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Responding to Your Comments – Singapore, Super Bowl and More

Published: February 4, 2007

Author: David Rodnitzky

It’s very encouraging to see folks commenting on my blog! It means a) someone out there is reading it and b) something I’ve said actually provoked you enough to respond. So, thanks, I really appreciate it. Sometimes the “write only meaningful blogs” racket is tough, you know. With that said, onto your comments:

Will IT Really Help India?

First, a bit about India. In my post on whether India will be the next economic giant, Andrey from Search Marketing Standard wrote:

“While there are plenty of IT guys sitting in the skyscrapers in Bangalore, there are hundreds of thousands of poor children that have never seen a toilet seat. Do you really think that the high-tech sector will be able to pull a billion people out of poverty, to at least a somewhat decent living standard? High-tech sector employs only 2% of India’s population; the same population that will be more than 1.8 billion by 2050.”

Good point Andrey. Certainly high tech is not a panacea that will transform India overnight. That being said, just image that instead of 20 million high tech workers, India had – say – 50 million. How could that happen? Well, if the Indian government made a concerted effort to improve infrastructure – like more efficient airports, wider and more orderly roads, dependable electricity, and less local corruption – it would be much easier and cost-effective for technology companies to outsource even more of their work to India.
Granted, there are plenty of companies currently outsourcing, but I think these are still the “early adopters.” These companies are willing to put up with bureaucracy and disorder because the dividends are massive. There are far more companies that are too lazy to be bothered. Even if the cost savings are big, the upfront effort and ongoing management seems to big a hurdle to overcome. Thus the 20 million IT workers instead of 50 million.
Imagine that additional influx of capital that would bring, in terms of increased disposable income, constructions, taxes, etc. That sort of increase could be possible in a matter of years – just by making basic improvements to infrastructure and the resulting ability of high tech businesses to actually access more Indian workers.
Now imagine that a lot of that money goes toward improving every day life in India – better roads, more schools, improved health care. Suddenly, there’s a “snowball rolling down hill” impact, where more and more people – IT workers or not – start to benefit.
For the record, I am definitely not a proponent of “trickle-down economy” theories. I would never assume that simply increasing the number of IT workers will suddenly help out the disadvantaged. If – and only if – the government decided to use some of the revenue it generated from increased IT employment to build for the future, the impact for all Indians could be huge.

Singapore – Country, City, Airport?

Lots of comments here on my post about a plane trip between Bangalore and Singapore. Some snippets worth noting:

“In China or India, at least two people are tasked to do one job. Probably because human resources is cheap. In Singapore, because of its lack of human resources, one person does two jobs.”

I think there is a lot of truth in this comment. Again and again, I noticed people in India hired to basically, well, do nothing. Like having 25 people behind the counter at the airport and none of them helping anyone. I think it is sort of like a giant company – rather than being efficient, let’s just put 500 people on the project and they’ll probably figure it out!

“I disagree with the part about us following our government blindly. Rather than question our leaders about their saneness of their plans, we actually stop and take the time to contemplate it on our own instead of bogging down our ministers.”

Well, I am not an expert on this point. An American friend of mine currently living in Singapore got me thinking about this idea. It was based on her experiences in Singapore, in addition to the “conventional wisdom” of Singapore as a “nanny state.” To be sure, Singapore is not a totalitarian regime. It is, however, a one-party democracy, so let’s accept that for what it is.

“I remember my first trip to Changi airport, and I first crossed the threshold of the marble-tiled, floral-scented, and otherwise opulent airport bathroom.”

Actually Steve, when I first walked into the Singapore airport bathroom, I had similar expectations. I mistakenly walked into the “squatting” stall initially, which was definitely a shock. Beyond that, though, the bathroom was indeed quite nice.

Super Bowl Ads

Finally, regarding by post about dumb Super Bowl advertisers, Mark wrote:

“Marketers need to stop thinking that marketing HAS to be creative. It HAS to sell goods and services. Sometimes the least creative marketing is the most effective.”

Exactly my point. In fact, one of the lessons I’ve learned from search engine marketing is that creativity and effectiveness are often polar-opposites. For example, I once created an ad for a weight loss client in which I wrote: “why wait to lose weight?” I thought the double-entendre was very creative and would stand out from the crowd. Sadly, no one clicked on it. When I changed it to “30 day free trial plus personal diet profile. Order now!” the clicks came back with a vengeance.
I think people are tired of clever marketing. People just want to know “what’s in it for me.” Horses playing football with zebras officiating is funny, catches your attention, but doesn’t make you say “Gee, Budweiser beer is a great beer. I think I’d like one right now.” Compare that to a Ronco rotisserie oven commercial. Even vegetarians are probably calling the toll-free number by the end of the show.
Incidentally, I noticed that Mark has written a book which – at least by the title – may be worth a read. Here’s the link: Your Marketing Sucks. Perhaps someone could send a copy anonymously to the GM marketing department?

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