Commercial TV!

My television. My rules.

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Sometimes you’ve gotta bat for the other side to know what it feels like!

You’re watching Castle on Star World, and you are thoroughly engrossed but just when the tension is unbearable and you’re wondering what’s going to happen next, the ubiquitous commercial break kicks in. What a pain in the butt!

What do you do during the commercial break?

Read a newspaper?

Surf channels? – only to discover that the television networks are hand-in-glove with each other; they have conspired to inflict paid advertisements on you – the unsuspecting viewer – synchronized to be played out at the same time.

If you happen to be one of those unscrupulous (to the advertisers) techno-geeks (No, I’m not knocking technology or geeks!) and can afford these gizmos, you would either have TIVO so that you can watch your favorite  programs undeterred by the threat of commercial disruptions, or you may have switched to IPTV , where you watch your pre-recorded and time shifted programs when you please , at your leisure and convenience. Of course, you can always have your programs pre-recorded the old-fashioned way on your VCR or DVR. Or if you are the patient type,you can just catch them on YouTube or Lulu, just a bit later.

Quote of the day:
Defining and analyzing humor is a pastime of humorless people. – Robert Benchley

I , unfortunately, suffer from none of the above luxuries. And although I have a broadband connection, it is not truly mega-speed. And so, my usual reaction is to find something else to do during those three minutes of inanity simultaneously muting the set;my ears do not wish to endure the cacophony of pretty (petty?) housewives and even prettier (pettier?) models and actors intent on selling me soap,shoes, jewelry  and other FMCGs – they strive to invite, lure and seduce me into becoming part of their anesthetized, antiseptic,sanitized, made-for-TV world.

But then I get to thinking that surely there exist some viewers who prefer these very commercials that I dislike,deride and avoid with such antipathy. And if so, why should they be burdened by the interruption of content meant for mass viewers? Why can there not be a dedicated channel for commercials? A niche channel! I am, of course, not alluding to those annoying,pesky TV shopping networks that have half-hour long infomercials on which every product is touted as the panacea to your undreamed, unfulfilled desires – products that tout convenience and are anything but that. They just happen to be convenient means of relieving your pocket. And not with much finesse, if I dare say! (They prey on your insecurities and work best when you’re down in the dumps!)

MTV's original logo, officially in use from 19...

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How about a channel on the lines of an MTV , a VH1 or even a Channel V, dedicated to commercials and just commercials. Great commercials! Seductive commercials! Top 20 Commercials! Most Wanted Commercials!

Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking at the lighting...

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Maybe a program dedicated to those monstrous Hollywood commercials plugging Japanese and Korean products aired solely on East Asian networks. (The commercials aren’t monstrous; the premiums charged by the stars to endorse those products are! Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger! Just some loose change for pocket-money!)

Middle East Television

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Or those nauseous commercials made for the Middle East market that actors from Bollywood, Mollywood and Tollywood parade in selling, well, almost everything. Just goes to show that you could be idiotic on-screen and earn a lot of moolah – just elsewhere!

 How about some golden oldies added to the mix to indulge nostalgia? Create your own digital commercial contests?

Just picture it – a channel that does not have to bother with programming. Content will be served by the advertisers with no commercial breaks! The commercial is the program. What will advertisers not do for free air time?

In India, music channels – in the local languages – run themselves. Film music is the most popular form of audio/video entertainment. Reality shows are mostly song or dance based or both. Thus content is easily available and advertisers flock to these channels because of the sureness of eyeball capture. Mass media was never more mass!

Can something similar be done with TV commercials?

Is there an idea here somewhere? Or am I just rambling? Ranting? Or just being plain loony? Of course, this might not be such a great idea; all programming is now a long paid commercial – the deft/brazen product placements prove that!

Your thoughts?

Have a great day!

Disclaimer: I have not verified if any such channel exists! Pardon my ignorance!

Starting a New Business


Mr. Fix-It Ltd.

We treat your homes like our own!

Linus Fernandes/Kalliroi Patsali/Giorgos Elia/Petros Loizou


Confidentiality Agreement

The undersigned reader agrees that the information provided in this document is confidential and any disclosure of any information contained within, intentional or otherwise, may cause serious harm or damage to Messrs Linus Fernandes, Kalliroi Patsali, Giorgos Elia and Petros Loizou.

The reader is bound not to disclose this information without the written express consent of the above listed Messrs.

Upon request, this document is to be returned to :

Linus Fernandes/Kalliroi Patsali/Giorgos Elia/Petros Loizou.




Name (Typed or Printed)



This is a business plan. It does not imply any offerings.

Information of key contact person

Name: Linus Fernandes

E-mail: xxxxxxxxxx

Address: Cyprus International Institute of Management

21 Akademias Avenue

P.O Box 20378

2151 Aglandjia

Nicosia, Cyprus

Tel: +357 22462246

Fax: +357 22331121

Mobile number:

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Capitalism: Its Two Variants

A vector image of :Image:Capitalismlogo.

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There exist 2 variants of capitalism: Individual Capitalism and Communitarian Capitalism.

Individual Capitalism is epitomized by the United States. Japan , at the other extreme, exhibits a form of communitarian capitalism.

The 2 tables below outline the differences between the 2 systems.





How to optimize the performance of a system: Cooperation at all levels will optimize the system. Competition at all levels will optimize the system.
The key driving force in the economy: The desire to build for the future. The desire for current consumption and leisure.
Motivation for work: Work provides utility. Individuals live to work. Work provides disutility. Individuals work to live.
Responsibility for skills and training prior to employment: Responsibility of society. Strong high schools and apprenticeship programs. Responsibility of the individual beyond relatively weak high schools. Few apprenticeship programs.
Relationship between government and business: Government supports and cooperates with business to optimize the system. Government regulates business to promote competition. Click for Summary of the 2001 and 2005 ASCE Report cards on U.S. Infrastructure.
Government policy: Promote growth in supply. Promote growth in demand.






