Monday, September 30, 2019

ISRO Espionage case—What really happened?

On the wee hours of September 7, 2019, we were breathlessly watching the TV screen to witness that historic event—the landing of India’s ‘Vikram lander’ on the surface of Moon. The next day the electronic and print media were flooded with images of an emotional Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief, who was in tears, unable to come to terms overlander Vikram's unsuccessful bid to soft-land on the moon.

A quarter of a century back—many of us still recall; such an image of a senior ISRO scientist—bespectacled, white-haired and with a partially grey sporting beard- who was in tears, filled the columns of the printed media. He was the key-player of the infamous ISRO espionage case of 1994, the head of the Rs 350-crore cryogenic engine project of the ISRO. There were other characters too—a couple of Maldivian ladies with the built-up image of ‘Mataharis, Indian consultant of Russian space Agency, businessmen and bureaucrats.

The ‘sensational spy case’ built and undone by state police and investigating agencies had all ingredients of a spy-thriller—women, ‘honey–trap’, foreign agents, money, technology leak, etc. It had its ripples and unease in the political circles—from the PV Narshimha Rao’s government at the Centre to the veteran Congress leader, K Karunakaran’s downfall in Politics. Some space scientists claim that even our ambitious Cryogenic project was delayed for around one decade due to the demoralization of the scientific community.

In their zest to justify their actions, the "key players" of the case—investigators, media, and political parties—always tried to camouflage the truth. What exactly was the truth? Whether the ISRO espionage case was myth or reality? And if it was a myth, why did the investigation agencies pursue a mirage causing unprecedented damage to individuals and institutions?

Closely traveling along with the ‘storyline’ of the case, through interaction with the so-called accused, interrogators and investigators, media analysts and legal experts, K V Thomas, ex-IB officer have tried to give true answers to such crucial questions in the pages of the book ISRO Misfired: The Espionage Case That Shook India. And this title will really take you to many grey areas of our intelligence architecture, professionalism of enforcement agencies, approach of the scientific community, polity and established system and concept of public justice.

Rocketry-The Nambi Effect, a movie on the ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan’s life is set to hit the cinema halls soon. With renowned actor, R Madhavan playing the lead role the much-awaited movie is expected to be a huge hit!

But before that happens, grab your copy and delve into India's most sensational spy case because as they say,

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Combats, clangs, and clashes are inevitable parts of the business. They are mostly overwhelming, exasperating and financially draining.

Most managers dread disputes and litigations. But unfortunately, it is not going to ebb. Hence, it harms relationships and smudges reputations.

When conflicts are left unmanaged, it can indict severe damage to any team or organization.
The Indian corporate world perhaps had the most celebrated conflict between Nusli Wadia, chairman Bombay Dyeing and Reliance’s Dhirubhai Ambani, the man known to have the right connections. This was battled in the 1980s.

The fight was on Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a vital raw material for synthetic fiber and yarn which Reliance made, but Bombay Dyeing sought government license to manufacture it. While Wadia had to contend with bureaucratic delays, Ambani, with the right connections in Delhi continued operation – when Wadia floundered, the Ambanis kept marching on.

The clash of the titans took a heavy toll on the Wadias. If the time and money spent on this epic battle involving even the media in a big way, could have been avoided given the uncertain outcome of any conflict, perhaps the story of the Wadias may have turned out differently to their advantage.

While confrontations and clashes cannot be eliminated in business, but they need to be resolved quickly. The delayed settlement could cost a business dearly. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Human behavior gives many a blow, with some landing knockout punches. Mortal mind is often unpredictable and complex. It is therefore hard to predict and plan for all disputes and conflicts. But it is good to have a risk management plan to either avoid bickering and brawls or should the unfortunate event arise, how to handle it with the least disturbance to the business. This truth is often overlooked by managers while running their day to day battle to do well in their professional endeavors.

Article Credits: Robin Banerjee, Managing Director, Caprihans India Ltd


Did you find this case-study interesting?
Do you wish to understand many such famous, frequent and common mistakes committed by businesses over time?

Check-out  Who Blunders and How? by Robin Banerjee, a book that not only brings in light many famous business bloopers but also identifies the reasons for such mistakes and how managers can learn from them to build an enduring organization. 

Let Game Sutra be your guide for moving from paranoia to positivity!

