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    US based global strategy consulting firm shares knowledge on local opportunities

    This year Stax, a global strategy consulting firm, headquartered in Boston, USA is celebrating its 10th year of operations in Sri Lanka.

    Stax’s CEO Rafi Musher, together with its Managing Director Ruwindhu Peiris and Director Dr. Kumudu Gunasekera, discussed Stax’s history in Sri Lanka, the investment outlook for Sri Lanka and the Asian region as a whole, and the importance of positioning one’s business for emerging investment opportunities.

    According to Rafi Musher, Stax provides data-driven and actionable insights to help global companies drive growth. With a 20 year track record of providing clients with strategic advice on profit improvement and M&A, Stax has become a formidable force in the strategy consulting space, competing directly with the big three global consulting firms (Boston Consulting Group, Bain, and McKinsey) and, boasting an impressive list of clients that includes 14 of the top 20 private equity firms and 27 fortune 500 companies.

    “Global companies hire us to help drive growth because we provide actionable insights. Stax brings best practices on growth and profit improvement and we are in your backyard,” Musher said.

    Rafi Musher, CEO of Stax

    Rafi Musher, CEO of Stax

    Musher explained how the caliber of people and promise of untapped resources drove him to establish Stax Colombo back in 2005.

    “The cross country team structure enables a 24 hour cycle with fully integrated teams, which uniquely positions us to bring far more content to clients. The Colombo office is not a KPO; the emphasis has always been on value arbitrage and not cost arbitrage. The good thing is that this sharing of knowledge and expertise goes in both directions. Our Sri Lanka office can provide great content and insights to the US teams about a variety of industries, regions, and by using sophisticated research and analytic techniques. And the US teams can similarly provide our Sri Lanka office and Southeast Asian clients’ expertise on industry trends, best practices and how to identify profit opportunities. I personally work with colleagues in Colombo as I would in Boston or Chicago.”

    We believe that multi-generation family businesses and increased private equity investment in the region will contribute to growth further. Family businesses with additional generations in the office are expanding their areas of interest.  Private equity firms around the world are looking to capitalise on the economic growth and investment opportunities in the region, with the average Asia-focused funds size growing steadily over the last few years to reach $422M in 2014 (compared to a low of $197M in 2009).  Additionally, dry powder, which refers to private equity funds available for investment, currently stands at $129B, indicating opportunities for corporations and growing family run businesses to take advantage of this significant investment pool to leverage for growth.

    “Knowing where you can win now, where you can win later and what to avoid entirely, creates substantive value. Whether you are an executive or investor.  This is the reason large and middle sized company executive teams call on Stax, and why major private equity firms call on Stax.”

    Echoing the CEO’s statements, Dr. Kumudu Gunasekera, discussed the importance of positioning one’s firm for attracting investment.

    Many companies perceive lack of funds as an impediment to growth and often look to raise funds through either debt financing or an IPO. However, this might not be the best option for a firm at a given time. It is important for a business to evaluate where its current opportunities lie, and to then assess which funding options can best grow the business, Dr. Gunasekera said.

    He also stressed the importance of exploring other avenues of funding such as private equity investment rather than immediately listing a firm on the CSE. The influx of smart capital will allow a well-established company listing that will garner a higher valuation. Having a mature, well-positioned listing in the CSE is important for the company as well as the CSE.

    Dr. Kumudhu Gunasekera, Director of Stax

    Dr. Kumudhu Gunasekera, Director of Stax

    “There is a misconception that all capital is equal,” Dr. Gunasekera continued.  Stax’s goal for clients is to attract smart capital which not only brings in funding, but also provides industry expertise, geographic reach, access to wider supply and sales network, and drive toward exit at a higher valuation.

    “Investors want to put money into companies that have a strong strategic road map and vision. Stax can help position your firm as an attractive investment opportunity for future investors by helping you understand and prioritize a strategic vision,” Dr. Gunasekera said.

    He also discussed how many companies with strong growth potential often fail to capitalise on opportunities as they are reluctant to trade equity. Trading equity for smart capital can position a firm for higher growth and a higher valuation in the longer term. Identifying and attracting smart capital is vital, given the large amounts of dry powder in the market, he added.

