Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Skimming : Exporting Software from Indonesia

The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, Vol 13 (2003)

  • The Indonesian market mainly demands packaged software at a current volume of US$ 80.07 million in 2001. The fact that almost all standard software applications are available as pirated copies, makes a precise estimation of “demand”, expressed in US$ value impossible.
  • The only markets free from pirated software are those for customized products and for turn key solutions for larger enterprises such as Banks, Government Institutions and Industrial corporations.
  • The important factor here is that due to a lack of expertise within the customer’s organizations, the request for software comes through the help of International Business consultants. Many companies do not really identify the need for IT upgrades. Usually, the problems start at the business level. That is where consultants are called for help.
  • Today, without the active involvement of Habibie, BPPT remains a half empty 30 storey building in the middle of Jakarta’s business district, without any clearly defined role. The policy for software development is now being made within the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
  • Most local Software Companies are basically official or unofficial Microsoft implementers and they use Microsoft products up to the very limit of their competency. For instance, entire banking systems run on NT, knowing that NT is not exactly the most secure platform available.
  • The most prominent software developer in this field is Nomad Software Solutions which is made up by some 11 Irish nationals; all graduated IT specialists. The company specializes in software outsourcing with a focus on Java based applications. The company employs a self trained staff of 74 Indonesian University Graduates. The main reason for working in Indonesia is the favorable structure of cost for software programmers. At a third of the price of her Indian counterpart, the Indonesian software engineer produces excellent code, once trained intensively.
  • Another contender for successful software outsourcing in Indonesia is PT Sigma, which is the owner of Bali Camp. The company does most of its business crunching code for back-end systems for the financial sector (it also once developed an Indonesian spell checker for Microsoft).
  • Since Bandung (200 km away from Jakarta) is host to the largest number of IT Universities, the city has been chosen by the Government to start with the pilot project of a software center.
  • Another reason for choosing Bandung is the fact because of its proximity to a number of technical institutes, like the renowned Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). The hope is that Bandung would become a world class IT center by 2025.

Skimming : From Underdogs to Tigers

From Underdogs to Tigers: The Rise and Growth of the Software Industry in Brazil, China, India, Ireland, and Israel

The Indian Software Industries

  • The phenomenal success and growth of the Indian software industry is quite extraordinary when one considers that India is a very poor country with poor infrastructural investment (generally and in IT) and an illiteracy rate over 33 percent. (p.13)

Early Entry - pre-1984

  • The single most dramatic event of this period, however, was the departure of IBM in protest against the FERA rules, which required it to dilute its equity holding to 40 percent in 1977. The departure created an import substituting opportunity for domestic manufacturers of computers, and a demand for programmers that could write the proprietary software to run computers produced by domestic hardware firms. (p.22)
  • The exit of IBM also provided an opportunity for sales of (micro) computers by other foreign hardware manufacturers. Foreign companies such as Burroughs depended upon software programmers in India to write software conversion programs which could be used by non-Burroughs (mostly IBM) clients in order to switch to Burroughs computer systems. (p.22)
  • The big achievement of Indian firms operating in this period was that they developed the ability to compose a team of talented software programmers to deliver highly bespoke (technical) services on a variety of software systems to large foreign firms. Their relative specialization was porting data from one platform to another and maintaining legacy systems on old mainframe platforms. (p.23)

New Entry and Experimentation: 1985–91

  • Thus, the shift to networked computing in the West opened up a huge new source of demand for software services. These developments created a huge demand for software services in addition to the maintenance of legacy mainframe systems, the speciality of several Indian firms. There was demand for customized software that would allow firms to migrate from mainframe to networked systems and install and maintain enterprise resource systems. (p.24)
  • Indian firms, by now, had considerable experience working with the migration of data across different systems. Also, the increased credibility of Indian software professionals in the Western world created a positive externality that helped new entrants during this period. More importantly, it was in this period that foreign firms first realized the large cost advantage of employing Indian programmers. (p.24)

Imitative Entry and Financial Liberalization: 1992–99

  • The liberalization of financial flows from 1992 meant that foreign capital could move in relatively easily. This was particularly opportune for the Indian software industry. … The experience of COSL and TI had demonstrated that an Indian subsidiary of an MNC could operate as a low-cost outsourcing center for global software needs. … Therefore, software was first developed at the Indian subsidiary and then installed on-site by teams of Indian software professionals. (pl.26-27)
  • The dramatically decreasing cost of telecommunications access and its vast outreach due to the STPI scheme also meant that offshore operations came within the reach of smaller firms as well. Desai argues that offshore operations became popular as many firms switched to web-based delivery made possible by the STPI scheme. (p.27)
  • By the end of this period of unfettered demand, the Indian software industry had built both a general capability (for outsourced service delivery) and some firm-specific capabilities (in particular domains and software process management). (p.29)

