#Mobile #Phones do have Bearing on Road Fatalities

It is often discussed and ‘guessed’ that whether the mobile phones have any impact on a person’s ability to drive safely. The Government and Road Safety Interest groups strongly support the view while the regular drivers, who are habitual of multi-tasking in this world, say well they dont agree with this.

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Inspired by these conflicting opinions, I did a quick correlation test for Mobile Phone sales per country and the number of road fatalities as reported by WHO.

With a magnitude of 98.76%, mobile phone sales have a direct correlation with number of road fatalities. This correlation stands true with data of over 25 countries with China and India topping the list of mobile buyers and fatalities both.

Check it out –

No of fatalities and Mobile Phone

Sources of Data :
Road Fatalities – Wikipedia
Number of Mobile Phones Sold per country – Wikipedia

Clearly a candidate for Causation study.

Drive safely!

8 thought provokers – Part (2/3): Arena & Operations

As we continue our surge to identify the right mix of success factors, there is always a common thread that stitches them all. It is not to do with just the ability to dream but also the willingness to do and determination to complete what has been started.

This all started with the blog I wrote in response to a question – What is the a Brilliantly New Idea that no one has thought?

A deeper research into this question led to identifying the 8 thought provokers that eventually lead to first blog in this three part series. To learn about the first blog (and for continuity sake), please go to my earlier blog named – Study and Plan forward: 8 Thought provokers.

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With this 2nd blog, I am going to explore the next three Thought Provokers:

  1. Whats my arena?
  2. What kind of operations are required? What can I NOT do?

Whats my arena?

The arena defines what kind of market competition you are entering. This is one of the most important and complex activity but is most overlooked. Reason being impatience and urgency to jump. This impatience is very much visible in mushrooming online businesses – as its easy to start a website. Any business that is easy to start by you, CAN BE EASILY STARTED BY SOMEBODY ELSE.

And this should be a significant red flag for you.

Arena definition can be done very easily –

  • What does it take to start this business? In our MBA employment skills example, one would require first to be an MBA or a significantly accomplished professional who can guide the MBAs. An MBA for all the investment s/he has done in their career will not pay attention to what somebody who they think is inferior in education tells them. This is harsh but real.
  • What are other players in the market already? In the world of internet, this should be fairly easier to find out. With good keyword searches, you should be able to nail down this. For our example of services to MBAs for employment skills, we see that there are numerous examples but hardly any proper services that come in the results.

Employment skills

So Research on competition is very important. I find the various Landscape diagrams published by leading VCs and consulting firms as very useful for any research.

What kind of operations are required? What can I NOT do?

It is always fascinating to look at success of others and mimic it. This is typical human behaviour and there is no surprise. After all, the iconic iPod was a ultra improved version of all the music players out there in the market.

Years 2013 to 2016 saw a significant spike in number of e-commerce and internet based startups in India.

Check out the list of E-commerce sites in March 2012 compiled by Amrita Kriplani.

From this list more grew and many or most are closed now. One of the key reasons why many/most of these startups failed is because they underestimated the operations involved in shipping goods from one place to another and then return in case it was not accepted by the customer. Here is a quote from A. T. Kearney report on E-Commerce in India:

“India currently doesn’t make it into  the top ten of A.T. Kearney’s eCommerce Index because its infrastructure  is underdeveloped, and there are still cultural reservations that keep  it from leaping ahead.  India is a big market (1.2 Bn people) but  infrastructure—technology, finance, logistics—still needs a lot of work,  and only 8% of the population uses the Internet.

The proliferation of Indian IT industry was primarily attributed to simplicity of the local operations. On the other side manufacturing and e-commerce are complex in operations.

I use a simple formula to understand the complexity of a particular operation. Based on number of touch points, the complexity of processes can be determined.

COMPLEXITY OF OPERATION = 2^n

where n is the number of touch points

Any operation with Complexity > 64 is a highly complex one and one must think on how to simplify it or outsource it to the right people.

In case of IT industry, any project has following touch points:

  1.  Getting requirements
  2. Development of software
  3. Testing of Software
  4. Deployment

Complexity of this is 2^4 = 16. So this is simple and is easy to start business.

The complexity for E-Commerce operation is below:

  1. Getting customer to the website
  2. Give them the right product that they need
  3. Make them to do the payment
  4. Identify the right logistics partner to dispatch the product
  5. Dispatch the product
  6. Get the product delivered to the right customer and confirm delivery
  7. Reconcile payments with the payment partner and with the logistics partner

Complexity of this is 2 ^ 7 = 128. So this is highly complex operation.

I have found this as a good rule of thumb to help and identify the nature of operations. Complexity when combined with arena helps to be a good combination to determine competitive advantage.

I shall conclude this blog here. In next blog we shall explore all the open questions remaining for this series.

Thanks for reading!

