Friday, April 18, 2014

Indonesia Tak Lagi Masuk Daftar Fragile Five

http://politikindonesia.com/index.php?k=pendapat&i=55501-Indonesia-Tak-Lagi-Masuk-Daftar-Fragile-Five-


Johanna Chua


Politikindonesia - Kinerja ekonomi Indonesia terus mendapat apresiasi. Indonesia dinilai mampu melakukan perbaikan fundamental ekonomi secara signifikan dalam 1 tahun terakhir. Situasi saat ini membuat Indonesia disebut sudah layak keluar dari kelompok Fragile Five atau 5 negara dengan ekonomi rentan guncangan.


Kepada pers, Managing Director dan Kepala Ekonom Citigroup Global Markets Asia Johanna Chua mengatakan, dari 5 negara yang masuk kelompok Fragile Five, Indonesia menunjukkan perkembangan paling signifikan dalam mengatasi defisit neraca berjalan (current account deficit).


Defisit neraca berjalan adalah akar permasalahan ekonomi negara berkembang. “Tahun ini Indonesia kami proyeksi keluar dari basket (kelompok) Fragile Five," ujarnya pada “Seminar Citi Indonesia Economic & Political Outlook 2014” di Jakarta, Rabu (16/04).


Fragile Five adalah istilah yang dicetuskan raksasa perusahaan investasi Morgan Stanley pada 2013 lalu untuk Indonesia, India, Brasil, Turki, dan Afrika Selatan. Kelima negara ini masuk kelompok emerging markets yang selama ini mendapat guyuran dana segar investor sebagai imbas stimulus di Amerika Serikat (AS).


Begitu AS berencana mengurangi program stimulus (tapering off), dana-dana asing kabur dari 5 negara tersebut. Akibatnya, selain defisit neraca berjalan, nilai tukar mata uang di kelima negara tersebut juga anjlok.


Johanna menyebut, tahun lalu Indonesia merupakan salah satu negara yang mengalami dampak terburuk dari guncangan pasar finansial global setelah The Fed mengumumkan rencana tapering off. Itu terlihat dari nilai tukar rupiah yang anjlok dari level Rp9.500 per dolar ke Rp12.300 per dolar.


Demikian pula indeks harga saham gabungan (IHSG) Bursa Efek Indonesia (BEI) yang anjlok dari level 5.000-an ke 4.100an. "Itu seperti serangan jantung bagi industri finansial di Indonesia," ujar dia.


Namun, ujar Johanna -ekonom yang berkali-kali dinobatkan media internasional sebagai analis keuangan terbaik di Asia Pasifik, Indonesia ternyata mampu membalikkan kondisi yang terpuruk. Itu terlihat dari perbaikan signifikan current account deficit dari 4,4 persen Produk Domestik Bruto (PDB) pada triwulan II 2013 menjadi 1,98 persen pada triwulan IV 2013.


Rupiah dan IHSG juga menunjukkan perbaikan signifikan sepanjang 2014. “Ini karena Indonesia merespons gejolak dengan cepat dan tepat. Sedangkan negara-negara lain telat merespons,” ucapnya.


Johanna memuji langkah sigap Bank Indonesia (BI) yang sejak pertengahan 2013 secara bertahap menaikkan suku bunga acuan BI rate dari 5,75 persen menjadi 7,50 persen untuk mengerem laju ekonomi. Demikian pula langkah pemerintah yang langsung mengeluarkan paket stimulus kebijakan ekonomi untuk mengurangi ketergantungan impor.


Negara-negara Fragile Five lain baru bereaksi pada awal 2014 ketika fundamental ekonomi mereka makin buruk. Karena terlambat, responsnya pun menjadi berlebihan atau over-reaktif. “Misalnya Turki yang Januari lalu langsung menaikkan suku bunga dari 7,75 persen menjadi 12 persen, sehingga pasar terkejut," ujarnya.


Menurut Johanna, Indonesia memang masih akan mengalami perlambatan pertumbuhan ekonomi sebagai konsekuensi strategi menekan defisit neraca berjalan. Namun, dengan pertumbuhan di kisaran 5 persen ekonomi Indonesia masih sangat prospektif.