Consolidation and Slowdown: 2000 Onwards

  • The slowdown in demand came on the heels of the dot com crash and the recession in the United States, the industry’s largest market. (p.30)
  • The outsourced business model required a certain organizational capability in human resource management and in software process management to ensure reliability of the service product.(p.33)

  • Firms responded in some measure by adopting procedural norms that would make their software development immune to such attrition. One of these was to rely heavily on documentation and another was to start using proprietary tools wherever possible. New organizational structures evolved in order to keep a mix of new and old employees as an informal deputizing system. (p.35)
  • The growing scale and offshore component of projects facilitated a careful splitting of tasks. Thus, in many offshore projects, process control allowed something like a ‘Babbage effect’ in the growing specialization of the industry in outsourced services. The best quality programmer could be used for suitable tasks while less able/experienced programmers could be assigned the lower-level tasks, each paid according to their productivity (p.35)
  • However, it is the winning combination of particular organizational capabilities and new business models that differentiate Indian software firms from other software providers in the global marketplace, allowing them to hold a fifth of the global market for custom software. (p.36)

The Irish Software Industry

  • Key to this turnaround, and also to the rise of the Irish software industry, was the implementation of a highly successful policy of foreign direct investment, which has resulted in Ireland becoming home to over 1,050 foreign companies, 46 percent of US origin. (p.42)
  • The origins of the IT industry in Ireland can be traced back to this time when the IDA made the decision to selectively target companies in potentially high-growth, high-tech sectors. This strategy resulted in a wave of foreign investment in the 1970s in electronics and computer hardware with Digital Equipment Corporation becoming the first company to establish a mini-computer manufacturing operation in Ireland in 1971 (p.43)
  • The success of the IDA in attracting both Microsoft and Lotus Development (now part of IBM) to Dublin in 1985 had a catalytic effect on the development of the Irish software industry. Both companies produce off-the-shelf products for mass markets and their Irish operations were initially responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of these products, including tasks such as duplicating disks, printing manuals, and assembling shrink- wrapped packages. (p.46)
  • Over time Ireland, unlike India, did not follow the trajectory of providing international software services, but rather developed a range of firms which sell software products in international niche markets in systems software and enterprise applications. (p.49)
  • Several Irish software companies started out by providing ‘bespoke’ or custom services to businesses, expanding this into consultancy kits and then products, which many then succeeded in exporting. (p.49)
  • Other Irish software companies came into existence either as a result of government initiatives or contracts (including spin-offs from state-owned entities) or when firms in other industries, such as telecommunications or computer hardware, spun off their software divisions. (p.50)
  • Several of Ireland’s most successful indigenous companies have their origins in the university environment. ...
    Ireland’s most successful indigenous software company, IONA Technologies can trace its roots to the EU Esprit grants for distributed computing research in the Computer Science Department of Trinity College, Dublin. (p.51)
  • The mid-1990s saw an upsurge in entrepreneurial start-ups many of whom are product oriented from the outset, focused on international markets, have obtained VC funding, and have the fortune to avail the managerial expertise of seasoned software industry veterans. (p.52)
  • Until 1990, indigenous firms were largely reliant on the provision of software services (mainly bespoke software development), but the mid-1990s, saw a major switch taking place from services to products, and from servicing the local market to exporting. (p.53)
  • As indigenous companies increasingly move toward product provision, they do so in niche (or vertical) markets. O’Malley and O’Gorman [6, p. 29] state that ‘indigenous producers of software products and services to a lesser extent, usually follow a strategy of specialization in market niches’. The reasons for this are twofold. First, this specialization implies firms can succeed without having to be very large, an important consideration given the limited size of the domestic market. Second, there can be relatively lower barriers associated with entering vertical markets, which often sees firms starting out by providing a custom-based product for a single customer and using this success to secure other customers in the same niche (often in Ireland or the United Kingdom), while at the same time developing their application into a generic product suitable for export. (p.57-58)
  • The Irish government did not set out with the express intention of developing an indigenous software industry, but they were highly successful in luring software MNCs and in generating the right input factors, notably overhauling the telecommunications system, creating a favorable business (tax) environment, and investing heavily in the national stock of human capital, particularly in science and technology disciplines. (p.67)

