Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sneak Preview of Origin Oman

What is Origin Oman?
Origin Oman is a domestic campaign to promote Oman-made products and services; it has the full support of Government, business and community organisations. The campaign’s principal objective is to engender national pride and encourage consumers and companies to choose locally made products and services bearing the Origin Oman logo.

In brief, Origin Oman offers every Oman-based resident an opportunity to help promote the sultanate’s products and services and by doing so help create employment opportunities, stimulate the national economy and reduce carbon emissions.

At the heart of the campaign is the Origin Oman logo. Companies who meet the standards set by Origin Oman can use the logo to identify themselves, their products and services.

The key five (5) criteria which must be met before the Origin Oman logo can be used are:

1. As a manufacturer – all products made have undergone a value added process over and above re-packaging or re-marketing and wherever possible, be sourced from products originating in Oman. A product that is imported and re-packaged will not be eligible.
2. As a producer - all primary product (fruit, vegetables, meats etc) must have spent the majority of its life in Oman.
3. The company and its products or services must meet high quality standards.
4. The company must be committed to sound environmental standards.
5. The company must be committed to the highest standards of business conduct and derive strength and prosper by dealing fairly and honestly with its employees, shareholders, clients, suppliers, competitors, government, regulatory authorities and the general public.

By meeting these standards, Oman-based consumers can be assured that companies and their products and services carrying the Origin Oman symbol are of a high quality, are socially responsible and are contributing to the development of Oman’s national economy.

Local is Good
Locally owned businesses reflect the character of our communities. Owners of local businesses live here. They are our neighbours. Their products and services support and sustain the needs of Oman-based residents and they play a vital role in our social networks. In fact, local businesses mirror who we are and what we value as a nation. They help to create a sense of place. Indeed, local businesses offer the greatest opportunities for jobs, innovation, and other community contributions, which improve the quality of life for Omani citizens.

Over the past few years, global trends and market forces have resulted in consolidation, mergers and acquisitions in many business sectors. Growth among mass merchandisers, Internet retailers and big-box stores, ultimately reduces the selection and diversity of products and services available in communities. With such intense competition, the market share of goods and services sold by local businesses has eroded, in some cases, dramatically. The result is less choice for Omani consumers, a growing sameness of design, of products, and of services, less opportunity for innovation and reduced reinvestment back into Oman's economy.

Why is Origin Oman important to consumers?
Local businesses are the heart and soul of Oman. What you may not know is that local companies contribute tremendously to the development of Oman’s economy. Indeed, those who work with local businesses are more likely to earn a living wage and receive benefits. Food that is produced locally is fresher and requires far less energy to transport to market and not insignificantly, it is local business owners who are there with contributions for schools, hospitals, local projects, youth groups and civic projects.

Why is Origin Oman important to business?
Owning and operating a local business is very rewarding, but among its many challenges is the growing dominance of the internet, big box retailers and mass merchandisers. Origin Oman has been created to provide consumers with a brand identity for all locally owned businesses. We will create a website that will provide Oman-based consumers who seek specific products and/or services with listings, which can be accessed through queries for products and services and/or by location.

We will provide regular promotional campaigns that gain the attention of consumers and encourage their loyalty to Oman-based businesses. We will plan and organize panel discussions and public events that illustrate the substantial and varied contributions that local businesses contribute to Oman's economic and environmental well-being. Indeed, the participation of locally owned business is critical to the success of Origin Oman. We encourage businesses to support our various public awareness campaigns by placing the Origin Oman logo on their products, letterheads, websites, offices and store windows, acknowledging customer support by thanking them for buying and shopping locally, and also by providing them with point-of-purchase information that reinforces the benefits that you provide to Oman. Of course, we also encourage local businesses to buy goods and services from other Oman-based firms.

What can you expect from Origin Oman? We are committed to sustained growth with an emphasis on public education. As we grow our partnership base throughout Oman, we will organize and promote multiple public education and promotional events that highlight the benefits of sustaining local economies as well as the enormous contributions local businesses provide to Omani communities. We encourage citizen and business partners’ suggestions and urge them to take advantage of the Origin Oman brand and to further expand and promote our public education mission. Regular e-based communication, editorials, an annual Origin Oman Week, promotional events, an annual Origin Oman Directory, a quarterly newsletter highlighting our progress and assistance with local manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers are just some the core elements of our work plan.

How can you help?
First and foremost, we want you to buy Oman made products and services. Whether you are a business owner or a private individual, recognize and value the way your buying decisions can influence the shape of Oman's economy.

If you visit a local business that does not display the Origin Oman logo, be an advocate for Origin Oman and encourage the owner to become a partner. It builds recognition not only of Origin Oman, but of the importance of each business to the growth of Oman's economy.

If you are a business, please make every effort to promote Origin Oman through the distribution of our marketing material and directory to your customers, participate in our promotions, events and understanding the important role you play in Oman's economy and by thanking your customers for choosing to buy Oman made products and services.

About the campaign
The aim of Origin Oman is to encourage consumers and organisations to buy Oman made goods and services wherever possible. It’s not a difficult concept to sell. Most people share the common human inclination to support their own local community ahead of outsiders. And the success of the Origin Oman campaign will be greatly helped by the well recognised Origin Oman logo. The campaign intends to:

o Promote national pride in our manufacturing industry and the economic importance of buying Oman made.
o Encourage Oman-based consumers to buy locally made products, use local services and to be local tourists. Indeed, we are sure that many who want to buy Oman-made products or purchase Omani services are frustrated by not knowing where to look for them.
o Build brand loyalty for Oman made products.
o Create awareness of the employment, economic, environmental and social benefits of buying locally made products and services.
o Enable consumers to clearly identify Oman-made products and to make an informed choice.
o Help increase Oman's manufacturing capability.
o Reduce imports, especially of consumption goods.
o Help create employment.
o Help reduce fuel consumption.

Origin Oman Marketing Campaign
Naturally, the marketing campaign (see attached set of initiatives) will be the most visible part of Origin Oman. It will be designed to encourage consumers and businesses to value the economic and environmental impact of buying Oman made products and services.
A variety of marketing and communication channels will be used, these include: paid advertising, sponsorship, news media, press releases, editorials, print supplements, blog, road shows, brochures, newsletters, e-bulletins, billboards, events, Origin Oman Week, posters and the Origin Oman website (www.originoman.om)

Timeframe
Given the time and care that is required to develop a campaign such as Origin Oman, every effort will be made to begin the campaign in the first week of January 2008. The Omani National Products Campaign has had a high public profile since its inception and this has created significant expectations with various stakeholder groups. Communications around the campaign will need to be carefully managed if it is to ramp-up its reach and credibility.

Target Audiences
The broad target audiences for the marketing, media and events campaign are:

o Consumers, segmented in various ways (age; income; life-style; social class; gender; and life-cycle-stage)
o Corporate/Government Procurement Teams
o Manufacturers/producers of products and services
o Retailers/resellers of local products
o Omani businesses more generally
o The wider community and opinion leaders
o The youth market

Key Messages
The initial concept will be a high-level, generic marketing, media, advertising and experiential event campaign designed to appeal to national pride and to make Oman-based citizens feel good about supporting Omani businesses. At a later stage, the campaign will be more targeted to specific audiences and market segments. The initial generic campaign will allow businesses to link their own domestic marketing, media, advertising and event activities into the Origin Oman campaign and leverage off it if they wish. Encouraging people to support Omani goods and services (identified by the Origin Oman campaign logo) will be the foci of the media campaign, which will certainly be the most visible part of the campaign.

As part of the Origin Oman campaign, the following themes/messages will be developed to appeal to the target audiences highlighted above:

1. A generic appeal to national pride – irrespective of nationality
This high level theme would cut across all elements of the campaign and answer questions such as, "What is this all about?" "Why are we doing this?"

2. Pride in Omani values
Emphasise the international quality and durability of Omani products and the goodness and purity of ingredients.

3. Reversing the cultural cringe
People from other countries seek out Omani goods and services, so why not buy them here at home?

4. Invest locally
Studies show that significantly more money will stay in Oman where purchases are made locally. In brief, more money is kept in the community because locally owned businesses purchase from other locally owned manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, service providers and farms.

5. Taste the difference
Most local produce has been picked inside of 24 hours. It comes to you ripe, fresh and with its full flavour, unlike supermarket food that may have been picked weeks or months before. Close-to-home foods can also be grown for taste, rather than withstanding the abuse of shipping or industrial harvesting. Ever tried Omani tomatoes, onions, aubergines, dates, bananas, limes, mangoes, eggs, chicken, kingfish, tuna, shrimp, abalone, or lobster?