“Jadi, the worst is over (yang terburuk sudah berlalu). Sekarang Indonesia masuk tahap stabilisasi untuk tumbuh cepat lagi di masa mendatang," ujar dia.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

World’s Most Profitable Banks in Indonesia Double U.S. Returns

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-04/world-s-most-profitable-banks-in-indonesia-double-u-s-returns.html
Sanat Vallikappen and Berni Moestafa



The lime-green Yamaha Mio motorbike that Suryadi bought in 2011 to commute to his job pumping gas in Jakarta would have cost 11.8 million rupiah ($1,221) had he purchased it outright. Instead he took out a loan at 16 percent.
Now the 44-year-old father of three is making monthly payments to PT Bank Danamon Indonesia (BDMN) that eat up about one- fifth of his salary. He’ll end up paying 46 percent more than the cost of the bike by the time he retires the loan.
“I don’t have the money to pay in cash,” said Suryadi, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. “Paying in installments is all I can afford.”
Borrowers like Suryadi have helped make Indonesian lenders the most profitable among the 20 biggest economies in the world, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average return on equity, a measure of how well shareholder money is reinvested, is 23 percent for the country’s five banks with a market value more than $5 billion, the data show.
That’s greater than Chinese banks of the same size, which have an average return of 21 percent, and Canadian firms with 20 percent. It’s more than double the 9 percent in the U.S. Profitability might have been even higher if Indonesia’s lenders weren’t also among the most inefficient, as measured by the ratio of operating expenses to total assets.

Interest Margins

Returns in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, are driven by net interest margins, the difference between what banks charge for loans -- an average of 12 percent, according to the central bank -- and what they pay for deposits. The average margin for the country’s big banks is 7 percentage points, the highest of the 20 economies, according to the latest available data compiled by Bloomberg.
“It’s a basic supply-and-demand equation,” said Ken Timsit, a Jakarta-based partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group, which has studied the profitability of banks worldwide. “There’s plenty of demand for credit, but limited supply,” making it lucrative for banks to lend.
The profitability of lenders including PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BBRI), whose 34 percent return on equity is the highest, and PT Bank Central Asia (BBCA), the largest by market value, contrasts with that of Western counterparts such as Deutsche Bank AG (DBK)Barclays Plc (BARC) and UBS AG (UBSN), which have lowered targets as they reduce risk-weighted assets to meet higher capital requirements.
Global banking return on equity fell to 7.6 percent in 2011 from 8.4 percent a year earlier, below the 10 percent to 12 percent average cost of equity, McKinsey & Co. wrote in an October report. U.S. banks had an average return on equity of 7 percent in 2011, while European lenders earned zero -- or 5 percent excluding the most indebted nations such as Spain and Greece -- according to the study.

Takeover Target

Indonesia’s high net interest margins have prompted banks such as DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, where the figure averages 2 percent, to look at acquisitions. DBS, Southeast Asia’s biggest lender, made a $6.8 billion bid in April for 99 percent of Bank Danamon and is awaiting regulatory clearance.
At odds with the profitability of Indonesia’s banks is their inefficiency. The ratio of operating expenses to assets, a measure of the cost of providing services, ranges from 2.5 percent to 4 percent at the country’s biggest lenders, according to Boston Consulting Group’s Timsit. It’s 2 percent in Malaysia and 1 percent in Singapore, he said.
The higher expenses are largely a function of Indonesia’s geography, said Alexander Chia, a Kuala Lumpur-based analyst at RHB Capital Bhd. (RHBC) With 17,508 islands, 6,000 of them inhabited, and with more than two-thirds of the country’s 242 million people living in rural areas, it costs more to operate and staff a branch network, he said.

‘Not Efficient’

“Indonesian banks’ efficiency is still lacking compared with other countries,” said Robby Hafil, an analyst at PT Trimegah Securities (TRIM) in Jakarta. “Our banks are trying to cover operational costs by increasing net interest margin, and as long as operations remain inefficient this practice will continue.”
Indonesia’s banking regulator agrees that the system isn’t efficient and relies on high interest rates for profits.
“They want to give a higher lending rate because the cost of providing banking is too large, because they are not efficient right now,” Hartadi Sarwono, a deputy governor of Bank Indonesia, the country’s central bank, said in an interview in November. “If they reduce the cost, then they can reduce the lending rate, and not necessarily reduce profits.”

