Thursday, June 29, 2006

Connectivity with ‘Universal’ way

The Consumer Electronic (CE) market is in a revolutionary phase now. Because of the changing needs of consumers, organizations are forced to come up with new set of products in a very short span of time with more features and less price. Broadly the CE devices are used for Communication (Mobile phones), Storing personal information (PDA) and for Entertainment (Digital cameras, music players). At one end CE devices are marching towards ‘Convergence’ phenomenon, where the above said three elements are integrated into a single device (Say iPAQ) and on another end devices are marching towards ‘Divergence’ phenomenon, where each CE device is produced with a unique purpose in mind. For example latest Sony T5 cameras are having very high resolutions (5 Mega pixels) which are aimed at pro-sumers or photo-enthusiasts. This Convergence and Divergence (C & D) has created huge variety of devices which is making the consumer confused. Irrespective of the type providing connectivity to the Personal Computer (PC) or Internet has become the necessary requirement for all these devices. After working in the consumer connectivity domain for about five years now I am able to see the ‘Universal Serial Bus’ (USB) is emerging as a technology which is addressing the need for connectivity and truly living up to its name ‘Universal’. The reminder of this write-up will compare USB with other technologies and talk about some of the limitations of USB as well.

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a serial data transfer technology which can transfer data up to 480 Mbps. Apart from the data transfer rate that USB is very ideal for CE devices because they support the ‘Plug-and-Play’ functionality which is the true differentiator. Because of this PnP functionality there is no need for the consumer to install any additional device drivers for communication. By design USB is a ‘Bus Powered’ and external devices can draw current up to 500 mA. Because of this feature CE devices can be charged using the USB cable itself without any additional power supplies. For example Apple’s iPOD can be charged by connecting it to the PC. Added to that USB is more ‘Compact’ for CE devices. Invention of mini-A, mini-B USB interfaces have become ideal for digital cameras.

The USB technology can be compared with Bluetooth (BT) and intra-red (IR) technologies. But BT and IR operate in the ‘wireless’ whereas USB is in the ‘wired’ technology. Even though BT and IR became popular because of the wireless nature they lack the speed and the security that USB is providing. As mentioned above USB can transfer data up to 480 Mbps whereas BT can transfer only up to 1 Mbps and their signals are highly susceptible. In order to bridge this ‘wireless’ gap the Wireless-USB (WUSB) is being introduced which I am sure will be a ‘killer’ technology. This has advantages of USB and other wireless technologies like BT and IR.

Having said that, the USB has its own disadvantages. One of the main problems is ‘Interoperability’. There are roughly about 2 billion CE devices and making them work with each other is a huge challenge. Even though USB forum imposes strict certification tests in order to have the official logos on it, lot of vendors are selling their USB devices without getting certified by the USB forum. These devices are cheap in nature but may introduce serious interoperability issues in the future. From a consumer standpoint it is always better to buy certified USB devices.

With more and more CE devices are introduced on to the market and changing consumer needs are making the competition for ‘Connectivity’ more intensive. But at present USB is truly living up to its name and all set to face the competition with WUSB.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Real estate: Where it is heading?

In the past 18 months alone Indian real estate market has witnessed unprecedented growth. Especially in metros residential property prices has soared as much 70% and in some cases 100% according to Outlook magazine. For a common man living in metros ‘Apna ghar’ is becoming a day-dream because of atrocious pricing. Apart from that home loan interest rate is heading north because of increase in global interest rates. Major Banks like HDFC, ICICI have announced another 50 basis points increase in the home loans. Where all this is heading to? Is the real estate industry in India is in ‘Bubble’ stage which will burst soon? After thinking in this direction I came out with the following observations. Please read on.

