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No clear leader in low-cost services delivery model
Significant investments in skills, processes, tools, locations, and infrastructure are yet to produce a clear leader in low-cost global delivery model (GDM), according to a new Forrester report.
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The report titled Low-cost Global Delivery Model assesses providers' progress in adopting a low-cost GDM by grading the top three vendors from each starting point — onshore (Accenture, EDS, and IBM) and offshore (Infosys, TCS, and Wipro) using 60 different low-cost GDM criteria across three broad categories: current offerings, strategy & market presence. The report concludes that despite all six vendors making significant investments in the area, none is fully entrenched in the leader category. Forrester explains that the offshore players need to add more domain expertise and improve account management to better interface with the business buyer, while the onshore players need to fully embrace CMMI and encourage their account teams to more consistently utilize its low-cost GDM capabilities. Traditionally, major providers have touted their global capabilities as a mechanism for serving clients locally wherever the client happened to be. This is in contrast to the low-cost GDM, which relies on using nearshore or offshore facilities to remotely service clients in other geographies. Higher user sophistication and shifting industry economics are forcing IT services vendors to ramp up their low-cost remote delivery capabilities. This is part of a broader shift to a more distributed, process-centric, low-cost global delivery model (GDM). “The grouping of the vendors is an indication that the move to a low-cost GDM is at the beginning of an evolution which will take place over the next three to five years,” said John C. McCarthy, vice president at Forrester Research. “As providers expand into new locations, develop new capabilities and increase GDM services, Forrester feels they will face unique challenges,” he added. According to the report, a growing number of companies have gained significant experience with offshore, and they are "pushing the envelope of existing providers' capabilities. They are looking to deepen their use of offshore by increasing the percentage of the IT budget going offshore; pushing traditional boundaries of what can be done in remote locations; broadening their base of suppliers by forcing onshore vendors to go offshore; and asking for more offshore vertical expertise." Forrester defined GDM as integrating rich domain expertise, broad technical skills, and project management discipline across a network of low-cost locations through consistent and robust processes, tools, and infrastructure to maximise the timely delivery of superior IT and BPO solutions.
New York's Plaza Hotel bought for US$675 million by an U.S. investment group
AP - The owners of New York's struggling Plaza Hotel have sold it to a U.S. investment group in a $675-million-US deal. International hotel group Millennium & Copthorne said Plaza Operating Partners, in which it has a 50% stake, agreed to offload the prestigious but underperforming hotel to CPS One, an affiliate of U.S. property investment group El Ad Properties. The sale includes the adjoining property on Fifth Avenue. The other 50% of Plaza Operating Partners is owned by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Millennium & Copthorne said the decision to sell was made as part of a review instigated in March to improve revenue and profit opportunities for the group. The hotel's recent losses blamed on its high cost base and slower business as the U.S. economy weakens. The Plaza loss before tax for the year ended Dec. 31, 2003, was $900,000.
The invested in the hotel at June 30 a $238.2 million share of gross assets and gross liabilities of $171.3 million. "Compared with the recent earnings generated by the hotel, the sale price is an attractive exit earnings multiple," said Kwek Leng Beng, chairman of Millennium and Copthorne. He added that the group's strategy of being an owner of hotel assets remained unchanged, "especially in an improving trading environment." Millennium operates almost 100 four-star and five-star hotels in 16 countries. Its recovery is on track after experiencing a sharp fall in profitability last year linked to the SARS crisis and the Iraq war. The company expects improved profits from hotels in London, New York and cities in Asia to contribute to an anticipated annual profit of 20.6 million pounds ($40 million).
Scientists say that Technology exists to halt global warming!
