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IT to politics: Projections come a cropper!

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DQW Bureau
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Looks like it’s stock take

time for everything! Even predictions and projections. I am reminded of the

article I wrote some time back on IT projections. Now with the fiasco on the

political front where pollsters have come a cropper, it is time to seriously

consider if all this really makes sense. Should so much time, effort and money

be spent on this kind of activity!

Astrology and palmistry (as well

as their variants) have held man’s interest since times immemorial. The urge

and excitement to delve into the future and peek at what is in store has

prompted man to try out all kinds of fortune tellers. The business research

analysts and the sephologists are modern day avators with a ‘scientific’

positioning stance. (Makes me wonder, why the meteorologist’s have not been

able to predict weather correctly on a sustained basis despite being at the job

for so many decades!)

The right to project poll

results has been fiercely defended by the protogonists. But I do believe that

what they come up with has the potential of affecting people both positively and

negatively. Ofcourse, noboday has gone ahead and researched the impact of poll

projections on potential voters. Maybe, it is time for one!

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So will our media guys,

especially the TV channels do some serious thinking on the issue. (I guess they

do it in private. But when it comes to running a business, there are other

compulsions. After all they too compete with others in their own fraternity!)

And so it is with research

groups and analyst organizations. With the dotcom meltdown, what will happen to

their multi billion dollar projections for IT enabled services, for the ISPs and

the MSP market etc? Such projections have prompted numerous entrepreneurs to put

in millions in these businesses.

From an Indian standpoint, the

outcome has been extremely discouraging. Where are all the call centers for

instance? And look at the state of the ISPs. Not that these are industries are

without potential. But when projections are for 2008, you can not possibly set

up shop now and still hope for those numbers. I guess the problem is not with an

individual’s thinking. But collectively, the figures do not measure up. When

10 different guys set up shop at the same time, each visualizing that he will

capture the market, over capacity is a foregone conclusion.

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I am sure great projections must

have been made about TV viewership. It definitely took its time in happening.

Neither did the software industry take off overnight. The rights thing to do is

to recognize the inevitability of the new age businesses or shall I say the new

age technologies, in helping transform old economy businesses and work gradually

towards it.

What has happened to the new

economy business is something similar to the real estate business capacities

that have been created in the hope of making a killing. But the customers are

just not there in the required numbers.

Makes me wonder if we are

looking in the right direction to chart our even course of action. The Americans

have been great innovators. But I am not sure if they are the best guys around

in terms of consolidating on their innovations. One new idea and the whole

country moves in that direction. Some thing negative and everyone moves away.

There is too much churn in the system.

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Look at the Japanese. They

always seem to be on the lookout for good ideas. And when they spot one, they

work hard to perfect it and move ahead. They refine things in all respects so as

to become better and more competitive. And obviously they choose areas where

they know they will have time to market. They seem to have moved ahead from

‘Just in Time’ (JIT) inventory to ‘Just in time’ business.

Why doesn’t one hear about the

Japs going through the kind of roller coaster developments in industry like the

Americans do. It might be interesting to sum up the result of such developments

in financial terms. What do you gain as a result of early developments and what

do you lose as a result of abandoning projects and laying off people, compared

to steady ongoing developments?

The Indians would do well to

build their strengths steadily and in areas that promise sustained growth. What

is important is that we should be able to think through and decide areas where

we can build positions of strength and leadership over a period of time. We may

not be the first to implement new ideas because of resource limitation. But the

Japanese have proved that in the long run you can still build a formidable

strength in areas of your core competency.

And that means introspecting and

objectively evaluating yourself. Projections of the analyst and research groups

need to be considered in the right perspective–as a general indicator of

business direction. Not something to be lapped up. Not something to base your

entire business decision on.

You do not start and run

businesses on the premise that you will make a fast buck. Businesses must be

nurtured to health. Try to milk it and you might find yourself left high and

dry. Making projections is some body else’s business. Don’t make it part of

your’s–blindly!

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