Compared to other investment vehicles (Stocks, Bonds, Mutual-funds) real estate is different because ‘home’ is more to do with individual’s emotions. For evaluating this vehicle we need to look the ‘Macro’ (Top-down) as well as ‘Micro’ (Bottom-up) economic factors. Coming to Macro economic point of view the real-estate sector is looking ‘bullish’ at least in the 3-5 years point of view because of the following reasons:

1. From 2005 government of India has allowed 100% entry to Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) which was not the case some years ago. Since India’s economic story is fully yet to be explored FIIs are flocking into this sector with huge amount of investments. According to PWC report on real estate Indian real estate is going to get 7 Billion USD investments in the coming 18-30 months. Recent real-estate meltdown in counties like Singapore is making India as a better place to invest.

2. Apart from that Asset Management Companies (AMCs) and Mutual-fund houses are launching ‘Real estate sector funds’ and lot of these funds are in IPO stage now. These AMCs will now look for investments which is pushing the need for real-estate.

3. The raising numbers in knowledge workers (IT Engineers, ITES and BPO employees) and their huge raise in ‘disposable income’ are fuelling the growth even further. According to Times of India Bangalore edition the average age of a person opting for apartments is 26, which is really mind-blowing.

While the above mentioned macro economic factors are looking really positive the ‘Micro’ factors are really concerning me. Compared to the equity market the real estate market in India is not regulated at all. There is absolutely no system in place which is controlling the prices and prices are always going ‘Up-up-and-up’ for the past three years. Residential layouts are developed without proper approvals and apartments developed without following the government rules. The ‘Mad-rush’ of knowledge workers is making the ‘Ever-greedy’ property developers become millionaires overnight. Instead of using this boom to develop country’s infrastructure (People who traveled abroad can very well say where we stand in-terms of infrastructure) this is becoming more an ‘under-table’ dirty political stuff. Unfortunately countries like ours we need to swallow this bitter pill and see what we need to do and make smart decisions.

The western world also witnessed the similar situation during 1990s. Because of the ‘Dotcom-bubble’ property prices in Silicon valley Bay area went up like anything. I remember reading a Wall-Street-Journal (WSJ) article on this but unfortunately not able to get the link for the same. Even after the bubble even today Silicon Valley continues to be one of the costliest areas in-terms of real estate prices. What we can get for $400K in pacific north-west part of the US will cost couple of million dollars in Silicon Valley. Even though there is a huge difference between India and US in-terms of real estate the pattern of behavior is same. So even if the so called ‘Real-estate-crash’ happens places like Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad are bound to be costly. Unlike the equity market, the crash in real estate means prices will stabilize of come down by 5% but not more than that.

At the point of time the alternative option in India is to move to Tier-II cities like Mangalore, Mysore, Coimbatore, Ahmadabad, Cochin and Pune. These cities are not completely affected by the ‘Real-estate-virus’ and still we can get a good deal. I am following this Tier-II market for the past 6 months and it is showing a good potential. Even IT companies are planning their next level of expansion in these cities.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Technology, Society and Business


There are numerous definitions for the word ‘Leadership’. One of the definitions says ‘The ultimate test of practical leadership is the realization of intended, real change that meets people’s enduring needs’ and my mind cannot think of a better person than Sam Pitroda who is the best example I can ever think of practical leadership. The man who demonstrated for the first time to Indians what technology means and how it can change the whole society. His leadership brought ‘Technology-Business-Society’ together and being a tech-industry professional I have only one word for this person: ‘Hats-off’

For people don’t know who Sam Pitroda is, look into the nearby STD booth in any small ‘Ghalli’ in India. He is the man behind ‘conceptualizing’ the STD booth based business model and made it possible in India’s ‘Ever-challenging’ environment using technology. He founded Center for Development of Telematics (C-DAC) in 1984. He along with his colleagues ‘invented’ the telephone time measurement and billing machine which we can now see every ‘Ghalli’ of India. This is ‘low-cost-high-robust’ machine, produced in large volumes and operates well in adverse climatic conditions of India. Also he did all these things when Indian economy was closed and there is no support from any foreign entity for this simply because of the tight trade regulatory environment.

