What can cloud computing do for your business?

Advantages of Cloud Disadvantages of Cloud
Working software immediately. No risking of building software first and finding out that it doesn’t work for you. Data is not with you. It is out there on the internet – somewhere you cant’ see.

So, reliability of the cloud provider is important.

Pay-for-use. No need to invest huge

Money upfront.

Shared with many customers like you. You can’t suddenly get database access if you want.So,

Data export and archival is important.

No maintenance nightmare. No need of

hardware, administrators and software

upgrades.

Reliance on connectivity. You need to have good and uninterrupted internet connectivity.

Why do we need Cloud?

Building software is a painful experience for companies. If you have built a house for yourself, you can imagine how difficult it is to build software. Delays, escalating costs and building for wrong specifications are as common in software as in building a house. Buying already built software and upgrading to a new version every time are also quite expensive options. Not every company can afford to own such software. Only the big ones can. The companies that can’t afford to own software are usually the Small and Medium Enterprises – SMEs.

People who can’t afford to own a house can rent them. Why can’t companies do the same? Can’t SMEs rent software? Can’t they pay-foruse? This is the central question – the business needs – cloud computing attempts to answer.

What is Cloud?

Cloud is a term used to describe services available on the Internet. All these days, services have been available on your computer. Microsoft Word gives you document editing service on your computer. Outlook gives you mailing service, and so on. These services are now available on the Internet. For example, Google Docs is available as a service on the Internet for document editing and Gmail gives you mailing service – all on your Internet browser. You don’t have to install and upgrade to the newer version of such software, every now and then. If you are a consumer paying for such software upgrades, this is good news.

But, companies benefit much more than consumers in this regard. Software that companies use such as Customer Relationship Management is not like Microsoft Word.

They need dedicated hardware and platforms to run, and are quite expensive. Ongoing software maintenance and upgrade of such software is even more expensive. Today, this software is also available on the Internet as service. So, companies no longer need to buy, install and maintain expensive software. They can simply connect to the Internet and use this software on their Internet browser.

Such softwares that is available as service on the Internet is called Software-as-a- Service. SaaS in short! SaaS is the primary service that cloud offers to its end customers. The companies that run and maintain these software for others are called SaaS providers. Popular SaaS providers in the market include salesforce.com, success factors and zoho.

How does Cloud work?

SaaS providers follow the age-old model that hotels have been following for years. Hotels rent out rooms to customers and customers pay based on the number of days they stay. This concept is called pay-for-use. Similarly, the hotels rent out to multiple customers. When one customer checks out of a room, the same is rented out to another customer. This concept is called multi-tenancy, that is, renting out the same resource to multiple tenants. SaaS providers do the same with software:

  • They allow customers to pay on the basis of their usage of software.
  • They share the software between multiple customers. So, when one customer is not using that software, the hardware required to serve that customer is used to serve another customer.

This enables SaaS providers to offer software for rent to SMEs that can’t afford to buy their own software.

However, there is a problem! Just like hotels, software can also become unavailable during peak seasons. It is easy to pack your things and move to another hotel if a room is not available in one hotel. But it is not that easy in the case of software, since data is also stored part of the software. So, making software available at all times for customers is very important. This forced SaaS providers to predict peak seasons and predict expected increase in customers. On the basis of this prediction, they had to buy hardware upfront to run the software for more customers. But, in most cases, they over predicted and wasted lot of money in buying hardware that they never used. In some cases, they under-predicted and lost customers since they couldn’t serve them during peak seasons.

Suddenly, someone came up with this brilliant idea that if software can be rented on the Internet, the hardware can be rented too. This hardware renting model was first introduced by Amazon through its Amazon Web Services offering. Such rented hardware that runs software on the Internet is called Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Other popular providers in this space include Rackspace and GoGrid.

Later, tech giants like Google and Microsoft jumped into the foray, making cloud computing the hottest technology on earth! When they entered cloud computing business, they also started renting out platforms (Application servers & Databases) that provide an environment to run the software. These platforms that are available on a renting model are called Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Other popular providers in this space include Force.com and OrangeScape.

These three layers – SaaS, PaaS and IaaS –form the cloud computing stack.

Both IaaS and PaaS are used to run SaaS. It also enables SaaS providers to rent more hardware/platforms based on the demand and release it back when they are not needed. All this expanding and shrinking happens automatically based on the number of customers using the software. This concept of expanding and shrinking based on demand is called elasticity and makes the renting model very efficient.