6. Save the planet
Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation. This generally means contributing less to congestion, habitat loss and pollution. A UK study found that a typical British meal, sourced locally, travelled 66 times fewer “food miles.” In fact, with 1/4 of all trucks on our roads are carrying food, plus the pollution caused by transporting produce by air, it’s easy to see how the movement of goods is contributing so heavily to carbon emissions. We could cut millions of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere by reducing our dependence on international products and going back to buying local instead. Alternatively, we can just keep burning those fossil fuels and learn to live with global climate change.

7. Career choice
Skilled and talented young people should see Oman's manufacturing industries as a worthwhile and rewarding career choice.

8. Talent magnet
A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

9. Know what you eat
Buying food today is complicated. What pesticides were used? Is that fruit genetically modified? Was that chicken free range or did it grow up in a box? People who eat locally find it easier to get answers.

10. Explore Oman
Visiting local farms is a way to be a local tourist. You'll also be ploughing money back into the local community.

11. Live healthy
By buying local you will eat more vegetables and fewer processed products, sample a wider variety of foods, and eat more fresh food at its nutritional peak.

12. Get better service
Locally owned businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they're selling and take more time to get to know customers.

Campaign Evaluation Criteria
The marketing campaign will be evaluated using the following measures:

Manufacturers
o Uptake or those who become members of the Origin Oman campaign.
o Changes in attitude and behaviour towards the Origin Oman campaign.

Corporate & Government Procurement Teams
o Advertising awareness of the Origin Oman campaign.
o Procurement Teams’ willingness to buy Oman made products/services.

Retailers
o Advertising awareness of the Origin Oman campaign.
o Retailers' willingness to stock/promote Oman made products/services.

Consumers
o Advertising awareness, unprompted, of the Origin Oman campaign.
o Advertising awareness, when prompted, of the Origin Oman campaign.
o Consumers' disposition/consideration to buying Oman made products/services.
o Specific attitude changes to Oman made products.

Origin Oman FAQs
The aim of the Origin Oman is to encourage consumers and organisations to buy Oman made goods and services wherever possible. It’s not a difficult concept to sell. Most people share the common human inclination to support their own local community ahead of outsiders. And the success of the Origin Oman campaign will be greatly helped by the well recognised Origin Oman logo. The campaign intends to:

o Promote national pride in our manufacturing industry and the economic importance of buying Oman made.
o Encourage Oman-based consumers to buy locally made products, use local services and to be local tourists. Indeed, we are sure that many who want to buy Oman-made products or purchase Omani services are frustrated by not knowing where to look for them.
o Build brand loyalty for Oman made products.
o Create awareness of the employment, economic, environmental and social benefits of buying locally made products and services.
o Enable consumers to clearly identify Oman-made products and to make an informed choice.
o Help increase Oman's manufacturing capability.
o Reduce imports, especially of consumption goods.
o Help create employment.
o Help reduce fuel consumption.

Is the Government involved?
The government spearheads Origin Oman. The Ministries of Commerce & Industry and National Economy provided seed funding for the initiative.

Can I join?
Any business of any size can join, whether you make or sell a product or service. Non-business organisations such as educational institutions, government organizations, charities, sports clubs and other bodies can also join.

What are the annual membership fees?
o Business membership (products & services) RO300
o Start-up business (within first 24 months) RO150
o Non-profit organisation (e.g. health or education institution or sports organisation) RO100 per annum
o Government organization – RO150 per annum
o Retail store - By arrangement

Origin Oman invoices you for your membership fee once your membership has been approved. Payment is due on receipt of the invoice.

What are the benefits?
Origin Oman continuously encourages consumers and procurement teams to buy products and services of members. Benefits include:

o Promotion under the Origin Oman banner through literature, campaigns, print, web, television and radio coverage.
o Own website page on: www.originoman.om - the content of which is fully controlled by you and links to your website if available.
o Use of the Origin Oman Member logo to promote the business.
o Opportunity to apply to use the Origin Oman logo on products.
o Website entry on the Origin Oman website www.originoman.com
o Access to marketing and promotional materials.
o Training at subsidised rates.
o Opportunities to participate in shows and events.
o Trade development opportunities through meet the buyer initiatives.
o Be part of the Origin Oman Week.
o Access to a PR & press release service.
o Newsletters and e-bulletins.
o Invitations to Origin Oman networking meetings and seminars.
o Entry into the published Origin Oman guide.
o Members bulletin board /forum on: www.originoman.om

Who are your members?
Companies and organisations, small and large, from virtually every economic sector will join the Origin Oman initiative. Indeed, we fully expect the number to grow monthly. This means that hundreds of consumer and industrial products will be carrying the Origin Oman logo.

How can I join?
Application forms are available from the Origin Oman offices at PEIE’s head office on Knowledge Oasis Muscat or they can be downloaded from: www.originoman.om Application for membership of Origin Oman is based on the following criteria:

o I am a business based in Oman and committed to the aims and objectives of Origin Oman.
o I agree to support Origin Oman initiatives and events and provide reasonable information about the performance of my business. I understand that this will be treated in confidence but that it may be used in summary by Origin Oman to satisfy current funders or to secure future funding.
o I will strive to ensure that my products are of the highest quality and produced with care and commitment.
o I agree to comply with all relevant legislation relating to food safety and hygiene, traceability, environmental health and trading standards.
o All products when offered for sale to the public should clearly indicate the provenance or origin of the product for the benefit of the consumer, so that they are able to easily identify local produce.
o As a producer - all primary product (fruit, vegetables, meats etc) must have spent the majority of its life in Oman.
o As a manufacturer – all products made have undergone a value added process over and above re-packaging or re-marketing and wherever possible, be sourced from products originating in Oman.
o Retailers, wholesalers and hospitality members will demonstrate active local sourcing where and when products are available from within Oman.
o I agree to provide full details for all products that I intend to carry the Origin Oman logo and only to use the logo in accordance with the style guide provided. These details will include, but are not limited to, identity/source of raw ingredients, location of manufacturing/processing and other information requested by Origin Oman.
o Approval must be granted before the Origin Oman logo may be used.
o I understand that I will be required to pay an annual subscription charge for my membership (12 months from the date my membership is approved and payment is received by Origin Oman). The subscription will be due on or before this date the following year. In the event of non-payment of that subscription within 30 days of the anniversary date, Origin Oman may thereafter terminate my membership without notice and all benefits of membership will immediately cease. My membership will only be reinstated, at the absolute discretion of Origin Oman, upon payment in full of any outstanding subscription.
o I understand that I must at all times abide by the Code of Conduct, Origin Oman may, in its absolute discretion, terminate my membership for any breach of any term of the Code of Conduct. The decision of Origin Oman shall be final. If my membership is so terminated, I understand that all benefits of membership will immediately cease, but there shall be no entitlement to a refund of any sums I have paid.

How long does it take to process my membership application?
Approximately one week, depending on the quality of the information supplied by the prospective member, as well as on the volume of applications being processed at a given time.

How will I know which companies make or supply certain products or services?
The Origin Oman website - www.originoman.om - has a full list of members. There is either a short profile on each member company, its products and/or services, or a hyperlink to that company's website.

Can Origin Oman help me with my marketing and advertising campaigns?
Yes, but our primary goal is to promote the Origin Oman campaign and our members, create awareness of, and interest in, products and services bearing the Origin Oman logo. It is a marketing effort which members should complement with their own activities. Although we do not directly assist members with their marketing and sales strategies, we do give advice to members on leveraging their association with Origin Oman.

Can I be supplied with Origin Oman promotional items?
Yes. A range of Origin Oman items are available at a nominal cost. Check our website, www.originoman.om

How do I communicate the merits of my products or services to other members?
There are a number of ways of doing this:
1. You can advise other members of your membership of Origin Oman.
2. You should take advantage of the networking opportunities created by workshops and forums organised by Origin Oman.
3. Send messages via the campaign's communication material whenever opportunities arise.

What do I do if I buy an Origin Oman product or service that turns out to be of poor quality?
Our Code of Practice provides for a grievance procedure to be followed in such situations. You must lodge a formal complaint with Origin Oman. We then set the procedure in motion, requesting the provider of the product or service to respond within a certain period. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response, we then start a mediation process with a view to settling the complaint.

Can I promote Origin Oman internationally?
Definitely yes, but it is the responsibility of members to familiarise themselves with existing trade protocols and market conditions that could affect your business activities in the international market.

Has Origin Oman plans to go international?
The campaign is focused specifically on the domestic market. We will extend our activities abroad once we have achieved satisfactory success at home. However, we do undertake to assist members leverage their brands via our relationships and partnerships with like-minded international organisations.