Interesting #Correlations: Miss India and Meghalaya

The world of data offers very interesting correlations. I published one of Sehwag’s Centuries and Dairy Product exports to Australia from India recently.

Here is another interesting correlation with a strong Correlation of 82%.

Unrelated data sets thankfully don’t give any hint on causation 🙂 Enjoy reading.

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Data Sources:

  1. Age of Miss India Winners – Wikipedia
  2. Number of Persons Killed in Road Accidents in Meghalaya – Data.Gov.In
  3. Facts about Meghalaya– Find more here.

Write to me if you have ideas for interesting correlations.

Brilliantly new idea – No one has thought

I wish it was true to have a ‘Brilliantly New Idea’ that no one has thought. I was asked recently whether one needs a ‘brilliantly new idea’ to start a successful business. Tough question to answer. This is for 2 reasons – novelty is scarce, brilliance is contextual.

Idea

I clearly remember when I was starting my own sports and fitness startup, I and my partner thought that we had a brilliant idea that no one else had thought about.

Within 2 months of starting, we realized that there were 3 other serious players in the market who were doing the same thing as ours. Did that mean our idea was not brilliant? If we speak to people who were not familiar with the competition, it was brilliant. However, for customers of the customers, it was a routine thing.

Similarly,

  • iPod, the revolutionary product that led to iPhone was not the first music player in the world.
  • Google was not the first search engine in the world
  • Reliance Jio was not the first Mobile operator in India
  • McDonald’s was not the first (and not the best) burger maker in the world
  • Arvind Mills was not the first automatic textile manufacturer in the world
  • And the list goes on…

So does the problem really lies with brilliance?

Same idea may be brilliant for some and mundane for others and vice versa.

Elon Musk, the idea and brilliance powerhouse of the world, is thinking about solving world’s transportation problems with EVs and the Boring Company; and also of the Universe with SpaceX.

For ISRO engineers, the problem that SpaceX is trying to solve is everyday job. Does that mean Elon Musk is not brilliant?

Similarly, people who embraced digital payments early were merely early adopters. When digitization via demonetization happened in India, the man on the street became a customer of the digital payments. Does it mean that early adopters are more brilliant than the man on the street?

The answer to both is No.

Further, when Flipkart started in India, it was not a brilliant idea. India already had IndiaPlaza.com. World already had Amazon.com. Flipkart copied over Amazon.com.

Amazon.com was (and is) brilliant in identifying the opportunity of product sales using the internet.

Now if Flipkart starts its operations in US, would it be a brilliant idea there? Certainly not. Unless, Flipkart addresses some of the gaps in the offering of Amazon.com in the US. Obviously it requires a lot of research and identifying the right gaps. Then making the right solutions to fill those gaps and then communicating to the customers about this value differentiated offering.

So brilliance has to sit in the context right. Any idea has to be brilliant if it is serving a need contextually.

The question then arises of one needs to do something successfully and at scale – whether a new project that is done for commercial purposes or to start a new business.

The two important things that one needs to look at then are below –

  • Scale of problem – One needs to spend time to identify the problem. Then the research should be to understand the ‘scale of the problem’. The bigger the scale of the problem that one is trying to solve. The greater is going to be the impact of the solution. The bigger the impact of the solution, the more the opportunities of making money/ reaping benefits.

 

  • Comprehensive research – This is one of the most ignored part by most young managers and entrepreneurs. Research may help you to find answers to some of the questions that you may have like below –
    • What is the current solution for the problem?
    • How many players are there?
    • Are there any gaps in the offering?
    • Can a marriage of technology with the field of interest make any impact?
    • Do I or my team have the skills to solve this problem?

A comprehensive approach to a given problem shall help to solve the most impending problems.

So instead of ‘Brilliantly New Idea’, one must focus on ‘Scale of the problem’.

Milk is the secret to Sehwag’s energy and Australia’s

As the number of centuries grew for Virendra Sehwag, Australia increased its import of dairy products from India. The graph below says the rest!

Sehwag's Century

 

Source for Sehwag’s Centuries: wikipedia.com
Source for Dairy Exports to Australia: Dairy Exports

And the special why Australia did it:

Weekly #AI Digest: Persona, Personal, Official

The virtual assistants are ‘virtually’ (meaning literally) are rocking the world with the endless possibilities they are opening. From a humble beginning with Apple’s Siri that was a novelty when it was launched, there are plenty of virtual assistants today that have come up in the market. We have spoken about them in the past multiple times. Be it Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Sales Force Einstein (still in works), they have featured here.

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So while we see a lot of marketing coming out of these virtual assistants and chat bots, what if we start getting answers from Donald Trump on our phones about his plans for the nuclear war, or Elon Musk to talk about his view on the next big planet to explore after Mars or Justin Beiber on his next chart buster?