These three characteristics – pay-foruse, multi-tenancy and elasticity – are the fundamental characteristics of cloud. Ultimately, from the business standpoint, Cloud enables software to be available on pay-for-use model and makes it affordable to SMEs. This, in turn, enables SMEs to be competitive in the market and provide better services to their consumers!

Cloud computing – at a glance

  • Business need: Pay-for-use software
  • Target Audience: SMEs
  • Characteristics:
  • Pay-for-use
  • Multi-tenancy
  • Elasticity
  • Architecture stack:
  • Software-as-a-Service
  • Platform-as-a-Service
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service

If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. – Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google

On May 31st 2010, thousands of Facebook users throughout the world took an extreme step of deleting their profiles on Facebook. Reason: they were unhappy with the privacy policies of Facebook. People who have been happy sharing their thoughts online, suddenly realised and started questioning the system.

Facebook revolutionised the idea of shared content for its social network by introducing ‘Like’ button that publishers could embed on their websites to let users share content. This resulted in information going viral and content sharing made easy. According to Count Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray, “Online sharing has been possible since the early days of the internet, when services such as Prodigy and Geocities offered personal web pages and we saw online sharing jump when blogging tools like Blogger and WordPress made blogging simple. Later, we saw a huge leap in sharing when Facebook, Twitter and others made it drop-dead easy for people to share what they found with friends, family and peers.”

Now when it comes to personal information that we share on these Social networking sites or blog, people have a feeling that it might be misused by the service providers. Some time back Google was under investigation in a number of countries after it admitted that its Street View mapping cars had inadvertently collected browsing information sent over wireless networks, although it said it was highly unlikely that any of the data would be useful. And when it comes to Facebook, some users are worried about the site’s ever tinkering with privacy settings, which has made more personal information publicly visible by default, forcing users to opt out of the settings if they are unhappy.

Allegations of privacy issue: Google Vs Facebook

Some time back Facebook complained that Google was violating its privacy policies. Most of the claims were focused around the ‘Google Social Circle’ feature – something that allowed users to view what their friends had created and posted in the public domain of the internet. It was alleged that Google was collecting, storing and mining millionns of people’s personal information from a number of different online services and sharing it without the knowledge, consent or control of the people involved. One blogger even went on to say that ‘the American people must be made aware of the now immediate intrusions into their deeply personal lives Google is cataloguing and broadcasting every minute of every day– without their permission.’

In order to understand the issue of privacy we need to know how Google works. Google takes content from all over the internet without explicitly requesting the publisher’s permission. The publisher does always have the option to block Google from using their content, but unless they want it specifically hidden from the public there is no real reason to do this. In this process, Google also take information from Facebook, amongst others, but arguably this is content that Facebook has already engineered through its own privacy settings, to become public in order to drive in more traffic from Google.

Charlie Cheever, one of developers at Facebook, explained in his blog that “Privacy and openness go hand-in-hand – as we open up, we have to make sure that users always have control of their information, and understand how and where it’s being used. We’ve maintained that trusted environment while opening up Facebook Platform and the social graph to external developers by requiring third-party application developers to treat user information with the same respect we do. All Facebook Platform developers agree to the Developer Terms of Service, which strictly limit the collection, use, and redistribution of user information. We have technology and a team to ensure applications abides by those policies.”

How to manage your privacy online

All said and done, there are several ways you can manage your own privacy online. First, install software updates to ensure that your operating system is as secure as possible. This will make it trickier for hackers and cyber criminals to access sensitive information. Installing antivirus software, to track and eliminate any suspicious files or programs on your machine, will also help. By adjusting the privacy settings on your profile or photo-sharing account, you can manage your privacy on social networking sites also. It’s important to decide how much personal information you’re willing to share with third-party websites. When you install a game on your Facebook profile, chances are that you will agree to share some of your information with the developer. It’s also crucial to note that because Facebook is based on ‘networks’ of connections, your friends could be sharing some of your personal information with third-party websites without your explicit consent – but you can adjust your privacy settings to restrict this information-sharing.