Member’s Code of Conduct
o To promote the aims and objectives of Origin Oman.
o To work in collaboration with fellow members.
o To source locally thereby reducing food kilometres.
o To work together with fellow members to build supply chains, retaining the economic benefit within local communities.
o To ensure that the Origin Oman brand represents local provenance and quality to the public.
o You agree that Origin Oman may record and store information and materials you have posted, transmitted, sent or communicated on the Origin Oman website.
o We reserve the right to refuse any application for membership if, in our absolute discretion, we consider that the applicant does not meet the standards required of members, as set out in these Membership Criteria, Terms and Conditions, Code of Conduct or in any other document published for that purpose by Origin Oman. The decision of Origin Oman will be final.
o We reserve the right to terminate the membership of any member if, in our absolute discretion, we consider that the member has failed to comply with, or maintain, the standards required of members as set out in these Membership Criteria, Terms and Conditions, Code of Conduct or in any other document published for that purpose by Origin Oman. The decision of Origin Oman will be final. In the event of terminating the membership on these grounds, notice of termination will be given to the member and all benefits will immediately cease, but there shall be no entitlement to a refund of any sums paid by that member.
o If an application for membership is refused, or membership is cancelled, Origin Oman accepts no liability whatsoever for any alleged loss which may result.
o In granting membership Origin Oman reserves the right to require any member alter, remove or cease any form of sales production and sale of goods associated in any way with Origin Oman that contravenes any current relevant legislation or brings, or is likely to bring Origin Oman into disrepute.
o All intellectual property rights on and relating to the Origin Oman site and in the logos, including trademarks, trade names or other signs, vest in Origin Oman.
o All marketing and other materials bearing the Origin Oman name or logo must only be used in accordance with the Origin Oman guidelines. On termination of membership, the licence granted to the member of Origin Oman to use its logo, marketing information or any other material of any description (“the materials”) is immediately terminated and the materials must, at its option, either be returned to Origin Oman or destroyed.
o Any member is entirely responsible for the accuracy of all information included on the site concerning that member. Information provided will be available to members of the public. However, Origin Oman reserves the right to reject, edit or remove at any time any information which Origin Oman, in its absolute discretion, considers is unsuitable for any reason whatsoever.
o Origin Oman will inspect /audit a member before approval of their application and at any time in the future.
o Membership will be conditional upon the payment in full of the required annual subscription charges as set out by Origin Oman.

Style Guide for Members
This guide will tell you when and how to use the Origin Oman branding. It is important that our members adhere to these guidelines to preserve the overall image of Origin Oman and its membership.
Origin Oman reserves the right to refuse requests to the use of the logo in any circumstances it deems inappropriate and in the event of non compliance with such a request, or use not strictly in accordance with this guide, to take appropriate action against the relevant member.
There is one distinct logo to be used. Only the original image supplied by Origin Oman should be used to generate any publicity or marketing materials. Please contact ibtisam@originoman.om for copies of the appropriate image.

The Origin Oman logo can be used on:

o Letterhead, marketing promotions and at premises.
o Products that meet the Origin Oman criteria - fruit, vegetables, meats etc must have spent the majority of its life in Oman. All products made must have undergone a value added process over and above re-packaging or re-marketing and wherever possible are sourced from products originating in Oman. Full details will need to be provided for all products for which you seek approval to use the logo. These details will include but are not limited to identity/source of raw ingredients, location of manufacturing/processing and other information requested by Origin Oman. Approval must be granted before the logo may be used.
o Your website. Please provide a link to www.originoman.om
o Use in any other circumstances is to be approved by Origin Oman.

Who do I contact?
Further information on Origin Oman is available from our website, www.originoman.om or e-mail us on: members@originoman.om
Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Monday, December 10, 2007

PEIE's Value Stream Mapping

The Oman Manufacturing Group (www.peie.om/OMG.shtml) will hold its final seminar for 2007 on Sunday 16 December at 7:30pm at the Crowne Plaza Hote Muscat.

A panel of manufacturing experts led by S. Gopalan, CEO, Reem Batteries (pictured) that includes, Amrou Al Sharif, Teclution; Raza Ashraf, Total Alignment; Manoj Manoharan, Jotun Paints; and Venkatesh, Savoir Faire Management Consultancy will discuss Value Stream Mapping and Lean Manufacturing processes two of the most powerful techniques to reduce manufacturing bottlenecks and increase organizational efficiency.

In the face of increasing global competition, manufacturing companies across Oman face a number of growing challenges from reducing costs, improving marketing, packaging, design and product quality, training, introducing new technology through to speeding up production processes. In order to help manufacturers meet these challenge, the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) has organised a series of four OMG Seminars for owners, managers, supervisors and others who are committed to improving their manufacturing performance. These have been held throughout 2007 and according to Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Head of Marketing “have been tremendously popular with Oman’s manufacturing community, we’ve been delighted with the OMG feedback received from businesses that have attended the OMG Seminar Series that was launched in March.”

Delivered by experienced manufacturing practitioners, “the OMG Seminar Series has introduced best practice ideas and practical tools and techniques to Omani manufacturers. The three seminars that I’ve attended have been highly participative and great networking events,” says Teclution’s Regional Manager, Amrou Al Sharif.

According to Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, PEIE: “OMG is the voice of Oman’s manufacturers and was designed specifically to raise the profile of the Sultanate’s manufacturing sector. Together with our partners we’ve delivered a series of top-class seminars that I believe have gone a long way to helping manufacturers grow, export and succeed.”

Susie Houh of Ericsson and a supporter of PEIE’s OMG Seminar Series commented: “OMG offers manufacturers and those servicing the sector the opportunity to meet with each other, share experiences and discuss the challenges that the sector faces. It’s an initiative that aims to help Oman-based manufacturers shortcut the learning curve on the key issues that will help them grow.”

Gen Y Panel Notes

Here are the panel notes prepared for last night's (9 December 2007) Generation Y Digital Nation seminar held on Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM).

1). The term Generation Y (Gen Yers)
The term Generation Y (Gen Yers) first appeared in an August 1993 magazine AD Age editorial to describe those born between 1981–1995.The scope of the term has changed greatly since then, to include, in many cases, anyone born as early as 1976 and late as 2000.

2). Oman’s Demographics – Large Gen Y Community
3,204,897 note: includes 577,293 non-nationals (July 2007 est.)

Age structure
0-14 years: 42.7% (male 698,461/female 670,793) 15-64 years: 54.6% (male 1,026,686/female 723,712) 65 years and over: 2.7% (male 47,534/female 37,711) (2007 est.)

Median age - Total: 18.9 years Male: 21.5 years Female: 16.5 years (2007 est.)

3). Gen Y & Rebirth of Community Spirit
"Personal computing is more and more 'interpersonal' - people use computers to relate to others online" (Crainer quoting Tapscott, 273, 2006). Written almost 10 years ago, Tapscott's prediction that the internet would become a community springboard rather than an isolating phenomena has come true. Commonly referred to as "Web 2.0," this new movement of up and coming websites is all about interaction, communication, and mass customization. Instead of viewing the web as a conglomerate of static pages designed by a group of highly skilled programmers, Web 2.0 sites encourage browsers to make spaces that are all their own (customized templates, backgrounds, music, etc.) while at the same time integrating features that instantly connect like-minded others. Blogging is just one example of this community trend. Not only are people able to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions with the world at large, but many bloggers find that the "at large" part isn't as big as many assume....

4). Use of Technology
From older Baby Boomers to young adults, people use the same kinds of technology, but it's Gen Y that's integrating it into their daily lives at a faster rate than ever before, a research firm said Monday.

Generation Yers are spending more time online, watching less TV, engaging in more social computing activities, such as instant messaging; and using more social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and Youtube than any other generation.

Mobile phone use provides the best example of how the younger generation is integrating technology into their lifestyles. Fully, 45 percent of Gen Yers who have mobile phones use data services, led by text messaging, ring tones and games.

That percentage, however, drops significantly for the older generations. Fully, 27 per cent of phone-carrying Gen Xers, defined as 27 to 40 years old; and 17 per cent of younger Baby Boomers, 41 to 50 years old, use data services.

Gen Yers spend an average of 12.2 hours online every week, which is 28 per cent longer than Gen Xers and almost twice as long as older Boomers, which range from 51 to 61 years old, Gen Yers are 50 per cent more likely than Gen Xers to send text messages, twice as likely to read blogs and three times as likely to use social networking sites.

When it comes to online shopping, Gen Xers lead the charge. This year, 16.9 per cent of Gen Xers are expected to shop online, compared with 9.6 per cent of older Boomers, 12.4 percent of younger Boomers and 4 per cent of Gen Yers. Those numbers are not surprising, considering that the prime spending years are 27 to 50 years old. Fully 41 per cent of US household now shop online.