Dominant objective and focus: Building for the future with long term focus. Profit maximization with short term focus.
Organizational Structure: Horizontal, flat or lean with relatively few layers of management. Bottom up consensus decisions. Vertical with many layers of management. Top down autocratic decisions.
How profits are used: As fuel to keep investing and building. To increase consumption and leisure for stockholders.
Hierarchy of organization’s constituencies: 1. Employees
2. Customers
3. Stockholders
4. Suppliers
1. Stockholders
2. Customers
3. Employees
Employment and job security: Lifetime employment promotes bonding. Uncertain employment discourages bonding.
Responsibility for training after employment: Companies provide cross training and job rotation. Individuals are mainly responsible for their own skills.
Route to management: Long multi-function internship. From college, to single function specialization, to management.
Management attitude toward teamwork: Teamwork and cooperation are essential for optimizing the system. Teamwork is risky. Individual performance will optimize the system.
Management behavior in economic recession: Cut:
1. dividends
2. management compensation.
3. workers pay and jobs as last resort.
1. workers pay and jobs
2. management compensation.
3. dividends.
View of leadership: A leader manages processes or work. A leader manages results.
Management attitude toward problems: Understands the variability within the system and tends to blame the system first. Specialist has less understanding of the system and tends to blame employees.
Tools of management: Employee empowerment, group praise and profit sharing. Statistical control. Managers facilitate, counsel, teach and provide resources. Management by objectives, merit ratings, incentive pay, quotas, standard rates and quantities, piecework and annual ranking of employees. Count results.

So where do you think BRIC/BASIC countries place themselves?



Web Services, SOA, BPM, and Cloud Computing – VII

Outline of a cloud containing text 'The Cloud'

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What, in heaven, is cloud computing? If you think you already know what cloud computing is about, then this post is not for you. But you can choose to read on, if you like.

The understanding of cloud computing can be as hazy as the term itself.

It seems as though there’s this cloud into which your input disappears and you receive your output , again, via the cloud or that is what all those diagrams depicting cloud computing seem to imply.

Cloud computing seems to be a definitely cloudy term to define the ability to access your applications wherever you go. Cloud computing harnesses or leverages the power of the internet to give you distributed applications that can be accessed from multiple devices (note , it is devices and not multiple computers; multiple devices include multiple computers! Sorry if I sound pedantic!)

Cloud computing definitions include “wherever you go, your applications are”, “the big rental station in the sky.”

The latter because in a multi-tenant cloud computing system, you are in effect sharing resources with other entities or enterprises , all transparent to you and to each other. Hey, what am I saying? Cloud computing is inherently multi-tenant , ask any blogger! But maybe we’re just referring to virtualization, eh? But I am getting ahead of myself here and let’s just start with the definition of cloud computing.

I have defined Cloud Computing elsewhere as:

Cloud computing is outsourcing your computing requirements on demand allowing agile response to ever changing business needs.

Cloud computing is a service. It is usually classified into 3 kinds:

Software As A Service (SAAS)

Platform As A Service  (PAAS)

and Infrastructure As A Service (IAAS).

Wow, you might say, that’s just fine. You’ve simplified it further for me (sarcastically). Now I’m even more confused!

Software As A Service is exactly that; it is a service that fulfils a certain application need , not locally but in the cloud. To give you an example, WebMail services such as Yahoo! Mail, GMail & Windows Live Mail are the simplest form of software as a service. Yes, webmail has been around for quite some time, you may say. But then its the definitions that are new, not the service itself. You may not remember the term ASP (Application Service Provider). Well , SAAS is just a new term for ASP. At your workplace, you may encounter CRM services such as and Zoho CRM. These are examples of  SAAS applications offered as cloud offerings. These are a boon to non-profit and SMEs to allow them to ramp up quickly without any major up-front capital expenditure. Another relevant example of SAAS is and SurveyMonkey. These are  internet based market research tools for individuals and corporates.

Cloud application services or "Software as a Service (SaaS)" deliver software as a service over the Internet, eliminating the need to install and run the application on the customer’s own computers and simplifying maintenance and support. (Sounds suspiciously like ASP!)

  • Network-based access to, and management of, commercially available (i.e., not custom) software
  • Activities that are managed from central locations rather than at each customer’s site, enabling customers to access applications remotely via the Web
  • Application delivery that typically is closer to a one-to-many model (single instance, multi-tenant architecture) than to a one-to-one model, including architecture, pricing, partnering, and management characteristics
  • Centralized feature updating, which obviates the need for downloadable patches and upgrades.

At the next level, is Platform As A Service, If you are a blogger and have your blogs hosted via a blogging service such as, then you are using a Platform As A Service. , in this case, is the platform provider for you to use the blogging service to create and post content.

Cloud platform services or "Platform as a Service (PaaS)" deliver a computing platform and/or solution stack as a service.It facilitates deployment of applications without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware and software layers.

Finally, there’s IAAS or Infrastructure As A Service. If you decide to host your own web-site or move your blog to a hosting service such as VSNL or Yahoo! Small Business, then you are accessing Infrastructure As A Service, You have access to the infrastructure provided by the hosting service provider and you can install your applications within the constraints of supported programming language, supported database  and storage space provided. Of course, there are the other IAAS providers such as Amazon EC2 and Google App Engine, that you may be more familiar with , if you are technically minded. I chose to give you examples that we are familiar with in our use of the internet.

Cloud infrastructure services or "Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)" delivers computer infrastructure, typically a platform virtualization environment, as a service. Rather than purchasing servers, software, data center space or network equipment, clients instead buy those resources as a fully outsourced service. The service is typically billed on a utility computing basis and amount of resources consumed (and therefore the cost) will typically reflect the level of activity. It is an evolution of web hosting and virtual private server offerings.[40

Other not so well-known cloud offerings include Network As A Service (NAAS), Storage As A Service and Security As A Service though the third may be considered a subset of Software As A Service.

When cloud computing is mentioned , the related words we hear are cost savings, the ability to provide for dynamic computing needs (via hybrid clouds and/or public clouds) and the efficiencies gained at being able to reallocate vital resources to more productive uses. Cloud computing is also referred to as utility computing since resources in the cloud can now be turned on or off as dictated by our requirements. IT has become a commodity. So how elastic are its demand & supply curves? And I’m not being laconic!

But besides big dollar savings for large firms, it is also about how small firms can gain a competitive edge by being able to focus on delivering value and not worry about large infrastructural investments; applications can be sourced from cloud computing providers – leased may be the term more familiar to cloud computing advocates. The option to bring these applications in-house to private or internal clouds resides with the enterprise depending upon how their funding and inferentially ramp-up progresses. The economics of cloud computing, for SMEs and non-profits, is very compelling indeed.

