To help its service technicians more efficiently repair and maintain its models, Mercedes-Benz USA is outfitting all of its authorized American dealerships with HoloLens 2 headsets. The devices are equipped with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, a mixed reality app that that lets users collaborate during hands-free video calls from their own computers.

Organizations have long known the importance of business resiliency, but becoming resilient requires time and preparation, and the pandemic has forced many organizations to evolve at a pace few could have imagined.  To recover and thrive within this new context presents new challenges. That is why we are partnering with customers to support faster adoption of digital capabilities. We see firsthand the incredible strides they are making to be agile, efficient, and responsible in their operations to deliver long-term value and mitigate the effects of future disruptions.  At Microsoft Ignite, our CEO Satya Nadella spoke about how digital tech intensity is the key to business resilience and transformation.  I also spoke with several customers about their incredible digital transformation efforts, including Shell, Land O’Lakes, BNY Mellon, Unilever, and NHS Digital.

A mountain stream

Microsoft is one of nine companies that established a new initiative in July to accelerate the transition to a net zero global economy — Transform to Net Zero — aimed at developing and delivering research, guidance and implementable roadmaps to enable all businesses to achieve net zero emissions.

Through new initiatives and strategic partnerships, we are working with our customers to significantly shape the future using digital innovation and efforts aimed at promoting the world’s energy transition. Recently, for example, we launched Transform to Net Zero, a new initiative alongside industry leaders that delivers guidance and business plans to help the private sector transition to a net zero global economy. We are also helping organizations meet their carbon reduction goals while addressing pressing customer expectations around sustainability. Our recent news with bp aims to help the company develop new technology innovations and digital solutions built on our cloud to reduce energy use and carbon emissions, and our work with Shell aims to create and deliver new solutions to help customers, suppliers and other businesses lower emissions.

Woman interacts with a tablet computer while sitting in a car

Standard Chartered Bank is accelerating its digital transformation through a cloud-first strategy to make its vision for virtual banking, next-generation payments, open banking and banking-as-a-service a reality.

In financial services, our customers are focused on enhancing customer experiences by building friction-less, always on, agile digital solutions leveraging our cloud.  Our collaboration with Mastercard will accelerate the development of emerging technologies aimed at helping its partners build and securely scale new solutions to drive financial security and sustainable growth.  Morgan Stanley Capital International is delivering new capabilities to help investors quickly and efficiently manage data to gain intelligent insights on risk and performance drivers leveraging Azure Data Services. In the U.K., Finastra is bringing even more mission-critical solutions to the cloud for its customers and Refinitiv is helping financial firms collaborate and unlock the power of their data and insights.  National Australia Bank is accelerating its cloud innovation to create compelling customer experiences, and in Singapore, Standard Chartered Bank is taking a cloud-first approach to make banking more accessible across its network. In addition, we are partnering with Germany-based Munich RE to store and leverage insured population data for risk management and product development using Azure Cosmos DB in a way that meets regulatory and compliance requirements.

View of Australia city lights from space at night

Telstra is focused on accelerating the development and release of innovative and sustainable cloud-based solutions across multiple industries, driving efficiency, amplifying decision-making capability and enhancing customer experiences.

In telecommunications, data-driven solutions are advancing innovation, amplifying decision-making capability, and enhancing customer experiences.  AT&T recently unveiled a fast and highly secure Internet of Things (IoT) solution built on AT&T’s global cellular network and Azure Sphere to help businesses connect machines and equipment to the cloud, bypassing the need for public internet.  Following our expanded partnership with Australia-based Telstra, citizen developers have automated manual processes with Power Apps in Microsoft Teams, helping improve customer service and the company’s financial performance. In addition, we launched the “SKT 5GX Cloud Game” powered by Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with SK Telecom — making Korea the first Asian market to offer Xbox’s cloud gaming service. To help small businesses thrive, T-Mobile is launching new rate plans with Microsoft 365 productivity tools included at no additional charge so they can help customers navigate the new realities of a remote world. We are also working with Lumen (formerly CenturyLink), which quickly adopted Azure Active Directory amid the pandemic, to enable secure remote access for its global workforce. At our Azure for Operators event, we announced our close collaboration with the telecommunications industry to help operators quickly leverage the potential of 5G for greater resiliency and cost efficiency while driving new services and business models.  We also joined the 5G Innovation Lab to provide engineering and technology resources to help entrepreneurs develop, test and bring to market new innovation.

Entrance to a court house

New Jersey Courts makes the case for virtual proceedings with Microsoft Teams and provides vital legal services during COVID-19.