When it comes to online banking, however, Gen Yers lead with 67 per cent having checked bank account balances during the last three months, compared with 64 per cent for Gen Xers, 53 per cent for younger Boomers and 49 per cent for older Boomers.

5). Bit More on Marketing
Marketers trying to anticipate future consumer trends should tune in to Gen Yers. As these do-it-yourselfers become a primary consuming audience, they will carry with them their cross-channel shopping enthusiasm, active blog usage, and reliance on the information-scouring powers of Google.

One key data point that stands out: 24% of Gen Yers read blogs, which is twice as often as the 12% of Gen Xers (ages 27-40) and three times the 7% of Young Boomers (ages 41-50) that read blogs. So sceptics of blogs should suspend their disbelief and look to at least one bellwether demographic to get an idea of how widespread blog readership can potentially grow in the future.

This then begs the question whether marketers should have a blog themselves to connect with blog readers. The answer is a qualified "yes", with the huge caveat that companies shouldn't have a blog just to have one. The better question to ask is whether you are interested in engaging in a different type of dialogue that this generation seeks in its regular interactions -- one characterized by give and take and a culture of generosity. All too often, marketers see blogs as yet another channel through which they can foist their existing marketing messages but beware as Gen Yers can sniff insincerity out in a nanosecond.

6). Profiling Gen Yers
The Tough Side: Generation Yers tend to share a number of common characteristics, many of which fly in the face of their Boomer and Xer predecessors' values.

They're impatient. Gen Yers have been raised in a fast-paced world dominated by technology and instant gratification. The result: Speed, not patience, is their virtue. Don't be surprised if they chafe at many-stepped processes and bureaucracy — or prefer to vault over, rather than methodically ascend, the corporate ladder.

They're skeptical. Generation Y wears a BS detector on top of its head - and why not? They've been scammed to, lied to and exploited.

They're disengaged. According to a November 1999 Kaiser Family Foundation Report, "Kids and Media @ The New Millennium," 8 to 18 year olds are exposed to almost eight hours of media each day—including TV, videos, computers and video games. As a result, expect this generation to eschew single, focused challenges in favour of multiple and varied projects.

They're blunt and expressive. Told repeatedly to Just Do It, Gen Yers value self-expression over self-control and speak their minds freely — a tendency that can get them in trouble when dealing with customers, co-workers or people in authority.

This doesn't mean, however, that Generation Y doesn't heed respect. But Generation Y won't automatically offer up their respect just because someone is older or has a title.

The Bright Side: Like any generation, what makes Generation Y difficult to deal with is also what makes it uniquely skilled. A number of talents and tendencies dominate, including the fact that they are:

· adaptable
· techno savvy
· able to grasp new concepts
· multi-taskers
· efficient
· tolerant

Perhaps the most surprising attribute many Gen Yers share is a sense of commitment. They pledge their hearts and souls to causes that they believe in, which makes them very loyal employees.

Money Isn't—Mostly—Everything
Compensation plays a tricky role for Generation Y. While it isn't the end all and reward all that it often has been for previous generations of workers, when the chips are down, it still makes a difference.

Marketing to Gen Yers: Getting it Right?
Here are 14 ways to improve your marketing success to Generation Y

1. Avoid clich├ęs and insincerity.
2. Avoid hype.
3. Use sound bites, strong images and short snappy phrases.
4. Keep your marketing text concise.
5. Use plenty of cool graphics.
6. Keep the tone of your marketing campaign low-key and sincere.
7. Show concern for the environment.
8. Understand that they expect instant gratification.
9. Appeal to their sense of being technologically savvy.
10. Emphasize the functional benefits of your products/services.
11. Be realistic and offer practical information.
12. Emphasize quality.
13. Understand that this group is bright, technically astute and sophisticated buyers.
14. Keep abreast of trends and respond quickly to its ever-changing needs and wants.

7). Creating Brand Recognition for Gen Y
Creating brand recognition with Gen Y can be tough. By practically becoming an extension to their computers and mobile devices, they are quickly moving the bulk of marketing to the Internet. Where is all that time being spent online though? For many, it's on games. Believe it or not, online games are forms of social networking too. We're not just talking about Yahoo! Pool but a host of others like World of Warcraft, Lineage II, and Everquest — games that have subscribers in the millions and boast annual sales in the billions. In these simulated worlds, players can chat, shop, create interest groups, throw parties and do virtually anything save their homework.If you're looking to provide interactive content for Gen Yers, games may be the way to go. Some hotel and automobile marketers like Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Ford, and Toyota and have already taken advantage of cross-promotion opportunities. Many brands make their appearance in virtual worlds through clothing and food as well.

8). Blogging
Information used to be controlled by a powerful few but now Gen Yers are revolutionizing things with the Internet. This generation no longer settles for what big companies are willing to offer and instead are finding their own ways to get exactly what they want. Marketers should be keen to notice that this doesn’t exclusively apply to products but information too.
Back in the day, it was okay for companies to stay low-key on the Web but now more than a main site is required to connect with the wired Gen Yers. While many Gen Yers frequently check blogs, podcasts and emails, a large percentage of business executives reported that they had no plans to spread information about their companies on blogs or community sites. This can be troublesome to companies unaware of their reputations from other Generation Y sources. Moreover, Gen Yers are less prone to trust big companies due to a disparity in attitudes.

9). Gen Y Leads Purchasing Decisions
Gen Y is seen as one of the most lucrative market segments for many online brands. Now, a new study reported in an article by USA Today asserts that Generation Y surpasses the Baby Boomers in purchasing power and heavily influences most family purchase decisions.
Often studied by marketers as the leaders in new fashion trends, Generation Y is turning away from department stores, such as JC Penney or Dillard’s, and favoring high-end brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Coach, and Express for their clothing needs. They are also more likely to bargain shop at places like Goodwill or similar thrift stores than to shop at department stores, mixing a need for high-fashion with a sense of fiscal frugality.

Similar trends can be traced across the retail spectrum, from automobiles to electronics. Generation Y’s need for immediacy will steer them towards discount webs sites offering free shipping such as eBay Express or Overstock.com and away from text-intensive sites with poor navigation. Retailers would be smart to acknowledge that Gen Y associates a quality made web site with a quality brand and vice versa.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gen Yers on KOM's Radar

Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) will host its fourth and final Digital Nation seminar for 2007 at 7:30pm Sunday 9 December on KOM. Panelists for the event include: Riyadh Al Balushi, Oman3D; Jeremy Foster, Ericsson; Graham Porter, Cisco; Daniel Pinto, Netsolo; and Tariq Al Barwani, Nawras.

Supported by Ericsson, Nawras, Microsoft, HP, Infoline, SAP Arabia, Infocomm and Omania e-Commerce, Sunday’s seminar is entitled iGeneration: Embracing the Digital World. According to Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing “iGeneration or Generation Y as they’re also known were born between 1978 – 1998 and account for a large slice of Oman’s population. Indeed, statistics reveal that the sultanate’s median age is just 18.9.”

Gen Yers are often characterized as ambitious, self-absorbed, gregarious, demanding, confident and believe they can change the world. They are the offspring of baby-boomers, a generation of Omanis now preparing for retirement and relying on their children to produce the wealth needed to finance their old age.

Karim Rahemtulla, MD of Infocomm, an M-commerce firm based on KOM described Gen Yers as the "world's first truly mobile and connected generation". He added: "Through our community portal, isurf.co.om we have a tremendous amount of contact with Gen Yers and this is a generation that has grown up with technology, they’ve access to the Internet, laptops, wi-fi, Google, iPods, CD, DVD, MP3, SMS and MMS. This multitude of choice, this instant connectivity, this speed of globalization is all they’ve ever known. In fact, this is a generation that has never had to memorize a phone number or had to get off the sofa to change a satellite TV channel.”

Technology is the buzz word when it comes to Generation Y. Personal computers and the Internet have transformed both the home and school environment. A recent study predicts that current 10 to 17-year olds will spend one-third of their lives (circa 23 years) on the Internet. “You probably won't find too many Gen Yers in the library and it's unlikely that you’ll find them flicking through a ‘real’ dictionary or consulting a thesaurus, it’ll all be done online,” suggests Nasser Al Rahbi, Marketing Officer at KOM.

In 2000, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), a popular form of instant communication among Gen Yers, boasted 90 million registered users and 2.4 million simultaneous users. Since then it has gown tremendously. According to Time magazine, a new user registers to join the AIM community every 3.5 seconds.