The technologies needed to halt global warming for 50 years already exist, according to research published in Science. The study’s authors, Stephen Pacala and Rob Socolow, say implementing them should begin now. The study focuses on the role of carbon dioxide released when fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are burnt. Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas’ responsible for global warming and efforts to reduce emissions are seen as the main way to address human induced climate change. The researchers identified 15 technologies that either store carbon, or provide energy without producing carbon emissions, or improve the efficiency of carbon-based energy supplies. They say that large-scale use of any one of these has the potential to reduce global carbon emissions by at least one billion tonnes per year by 2054. Options available include renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. Switching of fuel from coal to nuclear or natural gas supplies, storage of carbon dioxide produced by power plants, more efficient use of car fuel and electricity, increasing the global forested area, and use of 'biomass' fuels, such as ethanol. Current yearly global carbon dioxide emissions contain seven billion tonnes of carbon. But that figure is expected to double in the next 50 years due to increasing populations and energy demands. Implementing a combination of the technologies could reduce carbon emissions by enough to keep them at today’s levels.
Fed Rises Interest Rates Again
Call it another interest rate increase. The US Federal Reserve stayed on its recently charted course of measured short-term interest rate increases, taking the Federal funds rate up to a still-low 1.5 per cent. In a widely watched statement that acknowledges a slowing in economic growth that has US financial markets in a frenzy, the Fed stuck to its bigger-picture view that the economy is in a recovery and a re-acceleration in the pace of that recovery is coming sometime soon. "The economy nevertheless appears poised to resume a stronger pace of expansion going forward," the Fed said Tuesday in a statement accompanying its interest-rate decision.
The Fed's statement and continued faith in economic growth should provide comfort to those unnerved by the minuscule increase in job creation registered in July and June. The central bank stayed consistent with its theme: any slowdown is essentially a soft patch in a positive story, albeit a slow patch that stretches longer than Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan publicly foresaw in late July. The only thing market participants have to worry about is this: the Fed could be wrong. Right or wrong, today's statement shows the Fed hasn't done a full reversal in its economic outlook. The Fed has to take the long view and a couple of months of weakening economic numbers after a long-awaited employment pickup doesn't come close to registering as the long view. Markets, on the other hand, have to react and overreact. Swinging back and forth on the latest data and extrapolating that data it to its most negative or positive implication is part and parcel of the markets' price discovery mechanism. It's also how traders make or lose money. So it won't be surprising if we hear some calls from the markets that the Fed's still mainly sanguine view of the economy and even employment shows the central bank's increasingly tenuous tie to reality. Two months of a weaker, but still growing, economy is no reason for the Fed to panic. That's especially true given how low interest rates already are and the fact that small increases won't serve as a real drag on economic activity. That's also true since the Fed has spent time and effort to convince the market it has embarked on a measured removal of the monetary accommodation it baked into the economy for so long. Today the FED replaced that line with this: "In recent months, output growth has moderated and the pace of improvement in labor market conditions has slowed." Then it added this, "This softness likely owes importantly to the substantial rise in energy prices." For a long while, after oil prices left their perch of $US30 a barrel (considered high at the time), much of the commentary about the increases revolved around how much less impact oil prices had on the broad US economy and non-energy prices. It set one wondering how high oil prices would have to get to have that broader impact. With oil futures near $US45, the Fed acknowledged today that it thinks we have gotten to that point of broader impact.
By The Associated Press
Bush Takes A Former Undercover Agent As CIA Director
President George Bush nominated a former undercover agent to head the embattled Central Intelligence Agency day. Republican congressman Porter Goss knows the CIA and can bolster its spy network. “He is well prepared for this mission,” the president said of Goss, chairman of the House intelligence committee who was an Army intelligence operative before joining the CIA in the 1960s. “He’s the right man to lead and support the agency at this critical moment in our nation’s history,” said the president in the White House Rose Garden. Goss, whose nomination must be confirmed by the Senate, had been mentioned prominently in speculation about a successor to departed CIA Director George Tenet, who left amid a torrent of criticism of the agency’s handling of pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Bush still has a major decision ahead of him. He has embraced a cornerstone recommendation by the commission investigating the September 11 terror attacks: creation of a new intelligence Director to oversee the activities of the CIA and more than a dozen other intelligence agencies. “I think every American knows the importance of getting the best possible intelligence we can get to our decision-makers,” Goss, 65, said. Both men stressed that Goss’ experience as an undercover CIA officer would help the agency bolster its ability to use spies, instead of just technology, to infiltrate terrorist networks. “The essence of our intelligence capability is people,” Goss said. Bush said: “To stop them from killing our citizens, we must have the best intelligence possible.”
