Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Restarting OrangeGlass - With Education Focus In Budget '11

It has been nearly 1.5 years since this blog last saw a post and many significant developments have happened in the tech, media and business world since. A case in point is the strong growth of Twitter and its increased usage, at least in the tech, media and startup world. No wonder then, that a lot of people (including myself) are more active 'tweeters' than they are bloggers. That perhaps explains the lack of activity on this blog. (And I can hopefully get away with that excuse?)

On a more serious note, the advantage of Twitter is perhaps is its disadvantage as well. While it works great for sharing short, quick opinions and resources that one comes across, it doesn't work so well to share more detailed views. You can be as creative as you want to limit what you have to say to 140 characters, but there's a totally different pleasure in writing a detailed and a more 'thought-through' blog post running into a few hundred words or even more. Also, Twitter is a lot more dynamic with the timeline changing by the minute, sometimes even by the second and it becomes difficult to keep a track of what you have shared and the discussions around it. People do retweet and add their comments some times, but those don't add as much value as comments on a well-written blog post. Also, a blog and blog labels with the blog help in much better archiving than by searching through hash tags on Twitter.

(Note to myself: With all said and written(?), now please be regular in posting henceforth.)

Developments In Education Space In India

Over the last 2 years, I have spent a significant amount of my time in the education space in India and we are surely going through very interesting times. Developments like the CAT turning into a computer-based test in 2009 (and the 'fiasco' that ensued), the extension of CCE by the CBSE into lower classes will no doubt lead to increased use of technology.Considering that there are nearly 2,500 entrance exams in India and most of them expected to turn into online/computer-based tests soon and even schools and colleges adopting technology for learning and assessment, there's surely a large opportunity in this space.

On the other hand , the focus creating a large talent pool to meet the growing human resource demands of various industries has led to an strong thrust on vocational skills development. So much so that a unique public-private partnership, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has been set up with a corpus now of Rs. 15,000 crore to produce 150 mn skilled workers by 2022 in 21 sectors as diverse as Construction, Automobiles to Food Processing, Gems & Jewelery to Travel & Tourism.

To get a better sense of NSDC's vision and plans, here is presentation by Yuvaraj Gadala shared at the NASSCOM Product Conclave held in Bangalore last year. (This was part of session on 'Funding From Govt/Quasi Govt Sources' held at the Product Conclave and I was part of the organizing team for this session. Thanks Indus for the opportunity! More about this on Indus's blog)

Highlights Related To Education From Budget 2011

Interestingly, skill development seems to be a major area of focus in the announcements related to education made by the Finance Minister in his budget speech. NSDC seems to well on course to reach its target of skilling 150 mn people by 2022. In fact, the Finance Minister expects that this target will be met two years in advance. He has allocated an additional Rs. 500 crore to the NSDC for the coming year. NSDC also seems to be moving quite fast in disbursing funds having already sanctioned 26 projects worth Rs. 658 crore and these projects alone are expected to train 40 mn people over next 10 years. What's also interesting is that of the 20,000 people trained in FY 2010-11, 75% have found placements. One would have expected these numbers, those of number of people trained and those of placed to be higher, but I am sure these will surely look better over time.

Here are some key points related to education from the FM's speech -
  • Total Allocation To Education
    • Rs. 52,057 crore | Up 24% from previous year's allocation
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA) - centrally sponsored scheme to provide free and compulsory education to children in age groups 6-14
    • Allocation of Rs. 21,000 crore to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA) | Increase of 40% over previous allocation of Rs. 15,000 crore
  • National Knowledge Network - connecting education institutes through optical fiber backbone
    • NKN will connect 1500 institutes of higher learning. 190 institutes will be linked during 2011, connectivity to all institutes by Mar 2012
    • Link to the NKN Website - http://www.nkn.in/
  • Scholarships for SC/ST students in classes ninth and tenth
  • Special grants to certain education institutes
  • Focus on Skill Development
    • Additional funds of Rs. 500 crore for National Skill Development Corpn (NSDC) for next year (NSDC has a corpus of Rs. 15,000 crore)
    • NSDC to achieve its mandate of skilling 150 mn workforce two year ahead of stipulated target of 2022
    • NSDC has sanctioned 26 projects worth Rs. 658 crore, these projects are expected to train 40 mn people over next 10 years
    • Of the 20,000 people trained in FY 2010-11, 75% have found placements

Excerpts from the Finance Minister's speech with items related to education -

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mukesh Ambai Eyes Education

Potential of the Indian education segment -

According to an IDFC-SSKI report, Indians spend $50 billion annually on private education. The four segments of the education market — plus two, higher, vocational and supplemental — present a $80-billion opportunity by 2012. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16%, says a CLSA Pacific study.