The Israeli Software Industry

  • Unlike the Indian software industry, the Israeli industry is product based and R&D intensive, with its four undisputed leaders—Amdocs, Comverse, Mercury Interactive, and Checkpoint Software Technologies—either inventing or leading their market niches. (p.72)
  • Indeed, software is just the latest manifestation of Israel’s comparative advantage in R&D. A comparative advantage that is evident when one compares Israel’s patents profile, one of the best proxies of industrial innovation, with other emerging countries. Not only Israeli organizations patent much more than their counterparts, but the quality of their patents and their scientific linkage is much higher (p.73)
  • Israel has always had strong academic involvement in industrial R&D (p.76)
  • The official history of IT and computing in Israel began before the creation of the Israeli state. In 1947, the advisory committee of the Applied Mathematics Department of the Weitzmann Institute (then known as the Seiff Institute), consisting of Albert Einstein, Hans Kramer, Robert Oppenheimer, John Von Neumann, and Abram Pais, recommended that the Institute build an electronic digital computer, making Israel the first state-to-be to commit itself to computing (p.79)
  • However, the rapid expansion of defense R&D and the rapid accumulation of IT skills by both university graduates and graduates of the military technological units created local demand for IT usage along with the knowledge base to supply it. (p.79)
  • All of these companies have been able to undertake large-scale R&D efforts due to R&D grants given by the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (now Trade, Industry, and Employment) after the recognition of software as an industry in 1985. (p.80)
  • Israeli firms established during this period specialized in products that solved problems connected with IT usage. Therefore, it is not surprising that the original data security companies (for which Israel is world-renowned) were established at this time. (p.83)
  • As noted earlier, software is the latest manifestation of Israel’s comparative advantage in R&D. This comparative advantage lies in the high levels of skills and talent of Israeli scientists and engineers, and the relative paucity of other types of natural advantages, such as natural resources. (p.86)
  • But perhaps the most crucial decisions made in these years were the enactment of the R&D Law in 1984 and the recognition of software as an industrial sector in 1985. One of the main provisions of the R&D Law was that the OCS would not have a limited annual budget for its R&D grant scheme. Therefore, all legitimate and feasible proposals for R&D product-oriented projects would be sponsored. (p.89)

The Brazilian Software Industry

  • Lacking familiarity with English, a key export language, these large countries rely upon a strong local demand for the production of software through their economies’ commitment to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). (p.103)
  • As suggested by Table 5.3 the leading activity in the software industry in Brazil is system integration, followed by processing services, and hardware and software support. (p.106)
  • Another important characteristic of the industry is the prevalence of government software firms among the major players. These government firms originated before the 1980s. (p.109)
  • In the decades preceding the 1990s, IT users, private and public sector alike, perceived software development as an essentially auxiliary activity performed in-house by IT-user organizations and hardware producers. That is, software production activity did not have either a corporate or an industrial identity and was mostly an afterthought, a marginal activity within firms. (p.111)
  • The Brazilian Payment System (SPB) is a particularly good example of how idiosyncratic local needs can spur the development of capabilities. In 1999, the Brazilian Central Bank decided that, by 2002, Brazil should have installed an advanced payment system in accordance with the most up-to-date Internet technology recommended by the Bank for International Settlements. (p.115)
  • Start-ups are a third area of interest in telecom in particular for cell phones. Demand for cell phones has grown at a double-digit rate over the past few years, reaching thirty-three million active phones by the end of 2002 and is expected to continue to grow in the future. (p.117)
  • Another area where the Brazilian government is a world leader is in the adoption of ‘free’ software such as Linux. At least eleven Brazilian cities have passed laws giving preference to or requiring the use of ‘software libre’ and a number of other municipalities, states, and the national government have considered similar legislation. (p.117)
  • The Brazilian government is very large, with sophisticated needs and requirements in terms of information processing. To meet these needs, the strategy has been to create public firms that supply software and IT services across states and sometimes across the entire country. These companies have a combined employment of over 10,000 and have developed a rich pool of competencies. This effort has made Brazil one of the leading countries in this area, with important flagship projects such as electronic voting and electronic tax declarations. (p.117)
  • Through the mid-1990s, Microsiga and Datasul, two of the largest Brazilian software firms, had the market to themselves. But liberalization attracted giants such as SAP and BAAN to the business opportunity the Brazilian market presented. While these global producers have quickly taken over the large software firm market (mostly from internal development, as this segment had never been the major target of local developers), the battle now is over ERP systems tailored to cater to medium-sized companies. (p.118)
  • Brazil is attracting the interest of leading Indian services firms such as Tata Consulting Services, which announced a joint venture with TBA, a local firm, to create a software development operation expected to grow to 3,000 professionals in five years. In early 2004, it was the first software firm in Brazil to receive CMM level 5 certification. (p.121)
  • Industry prospects changed when at least two conditions were established. One of these is the presence of lead domestic client sectors for software firms with demands close to those of leading international firms. These clients provide opportunities for learning and competence deepening similar to those found when exporting to foreign competitive firms. The examples of banking and telecom explored in Section 5 illustrate this dynamism. But the opportunity to learn is not always enough. The second required condition is the presence of competition and selection mechanisms, which induce successful firms to structure capabilities, while winnowing out firms that fail to learn. (p.122)
  • This focus of the software sector on the domestic market may also have important multiplying effects for Brazil. Recent studies at the company and country levels have shown that investment in information technology is positively related to corporate and national economic performance [48–50]. This is especially important for sectors that Kraemer and Dedrick [48] refer to as ‘production close to use’ sectors, where IT use is very close to or overlaps with production.

