains Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and Group CEO of New Delhi-based Greyhound Research.

The other big player is Facebook, with over 70 million users in India, a large chunk of them on mobile. It has a standalone messaging app, though Country Growth Manager Kevin D’Souza says messaging is deeply integrated and a part of the Facebook experience.

Facebook does not have a specific monetisation strategy for messaging. However, it is investing in ensuring that the message is delivered across devices and networks. “A large number of people is on feature phones, and that is a focus area for us,” says D’Souza.

But with WeChat and Line closing in on MAUs, leaders such as WhatsApp may have to think up new ideas to stay in the game. “WhatsApp is at a pretty cool point in its life cycle,” says Ovum’s Ranson. “But for the best chance to maintain their strong position, they should look at other revenue streams.”

He says there will be consolidation in India, as there was in South Korea, where KakaoTalk emerged as the leader after many others came and went. “Globally, there is going to be some fragmentation,” says Mittal of BSB. “India will have at the most three players in the long run.”

Source: Business Today