Inflation Rate

Indonesia’s history of inflation, averaging 7.3 percent in the past 10 years, has kept benchmark interest rates for the past year at 5.75 percent, one of the highest among major economies, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The country’s benchmark rate, as high as 12.75 percent in April 2006, is lower only than Russia’s 8.25 percent, India’s 7.75 percent, Brazil’s 7.25 percent and China’s 6 percent.
“For consumers, the interest rates still feel low given that Bank Indonesia’s benchmark interest rate is at a record low,” said Isfhan Helmy, a Jakarta-based banking analyst at PT Sucorinvest Central Gani.
The lower benchmark rate, along with a March 2011 central bank rule requiring banks to keep loan-to-deposit ratios above 78 percent, has helped spur lending. Halim Alamsyah, another Bank Indonesia deputy governor, said in Jakarta Jan. 10 he expects loans to increase 23 percent this year.

Consumer Loans

Much of the gain has come in retail and consumer loans, which are more profitable than those to companies, said Pahala Mansury, director of finance at PT Bank Mandiri (BMRI), which is 60 percent owned by the government and Indonesia’s second-largest lender by market value.
Bank Mandiri’s microlending, consumer and small-business units accounted for about 30 percent of total loans at the end of September compared with 25 percent three years earlier, according to company filings. The segment contributes 50 percent of the lender’s revenues now and may account for 40 percent of its loan portfolio by 2014, Mansury said.
Bank Central Asia increased its consumer loans by almost 50 percent in the quarter ended Sept. 30 from a year earlier. It accounts for 27.5 percent of the lender’s total loans compared with 25 percent a year earlier.
Nonperforming loans, at record lows of 2 percent for Indonesia’s banks, could increase this year as a result of the rapid rise in lending, according to a Nov. 19 Fitch Ratings report. Banks will be able to sustain profitability because they’re making adequate provisions to cover losses, Fitch said.
The top five banks by market value account for almost half the loans in Indonesia’s banking system. Bank Danamon, which has a unit dedicated to vehicle loans that caters to borrowers like Suryadi, had the highest net interest margin at 9.84 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It was followed by state-controlled Bank Rakyat with a margin of 8.37 percent.

Bank Profits

Rakyat’s 2012 profit rose 23 percent from a year earlier to 18.5 trillion rupiah, the highest on record since 2000, it said in a statement on Jan. 31. The profit growth is the result of the bank strengthening its focus on microlending, it said.
Citigroup Inc. (C), the second-largest Western bank in Indonesia with 22 branches in six cities, has a net interest margin in the country of 4 percent, according to Tigor Siahaan, chief country officer for the New York-based company. About 65 percent of profits come from business dealings with large companies, which explains thinner margins than some of the local lenders that focus on consumers, Siahaan said.
The lender was banned in May 2011 by Bank Indonesia from adding new wealth-management clients for one year and new credit-card clients for two years after an employee was accused of stealing $5 million from her clients and a customer died at a branch following meetings with Citigroup debt collectors. The bank said it would return the stolen money to customers. An internal investigation into the death didn’t reveal any physical violence, the company said.

Loan Ratios

As profitable as lending in Indonesia is, banks have made loans to only 28 percent of the population, or about 67 million people, according to World Bank data. Loans outstanding at the country’s 120 commercial lenders totaled $272 billion at the end of November, according to central bank data. That’s about 30 percent of 2011’s gross domestic product, the lowest loans-to- GDP ratio among major Asian markets, said Stephan Hasjim, a Jakarta-based analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc.
Neighboring Singapore and Malaysia have loans-to-GDP ratios of 150 percent and 125 percent respectively, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, based on cumulative loans outstanding at the end of the most recent month for which data is available and 2011 GDP figures.
Economic expansion in Indonesia, the world’s 16th-largest economy, will average 6.4 percent from 2013 to 2017, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated in a Nov. 18 report. Its GDP was $846 billion in 2011, according to International Monetary Fund data.

‘Serious Issue’

Still, the country’s banks may have difficulty improving the loans-to-GDP ratio unless they expand their deposit base, Bank Mandiri’s Mansury said. That’s because the central bank capped the loans-to-deposit ratio at 100 percent to prevent excessive risk-taking. It’s 85 percent now, compared with Singapore’s 95 percent and Malaysia’s 78 percent. A ratio above the maximum is allowed only if a bank’s combined Tier 1 and Tier 2 capital exceeds 14 percent of risk-weighted assets.
“Maybe there is demand to borrow, but whether banks can provide the kind of liquidity that is required in the next four to five years will become a very serious issue,” Mansury said, citing deposit growth that hasn’t kept pace with loan growth.
Through the first 11 months of last year, total loans in Indonesia’s banking system increased 20.3 percent to 2,647 trillion rupiah, while deposits rose 12.4 percent to 3,130 trillion rupiah, according to Bank Indonesia.
It’s a “cash society,” Mansury said. “Even money that is in Indonesia isn’t being deposited in the banking system.”