Game theorists have built an elaborate intellectual machinery to analyze decision making in interactive contexts. But sometimes this very machinery masks the valuable insights of which it is made. Hence it is time to put the focus back on the homespun wisdom of Game Theory as I do in my book Game Sutra- Rescuing Game Theory from the Game Theorists.

For instance, when I play games in my Game Theory classes at MDI Gurgaon, I always amazed by a large number of students who adopt what game theorists call ‘max-min thinking’. Max-min thinking is assuming that no matter what you do, the other players are out to get you. Hence you choose a strategy that maximizes the minimum that you could get. For instance, if you are a product manager in an IT company, you would assume the marketing department is politically predisposed to undermine every proposal regardless of merit. Hence you would present an option that is least vulnerable to their inevitable criticism. This approach also implies that any positive feedback from them would be seen with extreme suspicion.

Game Theory teaches that such thinking is only appropriate in very specific situations which we call two-person zero-sum games. These are games where there are exactly two players and one player’s gains and the other player’s losses exactly equal in every instance. Chess is an example.

But most situations in life are the non-zero sum in nature, in that they involve a combination of competition and cooperation. An example is international trade. If you are short-term non-zero-sum interaction, it may still sense to negotiate hard to grab the lion's share of the surplus on offer, provided your brinkmanship does not result in the transaction being called off. This may be called the ‘Donald Trump Model of International Trade’. But in long-term non-zero-sum interactions, one has to bring a mindset of mutual gain. No one likes with a shark on a regular basis as the US is slowly finding out.

So, the first Sutra of game theory is: Don’t bring zero-sum thinking to non-zero-sum interactions.
Move from paranoia to positivity!

About the Author                                                                                 

Rohit Prasad is a Professor of Economics at MDI, Gurgaon. He has a PhD in economic theory from SUNY Stony Brook, USA. 

Check-out his book Game Sutra

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Thought and Analysis are too slow to use in a crisis, but isn’t that when intelligence is needed the most?

Reactions are lightning-fast, they help us dodge bullets and escape a burning building. That is how the architecture of the brain has evolved through eons of trials and tribulations. Save life first, think later. Thought, language and problem-solving are relatively new abilities added atop the reactionary brain and these have grown too. In a crisis, the survival mechanisms trigger first. This necessarily disengages the bulky thinking new brain. Professionals learn to ‘Think on their feet’ to remain effective in a crisis. How is that done?

Present-day technical innovations have empowered neuroscientists and behavioral scientists to peep inside the working brain and to measure the speed of nerve signals. They tell us that a pause of just half a second allows us to engage the intelligent circuit. It sounds so simple! Knowing and understanding this fact is however not enough. We need the practice to train the inner action of flipping signal traffic flow to the slow lane, while instinct has already slammed the accelerator. Practice till it becomes a skill.

Learning to ride a bicycle is a classic example of training the brain to pick up a new skill. There is no substitute for the real experience and there are no short courses. Manuals and Youtube videos may inform but cannot shorten the time dedicated to practice. Presence of a coach helps with motivation and perseverance, but the pain of scraped knees has to be borne by the learner.

A novice trying to learn to retain the ability to think in a crisis begins with the use of perceptive ability known as Emotional Self Awareness, which informs ‘this is how I feel in a crisis’. There are other perceptive powers that humans are equipped with like Optimism, Intuitiveness, Accurate Self-Assessment and Humor, that can be polished and practiced to make a superior professional resilient and confident.

Article credits: Anjana Sen, author of What's Your Superpower

                                                              About the book                                                                        

A path-breaking narrative for better understanding and imbibing leadership traits and qualities and a self-Help for aspiring leaders and those interested in this important subject. Know more

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Familiar FAMILY-business faux-pas

A family business for many of us conjures the images of the neighborhood grocery stores selling from bread to batteries. Over four-fifths of businesses are family-owned, generating over two-thirds of global GDP, with mom-and-pop shops forming the bulk.
Strange as it may seem, but over 70% of the family businesses do not last over one generation. Family businesses run the world, and yet most of the time, they themselves cannot comprehend how to continue running. 

The biggest mistake family businesses commit is finding it difficult to handover the business baton to the next generation. Squabbles over succession and patriarch’s belief that he is indispensable, kill generational entrepreneurship.

It has been observed that when the patriarch hands over to the next generation, most businesses fail. This is the ‘crunch time’. It will be a mistake if business families do not take heed to this historical evidence. 