Adjusting Facebook settings

Here are some ways by which you can adjust Facebook settings. The site allows you to group your ‘friends’ in categories, which makes it easier to share specific information only with certain people. For e.g: you can share your contact details and photo album with your close friend’s group. Opting out of searches is another step you can take if you want to prevent your profile appearing publicly when someone searches for you on Facebook or Google. It is also advisable to protect the picture albums and videos. You can do this by restricting who can view pictures stored on your profile, and even who can view photos in which you’ve been ‘tagged’ or labelled even if that picture appears on someone else’s profile page. You can also restrict access to every photo album associated with your profile, to choose exactly which groups of contacts can view which sets of pictures. Publishing full date of birth, postal addresses and other contact details on Facebook – and then leaving profiles open to the public – makes it easier for cyber criminals to commit identity fraud. Ensure that only your trusted friends are able to see this information.

The U. S. Privacy Study Commission, 1977 mentioned that the real danger is the gradual erosion of individual liberties through automation, integration, and interconnection of many small, separate record-keeping systems, each of which alone may seem innocuous, even benevolent, and wholly justifiable. It may be true!


 

Computerization has turned into a boon and has been a trigger for modern industrial revolution. It has enabled business users to understand the top and bottom lines of their business with much more precision, thereby contributing a huge sum when it comes to inclusive growth of businesses across all industry verticals.

All successful organisations across the world have set up strong processes supported by an able enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. These success stories are born out of good utilisation of the same; there are many Indian success stories too. Even though these success stories stare entrepreneurs in the face, they do have certain inhibitions when it comes to adopting any ERP. These inhibitions are nothing but myths. This column aims to enlighten the reader with common Indian ERP myths and what the facts really are.

Myth 1

“Oh My God!! The Cost of ERP Implementation is so huge…. It is going to be a white elephant. We cannot afford it! “

Whenever I have been personally consulted for ERP implementation, the first thing a business owner expresses is this inhibition; they always feel that ERP is a cost and it’s going to take a toll. As a consultant, I always try to take this thought process out of entrepreneurs and lay the facts in front of them.

Fact

First, ERP should not be seen as cost; it should be seen and considered as a capital investment. Yes, I do agree there are lots of cases of ERP failures and people have gone bankrupt. These ERP failures were due to bad implementation methodology or partners. A glass can always be seen half full or half empty; when it comes to ERP, always see that it is more than three-fourths full. A successfully implemented ERP with a good utilisation rate will offer more to your business and definitely turn it into a success story.

Myth 2

“Boss, my company has been running manually all these years and, you know what, we are very successful. Why do I have to automate? Why do I need ERP?

Every Indian SME/MSME/large company asks this question. Any fellow ERP consultant of mine will vouch that he/she has faced this question when he/she pitched in for ERP. This is definitely a big myth; the facts are different.

Fact

I have an analogy for this question – even without cars and bikes, people used to commute; why do people need vehicles now? Don’t they have to spend on fuel, maintenance and much more? Isn’t this a luxury? ERP is similar to this. Today’s organisations are becoming large and the products are becoming more and more complex in size, sophistication and technologies used. Also, a single group does not necessarily build the different components of a product. This is the era of distributed production, where different branches situated in different parts of the world develop the components of a system.

In such a scenario, managing the activities of an organisation is a complex task. If proper control procedures are not in place, very soon the operations can get out of control, and products or organisations can fail.

Yes, I do agree that if an organisation is very small in size and if it caters to the niche market and has limited scope, then it can sometimes succeed without ERP; but when the organisation grows big, it needs the support of ERP and that is a hard fact.

Myth 3

General Manager – Purchase to his boss: “I will never recommend ERP for our company. Look at our competitor’s problem; one of their purchase orders was on hold for more than three days because ERP wouldn’t allow them to raise one as the manager who had to authorise it was on leave. The loss they faced was huge. For me, ERP means more procedures and more work; I will never let it happen to our company!”

This was a discussion in one of the ERP steering committee meetings I had convened. I countered this GM with another question. Has any purchase order been on hold because the authorised signatory was not in town? His answer was an honest ‘Yes’. My response to him again was: how different is an ERP from this? That ERP increases work load is one of the biggest myths but the facts say a different story.

Fact

Any ERP, while being implemented for the first time, has to go through what is called in consulting parlance as an ‘ERP shock’. The transition period from the traditional system or manual processing to ERP is difficult as new skills have to be learnt, new procedures and processes have to be followed, and so on.

Many employees think that ERP will add more work, make the work more difficult and will force unnecessary procedures. Transformation from the old system to the ERP system is a difficult process. This transition can be managed well either by hiring consultants or a well-oiled ERP implementation team. I have personally been involved in taking companies through this ERP shock. If well executed, today’s ERP tools automate many of the repetitive, monotonous and tedious procedures, tasks and processes, thereby making the life of the employees a lot easier.

