Aspiring nations gain more from Internet


By JO TIMBUONG
bytz@thestar.com.my

Manuel: “Malaysia derives a lot of income from exporting equipment that allows people to connect to and use the Internet.”

KUALA LUMPUR: Aspiring countries like Malaysia are gaining more from the Internet than developed nations.

The Web helps these countries improve gross domestic product (GDP), better their small and medium enterprises, and boost the creation of new jobs.

Going online helped Malaysian industries contribute 4.1% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010, making Malaysia one of the 30 fastest growing countries in the world.

Some of the other aspiring countries are Argentina, Hungary, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Taiwan, Turkey and Vietnam.

They were part of an online study – titled Online and Upcoming: The Internet’s Impact on Aspiring Countries – by researchers McKinsey & Co.

McKinsey defines aspiring countries as those that are developing but are at the cusp of becoming a developed nation.

The study found that the Internet contributed US$9.75bil (RM29.7bil) out of a total GDP of US$238bil (RM723bil) for the aspiring countries in 2010. This is far more than what was contributed in the United States and China.

Nimal Manuel, principal at McKinsey, said a big chunk of the GDP contribution in Malaysia came from the IT industry.

“Malaysia derives a lot of income from exporting equipment that allows people to connect to and use the Internet,” he said.

“The country will also see significant growth in the value that domestic activity on the Internet delivers to the nation.”

Manuel was giving a briefing on the economic impact of the Internet on Malaysia.

Booster

Besides contributing positively to the country’s economy, the Internet also helped its small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to make gains.

Manuel said the SMEs in Malaysia and the other aspiring countries that took their businesses online gained over 6% more in revenue than those with only brick-and-mortar stores.

“Thanks to the Internet, these businesses were able to reach new customers in different geographic locations. They also enjoyed a 10% increase in productivity (after embracing technology),” he said.

According to him, this increase in productivity (due to better efficiencies) does not mean decreased job opportunities in the aspiring countries.

“Our study found that for every job lost, 3.2 new jobs were created because of the Internet. And in comparison, for every job lost in developed countries, only 1.6 new ones were created,” he said.

These aspiring countries must not rest on their laurels; they should be making an effort to improve their Internet ecosystems.

Manuel said they need to ensure a high quality and secure infrastructure to better capture the value of the Internet.

The governments need secure servers, in addition to basic infrastructure, such as electricity supply, as well as quality fixed and mobile Internet services, he said.

In response to the recommendations, Datuk Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), said the Government is championing the quality of Internet services in Malaysia.

“This is an entry-point project under the Economic Transformation Plan, and that shows how serious the Government is on broadband services and issues,” he added.

MCMC is the communications and multimedia industry regulator.

Think before you “Like” on Facebook


Corporations are engaging in a social media arms race

People look at the Facebook wall at their office in New York December 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/Files

By Chris Taylor Annie Scranton has a little problem.

The founder and president of New York City’s Pace Public Relations is a successful and sober-minded individual, but when it comes to this one thing, she has a definite compulsion. It’s the “Like” button on Facebook — she just can’t stop clicking it.

“I’m totally obsessed with it,” says the 31 year old. “Just like a lot of people I know. My friends and I call it ‘Like-Bombing’, where you go online and like everything.”

So it’s a good thing for serial “Likers” like Scranton that there are more and more rewards for consumers who click that button.

Hotel chain Marriott, for instance, is currently offering prizes totaling 10 million reward points for those who Like its Facebook pages, including two grand prizes of a million points each.

Think of it as a social-media arms race among corporations, to see which can amass the greatest number of online followers.

“It’s become a real competition between companies to grow the size of that number, and to have more fans than your rivals,” says Matt Simpson, marketing director for Phoenix-based Bulbstorm, which develops social-media apps for companies such as NBC and World Wrestling Entertainment.

“Over the last year, we’ve been seeing more and more of it, and it’s been driven largely by promotional applications like sweepstakes.”

PROMOTIONS AND LIST BUILDING

If you “Liked” Toys ‘R Us before Thanksgiving, for instance, you got a shot at a limo ride, a $1,000 shopping spree, and exclusive store access before its doors opened for Black Friday sales.