That’s all for now! You can keep your head in the clouds! And don’t sport a clouded countenance! Just kidding!

Have a great day!

T-Commerce – Teeing Off

A list of countries with IPTV availability (in...

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Written in 2007, the introduction to a biz plan for a T-commerce solutions provider.

1 Introduction

Buy Interactive has a vision of bringing online retailing into the drawing room of millions of television viewers via its innovative use of technology. The goal is to integrate the converging technologies of media, the internet, the wireless and retailing to facilitate the extension of e-commerce to t-commerce & m-commerce.

1.1 Objective

The objective of this business plan is to outline a strategy for an interactive solutions software company to target the emerging market for interactive television with a specific focus on interactive shopping as the application of technology with the existing Internet infrastructure as the communication backbone. The convergence of media, the Internet and online retailing is the hub of this identified niche in the content management software industry. Further aspects to be explored are an extension of online advertising and promotions to this targeted market segment.

.2 The Organization

The company, Buy Interactive, is a software products company with a focus on developing solutions for interactive/IP television. The crux of the software solutions are the set-top box, the software stack on the box and a broadband internet connection. Current applications of interactive/IP television are mostly sports-casting, picture-in-picture, video -on-demand, email, interactive games, & information portals; these have limited interactivity. Buy Interactive intends to focus on leveraging existing online retailers and their offerings to bring them to your fingertips.

1.3 The Service

The service offered by Buy Interactive is a unique shopping experience for the couch potato; the not-so-internet-savvy user, the one who is more comfortable with traditional media such as the television & video. No more time-wasting spent on the internet searching for deals; the best deals are brought to you to your finger-tips for use via the ‘power-pad’.

The business model also provides for advertising revenue to be collected by the cable & telephone networks based on the pay-per-click, pay-per-lead and pay-per-sale.

1.4 The Market

1.4.1 Geographic Market

The scope of this project proposal is to be limited to the geographic area of Cyprus with potential users CYTA and PrimeTel. The software will be provided as private label allowing the licensors to customize the look and feel of the software and use a consistent interface. Branding can be a combination of the online retailer and/or the operator.

1.4.2 Current Usage

CYTA MiVision market share among residential broadband users was about 10% when it was first introduced in July 2004. PrimeTel and its competing TriplePlay [includes ADSL 2+] service is currently aiming for a market share of 10-15% of IPTV subscribers. CYTA MiVision currently has 23,000 subscribers to IPTV with growth in subscriptions ranging from 500 to 1000 subscribers per month. PrimeTel, on the other hand, have new customers at the rate of 2000 per month. CYTA MiVision plan to introduce 2 new services soon, namely nPVR and Time-Shift TV. CYTA MiVision’s contract with Amino for STB’s specifies that orders (unit contract price) are placed for STBs based on demand, as the need arises. The price for each STB to the customer is 50 CYP , a one-off price. PrimeTel’s suppliers are Kreatel Communications, a recent acquisition by Motorola. STBs are currently being offered free by Prime Tel to new customers, mirroring a trend in most IPTV providers, to subsidize the STB in anticipation of selling value-added services and recovering the initial cost from the service revenues. Both Amino and Kreatel Communications STB devices both run on the LINUX operating system.

1.4.3 Growth Potential

Broadband usage in Cyprus at the end of the first quarter of year 2006 was 12.1% from 4.1% in 2005. 46% of households have internet access from home. Internet, mail order & telephone sales for the first half of 2007 show a jump in spending from £8.83 million for the whole of 2006 to £25.4 million.

This subscriber base has experienced increasing growth over the past 3 years, from 2004 to 2006, and the potential to convert these to IPTV customers increases as the broadband subscriber base increases. The other way to drive growth is to use the IPTV offerings to get television viewers (99% of the Cypriot population own a television) to switch over with a less intimidating offering, especially for non-computer owners (almost 50% of the population). Once a tipping point for this service is reached, growth will be exponential. Signs of this happening in the broadband market are evident. Extrapolating to IPTV and from there to Buy Interactive’s products is how we predict growth for our products.

IPTV in India
IPTV, in India, is currently offered by MTNL in Mumbai and BSNL in Pune, Kolkata and Bangalore.Other companies with plans to rollout IPTV Triple Play offerings in the near future include Reliance InfoComm and Bharti Airtel.
The PSUs

MTNL were the first to launch IPTV in India, namely in Mumbai and New Delhi in October 2006.

Subscribers now number less than 1,000 for MTNL, but the company is hoping for a high conversion rate as broadband connections grow to a target of 500,000 each in Mumbai and Delhi.Currently, MTNL has 225,000 broadband lines out of a total of 4.5 million fixed line subscribers in the two cities. To enable transport of high-density video content, MTNL is using compression technologies that can zip as much as 3 megabits per second.

Currently, a subscriber has to pay a lifetime payment of Rs 3,500 (approximately 87 USD) [Prices have dropped to Rs. 1000 approx. 25 USD for current new subscribers] for a set-top box, and a monthly rental of 120 rupees for 52 channels in Delhi. As volumes grow, it is expected that STBs will be made available free of cost. The service of course is dependent on the customer already being a broadband internet subscriber with MTNL. Bundling of services such as Internet connection and IPTV are not offered as yet.

MTNL has increased the accessibility of IPTV in a 3 km radius from each telephone exchange, from the initial 800 metres each, and plans to start rolling out fibre optic cables that will reach 20 km from the nearest exchange. MTNL has invested $120 per subscriber to enable the IPTV service, and is betting on instant interactivity to view desired programmes and convenience of viewing to be the distinguishing features.

BSNL, the other large public communications company with most of its subscribers in the Tier II cities & towns, envisaged a “quantum jump” in broadband penetration by issuing around five million new connections over the next few months. These would include an estimated three million broadband connections across 1,000 cities and another two million connections in the rural segments. Currently, 1.15 million subscribers used BSNL’s DataOne, a 40 per cent share of the broadband segment of 2.5 million subscribers.[As of April 2007 India had 2.43 million broadband subscribers, by April 2008 it is expected to rise to 4.21 million. India has around 65 million cable and satellite homes. If even 10 per cent take IPTV then 6.5 million IPTV subscriber base is not a small one].This is projected to grow to 20 million by 2010 according to TRAI.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, on the other hand, says that while the number of TV households in India is expected to grow to 130 million by 2012, DTH will account for less than a tenth of this number and IPTV less than a hundredth.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is conducting a feasibility study to launch broadband multiplay service, including voice, video and Internet protocol television (IPTV). The service, to be offered in 789 cities across the country, would be available at an eight megabites per second (MBPS) speed connectivity, instead of 2MBPS.

