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Guest Article : Arijay Chaudhry

A large number of papers that I have studied by Indian authors, PhD’s and researchers are of dismal quality to say the least especially when it comes to the quantitative aspects of analyzing a problem. Today the “popularity” of a technique or software product as the basis of its acceptance is the norm, rather than a judgment based on logical processes. A good example in this regard is the blind use of techniques offered by one or the other software packages that educational institutes by themselves do not wish to bring into obsolescence despite the growing evidence against their applicability in the larger scheme of analytical thought and processes. This may possibly also be true for the top institutes as well, as it has been for the number of smart and qualified but under-skilled personnel who find themselves unable to satisfy the demand of the market for greater skills and “out-of-the-box” solutions. Kapila who is the founder of Samkhya which in Hindu Philosophy tries to harmonize the philosophy of the Vedas through reason, must be churning in his grave. Where Kapila used reason to distinguish between spirit and matter, the most often used yardstick for us today is “popularity” or otherwise of analytical products rather than the inherent quality or lack of it, before a decision is made for procurement of systems that will allow students and researchers to undertake their projects with clarity and furthermore help them enhance skills to support their logical decision-making.

Most of the students from some of the top institutes are completely unaware of the nature of problems they are likely to face at the corporate level. Of the several, I will detail a few and let the students assess their ability to tackle these problems: Case I) A Pharmaceutical Company wishes to launch a new product. The utility of the product is new and competitor data is unavailable due to lack of any such company operating in an area of new indication. The company wishes to understand the amount of sale they can garner based on factors that are both internal and external to the company. Case II) An FMCG has Sales details of competitors from a syndicated agency audit data across 36 months and wishes to undertake a forecasting exercise with these across SKU’s, Regions, Products, Divisions and Outlets. The number of forecasts exceed 20,000 SKU’s. The company is loath to using a single function to define the forecasts of each of these SKU’s. Furthermore, it wishes to understand how it can achieve the national level forecast in double quick time, considering the large number of SKU’s will take a large amount of time to process.

Arijay Chaudhry has worked as a senior manager with IMS HEALTH in India and Singapore and possesses extensive knowledge of Market Research practices and Data Analysis. He has completed over 250 professional consulting engagements across 18 countries and has also been invited by AIM to conduct lectures for the PMDP program. He also undertakes short term training programs with several colleges in India and has MoU’s with several leading institutes in the country to spearhead research practices and thought. He has authored two books and is a known figure in the areas of Data Mining and Trade Regulations. Presently he heads IFRDA which is a sophisticated research and services outfit in India.


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Case III) A major brand management company wishes to analyze the impact of promotion programs and undertake simulation. They have a rich database of sales, marketing, finance, market research and other business processes which amounts to over 140 different variables. They wish to understand how different promotion programs impact the sales performance across regions and franchises. They also wish to carry out a “what-if” analysis. Case IV) A company wishes to allocate Rs 12 Crores over a 14 month period across SKU’s, Products, Divisions and employees and regions. They wish to be able to see the allocation across the different data hierarchies. The company wishes to use Turnover, Ratio or other criteria to allocate this expenditure. The goal is that the allocation should not be more than 12 Crores across the given data hierarchy. Case V) An organization wishes to map creditworthiness of clients across Territory Dynamics. They wish to build a composite index that will enable multiple variables to be used towards definition of both these dimensions. Case VI) A major consulting firm regularly undertakes customer segmentation exercises across Pharmaceutical companies, Banking firms, Insurance firms, Hotels, and Airlines. Most of the data provided includes numeric and non-numeric fields pertaining to client attributes. They wish to undertake the analysis upto the level of 4 attribute combinations and understand the rules of association of any attribute against others.

Case VII) A major Ice Cream firm wishes to identify patterns of invoicing across different outlets in order to plan their stocking and inventory decisions besides optimizing their shelf space. Billing data across the previous year is available across the 300 SKU’s on the basis of which this exercise is to be undertaken. Case VIII) A consulting organization is keen to predict a) water body toxicity, b) Air Pollution and c) Forest resource consumption as a factor of 15 other variables. They wish to build a model that will allow them to undertake these predictions by using a single mathematical model. Case IX) A brand management agency wishes to predict the allocation of resource requirement for a specific sales target. The wish to simulate how the target may be achieved using different combinations of resources allocated to them. Case X) A university wishes to cluster over 100,000 students who have been given grades that are non-numeric across different subjects. They wish to identify cluster of students that have performed similarly in order to counsel them for different career options. All of the above problems are but examples of what can be expected in real-life analytical situations.