Now Mukesh Ambani is planning a private university in line with Ivy league institutions, says this ET headline article.

Good to see the larger groups getting interested in the education space.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Understanding Users Of Social Networks - By HBS Prof

From this article from HBS Working Knowledge -

If the ongoing social networking revolution has you scratching your head and asking, "Why do people spend time on this?" and "How can my company benefit from the social network revolution?" you've got a lot in common with Harvard Business School professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski.

Only difference: Piskorski has spent years studying users of online social networks (SN) and has developed surprising findings about the needs that they fulfill, how men and women use these services differently, and how Twitter—the newest kid on the block—is sharply different from forerunners such as Facebook and MySpace. He has also applied many of the insights to help companies develop strategies for leveraging these various online entities for profit.

Excerpts -

On why social networks?

"Online social networks are most useful when they address real failures in the operation of offline networks," says Piskorski.

On LinkedIn

"If I am looking for someone who can help me with my start up, I would ask my friends if they know such a person, and if they don't, I would ask them to inquire with their friends. The problem is that those friends of friends don't always have an incentive to help, so they won't work on my behalf. But here is where LinkedIn comes in handy—there I can go and search through the network of my friends of friends and find the person I am looking for."

Photos - the biggest driver of activity

The biggest discovery: pictures. "People just love to look at pictures," says Piskorski. "That's the killer app of all online social networks. Seventy percent of all actions are related to viewing pictures or viewing other people's profiles."

Usage by gender

Piskorski has also found deep gender differences in the use of sites. The biggest usage categories are men looking at women they don't know, followed by men looking at women they do know. Women look at other women they know. Overall, women receive two-thirds of all page views.

For Twitter - Everything turns upside down

Piskorski says these findings do not hold for one network: Twitter.

Looking at who uses Twitter, which restricts users to 140-character messages, Piskorski and student-researcher Bill Heil (HBS MBA '09) found that 90 percent of Twitter posts were created by only 10 percent of users. This was not surprising, he says, because the technology uses words without photos to communicate.

"Only the people who are willing to put themselves out there publicly in words to people who they may not know will use Twitter. Some people will find this incredibly appealing, others will find this too scary."

But the remarkable finding was the gender dynamics. According to the research, there are more women on Twitter than men, women tweet about the same rate as men, but men's tweets are followed by both sexes much more than expected by chance.

"That was stunning because on all these other social networks you see the opposite," Piskorski says.

No one uses MySpace

MySpace has a PR problem because its users are in places where they don't have much contact with people who create news that gets read by others. Other than that, there is really no difference between users of Facebook and MySpace, except they are poorer on MySpace."

Monday, July 27, 2009

India To Have 3rd Largest Internet Userbase By 2013

"The number of people online around the world will grow more than 45 per cent to 2.2 billion users by 2013 and Asia will continue to be the biggest Internet growth engine.

"... India will be the third largest internet user base by 2013 with China and the US taking the first two spots, respectively," technology and market research firm Forrester Research said in a report.
From a Forrester Research report. Via Contentsutra from the PTI piece.

Like most forecasts, this one also has to be taken with a pinch of salt. When it comes to internet usage in India, I believe we have already spent way too much salt by now, with most of the forecasts and estimates not turning out as expected. Worse still, there are already enough people fighting for what appears to be, as of yet, a small pie and claiming all kinds of numbers when the measurement metrics and not very clear. Anyway, that's for another blog post another time. While the numbers may not be as turn out exactly as forecasted or as estimated, there is not denying that there is growth, albeit slowly and there is a huge opportunity waiting to come good. A few years in the context of an entire industry is a short time, and hope there are enough people around to make the most of the opportunity.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Democratisation of Super Influence!

A new report from Universal McCann discusses the rise of "a new breed of super influencers" that has been created by "the tools of the social media revolution."

Entitled When did we start trusting strangers? How the internet turned us all into influencers, the premise is that influence was moved beyond "professional and top down" (mainstream media) and into Web-enabled peer to peer influence. But despite McCann calling this a "democratisation of influence", all influencers are not equal. There are "super influencers" who are "extremely heavy users of social media, particularly in terms of content creation." Are you one of these people?

Download the report here.

Got to the report through ReadWriteWeb.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Yahoo! Thinking Outside The Search Box, Helps You Find The Meal Box

As aptly out by Frank Watson at SearchEngineWatch, looks like Yahoo!, is now thinking outside the usual search box to come out of the current mess it is in. It has filed a patent for meal search. No comments on this one, I'm full! I need to digest this first.