Cisco’s Graham Porter and moderator for tomorrow evening’s Digital Nation seminar says: “It’s AOL statistics that indicate how tech savvy Gen Yers are. Blogs, e-mail, online games, satellite TV, iPods and smart phones have elevated their mobility tremendously, these folk are truly global. In my view, Oman-based companies must begin to measure, understand and embrace this permanently changing landscape. Research is required into how Gen Yers operate. Indeed, if firms neglect this booming and IT centric generation they risk degradation of brand equity and failure to draw new customers.”


Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Millennials An Untapped Market

Companies are unprepared for the technology demands of today’s youth, suggests a survey carried out by Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM).

KOM’s survey revealed that many companies have no immediate plans to allow customers to buy products or services online. Indeed, many of those surveyed said they had no plans to provide online forums for customers to discuss products or services. Moreover, they had no immediate plans to monitor customer discussions on websites or blogs.

The survey was carried out in preparation for KOM’s forthcoming Digital Nation seminar scheduled for 7:30pm, Sunday 9 December at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Muscat. Supported by Ericsson, Nawras, Microsoft, HP, Infoline SAP Arabia and Omania e-Commerce, the 9 December Digital Nation seminar is entitled iGeneration: Embracing the Digital World which will look at “Millennials” - youngsters born between 1980 and 2000 - and their use of the Internet and the communication tools that the public and private sector need to use to reach this tech savvy generation.

“Millennials account for a large and growing portion of Oman’s workforce. This is a generation that’s grown up with the Internet and they don't remember a world without it. They’re comfortable sourcing commercial information and news from the Web. They communicate socially via e-mail, SMS, shop online, blog and use sites like Flickr, MySpace, YouTube and Facebook. Just consider some basic figures, over 65,000 videos are uploaded to YouTube every day and according to Technorati over 120,000 blogs are launched each day – this is the awesome power of Web 2.0 and Millennials are driving it,” remarks Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing (pictured).

KOM’s survey revealed that Oman-based executives recognise the importance of Millennials and their contribution to the growth and development of Oman’s economy but acknowledged that they weren’t responding to the generation’s commercial requirements. “The survey clearly reveals that local businesses need to do more to meet this emerging group's online needs. Indeed, it’s evident that Millennials are driving a revolution in the way products and services are chosen, developed and procured. Customer endorsements on blogs are becoming very important and businesses need to wake up to the relevance of what’s happening online. Many are unaware of what’s happening online and the influence Millennials have on how products and services are bought and sold,” says Al Faruji.

The Digital Nation seminar is open to all and free of charge. To register, e-mail your name and contact co-ordinates to: info@kom.om

Sunday, November 18, 2007

PEIE Offers British Firms a Guaranteed ‘Soft Landing’ in the Gulf

Coventry University is providing the gateway for British businesses to the Sultanate of Oman.

A VIP delegation from the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) met recently at Coventry University’s Technocentre to sign an historic agreement for a ‘Soft Landing Zone’ in the sultanate ( pictured L to R: Tim Luft, Coventry University; Dave Pender, PEIE & David Wortley, Serious Games Institute, Coventry University) - meaning access to class A office space and free advice and support on building business in the Middle East. The Soft Landing Zone will be established on Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM), the Rusayl-based technology park managed by PEIE. In return, the Coventry University Technocentre will host PEIE tenants who are interested in developing their business operations in the UK.

“We’re delighted to sign this MoU with Coventry University. Indeed, this is the first Soft Landing Zone to be established in the Middle East and we’re proud to have achieved this. PEIE is keen to encourage international trade and by becoming a member of the Soft Landing Zone community we can open doors for our tenants right across Asia and Europe. This is a very exciting initiative,” remarked Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, PEIE.

The UK Soft Landing Zone programme has been set up by Coventry University Enterprises in partnership with government body UK Trade and Investment in order to establish a network of British incubator offices around the globe. The offices, located on key science and technology parks in Europe, Asia and now the Gulf, will be open to UK companies who are either considering or are at the early stages of undertaking international business.

In addition to desk space in a dedicated office – complete with IT services, telephone answering and post forwarding - businesses signing up to the programme will also be able to take advantage of a number of support services. Each company will be allocated a dedicated business support officer to advise or call in expertise on all legal, financial, cultural and practical issues of doing business in a particular country. In addition, the partnership with UK Trade and Investment will give participants the opportunity to benefit from subsidies on travel and accommodation.

Tim Luft, UK Soft Landing Zone Director at Coventry University said: “Oman is a dynamic and innovative economy with a young and highly-educated workforce. It’s a country that is very much open for business. Indeed, this unique agreement will lead to exciting opportunities for firms across the UK to enter a fast-growing and prosperous business environment – and to do so alongside expert local guides.”

The other key locations for the Soft Landing Zone programme include Malaysia, India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Poland, Romania and Sweden.
Blog contents copyright © 2007 PEIE

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Smart Man Task Groups Meet

The Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) is helping move Oman’s manufacturing sector forward by setting up a series of Task Groups that will focus on specific areas of concern to industry.

According to Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Head of Marketing “The five Smart Manufacturing Task Groups cover: innovation and design; education and training; ICT; finance; and international trade. These groups have been established to ensure that promises made at PEIE’s annual Smart Manufacturing Conference held in April 2007 are followed through. Members from across industry and government are participating and we’re delighted with the sessions that have been held so far.”

Smart Manufacturing Task Groups met this week at PEIE’s Headquarters on Knowledge Oasis Muscat to discuss education and training, ICT and innovation and design. Al Faruji commented “The Innovation and Design Task Group is about helping Oman’s manufacturing sector to be more creative and innovative, particularly with best practices and product design. “For example, sustainable design is an area that the Task Group focused on,” said Al Faruji. “The use of recycled and recyclable materials; reducing pollution through cutting down on transportation, such as by using locally-sourced materials; making products which can be taken apart once they are discarded so that their parts that can be used again; and designing goods which use as little energy as possible while they are being made were all discussed,” remarked PEIE’s Head of Marketing.

Attended by key representatives from Oman’s higher education and industry, issues of specific concern to the Smart Manufacturing Education and Training Task Group include: changing the mindset of manufacturers towards management and workforce development, in effect, stimulating a culture change; tailoring training programs that meet the needs of manufacturers, particularly smaller firms; encourage dialogue between higher education and manufacturing; and promote the role of Oman’s Higher Education in providing training and R&D support to manufacturers.

“The intention is to take forward a number of pilot projects that have been identified by the various Task Groups and report on their progress at Smart Manufacturing in April 2008,” said Al Faruji.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Oman Manufacturing Group Talks Branding

According to Mr. Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and organizer of the quarterly Oman Manufacturing Group seminar program: “This is a time of competition and differentiation for Oman’s manufacturers. This is a time for manufacturers to shape the future of their brand in an intelligent and inspirational way.”

Twenty years ago, manufacturers spent little on marketing and branding. Lacking technological resources, they focused on their traditional core markets and seemed unable or unwilling to compete. Nowadays, Oman-based manufacturers are aware of the necessity for a strong brand as a way of creating sustainable value. Led by S. Gopalan, CEO, Reem Batteries, Monday night’s OMG seminar examined the importance of brand development and its relevance to Oman’s growing manufacturing sector.

According to research carried out by Ernst & Young, up to 40 per cent of the 'average' company's market value is based on intangible assets, such as its brand reputation. In Al Ahsani’s view, when manufacturers develop a brand-based marketing plan, it is critical they think about every point at which their target audience may come into contact with the brand. “Every interaction or point of contact with the target audience is an opportunity for manufacturers to enhance their brand. These points of contact, or touch-points, include a wide spectrum of elements from corporate events, advertising, brochures, website, media and even the attitude of clients.”

Commenting from the OMG seminar, Dave Pender, Advisor, PEIE said: “this evening’s discussions clearly demonstrated that marketing isn’t a controlled process in an insulated lab. Manufacturers need to realize that marketing activities are prone to mishaps, last minute changes, conceptual shifts, the volatility of markets, natural disasters, social change and the vagaries of human nature. Some marketing efforts will backfire while others will yield great results. It was evident from tonight’s panel discussion that marketing requires constant fine tuning and adjustments to reflect and respond to the kaleidoscopic environment of our times.”
Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Oman Souq Online Wins 2007 BBIC Title

Under the patronage of the Minister of Commerce & Industry, HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Oman Souq Online led by Anwar Al Tobi, Abdulhakeem Al Tobi and Badriya Al Baqlani received the top award at this year’s TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition held on Sunday evening at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Muscat.

Founded in 2006 by Knowledge Oasis Muscat and supported by Ernst & Young, Nawras, Ericsson, NCR, Talal Abu Ghazaleh Intellectual Property, Infocomm and Oman Economic Review the annual competition recognizes and celebrates Oman’s most inspiring business plan.