Disney Is On the Rice
Disney just posted excellent earnings performance. For its third quarter ended June 30, the Burbank, Californian, media giant earned $604 million, e.g. 29 cents a share. That's up from the year-ago $502 million, or 24 cents a share and revenue jumped to $7.47 billion from $6.38 billion a year earlier. The latest-quarter earnings included the effect of a 2-cent-a-share restructuring charge. The numbers were ahead of the Thomson First Call analyst consensus estimate. The company mentioned it is likely to be in the market with further stock buybacks in the near future, and planned a "modest and sustainable" dividend increase this year. "The continued growth in our earnings this quarter, led by ESPN and our other cable networks, positions us well to deliver more than 50% growth in earnings for the year, as we predicted last quarter," said CEO Michael Eisner. "Equally important, our strong earnings and cash flow growth demonstrate the overall strength of our businesses. During the recent downturn, we have remained focused on managing the company for long term performance and extending the Disney legacy and we believe that the positive trends in our businesses validate that approach."
Earnings before interest and taxes, a financial measure favored by Disney and its analysts, amounted to $1.02 billion for the latest quarter, compared to expectations of $1.12 billion.
Media networks revenue grew 8% to $2.93 billion, while operating income for the segment grew 15% to $673 million. Parks and resorts -- Disney's second largest unit -- saw revenue grow 32% to $2.29 billion, while operating income grew 20% to $421 million. Within the media networks unit, the company's troubled broadcasting business showed an operating income decline of 21% to $144 million, while cable networks' operating income grew 31% to $529 million.
Acknowledging what he termed a "cold streak" in the movie business earlier this fiscal year, Eisner spoke confidently of movies in Disney's production pipeline, including numerous sequels to the company's animated co-productions with Pixar, the Steve Jobs-led studio with which Disney has had a public falling out. "Content is alive and well, and I've got my fingers crossed," Eisner said. Asked to comment about the company's increasingly testy relationship with Miramax, Eisner said, "I really don't have to, because it's reported every day in the newspaper."
Helping results in the company's theme park division were the consolidation of Euro Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland. Those properties added $332 million in revenue for the quarter and segment operating income of $15 million. The news comes as Disney seeks to show investors that current management is indeed building shareholder value. Disney shares have languished in recent years under Eisner's leadership, but investors more or less ignored a February hostile bid from Comcast after the company in early March stripped Eisner of his chairman's post and pledged to shore up governance.
HP Ready to Pay $300 Million for Synstar
Hewlett-Packard Co. announced that it will offer to acquire United Kingdom-based Synstar Plc for 100 pence ($1.84) per Synstar in a cash deal worth about 162.9 million pounds ($300 million). HP said the deal represented a 28% premium to Synstar's price of 78.25 pence ($1.44) at the close of trading on the London Stock Exchange Friday. Synstar's shares have jumped 27%, or 21 pence, to 99.25 pence ($1.83) in morning trading on news of the offer. HP tries to expand its United Kingdom-based services division with the acquisition of Synstar, which reorganized to focus mostly on managed services. Synstar, a technology consultant services firm, provides consulting to about 1,500 customers in Europe, and reported a pre-tax profit of 8.7 million pounds ($16 million) on sales of 223 million pounds ($410.3 million) in 2003. Merrill Lynch will make the offer on behalf of HP Global Investments BV, a subsidiary of HP. The U.S. computer giant posted sales of $73.06 billion in 2003. Shares of HP closed at $19.90 after trading on the New York Stock Exchange Friday.
AP, Associated Press
Yahoo! Drops Suit against Google
Officials at Yahoo! on Monday said it will drop a patent suit versus Google. In return for the reprieve, the latter will render unto Yahoo! extra shares from its planned initial public offering. The upcoming Google IPO is turning out to be more tumultuous than the search firm expected. Analysts have voiced qualms about the true investment worth of its shares, and the firm itself made an admission of an omission that could potentially undermine the sale: Some 23 million shares were issued that weren't registered with securities regulators. Run by Chief Executive Terry Semel, Yahoo! was an early investor in Google before the name became an everyday verb. The two archrivals have left MSN, the search service of Bill Gates' titan Microsoft, in the cyberdust. Google upped the number of shares in the IPO, to 25.7 million from 24.6 million, with the extra shares allotted to Yahoo!
