Daily Archives: September 13, 2014

Speculation Rife in Sri Lanka Over Modi-Rajapaksa Meet in New York


COLOMBO: There is speculation here as to whether SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa will meet PM Narendra Modi at the open-ended meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session at New York later this month.

The Commonwealth is to hold an open-ended meeting of the Heads of Government to discuss CHOGM reform and the post-2015 development agenda on September 25. As the chairman of CHOGM, Rajapaksa will chair the session.

However, there is doubt as to whether Modi will attend it. He is to address the General Assembly on September 27 and is to meet President Barack Obama at Washington on September 29 and 30. If he is to arrive in the US on September 26, as it is expected, he will be skipping the New York CHOGM.

Officials here explained that it is not necessary for every Head of Government to be present at such meetings. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who will be in New York before the Prime Minister, could well represent India, they said.

It is not clear as to how long President Rajapaksa will be in the US. All that is known till now is that he will be addressing the General Assembly on September 25. Hence the speculation as to whether a Modi-Rajapaksa will take place.


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UN dismayed by Sri Lanka deportations of asylum seekers

The UN refugee agency has expressed dismay over Sri Lanka’s action to deport asylum seekers from Pakistan. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on Sri Lanka to refrain from such actions and abide by its obligations under international law.

“While we appreciate the government’s speedy action to release 71 Pakistani and 2 Iranian refugees and asylum-seekers in early September, not everyone in detention has been released and we are dismayed that the arrests, detention and deportations have resumed,” said UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch. The UNHCR and the local civil society organisations have been deploring deportation of Pakistani asylum seekers claiming that they were under serious threat if returned to Pakistan.

The UNHCR said that Sri Lanka started its special operation on June 9 this year. And while it came to a halt on August 15, it resumed on September 3. Between September 3 and 11, 62 Pakistani and 3 Afghan asylum-seekers were arrested and detained; 40 were subsequently deported, UNHCR said.

Since early June, the authorities have arrested and detained a total of 328 refugees and asylum-seekers, and deported 183 of them to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Court of Appeal on September 3 ruled that Sri Lanka was within their right to deport the asylum seekers after the government had argued that the country had among other reasons national security concerns. “We believe there are still 102 people of concern to UNHCR in detention, including 38 Pakistanis and 64 Afghans,” Baloch said at a press briefing in Geneva yesterday.

He said that when the UNHCR met with Sri Lanka earlier this month, assurances were given for the immediate release of all asylum-seekers and refugees arrested and detained since June.


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Why the Apple Watch Is a Gift to the Swiss Watch Industry

The launch of the Apple Watch this week has raised questions about its impact on the Swiss watch industry. Contrary to Apple designer Jony Ive’s remarks that the Swiss watch could be in trouble, there are several reasons why the Swiss have nothing to fear from Apple’s success.

First, the Apple Watch makes wearing a watch relevant to a new generation of future watch collectors. I often ask other professors around the world how many of their students wear watches. The answer is always the same: “very few.” For many young adults who have grown up using their cell phone to tell time, the idea of wearing a watch is the equivalent of sending a telegraph or storing data on a floppy disk.

The Apple Watch introduces the concept of wearing a watch to many of Apple’s 18 to 35 target market. If it takes off, it is likely that these buyers will eventually consider purchasing other types of watches for events later in life. Talk to any Swiss watch executive today and they will tell you many of their best clients started out collecting Swatches in the 1980s, but eventually started purchasing more expensive brands such as Rolex, Blancpain, Breguet, or Audemars Piguet later in life. Like the Swatch, it is quite possible that the Apple Watch could spark a new generation of watch aficionados and collectors.

A similar phenomenon has recently occurred in the book industry. When Amazon introduced its Kindle eBook reader in 2007, many analysts predicted it marked the end of traditional bookselling. However, over the last five years independent bookstores have seen a resurgence in sales and in the number of stores, all the while selling traditional printed books. One of many reasons for this revival is that booksellers have benefited from continued demand for children’s books, which remain near the top of the fastest growing segments in the publishing industry. When parents and grandparents buy books to read to children at bedtime, they introduce the printed book to a new generation of potential users. As these children have grown up, data show they have been less likely to abandon the printed book in favor of the Kindle. In fact, most readers are happy to read both.

Second, the Apple Watch is likely to be a complement rather than a competitor to the Swiss watch. The Apple Watch is chock full of technological wonders that would be the envy of Dick Tracy, while Swiss watches are primarily luxury goods and status symbols. Apple is confident it will be able to reinvent its core technology every 6 to 12 months before competitors like Samsung attempt to render it obsolete. Swiss watchmakers, on the other hand, see themselves as craftspeople producing wearable art meant to be passed down from generation to generation.

