Cloud Computing: NFV

So, I’m back in the world of tech and business that I love (after a small stint in Management Consulting). I’m working in India in Cloud Computing and learning a lot about the topic.

One interesting topic that I am working on these days is NFV – Network Function Virtualization. I do believe that this will increase the prominence of the Private Cloud in the future because this is a workload that must be run on-premise. Some of the best minds in the big companies have been working on this and it will be interesting to see who carves our a niche(s) in various areas.

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New Business Models in Investment Banking and Private Wealth Management

Just a few days ago, a friend and me were having a discussion about Investment Banking, Occupy Wall Street and if the banking model was efficient, adequate and deserving of the criticism or alternately, of the high salaries and bonuses.

In my opinion (as a pure capitalist – I went to Business School) is that Investment Banking was not an efficient business model and the high compensation for executives was a result of that. My friend believed the contrary and said that banks provided services that deserved the high salaries because of the nature of the work and the value provided by the banker to the shareholders of firms.

I read this blogpost today and thought that I should share it.

http://systep.blogspot.com/2013/03/disrupting-investment-banking-and.html?showComment=1364413109343

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Skillshare

I co-founded an e-learning company. My business partner and me had a vision of creating a paradigm-changing tool that would let people create their own course online. For example, if you are a fantastic poker player (or at least you think that you are) and you want to share your knowledge with the rest of the world, you would be able to create a course using audio, video, or powerpoint formats online.

At the time, both of us were really excited about the idea but we decided to implement an “Amazon” of online courses as our first phase because we thought this would help us generate revenue. After two years, we shut the firm down (for various reasons) and our vision of creating this paradigm-changing tool was never realized.

During that time, a British firm, whose name I cannot recall, launched a product with similar functionality. It was a well-designed, sexy website which was easy to use. And I was surprised when it shut down in less than a year.

It just seemed to me that people do not like taking courses online. They prefer learning in a classroom environment and enjoy aspects such as interacting with people and asking questions. This is one model that may not scale to the online world just yet.

Just a month ago, I came across an interesting new NYC start-up, Skillshare, in my Social Media and Entrepreneurship class at Columbia Business School. Skillshare did what we wanted to do but in the offline world. Immediately this got my attention and I decided to be on the project team that was going to help Skillshare gain traction through social media channels.

Check out Skillshare   http://bit.ly/skillsh

Over the last 6 weeks, I have been checking out the Skillshare website regularly. It seems that most of the classes are eventually getting sold out. I am proud to say that we contributed to this as well and helped sell a few tickets.

I am hoping that they grow and become successful. In some way, it will validate the idea that we had 7 years ago. But to be perfectly honest, I have doubts about whether this concept has legs. Let’s hope I am proven wrong….

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More on gaming

So I like Social Media but one company that I have been always critical about is Zynga. I hated getting Farmville notifications on my Facebook feed. But right after the Japan disaster, I read an article which made me change my mind about Zynga. Through their game, they raised $1.1 MM in a matter of 36 hours. AMAZING!

You can read my blog post here:

https://koonal.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/z1/

A couple of days ago, I read an article on “Angry Birds Rio” – the latest game in the Angry Birds franchise. It was downloaded 10 million times in 10 days.

Inspired by the article, I opened my old Angry Birds game to play it again and noticed that they had introduced an interesting monetization strategy. They now have an icon called “The Great Eagle” (or something like that). The Great Eagle can help you solve a level if you are stuck. To buy the services of the Great Eagle, it costs you a dollar.

I personally think that this is a great monetization strategy. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

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The future of strategy consulting

For MBA students, one of the most desired careers after graduation is Management Consulting (the others being Investment Banking, Investment Management, and Private Equity/Venture Capital).

While browsing, I came across an interesting article in HBR which talks about the trends in strategy consulting industry.

Essentially the article says that over the year competition has increased. Some of the reasons for this could be that there are more companies out there, there is easier access to resources and less barriers to entry because of the Internet and greater supply of talented people. Thus consulting projects go out to companies that can add more value than just strategy consulting. Typical workstreams now have IT, supply chain, analytics components within the project. Thus pure strategy projects are declining and projects focused on a specific function (e.g. IT) are increasing, and thus the opportunity to do strategy is now embedded within that initiative.

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/03/the_state_of_strategy_consulti.html?cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-strategy-_-strategy031511&referral=00210&utm_source=newsletter_strategy&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=strategy031511

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More on the Startup Visa

Last week, I wrote on why the US is the best place for entrepreneurship and cited that the attitudes of the people, who mattered the most (VCs, Angels, entrepreneurs, and legislators), as the primary reason for this. Refer:  https://koonal.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/why-is-the-us-the-best-place-for-entrepreneurship/

I included a link to an article talking about the efforts of many to incorporate an easier startup visa for entrepreneurs.

Just today, UK had beaten the US to a Startup Visa. Check the article: http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/17/the-uk-beats-the-us-to-a-startup-visa-but-will-it-make-a-real-difference-tctv/

Will it make a difference? I think so. UK has taken a large step towards encouraging innovation in their country and that’s a fantastic thing. Will they overtake the US, in terms of innovation and entrepreneurship? I doubt it. The sheer number of people, the established entrepreneurship, and the venture capital already present in the US will be the differentiating factor. But that being said, I like how more than one country is opening the doors to innovation. Waiting for China, Brazil, India to follow.

 

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Web vs Mobile: Application Design

So I was talking about mobile apps with a friend of mine, who’s really interested in mobile payments, and she mentioned that Mastercard’s mobile strategy was to develop many different smartphone applications – each doing a different thing (for e.g. an ATM finder app, a Deal locator app, etc). Visa’s strategy seemed to be different. Develop one app that does many different things – much like how the big Internet companies function (e.g.  eBay, Google).

This poses an interesting question – should Mobile Apps be built in the same way Web Apps were built? A giant portal-like design with sub-functions. This method has many merits. It helps structure the application, keep everything in one place, and looks clean and organized.

However, from my own personal experience of using smartphones, it seems that this design methodology might not work for mobile applications. While using a mobile app, I’d rather not care about everything being in one place. In fact, this would make life more confusing and time-consuming. Would this argument hold true for other companies?

The next challenge for a company like Mastercard is going to be create the right number of apps with the most critical functionality.

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