Shadow Banking

In a survey of new microlending customers last year, Bank Mandiri found that only 30 percent had any formal financing before coming to the bank, Mansury said. Customers said they were willing to borrow from commercial lenders because rates are lower than those charged by informal financing networks.
Shadow-banking borrowers pay as much as 50 percent a year, according to Syafrien Anwar, a former senior sales manager at PT Nusantara Capital Securities. Shop owners can be charged an overnight interest of about 5 percent, he said.
Indonesian banks are wary about lending as a result of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. The economy shrank 13 percent in 1998, and the country took a $43 billion IMF bailout as its currency slumped, companies defaulted on debt and more than 80 banks failed or were nationalized or recapitalized.
“Everyone has in mind what happened in 1998, and all the bankers are very conscious of the importance of being prudent with their balance sheets and knowing who they lend to,” Boston Consulting Group’s Timsit said.

Fee Income

A scarcity of data about borrowers’ creditworthiness and the relatively high interest rates charged by banks, some reaching 30 percent according to a Citigroup report, also contribute to low loan penetration, he said.
Profits “are commensurate with the needs of the economy, and what can really make the net interest margins go down will be better bank infrastructure, better customer data, better creditor data and better identification, rather than pressure from the regulator to reduce interest rates,” Timsit said.
When margins start falling, fee income from activities such as trade with other countries, investment banking and insurance should pick up, contributing to profits, he said.
That view is shared by Citigroup’s Siahaan, who said he expects non-interest income from activities such as cash management, trade and foreign-exchange hedging, currently about 30 percent to 35 percent of the firm’s business in Indonesia, to increase as companies stop treating banks just as loan houses.

‘Very Easy’

“A loan is a very easy product to sell,” Siahaan said. “Our money is not going to be much more beautiful than that of the guy next door. But if I advise our client on a different hedging strategy that makes sense to his portfolio and his assets, depending on what’s the latest view in Europe and the global economy, including the currency markets, then that’s a very different proposition.”
Other foreign banks that have stakes in Indonesian lenders include Malayan Banking Bhd. (MAY), which holds 97.5 percent of PT Bank Internasional Indonesia (BNII), according to the Malaysian firm’s website. Qatar National Bank SAQ (QNBK) owns 69.6 percent of PT Bank Kesawan, and Standard Chartered Plc 45 percent of PT Bank Permata (BNLI), data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Central bank measures such as lowering benchmark rates and encouraging more competition in lending are expected to push down interest margins, Fitch wrote in its November report. Last year the central bank also required banks with assets exceeding 10 trillion rupiah to make public their prime lending rates, the percent they charge their most creditworthy customers.

Continued Appetite

“Competition will drive these very high margins down going forward, but it may take many years,” Nomura’s Hasjim said.
Meanwhile, high rates haven’t curbed Suryadi’s appetite for borrowing. He’s saving up money to build a house that may cost about 50 million rupiah.
“I really want this house,” the gas-pump operator said. “I would like to borrow some money.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Sanat Vallikappen in Singapore atvallikappen@bloomberg.net; Berni Moestafa in Jakarta at bmoestafa@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net

Cloud Computing: Can Networks Keep Up?

http://www.peak10.com/blog/post/cloud-computing-can-networks-keep-up?utm_source=News&utm_medium=cpc-pk10mkto-2988&utm_campaign=datasecurity2#.UzvNt6iSyTM
Ken Donoghue, Peak 10 Contributing Writer 

Cloud Computing: Can Networks Keep Up?

There is strong evidence that cloud computing and cloud storage will experience big growth spurts this year. The cloud has more to offer than ever before, and competition among providers for mindshare is producing highly differentiated products with real appeal to businesses of all sizes and types, particularly in the mid-market.

Three contributors stand out. The cloud offerings have matured mightily over the past few years, particularly in the area of security and compliance, making the cloud more attractive all around. Maturity in the cloud storage arena has been accompanied by a massive expansion in data generation and data analytics; it all has to go somewhere. Early adopters who sampled the waters with test and development in the cloud and those compelled to pay attention because of technology consumerization are finally moving into real production implementations, having run out of excuses.

