By Yawar Muzammil
An estimated 103 million Pakistanis, or 63% of the population, are younger than age 25, and this number is expected to double over the next 30 years. In a landscape of endemic poverty, a literacy rate of only 53 percent among young people aged 15 to 24, and limited job opportunities, organizations like The Hunar Foundation (THF) are working to transform Pakistan’s human capital into an asset for the country.
Developing vocational skill programmes that enhance prospects of income generation for Pakistani youth is one of the national government’s key priorities for rapid economic growth. THF`s main objective is to provide young men and women with quality vocational education that meets the technical skill needs of the marketplace – leading to wage-earning capabilities for life.
To accomplish the vision of “A Skilled Pakistan,” THF plans to establish 35 purpose built Institutes of Excellence for student vocational training, and as many as four Teacher Training Centers over the next 10 years. The goal is to graduate at least 100,000 students during this time.
Students will be trained for a variety of careers, including the electrical, plumbing, welding, and refrigeration & air conditioning vocations as well as home health care, office administration, retail and hospitality. Of the more than 300 students who have graduated from THF so far, 75 percent are employed full time and 25 percent are engaged in internships. THF plans to identify and assist additional organizations to support replication of the Institutes of Excellence model across Pakistan.
IBM’s recent cash grant to THF is helping us move closer to realizing our vision. This grant came after an IBM volunteer spent time with THF students. Human resources professional Shah Saad Moin presented THF with IBM’s Activity Kits Get the Job: On Paper, In Person and Get the Job: Research & Prepare, and has mentored young students through out the year.
Most of the students at THF are secondary school or junior college graduates (typically between the ages of 16 and 28) who have been unable to continue their formal academic education for economic reasons, lack of opportunity or lack of self-confidence. Saad’s interactive sessions enthralled these young trainees and his informative presentations have gone a long way towards helping them understand the job market and assessing their skills before starting a search for employment.
THF welcomes corporate volunteers to serve as mentors to individuals or groups of students. THF also encourages support for internal capacity building in the areas of human resource management, financial controls and reporting, quality management and assessment. The collaboration between THF and IBM is a great example of how innovative public-private partnerships can help improve the lives of young Pakistanis while strengthening the country’s economy.
Muhammad Yawar Muzammil is Assistant Manager for External Engagement at The Hunar Foundation. In addition to his professional work, Yawar also volunteers time to other charity works and has helped survivors of recent earthquakes and floods in Pakistan. Prior to joining THF, Yawar was associated with financial services companies and gained valuable experience on economic and financial conditions of the country.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org,
by Adnan Siddiqui, Country General Manager, IBM Pakistan and Afghanistan
Most companies today recognize that cloud computing is a technology game changer.
But a growing number are also beginning to see how powerfully the cloud can propel business innovation, according to a recent survey of global executives conducted by IBM and the Economist Intelligence Unit, “The Power of Cloud: Driving Business Model Innovation.”
Increasingly, leading-edge companies are turning to cloud computing to shift the competitive stakes in their favor. They’re crafting new ways of weaving cloud computing throughout their organizations to transform internal operations, re-imagine product and service development, and reshape customer relations.
The cloud’s acceptance is cemented within IT circles. Nearly half of all respondents of another recent IBM survey of CIOs say they evaluate cloud options first over traditional IT approaches when it comes to making new tech investments. And it’s not just large companies that are moving to the cloud. Around 67% of the smaller companies surveyed have also adopted it.
Yet, as mainstream as the cloud has become, most companies still consider it a priority for their IT departments, not for their overall business. Only 16% of the executives surveyed use the cloud for broad innovation, such as entering new lines of business or industries or reshaping an existing industry.
The cloud, though, opens up new opportunities to wring more out of all the data that businesses can collect today about their operations and their customers and to truly take advantage of the proliferation of mobile computing. Because the cloud provides a flexible, cost-effective way to roll out business and customer analytics programs, it provides broader access to applications and data to partners and customers.