The Chineese Software Industry

  • China’s software firms can be loosely classified into two groups. The first, which includes many of China’s largest software firms, are systems integration (SI) firms. Systems integration involves large custom projects where the software firms provide a combination of hardware and software and services, including customized software. ...
    The second type of firm focuses primarily on product development, although for various reasons, also ended up doing SI and services. (p.133)
  • As with the Brazilian software industry, the Chinese software industry relies heavily on the huge market of users and domestic producers. The rapid and fairly diverse industrial growth of China has led to a large surge in domestic demand. (p.139)
  • In addition to having a direct influence on software R&D and the formation of software firms, the government was also deeply involved in how the hardware industry grew. This has ramifications for software firms in two ways. First, some of the larger hardware firms have developed software arms, or are combining software and hardware in systems integration activities. Second, some hardware manufacturers provide business to software firms, with needs for software (to run on their products) ranging from desktop applications to embedded software. (p.141)
  • In 1999, CASS designed its own Hopen embedded operating system, and has leveraged this to great effect in the electronics manufacturing sector.(p.142)
  • While government procurement in some product markets may have been more beneficial by way of getting some firms started, too much support may make them wholly dependent. Systems integrators that have relied too much on large government contracts may not be able to foster other customers, and so their growth may be limited in the future. (p.146)
  • Recently, the Hopen system was further developed as the NUWA project,21 in anticipation of the increasing market for embedded software. The NUWA project focuses on developing the NUWA-Hopen OS as a basic embedded software platform to work across a variety of information appliances. (p.151)
  • Since software is critical to their success, Huawei is making strategic investments in software, including a large development center with over 400 engineers in Bangalore. They set up shop in Bangalore as opposed to developing their software in China suggesting that in the medium term at least, Chinese software process capability, even in embedded applications, may not be as good as that of India’s. Our interviews with Huawei executives in Bangalore showed that they believed that India’s process capability was superior to China’s, even though the Chinese were more advanced in terms of telecoms domain knowledge and had at least as much knowledge of software theory. (p.151)
  • In 2000, the largest user of ERPs was the manufacturing industry, at 68.2 percent of the total ERP market, followed by the distribution, transportation, telecom, and health industries. (p.152)
  • Many enterprises value service more than anything else, and require ERP vendors to have strong customer support, something Chinese vendors are more prepared to do than multinationals, which would rather just sell a product with minimal additional cost of localization. (p.153)
  • Chinese software firms compete heavily with each other at the ‘lower’ end of areas such as office automation and basic ERPs, but revenues are harder to build up because these clients are less sophisticated or well-off and tend to require uniquely developed projects or much handholding (i.e. consulting or customer service) which works against the software firms achieving scale economies. (p.153)
  • These numbers provide a powerful reason why so many software companies— product firms and systems integrators alike—are doing systems integration. In our interviews, many firms, including product firms, noted that it was difficult to survive on products alone. Even Digital China, the software arm of Legend, focused on SI in order to gain additional revenue (as related to us by one of its executives). (p.154)
  • One problem is that even though local software firms have a lot of work requiring highly customized, domestic oriented systems and systems integration work, it is difficult to derive scale economies in such uneven markets. A second problem that Chinese software firms face is the problem of high competition. Many local firms compete with each other at the low end. At the higher end of the market in certain sectors, there is also the increasing presence of foreign firms. (p.155)
  • However, while Chinese software workers have the theoretical knowledge to handle the basic tasks and are fairly sophisticated analytically, they lack the software process skills of Indian software workers. (p.156)
  • Various younger companies such as Tangram, which makes educational system software, and Intrinsic Technology, which makes mobile device software, noted that it was difficult to develop and grow because they lacked managers who could implement the company’s vision. (p.157)
  • Piracy is also often mentioned as something that continues to hurt the software industry, and is now being officially recognized as a problem. Firms that we interviewed recognized that many software pirates are simply firms or individuals who cannot afford the software, and whom the state may be unwilling to penalize. (p.158)
  • At least three distinct strategies appeared to be adopted in order to address the need to survive and grow under these conditions. The first strategy is that of specialization. Specialization is increasingly seen in the better product firms such as Kingdee, Kingstar, and Red Flag. Specialization is one way of deepening competencies and differentiating oneself from other firms that cannot do so. (p.159)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Phantom and Casper scraps Internet Banking