Cable operators such as Hathway are expected to enter this market as well. Current efforts to digitize their network and then move into the IPTV space with Triple Play offerings.

Further competition to Telco IPTV providers are expected from Tata Sky and Dish TV, two DTH players currently consolidating market share.

Reliance Communications & Microsoft have signed a 8 year contract to supply IPTV services. The world’s biggest software maker is expected to earn $500 million, or Rs1,965 crore, based on a revenue-sharing formula in the contract as part of license fees for its software. Reliance Communications will use Microsoft’s MediaRoom IPTV platform, a deployment that Microsoft has valued at about $500 million. The carrier appears poised to invest as much as $1 billion on its IPTV project.

The Indian Context

Over 50% of India’s telephony infrastructure can support IPTV ,which for a developing country is very impressive.

Global IPTV revenue is expected to touch $17 billion by 2010. Smooth billing of services is crucial to ensure consumer satisfaction. The bundling of telephony, internet access and television channels makes it necessary to provide a single billing facility to the users. Software that provides this as well as integration of discount schemes is key to making sure that transition is smooth and hassle-free.

At IBE 2007, held in Mumbai between 25 and 27 October, it was predicted that there will be one million IPTV subscribers in India by 2011.

Mobile Telephony & IPTV

Besides the use of telephone and cable networks, Reliance Communications Ltd. , Bharti Airtel and BSNL are experimenting with WiMax wireless technologies to deliver IPTV services to consumers via their existing wireless networks. Government regulations have been eased to facilitate increased bandwidth; this coupled with better compression techniques, that already deliver content to mobile phones, should enable IPTV services via wireless networks for the Indian consumer. The consumer is thus faced with a multitude of choices from which a bouquet of services may be chosen. Thus, a congruence of choices implies convergent services for the end-user.

The regulatory body TRAI is struggling to come to terms with the different vying technologies that can provide these bouquet of services; a rapid overhaul of the existing laws & regulations is called for.

Revenue Sharing Concerns

The biggest fear of content firms when it comes to archiving of their programmes, is piracy and proper revenue-sharing. It is essential that the operator, whether it is the cable-industry or the telecom operator, shares the correct figures about the number of people who watch it and gives the right share of revenue to them. Else the question remains as to why should the content firm should provide its programming to be played as re-runs.

1.5 The Strategy

Competitive positioning strategy is to position Buy Interactive as being a total customer solutions (TCS) provider to IPTV providers; the initial focus is to be the best available product and move towards offering customized solutions, consultancy, training and maintenance services to our customers. The strategy model is based on the Delta framework with specific reference to using technology to provide a competitive advantage. System Lock In(SLI) would be an ideal situation; however, we envisage regulatory and customer resistance/customer sophistication as hurdles to any move in that direction. Key to capturing value via our revenue model is the achievement of critical mass in our complementors markets; we hope to ride the network effects of high market share achieved by our partners/customers. Our aim is customer’s mind-share.

1.6 The Business

The business is to provide a complete suite of software services packaged to allow the cable & DSL providers, primarily to enable t-commerce and secondarily the ability to create advertising content tailored by demographics, location & program content. The interactive/IPTV providers are the customers for the packaged products with Buy Interactive providing installation, consultation, customization and maintenance services, thus providing a Total Customer Solution.

1.7 The Mission

Our mission is to provide state-of-the-art interactive software solutions for the IPTV platform, to provide our customers a competitive edge by the right use of technology to meet their business needs and serve their customers better.

Interactive solutions at your finger-tips”

1.8 Key Success Factors

  • Total Customer Solution Provider

  • Customer Satisfaction & Long-Term Relationships

  • Strong Management Team with Key Technical Personnel

1.9 Customers/Complementors/Alliances

Our core targeted customers are to be the IPTV providers, who would use our products to track & report advertising views, lead statistics, and conversion to sales of advertised products. We also envisage a market for content creation software that would be used by content programming companies, that can synchronize advertised products with the programming content. Direct selling channels/home shopping networks such as QVC, HSN (QVC & HSN already have interactive TV shopping applications) and Shop@Home TV is another customer avenue to be explored. The business model rests on the ability to form strong strategic alliances with online e-tailers to enable their offerings for IPTV. The ability to get strong branded e-tailers to buy in early is critical to the success of the business. The other option is to build a strong local conglomerate of e-tailers and converge their services and products via our software service. This would however require an additional investment in time, capital and training.

1.10 Service/Product Delivery

Delivery of our products would be done by a team of software professionals, that include system administrator, an account manager and a software developer for trouble-shooting issues. Customization of requirements would have to be signed off by the customer and the account manager, after feasibility studies in consultancy with product managers and software architects is completed. Schedules & time-tables for different mile-stones of product delivery are to be agreed on with the customer. Provisions for staging the software and pilot deployments are other important aspects that will have to be considered. All these costs are to be borne by the customer with clauses inserted enabling the customer to pull out if necessary at any stage. Clauses to compensate for new requirements , either overlooked , inadvertent or caused by new regulations will be part & parcel of the contracts. These agreements would be drafted in consultation with our retained lawyers; special provisions to protect our intellectual property (IP) would also be factored in.

1.11 Product/R&D

1.11.1 Base Products & Features

The E-Tailer Enabler

The Enabler is the core product offered by Buy Interactive. The Enabler brings the online retailer to your television set leveraging the use of web-services, HTTP/HTTPS, SSL and the STB stack of software services to provide a much more user-friendly experience for the television viewer. The Enabler has 2 components, the Controller hosted at the operator’s central site and the on-the-fly Intelligent Renderer of the streamed/pulled deals available currently at the online retailer selected. The currently watched television show’s content descriptor tags are scanned for relevant key-words and matched against a local data-base of products and categories. These are then used to pull deals from the online retailer via their provided Web-service APIs and these can be rendered as the user wishes either in a full-screen window or a smaller picture-in-picture (PIP) window. The initial version would leverage the embedded browser components and create HTML pages on the fly to be viewed in the STB browser for speed-to-market. A further development would be a customized viewer with much more interactivity and better graphics; this could be a driver for customer lock-in by the use of a richer user interface.