Let us take a few recent instances where lack of foresight on the part of immensely successful patriarch may kill their business in the near future. The veteran Italian octogenarian designer Giorgio Armani has not announced who would replace him at the helm of the company. A similar story goes for the other fashion designer known world over – Roberto Cavalli. He too has so far failed to find someone to take over the company that bears his name.

These two instances of Italian fashion gurus not deciding on their successors could be recipes for an impending disaster when it comes to maintaining the legacy of the hard work done to build the internationally known high-end style brands.

Statistically speaking, globally 1 in 2 families will need to pass their baton to their next generation in the next 5 to 7 years. Just imagine the risk these businesses run, if they do not handle the next-generation transition well. Theoretically, there is a fifty percent chance that these businesses may turn turtles sooner than later!

What is the lesson to be learnt from the mistakes of many?

Do as good chefs do for complicated recipes – break it up into stages and cook!

To avoid internecine tussles and to display professionalism, business reigns could be handed over in stages. First hand over the management control and ownership. The founder-entrepreneur could pass on the management to his children or siblings retaining the shareholding with himself. This is a good way to handle a generational transition.

Bharti, Bajaj, BMW, Fiat, and Ford have executed generational change very well down the ages.

Not taking seriously successful succession subjects will be a grave disservice to business continuity.


To Know more about Family Business faux-pas check out our latest book Who Blunders and How? by Robin Banerjee 

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Systemic Risk⁠—the new-found villain of the financial space?

The just-released book SYSTEMIC RISK ANDMACROPRUDENTIAL REGULATIONS: Global Financial Crisis and Thereafter adds to the story of the last financial crisis of 2008-09 that threw the globe into the gutter of gloom. Learning from the reasons for that crisis, this book adds a new dimension on “how to reduce the severity of such crises in the future.” It starts with the various financial regulatory reforms undertaken by the G-20 and Financial Stability Board (FSB) in this direction and spells out an Early Warning Mechanism and a Crisis Management Framework which every financial institution should put in place. With the help of a forward-looking stress testing programme, the supervisory interventions should be intensive, while regulations aligned to requirements. 

The book identifies Systemic Risk as the new villain and finds macroprudential policies as the best bet to address them. A sweet blend of use of monetary policy along with macroprudential tools, in fact, could be the best possible solution to handle brewing points of crises.

It also finds the solution in the effective international coordination of monetary and financial stability policies for the global spill-over of policy actions initiated at the various end in the globe. While it recognises the contribution of the current arrangements in this regard, it recommends a “bottoms-up” a framework which should give better results to tackle the menace of potential financial crises.

This book is published by SAGE Publications with a 'Foreword' written by Professor Benjamin Friedman of Economics Department, Harvard University. 'Advance Praise' for the book has been showered by Professors/Economists - Charles A.E. Goodhart, Michael D. Bordo, Phillip Turner, C. Gopinath, Jeffrey C. Furher, Sheri Markose, Sanjay Kollapur, Shawn Cole, Eswar Prasad and Claudio Borio and former RBI Governors - C. Rangarajan, Y.V. Reddy, and D. Subbarao.

The book will be useful reading for (a) Students, Teachers, Researchers, and Consultants in the areas of Economics & Finance (b) Professionals working in the Financial Sector & Central Banks.

The Author of the Book is DrRabi N. Mishra, Executive Director, Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai and the title is now available at Amazon (both Hardback and Kindle) and Flipkart. 

You can check out the book here

Is your firm fulfilling its social responsibility?

Intangible assets like corporate reputation are gradually gaining importance in the increasingly globalized business world. 

Corporate reputation is defined as ‘the overall impression reflecting the perception of a collective stakeholder group’. 

One of the possible ways in which a company can improve its reputation among senior-level executives, in general, is through corporate philanthropy. Corporate philanthropy is a part of corporate social responsibility. The European Commission has defined CSR as ‘a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interactions with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis’ (European Commission, 2001, p. 8). 

Relationship between CSR and a firm’s success─

CSR performance has been positively associated with markers of a firm’s success, such as

  • Financial performance
  • Customer trust
  • Customer buying behaviour
  • Stakeholder trust
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Firm attractiveness
CSR performance is a strong indicator of a firm’s sustainable success.