Myth 4

Inventory Executive to his colleague – “Brother, this ERP stuff that is going on in our office, I hate it, man!! This is entirely for the top management to view! What have we got to do with this? I am so de-motivated in doing this extra work apart from my regular responsibilities.”

If you are the business owner or an ERP consultant, you would have overheard this conversation. Well, I have, several times. This is one of the biggest myths going around. The fact is, of course, different.

Fact

An ERP system gives the store clerk access to the inventory record and enables him to find out the exact quality of an item. It allows the production supervisor to plan his activities. It allows all employees to apply for leave, get loads approved, travel expenses reimbursed and so on.

But for making the best use of the information processing power of an ERP system, the users should be trained on how to make the best use of the various features available. If people are ignorant about these, they will find it useless and if they are not properly trained, they will find the experience tedious. This hostility towards ERP can be eliminated if the users are properly educated and made aware of the benefits of the ERP system.

Myth 5

“ERP will make me cut jobs; I will have a tough time convincing my employee union.”

I have heard a couple of entrepreneurs raising this concern. This is one of the biggest myths.

Fact

A properly implemented ERP system will automate many tasks in the organisation. This does not mean that the ERP system will make people redundant. Yes, many tasks will be automated and this will make the people who were doing those jobs unnecessary. But the ERP system also creates new job opportunities and the people whose jobs were automated could, with proper training, be used to fill the new positions. ERP is, in fact, a people system made possible by computer software and hardware. In fact, it adds value to an employee’s CV. I have seen a normal stores executive turn into a SAP expert and his market value went up by three times.

Myth 6

Entrepreneur to a Management Consultant: “You consultants increase my cost. ERP providers can implement ERP, I don’t need you people.”

I have been to many business development calls and have heard this almost everywhere. This is a big myth. Yes, there can be either good consultants or bad ones, but generalising it is definitely a myth.

Fact

I have this analogy: your hand is fractured and you are in an operation theatre. There needs to be a replacement done with a steel rod. The doctor charges you more than the steel rod manufacturer. Would you go to a steel rod manufacturer who also knows dimensions and skins or would you go to a doctor? Management Consultants are like your business’s doctor; they understand your business like your body and install the ERP@the steel rod into your business. As mentioned earlier in this article, there are both good and bad consultants. It is in your hands to choose the best one; once chosen, I am sure you will be in safe hands.

Myth 7

Entrepreneur to his management team: “Hurrah! Team, well done! We have completed ERP implementation; it will take care of everything in our business.”

I have been in successful ERP go-live meetings and have heard this uttered by the business head to the steering committee. I have been arguing for ERP till now and I am still doing so; don’t be confused when I say this is a myth. Let us put some facts on the table.

Fact

ERP is not a cure-all. Yes, a properly implemented, operated and maintained ERP system can dramatically improve productivity, automate tasks, reduce wastage and improve profits. But an ERP system needs people to operate, use and maintain it. If employees are not interested in using the ERP system or are using it improperly or if the system is not maintained properly, then the ERP will not deliver on its promises. ERP is nothing but a technological wonder that requires you to input junk and take out junk, famously known as ‘JI JO’ (Junk in Junk out).

It is a fact that the ERP tools have evolved over time and have now become very sophisticated. Today’s ERP tools automate most business functions and processes, thus making the users’ lives a lot easier. But thinking that the ERP tools will take care of everything can be a recipe for disaster. While the ERP tools make these jobs easier, there is no substitute for human judgement.

Written By – Raghav Kousik

The writer is Business Head, Meye Dash­boards


Does your management suffer from information overload? Do you never get the right information at the right time? It is time to put your information system in place.

Any business requires regular feedback of its performance to optimise the business processes. This feedback of business performance comes from various operational data sources. The data sources can be a high-five ERP or excel sheets or even the tried and tested North – West Indian methodology of ‘kachha book’. The feedback from these operational systems will have large amount of data, all of which may not be useful for decision makings; it is the key information out of this system that matters.

There is a famous management gyan that says “a good decision made at the right time is better than a brilliant decision at a delayed time”. Any structured accurate information from the operational source should reach the business owners at the right time for them to plan better and make the right decisions. This information delivery to the top management is a key business challenge, inadequate information to the business owners makes them a team of blind men touching the elephant and making their own impressions.