The Analyzer/Tracker

The Analyzer/Tracker tracks the user clicks per displayed product/advertisement, the no. of views, and conversion to actual sales. This data is used by the operator to bill the e-tailer using a weighted formula based on click count, time spent on related views and translated sales. A percentage of this revenue would be royalty fees accruing to Buy Interactive.

The Distributor

The Distributor component deals with the distribution of advertising and programming related content to the STBs. Premeditated content such as graphics, video & audio can be distributed to the STBs to be scheduled to play along with scheduled programs, ads & events. The pull process is then limited to the prices and deals being offered for the products. The distributing process is transparent to the television viewer; content can be cached at servers located closer to the area to reduce network latency similar to the process used for Video-On-Demand (VOD). This meta-data is to be rendered by the Intelligent Renderer and synced along with the program & ad content.

The Service Updater

The Service Updater component updates the software stack of services on the STB. The Service Updater component seeks to ensure that the STB is autonomic, I.e. It is self-diagnosing and can fix itself except in the most rare circumstances. The STB can communicate with the Updater service and intimate it as to the current status of the STB, it’s content as well as the playout of content, if necessary. The Service Update STB component can check for updates if available and download them to be applied either immediately or at a programmed time or on shutdown or start-up. Care is taken to ensure minimal disruption of the viewer’s schedule.

The Shopping Cart

The STB services platform will include a shopping cart functionality that is owned by the service operator. This can be configured to override the e- tailer’s shopping cart or used for the operator’s promoted products such as telephone & cable equipment to be purchased.

The Billing System (BS)

The Billing System provides the television viewer statements of their online purchasing activity sent out to them either by mail or e-mail.

It also has B2B functionality to bill the e-tailer for service provided. All this is enabled via a server side billing system that is scalable to meet the growing subscriber base. This would integrate seamlessly with the Subscriber Management System to provide a complete customer management system.

The Subscriber Management System (SMS)

The Subscriber Management System would integrate with the operator’s existing customer database and would add additional tables to provide for additional customer specific data needed for the SMS & BS to function.

SME E-commerce Server

For small merchants and local retailers, the SME E-commerce server provides a service where they can hawk their goods and services. This will be provided to local businesses as a SAAS application that can be accessed via their own customer accounts, so that they can upload details of their goods and service including pricing, special discounts, promotions and sales. The E- commerce server is an Open Source based application server, that will have a stack of web-services provided on top of the existing application to enable these to be pulled to the STB to be rendered. An instance of this Application Server will also serve as a proof-of-concept to be shown to prospective clients.

Data-warehousing (DW)

The total suite of offerings would be incomplete without being able to facilitate data- warehousing to enable managerial decisions for the operator. The initial implementation would use an off-the-shelf implementation with data warehousing specialists and business analysts to work together to identify the various data-marts & dimensions to be stored in the data-warehousing system. This differs from the data-warehousing solutions currently implemented & used by both the e-tailer & the service operator.

1.11.2 Add-Ons & Extended Product Lines

The Content Creator

The Content Creator software allows the user to create tailored content using graphics, audio, video and animation to produce MPEG2 and MPEG4 content.

The Content Editor

The Content Editor allows the user to edit existing content mostly to create or edit additional tags to describe the content and add relevant key words and date information.

E-auction Server

The E-Auction server is an application server that incorporates all the features of an e-commerce server plus the ability to store various bids and dynamic pricing of goods and services. This feature will be an enhancement of the SME e-commerce server and will include features that enable tracking bids , closures. Merchants will also have the facility to upload their product offerings and latest deals.

1.11.3 Technology to be used

LINUX OS for embedded devices/Windows CE

Java2 Micro Edition(J2ME) / .NET platform

Java XLETs/Windows API

Proprietary Extension/Set-top Box APIs

SOAP web-services

RESTful web-services


Embedded Browser

RFID for single-sign on

E-commerce Application Server (Open Source)

WebServices API for E-commerce Application Server

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Overstock.Com OSTK

Some excerpts from a paper on written in 2007.

Executive Summary

Business Description is an on-line retailer that sells merchandise that is either produced for or bought by them or merchandise sold for other parties (wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers) with being the intermediary. The company thus acts as an on-line retailer making goods available to customer at wholesale or below wholesale prices. The merchandise offered include bed-and-bath goods, home décor, kitchenware, watches, jewelry, electronics and computers, sporting goods, apparel and designer accessories.

Value Proposition partners with leading brand-name companies that enable them to buy products at discounted prices. These savings are passed on to the consumer via its on-line marketplace.

Market Opportunity has identified a segment of customers that would like to purchase leading brands at below retail prices. They would like to wear leading brands , even though a bit out of date and at the same time retain a bit of exclusivity. These customers are discerning bargain hunters and have high disposable income. They also prefer the convenience of shopping on-line rather than traveling to outlet malls or to sales.

Business Overview


The merchandise made available to on-line buyers is sourced in 3 different ways:

  • Surplus: The surplus left over for each season’s or year’s expected target sales is usually disposed off by the manufacturer. This surplus is purchased by at below whole-sale costs and sold to its customers.

  • Canceled Orders: Retailers may cancel orders with wholesalers or manufacturers when they discover that sales have tapered. This is another source of surplus stock with manufacturers.

  • Downsizing: A company may wish to downsize, or move facilities or reduce its inventory for various reasons. This is another source of goods available at highly discounted rates.


Purchased goods are delivered to customers via mail carriers such as UPS, FedEx and USPS. The modes of shipping are Standard Shipping (ground shipping), Expedited Shipping such as Next Day , Two Day and Three Day Shipping. Most orders are shipped within 1 – 4 business days. Since only sells what it has available in its inventory , it does not have any back orders to handle.