However, despite increasing interest, most of the research on CSR has focused on the direct relationship between CSR and business outcomes.

Types of CSR:

1. Ethical CSR focuses on justice and fairness in practices grounded in moral principles.

2. Strategic CSR focuses on catering to social services with some profit orientation for the firm.

3. Philanthropic CSR, the third type, mainly focuses on giving back to society without expecting anything in return.

CSR Activities and Trust

Trust refers to a relationship as well as an affect and is defined as a relationship in which one party has confidence in an exchange partner’s reliability and integrity (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Integrity, fairness, and benevolence have been found to be the necessary ingredients for building trust. 

Trust is developed based on the assessment of organizations’ ethics and values. CSR activities create positive perceptions by sending positive signals to employees about the company’s ethics and values. 

The evidence that different groups of employees have different levels of trust and images of the employer indicates that employees evaluate the CSR activities of their employer from different perspectives. Therefore, organizations need to consider a bundle of CSR activities rather than focusing on a single initiative, which might hold minimal value for a majority of the employees. 

The Indian Companies Act (2013) has mandated organizations to spend 2 percent of their profit on CSR activities. The act will be applicable to approximately 6,000 companies, which will in turn generate a total corpus of `20,000 crores (about 200 billion) per year for spending on CSR. 

─Taken from Perceived CSR and Corporate Reputation: The Mediating Role of Employee Trust in Vikalpa: The Journal for Decision Makers

Monday, September 23, 2019

How is being upbeat kick starting that A-level performance?

There is abundant evidence available in literature that proactive personality of employees positively influences their work performance (Bakker, Tims, & Derks, 2012). 

By mobilizing job demands and resources to synchronize them with their own needs and abilities, proactive employees positively influence their work environment and, consequently, their performance (Tims & Bakker, 2010). 

Apart from that, researchers have examined proactive personality in relation to various other organizational behaviours, for example, in-role performance and organizational citizenship behaviour, innovation and career initiative, leadership, etc. A review of these and other relevant research works indicates that proactive personality has been studied, mostly from a human resource management viewpoint. It has, somehow, eluded the attention of marketing researchers. So much so that seldom any attempt has been made until date to analyse proactive personality in relation to marketing outcomes. 

During the recent past, various researchers have argued that educational institutions fall within the domain of service industry. Consequently, service marketers have placed unprecedented attention on education sector to explore the marketing aspect of academic institutions. Furthermore, because of intensifying global competition and increasing cost of education, academic institutions are placing additional emphasis on student-related outcomes rather than merely concentrating on the skills and abilities of their graduates. 

Where does proactive personality of teachers fit within this puzzle? 

There is a widespread recognition that educational institutions fall within the domain of service industry (Dolinsky, 1994; Joseph & Beatriz, 1997). Therefore, there is additional research attention on integrating educational institutions with service marketing research. 

The development of global education markets have resulted in intense competition and steep increase in the cost of education. Educational institutions are concerned not only about the skills and abilities of their graduates (Lawson, 1992) but also about the perception of their students about the educational experience (Bemowski, 1991). 

Positive service experience of students leads to their satisfaction and loyalty which in turn fosters competitive advantage through positive word-of-mouth behaviour. Achievement of student satisfaction and loyalty, by superior service creation and delivery, assumes additional relevance under the contemporary highly competitive international education market (Kotler & Fox, 1995). 

In view of the considerable importance that service marketers attach to customer-related measures of performance such as customer satisfaction, service quality perception, word-of-mouth behaviour, etc., an investigation of proactive personality of employees (teachers) in relation to the customer outcomes (student satisfaction and their loyalty) would help academic practitioners to develop broader insights into the domain of antecedents of positive student experience. 

What does the research show? 

  1. Proactive teachers intentionally craft their work environment to enhance their level of engagement with their work. This in turn, results in improved student satisfaction and loyalty.
  2. Work engagement is revealed to be a significant driver of student satisfaction and loyalty.
  3. Academic institutions need to underscore the significance of proactive personality while recruiting teaching staff.
  4. Alongside the conventional scrutiny of subject knowledge, special personality tests must be used to assess the proactivity of prospective teachers during job interviews.
  5. Reasonable latitude must be provided to teachers to engage in proactive behaviour so that they can align their tastes, abilities, and preferences with the requirements of the job.
  6. This leads to a better person–job fit and enhances motivation to perform well which in turn translates into improved student service experience.
  7. Proactivity declines as a teacher goes on advancing through his/her career path—from assistant professor to associate professor to professor. Declining teacher proactivity will result in diminished student satisfaction and loyalty, something that Indian academic institutions can hardly afford in the current globally competitive educational environment.
  8. Educational institutions as well as their governing bodies must earnestly focus on designing strategies that will ensure sustainability in proactivity.