Travel site Expedia, meanwhile, hosted a ‘FriendTrips’ sweepstakes for those who Liked its Facebook page, offering voyages to one of 13 different destinations.

As a result, in the third quarter of this year, an average of 100 million “Like” buttons were being clicked on Facebook every day. That’s double the amount of liking going on, compared with the same period last year.

Corporations are doing this for a reason, of course. They’re building marketing lists, they’re aiming to boost sales, and they’re planting themselves in users’ news feeds.

When Coca-Cola has more than 36 million Likes, and Disney has more than 29 million, they’ve assembled a ready-made audience that can be tapped at any time.

And here’s a little secret: While companies are certainly happy to have you as a fan, what they’re really interested in isn’t you; it’s your friends.

Because if you officially Like Starbucks, your friends see that you’ve liked Starbucks, and they become more likely to spend there as well.

“Friends of fans represent a much larger set of consumers than the brand’s own fans,” says Elisabeth Diana, Facebook’s manager of corporate communications. “In fact they’re 81 times the size of the actual fan base, so Likes are a way to reach those people as well.”

The promotional pushes seem to be paying off.

Expedia’s FriendTrips campaign, for instance, garnered 900,000 new Likes for the company. And while Marriott’s contest is ongoing until the end of the year, its new Marriott Rewards Facebook page has already gone from zero to more than 170,000 Likes.

“We’ve surpassed all other hotel rewards programs in under three weeks,” says Michelle Lapierre, Marriott’s senior director of customer relationship marketing, taking a slap at rivals Hilton, Starwood and Hyatt.

LIKING, PHASE TWO

Of course, once you have an army of online followers, that’s not the end of the marketing road. Then there’s the question of what to do with them all.

That’s why companies are now proceeding to Phase Two of the Like operation: Figuring out how to engage and entertain consumers on an ongoing basis, with a flurry of polls and quizzes and games.

“Collecting Likes by giving away prizes is a great way to build a fan base, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of Facebook marketing,” says Bulbstorm’s Simpson, who himself won a 10-day trip to Hawaii from just such an online promotion.

“Savvy brands are starting to focus on things with more entertainment value, to keep you around longer than the seven seconds it takes to fill out a form.”

Beware, though, that Liking something publicly makes companies keenly interested in who you are and where you’re surfing.

Not only that, but Facebook is rolling out so-called ‘Sponsored Stories’ of such activity. In other words, if you officially like Target’s Facebook page, your friend Jim might get a Sponsored Story in his news feed announcing that thrilling development.

So if you’re uncomfortable with your personal business being public, then maybe Like-Bombing isn’t your best online strategy.

“Facebook ‘Like’ buttons are increasing in prevalence across the Web, raising serious privacy concerns for those who value the privacy of their online reading habits,” says Rainey Reitman, activism director for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“This collection of information about one’s Web browsing habits may violate many users’ expectations of privacy. Our reading habits can be incredibly sensitive, and Facebook has a long history of playing fast and loose with user privacy.”

Facebook reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in November, agreeing to get users’ permission before altering privacy settings and submitting to independent privacy audits for the next 20 years.

As for Pace’s Annie Scranton, though, she has no plans to rein in her Like campaign – especially since it’s brought her a number of new business prospects. So if you get Liked by her, don’t be all that surprised.

“My business is inextricably linked to social media, so if I wasn’t constantly Liking things, my clients wouldn’t be happy,” she says. “Even when I’m working, I’m on Facebook all day long. You can never do enough Liking.”

(Editing by Jilian Mincer and Linda Stern)

(The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Glooming Davos World Economic Forum 2012!


Davos parties amid the gloom

CERITALAH By KARIM RASLAN

The notable absence of a big Chinese delegation at the Davos World Economic Forum due to the Chinese New Year season gave the South-East Asian nations the opportunity to shine.

I’M hardly your quintessential Davos Man but I do enjoy my trips to the World Economic Forum (WEF), where I chair the Global Agenda Council on South-east Asia.

It’s not only the chance to hobnob with the global elite, but also get a sense of where the world is heading.

Davos this year was a blur, though. Perhaps it was because my schedule was packed, or maybe it was because I was recovering from the flu.

Whatever the cause, my week in Switzerland was a whirr of images and sensations.