Awal tahun ini, mas Ariya merilis produk barunya – PhantomJS.
PhantomJS is a headless WebKit with JavaScript API. It has fast and native support for various web standards: DOM handling, CSS selector, JSON, Canvas, and SVG. PhantomJS is an optimal solution for fast headless testing, site scraping, pages capture, SVG renderer, network monitoring and many other use cases.
Wow... programmatic web browser! Bisa browsing ke website manapun secara otomatis. Dan karena PhantomJS dibangun di atas WebKit, kita bisa melakukan DOM scripting seperti di browser sungguhan. PhantomJS is indeed a web browser.

Setelah ngalamun sebentar, akhirnya muncul ide untuk studi kasus eksplorasi. Kita akan mem-parsing catatan Mutasi Rekening dari website internet banking secara otomatis. Ini akan berguna di aplikasi e-commerce untuk memeriksa status pembayaran konsumen. Di Indonesia masih belum ada Payment Gateway yang bisa memproses transaksi secara otomatis. PayPal dan Kartu Kredit kurang digemari karena beban fee yang memberatkan. Cara yang paling ekonomis adalah dengan transfer rekening bank.

Cara ini membutuhkan dedicated staff yang bertugas memeriksa apakah pembayaran telah masuk ke rekening merchant. Dengan tekun staff ini akan me-refresh layar situs internet banking dan meng-input data ke Order Fulfillment System. Kasian bener, hari genee masih input manual. Mari kita pekerjakan PhantomJS untuk tugas ini.

Skenario Browsing

Sebelum mengimplementasikan site scrapper, kita perlu mempelajari dulu bagaimana urutan langkah bernavigasi di situs target. Saya memilih BNI sebagai bahan eksplorasi. Prinsip yang sama dapat diterapkan untuk bank lain. Skenario browsing untuk mendapatkan data Mutasi Rekening adalah sebagai berikut :

Screen Deskripsi
Browse ke

Action :
  • Isikan username dan password
  • Submit form
Setelah berhasil login, kita akan tiba di halaman Home. Ada kumpulan menu di side pane sebelah kiri, berupa kumpulan hyperlink.

Action :
  • Parse menu hyperlink
  • Redirect ke page Mutasi Rekening
Di halaman Mutasi Rekening, kita diminta mengisikan parameter query : nomor rekening, tanggal awal, tanggal akhir, dan page (paging untuk grid view). Untuk menyederhanakan, kita gunakan saja nilai default yang telah pre-loaded di form. Kita hanya perlu mengisikan parameter nomor rekening.

Action :
  • Isikan nomor rekening
  • Submit form
Hasil query disajikan dalam bentuk HTML table. Tabel inilah yang hendak kita ambil datanya. Dilanjutkan dengan logout agar web session berakhir dengan gracefully.

Action :
  • Parse tabel mutasi
  • Parse menu hyperlink
  • Redirect ke Logout
Setelah proses logout berhasil, BNI akan menampilkan action log yang kita lakukan di dalam session ini.