Every good story needs a protagonist and an antagonist, right? In this story, the antagonist is the network, both the internal network infrastructure and the Internet pipes through which all data should flow unimpeded back and forth to the cloud.

Maintaining connectivity to the cloud service provider is the customer’s responsibility. So is making sure connections are sized properly to give you the performance you need and expect. Don’t expect the condition and reliability of existing network hardware and connections internally to magically improve by moving to the cloud; thoroughly review and test systems and components beforehand. There’s nothing quite like a migration to the cloud to unearth buried network skeletons.

Network dynamics will change with cloud adoption. Scalability and data access in the cloud alter bandwidth considerations. Applications can perform differently and latency imposed may be too much for some applications to accommodate. Taking time to understand how the cloud will affect networks and applications and the people who use them will minimize fire drills later.

Prepare for Success

There never seems be enough bandwidth to satisfy everyone. That is almost certain to be the case with the cloud. Size your bandwidth requirements appropriately, and understand that they will only continue to increase as your company’s relationship with the cloud matures. At the same time, evaluate the condition of firewalls (and firewall management practices) and routers for the new demands to be placed upon them.

Depending on the capabilities of your chosen service provider and the products you will be using, this may also be a good time to upgrade security monitoring tools and data privacy compliance systems, particularly with regards to data encryption.

Uptime and reliability – always a big concern – take on major importance as more services come to rely on Internet access. Simple redundancy is better than none. Tripling your Internet connections and service vendors will provide added insurance to help keep your company online and productive should one supplier’s connection suddenly go dark.

The Supplier Side of the Equation

Now that you’ve prepared things on your end, be sure the cloud provider is equally well prepared to provide you with an excellent customer experience. Can your provider upgrade rapidly in response to your requirements? How about their own growth requirements? You want to be doing business with a growing and going concern; continued economic viability is a very important criterion in the selection of a service provider. Have them explain their strategy and their metrics for ensuring ample bandwidth overhead to accommodate expansion … theirs and yours.
Expect your provider to be a model of best-in-class network features, boasting redundant carrier-class infrastructure, dynamic routing, route optimization and flexible resource allocation. Ask who their vendors are. Determine their aggregate network capacity and aggregate Internet capacity. Determine the options available to you and that will best meet your particular requirements.

It’s also good to know the proximity of your service provider to an Internet exchange point, the connection nexus for large numbers of Internet backbone routers and their carriers. The closer the cloud provider the better their Internet performance and speed will be, and the less latency you can expect between you and the service provider. 

Is Anybody Out There?

Self-reliance and self-service are admirable. Many cloud service providers are happy to see you go it alone, or to provide on-line resource guides to help you sort things out. Expect this, however, to be a journey without end. The goal is not simply to get into the cloud. Using the cloud and all its resources to drive your business forward with new products, services and customer experiences is where the true power resides. Consider stepping off on the right foot by finding a trusted partner with whom to make this journey. There is no need to go it alone, and there is safety in numbers.

We give special thanks to our technology partner, Cisco, for this blog.

Why Gmail and other e-mail services aren't really free

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/31/tech/web/gmail-privacy-problems/index.html
Heather Kelly

(CNN) -- Gmail doesn't cost any money to use, but it's not free.
Google's popular online e-mail service, which turns 10 Tuesday, may not charge for its Gmail accounts. But the company is still collecting payment in the form of massive amounts of personal information about the people who use it.

With an estimated 500-plus million users, Gmail has grown to dominate the Web-mail world. It has also repeatedly found itself in hot water over privacy. Gmail is facing multiple privacy lawsuits in the United States and Europe, some accusing the company of illegal wiretapping for scanning the content of e-mails.

Google reported $16.86 billion in revenues for the last quarter of 2013 alone. One way it makes money from Gmail is by automatically scanning and indexing messages and using the data it mines to show relevant ads to its users.

"The basic premise of Gmail is, we'll give you a robust e-mail service and in exchange we want to display ads alongside our e-mail and we're scanning your e-mail to decide what ads are most relevant," said Eric Goldman, a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law.

Scanning and ads
Gmail looks for keywords that identify topics of discussion based on things such as frequency and context, then matches the e-mail up with related ads. A conversation thread about meeting up at a spinning class, for example, might trigger an ad for a weight-loss product.

Data gathered through e-mail scanning can also be used to create user profiles for future ad targeting.