The Swiss stopped competing for technological watchmaking supremacy in the 1980s when Japanese watch manufacturers like Casio and Seiko began producing far cheaper and more accurate quartz watches compared to their handmade mechanical timepieces. Within a decade of inventing the first quartz watch, the Swiss saw their export volume decrease from 45% to 10% of watches produced globally. By 1983, two-thirds of all watch industry jobs in Switzerland had vanished and over half of all watchmaking companies in Switzerland had gone bankrupt.

Thanks to the efforts of individuals like former Swatch Group chairman Nicolas G. Hayek and LVMH watch president Jean-Claude Biver (who oversees Hublot, Tag Heuer and Zenith), the Swiss watch industry cleverly repositioned its mechanical wonders as luxury goods. Unlike the $350 price tag suggested for a new Apple Watch, most of the Swiss watch industry’s meteoric growth over the last two decades has come from watches priced well over $10,000. The Swiss watch industry no longer competes on the same dimensions that will drive Apple Watch sales.

Third, Apple and Swiss watchmakers have this in common: they are deeply committed to connecting their product with the consumer on a personal level. During Tuesday’s launch event, Apple CEO Tim Cook touted the Apple Watch as the “most personal device we’ve ever created.” The beauty of the Apple Watch is that it can track people’s micro-movements and provide instant data to help wearers make sense of how they engage with the world around them. Similarly, while conducting research on the re-emergence of the Swiss watch industry, I interviewed a prominent Swiss watch CEO who said, “Your watch is part of you. The watch is you. It shows the type of personality you have: Are you elegant?, unique?, rich?, arrogant?, sporty?. all these elements are transmitted through your watch.”

The Swiss watch industry can be confident that a sufficient number of well-to-do and tech-savvy Apple Watch wearers will continue to pine for the highest end handmade timepieces.

The Apple Watch may keep perfect time, but it is not timeless.

Harvard Business Review

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To Close a Deal, Find a Champion

In Greek mythology, Charon is the ferryman who guides souls across the river Styx to the underworld. Those who do not employ his services are forced to wander the shores-lost for a hundred years.

Dealmakers who try to “go it alone” can expect to suffer a similar fate. Closing a major deal with a Fortune 2000 company is seldom straightforward. Large organizations are so complicated and diffuse that frequently even the people working there are unclear about what is required to make something of consequence happen. Without a guide, time and effort are squandered and the deal goes nowhere.

In a previous article, I wrote about the triangle of players involved in getting a major project green-lighted: Champions, Blockers, and Decision Makers. Here, I will show how to identify and win over a suitable champion-the crucial sponsor who can help you navigate the labyrinth of opinion, prestige, and politics between you and the approval of your project.

Although champions are not the ultimate decision makers, and they rarely have substantial power within their organization, they have four things that make them irreplaceable in developing and closing the deal: credibility, connections, company intelligence, and motivation.

These were all true of Charlie, a champion I met in 2004 just as the tech world was beginning to show signs of life after the dot com implosion. At the time, Charlie was an internet security specialist at IBM, and I was running business development at a company called Zone Labs.

Zone Labs was an upstart internet security software developer aspiring to disrupt established giants such as Symantec, McAfee, Check Point Software, and Cisco. It had a free consumer product that was downloaded by millions of users as well as a modestly successful premium product that sold online for $49. These assets resulted in roughly $2 million in annual revenue-not bad for a young enterprise. Yet, the real money in the space was being made selling to large IT organizations with significant security concerns. Zone Labs needed a name-brand customer.

Charlie came into our line of sight following a routine product inquiry from IBM. After a few meetings, it was clear that he was a champion who could bring Zone Labs and IBM together. He had credibility-he was a well-respected staffer and a 25-year veteran at IBM. He had connections-he had a deep understanding of how IBM functioned and he knew scores of people in the organization. He also had company intelligence. We learned through Charlie that there was a major undertaking underway at IBM to determine which security-related products they would invest in for the following year. The existing short list was comprised exclusively of large, well-established companies and their marquee products.

Credibility, connections, and company intelligence are the table stakes-they are the attributes that all suitable champions possess. So, how does a dealmaker align with someone in command of these assets and capture their interest? That’s where the fourth element comes in: motivation.

Zone needed a major name to establish its credibility in the marketplace and set it up as a viable alternative to the usual suspects. But what did Charlie need? Figuring out a champion’s motivation can be difficult, but the exercise is compulsory. Why? Because understanding human nature is a primary part of doing the deal. In many cases, it is more closely linked to getting the green light than even financing and business fundamentals.