Today ‘Roti, Makhan aur Mobile’ is the latest buzzword in India. Wherever we go we can see people using mobile phones, landlines and Broadband Internet connections. For most of the telecom companies in the world India is the hottest market and investment is pouring in from all directions. Ranging from Singtel (Which holds 31% stake in Bharthi telecom) to Verizon I can see every global player in this field now. Apart from service providers handset manufacturing firms like Nokia are setting up manufacturing facilities in India. According to the latest statistics India has 49 million fixed telephone line users and 76 million mobile phone users, which is 12.5% of total population. This also shows that there is remaining 87.5% of population who don’t have telephone connections and opens up a huge opportunity for telecom companies. India is one of the very few countries in the world where incoming mobile calls are free. Apart from this the ‘Connecting’ India, telecom industry is acting as the backbone of IT industry. Without this strong telephony infrastructure off-shoring an out-sourcing would not have been made possible.

No one can deny the fact that Sam sowed seeds two decades back because of which India is benefiting today. He stands out as an example for vision, demonstration of leadership, enabling less privileged people using technology, building business and generating employment in India and of course acting as a inspiration for lakhs and lakhs for young Indians like me.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Electronic window dressing: Impression management with websites

The World Wide Web (WWW) has become a commonly used and one of the most effective mediums for businesses. One of the major steps towards e-enabling businesses is to have websites hosted in a public domain. These websites should use the latest technologies and create and maintain a good impression among prospective customers, partners and employees. Lot of tools, technologies and off-the-shelf packages are available for website building. Businesses should leverage these technologies and use them effectively in order to build an impression. This write-up covers the technology perspective of building websites and what are the general contents that can be hosted in the website so that it creates and maintains a good impression among its prospective customers, partners and employees.

When any person visits website of a particular firm, he/she goes through the contents in the websites by browsing thorough the links. After going through some of the links the user gets a collective experience, which in turn translates, into the impression. Websites should host contents that are useful for its various stakeholders in an easily accessible, experience rich. It should project what exactly the organization as a whole stands for and how doing business with the firm will end up in a win-win situation for both the firm and the customer. Following are some of the important areas which the website should contain:

  1. Core value system: The website should contain and clearly explain the core value system. This basically answers why should anybody need to do business with the firm compared to other similar firms.
  1. Simple interfaces: The interface should be very simple when somebody tries to access the website. For example Mindtree consulting (http://www.mindtree.com/) is one of the well-designed interfaces whereas Brian consultants (http://www.brainconsultants.com/) is one of the bad interfaces. All the successful businesses in the world have a very simple interface to their websites. Example: eBay, Google
  1. Knowledge management and knowledge sharing: In this knowledge era, the knowledge needs to be constantly managed and shared. The firm’s website should contain some of the knowledge that it has got over the years and should be readily in a form to read. This gives the user that the firm is interested in sharing the knowledge.
  1. Creating a “sticky” feeling: The website should create a stickiness among the users. It should make the users to visit the site and often read about the contents in the site. The user might have got to know about the firm recently and might not be in a position to do business at this point of time. But by creating a sticky feeling makes the user to come to the firm for a specific product or service after a long time. This stickiness can be created among the user by asking the user for feedback after the website visit and create a newsletter and e-mailed to the user promptly.
  1. Social responsibilities: It is important for the firms to become a good “Corporate citizens”. By taking up some of the social responsibilities it creates a general “feel-good” factor among normal people, which will in turn result in impression building and new business opportunities. The website should highlight what are the social or charity work that the organization is involved and how it is transforming people’s life by being a firm. Example Infosys foundation (http://www.infosys.com/infosys_foundation/index.htm)
  1. Eagerness to listen to customers: The website should contain details by which it can demonstrate that it is eagerly inclined towards listening to customers. Having the past customer testimonials help the new or prospective customers to know more about the company.
Shortcomings:
  • Bad interface design
  • Some of the links not working
  • Un-availability of important information
  • Outdated information about the firm
  • Cluttering the website with too much information that the user gets confused

Saturday, June 17, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Yoga and Pranayama for health

Author: Dr. P. D. Sharma
Price: INR 35

This is a simple book for learning Yoga and Pranayama. Yoga and Pranayama are very ancient but powerful techniques which were invented in India. The ‘Yogis’ who were living in the Himalayas are the originators of these techniques and it came across multiple generations. Today Yoga and Pranayama techniques are scientifically proved that they cure all diseases in a ‘Natural way’. Apart from curing the diseases it also prevents body from getting new diseases. By following these techniques it is believed that ancient Yogis lived for hundreds of years.