Business Strategy’s initial strategy was to buy excess & closing down inventory from retailers, e-tailers and defunct companies. The merchandise was purchased at below whole-sale prices and sold to its online customers below the original retailer’s cost price. This allows it to preempt any cost cutting by other retailers for simliar or same items. This is still the heartbeat of its business strategy. It has also carved out alliances with other e-tailers, retailers and handles the online marketing and selling of their goods. Orders are generated from its web-site and forwarded to the partner retailers. It also hosts online auctions where users can bid for goods. Besides these , it has also partnered with AutoNation to allow its users to locate dealers for new and used cars online. It has recently partnered with Enterprise Rent-a-Car to make their inventory of cars available to its users. Another diversification is its travel web-site that allows users to book flights, hotels, cars, lodging, cruises and vacations at lower than usual prices.

WorldStock also has Worldstock, a store within Overstock devoted solely to carrying the works of artisans, especially disadvantaged artisans, and selling them as inexpensively as possible so as to maximize the amount of return for them. The company asserts that it follows ethical guidelines, is sustainable and is socially responsible while reselling goods sourced from these artisans in South-East Asia. Worldstock emphasizes sustainabliity, fairness and transparency.

IT Strategy

The IT strategy includes a CRM, Data Warehousing and Data Analytics that are sourced from existing customer data, current and past transactions and click stream data. Data analysis is real-time and does not rely on batch processing. The data flow into this back-end processing IT infrastructure is via the on-line store and customer interaction with the and affiliated partner web-sites. This allows the various departments to query for up-to-date information across different dimensions and different departmental views.

Logistics & Distribution Strategy works very closely with UPS during peak season , when most of their orders are received. leverages UPS’ capacity and technology to have quick and correct order fulfilment during this Peak period between Thanksgiving & Christmas. The UPS services used by include Forecasting, UPS Ready, Dockside Visibility, Tracking, Exchanges & Returns and Billing & Analysis. also works with a reverse logistics company called Newgistics that handles all its returns starting from its SmartLabel printed labels for returning customers to print-out.

Besides UPS, also dispatches packages via FedEx and USPS.

Fund-raising History & Investors was founded as D2–Discounts Direct in 1997 and changed its name to, Inc. in 1999. Inc. was incorporated in Delaware on February 27, 2002. went public May 30, 2002 at an offering price of $13 per share. The IPO format used by was the Open IPO. This raises capital via a public auction, thus theoretically allowing the public to determine the fair market value of the company stock.

IPO Information
Date Went Public:   May 30, 2002
Filing Date:   Mar 5, 2002
Proposed Offer Price:   $12.00 to $16.00
Actual Offer Price:   $13.00
First Day Open:   $13.50
First Day Close:   $13.03
Shares Offered (mil.):   3.00
Offering Amount (mil.):   $39.00
Post-Offering Shares (mil.):   14.30
W.R. Hambrecht & Company, LLC

Early Growth’s strategy was to work with traditional, powerful retailers by giving them an efficient way to liquidate excess inventory and leveraging that to offer consumers low prices consistently, visit after visit, on brand-name merchandise. Launched only in the second half of 1999,
that year realized gross bookings of $1.8 million; by 2004, that figure had soared to $541
million. In its first six years, has witnessed approximately 100 percent
growth, year after year.

Market Position

SWOT Analysis


The experienced executive team and the large war-chest raised by are the source of it powering ahead with its expansion plans. Also, the B2B online store where small retailers can sign up and purchase merchandise to be sold at their premises is an innovation that has been copied by other online retailers.

Weaknesses has not yet broken even and its marketing costs per customer have risen in the past year. Unless one of its diversifications start returning more than industry average profits, further diversification is going to be harder because of increasing costs.

Opportunities has a great business model. Taking it overseas, perhaps, into Europe and perhaps Japan either by brand franchising or entry into those markets would be a great opportunity.

Threats and other online retailers are the biggest threats faced by This coupled with the fact that relentless expansion could cause an implosion especially if the numbers don’t add up to a break-even in the near future is a strong possibility. Perceptual Mapping Perceptual Mapping2

Future Challenges

Logistics & SCM Challenges

One of the many challenges facing (and other retailers) is the fact that items arrive at the warehouse without any bar-codes. Customer orders for distinct items make locating the different items an onerous task. Also partner manufacturers or retailers do not have an easy way of tracking source of orders whether from or other e-tailers. A solution to this would be the tagging of items at the item level which would allow the needed information to be embedded in the RFID identification codes. This would reduce order lead time and deliver to customers much quicker. An early implementation of this can be a source of competitive advantage. A complete integration into the existing information systems can make information transfer across the organization and to suppliers much more seamless and automated.

Growth Challenges

The challenge faces is how to continue its phenomenal growth and be profitable in the face of stiff competition from other e-tailers and e-auctioneers notably, eBay and Yahoo! Auctions.’s core business model of selling excess inventory is unassailable and it is the category leader in that segmentation. However, it’s diversification such as partnering with other retailers, selling cars and travel are an indication that it recognizes the growth limitations. WorldStock is a good idea but the web-site does not hype it suggesting that there is a limited market for such items. The strategy of selling stock to small-scale retailers at below wholesale prices is however worth pursuing especially with an aim of turning around inventory quickly.


Sales revenues have declined over the past year, and overall net income is still -ve , since a major chunk of spending is on IT infrastructure and upgrades to handle their growth. Gross bookings are sought to explain away the declining income. Internet traffic to might have increased but these are not translating into equivalent sales and their marketing costs have increased in the past year per customer. This indicates a plateau being reached. Will the core model now face stagnation?

On the bright side, the expenditure on IT infrastructure and close partnerships, have poised them for partnerships , acquisitions that can be handled and have given them a cost advantage with among the lowest shipping costs coupled with quick delivery. does provide free shipping but order fulfillment takes much longer.


OpenIPO : WR Hambrecht + Co’s OpenIPO® auction is a new way to take companies public that increases access to IPOs. Based on an auction system designed by Nobel Prize-winning economist William Vickrey, the OpenIPO auction uses a mathematical model to treat all qualifying bids in an even-handed and impartial way. It is similar to the model used to auction U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds.( a dutch auction). Just like a typical auction, the highest bidders win in an OpenIPO auction. But there are important differences. In the OpenIPO auction, the entire auction is private, and winning bidders all pay the same price per share – the public offering price.