The sense of gloom among the world’s players seemed to have become de rigueur after years of slow growth.

Nevertheless, it didn’t put a stop to the countless expensive networking parties at WEF.

I guess austerity doesn’t apply to the rich and powerful.

Also notable was the absence of a big Chinese delegation because of the Chinese New Year season.

This gave the chance for other East Asian nations to shine.

Thai Premier Yingluck Shinawatra led a large, well-received delegation.

After the twin distractions of political conflict and natural disaster, Thailand appears eager to promote the idea of its economic recovery.

Shinawatra’s good looks more than compensated for the hesitancy in her delivery.

Indonesia, too, had a large contingent despite the absence of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a welcome sign that Indonesia’s corporate leaders are ready to engage the rest of the world alone.

I also spent time with a small Burmese entourage.

They were basking in the country’s apparent rehabilitation, and we made plans to meet again in the future.

We Malaysians also hosted our own breakfast.

It was attended by some 20 powerful international corporate and political leaders.

The Malaysian star of the Aung San Suu Kyi biopic The Lady, Michelle Yeoh also made an appearance to add both glamour and intelligence to the event – but I’m a fan and therefore biased.

Still, it was good to see that there was interest in Malaysia, particularly as a services hub.

I also noted that the delegations from African nations were large although they pulled little weight compared to India or Brazil.

The events featuring British Prime Minister David Cameron and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner caused little stir.

Conversely, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota had a swagger about him as EU technocrats lobbied the BRICs for help to save Europe.

Still, there was an uneasy sense in the air that Europe’s fall is facilitating Germany’s rise.

You could see German products everywhere, including the shiny Audis shuttling the VIPs between Davos and Klosters and VW vans for everyone else.

I even picked up a special edition Stern magazine celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of King Frederick the Great of Prussia, which hailed him as an “uber-Prussian”.

Indeed, there seems to be a growing nostalgia in Germany for Frederick, who solidified Prussia’s power but was also renowned for his intellectual and cultural achievements, including founding Potsdam and patronising Voltaire.

Perhaps he reminds Germans of a time when they too were on the brink of great power, albeit untarnished by fascism.

Is it more than a coincidence that chancellor Angela Merkel has described herself as “very Prussian” and has not shied away from promoting “German values”?

Whatever the case, Berlin with its Prussian milieu will almost certainly take its place as Europe’s premier capital – which means that this tukang cerita (story teller) will have to brave the Brandenburg winter at some stage to get a sense of the city as well as German aspirations.

There were also encounters, whether planned or chance.

At Davos’ Indonesia Night, I wolfed down nasi goreng with Mukhlis of Antara and Uni Lubis of ANTV, discussing the possibility of the republic developing its own “soft power”.

At a quiet bar later on, I gossiped with my Financial Times columnist friend Gideon Rachman about the prospect of a Eurozone collapse.

I even remember trying to locate the Occupy WEF igloos. I spent a good hour trudging through the snow (which was metres high, by the way), before giving up because of the cold and damp.

One afternoon I slipped away from the conference and took the small funicular train to the Schaltzalp Hotel high above Davos.

There – amid the echoing halls of a fin de siecle “grand” hotel – I imagined the world of Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann as well as the immense, enveloping silence of the Alpine scenery, swathed in snow as I stood on the hotel’s terrace.

Finally, there was a moment when I was collecting my overcoat at the Morosani Schweizershof hotel’s cloakroom.

I paused because I remembered that it was here, last year that I saw Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Back then, Gaddafi was the gadfly of the Arab and African worlds, while Saif was his modernising son and the toast of policy wonks everywhere.

Today the father is buried somewhere in the Libyan desert and Saif is in a prison in Zintan.

It’s a sign of how times change, but also how swiftly Davos moves on.

You can be everybody’s golden boy one minute and a pariah in the next. But that’s how the world turns.

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Are you coming? Press ‘Like’ if you are!


Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love
Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Press ‘Like’ if you are coming

Trendy couples are not just in the soup about spurning shark’s fin soup at their nuptials. They are now in hot water over wedding invitations.

Internet-savvy couples are ripping up the usual way of sending invites – those fancy cards with formal words – and using Facebook instead.