Organizer of the annual competition, Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates said: "I congratulate the winning team of Anwar Al Tobi, Abdulhakeem Al Tobi and Badriya Al Baqlani and all those short-listed for the competition because many of them have developed potentially winning ideas for areas which are crucial to our economy.”

At the award ceremony Mohammed Al Maskari, Director General, Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) said: “Innovation depends on taking ideas right through to become fully-fledged marketable products and services. Annual competitions like this which help mentor and develop people to market and sell their ideas can only help us in boosting innovation in Oman."

Al Ahsani added: “I’m thrilled to see the growing, important contribution the TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition is making in showcasing young Omani entrepreneurs. The value of role models can not be underestimated and each of our finalists is someone that other young entrepreneurs will aspire to be like. I know that some things are universal when it comes to achieving business success - it takes vision, determination, commitment, sacrifice and passion. This year’s four finalists are testament to that and I applaud their incredible achievements."

To help realise their ideas, Oman Souq Online will have access to 12 months rent free office accommodation in The Knowledge Mine incubator program based on KOM. They will also receive RO4,000 in start-up cash, RO2,000 in telecommunication and Internet credit from Nawras and access to regular business mentoring sessions

Philip Stanton, Managing Partner, Ernst & Young – Oman, and lead sponsor of the business idea competition added: “This year’s finalists are talented and determined young men and women who all have the potential to be tomorrow’s business leaders. They are innovators who are true role models. I know they will inspire many others to take up the challenge of the TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition in future years.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Big Business Idea Finalists Announced

E-security, online retail, internet research and survey and multimedia projects, are among the new technology ventures short-listed for this year's TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition final which will be held Sunday 28 October at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Muscat.

The TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition, the largest such competition in Oman, has selected four potentially high-growth businesses, drawn from entries from around the sultanate, to compete on 28 October for RO6,000 of start-up finance and 12 months rent free office accommodation in the TKM incubator program based at Knowledge Oasis Muscat.

The four outstanding finalists are in the early stages of setting up businesses and are based on innovative ideas. The finalists are:

Saleh Al Shukairy – multimedia;
Badriya Al Baqlani, Anwar Al Tobi and Abdulhakim Al Tobi - online retail;
Majid Al Yaqoobi - online research and survey project; and
Jafer Al Mamari - e-security.

The TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition is a prestigious launch pad to raise investment and create high-value technology companies. The finalists will present elevator pitches to the competition’s judging panel on 28 October at the event’s annual gala dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. According to Mr. Mohammed Al Maskari, Director General, Knowledge Oasis Muscat: “The judges look at a wide range of criteria; in particular, business success either by increase in sales and unit volume, market research and identification of customer focus, organizational and team building effectiveness, strategic planning, overcoming obstacles and barriers to success, visionary leadership and social and community responsibility.”

Hilal Al Ahsani (pictured), CEO, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates said: “This is the second year that we’ve run the TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition and it’s developing an impressive track record for creating new ventures. However, we could not organize such an important initiative without the critical support of Ernst & Young, Nawras, Talal Abu Ghazaleh Intellectual Property; Ericsson, NCR, Grofin; Oman Economic Review and Times of Oman. We’re thrilled with the calibre of this year's entries and it has been tough job for the judging panel to narrow it down to the final four.”


Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, October 20, 2007

OMG on Branding

According to Eng. Hamad Al Harthy, Director General of Rusayl Industrial Estate (pictured) the dictionary definition of branding is: “the act of giving a company a particular design or symbol in order to advertise its products and services,” and this is indeed the topic of discussion for PEIE’s Oman Manufacturing Group (OMG) seminar scheduled for 7:30pm Monday 29 October at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Al Harthy is amazed with how few domestic businesses understand the importance of branding. Indeed, he points out that recent research suggests that many businesses see no reason for investing in design, public relations, web innovation or in communicating core messages. “This is disappointing and something we really need to address,” remarks the PEIE Director General.

How a business, product or service is branded plays a major role in whether it succeeds or fails. “Let’s be honest, a brand isn’t a logo, it’s your ethics and persona. It’s your story. This includes your style of design, your execution of that design, your attitude, your marketing, your internal policies and your business process,” says Al Harthy. All of these influence your brand image. Indeed, according to Ernst & Young, up to 40 per cent of a company's market value is based on intangible assets - the emotional and psychological factors that enable a person to feel comfortable with, and relate to a brand.

Backed by some of Oman’s best known brands including Reem Batteries; Oman Cables; Ericsson; Agility; Omani Marble; Jotun; Videocon; Muna Noor Manufacturing & Trading; Future Pipe Industries; Al Mudhish; Oracle; Oman Oasis Water; and Khimji’s Permoglaze, OMG has been designed specifically by PEIE to bring manufacturers and those connected to the sector closer together.

“Creating the right identity doesn’t happen by accident but takes considerable understanding of target markets, a well-defined competitive strategy and the ability to communicate this effectively. These are the issues the next OMG seminar will tackle,” says Al Harthy.


“Many believe we’re on the cusp of a major shift in how Omani firms think about branding,” comments Mohammed Al Maskari, Director General, Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM). Historically, a brand was seen as a promise that said: “You can rely on what we’re offering because of our brand attributes.” This, in my opinion, is beginning to be replaced with a more customer centric branding where the message is: “I know you better than the competitors and you can trust me to put together the right products or services to meet your individual needs.” This branding paradigm shift is more than evident on KOM where firms have become very image conscious. They’re concerned about how they look, the quality of service they deliver and the messages they send out. ”


Blog contents copyright © 2007 PEIE

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Origin Oman - Buy Local Survey

This survey is part of research at the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (http://www.peie.om/) to understand the role that domestic manufacturers, shops and local food play in Oman. The objectives are to understand whether goods produced domestically offer benefits for local people and examine links between Oman’s business community and the general public.

All findings will be used solely for research purposes and this is a confidential survey.

1. In which store/market do you normally do your main weekly/monthly shop i.e. where you buy the majority of your groceries?

.........................................................................................................................................................................

2. In which store/market do you do your secondary shopping (if different from above) i.e. not a large weekly/monthly shop?

.........................................................................................................................................................................

3. How much on average do you spend on groceries in an average week?

RO0 - RO10  RO35 - RO50 
RO10 - RO20  RO50 - RO70 
RO20 - RO35  RO70+ 

4. How do you normally travel to your main grocery store?

Drive  Bus 
Cycle  Walk 
Taxi 

5. Approximately how far do you travel?......................................

6. What is most important to you in your local store/market?
Please grade on a scale from 1 – 3, where 1 is the most important

Friendly staff / good service  Location 
Community engagement  Product range 
Availability of specialist produce  Price 

Other:..............................................................................................................................................................

7. What are the main incentives for you when choosing between locally made and international products? Please grade on a scale from 1 – 3, where 1 is the most important

Price  Known brand name 
Quality and taste  Advertising campaigns 
Organic or health related  Special offers 
Locally produced  Recommendations 
In season produce  Attractive packaging 

Other:.............................................................................................................................................................

8. In general, do you know where the products you buy are made?

Yes  No  Sometimes 

9. On average, how often do you buy locally made products (those that are produced in Oman)?

Weekly  Monthly  Yearly  Never 

What are these local products (if applicable)? Please specify

.........................................................................................................................................................................

.........................................................................................................................................................................

.........................................................................................................................................................................

10. What do you feel are the biggest barriers for you to buy locally made products?
Please grade on a scale from 1 – 3, where 1 is the most important

Lack of availability  Quality is low or inconsistent 
Don’t know what is locally produced  Would rather buy a brand I trust 
Too expensive  Don’t see why it is important 
Poorly packaged and presented 

Other:............................................................................................................................................................

11. I buy locally made products because

........................................................................................................................................................................

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12. I don’t buy locally made products because

.......................................................................................................................................................................

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13. Do you think shops in Oman do enough to promote Made in Oman goods?

Yes  No 

14. How important are locally made goods to Oman’s economy?

Essential  Unimportant 
Very important  No opinion 
Neither important nor unimportant 

15. What kind of reputation have Made in Oman products?

Excellent 
Good 
Fair 
Poor 
16. How are Made in Oman products packaged?

Excellent 
Good 
Fair 
Poor 

17. Is there sufficient labelling on Made in Oman products?

Yes 
No 

18. Are Made in Oman products easy to find in local shops?

Yes 
No 

19. Would you welcome a Buy Local campaign?

Yes 
No 
Thank you for responding to the questions about locally made products. We would be grateful you could now answer some about you, and remember that all information will be treated as confidential.