Technology has become a key aid in providing supply to our management information system needs. Let us look at a practical situation in any organisation on how the MIS is prepared and the kind of challenges it throws sans technology aids.

Mayy2

Technology automates the current manual process and gives live information to the top management by gathering data from the operational sources without any human intervention. It can even go one step further and create predictive models that will help organisations forecast their performance by using the tried and tested methodology of seasonal forecasting. This kind of technology is called Business Intelligence. It basically constitutes 5 styles; each style can be achieved with maturity of data and its usage. Achieving the highest level of BI will enable your company to be agile and ready for any business situation. BI also enables de-centralised and centralised business monitoring.

There are many BI tools in the market at various functional and commercial ranges. Microstratergy, Cognos, business objects are some famous top range BI tools with respect to commercial aspects. There are open source BI tools in the market which may be affordable, some of them being jaspersoft, pentaho, SAS BI and much more. But these open source BI come up with a raider of maintenance cost (please consider it before going for one). There are some BI tools in the market that provide only few selective styles of BI which might suit your current stage of data maturity and experience in operating systems. Some of the good ones are Dundas dashboards and Meye Dashboards.

But do remember before providing technology for your MIS needs, data without information is like an eye without vision. If the IT infrastructure in your organisation is not able to give the management the right information at the right time in the right form, then the investment is truly not realised. Management cannot take key decisions to execute the ideas unless they are adequately supported by information. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance that you choose a right package and a right implementation partner.

Is your business ready for BI? Does your company have a clear vision and measurable targets for departments?

If yes, you can straightaway think of BI. If not, it is better to arrive at a vision and translate it to targets because it is best to know what you need to review rather than looking at some numbers without understanding its significance. To put it in simple words, “ensure that you change the culture of the organisation from being tactical and task oriented to being goal-driven and strategic.”

Is the willingness to be KPI-driven widespread across all levels of the organisation?

From my personal experiences, I can say that this awareness amongst the whole organisational chart will determine the success of BI implementation. Let’s pick up a simple analogy for this; say a student who does not understand or accept that he has to score more than 40 % to get a pass in his exam will not be able to prepare or work for the exam. So my advice would be to first drive this awareness across the Organisation.

Is there a well-established operational IT system like ERP for all the major aspects of the value chain of your business?

If yes, then you can straightaway think of BI, If not, then it is better to first streamline your existing operational systems by implementing or aligning ERP or any operational software package to your key business processes.

What stage of BI can you go in for?

Ask yourself the questions in this section, if you can answer an emphatic ‘yes’ for a period of more than three (a safe bet would be five years) years of your operations then you are ready for all the five stages of BI. It is important that you have a mature data (after all it is just seasonal forecasting) for predictive analysis and mining to be successful. If you are not sure about the maturity of the data, it is better you go for a dashboard or a scorecard model which will eventually make you ready for higher stages. This model will also be cost-effective and will push your organisation into ‘regular business review culture’.

Mayy1

 


Is virtual reality the way forward for online shopping?

With Internet penetration increas­ing and Net savvy citizens tak­ing on the web, online shopping is evolving. As for the retailers, they have a shop which is open 24 hours for potential customers across the world with limited cost incurred, what more can they ask for?

In fact, most retailers have now taken an on­line avatar. For instance, the retail giants Big Bazaar with multiple stores across India, owned by the Future Group woo their cus­tomers online at http://www.futurebazaar.com/. Even small and medium retailers have started their own online shopping carts. There are also other online retailers like http://www.flipkart.com/ who have stores only on the Internet. So, what makes an online retail venture successful?

What do’I’ feel?

One major factor that contributes to the suc­cess of online shopping is the user experience. It is how a person feels using the online store for shopping. The user experience can be clas­sified into two modes: the online mode, where the experience of shopping relates to usability of the web store and the experience of check­ing out different products while shopping, and the offline mode, where the user experi­ence relates to typically post-shopping expe­rience like delivery of goods, support, return policy etc.

One of the main areas of focus for every online store is enhancing this experience of shopping while the customer buys his prod­ucts/services. It may include better searchabil­ity of the items they want to buy, providing cohesive information of the related products and so on. A recent trend in online shopping is providing a virtual reality–based shopping experience. Virtual reality refers to simulated environments of the real world using visual ex­periences through a computer screen. Imagine What fun it can be to shop, sitting where you are, yet getting a real-world shopping experi­ence. The difference being that you get to have a personal tour of the shopping mall, without having to reach the shop driving through the traffic, searching for parking space, getting though the crowd and bad weather. The best part is you can do it whenever you want, in a flash. You can shop even during the night or during office hours especially when the boss is not around! You can also multitask shopping with other jobs.

