Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Conference Panel: Healthcare in India

Before stepping into the panel, I had a pretty linear approach to the Indian healthcare business:
1> Regulatory frameworks -> IP, constraints.
2> Industry-> market structures, services, and maturity of symbiotic players.
3> Consumers and Markets-> segmentation.
4> Companies-> Revenues-> Products and Services; Costs -> Manufacturing, Distribution, Licensing.
5> Distribution models.

Listening to the panelists from Pfizer, a healthcare company (Apollo Hospitals), a generic drugs company (Dr. Reddys) and Carlyle, I began to focus on 2 takeaways:
1> Healthcare Framework and Policy Innovation: The parallel here is the effort in the Indian Financial Services sector to develop frameworks given the results in the US financials "market". Another parallel is the U.S. music and film industry.
2> Business Model Innovation: Focused on access to healthcare services and drugs. Access equates not just to distribution, but also to price points. The parallel here is the U.S. (global?) music industry.

Healthcare Policy Framework Innovation
1> The "Access" Case for Policy Frameworks:
Amit Patel from Dr. Reddy's made an interesting point that bringing down price points in drugs, patented or otherwise, may bring about increases in revenues, due to increases in volumes of users. He carefully avoided talking about elasticity, but he was effectively driving at segmentation and managing the segments.

How is this thought process relevant in the Indian Healthcare context? Unlike in the U.S.- given the context of healthcare insurance in the US- the price of a drug effectively forms an access barrier to those who need it. Healthcare in India invariably involves a large out of pocket expense component.

These access issues roll up into a need for policy frameworks that develop multiple markets and multiple market entities that collaborate to serve unmet demand.

2> The IP Case for Healthcare Frameworks:
Again, the panelist from Dr.Reddy's pointed out that a patent regime is an outcome of a particular economic environment and necessity. The U.S. music industry is coming to grips with markets evolution driven by technology. Do the U.S. music and film industries need to rethink how they look at IP and its enforcement? Would they have to take another look in the future?

3> Policy Roadmaps:
How about applying an idea, similar to product roadmaps for agile development, that I suggested here:

Business Model Innovation
On distribution, the value chain, and operations, I find parallels between the music industry and the healthcare industry. Supply needs to innovate to stoke Demand.

More about this as I add to this blog.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Music Industry, Technology, IP and Piracy: Is there anything in common? Really?

Multiplicity of Approaches.

News articles on the music industry below, indicate a mutiplicity of approaches (could it be serendipity?) being followed by firms to deal with flagging "old media" revenues:
1> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/04/technology/04myspace.html?_r=1&ei=5087&em=&en=7e63eb66cebb344e&ex=1207454400&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin
2> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/04/06/cncarphone106.xml&CMP=ILC-mostviewedbox
3> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/04/06/ccemi106.xml

The article, and my own experience in Technology Intellectual Property (IP), got me thinking again about the music industry's woes.

My contention is that any firm considering developing IP in emerging markets must think of the markets as hypercompetitive, where they compete with their own shadows. This might dovetail with the experience of some Venture Capital firms in Asia and Africa.

Allocate resources toward making money.

As some one who has created IP, in technology, in an emerging market, my generic stand (and I know this is likely to spark controversy) in that context is that protecting IP is subservient to growth- marketshare, ramping up revenues quickly, etc. Marketing muscle- either the company's own distribution strength, or the company's ability to create a network of stakeholders in its success- is critical towards finding a defensible niche where the company can build customer relationships/ stick. Allocate resources toward making money, instead of fighting a losing battle.

So What? How does this apply?

While the developed economy context is not the same, the first two articles seem to be a sign of parts of the value chain seeking to control the supply chain.
The third article seems to indicate a deepening of a pragmatic approach in the industry. An approach that focuses on developing models for making money off an economic reality, as opposed to fighting an (apparently) losing battle. For project management, I tend to advocate a multiplicity of approaches toward a more robust critical path. However, there are times when a multiplicity of approaches only serves to muddy waters.

Over the past few years, I have faced some flak for flatly advocating the pragmatic approach. What do you think?

Conference Panel: Asset Allocation and Changing Times, the Limited Partner Perspective

I decided to check with a Limited Partner (LP) on the questions on deal size and frequency that I had thought about at this conference:

Of course, the context was different, but my take was that the issues encountered were the same. The LP smiled and said they had a great CFO. Going back to the Gary Loveman post below, you can't argue with talent:

A General Partner (GP) at another panel said that an LP had mentioned that a lesser return in the depressed economic environment would still validate their investment/ asset allocation. It would be interesting to get insights into the aggregated decisions made by GPs across PE firms and the outcomes down the line.

The Usual Disclaimer: This is purely a knowledge sharing resource and I have been careful to protect panelist interests. Ethically, context is everything, and I will gladly retract anything that affects the parties mentioned. Call this my mini OpenCourseWare, if you will, where Open signifies life experiences.

Conference Panel: Portfolio Value Creation by Improving Business

Gary Loveman, Harrah's Entertainment, was asked about how he would act if slowing economic conditions impact business despite his assertion that economic conditions would not really impact his business.

He said he had the leeway to adjust his planned capital spending (approx. $4BN) to meet debt commitments.

It was interesting to note that he would rather kill/ delay Capex than sell assets to meet commitments.

I did a quick mental check of this insight against his assessment that growth in the industry came from M&A for assets, and that the WACC was currently pretty high within the firm. It fit.

Later, I asked a panel of General Partners (GPs) how frequently, in their substantial experience of dealmaking and investing, did the GPs have such contingency planning (operations risk management, really) conversations with the portfolio company senior management? Did such conversations impact the outcomes of their investments?

The response, as I am beginning to expect from superb panelists, provided insights into GP operations.

On a tangent, a panelist was of the opinion that folks like Gary Loveman operate at a different level. As the one who raised the question, I was inclined to agree. What an insight into talent- all from a simple question put to a CEO!

The Usual Disclaimer: This is purely a knowledge sharing resource and I have been careful to protect panelist interests. Ethically, context is everything, and I will gladly retract anything that affects the parties mentioned. Call this my mini OpenCourseWare, if you will, where Open signifies life experiences.