The pandemic has also encouraged many public sector organizations to digitally transform at speed. The Georgia Office of the State Treasurer kept critical state services operating through highly secure remote work solutions using Microsoft 365, Windows Virtual Desktop and Surface devices. Following a statewide stay-at-home-order, the New Jersey Courts shifted its entire workforce across 15 jurisdictions to remote work while serving more than 300,000 members of the public in over 36,000 virtual legal proceedings using Surface and Teams.  Academic institutions are also choosing Microsoft as their trusted cloud partner to become more agile in delivering remote learning and research capabilities.  In the U.K., the University of Nottingham found a scalable, long-term solution for researchers and engineering students to continue learning with Microsoft 365, Teams and Windows Virtual Desktop; Durham University found a simple yet secure way for staff and students to access on-premises applications using Azure Active Directory; and the Saudi Ministry of Education has rolled out distance education in record time using a national platform linked to Microsoft 365 and fully hosted on Azure.  Hospitals are using mixed reality and artificial intelligence (AI) to treat patients safely, including Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, the first in Quebec designated to treat COVID-19 patients.  When doctors needed to minimize contact with patients and preserve limited personal protective equipment, they turned to Microsoft’s HoloLens for a setup that includes Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Microsoft Teams, allowing a single doctor to visit a patient while the full healthcare team participated from a separate room.

We continue to see inspiring stories that solve for very real problems outside of the pandemic itself.  The European Parliament is bringing the democratic process closer to citizens by ensuring debates are accessible to everyone, leveraging AI for real-time captioning and translation across the European Union’s 24 official languages.  In Brazil, PBSF has developed a system using data from a central hub to monitor brain activity in newborns at high risk of neurological injury, allowing for rapid intervention to save lives and prevent permanent damage.

Front of a Woolworths store

Woolworths is making work simpler for its teams, streamlining supply chains and improving customer experiences across its vast network of stores and online channels by harnessing the cloud.

In retail and consumer products goods, we are partnering with customers to accelerate their data estate modernization to increase security, drive innovation and unlock intelligent insights.  PepsiCo is migrating its global data estate and SAP workloads to gain insights that will fuel product innovation and customer relationships while connecting its entire workforce through Microsoft 365.  In Australia, Woolworths is moving its mission-critical applications onto our cloud to streamline its supply chain and improve customer experiences across stores and channels. Marks & Spencer has adopted Azure Synapse Analytics after replacing its on-premises data warehouse, a move that now allows the British retail chain to scale and democratize its data in line with increasing consumer demand. Switzerland-based Nestlé is using a custom solution to prevent cybersecurity threats for its 300,000 employees worldwide. Beiersdorf AG, the German multinational personal-care products manufacturer and retailer, is keeping its more than 20,000 employees working securely with access to all of its applications and data.  In addition, Office Depot has created a citizen developer program to help employees turn productivity-boosting ideas into reality with Power Apps and Teams, and Australian retailer JB Hi-Fi Group is using a Dynamics 365-enabled intelligent solution to increase transparency and maintain strong customer satisfaction across its two brands regardless of whether a product is bought in-store or online.

Click here to load media

Land O’Lakes’ digital strategy is focused on enhancing digital capabilities, revitalizing rural communities, and transforming the Ag industry to build tighter connections between consumer and farmers through innovative cloud technologies.

Customers across industries are building innovative digital tools to help their communities and businesses thrive and deliver critical services and goods to people who need them most while encouraging safety, efficiency and inclusivity.  For example, we are working closely with Land O’Lakes to pioneer new innovations in agriculture to enhance the supply chain, expand sustainability practices and close the rural broadband gap across America.  Likewise, Farmlands, New Zealand’s largest rural supplies cooperative, is accelerating its cloud-based, e-commerce system to provide undisrupted access to vital farming supplies to its more than 70,000 shareholders across the country during the pandemic.  Mixed reality technologies are helping food and beverage manufacturers like Ecolab  ensure food safety and high-quality products, and Mercedes Benz USA is helping technicians across its dealerships repair and maintain vehicles more efficiently.  Construction company Suffolk is promoting safer jobsites with thermal imaging cameras to check the temperature of everyone entering a worksite, and in France, Sodexo is delivering digital tools and assistive technologies to help develop employment opportunities and build digital skills for first-line workers with disabilities.  Africa’s Talking is helping software developers grow and create more job and economic opportunity even in regions with limited local cloud access using Azure Arc.  We are also partnering closely with Citrix on go-to-market solutions that enable companies to reimagine the workplace of the future and adapt to changing market conditions with cloud-based tools and services.