The key is using the basic attributes of cloud computing not simply to tackle technology challenges, but fundamental business issues as well. Positive aspects of cloud computing include the following:
–Flexible costs: Shifting hardware and software costs from a fixed to a pay-as-you-go cost structure turns capital expenses into operational expenses, giving companies access to tools and computing power that may have been too expensive or time consuming to roll out in the past. When it comes to rethinking business processes, companies are using cloud-based capabilities to analyze customer data in a more cost-effective way and to provide more personalized marketing campaigns and products and services.
–Ability to adapt to new markets: The ability to respond to rapidly changing customer needs is a key competitive differentiator today. A third of the executives surveyed believe the cloud can help with this. By helping businesses rapidly adapt processes, products, and services to meet the changing needs of the market, the cloud can enable faster prototyping and innovation and speed up how quickly companies can get new offerings in front of customers.
–Connections to ecosystems: Cloud computing is custom-made for helping organizations spur connectivity between customers, partners, and employees. Cloud-based platforms can bring together far-flung, broad groups of people who can collaborate and share resources, information and processes. The cloud makes it easier for companies to collaborate with partners and customers, spurring productivity and innovation.
In just a few years, cloud computing has gone from being an experimental technology to one that’s essential to many companies. But in reality, companies have only just begun to grasp the true benefits of the cloud. The ones that understand how profoundly the cloud can shape how business gets done are well on the way to getting a jump on competitors and transforming their industries.
He talks about Pakistan having a dynamic IT scenario and with a lot of IT opportunities in terms of capacity, potential and demand. He also elaborated on how IBM promotes IT sector by developing a strong association with educational institutes whereby students are provided assistance with building IT skills.
Mr. Siddiqui also speaks about how Afghanistan has made progress in field of IT and Telecom in recent years and has tremendous potential for growth.
By Humayun Bashir, Business Development Executive for IBM Middle East and Africa
Corporate leaders give many reasons for why they hesitate to embrace collective intelligence. Tapping into the “wisdom of crowds” leads to loss of control, concern over quality, and a feeling that only experts can solve problems.
These are all logical worries. But they should be issues to work through, not obstacles that prevent managers from tapping the power of the crowd. The difference between successful leaders and the rest of the pack nowadays is clear. Leaders are creative. They act despite uncertainty. They embrace ambiguity.
Creative thinkers are turning to collective intelligence, an approach that’s very different from how things are done traditionally inside organizations. A recent IBM study found that creative managers recognize how uniquely suited the crowd is to making sense of a world that’s more complex, interconnected, and interdependent.
Such leaders invite diverse groups of people inside and outside their organizations to help solve nagging problems and come up with disruptive new ideas. They foster collaboration among groups of workers to unearth hidden expertise, spread out across borders, time zones, and office complexes. They pinpoint and rally customers to help design and market products—creating ready-made clients in the process.
After all, cooperation already plays a huge part in everything from how markets and cities work, to how people interact. What’s different now are the tools—social media, mobile devices, and the internet. These technologies provide powerful ways to harness this collaborative spirit and pinpoint individual expertise, often in surprising ways.
Tapping the collective intelligence of people inside and outside of a business can propel organizations forward in three key ways. Forward-looking companies are already mapping out the best practices for extracting the wisdom of the virtual commons.
Discover and share new ideas
Use contests, communities of interest and online collaborative design spaces to identify disruptive ideas, improve everyday ways of doing business, and strengthen ties with customers. These fresh approaches trump traditional ones, such as focus groups or surveys, for a few simple reasons. They reach a much broader group of people. They are based on sharing and direct involvement. This uncovers insights that different groups in an organization may never have considered.
Tap into a wider range of skills and experiences
Collective intelligence is an entirely new way for businesses to identify and call on the talents of a distributed workforce. Different pieces of a project can be broken up and parceled out in parallel to individuals with the best skills—whether they’re in the office next door, across the world, or don’t work for the company at all. Or organizations can set up online games that let individuals, either alone or together, come up with solutions to today’s complex problems.