    Ruwindhu Peiris discussed what this meant in the corporate context.

    With significant untapped opportunities in the region, there are a number of strategies local companies can adopt to achieve substantially more growth in short order. Not all growth has to come from funding; sometimes the opportunities lie internally, and part of Stax’s approach is to help clients assess opportunities within the firm, and recommend operational improvements that can lift the margins and bottom line, Mr. Peiris said. This profit improvement creates extra capital to deploy for additional opportunities, accelerating value creation.

    In any field Stax can help a business to:

    • Identify most attractive adjacent and new market opportunities
    • Help clients create solutions and services that align with current and emerging customer needs and market trends
    • Use analytics to optimise operations and improve incremental profit

    “High growth industries in the region like Tourism, Healthcare and Retail are abundantly rich in untapped data assets that hold insights to accelerate growth and optimize spend.  Stax solutions such as “High-Yield Segment Targeting”, “Media Spend Optimisation” and “Revenue Maximising Pricing” have helped global companies unlock actionable insights from their data assets and deliver tangible results in under six months“

    Peiris went on to describe specific areas of opportunities in each of these high growth industries.

    Millennials (those born after 1980) are entering their peak earning years and currently account for around one-third of all business travel expenses. In the next 5-10 years they will provide the majority of spending for travel and leisure.  Being tech-savvy, they rely heavily on online information sources and are sophisticated travelers who carefully plan their trips.  With “High-Yield Segment Targeting” companies in the leisure sector can engage with potential guests online at different stages of their travel with the winning messaging to reach the right audience at the right time.

    Retail spend in the region is also on an accelerated growth path, with the emergence of Asia’s middle class.  Stax’s work with global retailers has shown that most retailers tend to overprice, as well as under-price several items within their key product categories—essentially leaving millions of dollars on the table.  There is a great opportunity for retailers in the region to leapfrog on strategies already tried and tested in the West in optimising the thin margins in this industry by using data analytics from “test and learn” platforms to tweak most effective promotions and loyalty plans.


    The curved smartphone from Samsung, rumored last month for an October release, has been leaked on Twitter.

    Based on this photo, the Samsung phone has a Salvador Dali-esque melting effect. The screen of the device displays a number of apps identified with Korean text.



    Interestingly, the home screen of the device displays Oct. 10, a strong indication that Samsung may be prepping an official announcement for Thursday.

    Samsung first featured its flexible screen concept devices in a commercial this January.



    Source : http://mashable.com/2013/10/08/samsung-curved-phone-leak/


    Wavenet International, the region’s leading Value Added Services Platform (VAS) Companies based in Sri Lanka, partners with Etisalat Lanka to launch ‘Data Backpack’ an innovative service for in-bound tourists to access online apps and data services, at local rates on their smartphones. Additionally, users of this service can stay connected on their home SIM so that they in no way miss a call or a message.
    Tourists can register for this service by dialling #474# or calling 474 from their roaming mobile. To instantly activate the service. In bound tourists can also walk into the Etisalat store located at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and Etisalat Flagship stores located across the country. Credit can be added to the account by purchasing an Etisalat reload from Rs. 50 onwards.
    Wavenet Chief Executive Officer Suren Pinto said: “This solution is solely targeted at tourists visiting Sri Lanka and comes in a backdrop where the country is targeting 1.2 million tourist arrivals for 2013 after welcoming a million tourists in 2012. To reach these desired targets, it is important for Sri Lanka to add more value to the tourism sector of the country.
    Commenting on the joint initiative, Etisalat Sri Lanka Director/CEO Dumindra Ratnayaka said: “This is a further extension of the longstanding partnership between Wavenet and Etisalat. Capitalising Wavenet’s expertise as a developer in the VAS backdrop, we are confident this service will be beneficial to many in bound tourists.”
    Pinto further stated: “Smartphone apps are becoming an intrinsic part of our lives and are given priority over laptops, tablets while travelling. During travel due to lack of available data services, use of apps and browsing are subjected to expensive data roaming plans. Due to this reason, ‘data backpack’ was developed to provide affordable and convenient access to the internet, especially while travelling to navigate through a maze of streets with Google Maps, locating a nearby restaurant with Trip Advisor, or checking the latest exchange rates with the XE app.