─Taken from Teacher Proactivity Influencing Student Satisfaction and Loyalty Role of Job Crafting and Work Engagement in Vikalpa: The Journal for Decision Makers

Click here to read the complete article! 

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

One Belt One Road: US Perspectives on China’s Belt and Road Initiative

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the most ambitious development projects ever undertaken, comparable only to the post-World War II Marshall Plan and China’s own Three Gorges Dam project. Significantly, China deftly presented it to the world as a civic economic project designed to benefit all participating countries and many other countries where its effect was expected to be indirect but positive. 

Many countries have expressed enthusiasm for the project, while others have reacted more warily, expressing concerns over the amount of indebtedness it may entail or giving voice to various geopolitical anxieties. The position of the United States, as the world’s largest economy, with respect to the Belt and Road (originally ‘One Belt One Road’, hereafter ‘BRI’) in Central Asia and Caucasus, is of significance not only to China but also to all the other countries affected by it. 

The United States and its reaction— 

About the time China announced its BRI, there was much speculation in the West that the United States might oppose it. Inevitably, the Washington think tanks produced numerous papers reviewing the position of regional governments and advising the American government on what it should and should not do. 

The Chinese sponsored Institute for China–America Studies predicted trouble ahead (Chance, 2017). Others took a less anxious view, and still others concluded that the USA was likely to take the new project in its stride. 

From the outset, there were solid historical reasons for thinking the US response might be positive or at least neutral. After all, the US government constructed the Transcontinental Railroad, a 1,912-mile (3,077 km) rail link between the eastern and mid-western rail network and the Pacific, completed in 1869. And it later built the 51-mile (82 km) Panama Canal, opened in 1914. Surely, these projects, and others that could be cited, anticipate China’s BRI. 

Both the United States and China have long histories of digging canals on their own territory to strengthen economic links between disparate regions and for using transport as an engine for economic development. 

The success of China’s effort to open land transport corridors across Central Asia and through the South Caucasus to Turkey will ultimately depend not on the infrastructure, which is a prerequisite, but on the market. Thus, any judgement on the long-term viability of the BRI, and hence any projection of the US response to it, must wait until the governmentally driven infrastructure phase has been completed and the market begins to offer its judgement. 

Click here to read the full article.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Is your firm fulfilling the Corporate Environmental Responsibility?

Corporate environmental responsibility has been a matter of intense debate for at least two and a half decades now. Earth Summit in 1992 was the formal starting point of the international advocacy for better corporate environmental performance. Research about the role of a corporation in societal and environmental context revolves around the strategy adopted by the business and business policy domain. It has been a long quest to find out an empirical relationship between corporate social and environmental performance and financial performance. 

The fundamental research question has been to justify being socially and environmentally responsible for defying the economic rationality of shareholders’ wealth maximization. 

Margolis and Walsh (2003) conducted an extensive survey on the studies that focus on the empirical relation between corporate social and environmental initiatives and financial performance. Disclosure has been a prominent measure of environmental and social performance of firms. 

They covered 127 prominent studies that focus on this empirical association, out of which 105 studies followed the functional model where financial performance is taken as the dependent variable and environmental and social performance as the independent variable. Among these studies, 52 report positive association, 26 report non-significant association, 7 report negative association and 20 report mixed responses.

Corporate governance—

Corporate governance as the determining factor of corporate social and environmental disclosures is another important dimension in this field of research. The Report of the SEBI Committee on Corporate Governance (Securities Exchange Board of India, 2003) conceptualizes corporate governance as the ethical conduct of business with commitment to values. 

Corporate governance represents the culture of a company and forms the basis for the social and environmental performances and disclosures of a company. 

