Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Internet and global contests & polls

In an increasingly global world,the Internet is turning into a great medium to drive participation from the world over in polls, contests and the like. Over the last 72 hours,here is what three marquee names have announced :   

1. The Economist is running an unique online poll. People the world over - including from the U.S. - can "vote" online for Barack Obama or John McCain. Each of the 195 countries in the World has - in a system inspired by the U.S. presidential system - been set electoral votes in a global electoral college.

Of the total 9875 global electoral votes, India alone has 1588. As of the time of writing this post, the world vote is overwhelmingly pro-Obama, with him registering 12,956 votes as against 2,970 of McCain. In terms of electoral votes, it's a one-sided race, with Obama having 8,012 votes as against just 12 of McCain.

2. Google is, on it's 10th anniversary,running a global contest online called Project 10 to the 100th.Ideas are invited on how the world could be made a better place. The best ideas will be funded and championed by Google.

3. NASA is sending a satellite Glory into space in June 2009 which will also carry names of ordinary people. Anyone can enter their names on NASA's "Send Your Name Into Space " website and derive the thrill of having one's name circle in space for very many years.

I would imagine that other brands will also one day launch other such online polls / contests / fun things to do. These activities are, at the very minimum, really effective ways for the respective brands to build /acquire goodwill.  


Friday, September 26, 2008

The Internet juggernaut rolls on - IV

1. The power of the Internet, good or evil, never ceases to amaze. Some news from the previous fortnight - and earlier :
  • The Taliban is using Skype to dodge the British intelligence service MI6 in Afghanistan
  • Tigers are being sold illegally over the web, said a news report. Very surprisingly, the site still seems up and running, despite activists having lodged complaints with the authorities.
  • And then there was news of HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s scheduled visit to Google’s London office on October 16th.  This follows the successful debut of the official Royal Channel on You Tube (currently with 22,000 visitors and 1.5 million+ page views). Reportedly, Her Majesty also uses email to be in touch with her grandchildren Princes William & Harry.
2. India’s Parliamentary standing committee on Personnel is considering sweeping changes in the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exams for entering the civil service. Among other things, they are considering that the phase I or preliminary exams be held online, followed by the immediate release (online) of the candidate’s results (as is the case with the GRE & GMAT), thus saving time in the overall selection process. Civil service is one of the country’s three or four largest entrance exams (the others being engineering, MBA and medicine) with approximately 200,000 aspirants appearing each year. The MBA Common Admission Test (CAT) exams, with an anticipated 400,000 aspirants in 2008, are to also go online, though only next year i.e. in 2009. 

3. The Times of India, Mumbai reported on July 8th, '08 that an online mutual fund platform has been launched by Tech Process Solutions (the people best known for running the bill payment site that enables mutual funds to be traded online. Tech Process said it had so far brought together six mutual fund houses (including Reliance & ICICI Prudential), four large MF distributors and 9 banks. Currently, investors can use the platform only via the above distributors, who have to give them a login.

This is an important initiative. Unlike stocks,which today are traded online by individual investors, mutual funds in India can at best be bought and sold at the fund house's website itself. Tech Process seems to be setting up an exchange for trading mutual funds, which should help Plans include allowing adding more players to the platform and enabling investors login directly.However, one was unable locate any site in use.

Meanwhile, industry association
AMFI is itself exploring setting up of such an electronic platform for which it has invited and received 15 Expressions of Interest from potential vendors. It is believed such an exchange will take two years to implement. Several countries viz. Canada, the U.S. and Australia alredy have such a platform. And there are other moves in place to standardize - acros fund houses - the mutual fund application forms and offer documents. All this would benefit existing 46 million mutual fund owners as well as help grow the market.