20. Gender:

Male  Female 

21. Age:

Under 16  16-19  20-29 
30-39  40 – 49  50-59 
50-59  60+ 

22. Family Composition

Number of adults: 
Number of children 0- 3 year  4-10 year  11-18 year 

23. Occupation:

Full time employee 
Unpaid family worker/ carer 
Part time employee 
Student 
Self employed 
Retired 

Other:.............................................................................................................................................................

If you would like to receive further details on the forthcoming Origin Oman campaign please provide us with your contact details.

PO Box:..................................................................................

Postal Code:...........................................................................

E-mail:...................................................................................

GSM:.....................................................................................

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION!

Please e-mail your completed survey to Mulkie Al Hashmi on: info@peie.om

If you would like more information about the Origin Oman project or would like to get involved please contact Mrs. Ibtisam Al Faruji on: ibtisam@kom.om

Blog contents copyright © 2007 PEIE

Friday, September 28, 2007

2006 BBIC Winners Talk Shop

Can you give our readers some background details on the Qumreiyat idea and the people involved in the start up?

Qumreiyat is a portal that provides information on Oman. In simple terms, it aims to answer all the questions a potential tourist may have before heading to the sultanate – the portal will enable and empower interactivity between potential tourists and organizations – in both the public and private sectors – working in the tourism industry. The Qumreiyat team is: Majda Al Hinai, Maha Al Bulushi and Zawan Al Sabti.

How and why did you come up with the idea of the Qumreiyat?

From an international perspective, there is still a lack of awareness of Oman as a tourism destination – though with full credit to the Ministry of Tourism, this is changing rapidly which makes it a particularly good time for Qumreiyat to be launched. We see a niche in the market for a portal such as ours and we want to fill that gap.

Why did you enter the TKM- Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition?

As soon as we heard about the competition we decided to enter – we thought that even if we didn’t win the feedback from the judging panel would be invaluable. We were also keen to attend the business plan workshops that were offered by Ernst & Young staff at Knowledge Oasis Muscat.

To be honest, we’d had the Qumreiyat idea for quite some time, kicking concepts around and discussing how to take it forward. But the main obstacle was start-up finance and with RO6,000 on offer to the BBIC winner we decided to enter.

You’ve won RO6,000 in start up finance and 12 months rent free office space in the TKM incubator program – what impact is this having on taking your company forward?

The RO6,000 in start-up funds and the 12 months rent free office space in TKM is pushing us on and up. It’s been an ideal start for us. We're already networking with start ups in the TKM program as well as other tenants on the tech park.

A survey carried by the TKM incubator program shows that – at college age – a high proportion of Omani students want to become entrepreneurs. But the reality is that, later on, few actually do it. Why is that? What were the key factors to sustain your motivation?

Being an entrepreneur is all about taking risks and perhaps young people don’t have the necessary skills or experience to manage risk – this is an issue we should be addressing in schools and colleges – switching young people onto the enterprise culture – preparing them to think about starting their own business.

Finance is another obstacle that fresh business-oriented graduates face. Naturally, graduates are looking for a secure job and a guaranteed income. This brings us back to the issue of risk and what people are prepared to do with their careers. We’re looking for a challenge and an opportunity to fulfil a dream – we want to run our own business, this is what drives us forward.

What obstacles or challenges do you expect your start up to face over the next 18 – 24 months?

Time – there are never enough hours in the day.
Building creative and interesting content for the site that will appeal to all nationalities.
Getting clients to join the portal and believe in the concept.

Did you accept any advice along the way? Do you believe start ups should be open to advice?

Yes, we’re always open to advice. The BBIC business plan workshops were very helpful and so were staff at KOM.

Start-ups need to be patient – it isn’t going to happen over night. Perhaps most importantly, you’ve got to be willing to take criticism, no matter what shape or form it comes in.

What kind of relationship do you expect to establish with your customers?

Customer is king, right? Our relationship with customers will be highly professional. Responding to their needs quickly and appropriately is imperative. We’re here to solve a problem and that’s what will differentiate us from other tourism websites.

What advice would you to pass on to our young entrepreneurial readers?

Never lose your enthusiasm or sense of humour.

Blog contents copyright © 2007 PEIE

Big Business Idea Competition Gala

Entries to the TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition (http://www.kom.om/), the largest technology-focused business plan competition in the Gulf region, closed late last week. Backed by Ericsson, Nawras, NCR, GroFin, Infocomm and OER, this year’s competition final and Gala Dinner will take place 28 October at the Crowne Plaza Hotel under the patronage of HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

“The four finalists will present power pitches to the judging panel at the Gala Dinner. The panel of judges will then make their final deliberations and announce the 2007 winner,” said Mohammed Al Maskari, Director General, Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM).

This year the competition has a top prize of RO6,000 awarded to the winning business plan. The winner is also granted 12 months rent free office accommodation in the TKM incubator program based at KOM.

"We welcome entries from anyone - individuals, teams, new companies, colleges creating spin-offs, scientists, students and entrepreneurs - with a good, innovative idea for a science, technology, medical or design-based business," commented the KOM Director General.
The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition is not just about the competition itself. Former entrants have used the event as a launch pad to raise investment for their ventures, and the competition’s finalists, particularly, benefit from the additional exposure they receive at the annual Gala Dinner, which provides them with instant access to an audience of influential business angels and venture capitalists seeking new investment opportunities.

One company that has benefited in this way is Qumreiyat who is developing a dynamic tourism portal. Qumreyat’s Zawan Al Sabti was one of three responsible for presenting the prize-winning pitch at last year’s final, she commented: “The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition provided our start-up with a great opportunity. We were able to present our initial ideas on business strategy and receive valuable feedback from experienced professionals on how best to take the company forward. Since presenting at the final in 2006 the team have followed up on interest expressed by several organizations who attended the event.”

Al Sabti’s colleague, Majda Al Hinai, agrees that the competition provides an invaluable opportunity for young Omani entrepreneurs. “Qumreiyat has attracted a significant amount of interest since its launch and taking up residency in the TKM incubator program at KOM. The competition provided the focus the team needed to define its business strategy. The document we had to produce was a valuable starting point on which to build the broader plan for the launch. Our appearance at last year’s final clearly raised the company’s profile to a national level, something we could not have achieved so quickly on our own.”

Al Maskari, organiser of the TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition added: “The quality of entries is very high and our experienced judges are not easily impressed, so getting to the final is a significant achievement, and one which is recognised by potential domestic and regional investors.”

The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition has been helping to raise the profile of start-up and spinout organisations since its inception in 2006 by providing valuable exposure for growing businesses and access to a wide range of resources, advice and guidance through its seminar programme and networking activities. The competition is free of charge and open to all Omani nationals.

Blog contents copyright © 2007 PEIE

Monday, September 10, 2007

Infocomm Signs MoU with Saudi ISP

Oman’s leading m-Commerce firm, Knowledge Oasis Muscat-based Infocomm, is participating this week at GITEX, the Middle East’s premier information communication technology trade show in Dubai. "Last year's show was tremendously successful for us, so it was imperative that we participate this year, particularly since we have a range of new WiFI, M-commerce, e-Learning and e-Gaming solutions to present,” said Singaporean entrepreneur and Infocomm’s MD, Karim Rahemtulla. “In fact, the positive feedback from business partners, ISPs and telco operators strengthened our determination to expand our participation at this year's show and to make greater use of GITEX as an international, strategic platform for presentations and networking," comments Rahemtulla.

The first two days of the show have been highly productive for Infocomm and Rahemtulla is clearly enthusiastic as he describes them. “We were besieged on Saturday and Sunday with quality enquiries - people literally queued up one after the other to see our WiFi, M-commerce e-Learning and e-Gaming solutions.”

Saturday marked a milestone for Infocomm as on they signed an MOU to provide a full turnkey WiFi solution for 7i the Saudi-based ISP (pictured L - R: Karim Rahemtulla, MD, Infocomm with 7i's CEO, Eng. Anas Maisarah Taher) This is the second venture between the two companies since they meet at GITEX last year.

7i has also shown keen interest in Infocomm’s e-Learning content. The possibility of accessing this in the Kingdom on a pay per view basis has been suggested. “We’re providing businesses like 7i with solutions that allow business owners to get on with what they’re good at, running their own business. We don’t expect them to know all the latest WiFI, M-commerce or Internet-based learning strategies nor should they, that’s what we are here for,” says Rahemtulla.