MIT Media Labs is working on this to make it a reality. They are working on something called ‘Augmented Eternity’. Its based on an idea of “swappable identities” based on question prompt. With a personality lens, you can swap the identity and then you can ask the relevant question to the persona and get your answer.

This will help in streamlining the overall asymmetry we see in expertise and consultative sharing. Plus,  we will get the right answers faster and that too from the horse’s mouth.

So while this is still in works, these virtual assistants remain dumb. A social comedy experiment by Brent Rose to squeeze a flick on comedy based on stupid answers from Siri, Cortana, Echo and Assistant went horribly wrong. Check out the video here.

Now this makes one scary.

Perhaps this is the reason why Google has found that since humans suck at making good AI so they have built AutoML that is better in building AI than the company engineers.  Through a mesh of neural networks, the controller neural net defines a ‘child’  model architecture that grows as more data is fed. Catch being the child grows faster than the human child.

While world is still bracing these advances and we are still away from the trade-off of the smart, over smart and dumb version of AI, one CEO has decided to give the dirty of job of on the spot reviews about his team members to a machine over himself.

One new member that has joined the team meetings hosted by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is ‘Einstein Guidance’. Einstein is the company’s AI assistant that assimilates information said by all the team members in the meeting and gives on the spot feedback about a team member who may not be performing so well.

Wait till this comes to our homes and when parents will leave this dirty job to many more Einsteins.

Hope you enjoyed reading this edition.

Weekly #AI Digest: Fun Facts

Lets start with some fun facts in AI

  • Most the Personal Assistants and AI products are Females. Check ‘Siri‘, ‘Cortana‘ , ‘Cognea‘ to name a few. IBM Watson is the big outlier in this. But he recently got married to Cognea.

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  • It is predicted that by 2018, more than 3 million workers will be supervised by a ‘Robo Boss’.
  • A whooping 85% of customer interactions will not have human reps handling the requests
  • People will leave their current jobs and become Data Science Instructors
  • Policeman giving you tickets for over speeding may be a robot or a simple machine installed in one hidden corner of the road… you may not even notice.
  • Your McDonald’s burger may have no human serving you end to end
  • Most of the news, sports and markets, that you would read would be created by Natural Language Generators

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  • -Spider-ManSpider-Man Bot shall lead you to the closest store where you can buy the comic and enjoy reading it.
  • There are plenty on-field Robots and AI Driven machines in the field and there are plenty of startups funded to control these robots.
  • More jobs? It was said that with ATMs the number of tellers would reduce leading to job cuts. Instead, banks opened more branches and more people got hired. Bots would lead to new jobs – bot controllers, AI friends to name a few.

Besides, your privacy could be at risk. Recently, Google’s DeepMind was found to have ‘legally inappropriate access‘ to a lot of private patient data from leading hospitals in UK.

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And here is the video of the week:

Weekly #AI Digest: Voices, Wardrobes and Bickering in Homes, Influence Map

The week gone by saw launch of Amazon’s Echo Show. With this, Amazon has upped the game of voice-activated speakers market. Learn more here.

Amazon is making a killing in this market with over 70% market share as reported by

eMarketer Echo
Voice Enabled Speaker Market Share

eMarketer. The whole market is slated to grow by 28% this year. It is also expected that Google Home would make further inroads in coming years while Amazon shall continue to keep lead for some more time. Would be interesting to watch if any new entrant or an incumbent spoils their party or something completely revolutionary comes and changes the game yet again.

With consumers in the age bracket of 25-34 years, this surely is going to make a very interesting market in days to watch. Amazon introduced Echo Dot last year to make this a mainstream product. This strategy seems to be working well so far.

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eMarketer Age Split
Voice Enabled Speaker User Split

It is expected that this year more than 60.5 million Americans are going to use the Siri, Cortana or similar voice assistants at least once.

The inflection point for this technology is fast approaching as the cost of production and implementation is going down. With the costs reducing, the prices shall also come down and this technology shall become mainstream soon.

 

 

 

With Echo Show, Amazon has just extended its lead over Google Home.

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‘Mirror, Mirror… On the wall…’

Remember these old classic words. Voice enabled assistants may bring this to the real world. Now,  Alexa would also get into your wardrobe and help you in judging your outfits.

Learn more here.

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And lastly, be careful while you have fight with your better half next. Data Engineers and Scientists are working on building an algorithm that would predict when couples start fighting. While so far they have reached to the point of analyzing and rightly identifying when the bickering is happening, the goal state is to predict it.

Patterns of couple’s language and physiological signs – heart rate, skin conductance, moisture etc – are being analysed to identify which way a conversation is going. The goal state is become relationship counselors.  Learn more here.

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With more and more technology entering our homes, it is important to seek more love and lesser fights.

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Lastly, check out the current VentureBeat World of AI influences from around the world. The map says it all.

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Happy week to you!