Virtual malls

Many virtual malls have come up in different parts of the world. At www.virtualeshopping.com, you can create your own avatar, walk through the shopping complex and then buy all that you want. Well, you can also do win­dow shopping. http://skynetvirtualsystems.com.au/ is another such virtual shopping mall with multiple floors and shops from retailers across the world. When it comes to shopping virtually, there is a wide range of products available in the space and yet locating them is relatively easy. There is little chance of getting lost or missing out on any shop.

Virtual shopping is not only about going around the mall and shops but it is also about giving better user experience related to prod­ucts. Products such as books which come by the standard are easier to buy online unlike products such as shoes, clothes etc. which have varied sizes and fitting and require better user experience and reassurance to users online. Madhuram, an online shopper, says, “Virtual reality for shopping is a cool idea. We can virtually try out different products, different brands quickly and easily without hassle. We can also customise the design and colour, if such options exist. The product experience will be excellent at the click of a button. How­ever, the decision to buy also depends on the standardization of sizes and features of the products, return policy, shipping, turnaround time and payment options.”

Vasan Sowriraja, an entrepreneur who runs VDime Innovative Works Pvt. Ltd. which provides virtual beauty makeover products, has seen it up and close with his own site www.1000lookz.com. They have developed beauty makeover applications for iPhone and the web that enable users to try out different make-up products and other accessories in­cluding jewellery on their own pictures. Vasan says, “It is very natural for people to want to try products before they buy. Virtual reality provides an excellent product experience with­out incurring cost to the retailers. What we have here is a win-win for the customer as well as the retailers!”

There are many such advantages for virtual reality–based online shopping. There can be millions of customers visiting the shops at the same time and the retailer can handle them easily 24×7. The retailers can reach out to customers across the world and scale up their sales. It is easier to collect information on sales, product preference and product feedback from the customer. The customers can take their own time to go through vari­ous shops, try out different products with minimum interruption from the seller. They can also decide not to buy anything even after spending a long time in the shop, without having to be looked down or yelled at by the seller. Customers can also come back and buy the product after taking reviews of the product.

Online shopping using virtual reality is still in its early stages, but looks promising. It will be interesting to see a combination of virtual reality, shopping and online social experi­ence. With the use of Facebook connect, it is easy to collect information of users visit­ing the web shops and relay the information to other users in the circle. The second life concept similar to http://www.gojiyo.com/ has already hit the market. People can create their virtual personalities and hang out with their friends in the web world. They can also go shopping to different virtual malls. Virtual gifts, which are digital goods, are already a proven market. Considering the trends online, the possibilities are endless and the future could well be – mall-E!


“What began as a humble university project has now taken almost every available fringe of online technology by storm. Yes, we are talking about the omnipresent Google that has changed the way we seek information. Now let us look at how as a business enterprise, Google Inc has managed to ace its way till this moment, making it one of the greatest giants of technology we ever get to learn from.”

when there are ‘googleloads’ to talk about the company, let us just rank the two most relevant topics and analyse them as impartially as we can. Those two obstacles or rather challenges that Google successfully encountered to emerge as the best. First rank of course goes to PageR­ank, Google search’s USP.

  1. Men are created equal, web-pages are not!

Contrary to other websites that existed circa 1998, Google used its patented algorithm of ‘PageRank’. This is a unique invention that helped Google to instantly identify and ar­range websites for the end-user to gain maxi­mum benefit. The more referred, or ‘popular’ the web-page is, the more chances are for it to be listed on top of Google. This has been the cornerstone of Google, and also the stem of controversy that arose, including several law­suits against the company.

Courting controversy?

Well, you could guess it: when a web-page could be popular than its competitor, there are chances of immense commercial favourability of that particular business succeeding in the marketplace. And what if they pay Google to create such visibility? What might happen if someone pays to take our eyeballs off from their competitors’ web-pages by deliberately ranking them low? All these allegations have been con­sistently thrown at Google. Strong critics such as ‘Google Watch’ go to the extent of saying that all of Google services are creepy! Gmail, Search, You Tube and lots more consistently create those ‘Cookies’ and land them snugly onto your hard discs permanently! Which is true – Google’s cookies track your every move, what movie you like, what brand of jeans you prefer, what your holiday destination is etc…. Now you under­stand how the ads for that Multiplex near you, those retail offers on clothes and travel agents’ mobile numbers reach your browser window’s side-panes! So, is this good or bad? Ethical or otherwise? I would say it is indeed completely fair.