1> OpenIPO :

2> web-site:

3> Yahoo! Finance Web-site:

4> Wasserman, Elizabeth. "Making RFID click on line: technology offers challenges, but also potential for e-retailers.(RETAIL TECHNOLOGY: RFID)." Chain Store Age 82.3 (March 2006): 66(2). InfoTrac OneFile. Thomson Gale. Cyprus International Inst of Management. 4 Apr. 2007 <>.


6> Success Story:


8> Wikipedia

9> Shopping Online with eBay Express, Amazon, Overstock and Google Checkout By David Steiner September 21, 2006

10> Case Study:

11> Viveiros, Beth Negus. "Take That, Goliath.( gives small businesses lower wholesale prices)(Brief Article)." Direct 13.9 (July 2001): 5. InfoTrac OneFile. Thomson Gale. Cyprus International Inst of Management. 4 Apr. 2007 

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Innovation & IBM

Innovation occurs at the intersection of invention and insight. It’s about the application of invention –the fusion of new developments and new approaches to solve problems.

–Sam Palmisano, Council on Competitiveness, October 2003

Executive summary

Innovation in IBM and its impact on its business practices is the subject matter of this case study. It attempts to explain why innovation is now an integral part of most firms with an emphasis on the innovation practices now in place in IBM and the trend towards open source development and how it’s changing the face of the software industry. IBM’s attempt to bring researchers in touch with client needs via their On Demand Innovation Services (ODIS) division is also explored.

Profile of firm (s) in terms product/markets, structures, growth drivers


IBM is a information technology company that focuses on four broad market segments technology, software, services and hardware. It is among the Fortune 100 companies and its dominance in the IT industry is rivaled perhaps only by Microsoft. Unlike Microsoft, IBM has a rich tradition and attracts the best talent in the industry without parallel. IBM over the past 2 decades has evolved from being mostly a mainframe and mini-frame based company and has moved towards providing services to their clients. Mainframe and minis still form a core part of their business but the services sector has grown exponentially. Lou Gerstner. Jr. is credited with this dramatic turnaround of a slothful giant that is now nimble enough to prance with the hares. The elephant now roller-blades!

A more recent phenomenon in the IT industry is the trend towards use of open source software for commercial applications. The use of open source has driven down costs, led to much quicker implementations and improved productivity. IBM has been at the forefront of this revolution by providing maintenance and support to LINUX deployments and its adaptation of the Eclipse platform as the de facto base for its Integrated Development Environments especially its core server side development product WebSphere Studio Application Developer (WSAD).

IBM Research has always been at the forefront of inventive technologies and has the most no. of patents credited to any company in the US. This is also a major revenue earner for IBM by the licensing of these patents to other firms.

IBM also works closely with its partners and clients to drive innovation. GILFAM (French government) [automated land transaction process] and Boston Coach [Fleet Optimization System] are 2 prime examples of innovation at work with partner interaction. IBM’s On Demand Innovation Services (ODIS) , a collaboration between IBM Research and Business Consulting Services (BCS) helps IBM clients innovate faster, thus providing innovation for money.

Use of innovation models, metrics within IBM divisions

ODIS Innovation Model

ODIS Researchers first study a client’s problem and then work with BCS consultants to devise a tailored solution. First, existing research skills , assets and patents are examined to see whether those can be retrofitted to the client problem, rather than reinvent the wheel. If an answer is found, then the existing process, technology is applied to the client problem and licensed to them. If not, then resources are allocated to develop a new technology/solution and the solution is built from scratch. ODIS thus transforms IBM into an Innovation Network Service Provider. ODIS gets scientists out of the labs to help IBM’s clients solve their toughest problems.

The Open Source Business Model

IBM’s move towards to the Open Source Business Model was a natural culmination of their enterprise move towards Open Innovation. Besides their LINUX service support offered, it also threw open their Eclipse project in November 2001. Eclipse is now a phenomenon, with over 800 tools built on this Integrated Development Environment (IDE) framework. Other open source initiatives include the Apache HTTP Server as an integral part of its Web Application Server (WAS) product line. The Open Source process allows IBM to work with a dedicated community of developers across the word, allow them to concentrate on adding value and providing integration services to firms that intend to incorporate open source products in their IT processes. This has also aided them to lower costs and allow their R&D divisions to concentrate their funds and resources more efficiently in a few concentrated areas. This mirrors the model followed by the ODIS division, an essential part of the Open Innovation process at work.

Of the 4 business models available to firms using Open Source, IBM has used a mix of loss leader initiative (the Eclipse project), cannibalization of an existing product by selling maintenance and support (LINUX initiative) and adding value to the open source products (products like WSAD).

Evaluation of LINUX Support and Maintenance as a Service provided by IBM

The provision of LINUX support and maintenance as a service provided by IBM professionals, was a major breakthrough for the proponents of LINUX as the operating system of choice for server side deployment over the other UNIX variants and Windows NT and Windows Server 2000. Though this would eat into IBM’s own Unix variant AIX’s market share, it made profound commercial sense for IBM to go down this route as server side deployment on LINUX had started acquiring critical mass. This also fit into IBM’s move towards services as a way of adding value to their product offerings and an increasing demand from customers for this service, in addition to the support services provided for their products.

The diagram listed below describes the process that would be followed as part of an idea screening before the decision to provide LINUX support & maintenance as a service offering was launched.

Does it fit the organization?

Yes, IBM is an IT services provider. This is an extension to current service offerings

Does it provide strategic advantage?

Yes, our server side products have LINUX code-bases. Providing LINUX support allows us to capture a major market, with no real competition except from pure LINUX packagers such as RedHat and Mandrake.

Is there a demand for it?

Yes, our current and prospective customers have expressed a desire for this offering.

How might we pursue it?

Build LINUX competence internally and by recruiting LINUX professionals.

Is there a clear definition of success?

Increased sales on the LINUX platform for our software products.

Will management support it?

Yes, since this fits into the move towards services as a major revenue earner.

LINUX Support at IBM


Does it fit
the organization?




Does it provide
strategic advantage?




Is there a
demand for it?




How might
we pursue it?




Is there a clear
definition of success




Will management
support it?





Evaluation of LINUX Service Offering

Evaluation of Eclipse




Leadership Support


Support from leadership to move towards standards and open source

Strategic Organizational Fit


Fits with IBM’s move towards more service orientation and Open Innovation.