    Source: DailyFT


    Approximately every decade, technology delivery undergoes a tectonic shift that changes the consumption of technology and the value that it can bring. Today, mobility, Big Data, and the advent of cloud computing offer new ways for IT to help organizations accelerate progress in solving their most pressing challenges—speeding innovation, enhancing agility, and improving financial management.
    Cloud computing is a key component of an organization’s ability to gain unencumbered access to information technology—to access “Infrastructure Anywhere, Applications Anywhere, Information Anywhere,” or better said: “Services Anywhere.” In order to deliver on the “Services Anywhere” promise, organizations will need to think differently about IT. No longer will IT be solely a builder of internal infrastructure and services. IT will also need to obtain or use third-party and external services. The key will be understanding the unique requirements of each service, such as availability, cost, performance, and regulatory needs, and then addressing them in the most efficient and cost-effective way. This will be done by creating the right mix of on-premise and off-premise services that leverage the best of traditional IT, and private, managed, and public clouds—a hybrid delivery environment.
    “HP’s is clearly the most established leader in the cloud computing space. There are already more than 1,000 HP CloudSystem users, 6,000 HP Public Cloud users, more than 130 Cloud Centers of Excellence with partners and more than 80 CloudAgile partners.
    In addition, HP also does cloud hosting for more than 200 customers and more than 40% of the Fortune 100 companies use HP Converged cloud.”
    Cloud Computing is a perfect match for big data since cloud computing provides unlimited resources on demand. While two years ago, Cloud computing was appealing mainly because of its “pay per use” model (ideal in tough economic times), today, it is becoming more important because it is the enabler of big data analytics.
    As a quick review, big data is a collection of data sets that are so big that it is hard to collect, analyze, visualize, and process using regular software such are relational database management systems.  Moreover, this data is typically unstructured. A recent study indicates that unstructured data account for at least 80% of the world’s data. This means that many companies today are making mission critical decisions with only 20% of the data they have, the 20% of data that is structured and stored in relational databases.
    Now it is possible to manage this vast amount of data, structured and unstructured. When we talk about big data, we not only refer to existing data that have been collected for years. We also talk about huge amounts of data being generated because of social media, mobile devices, sensors, and other technologies. The disruption caused by the mobility explosion has reshaped the IT landscape more dramatically than any other technology since the PC revolution of the early 1980s. HP has a broad mobility portfolio, beginning with handheld devices and compatible software aimed at mobile users, and moving up to both fixed and wireless capabilities that enable users to have controlled access in BYOD environments. HP offers software tools that are strongly positioned for mobility, and in its services area, the company provides advisory and consulting services around mobile strategy.
    Big Data and Mobility go hand in hand. With an increasing number of connected devices, the ‘Internet of Things’ presents us with a huge range of opportunities based on the possibility that objects are able to interact with each other. These connected devices are also building up banks of data, and this data needs to be put to good use

    Big Data and Mobility go hand in hand.
    Big Data is deeply correlated with connectivity and mobility – they go hand in hand. With an increasing number of connected devices, the ‘Internet of Things’ presents us with a huge range of opportunities based on the possibility that objects are able to interact with each other. These connected devices are also building up banks of data, and this data needs to be put to good use. For example, connecting cars to smart parking systems in order to reduce gas wastage, or correlating your blood pressure, sleep and activity levels to help you lose weight are just two possibilities that come with the increase of connectivity, and they rely on your data. Similarly, understanding large amounts data can be help to fuel and improve services in the mobility space. The increasing ubiquity of smartphones has meant that brands have to account for a new set of consumer behaviours, as well as their higher expectations, and Big Data can help brands to identify patterns. People want to consume more and more while they’re on the go, opening up new gaps that demand new mobility solutions.

    Source: DailyFT