A number of these problems require the use of different processes to be merged together. For example, budgeting, most often requires forecasts to be undertaken first, before allocative techniques are utilized on the hierarchical datasets. Once the allocation is complete, display of results must be through a reporting system which in turn may be dependent on a data warehouse. Similarly, techniques that require prediction of resource allocation against a given sales target may require non-linear modeling techniques to be merged with non-linear optimization algorithms. Such services are not only uncommon but also built and propagated by sophisticated agencies that are outside the ambit of “me too” analytical agencies. Until the top brass and teachers within the top engineering and management institutes themselves have utilized and studied on sophisticated integrated platforms, the acceptance of such systems by students will remain a distant reality and consequently contribute to the ever widening academia-industry divide.


Winning Article : Nikhil Gulhane

Social Search - A Major Driver in Future Business Innovations Many companies are advertising on social networking sites and paying hefty amounts for sponsored search results. However the question that need to be asked is – whether is this the best possible way of utilization of the technology to attract more customers and generate more value? Is there a better alternative? The answer might lie in new emerging technology called social search. What is social search? Social search is stream of research that explores methods of organizing users’ past interactions with an information system (also known as explicit and implicit feedback),in order to provide better access to information to future users of system. Social search is a set of techniques focusing on  Collecting, processing, and organizing traces of user’s past interaction  Applying this community wisdom in order to improve access to information and thereby visibility to the firm’s offerings Social search involves application of community wisdom of user’s peer group (colleagues, friends and relatives) to display the relevant search results to the user. For example, if I search some list of movies on internet, the search engine will also show movies recommended by my friends apart from regular results.

How Social Search can be useful to businesses? A) Generating word of mouth through trusted referrals: As per the survey conducted by the American Express OPEN team in March 2011 on random sample of 400 startup US business firms, following statistics were obtained How does new customer find you? Word of Mouth 82% Search Engine / Internet 66% Advertising 37% Yellow Pages 23% Newspapers/Magazines 23% Store Front 17% Other 21% Social search can help businesses to generate the word of mouth through a mechanism called trusted referrals. It has been observed that when we buy a new product, advices from friends and relatives has major role in affecting our decision to buy. Following findings of a research will reinforce the importance of trusted referrals.

Fig.1 Consumer Spending Behavior when referred by friend vs. when purchased alone (Ref Source: research conducted by American Marketing Association on “Influence Of Friends on Consumer Spending” in March 2009)


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Social Search is not equivalent to advertising on social networking site: The idea behind the social search is to generate maximum trusted referrals from peers which may not be achieved just through just spending money on advertising on social networking site. Following graph will indicate the change in performance of advertising after the implementation of “page like” sponsored stories on Facebook. “Page like” by friends created trusted referrals and therefore increased visibility in social search for the product.

CTR - Click through rates increased after social referrals CPC - Cost per click rates decreased CPA - Cost per acquisition decreased

Fig 2. Change in performance of Facebook advertisements of two clients after implementation of “Page like” sponsored stories by friends which resulted in higher social referrals & higher acceptance (Ref Source: Survey conducted by TBG Digital in March 2011)

B) Empowering enterprises beyond business intelligence: Business Intelligence is set of technologies that gather, store, analyze and make accessible data to help managers make informed decisions. However if executives expect to discover new trends, gaps in organizational research and customer insights into where they should be building new products, they may be disappointed. Social search exploits linking all types of content from diverse source. As per CIO insight in 2007, following critical business needs were highlighted: •Developing new products including patent discovery and improving operations •Improving our ability to capture, analyze and provide realtime information •Gaining insight into customer facing activities Social search provides a huge opportunity toward meeting this business needs. There are business avenues like social media consulting, social search intelligence which are being currently explored. Google’s +1 and similar other initiatives are targeted to capture this opportunities. How it is done in future is remained to be seen.