According to ‘Pathanjali Yoga Sutra’, yoga consists of eight-stages (Yama, Niyama, Asana, Prayanama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi).For normal human beings (like me) practicing various asanas would the best thing to follow. Performing asanas helps an individual to bring ‘Mind’ ‘Body’ and ‘Soul’ into control which is the unique advantage. Various techniques like Aerobics, Gym exercises focus only the ‘Body’ aspect.

Pranayama is all to do with breathing. Following various Pranayama techniques (Brasthika, Kabhalabathi, Naadi-shodhan, Brahmari) after performing asanas is proved to give profound benefits in human being’s life. These techniques can be followed by any age group but the important point is it needs to be practiced regularly to get its full benefits. In this book various asanas and pranayama techniques are given with diagrams and the diseases they cure. I have also heard about very aggressive yoga techniques by BSK Iyengar and Shivanandha Yoga which I am yet to explore. But to start with I found this book is very helpful.

Customer experience: Way beyond customer satisfaction


Apple computers announced their second quarter results on April 19, 2006. During this Q2 Apple’s revenue grew 34% YoY and 41% increase in earnings. The interesting point is Apple has sold 85,2600o iPods in Q2 alone. My mind started thinking ‘How on earth any company can sell so many music players in a single quarter given the fact that iPods are costlier than other digital music players? What makes iPod so unique?’ Now cut to Bangalore, India and walk into MTR restaurant near Lal Bagh. Every customer need to stand in a huge queue or book an appointment to get into the restaurant because it is very crowded. Most people who walk into MTR order for ‘Rava Idli’ (A spicy south-Indian breakfast item).But the same Rava Idli is available in every other restaurant in Bangalore with cheaper price and similar quality. Now my mind is again thinking ‘Why on earth people stand in queue and eat the MTR Rava Idli and ready to pay more?’

Even though examples given above belongs to totally two different industries and happening at two opposite corners of the world there are two startling similarities. First the traditional ‘Low-cost-high-quality’ mantra for products and services is changing. Second customers are willing to pay more as long as the product or service offered is providing them a ‘Unique experience’. The iPod and the MTR Rava Idli are able to provide this unique ‘Customer experience’ because of which they are able to constantly attract and retain their customers.

This word ‘Customer experience’ is similar to the ‘Peak experience’ term coined by American psychologist and philosopher Abraham H. Maslow (1908-1970). This term is used to describe nonreligious quasi-mystical and mystical experiences. Peak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being. Accompanying these experiences is a heightened sense of control over the body and emotions, and a wider sense of awareness, as though one was standing upon a mountaintop. Put in simple terms any product or service that is offered by corporations should get under the ‘Skin-of-the-customer’. This is making corporations to constantly re-invent themselves for providing the best of customer experience. Now that the plane of competition is changed, the future looks even more interesting :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Guide to Investing

Title : Guide to Investing
Author: Robert Kiosaki
ISBN: 0446677469

This book is written by ‘Rich dad poor dad’ famous author Robert Kiosaki. This is the third book in the series and mainly talks various aspects of Investing. Robert has his highly educated dad whom he calls as ‘Poor dad’. He calls him poor because all he did was worked for somebody and remained poor during his retirement time. Robert’s calls his friend’s dad as ‘Rich dad’ because rich dad built a huge amount of wealth by building businesses.