Strategic Edge


IBM can position itself as an Eclipse expert and provide customers with Eclipse expertise. IDE products built within IBM would use the same source code base also increasing productivity. Products contributed to the Eclipse Foundation can be accessed thus allowing access to industry R & D.



Demand for this did not exist. But demand was created. More of an instance of push rather than pull.

Switch Adoption


IBM had a very good IDE product series, the Visual Age series, that had won industry awards.

Clear Success Defn ROI



Increased productivity,less time to add more value to products.



Taxonomy of innovation types

At the enterprise level, IBM describes 3 types of innovation:

Business Model



Products/Services/Markets are sources of revenue and thus a direct metric measurement is profit.

Operational innovation also can be measured by profit but this attacks the cost side of the profit equation. This allows the firm to capture market share via lower costs.

Business Model innovation changes the game by using creativity to lower costs, target new markets, lower prices or all of the above.

IBM has focused on business model innovation in the recent past by remixing their product portfolio. Movement to the high-value innovator spaces in technology and services has resulted in a more balanced profit sources, one third from services, another from software and the third from systems and technology. IBM’s next move is towards increasing globalization producing innovation collaboration across the globe by setting up research centers in different countries.

Audit of Innovation drivers, barriers


Innovation drivers can be classified as follows:

Financial pressures to decrease costs, increase efficiency, do more with less.

Increased competition

Shorter product life cycles

Value migration

Stricter regulations

Industry and community needs for sustainable development

Increased demand for accountability


Demographic, social and market changes

Rising customer expectations

New technology

Changing economy

IBM CEO Sam Palsimano believes that increasing competitiveness and the increasing commoditization of things, makes it a challenge for firms to retain their existing business models. The dynamic changes coupled with changing technology and the increasing globalization of competitors pose a threat to the existing market leaders. At the same time, these changes also throw up opportunities to be exploited.


Peter Andrews,Consulting Faculty Member at the IBM Executive Business Institute in Palisades,New York identifies the following five barriers to innovation:

Inadequate funding, risk avoidance, “siloing”, time commitments and incorrect measures.

Inadequate funding

Funding a new innovation could lead to reduced funding for an existing program or product.

The problems encountered include how much can be accomplished w/o money? Is money needed? What are the avenues? When and how much? Can we identify partners? What’s the ownership break-up?

Some solutions include calling in favors owed, use milestones, list out possible money sources, use good enough substitutes , assess the innovation for potential interested partners to be contacted.

Risk avoidance

A clear-eyed view of risks balanced against benefits can create an environment where innovation is nurtured rather than killed. How do we measure risks and benefits? What are the appropriate measures for innovations? What are the risks of not innovating? Can we measure the benefits?

Some solutions are to learn about and promote effective risk assessment methods, identify the right person/organization for risk assumption, find and develop supporters, anticipate objections and clarify, use prototypes, use a portfolio approach, reassure people with reasons, take the safety of sponsors, participants and other stakeholders seriously.


Innovations tend to cross boundaries and create new categories. Hence innovations might get killed by organizations if stakeholders feel threatened. Solutions include taking concerned stakeholders into confidence, emphasizing the benefits, and sometimes avoiding losing stakeholders until the innovation gains enough winning leverage within the company.

Time commitments

Time is scarce. If the value of an innovation can be increased, then time can be freed up to meet its demands. Questions to be asked are is the innovation worth our time? How much time? What time horizons do we have? Are our competitors ahead? Do we have flexibility? Some answers include delegating work or outsourcing, have small success milestones to encourage participants to invest more time.

Incorrect measures

Most innovations cannot be measured by the usual ROI measure. Some innovations can lead to increased sales in a hitherto untapped segment e.g. LINUX support has helped IBM to capture a major chunk of the UNIX server product market. Are there other measures of success? Is this innovation a long-term revenue earner?

The winning innovation formulae

What is IBM’s winning innovation formula?

IBM follows a mix of practices, using both Open Innovation as in the case of Eclipse and LINUX, as well as leveraging its existing patents which is a product of traditional R & D (ODIS). These may be based on standards and/or outside research.

IBM believes that it can achieve more productivity and growth and move up the value chain by collaborating with companies, governments and educational institutes. Diversity is an integral part of IBM culture and thus different views of opportunity and technology are constantly evaluated for value addition to existing businesses.

For example, the breakthrough that IBM got done in the Cell processor, which is based on their Power architecture, would not have happened if IBM hadn’t designed chips for Sony (SNE ), Toshiba (TOSBF ), Microsoft (MSFT ), and Nintendo (NTDOY ). Now Toshiba and Microsoft are competitors of IBM but this collaboration drove a great breakthrough. In the software segment, collaboration with the open source community such as Linux and Eclipse has driven software development to standardization , increasing ease of use.

Clear lessons – implications

IBM is one of the rarities in the business world, that has fallen from the pinnacle of the industry, hit near rock-bottom and then dramatically turned itself around to climb the summit again. The targeting of the internet as a new revenue model, the open source business model, licensing patents to smaller start-ups are some of the innovative business methods used by IBM to achieve this turnaround. Innovation was thus an integral part of the strategy employed by IBM to regain its pole position in the IT industry.

The IBM Research paper states the following about the lessons gleaned about how to retain innovation:

Hire smart people

Set milestones.

Ensure a variety of thinking within a critical mass.

Maintain flexibility.

Create a fluid community.

Embrace risk.


1> IBM Research : Innovation @ IBM : Our long-standing commitment. 2004 IBM Corporation.

2> Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround – Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.

Harper Collins Publishers

3> IBM Delivers Innovation – On Demand. ODIS Transforms IBM Inventions Into Client-Valued Innovation Network Services by Navi Radjou with Christine Ferrusi Ross and Ian Schuler published June 22, 2005. Forrester Research Inc.

4> Innovation: The View From The Top – IBM’s honcho on what CEOs can do to lay the groundwork for real breakthroughs – Business Week April 3, 2006

5> Past, Present and Future by Jim Utsler – Linux Executive Report (LER) – August 2006

6> Conquering Open-Source Fears by Shirley S. Savage – Linux Executive Report (LER) – August 2006

7> Five barriers to innovation: Key questions and answers – November 2006 Executive Technology Report (ETR)

8> Open Innovation – The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology by Henry Chesbrough

Harvard Business School Press



This is the text of an assignment on Entrepreneurship & Innovation for my MBA at CIIM.

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