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APRIL 22, 2007
 Cover Story
 BT Special
 Back of the Book

Mobile Security
Today, it is all about information and how the right information is sent to the right people at the right time and right place. Uncertainty about how to secure mobile phones in the face of increasing threats is slowing individual adoption of mobile applications. There are many facets of mobile security, including network intrusion, mobile viruses, spam and mobile phishing. Analysts expect big telecom companies to develop security solutions on various security platforms.

Rough Ride
These are competitive times for the Indian aviation industry. As salaries zoom, players are scrambling to find profits. Even the state-owned Indian is now seeking young airhostesses to take on the competition. It is planning to introduce a voluntary retirement scheme for airhostesses above 40 years. On an average, they draw a salary of Rs 5 lakh a year. The salaries of pilots, too, are soaring. According to industry estimates, the country needs over 3,000 pilots over the next five years.
More Net Specials

Business Today,  April 8, 2007

Change Agent

Third week of March, it was billionaire entrepreneur Michael Dell visiting India and raising the profile of his pc marketing company. Days later, his money followed him the country in the form of Janet Mountain, Executive Director of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, a philanthropic foundation that seeks to improve the lot of poor children. In India, though, the foundation is focussing on microfinance and education for the urban poor. "Sometimes we have to be opportunistic and we can certainly do more work in the slums, as all the government programmes are anyways for the rural area," explains the 39-year-old Mountain. The foundation, which has an endowment of $1.2 billion (Rs 5,280 crore), has already invested half of the $12 million (Rs 52.8 crore) committed to India. What's her near-term goal? "I want to look back in 5 years' time and say we were able to accelerate changes in a bold and effective manner," she quips with a smile.

On Good Wicket

India's humiliating ouster from the cricket world Cup may not be happy news for the honchos at broadcaster Sony Entertainment Television (SET), but Kunal Dasgupta, its CEO, signing a multi-year renewal contract with his employer may be. Despite the fact that set India has slipped to the third position behind star and Zee, Sony's international bosses seem happy with the job the 53-year-old Dasgupta is doing. "Sony has always been more than a job to me and I think that is why my contract is always being renewed," he says. "Going forward, I see a lot of opportunities for the company in India. We have been doing well and continue to do well," he adds optimistically. As long as his bosses think so too, Dasgupta needn't worry about things like India's World Cup loss.

Mum's the Word

Reports of massive restructuring and job cuts at Citigroup in the us broke out last fortnight when Chairman and CEO, Chuck Prince, 57, was in New Delhi recently. While some reports spoke about 15,000 jobs being slashed, Prince chose to remain non-committal, calling most such questions press voyeurism. Citi is planning to take a decision mid-April. However, the 22,000 or so employees of Citi in India have little to fear. India remains key to Citi's expanding international presence. If anything, there could be more hiring in India. Incidentally, Prince met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit. "Our plans are aligned with the government's priorities," Prince told reporters. Maybe there was a little issue of IFCI discussed (there have been reports of Citi being one of IFCI's strategic suitors). But on that too Prince remained quiet. So, clearly it is a silent strategy. Let us wait and see.

Hold Your Goodbyes

About 12 years after he first arrived in India to fund start-ups on behalf of the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), Donald Peck is moving on to a larger role at Actis, which was spun out of CDC as a private equity firm in 2004. His new task: Raise an ambitious $1-1.5 billion fund, about a quarter of which may come India's way. But Peck, 54, isn't saying goodbye yet. He plans to split time between Delhi and London. "It's a broader role, but I am not leaving India for good," he says. As a veteran of India's venture capital/private equity industry, Peck is, in some sense, more Indian than Brit. He is as comfortable haggling with Indian promoters (he recently opted out of a microfinance deal because it was overvalued) as with taxi drivers in Mumbai. "Once you've lived in India for so long, it's hard to leave," he says. Especially now that the economy is booming.

The Innovation Sequel

Ever since Vijay Govindarajan published his first book called 10 Rules for Strategic Innovators a little over a year ago, he's become a global management guru of sorts. The 56-year-old Earl C. Daum professor of International Business at Amos Tuck School of Dartmouth College, us, may well end up consolidating his new fame if his second book, also being co-written with his Tuck colleague Chris Trimble, ends up receiving the same acclaim as the first. In that, this Harvard MBA, who once turned down a lucrative Boston Consulting job because it did not offer long vacations, will be blowing some popular myths about innovation. "A lot of managers still aren't clear what innovation is really about," says Govindarajan, or vg. "Every organisation needs different types of innovation to stay competitive, but usually innovation is mistaken for invention." There's no dearth of big-wigs listening to vg. Most recently, Jack Welch-led GE and A.G. Lafley-led P&G have roped him in as a consultant on innovation. Watch out for vg 2.0.

Porcelain Pasha

Most people say china and India, but Alain Viot likes to say China in India. Not surprising. VIOT, after all, is the CEO & MD of Lladro, the Spanish high-end porcelain maker. But Viot, who worked with Cartier earlier, isn't letting himself get carried away by the India hype. His company will open just three stores this year in the country to take the count up to nine. "What we are doing is to seduce the new generation of customers while maintaining relations with the existing ones," he says. That strategy, the French born Viot thinks, will increase Lladro's India revenues from $5 million (Rs 22 crore) to $7 million (Rs 30.8 crore) in 2007-08. "We have hired a new art director for decorative products so that when people buy Lladro, there should be a 'wow' factor," informs Viot. Considering that Lladro's gift items sell for anything between Rs 5,000 and Rs 60 lakh, jaw-droppers, in some sense, are guaranteed.