Monday, August 20, 2012

Cognizant opens in Ortigas Center

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When people hear the term "business process outsourcing" or BPO, they immediately think of call centers. While it's true that the Philippine call center has now overtaken that of India, we can be proud of the fact that we have gone beyond these services alone.

Just recently, I attended the launch of the SECOND delivery center of Cognizant, a NASDAQ-listed company with headquarters in New Jersey, USA, and is one of the leading providers of IT, consulting and BPO services. The center, located in the IT-BPO services hub in Ortigas Center, was designed to house as many as 1,000 professionals. These professionals  will be providing applications, IT infrastructure and business processing services to global clients in different industries: financial industry, healthcare, manufacturing and logistics, retail, hospitality, telecommunications and consumer goods industries.

Cognizant executives include Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan (Vice Chairman), second from left,
and Mr. Prabhakar Bisen, Country Head, third from left

Cognizant started operations in December 2009 in McKinley Hill with 40 people. Their expansion into the Ortigas Center signifies a very positive outlook in the BPO industry. Asked why they chose to set up their second delivery center in Ortigas, Mr. Prabhakar Bisen, Country Head of Cognizant Philippines said, "We are pleased with our experience and growth in the Philippines and chose Pasig City to expand our footprint in the country because of its high-quality talent, sound infrastructure, good connectivity and a great business environment."

During the Q&A portion, I asked Cognizant if all their work force were office-based. My rationale for the question was my firm belief that a good number of well-educated and experienced women (and possibly, men) have opted to leave the workforce to attend to family needs and this is an untapped market for BPOs, given the breadth of these people's backgrounds. If this group of people can be tapped by BPOs and allowed to work from home, it could be a potential new asset for the sunrise industry.

Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman of Cognizant, acknowledged this fact and I was happy to note that he felt this was definitely something to consider in the future. Part of the issues preventing this from happening at the moment are the conditions of telecom infrastructure as well as ensuring that customer service quality is not affected or impaired from a work-from-home arrangement.

Cognizant is still on the lookout for people wanting to join their organization in Ortigas Center. If you're interested in a future with Cognizant, check them out at their Ortigas location.

Hanston Square Bldg, San Miguel Avenue, Pasig City
Follow Cognizant on Twitter: @Cognizant

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Samsung's Concept Store at Robinsons Magnolia

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My very first trek to the newly opened Robinsons Magnolia mall in Quezon City was for the launch of Samsung's concept store.

With Odette Velarde of Samsung and friend Noemi Dado at the launch

Celebrities at the ribbon cutting ceremony

A Peek inside the Concept Store

The Samsung Concept Store is located on the al fresco area of the mall on the 3rd floor. At first, Noemi and I got lost and thought the Samsung store inside the mall on the same level was it. Apparently that one was just for mobile phones.

Upon entering the store, we found that it contained all the appliances one would need for the home. We saw the inverter airconditioners, washing machines and refrigerators which we had previously seen up close in another event. My post on that is HERE.

But the star of the event on that launch was Samsung's series of Smart TVs for 2012.

The Samsung plasma TV sets

These TV product offerings center around 3 'Smart' pillars: Smart Interaction, Smart Content and Smart Evolution.

Smart Interaction

Why even use a remote? Many times, I get frustrated looking for the remote especially when someone does not put it back in its place. With the Smart Interaction technology, the TV set itself detects your hand. There are no more boundaries between the TV screen and you. Motion Control, Voice Control and Face Recognition technology let you turn the TV on or off, select apps to activate, or search and select web content -- all without having to use a remote.

Playing Angry Birds with hand

Celebrity using hands to play Angry Birds

Smart Content

While Samsung's Smart TVs have already been providing premium content through over 1,500 apps worldwide, in 2012 it is taking that a step further by providing a Smart Hub, a simple user interface (UI) in full HD. Through AllShare Play, Samsung allows content to be pulled in from a Smart TV or mobile device or manually pushed out to the cloud, regardless of a user's location.

Smart Evolution

Samsung is proud to be the only electronics company worldwide to offer Smart Evolution. This feature is available on select Samsung Smart TVs and really addresses the obsolescence issue. Many times, we buy a TV only for a new model and feature to come out soon after. With the Smart Evolution feature, the select TV sets have a Samsung Evolution Kit. A simple slot-in at the back lets consumers keep up with newer introductions of both hardware and software without the need to go out and bu a new TV set. You can potentially keep up-to-date by just "slotting in" the new features using Samsung's proprietary system-on-chip technology. That is just so cost-effective!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Barista for a Night with Starbucks Refreshers...and more

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What happens when a blogger is turned into a barista for one night?

She is given a Starbucks cap, an apron and her very own barista badge, that's what!

And that's exactly what I got one Starbucks-y night when we were introduced to the latest Starbucks Refreshers as well as to eight (8) new food offerings.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's begin with the beverages.

Starbucks Refreshers

Starbucks is bringing in a new form of beverages. One is called Very Berry Hibiscus Starbucks Refreshers while the other is Cool Lime Starbucks Refreshers.

Very Berry Hibiscus Starbucks Refreshers Beverage
(Tall-PhP115, Grande-PhP125, Venti-PhP135)

Cool Lime Starbucks Refreshers Beverage
(Tall-PhP115, Grande-PhP125, Venti-PhP135)

At first, I thought: Oh they're introducing juices now in the coffeeshop? But as it turns out, the Starbucks Refreshers are different from the juices in other cafes because this one is still made of COFFEE! You read that right.

Here's how it's done.

Green coffee beans

All coffee starts as a coffee cherry with a green coffee bean in the center. These beans are normally roasted to bring out the bold and distinctive coffee flavors. But in the case of Starbucks Refreshers, the caffeine natural found in 100% UNROASTED arabica coffee beans is extracted and made into a flavored beverage base that becomes the foundation of the Starbucks Refreshers

Flavored Beverage Base