Red Hat Starts Open Source Application Server
Red Hat announced the availability of its open source application server, a lower-end server that reportedly works with other J2EE 2.0 application servers from IBM, BEA Systems, and Oracle. The Red Hat Application Server, which was tested and certified with all major JVMs, including BEA's WebLogic JRockit and IBM's Java Development Kit, is tested with many popular selling database management systems such as IBM's DB2 and Oracle's flagship database. "We have decided to take a collaborative approach to software development and not to take an antagonistic stance," said Matthew Szulik, Red Hat's CEO. "What will our competitors say about that? I hope they will say 'Congratulations.'" In the spirit of the open source project, IBM, BEA, and Oracle make contributions to the open source community that is integrated into the Red Hat Application Server. With open source organizations and projects like Eclipse, Apache, and OpenWeb doing well, Red Hat officials believed an open source application server were a logical and natural next step. "Users we talk to have been asking for an open source application server that smoothly works with other popular J2EE application servers, and what makes it nice is those vendors (IBM, BEA, and Oracle) work to make that happen," said Paul Cormier, Red Hat's executive vice president of engineering. In a prepared statement, BEA officials said they were actively working with Red Hat to integrate its Beehive, what BEA officials contended is the industry's first open source foundation for building enterprise-class and SOA-capable (service-oriented architecture) applications. Oracle officials welcomed Red Hat's entry into the open source application server market, promising to support the development and deployment of J2EE applications and Web services through its Oracle JDeveloper 10g offering, according to Thomas Kurian, Oracle's senior vice president of server technologies. The Red Hat Enterprise Application Server includes the Java Open Application Server (JOnAS); the Tomcat Web application server; Web services through Axis from Apache; and JakartaServer Management via JMX (Java Management Extensions), which is a combination of JOnAS and Tomcat
800wine.com, a global network
Since 1998, 800wine.com has been a premier global network of fine wine merchants and gift and gourmet suppliers. Through this network, 800wine.com is able to offer solutions both for those wishing to send gifts and those looking to buy for themselves. Through their gift service, they offer the fastest and most cost-efficient global delivery of wine and champagne gifts available today. With retail and delivery partners throughout the United States and several countries around the world, 800wine.com makes it easy for you to send wine, champagne, gift baskets, and other fine gifts to family and friends everywhere. In addition to their classic wine and champagne gifts, they have a great selection of hard-to-find wines, Japanese sake, wine accessories, gift baskets, fine China, and unbeatable prices on Riedel crystal.
PetMed Express sets new trends in distribution!
While PetsMart and Petco battle for leadership in the burgeoning pet-supply business, PetMed Express has found an overlooked and lucrative niche: It sells discounted pet medications by mail order and over the Internet. As noted in July, Americans spent $32 billion last year caring for their personal menageries. Targeting a small piece of that pie, the $3-billion market for dog and cat medications, PetMed saw its revenues rise 71% last year, to $94 million. And those revenues have increased ninefold over the past four years. Profits at the Pompano Beach, Fla., company, which operates under the 1-800-PetMeds brand name, rose 79% last year, and its customer list grew by 572,000, to 1.1 million. PetMed offers a carefully selected, 600-item inventory of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and health and nutrition items that are likely to generate repeat business. Its best-selling treatments are for flea and tick control, heartworm, and bone and joint care. Last year, 55% of revenues came from repeat customers.
Analyst Frank Gristina of investment bank Avondale Partners estimates that PetMed has 40% of the market for pet medications sold via mail order or over the Internet. PetMed, which went public in 2000, competes with some two-dozen private firms. Its biggest competitors, though, are veterinarians, who have bitterly fought the company's incursions. "They have had a monopoly historically and, naturally, they don't like to have competition," says PetMed chief executive officer Mendo Akdag. The stock, at $8, trades at 25 times the 31 cents per share that analysts, on average, expect the company to earn in calendar 2004.