Internationally there is a high degree of difference between countries in their social and environmental reporting practices (Once & Almagtome, 2014). Netherlands and Scandinavian countries have legally enforceable environmental performance reporting requirements whereas companies in the United States have to submit their emissions data, which is publically available, to the Environment Protection Agency. Moreover, the Securities and Exchange Commission in the USA has defined a criterion for social and environmental disclosures that impact business. All this goes to show that the outcome of corporate behaviour is the result of interplay between social, cultural and legal systems of the country.

Corporate environmental disclosure: Summing up

Majority of the studies on the determinants of corporate environmental disclosure are for a limited number of countries only. Moreover, in case of cross-country studies, the country-specific variables are ignored and only firm-specific variables are taken into consideration. The choice of disclosure of corporate environmental information over and above regulatory disclosures is a trade-off between the desire of the corporate to disclose and the need of the stakeholders for the information. 

Moreover, the legal system of a country is evolved around the needs of its people. Environmental regulations differ among countries and these are not always correlated with the scarcity of the natural resources. The culture determines how the citizens of a country value natural resources. 

More than economic factors, the choice of environmental disclosures by corporates seem to be related with the culture of people of that country, its political freedom, legal system and freedom of press and media. 

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Friday, September 13, 2019

How Big is India’s Rural Market?

Dinesh Kumar was a former Associate Professor (Marketing), Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH), Greater Noida. After finishing his MBA from Panjab University, he gained a wide experience in sales, marketing and rural distribution for over 15 years. He switched to teaching in 1995 on receiving a teaching fellowship from Norway. SAGE is the proud publisher of his book “Rural Marketing”, co-authored with Punam Gupta. SAGE has a fast-growing list of high-quality textbooks in Marketing.

There are a number of myths about Rural Marketing. One of the myths relates to the size of India’s rural markets. Since two-thirds of India’s population of 1.3 billion people live in rural areas, it is said to constitute a huge market. Many people write that India’s rural markets represent huge marketing opportunities in the face of saturated urban markets.

Many writers and consultancies suggest that rural marketing an easy task since it represents a large proportion of under-served markets. McKinsey’s report Bird of Gold, for instance, expects incomes to triple by 2025, and while “the new wealth and consumption will be created in urban areas, rural households will benefit too.”

While researching for our book, Rural Marketing (Sage, 2017), we found this to be a rather simplistic understanding of the subject. Many companies have discovered that marketing in rural areas is not as simple as tapping into a virgin market. Our analysis shows that the rural market is not very easy to exploit. If we look closely, we find that rural marketing cannot be thought of as simply marketing in rural areas. Since even large companies struggle to get their rural marketing approach right, there is a need for a proper understanding of the subject and to redefine strategy based on market realities.

Economic projections apart, poverty, indebtedness, and isolation persist in rural markets. The fact is that much of India’s rural population is poor and lacks purchasing power. There is great inequality of income and certain segments lack access to resources. Thus, while a rural inhabitant of the USA can afford a comfortable lifestyle, many people barely subsist in rural India. Those living below the poverty line and marginally above it, also lack resources for market participation. If we exclude the poor and those barely above the poverty line in rural areas, the size of the rural market is considerably reduced and is not as large as it looks in census figures.

Poverty, broken roads, lack of jobs, inaccessibility – these problems reduce the number of people who can actually buy the wonderful products that modern marketing offers.

In fact, a big challenge in rural marketing is how to reach markets and to supply to retailers who are usually poor and lack resources to buy stocks of goods. If companies realize this, it will prevent them from making the mistakes that many companies have made in rural India.

Read the SAGE textbook Rural Marketing by Dinesh Kumar and Punam Gupta closely analyses two crucial components of the rural market—marketing to rural areas and empowering the ‘bottom-of-pyramid’ (BoP) markets to create successful business ventures.

You can check out the book here!

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Developing the Essential Skills of Effective Communication

Dr. Ujjwala Kakarla is a poet and author. She is working as a Senior English Language Expert at Trans Aviacons Pvt Ltd (Air Force Academy) in Hyderabad. She worked as Prof. of English in various technical institutions and Deemed University for more than a decade. SAGE is the proud publisher of her book “Functional English for Communication”, co-authored with Tanu Gupta and Leena Pundir. SAGE has a fast-growing list of high-quality textbooks on education.