I am deeply impressed by our customers’ commitment to innovating for today’s reality and tomorrow’s promise — especially at such an accelerated pace. Their efforts now help limit operational and environmental risk in the future while still strengthening their ability to respond to shifting market demands.  I am also humbled they have selected Microsoft as their digital transformation partner and am eager to help accelerate their transformation through recovery and beyond.

The post A time of resiliency, change and innovation: How cloud-focused business strategies are driving transformation across industries appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Original Source: blogs.microsoft.com

Launched in 2012, YourStory's Book Review section features over 250 titles on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital transformation. See also our related columns The Turning Point, Techie Tuesdays, and Storybites.

Aspiring entrepreneurs and students wanting to learn about the funding aspects of starting up can find a useful overview in the compact book, Venture Capital Investments, by Raj Kumar and Manu Sharma.

The eight chapters, spread across 165 pages, provide a starting point to the world of venture dynamics. Raj Kumar is Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, Chandigarh. Manu Sharma is Assistant Professor at the University Institute of Applied Management Sciences, Panjab University.

Here are my takeaways from the book, summarised as well in Table 1. See also my reviews of the related books Angel Investing, The Manual for Indian Startups, Straight Talk for Startups, and Startup Boards.

T1

The World of Venture Capital (Table 1 image courtesy YourStory)

Foundations

Venture capital is based on the model of high-risk high-return of investments, the authors begin. VCs bring in not just finance but also management expertise, industry connections, and mentorship support.

This is important in cases where the business idea is new and risky, or the founding team is not experienced or balanced. Early-stage VCs target startups are regarded as too small or risky by traditional financers; as the startup matures, risk decreases but return factors on new investments decrease.

Founders can raise funds through debt (highly leveraged; stakeholder value maximisation) or equity (less leveraged). The choice depends on factors like market conditions and type of industry and company.

Factors like liquidity, information asymmetry, and cyclicality define VC engagement, which can last for around 7-10 years in a startup’s lifecycle. “Venture capitalists follow the Pareto principle – 80 percent of the wins come from 20 percent of the deals,” the authors explain.

Deal structures vary in formative, mid-life, and expansion stages of the startup. “VC firms get rewarded for making accurate predictions and identifying a pattern before it becomes a trend,” the authors observe.

ALSO READ

These 4 homegrown VC firms have helped shape the Indian startup ecosystem into the powerhouse of today

Market growth

Two chapters trace the rise of the VC industry in the US and India, and map portfolios of VCs in India. The IT industry in the 1970s marked the growth of VC as an asset class in the US. In India, early venture financing was done by the government before formal recognition to private investors was given in the 1980s, the authors explain.

Tech and business clusters in China and India grew as investment destinations for many Internet-sector investors from the 1990s onwards. VC-funded startups have helped increase the “absorptive capacity” of business for new innovations.

The authors track some of the deals of VCs in India, such as Inventus Capital Partners (PolicyBazaar), Accel Partners (Flipkart), Nexus Venture Partners (Snapdeal), IDG Ventures (Yatra), and Sequoia Capital India (JustDial).

The journey is not always smooth, particularly when multiple investors are involved in a startup’s evolution. For example, discussions in 2016-2017 for a proposed merger of Snapdeal and Flipkart failed to get an approval of all investors.

Deal evaluation

VCs tend to look for industries where lower investments can lead to large exponential returns with enormous margins, the authors explain. They examine the size of the overall market, and what percentage can be dominated by the invested startup. VCs avoid saturated markets with large competitors (e.g. Coca-Cola, Pepsi for carbonated drinks).

The startup should have a balanced team capable of creating uniquely differentiated offerings, pick profitable price points, develop deep customer relationships, and create entry barriers to future competitors.

In the long run, brand equity and external advisors or partners help in growing the market as well. Other factors in keeping with the times are environmental sustainability and eco-friendliness, the authors add.

Based on these factors, agreements specify the amount and purpose of funds, working and runway capital, burn rate, and monthly cash flow.

ALSO READ

[YS Learn] 5 must-read books before you raise funding

Valuation methodologies

One chapter packed with equations and tables shows valuation techniques in action. The market-based approach is based on multiples and ratios of enterprise value, earnings, revenue, price, earnings, tax, depreciation, and amortisation.

Based on this, VCs calculate required rates of return, fund performance, and shareholding patterns. This applies to pre-money and post-money stages in multiple rounds.