Improve forecasting skills
The power of the crowd is also being used to predict events. Pulling together different perspectives and the expertise of employees, partners, and customers can provide unexpected insights into the future, helping businesses make more informed decisions. Prediction markets, which are used for forecasting everything from national elections to sales of a new product, are proving particularly powerful. Rather than relying on one individual to make a forecast, these markets rely on the collective predictions of a group of participants.
Of course, crowds can run off course. That concern explains why today’s leaders need to smart about how they deploy collective intelligence projects—not why they shouldn’t pursue them. The crowd is showing that it can solve many problems more intelligently than even the smartest individuals. Smart leaders are showing that they know a good opportunity to get ahead when they see it.
By Adnan Siddiqui, Country General Manager, IBM Pakistan and Afghanistan
Our mobile devices are pivotal in keeping us connected at all times.
We look to our devices for everything from simple calls and text messages to instant GPS navigation; to checking the posts on our Facebook accounts.
New gadgets with richer features, technologies, and apps are coming out every day and keeping consumers on the edge of their seats to get a hold of that next cool app. As we become more and more dependent on our mobile devices, it’s no doubt these numbers will only continue to climb.
By 2014, general mobile Internet usage will overtake desktop Internet usage. Already in 2011, 91% of mobile Internet access has been used to socialize (compared to only 79% on desktops). In fact, mobile commerce is expected to soar to $200B by 2015.
In Pakistan alone, there are close to 120 million mobile subscriptions according to Pakistan Telecommunications Authority and 12.5% of these users access internet through their phones as per the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan.
As this trend escalates, we see cloud computing playing a key role in the next wave of personal computing, augmenting or even eclipsing the personal computer in some cases — and it’s these cloud services that will be the reason many people use a device at all. Mobile and cloud are kindred spirits – both offer unprecedented flexibility and a means for reacting faster than ever before to business changes.
Behind the surge in cloud activity: a growing population of mobile customers and small and medium businesses (SMBs) who increasingly want their content and software available on all of their devices at all times rather than tied to specific computers, phones or tablets. SMBs need to be agile. They want quick access to business applications, where they can approve requisitions or view customer orders on the fly, to keep their business moving. As more SMBs turn to mobile devices to conduct business, technology providers such as managed service providers (MSPs) see the cloud as a powerful enabler for SMBs to turn to in order to address this growing business need.
And it seems that SMBs are really hitting their stride with everything cloud computing, thanks to the tablet’s ever growing popularity. RingCentral’s 2012 mobile survey reveals that there is an explosion in tablet PC ownership, from 28 percent in 2011 to 62 percent in 2012 – a staggering shift!
And then there are some of us who are perpetually hunting for apps for our mobile devices – to squeeze every ounce of functionality out of it. It is clear that any mobile application that adequately supplants an old way of doing things – is worth embracing. That is ‘true convergence’. Using tablets to take notes, check email and browse the web, present at a sales meeting, turns your iPad into your most important business tool.
Furthermore, the surging demand for storage in the cloud is also being driven by camera-equipped smartphones and tablets that take photos and video. Each new generation of phones and tablets takes images needing denser files. Newer models backup content automatically to the cloud and synchronize it with the user’s other devices, which also drives up usage.
Today, employees are motivated by the fact that they are allowed to work off-premise and bring their own device to work. With core business applications in the cloud, employees can now plug into their small business cloud wherever they are, whenever they want – remotely. This leads to flexible work arrangements, as well as increased productivity.
With these devices, security remains top of mind, having data and critical business functions in the cloud. However, several significant advances in authentication, authorization and auditing, and the rigorous security controls with advanced technologies have made the cloud secure- prompting small businesses to lean increasingly toward cloud as not only a platform that reduces cost, but also one that now enables them to focus more in business growth and strategy rather than managing IT.
It seems that SMB owners are embracing the fact that running a business remotely using mobile devices will become the new “norm” in today’s era of computing. And SMBs’ who want to stay ahead of the competition will be turning to the cloud to quickly make that their business reality.