In the year 1974 Robert takes comes out of his marine-cop job in Vietnam and starts learning his investment lessons from his ‘Rich dad’. The book consists of three parts. The first part Robert discusses about four major elements of personal finance. They are ‘Income’, ‘Expenditure’, ‘Assets’ and ‘Liabilities’. He explains how rich people make their ‘Assets’ generate the ‘Income’ and how poor people spend their lifetime by paying up for the liabilities. In the second part Robert explains his ‘Cash-Flow-Quadrants’ in which he classifies people into Employees (E), Small Business Owners (S), Business Owners (B) and Investors (I). He clearly shows how people take the E path and remain poor and how his rich dad took the B path and built wealth. He also talks about personal financial statements, tax and other legal aspects.

In the third and most interesting part Robert talks about ‘Entrepreneurship’. He explains various aspects of building businesses. This section is excellent and inspired me a lot. Finally Robert concludes with stressing the importance of ‘Ultimate Investor’ where an individual builds a business and takes it into public. The first two parts are kind of repetitive and Robert tries to talk the same thing again and again. But I somehow feel in order to understand the ‘Financial-literacy’ this book is a must read mainly because it is simple at the same time makes the reader think a lot.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Caching in Google search

Very recently came across a scenario while searching in the web and got to know about the real usage ‘Caching’ facility that is provided by Google. While searching the web I found the information I was looking for and clicked the link. But the contents in the page were moved and the page was having something other than what Google search page showed in its initial page. So it means that the contents of the web page are moved. I now tried the ‘Cached’ button in Google and got contents which I was actually looking for.

In computing ‘Cache’ memory comes under the dynamic memory similar to Random-Access-Memory (RAM) and stores the ‘frequently’ accessed contents since the contents are frequently accessed the processor picks the contents from Cache instead of RAM. This increases the processing speed. Storing the contents in the Cache depends on various fundas like spatial, temporal characteristics. Also this Cache gets refreshed periodically.

In normal PCs the ‘Cache size’ is in the order of Kilo Bytes (KBs). With the kind of scale Google is operating, I am just wondering what would be the size of the Cache. I am sure it will be really huge size and maintaining that much huge cache is a really a very difficult task. I wonder how Google does that.

In the mean time can anyone help me to get the ‘Cache’ size of Google?

BOOK REVIEW : Success vs Joy

Title : Success Vs Joy
Author : Geet Sethi
Price : INR 95

This book is written by Geet Sethi the famous billiards player. This book is based on his thoughts and discussions with his friend Sunil Agarwal. Sethi started playing billiards when he was 13 year old and found playing billiards gave him extreme amount of ‘Joy’ than anything else. Till date he is playing the game and achieved great things in billiards. Sunil on the other hand was also interested in billiards but took a different path because of society compulsion and finished his MBA from IIM-Ahmadabad. He is a big leader in the corporate world now. He has achieved what the society calls as ‘Success’ but he is not having the ‘Joy’ feeling what Sethi felt by playing billiards. This leads to the main theme of the book: Which is important ‘Success’ or ‘Joy’?

According to Sethi ‘Success’ is doing things for other’s (Say society) sake whereas ‘Joy’ is doing things that individual’s inner self feels or in other words what an individual is passionate about. Throughout the book Sethi stresses upon following the activity which gives extreme amount of ‘Joy’ rather then doing something for what others perceive as ‘Success’. Most of us think that we need to be feel ‘Successful’ and they the ‘Joy’ part will follow and keep doing things which is not close to our hears in order to achieve ‘Success’ and never be happy in life. According to Sethi the reverse it true. By following the activity which is close to individual’s heart (In Sethi’s case its billiards) and doing it with extreme amount of ‘Joy’ the ‘Success’ will follow. He gives various examples from the sports world and explains this concept. The excellent point about this book is its very simple and easy to understand at the same time conveys an important message.

After reading multiple books on inspiration related topics I would rate this is one among the top. To read more book reviews please CLICK HERE.