Take 24-year-old marketing specialist Lim Yi Ning and 26-year-old product manager Foo Tiang Lim who sent friends and relatives an invitation through Facebook that said: “You are cordially invited to our wedding.”

It worked like this: Those on the guest list received an online notification. They then visited the page to view the event details and RSVP-ed simply by clicking either “Join”, “Maybe” or “Decline”.

No agonising over the type of paper and choice of words, no pen to sign your name, no licking of envelopes and no stamps. But the move does not hit the “write” note with older folk, etiquette experts and wedding planners.

Cashier Jean Tan, who is in her 50s, does not have a Facebook account and feels that using it to send out wedding invitations is “insincere”.

“It seems like just throwing the occasion out there and if you want to come, you come. It does not follow proper tradition,” she added.

Not sending invitation cards can give the impression that the couple is on a tight budget or pressed for time, said Eunice Tan, 39, founder of Image Flair Academy Of Modern Etiquette.

Jonathan Goh, 40, director of wedding planning company Wedding Acts, said he always advised his clients to send out formal invitation cards.

“A lot of people say ‘move with modern times and technology’. This may be possible 10 to 20 years in the future when everyone is on a social media network, but for now, there are still relatives and friends who prefer to have the paper invite,” he said. — The Straits Times/ Asia News Network

A quantum connection between light and motion


February 6, 2012 A quantum connection between light and motion

Enlarge

© 2012 EPFL

(PhysOrg.com) — Physicists have demonstrated a system in which light is used to control the motion of an object that is large enough to be seen with the naked eye at the level where quantum mechanics governs its behavior.

The movement of objects is ultimately governed by the laws of quantum mechanics, which predict some intriguing phenomena: An object could simultaneously be in two places at the same time, and it should always be moving a little, even at a temperature of absolute zero – the is then said to be in its quantum ‘ground state’. Until recently, these strange predictions of quantum mechanics have only been observed in the of tiny objects such as individual atoms. For large objects, the unavoidable coupling of the object to the surrounding environment quickly washes out the quantum properties, in a process known as decoherence. But researchers in EPFL’s Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements have now shown that it is possible to use to control the vibrational motion of a large object, consisting of a hundred trillion , at the quantum level. The results of their research have been published in the February 2nd edition of Nature magazine.

A ring of light

The object they used was circular in design – a 30-micrometer diameter glass donut mounted on a microchip. Under the direction of Tobias Kippenberg, the team injected a laser into a thin optical fiber, and brought the fiber close to the donut, allowing light to ‘jump’ to the object and circulate around the circumference of the donut up to a million times. Just as the pressure of a finger running along the rim of a wineglass will cause it to hum, the tiny force exerted by the photons traveling inside the glass ring can cause it to vibrate at a well-defined frequency. But the force can in fact also dampen the vibrations, and thus cool down the oscillatory motion.

Cold, colder…

Cooling is crucial to reaching the regime of quantum mechanical motion, as this is normally overshadowed by random thermal fluctuations. For this reason, the structure is placed in a cryostat that brings it to a temperature of less than one degree above (−273.15°C). The light launched into the donut slows down the motion one hundred times, thus cooling it even more, very close to the quantum ‘ground state’. And more importantly, the interaction between light and the movement of the oscillator can be made so strong that the two form an intimate connection: A small excitation in the form of a light pulse was fully transformed into a small vibration and back again. For the first time, this transformation between light and motion was made to occur within a time that is short enough so that the quantum properties of the original light pulse are not lost in the process through decoherence. By outpacing , these results demonstrate the possibility of controlling the of an object’s motion. It also provides a way to see the peculiar predictions of at play in man-made objects.

Looking forward

Mechanical vibrations can be coupled to quantum systems of completely different nature (such as electric currents), as well as to light. They could therefore be used to ‘translate’ quantum information between those systems and light signals. This is especially beneficial as it allows to transport quantum information – the basic ingredient of a future quantum computer – over large distances in optical fibers.

More information: Quantum-coherent coupling of a mechanical oscillator to an optical cavity mode, E. Verhagen, S. Deléglise, S. Weis, A. Schliesser, Tobias J. Kippenberg, Nature, January 2012. DOI: 10.1038/nature10787

Provided by Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

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