Ibtisam Al Faruji, Head of Marketing at KOM commented from the Park’s stand at GITEX: “Infocomm is one of the region’s leading M-commerce firms providing solutions to organizations working in manufacturing, health, travel, leisure, tourism and education. They’re an extremely competent and proactive international firm. On the domestic scene, they’re certainly revolutionising the way in which Omani companies and government departments think about marketing their products and services. We’re proud to have this calibre of company as a tenant. The level of their participation at GITEX is typical of how they operate – absolutely top class and a credit to all the Infocomm team.”

Blog contents copyright © 2007 PEIE

KOM Spreads the Word at GITEX

A multi-million Rial expansion has recently opened on Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM), the Rusayl-based technology park. According to Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General: “The RO3.8 million (US$10.4 million) expansion program provides an additional 10,000 square metres of office accommodation to support established and developing hi-tech businesses. Amongst a number of new tenants from Europe and the Middle East, the Park’s recently opened office space is home to Microsoft, Motorola, Qatar Airways and the Information Technology Authority (ITA).”

Announcing this next step in the development of KOM Al Maskari said: “There is a fantastic spirit of entrepreneurship and inspiration running through KOM. This has helped establish the Park and the wider Rusayl area as a centre of excellence for knowledge-based industries and a great place for innovative businesses to develop and thrive. However, it is vital that we keep that momentum going and continue to offer the facilities and support systems that allow our tenants be creative and thrive.”

The Rusayl area is fast becoming an area of growth for knowledge-based companies, many of which are in information communication technology (ICT) and manufacturing, clustering around KOM, PEIE’s Rusayl Industrial Estate, Sultan Qaboos University and the university’s teaching hospital.

Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing said: “The Park’s new office facilities will bring together science, industry and education in an environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship. We’re thrilled with the response from local as well as international firms to take up residency on KOM. ”

In an effort to reach a broader international audience and spread news of KOM’s continued expansion, the Park’s management will participate this week at GITEX - the region’s largest annual ICT trade exhibition.

But what does KOM want to achieve from its GITEX participation? “The obvious answer is our stand crammed with potential tenants, but more realistically it’s about maintaining momentum and quality face time with interested parties. Our main purpose is to meet potential tenants and demonstrate how KOM can meet their varied commercial needs,” says Al Faruji.

Given the sharp increase in the number of firms based on KOM and the additional office space that has come on line, Al Faruji believes the park has a strong and engaging message to deliver. In addition to a growing tenant base, KOM is also behind a number of high-profile ICT initiatives. For example, the TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition, a national business plan event aimed at raising awareness of the start-up culture amongst Oman’s youth. The Park’s quarterly Digital Nation seminars are well-attended networking events that help KOM tenants raise their profiles. “When you have multinationals like Ericssson, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Cisco backing your marketing initiatives then you know you’re on the right track,” commented KOM’s Head of Marketing. The Park’s annual eGames conference is another regional first, “we’re the only tech park in the Gulf that’s looking at mobile and serious gaming and their applications to areas such as education, tourism, heritage, the environment as well as oil and gas. There’s a tremendous amount of energy on KOM and we need to spread news of that at GITEX,” remarked Al Faruji.

Blog contents copyright © 2007 PEIE

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

KOM Tunes into Digital Media

Knowledge Oasis Muscat’s next Digital Nation seminar will be held 9:30pm, Monday 17 September at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Backed by Ericsson, Microsoft, HP, Omania e-Commerce, SAP Arabia, OER, Infoline, Nawras, Infocomm and Times of Oman the 17 September session will tune into Digital Media.

But what exactly is digital media? According to Ibtisam Al Faruji (pictured), KOM’s Head of Marketing “it’s anything from the traditional uses of the medium for creating and sharing rich content to the explosion of blogs for self expression and increasingly real time interpretation of news and breaking events.” Digital media is also about shared content via websites like Flicr, YouTube and blip.tv and social sites such as FaceBook and MySpace. It's a concept that's booming.

Today, consumers are more than ever seeking out information rather than following blindly. “We've moved away from an age of deference to an age of reference. The emergence of blogs and wikis ('what I know is?') clearly show the demands of an increasingly sophisticated and information-hungry public and are examples of how consumers are taking power into their own hands and creating their own new and trusted sources of information. The consumer really is becoming king,” comments Al Faruji.

Consumers are exercising more control, said Infocomm’s Karim Rahemtulla. Already in the US, 70% of personal video recorder users are skipping adverts, he noted. "People want to connect to information and connect to their friends," he said. "The focus will be on highly personalized experiences." Suggesting that advertisers might be missing a trick, he added: ""Today only about 5% of global advertising is online, yet 20% of media is consumed online. This is an amazing opportunity for advertisers."


The boom in social websites like Flickr and YouTube “clearly indicate the rise in collaborative usage of the Internet” said Ericsson’s Susie Houh and supporter of the Digital Nation program. "This is a social innovation and not just a technological one," she commented. “Collaborative editing of music and video content are the next likely trends, although this will depend on free licensing and the availability of easy-to-use software,” she added.


PEIE’s Dave Pender believes that consumers of news from the media are transforming themselves into providers of information. For example, the pioneering South Korean "citizen journalism" website Ohmynews now has over 33,000 citizen reporters, though it still used professional editors too, he noted. Pender cited a recent quote from News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch - "We tell you less, you tell us more" - to illustrate how some of the global media were engaging with the potential power of citizen journalism.


In the not too distant future "content will be delivered anywhere to a growing range of devices. Indeed, a lot of that content will be available on your mobile," forecast Infocomm’s Rahemtulla. "The scope will exist for far greater personalization of all forms of content and end users will be empowered and have greater influence, controlling how, where and at what price they consume content." The feeling among many media commentators is that traditional media players, including public service broadcasters, still have a future, as long as they can reinvent themselves.


For KOM’s Al Faruji, the key to success for TV channels, radio stations and print media still lay in content. “Given the incredible growth of digital media folk in the media industry will need to take greater risks. In the end, it will boil down to creativity, that will be a key factor.”
To attend the free of charge Digital Nation seminar send your name and contact co-ordinates to: info@kom.om


Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Monday, September 03, 2007

Play & Learn with Infocomm


Karim Rahemtulla is the Knowledge Oasis Muscat-based Singaporean entrepreneur and a leading WiFi and mobile marketing specialist, behind the top-flight m-Commerce firm, Infocomm, and the Gulf region’s first value-add infotainment portal - isurf.co.om

Rahemtulla is enthusiastic about Infocomm’s participation at this year’s GITEX exhibition. “This is a huge boost for us,” said Rahemtulla. “GITEX provides us with a world-class profiling opportunity and a chance to expand our current client base by meeting potential customers from across the Middle East and North Africa, all under one roof.”

Infocomm will be exhibiting its existing products as well as a range of new e-Learning and e-Gaming solutions and demonstrating high speed WiFi internet access and mobile marketing services. “We had a tremendous show last year signing a major deal with Saudi Arabia’s ISP 7i and we look forward to repeating that success this year,” Rahemtulla said.

The Infocomm team is particularly excited about advergaming and will be demonstrating how the mobile medium can be used to market and brand products and services. “Advergaming is the new hot topic and it’s moving from the Web to the mobile and we’re eager to share its possibilities with our clients in the region,” remarked Rahemtulla. He went on to explain how the roster of companies that are relying on Web and mobile-based games to generate marketing buzz, or recently have done so, include Nokia, which fielded an online curling game as part of its sponsorship of the Canadian Men's Curling Championship; Fox Sports, with a World Series game in which visitors tried to "hit" a virtual ball out of a virtual stadium; a mobile video game on Audi’s website that allows players to download the Audi Q7 game coupled with Audi Q7 logos; and a coalition of major fast-food restaurant chains and packaged-food companies, including McDonald's and Kraft, that seeks to help curb childhood obesity by offering kids online games that teach nutritional concepts at a new site called Kidnetic.com.

Infocomm is developing in partnership with Nexgen, Singapore’s leading mobile and PC game developers, a number of advergaming solutions. “In this regard, I’m confident that tech savvy marketers will be interested in exploring what advergaming and Infocomm can do for their brand,” commented Rahemtulla.

In addition to the advergaming concept Infocomm will also be showcasing e-Learning solutions from Educomp, one of India’s top 10 companies. Educomp is estimated to be working with 3.6 million learners across Asia and the US and has a presence in over 6,400 schools. “Educomp packages cover a raft of subjects that include physics, chemistry, English, French, geography and mathematics, “they’re highly interactive and the graphics are outstanding,” says Rahemtulla. Indeed, online education is growing rapidly in the Middle East. For example, the market in Saudi Arabia alone is expected to increase at a compound average growth rate of 32%. “The region’s expanding academic sector represents a substantial market for e-Learning, from secondary to tertiary and we’re keen to capitalize on these opportunities,” says the Singaporean entrepreneur.