Skenario ini melibatkan beberapa page yang harus diakses dengan urutan yang benar. Bagaimana cara sistematis untuk mengotomatiskan langkah-langkah ini ? Perkenalkan … CasperJS.

CasperJS adalah navigation scripting utility yang dirancang untuk bekerja di lingkungan PhantomJS. Kita bisa menyusun skenario browsing programmatically dengan elegan. CasperJS menyediakan API yang sedemikian rupa sehingga makna semantik program dapat terekspresikan dengan sangat jelas. Let's start code...


Program disusun dalam dua modul utama :
  1. Kumpulan fungsi untuk DOM scripting dan page action dasar. Modul ini akan digunakan oleh modul di layer yang lebih tinggi.
  2. Skenario browsing untuk mendapatkan data yang dituju. Modul ini mengimplementasikan langkah-langkah navigasi page secara programmatic.
Seluruh source code dalam posting ini dapat didownload di GitHub.

Bagian menarik dari program ini adalah keindahan CasperJS dalam mengimplementasikan navigation framework. Perhatikan source code berikut ini dan bandingkan dengan skenario browsing di atas. Hubungan antara code syntax dengan semantic meaning kelihatan jelas banget 'kan!

// Scenario 

    self.evaluateOrDie(doParseMenu,'Silakan mencoba beberapa saat lagi');
    self.echo('click mutasi...');
    self.echo('request mutasi...');
    self.evaluateOrDie(doParseMenu,'Logged out from server');
    self.echo('parse mutasi...');
    self.echo('parse log...');

Detil mengenai data scrapping tidak sulit. Karena kita bekerja dalam environment web browser, maka kita tidak lagi mengobok-obok string. Semua tertangani dengan DOM API dan javascript. Bahkan ga perlu jQuery, javascript gundul aja udah cukup. Kombinasi PhantomJS dan CasperJS sangat mengurangi kerjaan.


Berikut ini demo runtime untuk scrapping data Mutasi Rekening BNI. Kalau mau coba, edit dulu setting username, password, dan nomor rekening di file config.js.
Have fun...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Skimming : Behind The Cloud

Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry

The Startup Playbook

  • My vision was to make software easier to purchase, simpler to use, and more democratic without the com-plexities of installation, maintenance, and constant upgrades. (p.3)
  • “The number-one mistake entrepreneurs make is that they hold their ideas too closely to their chest,” Bobby said. “Their destiny is their destiny, though. If they share their ideas, others can help make it happen.” (p.7)
  • My summers at Apple had taught me that the secret to encouraging creativity and producing the best possible product was to keep people fulfilled and happy. (p.11)
  • So focus on the 20 percent that makes 80 percent of the difference. (p.13)
  • Creating an attractive user interface that people enjoy using is the key to building a truly great product. (p.14)
  • What I learned from Larry:
    • Always have a vision.
    • Be passionate.
    • Act confident, even when you’re not.
    • Think of it as you want it, not as it is!
    • Don’t let others sway you from your point of view.
    • See things in the present, even if they are in the future.
    • Don’t give others your power. Ever.

The Marketing Playbook

  • Position yourself either as the leader or against the leader in your industry. Every experience you give a journalist or potential customer must explain why you are different and incorporate a clear call to action. (p.25)
  • I was confident that would be very profitable. In order to get there, though, we needed to build a powerful brand behind our great service. (p.26)
  • Anyone can create a persona, but it takes time and energy to do it properly. Your ‘‘character’’ must fit with your company’s story to bolster your brand. It must be heartfelt and authentic to who you are if it is to be successful. It should not be mere artifice.(p.28)
  • Although I loved the NO SOFTWARE logo immediately, almost everyone else hated it. ... Although research and logic were behind some of their concerns, I felt that their arguments were overruled by the most important rule in marketing—the necessity to differentiate your brand. (p.29)
  • What a company can own, however, is a personality. We own NO SOFTWARE —not because we are the only one doing it but because we were the first to think it was important to customers. (p.32)
  • Over time, as we grew, we required that all customer-facing employees become ‘‘certified’’ in how to position the service and how to deliver our messages. We taught everyone how to defend the messages against objections, which made them feel more prepared and confident. (p.34)
  • only acknowledged one competitor—the market leader. (p.34)
  • Don’t ever let the competition make you angry. You must have clarity of mind to make your own decisions—not the ones that your competitors want you to make. You must be transparent to the competition. See, recognize, and understand what your competitor is doing. (p.40)
  • No doubt, sending carefully chosen members of the press well-crafted office memos is one more way to get your story told. (p.42)
  • It’s significantly cheaper to encourage a journalist to write a story than it is to buy an ad in the Wall Street Journal,... (p.43)