Listen to PDF files :)

Kickstarting my 'technical' area of my blog with this.Got this information from one of my ex-collegues. Adobe Acrobat reader (Version 6.0 or later) supports 'reading' functionality.The key combinations is given below.I tried it and its really good.The voice quality is not that good but worth giving a shot.

Ctrl+shift+b : To hear the entire Document
Ctrl+shift+v : To hear the page
Ctrl+shift+c : To resume
Ctrl+shift+e : To stop

Thursday, June 08, 2006

SMBs in India: Can it scale up?

Off late I am able to witness three different types of markets for various products and services. Apart from Enterprise markets and Consumer markets which existed till 2000, there is new and emerging ‘Small-And-Medium-Business (SMB)’ in growing economies like India and China. The Sensex Bull Run which existed till a month back was mainly driven by these SMBs which come under ‘Mid-cap’ and ‘Small-cap’ stocks. I believe India’s future growth will mainly depend on these SMBs.

I was brought up in north-western part of Tamilnadu, India which is known for its enterprising people and industries thanks to visionary Entrepreneurs and excellent educational institutions. This north western part consists of places like Coimbatore, Tirupur, Salem, Erode and Karur. Coming to numbers Coimbatore district alone exports whopping 10,000 Crores (Around 2500 million USD) outside India and big names like ‘Wal-Mart’ uses materials exported from this area. A PriceWaterHouseCoopers - CII (Confederate of Indian Industry) study puts it's revenue potential from IT/ITES sector at a mind boggling $1Billion. Having used the textile and mechanical products from my childhood which is made in these areas, I can very well say they are extremely good in quality and low in cost. Also this example is just a portion of the north-western part of Tamilnadu. I can very well say there are lots and lots places exist in India which has got similar potential. But the challenge is ‘Can it scale up?’

Being a techie, I feel technology Industry need to play a major role in ‘enabling’ these SMBs to scale to the world class. Excellent software products in supply chain management, e-commerce, online payment system, networking areas are very much essential. But when I looked at the statistics in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in 2005, Indian SMBs have contributed only 10% of the total spending for IT which is pretty disappointing. This should go up and this is extremely vital for India’s economic growth.

Today morning I was reading this ‘Network-On-Wheels’ (NOW) initiative by Cisco. Apart from USA and Canada, it is launched only in India to tap the SMB market. This is really good news indeed. From my personal experience I can say the SMB Entrepreneurs in north-west Tamilnadu lack the exposure and they are not fully aware of IT. By launching programs like NOW both IT and SMBs will benefit a lot. Still lot of potential needs to be unleashed and I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Lessons from Ireland

The latest news is: "Apple computers shutdown their operations in Bangalore".Even though the reasons for the shutdown it not very clear the message from the western world is very clear "You cannot bet only on your cost effectiveness for long term”. This news takes back me to back to 2003 to one of the excellent speeches I have heard so far. It was by one of the top executives of my organization.Eventhough I am not remembering exact words what he spoke on that day following I could clearly remember the summary. Here it is:

"In 1970s and 1980s Ireland was one of major the hub for computer manufacturing. In 1988, no fewer than seventeen computer vendors from different parts of the world ran assembly facilities in Ireland. Because of this unprecedented boom, costs went up and during 1990s companies started shutting down their operations in Ireland. But Ireland folks re-invented themselves the started building software firms in Ireland. Today these software firms stands as 'Centers for excellence' and most of the mainframe patents come from Ireland today. Indian software firms need to learn from this example instead of going through the difficult phase. Unless or otherwise India builds up a strong technical community which stands for technology leadership, knowledge creation and intellectual capital it is doing to be challenging times for India in the future"

By reading thro' the 'Hardware Factories Turn Into Software Shops' article from Enterprise Ireland website I think there is a lot to learn from them and get prepared before it hits.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Corporate Mergers – A true test for an individual’s adaptability

Andrew S Grove (Ex-CEO of Intel corporation) in his book ‘Only the paranoid survive’ talks about an important term ‘Strategic Inflection Points (SIP)’.An SIP is nothing but a point in time in which the company needs to change very much and that SIP determines the success or failure of the company. Change in company strategy in terms of the service that company offers, corporate mergers, change in the company positioning can be examples of SIPs. For the past 3 years, the company that I am working for gone through a corporate merger and it’s been tremendous experience for me. I am not going to take the names of the companies because I believe learning’s are important than company names. I would any day bet on my learning’s rather than the company.