The champions that I have known, Charlie and numerous others, have been motivated by various (but often overlapping) objectives that can be boiled down to five key words:

Innovation. Some champions are visionary types with deep domain focus. They want to explore, experiment, and break new ground. I call these champions “the dreamers” because they are motivated by progress and exploration. Advantage. Other champions hope to use the deal to improve their company’s competitive position within an industry. These champions are “the lions,” because they are motivated by a desire to advance their company’s competitive position and aggressively dominate an emerging trend or market. Advancement. These champions strive to improve their own career prospects. As “the climbers,” they are motivated by opportunities to solidify their position within an organization or gain a lead over a rival individual or business unit. Respect. Many champions are seasoned professionals who feel underutilized by their organization. I call these individuals “the loyalists” because they are the heart of every company-valued for their know-how but universally under-celebrated. These champions are motivated by status: they want someone to pay attention to them and value their experience and input. Order. Many, many other champions simply want the numbers to work. Deeply rigorous, “the Vulcans” are motivated by logic, evidence, and proof of concept.

Like most champions, Charlie had a mix of motivations. During his lengthy career at IBM he had been consistently passed over for the big jobs (making him a loyalist). Although he knew his potential for advancement was limited, he had a deep desire to gain prestige. Charlie also cared deeply about his work and was looking to bring in new business that would offer IBM something above and beyond what the bigger security players had in-hand. He wanted to help create a competitive advantage (like a lion).

Understanding his underlying motivations, and knowing that he could help us navigate the mammoth IBM organization, we embraced Charlie as our champion. He got us on the short list (ostensibly to use us as a lever against the more established players). He identified the decision-makers and told us who the deal-blockers would be and why. And he was our inside man-delivering the details about what our competitors were doing. With his help we put together a solid story about why this little company, Zone Labs, was the future and could be trusted with a mission-critical component of a 300,000-person organization.

In this particular case, the decision-makers were a small group of IT professionals headed by Chris Matthews, the then-CIO of IBM. Matthews personally hosted regular visits from the CEOs of Cisco, Symantec, and others who lobbied for IBM’s business. We knew that, if Zone Labs prevailed, its product would need to sit on the computer of every employee next to the products of these competitors and would require additional support effort above and beyond what they were already managing.

In the end, Zone Labs beat out all the usual suspects and got a $1 million+ purchase order, plus a follow-on order for another $1 million for the next-generation of the product which, at the time, hadn’t yet been released. The company also made a strong connection with the service side of IBM, which became a major distributor of its product. Charlie earned lasting prestige within IBM and was credited with finding an unlikely yet extremely high-potential data security solution.

Champions are only one, crucial side of the deal triangle -you also have to align the deal’s blockers and the decision makers. All three must be managed with an understanding that people make decisions based on personal and professional motivations that are often hidden to the rest of the world. But once you get a champion in your corner, you’ve made a major breakthrough. You’re ready to enter the ring.

Harvard Business Review

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Pope Francis May Declare Sri Lanka’s 1st Saint

COLOMBO: Pope Francis may make a 17th century priest Sri Lanka’s first Roman Catholic saint during his trip next year, making good on his promise to give Asia more saints as models for the faithful, Sri Lankan and Vatican officials said today.

Francis plans to visit the island nation from January 13-15 and then travel onto the Philippines to meet with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said he hoped that the Vatican would give final approval to the sainthood case of India-born Reverend Joseph Vaz so that Francis himself could celebrate the canonisation Mass at Colombo’s Galle Face Green.

“We are hopeful,” Ranjith said.

Vaz was born in Goa, India, in 1651 but chose to work in Sri Lanka amid persecution of Catholics by Dutch colonial rulers, who were Calvinists.

Vaz is credited with having revived the Catholic faith in the country, using disguises and learning the local Sinhala and Tamil languages to meet secretly with underground Catholics. He died in 1711.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the final hurdle, approval of a miracle attributed to Vaz’s intercession, was before the Vatican’s saint-making office.

“It’s possible that the decision of the congregation and that of the pope might come relatively quickly, so that it will be possible to celebrate the canonisation during the Sri Lanka trip,” he said.

Ranjith said the miracle under study concerned a Sri Lankan doctor couple who, against medical advice, refused to abort one of their twins and prayed for Vaz’s intercession.

St John Paul II beatified Vaz during his 1995 visit to Colombo, the first major step in his sainthood process.

While visiting South Korea last month, Francis beatified 124 Korean martyrs and promised to give Asia more saints, after a young Cambodian complained her country had none.

Francis is particularly keen on raising up as saints martyrs and others who fought Christian persecution, seeing them as models for Catholics today.


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