What many consumers don't consider is that companies such as Google can create a comprehensive profile of each user based on information from different products such as search, maps, e-mail and Google+, its social network.

"Nothing in life is free, and as a result it is important for people to understand what value they bring to a free service of any kind," saidBehnam Dayanim, a partner at the law firm Paul Hastings LLP in Washington.

When people send and receive messages using a free e-mail service, they are sharing details about their interests, who their connections are and what their finances look like. That information might seem mundane on the surface, but when extracted and organized, it's incredibly valuable to marketers and advertisers.

All the major e-mail providers, including Microsoft Outlook and Yahoo, benefit one way or another from offering a free service. The provider might serve up general or targeted ads, generate a user base for marketing other services, or just use the e-mail service to build brand recognition.

And while Gmail may have popularized it, targeted ads based on user data has become the primary business model for many tech companies. It's how social media companies such as Facebook and search engines such as Bing make money as well as a huge number of apps that scrape contact and location information from users. It's also led to a number of similar privacy lawsuits against other companies, including LinkedIn, Yahoo and Facebook.

Any company that collects personal information has to advise its customers what it is doing with their information and comply with any relevant privacy laws, Dayanim said. These are usually laid out in the lengthy terms and conditions and privacy policies that customers barely skim before hitting "agree."

However, many of the details about how exactly Google's program works have been kept confidential. And critics say the service doesn't adequately disclose what it is doing with customers' information.

Legal action
When Gmail made its debut in 2004, it was upfront about the fact that it would show contextual ads targeted to match the topic of e-mail threads. People still lined up to be accepted as early beta users of the service because it was slickly designed, included ample amounts of storage, and was excellent at filtering out spam. And it didn't cost anything to sign up.

One problem is that not all the people affected have agreed to Google's privacy policy. One group of plaintiffs in a recent class-action lawsuit were non-Gmail users who sent messages to Gmail accounts. Google responded that non-Gmail customers had no expectations of privacy when sending e-mails to people who did use the service.

Google has defended its e-mail scanning program by pointing out that it's automated and handled by computers picking out keywords. Google's employees aren't personally reading through e-mails for the latest lovers' spat.

Google also says the scans are necessary to cut down on malicious e-mails and spam, and for features such as Priority Inbox and the tabbed view that filters e-mails into different categories.

A federal judge dealt a blow to the case this month, ruling it couldn't proceed as a class-action lawsuit because the different groups weren't cohesive enough. A class-action lawsuit could have cost Google trillions of dollars in damages.

A changing landscape
When Gmail debuted in 2004, the rules for collecting user information were looser. But the privacy landscape has changed drastically over the past 10 years.

Several U.S. states have passed laws that restrict the use of personal information, the Federal Trade Commission has been more active pursuing privacy violations, and the industry has adopted best practices about what's acceptable.

One thing that hasn't changed is the federal law with the biggest impact on how and when companies can share data with third parties. The Electronics Communication Privacy Act is a dusty piece of legislation passed in 1986, long before the era of cloud-based e-mail. Many legislators and technology companies (including Google) have lobbied to have the law updated to reflect the times.


Meanwhile, consumers must increasingly weigh the value of using a free e-mail service such as Gmail against their personal privacy.

10 Gmail innovations

We may take it for granted now, but email has changed the way we interact with one another. Ten years ago Google launched Gmail, a free web-based email service (at first invite-only) that has grown into the world's most-used. Here's a retro-flavored look at 10 innovations Gmail has led since its April 1, 2004, launch.

We may take it for granted now, but email has changed the way we interact with one another. Ten years ago Google launched Gmail, a free web-based email service (at first invite-only) that has grown into the world's most-used. Here's a retro-flavored look at 10 innovations Gmail has led since its April 1, 2004, launch.

<strong>Storage: </strong>Gmail initially offered 1 GB of storage, which was massive at the time. The standard, from competitors like Hotmail, had been around 2-4 MB. Cloud storage now lets Google offer 15 GB of free storage across its services, meaning users never have to delete an email if they don't want to.
Storage:
 Gmail initially offered 1 GB of storage, which was massive at the time. The standard, from competitors like Hotmail, had been around 2-4 MB. Cloud storage now lets Google offer 15 GB of free storage across its services, meaning users never have to delete an email if they don't want to.