The Events Playbook

  • ... after seeing this unfold at event after event, we began to recognize what was happening: people weren’t attending these events to meet us. They were coming to meet other people using the product. (p.50)
  • customers are mostly sales, marketing, or customer support people, the people who use traditional enterprise software products. Yet traditional enterprise software companies had never marketed to these people. Enterprise software companies target the executives who control the budget. (p.52)
  • Selecting the right site is important—the location should be one that reflects what you want to say about your brand. (p.54)
  • We rely on the quality of the product and provide an opportunity for the product to be discussed. The most effective selling is done not by a sales team but by people you don’t even know who are talking about your products without your being aware of it. (p.58)
  • A market doesn’t exist until there is a competitor, and ideally two or three competitors. (p.61)
  • Most of all, our smaller competitor’s stunt didn’t work because we never forgot or underestimated the lessons we’ve learned. We’ve seen what happens when bigger companies act defensively and validate small competitors. No one should ever make that mistake. (p.65)

The Sales Playbook

  • A good Web site is more effective than any direct marketing campaign. A lead capture screen, where visitors are required to enter their contact information, is an effective way to find hot leads. It’s essential to keep a Web site easy to use and fresh with regular updates. (p.73)
  • We quickly discovered that the more salespeople we hired, the more we saw revenue increase. This proved that we couldn’t simply encourage salespeople to sell more. We needed to increase the number of salespeople. This was the key to growing revenue. (p.79)

The Technology Playbook

  • As we went against conventional wisdom, we found the secret to being successful in the technology industry. Companies must not only see innovation before it is obvious to the market but also have the courage to pursue that innovation years before it’s accepted, or even understood. (p.106)
  • When it came to building innovative technology, we took a bet on a few existing things. First, we took a big bet on the Internet, and on Java as the programming language for the Internet. Second, we relied on the Oracle database. (p.109)
  • The site—located at—offers real-time information on system performance with up-to-the minute information on planned maintenance, historical information on transaction volume and speed, reports on current and recent phishing and malware attempts, and information on new security technologies and the best security practices. (p.113)
  • Today, if our servers are down—even for twenty minutes—we call our top customers. (p.114)

The Corporate Philantrophy Playbook

  • About thirty minutes after the awful phone call, a battalion of U.S. Marines swept into the school. Our team was caught by surprise when they said they were there to install the computers. Although there was relief in knowing that this force would get the job done, it didn’t give me much solace. Oracle had its own army of fifty thousand tech-savvy employees, several thousand of them just a few miles away; why did we require the Marines’ assistance to set up computers in a middle school? (p.139)
  • I began to consider how to make a philanthropic program part of a company’s DNA. I knew that if we had been able to draw on Oracle’s full assets—its employees, customers, products, money, and partners—we could have made a much more substantial contribution. This idea became a passion of mine, and it further ignited my interest in starting my own company. (p.139)
  • We understood that although we would not immediately see the cash for this commitment, we needed to take a long-term approach. This eventually led to a 1 percent product initiative (whereby we donate the service in lieu of profits)—a contribution that we’ve since realized can have a much greater impact on a nonprofit organization (by helping it scale) than a cash donation might have. (p.144)
  • One way to get your philanthropic programs started easily is to begin by providing your product or service for free or at a dramatically discounted rate to nonprofits. Gather a team of people to think creatively about how your product or service might help answer a social problem or move a nonprofit’s mission forward. (p.158)
  • The foundation has made us a better company. It has served as a tool for collaboration with other companies. It has made our employees more fulfilled, more productive, and more loyal. (p.167)