Employment Rate in USA Under Performing
The US Labor Department announced yesterday that the 32,000 jobs added to the US economy in the month of July did not meet the expectation of any job sector except agriculture. Consequently, the Department of Labor decreased its estimate of new jobs for the months of May through July down to 61,000. This is a negative development for President George W. Bush who is campaigning for reelection for it raises further questions regarding the economy's recovery. The report is especially ill timed considering that the US Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates by small increments. That the unemployment rate, previously recorded at 5.6 percent, is now at 5.5 percent was the only good news in the Labor Department report for George W. Bush. The Labor Department cautioned the public since changes in their employment survey is a less reliable indicator of employment and economic vitality than other surveys, which the larger portion of the business world is included. Meanwhile, the dollar regressed while the stock market increased.
Microsoft Will Ask Millions of Customers To Accept Automatic Update
In order to help distribute its most comprehensive security update ever for the Windows operating system, Microsoft is asking hundreds of millions of users to turn on a function called "automatic updates". It's located in the "system" control panel, found by going to the "start" menu. Users were likely given the option of turning on automatic updates when they first installed Windows XP, but many may have refused because they were concerned about giving Microsoft permission to automatically interact with their computers. The company is now asking those who decided against it to reconsider, arguing that it is the quickest and least disruptive way to get big files like the security update onto your computer. Consumers will be able to download the update, dubbed Service Pack 2, from Microsoft's website all in one chunk. And eventually, Microsoft will send a free CD copy of the upgrade to people who request it. With automatic updates, Microsoft will download Service Pack 2 — and future security fixes — using a technique that reduces disruption to normal work, email or web surfing. Microsoft estimates that about 90 million Windows users have signed up for automatic updates, and it hopes to add millions more as Service Pack 2 is deployed this month. John Pescatore, vice president of internet security with Gartner, said, his company recommends the automatic update function for consumers. He also warns that it downloads other "critical" software improvements that aren't security related. Although there's no evidence Microsoft is misusing the feature now, he said it could allow Microsoft to eventually counter a competitor's new product with an added feature of its own, delivered in real time onto Windows. Microsoft senior product manager Matt Pilla said that in addition to security, the automatic updates are mainly to do with reliabilty and performance, and the system does not send out new versions of products.
The Associated Press
Prudential Keeps Its Stake With Egg
The British insurance Company Prudential had decided not to sell its 79-percent stake in the Internet bank Egg and had ended talks with potential buyers. Prudential had concluded that holding on to the business offered better value to its shareholders than a sale. Prudential chief executive Jonathan Bloomer had to explore all the options for the business. Their objective is to ensure that their shareholders benefit in full from the value inherent in Egg and they have concluded shareholders' interests are best served by retaining our Egg holding. Prudential, which set up Egg in 1998, had been trying to sell the stake since January in a deal expected to be worth about £1.1 billion pounds (€1.7 billion or $2.0 billion). Egg announced last month that it had decided to close its loss-making French operations in an effort to make the overall business profitable.
Grenade Explodes in Central Prague
A grenade thrown from a passing car exploded in a crowded shopping district at the heart of Prague's historic centre but officials say the attack was criminal and not terror-related. A spokesman for the Prague emergency department said 18 people were injured on Sunday, including one child. Four of the injured were in a serious condition, the rest were treated on the scene. "This was not a terrorist attack, it was not a bomb," Prague Deputy Mayor Rudolf Blazek told reporters at the scene. The pedestrian street was teeming with thousands of tourists enjoying a warm and sunny afternoon in the area, which is home to nearby historic sites such as Wenceslas Square, and the Estates Theatre where Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni" premiered. Blazek said that the damage was limited because the grenade rolled under a parked car. A Reuters reporter at the scene said there was little collateral damage to buildings in the immediate area.
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross toured the blast area and said that "for citizens it is important to realize that this was a criminal act related to the underworld". Czech police have been on high alert for many months, fearing the country may be a target for a terrorist attack.