<strong>Search: </strong>With all that storage, it could be a task to dig through your inbox to find an old message. Gmail was an innovator in search, through, allowing the user to type in a keyword or two and pull up all their emails that contained them.

 With all that storage, it could be a task to dig through your inbox to find an old message. Gmail was an innovator in search, through, allowing the user to type in a keyword or two and pull up all their emails that contained them.

<strong>Stars and Priority:</strong> It didn't take long for us to start clogging up our email accounts. Whether it's spam, social-media notifications or offers from companies with whom we've done business, a lot of our messages aren't exactly urgent. With Stars, and later the Priority Inbox, Google made it a little easier to separate the wheat from the chaff.

 It didn't take long for us to start clogging up our email accounts. Whether it's spam, social-media notifications or offers from companies with whom we've done business, a lot of our messages aren't exactly urgent. With Stars, and later the Priority Inbox, Google made it a little easier to separate the wheat from the chaff.


<strong>Unsend:</strong> In 2009 Google gave us a chance to take it all back, at least if we act fast. Improved and more widely discovered the following year, this feature gives you 30 seconds (originally just five) to click "Undo Send," ending that sick-to-your-stomach feeling when you realize that nasty note *about* your boss was accidentally sent *to* your boss.
Unsend:
In 2009 Google gave us a chance to take it all back, at least if we act fast. Improved and more widely discovered the following year, this feature gives you 30 seconds (originally just five) to click "Undo Send," ending that sick-to-your-stomach feeling when you realize that nasty note *about* your boss was accidentally sent *to* your boss.

<strong>Social networking: </strong>Google Buzz didn't last, and Google+ has been more about creating close-knit communities than becoming a Facebook killer. But when Google linked up Gmail with Buzz in 2010 and Google+ the following year, it signaled the company's goal of pulling all Google services together under one digital umbrella.
Social networking: 
Google Buzz didn't last, and Google+ has been more about creating close-knit communities than becoming a Facebook killer. But when Google linked up Gmail with Buzz in 2010 and Google+ the following year, it signaled the company's goal of pulling all Google services together under one digital umbrella.

<strong>Mobile: </strong>How's this for forward looking? In 2005, nearly two years before the world met a gadget called the iPhone, Gmail was available as a mobile app. Obviously, most people didn't have a smartphone then. But even the feature phones of yore could let you check your messages with this feature.

How's this for forward looking? In 2005, nearly two years before the world met a gadget called the iPhone, Gmail was available as a mobile app. Obviously, most people didn't have a smartphone then. But even the feature phones of yore could let you check your messages with this feature.

<strong>Experiment away:</strong> In 2008, Google launched Gmail Labs, letting users pick and choose from any number of in-house experiments the company was working on. Some, like bookmarking certain messages, would work their way into the product for everybody, while others would just disappear.
Experiment away:
In 2008, Google launched Gmail Labs, letting users pick and choose from any number of in-house experiments the company was working on. Some, like bookmarking certain messages, would work their way into the product for everybody, while others would just disappear.

<strong>Calendar integration:</strong> One of our favorite Gmail syncs is one of the simplest. By tying in the user's calendar to Gmail, important dates that you receive in messages -- invitations and the like -- show up on your calendar without you having to do anything. One less excuse for forgetting your anniversary, folks.
Calendar integration:
One of our favorite Gmail syncs is one of the simplest. By tying in the user's calendar to Gmail, important dates that you receive in messages -- invitations and the like -- show up on your calendar without you having to do anything. One less excuse for forgetting your anniversary, folks.

<strong>Threaded conversations:</strong> Sometimes we chat with the same folks for years, or chat with a lot of folks at once. It can be tough to keep up with it all. A lot of e-mail services now offer "threaded" conversations, but it was Gmail that popularized the concept. In Gmail, replies, replies to replies and, yes, replies to those replies are displayed in one place, in order, making it easier to follow the entire conversation.

Sometimes we chat with the same folks for years, or chat with a lot of folks at once. It can be tough to keep up with it all. A lot of e-mail services now offer "threaded" conversations, but it was Gmail that popularized the concept. In Gmail, replies, replies to replies and, yes, replies to those replies are displayed in one place, in order, making it easier to follow the entire conversation.

<strong>Don't drink and email:</strong> OK, this one was just funny. Sometimes, 30 seconds isn't enough to save us from ourselves. So, in 2008, an engineer came up with Mail Goggles. If you enable it, it defaults to the hours you're most likely to be ... uh ... festive, and makes you answer a set of math problems before you can send a message. With Mail Goggles, if you still go ahead with that 3 a.m. declaration of love for your ex, it's totally on you.