References: 1) Research conducted by American Marketing Association on “Influence Of Friends on Consumer Spending” in March 2009) 2) Survey conducted by TBG Digital in March 2011 3) Research Paper “Social Search becomes Strategic Technology” by Gilbane Group in 2007 4) Research Paper “Do Friends influence purchase in a social network” by Harvard Business School in 2009


Article : Kunal Thakur

Green IT As there has been increasing awareness about environmental preservations and global warming, organisations have also started focussing on what impact IT has on emissions and attempting to make IT use, greener. Green IT basically refers to designing, producing, using and disposing IT products in a way that is not harmful for the environment and cuts down on carbon footprints. It entails reduce of hazardous materials, using energy efficient devices and designing algorithms and systems for efficiencyrelated computer technologies. The movement roughly started in 1992, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launching Energy Star, a voluntary labelling program which was designed to promote and recognize energy-efficiency in monitors. IT related CO2 emissions alone are estimated to be around 2% of world’s total and IT companies are increasingly becoming aware to cut down on this. IT has a wide reach from handhelds to a data centre and each element has lot of scope for reducing the carbon footprints. Even the governments are now increasingly advocating for Green IT and various standards and regulations are being formulated to achieve reduction. Lot of initiatives and bodies have come up which focus on reducing IT emissions.

Few are: • Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) is an effort to reduce the electric power consumption of PCs in active and inactive states. • The Green Grid is a global consortium dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centres and business computing ecosystems. • The SPEC Power is the first industry standard benchmark that measures power consumption in relation to performance for server-class computers. Organisations like Microsoft, Accenture etc are coming up with their own Green Maturity Models to track and monitor their progress in the direction of Green IT. A generic model, for example, is the one like shown below.


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Common components of a Green IT Best Practice are summarised below and the most green-aware companies which are high on maturity models follow most of these practices.

Worldwide many conferences and consortiums are formed to discuss the issues and tackle the problems pertaining to a more environmental friendly IT. The major approaches currently in reducing emissions are listed below: Algorithmic efficiency: to impact the use of computer resources efficiently and hence save power. Resource allocation: efficient algorithms to route data to data centres where electricity is less expensive. Virtualisation: to combine many systems into single, powerful virtual machines, thereby reducing hardware and power consumption requirements. It will also distribute load effectively so that parts of the centre can be in sleep mode when not in use. Consolidation: of devices like printers, in groups, to reduce number and also enforcing print on demand policy to print only if it is necessary. Power Management: like using The Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI), an open industry standard, that allows an OS to control the power aspects of the system’s hardware. Data centres: Managing and consolidating data centres to reduce number of large servers and devices that consume lot of power and currently are the most emphasized aspect of Green IT. Recycling: of old and unused materials for reuse. Thin Client: that will access a main server for all the major work load tasks, reducing the need for individual systems in which all the capacity is not utilized.

The emphasis is day by day increasing on Green IT and lot of compliance and standard measures are coming up. Lot of certification like CGCUS, CGCA, and CGCP certifications have come up to signify compliance and ensure that are standards being adhered to. In recent news, IT companies are significantly active towards going Green and in many cases taking the lead to spread the word about going Green. And not only IT, it is high time these movements in all industries, become the priority. Because if they don’t, we might not have a place to live in, as rightly quoted in Time “Don't blow it good planets are hard to find.”

References:

www.nasscom.in

dqindia.ciol.com

www.informationweek.in

Green IT for Dummies


Article : Ankur Kanoria

Leveraging the Cloud for Personal Productivity Cloud computing needs no introduction or a list of the reasons why it is considered as the “next big thing” in the computing landscape. Large IT companies round the globe are harnessing the cloud to improve their operational efficiency and effectiveness, to cut down costs for themselves as well as their clients and to increase their market outreach. Even SMEs are employing the cloud to greatly increase their extent and the speed at which they can communicate with clients and customers. But is the cloud only for businesses? What do you think of when you hear the word “cloud?” A technical construct that’s a powerful business tool? In this article, I encourage you to think of the cloud as “a hard disk in the sky” and suggest ways to leverage it for your personal productivity.


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Keeping track of important documents and changing data files across different computers, Smartphones and users can be really challenging. Dropbox is a free service that allows you to back-up, share and sync files with other users and/or across different computers and phones you own. Dropbox looks and acts like a regular folder on your computer. The only difference is that everything you put to that folder is automatically backed up to Dropbox's cloud and are instantly accessible from your other computers or by other users you have decided to share a file/subfolder with – on all platforms like a normal folder on the local hard disk, memory card, etc. So, you can save your Office files to the Dropbox folder and work on it at different times from different computers. The latest version of the file will be automatically available in the Dropbox folder on all machines with the software installed (can also be accessed via a web interface). The best thing about Dropbox is that it allows you to share a subfolder within the main folder with other users. So, for instance, you can create a folder that contains all documents related to a particular group project and share it with your team members. They can view, edit and add documents in the shared folder, allowing the team to work as if there were a portable external hard disk or pen drive connected to all their computers.