From the organization’s standpoint mergers are very crucial for their existence. Inventions like Internet, power of PC computing and advanced technologies are re-writing the meaning of the word ‘competition’. In order to keep ahead of the competition and to stay in the business, corporations needs to change and merger is one of the ways to change. By mergers these organizations demonstrate their ‘Adaptive Enterprise’ behavior to their customers, shareholders and their competitors. The new, merged organization suddenly feels ‘young’ and takes up their competitors more aggressively.

Having said that mergers are very difficult process to go through at an individual level. According to me mergers are a true test for an individual’s adaptability. I have gone through many ‘sleepless-nights’, ‘perpetual-chaotic-work-days’ and ‘frustrating debates’. That too when you belong to the smaller entity of the merger it’s even more difficult because most likely all the better things of the smaller company will go off the suddenly the ‘big-company’ culture will set in. I am sure lot of B-Schools and management gurus have done numerous case studies on this topic and according to my experience merger happens in multiple phases.

The first phase (Formalities phase) during which all initial formalities happens. Leaders of both organizations give press release and start ‘selling’ the merger to their employees by giving all sorts of ‘management fads’. During this time an un-usual excitement builds among employees and huge amount of uncertainty prevails. The second phase (Re-org phase) in when the organization structure of the new entity gets announced and most of the top management in the smaller portion of the merging entity quits and they are followed by them a set of ‘Chelas’ followed by one more re-org. According to me this must happen because there cannot be two sailors for the same ship. After the second re-org a new set of leaders come from nowhere and they start talking totally a ‘different-corporate-language’. At this point no one knows what is happening in the top level management and where this is all leading to. The ‘perpetual-chaotic-workdays’ becomes a part of life for low level employees.

During the third-phase (Policy phase) all new policies gets announced and it really really hits hard on people. All the better and employee friendly policies get chopped off, people start leaving in bulk and a huge change happens in the eco-system. Changes in email ID, Internet speed, hiring methods, support functions, salary structure, promotion policies, approval process takes place and the ‘big-company’ culture sets in. This is the thick of the merger and shows the awful face of the merger. This is followed by the fouth-phase (Settling-In) in which the new system slowly gets set in. The company’s face is changed now and employees are in a different world. The company starts moving in the newly defined direction with new set of leaders and policies.

After the merger now I am clearly able to see three groups of people. The first group is ‘Early quitters’ which consists of 20% of the company population who leave immediately after the merger because they don’t have a role to play in the new organization or because of their ego. The second group is ‘Majority cribbers’ which consists of 65% of the population. These are the people who are still not able to adapt or digest the fact that the merger has happened. They still keep talking about their ‘Good-old-days’ and ‘Once-up-on-a-time’ stories. Change is very hard for them and they still feel that the old small company culture will come. I feel very sorry for these people because that will not even happen in dreams. The third group is ‘Real adaptors’ which consists of remaining 15% of the population. These are the people who accept that the company has really changed and start playing their game according to the new rules. They are still performing and working as hard as they were. The only person who comes to their mind is their ‘Customer’ and they are passionate about satisfying customers and giving their best from the heart.

In my experience I have seen Early quitters, Majority cribbers and Real adaptors and I believe it is really dangerous to be in the Majority cribbers group. It sucks an individual’s positive energy and it leads to nowhere with respect to their careers. It’s always better to adapt or quit. From my personal point of view it’s been an excellent learning experience and proves the following evolution theory once again:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, Nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Managers in IT Industry : What do they really 'Manage'?