OK, this one was just funny. Sometimes, 30 seconds isn't enough to save us from ourselves. So, in 2008, an engineer came up with Mail Goggles. If you enable it, it defaults to the hours you're most likely to be ... uh ... festive, and makes you answer a set of math problems before you can send a message. With Mail Goggles, if you still go ahead with that 3 a.m. declaration of love for your ex, it's totally on you.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Leadership Is About Emotion

http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2013/12/15/leadership-is-about-emotion/
Meghan M. Biro

Make a list of the 5 leaders you most admire. They can be from business, social media, politics, technology, the sciences, any field. Now ask yourself why you admire them. The chances are high that your admiration is based on more than their accomplishments, impressive as those may be. I’ll bet that everyone on your list reaches you on an emotional level.

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

This ability to reach people in a way that transcends the intellectual and rational is the mark of a great leader. They all have it. They inspire us. It’s a simple as that. And when we’re inspired we tap into our best selves and deliver amazing work.


So, can this ability to touch and inspire people be learned? No and yes. The truth is that not everyone can lead, and there is no substitute for natural talent. Honestly, I’m more convinced of this now – I’m in reality about the world of work and employee engagement. But for those who fall somewhat short of being a natural born star (which is pretty much MANY of us), leadership skills can be acquired, honed and perfected.
Let’s Take A Look At Tools That Allow For Talent To Shine:
Emotional intelligence. Great leaders understand empathy, and have the ability to read people’s (sometimes unconscious, often unstated) needs and desires. This allows them to speak to these needs and, when at all possible, to fulfill them. When people feel they are understood and empathized something, they respond PERIOD and a bond is formed.
Continuous learning. Show me a know-it-all and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t have a clue about being human. Curiosity and an insatiable desire to always do better is the mark of a great leader. They are rarely satisfied with the status quo, and welcome new knowledge and fresh (even if challenging) input. It’s all about investing in yourself.
Contextualize. Great leaders respond to each challenge with a fresh eye. They know that what worked in one situation may be useless in another. Before you act, make sure you understand the specifics of the situation and tailor your actions accordingly.
Let Go. Too many people think leadership is about control. In fact, great leaders inspire and then get out of the way. They know that talented people don’t need or want hovering managers. Leadership is about influence, guidance, and support, not control. Look for ways to do your job and then get out of the way so that people can do theirs.
Honesty.  Not a week goes by that we don’t hear about a so-called leader losing credibility because he or she was dishonest. Often this is because of pressure to try and “measure up” and it’s not coming from a place of being real – often this relates to fear of not being accepted for your true self. We live in age of extraordinary transparency, which is reason enough to always be true to your core – your mission will be revealed, your motivations will show by your behaviors. But it goes way beyond this. It’s an issue that sets an example and elevates an organization. If you have a reputation for honesty, it will be a lot easier to deliver bad news and face tough challenges. Are you inspiring people from your heart? 
Kindness and respect. Nice leaders (people) don’t finish last. They finish first again and again. Ignorance and arrogance are leadership killers. They’re also a mark of insecurity. Treating everyone with a basic level respect is an absolute must trait of leadership. And kindness is the gift that keeps on giving back. Of course, there will be people who prove they don’t deserve respect and they must be dealt with. But that job will be made much easier, and will have far less impact on your organization, if you have a reputation for kindness, honesty and respect.
Collaboration. People’s jobs and careers are integral to their lives. The more your organization can make them a partner, the more they will deliver amazing results. This means, to the greatest extent possible, communicating your organization’s strategies, goals and challenges. This builds buy-in, and again is a mark of respect. People won’t be blindsided (which is a workplace culture killer) by setbacks if they’re in the loop.
Partner with your people. As I said above, people’s careers are a big part of their lives. That seems like a no-brainer, but leaders should have it front and center at all times. Find out what your employees’ career goals are and then do everything you can to help them reach them. Even if it means they will eventually leave your organization. You will gain happy, productive employees who will work with passion and commitment, and tout your company far and wide. This an opportunity to brand your greatness.
Leadership is both an art and a science. These tools are guidelines, not rigid rules. Everyone has to develop his or her own individual leadership style. Make these tools a part of your arsenal and use them well as you strive to reach people on an emotional level. Be Human. This Matters.