The ways you can use Dropbox to keep your life in sync are practically unlimited. Because it acts like any other folder, you can use it share your Mozilla Firefox profile (bookmarks, history, etc.) between multiple computers. You can store your password database file (e.g. as created by KeePass) in Dropbox to keep your passwords in sync. You can back up your important files and documents in the cloud. You can even use it for easy version control. If you make a change to an existing document inside Dropbox, it stores the different versions of that file for 30 days. Dropbox is just one example. There are many personal productivity apps and services in the cloud space. For example, EverNote is a notetaking and synchronization application that acts as an extension of your brain. You can also use the cloud for synchronizing contacts, calendars and mail between your multiple computers, smartphones and tablets. I have a profound proclivity for experimenting in the use of new technologies, attributable to my ingrained belief that better and innovative computing can have a substantial transformative impact on the way people work. Assimilating the cloud into my “computing lifestyle” was perhaps one of my best experiments. I am more productive than ever before. And millions more are. If you are not there yet, give some of the ideas elucidated above a shot. You will soon find out why Steve Jobs repeatedly highlights one phrase in his recent keynote on iCloud, “It just works.” (Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, San Francisco, 2011)


Participant’s Endeavours: Gunajit Brahma

Renewable Bazaar (TM) is a social networking and an e-commerce portal (in-process) for everyone interested in Renewable Energy and commerce associated with it. It acts as a platform for exchange of information, commerce, networking, multi-disciplinary resourcesharing and utilisation, development and deployment of Renewable Energy project opportunities. The Bazaar can be used to buy and sell products less than $300. The target market is the rural population of the world. The target buyers are mainly NGOs, SHGs, institutions and corporate. The social network is useful for connecting with manufacturers, academicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, carbon traders, NGOs, students, job seekers, and anyone interested in clean technology. The key objective of the Bazaar is to facilitate the creation of an efficient global green energy market through sharing information related to project activities among stakeholders worldwide.

 The company was judged as one of the top 30 student start-ups of 2011 in India by NEN (National Entrepreneurship Network)  The company is co-organising The Carbon Congress 2011, a 3-day global business meet, to be held in New Delhi between Oct. 5-7, 2011

Website: http://renewablebazaar.com Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Renewable-Energy/149703108402843 The Carbon Congress: http://renewablebazaar.com/events/tcc2011

Gunajit Brahma, a PGP 2 participant, is one of the partners at Renewable Bazaar (TM). He’s an environmentalist, social-worker, volunteer, trekker, EV user and a poet. He also writes a regular column for Expressions, a monthly eZine published by iCare India; and maintains a blog under the pseudonym Jeshal. Expressions: http://icareindia.co.in/expressions.html Blog: http://jeshal.blogspot.com LinkedIn: http://in.linkedin.com/in/gunajit


Participant’s Endeavours: Naresh Kumar

I would like to share my initiative of launching a rental housing information website www.gharchange.com. During my stay at Hyderabad, I came across problem of dealing with brokers while searching for a house on rent. Even most of the rental housing websites and newspapers’ classifieds were driven by brokers only. I felt unfulfilled as I had to pay for the information while I also possessed a similar kind of information; the information of the house I was vacating. I felt a strong need of an application where the tenants can act as source of information for each other and avoid brokers. I discussed the idea with a friend and we decided to develop it. We have taken strong measures to minimize the brokers’ interference. The website has been launched on last week of July this year, and got a positive response from consumers. We have big challenges ahead to face in terms of promotion and expansion.

Website – www.gharchange.com Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/GharChange/135128176568471

I am a PGP1 participant at IIM Indore. I have worked with Oracle for three years after pursuing B.tech from NIT Calicut. I am interested in finance, candidate of level 2 of CFA exam. I like dancing and playing sports. I like to work in area of financial advisory, education and urban lifestyle products.


Team INFINIT-I

Abhijeet S

Amal A

Jaipal C

Aditya K

Paripurnachari V

Kamalesh C

Soumen S


IT Bytes - InfinitI