Basic Skills of Language: An Input to Effective Communication

English seems to be an easy language when learnt by means of informative approach. When used as a skill approach, many learners feel difficult to listen and understand, read and understand, speak and write to communicate naturally and spontaneously. We can’t describe a flower without its parts-petals, sepal, stigma, stem, etc. So too, language cannot be described without its foundation skills- Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Moreover, Language cannot be developed without its basic pillars- vocabulary, Grammar, Pronunciation and spelling. English is truly a complex language with crazy inventions, strange words, lexical relations and misinterpretations.

To increase the level of English proficiency and interaction, the secret code is- practicing with the aid of helpful exercises, descriptions, language games and group discussions. The foremost need is to apply a few wise strategies to learn, practice, grow and develop your basic skills:

Creating your Vocabulary
Regular note making of passive words and expressions is one of the easiest ways to learn their contextual usage creating as many sentences as possible. Further, many of these passive words can be turned into active vocabulary by means of creating stories and essays that help you remember better and spell effectively.

Description of Pictures
Choose any appealing image and describe it in as many details as you can. Learners get acquainted with as many adjectives as possible and understand how to spontaneously express their feelings and perceptions.

Practice English Grammar Exercises
Choose such exercises that explain the grammatical concepts in a clear and simple way. By practicing grammar-related aspects regularly, you can boost up your confidence and be able to speak and write English with ease.

Conversations/Role Plays
The conversation or dialogues learners practice in the classroom is a pair work. These activities overcome the shyness and fear among the students. They also help the students to boost up their confidence to speak the language.

Role plays make students experience a realistic situation. They sharpen their listening skills and bring them in contact with the new language and discover areas where they need additional practice.

Language Games
Language games are learner-centred that promote communicative competence and create a meaningful context for language use. Moreover, they increase learning motivation, reduce learning anxiety, integrate various linguistic skills and foster spontaneous use of language.

Group Discussions
Group discussions help learners in developing their listening and speaking skills. Depending on the type of discussions, it is useful to draw up a list of useful functional language for the learners to refer to. These include phrases for functions such as giving reasons and giving an opinion.

The mastery or proficiency of language lies in being able to understand and use it in both the modes- receptive and expressive. Teaching must aim at an effective mastery of basic skills by every learner. These basic skills are an input to effective communication.

Read the SAGE textbook Functional English for Communication by Ujjwala Kakarla, Tanu Gupta and Leena Pundir will help readers enrich their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills through a large number of practice exercises and examples from academic and professional areas.

You can check out the book here!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Digital Transformation Challenge of the 2020s

In recent years, the term ‘digital transformation’ has pervaded the business press, becoming one of those buzzwords that’s almost impossible to avoid.  But while it’s easy to mock or dismiss the catchy phrases of the day, their rise and fall is usually telling us something about developments in the real-world marketplace.  The question is: what?

For more than a decade, large organizations have been migrating to cloud computing, software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and other internet-based services.  But the global technology community now anticipates a much more powerful wave of change based upon various combinations of smart products, machine learning, algorithmic processes, robotic automation, data-driven operations, and new forms of value creation. Taken together, these capabilities comprise a vision for transformed, 21st-century organizations that look much more like today’s digital giants than the traditional global firm.  It’s hard to overestimate the potential of these changes.

But as the mountaineers say, beware of mistaking a clear vision for a short distance, as the timetable for digital transformation remains highly uncertain.  No one can say precisely when game-changing innovations will reach critical mass, how quickly machine intelligence will advance, what new platforms will be established, how China and India will alter the competitive playing field, or how different the organizations of the future will ultimately be.  No amount of data and analysis can fully answer these questions.

What we do know is that information technology has already transformed or disrupted huge parts of the global economy.  We also know that the current wave of automation and intelligence technologies holds at least as much – and I think even more – potential than anything we have seen thus far.  Despite the uncertainties, it’s hard to bet against the broad-based impact of information technology over the long course of the 2020s.  Today’s digital leaders understand this intuitively.

This tension between highly significant expected changes and highly uncertain timing shapes the digital transformation challenge today and is one of the key themes of my recent book, Seeing Digital: A Visual Guide to the Industries, Organizations, and Careers of the 2020s Over the next decade, information technology is destined to reshape just about every industry and organization – and a great many jobs -- as data, intelligence, connectivity, and automation are brought to bear on virtually every business and human activity.  And once an organization embraces this outlook, the phrase ‘digital transformation’ is no longer just a glitzy buzzword; it’s the term we use to describe the process through which 21st-century global market leadership will eventually emerge.

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