The Global Playbook

  • This idea stemmed from my work at Oracle with principal technologist Yoshi Oikawa; it demonstrated that global capabilities were not an add-on feature but an intrinsic part of our service. (p.170)
  • The market loved the David versus Goliath strategy, and we launched the business in Europe by using the same tactics that dictated our strategies in the United States: free trials, building relationships with members of the press, and encouraging customer evangelism. (p.173)
  • I had loved working in Japan when I was at Oracle and had always considered’s international focus on Japan a high priority. It was the second-largest IT market in the world, and I knew that Japanese businesses could benefit from our service. (p.179)
  • Whereas we were able to start with smaller companies in the United States and Europe, the top-down model is the way to succeed in Japan, where the largest companies provide the most powerful references. (p.186)
  • The end goal is always for the international business to be run by local leaders. However, during the earlier stages of international expansion, tapping two leaders with different experiences is an effective way to lay the right foundation for a company. (p.186)
  • Many U.S. companies use Australia as a gateway. The demographics are similar to those in the United States, the market is made up of early adopters, and the similar time zone and close proximity to Asia make it easy to do business with the rest of the region. (p.188)
  • Technology companies have historically centered their Asia-Pacific operations in Singapore, making the area rich with tech-savvy talent. Furthermore, the city-state’s high standards of education and emphasis on bilingual or trilingual skills meant that candidates were often fluent in three or more languages, making them valuable across various geographies. (p.194)
  • In Asia, business is conducted face-to-face, and anyone with whom we wanted to do business expected to see us a lot more often than we had first planned. (p.199)

The Finance Playbook

  • She might be your friend, or your grandmother, but treat her as an investor. This is not only because it’s respectful but also because not doing so could come back to bite you. If you target larger investors later, the legal teams at these organizations will scrutinize your capitalization structure, and any previous negligence will cost you. (p.204)
  • I’m not suggesting that profits aren’t necessary, pivotal, and even beautiful. It’s just not appropriate to stress profits over revenue in the beginning when you are starting out and building a company. (p.208)

The Leadership Playbook

  • V2MOM enabled me to clarify what I was doing and communicate it to the entire company as well. The vision helped us define what we wanted to do. The values established what was most important about that vision; it set the principles and beliefs that guided it (in priority). The methods illustrated how we would get the job done by outlining the actions and the steps that everyone needed to take. The obstacles identified the challenges, problems, and issues we would have to overcome to achieve our vision. Finally, the measures specified the actual result we aimed to achieve; often this was defined as a numerical outcome. Combined, V2MOM gave us a detailed map of where we were going as well as a compass to direct us there. (p.226)
  • We now collaborate on the corporate V2MOM with all employees through IdeaExchange, a social networking tool that employees use to contribute their ideas as well as promote and comment on others’ ideas. Most recently, when our V2MOM went live on IdeaExchange, we received feedback from more than half of the company’s employees over a two-week period. (p.231)
  • Although most start-ups don’t hire a dedicated HR person right away, doing so made sense to me because acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. (p.233)
  • ... the better the developers you have, the better the product you build. The more developers you have, the more products you can build. (p.233)
  • Asking candidates to present allows us to see how they perform on the fly, and especially how deftly they can handle curve balls. It works on a more subtle level, too. Preparation demonstrates how badly candidates want to be with us. We note whether or not they have been to our Web site. Are they familiar with our products? Do they know our customers? (p.235)
  • If we move into a new market or a new product, I want the most knowledgeable person—the guru—on our side. Once the guru articulates the strategy, he or she makes the necessary hires and invests the resources necessary to execute it. (p.239)
  • Conventional wisdom says you should hire people who are not like you. That’s wrong. Hire people who are like you, only better. (p.240)
  • It’s very important for hiring to be consensus driven. To that end, we use the ‘‘all yes’’ rule. If a candidate meets ten people and nine say yes and one says no, that candidate will not work at our company (p.242)
  • Brands are built and sustained on consistency. Whether employees realize it or not, everyone in a company interfaces with customers in one way or another, and their attitude will affect the brand. A wrong message or attitude from one person has the potential to dilute our brand, so we try to make sure everyone is in alignment from the beginning. (p.244)
  • After several months, the Ebersoles went back to Atlanta. Everyone is doing great now, and that’s what’s most important, but as a result of helping his family in a difficult time, we earned the 100 percent loyalty of a valued employee. ‘‘ has made this situation as good as it could have been,’’ Scott said. ‘‘I’ve always felt that I have their support, and it’s made me to want to work even harder to give back.’’ (p.247)
  • Using education as a way to extend our service and expand our capabilities is our strategy for future growth. It comes down to simple mathematics: we can hire one hundred developers to develop new functionality, or we can hire ten trainers who have the capacity to train thousands of developers. Leveraging the power of trainers has allowed us to have thousands of developers creating new functionality, sharing it in our online marketplace, and enabling us to offer a more comprehensive service to our customers. (p.253)