The justification: You can simply avoid all of these if you can just stop your eye-balls roll­ing over, and your index finger’s impulsive clicks. When there is an ocean out there, Google tries its best to give you those fishes by pinpointing the best way to drop in your bait. On the way, you would definitely meet those marketers for the bait itself! But then, remember your freewill! You can completely ignore malicious content by being conscious and allowing your senses to choose products among those loaded advertise­ments. Ninety-nine percent of all of Google’s revenues are advertisements. So what? It is con­tent backing the ads, and never vice versa! Think again, you will find why Google cannot be out­right evil. They never are and never will be until you lose your senses!

  1. The ethical matrix

If you are literate and if you know how to oper­ate a computer, you would have definitely used Google. This one website for seeking many web­sites proves to be increasingly our extra lens over the existent retina to view the world, to choose, to consume, to decide and to advertise …. to live life to the fullest actualizing abilities. Think how powerful a Search engine really is! Don’t you get wary while thinking about it? Many of us don’t care, some of us do know and pass it off saying Google is way big and vital to even think of a life without it. Only a very few would analyse deeply and agree with how the giant would have fallen flat on its own face, had it not been fair, ethical and truly adhering to its motto: “Don’t be evil”.

  1. In China

Google was made to bend to the country’s iron-handed censoring of web content that did not adhere to the internal laws. Dubbed as the ‘Great Firewall of China’, it became ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ as Sergey Brin fa­mously put it. Google withdrew from the coun­try, redirected the page to its Hong Kong server. Few said Google could have stayed a little longer and made several revolutions in the most popu­lous country. But it has now become sensible to gauge the decision to back off, as a positive blow to counter restrictions on freedom — that freedom to search what you want. Again, that doesn’t mean bizarre stuff such as pornography with children. Google has so neatly done away with such unacceptable human rights breaches!

  1. Apps or open fields?

Apple and other tech giants have gained lots of inroads in creating paid and closed-accessible applications or ‘apps’ that run on computers and smartphones. Moving far ahead of their success, the creators of new apps have been burgeoning ever since the iPhone hit the markets. Google believes in open fields. While apps would nar­row its potential down the years, opened-up platforms of the many services that Google offers will clearly emerge trumps since social media will go hand-in-hand to maximise shar­ing and spreading goodwill. For example, while a typical application restricts you in sharing its content to those who did not ‘buy’ it, an open Google application would enjoy the complete possibilities of social media and availability. They are in a way, Open Apps.

The way forward

Google has won over many obstacles since day one, to continue to enjoy its position as the number one search engine. Will it sustain? If it should, what should Google do? And what should it not?

To sustain, Google should focus more on its core strength, that is Search, and build upon those other blocks with more and more strength. The fact that everything that you search for is available on one single click should be ap­proached with super-enormous seriousness than ever before. Participants, debaters and decision makers not just bound to the techie world but also other intellectually forward thinkers should be involved to the maximum.

If you are an entrepreneur, what do you get to learn from the pro…

Thou shall not

  1. Do not assume anything anywhere,

anytime! Ask for permission if you re­lease a new service within an existing one. Google Buzz’s auto-follow mecha­nism that angered so many is a big ex­ample.

  1. Do not go for those out-of reach competitions and burn thyself: Face­book’s victory and Orkut’s slowdown even when it had the whole backing of Google’s might and failing out despite vain attempts at copying Facebook’s ways say it all.

iii. Do not overdo anything! There is al­ways moderation needed in life. Do you remember the furore when Google Wave was announced and don’t you know what happened next? When you overdo anything, it falls flat!

And let’s follow:

  1. Thorough research for each and every step. Patents, ethical approach, sound basics and impeccable brains behind those codes and wires is why Google sits on top.
  2. Reach out for help when you think you need it. When Brin and Page found out that the existing bandwidth and availability of resources at Stanford for their project was limited, they sought outside for capable organisations to take over and to expand.

iii. Back out when something is obviously fishy, keeping in mind the common good. Google’s exit from China is a primary example.