Discounted cash flow-based valuation determines the present value of free cash flows to the firm (FCFF), the authors explain. Factors like the nature (equity/debt) and the amount of capital raised come into play here.

Common equity and preferred equity have different implications for voting rights and dividends of shareholders. VC portfolio parameters include amount invested, amount returned, exit status, and exit multiples. Based on the performance, success can be “normal, grand or super”, the authors describe (in addition to failure, of course).

ALSO READ

Stubborn founders won't go far, the ones with conviction will: Rutvik Doshi of Inventus Capital

Fund structure and economics

Two chapters describe VC fund structure and economics. Limited partners (LPs) are usually institutional investors such as endowments, insurance companies, pension funds, foundations, family-owned offices, or investors with very high net worth.

LPs do not make decisions on how exactly VC firms manage the funds raised for startups. General partners (GPs) raise and manage the VC’s funds, and extend services for startups. Portfolios are business strategies to attract investors, the authors explain.

The authors describe investment steps like business plan submission, meetings, due diligence, and term sheets. Some founder tips on negotiation and dispute resolution would have been a welcome addition to these chapters. An actual or hypothetical case study of fundraising activities of a startup through its journey would have also helped.

Exit routes of an investment are usually an IPO, acquisition, management buyout, or sale of shares to another investor. The authors show illustrative tables of payout models for multiple LPs and GPs, along with an analysis of management fees.

The last chapter of the book describes how a VC raises funds via a prospectus presented to LPs. The prospectus describes the track record of the GPs, performances of its earlier funds, fee percentages, number of startups targeted, and anticipated returns.

Overall returns and riskiness of past performance are assessed by LPs. For example, there may have been too much dependence on the success of only one startup instead of a few startups.

The book ends abruptly with this chapter. It would have been great to end with some suggestions or advice for founders and aspiring investors, or with some analysis on emerging trends and developments.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

Want to make your startup journey smooth? YS Education brings a comprehensive Funding Course, where you also get a chance to pitch your business plan to top investors. Click here to know more.

Original Source: yourstory.com

WhatsApp will work with partners like banks and financial institutions in India to make it easier for people to access products such as insurance, microcredit, and pension, its India Head Abhijit Bose said on Wednesday.

The company will also support multiple pilots to test potential solutions to solve problems related to distribution of financial products, Bose said at the Global Fintech Fest.WhatsAppAlso ReadOver 15M in India use WhatsApp Business app every month

The Facebook-owned company has been working for more than a year with banking partners to see how it can supplement their digital presence and accelerate the pace of financial access across segments and geographies in the country, Bose said.

"We now want to open up with more banks…over this coming year to help simplify and expand banking services, especially to the rural and lower income segments…we also aim to expand our experiments with partners for other products that the RBI highlighted as basic financial services, starting with micro pensions and insurance," he added.

Bose said the collective aim over the next two to three years is to be able to help low wage workers in the unorganised informal economy to easily access three products – insurance, microcredit, and pension.

WhatsApp had started testing its payments service – WhatsApp Pay – in India in 2018. The UPI-based service, which allows users to utilise the messaging platform to send and receive money, competes against SoftBank-backed Paytm, Flipkart's PhonePe, and Google Pay in India.

While a full-scale national rollout is yet to happen for WhatsApp Pay in India over regulatory issues, the company had launched WhatsApp Pay in Brazil last month.

Bose noted that the fintech innovation happening in India is years ahead of other countries, including the US.

He said, over the next year and a half, WhatsApp will be supporting multiple pilots to test potential solutions to solve problems related to distribution of financial products.

"These pilots will be done jointly with our partners as well as innovative tech partners in each vertical. Each pilot will start with a small experiment to test our hypotheses and based on the results, we will co-invest and scale the ones that show promise," he informed.

Bose emphasised that even a small conversion of the demand will translate into significant infusion of savings into the financial system, and said the company's ultimate goal is for every Indian to have access and affordable micropension, and insurance services.

He highlighted that the core principles of WhatsApp – simplicity, reliability, privacy, and security – are the reasons that people trust and are comfortable with the platform, and these tenets are "critical" when one talks about adoption of new digital services, especially financial services.

With over 400 million users, India is currently among the biggest markets for WhatsApp.

(Edited by Megha Reddy)

Want to make your startup journey smooth? YS Education brings a comprehensive Funding Course, where you also get a chance to pitch your business plan to top investors. Click here to know more.

Original Source: yourstory.com

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On Instagram