Long time back I forwarded this picture to group of my friends group and it tickled an interesting discussion among us. If you see the picture there are lot of 'managers' are surrounding an engineer or a worker managers are simply watching and the engineer (people like me) are doing the hard work. This throws up an interesting question 'What do these managers really manage?'

According to my experience there are two types of manager roles that are existing in the hi-tech industry as of now:

1. Delivery managers: These managers are basically a techie and moved to management ladder because of experience in software engineering and responsible for software engineering deliverables guy mainly operates within the 'software life cycle' starting from requirements gathering,design,coding,testing,release.

2. Business managers: Basically come from MBA background and manages any one of the non-engineering areas like HR,Finance/Biz development,Strategy of the company. As far as IT industry in India is concerned there is more need for #1 than #2 because in India we do more of 'Engineering' nature of the work (Coding/Testing/Support). This is also because of the first generation 'services' companies (Infy, Wipro, etc..) whose business model requires more delivery managers than business managers. In the recent past I spoke to some of my friends who have done their MBA and they say they would preferably will choose option#2. They get into the consultant role and grow in the business ladder if we look in a global viewpoint, take companies in US/UK where they do product definition, market research, partner management, sales etc. requires more of MBA managers. In India we cannnot do such things at this point of time because we don't have a huge domestic market.

Now given the situation in India, what does it really takes it to 'manage' and become a successful delivery manager? After talking to many people I could come to three major factors:

1. Strong interest and inclination towards technology: Most of the delivery managers in India fail in this point itself as they stop reading or learning about the technology trends and happenings in the market as soon as they become managers. This also makes them 'ignorant' of what an engineer reporting to him does. This is why there I am able to see much of 'Anti-manager' feelings among the engineering community.

2. Business Acumen: In delivery management this factor is also very important and need to understand the 'Big-picture'.This makes the delivery managers to think about the business angle of the product or service that the company is offering.If any delivery manager is good in this he shoud be able to answer to the question 'What is your customer's customer want?'

3. People Management: Last but not the least. This is *THE* important factor. I have seen managers who are not good in technical and business stuff but they do wonders because they are good in managing people. They know the art of 'getting things done'.

Finally coming to the picture above, it depicts when any manager fails to have any of the three factors that I have mentioned. They simply know 'Something is happening' but fail to make any impact to the company or the people. They become more of what I call as 'Operational' managers (Naam-ke-wasthe doing some PPTs, tracking excel sheets, giving FUTTAs) which is *NOT* management at all.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The sunrise in the East - Will it be a good finish?

Aeron a 33 year old, north-western American left me in a total shock when he asked me 'Hey Jay! I saw in the TV that Indian stock market is crashing. Is it so ?'.Of course this is the last question you expect from Aeron a car driver who drops and picks me from my work place. He hardly has a college degree and he knows about Indian stock market crash.Whats happening around me? Inside my mind a sudden statement came up 'The sunrise in the east'.

My mind was wandering on some of the events that has happened in the past one and a half months. The receptionist in my office enters my country name as 'India' without even asking me, The April edition of Newsweek a famous US magazine has got the cover story 'The new India’. Every day in Wall-Street-Journal, the financial newspaper of the US has at least one column about China. Yes! I am experiencing it personally! The eastern part of the world is indeed raising. I also did some more reading and pondering with myself and started writing this blog.

Both economies are growing at a very fast phase around 7-8% and China is pretty ahead in the GDP numbers. Apart from the GDP growth China has built up an excellent infrastructure and excellent systems in place and preparing for the future growth. Whereas in India in spite of opening up the economy 15 years back the government system is pathetic and infrastructure is still of 'Third world' class.Basic problems like poverty, education and healthcare still remains far distant dream for rural Indians and words like 'e-Governance'and 'IT for common man' are remaining as buzzwords and noting in concrete. What is the point in talking about Economic growth without improving quality of life of people ? 30 million Indians earn less than one dollar a day and 60 million of them earn less than two dollar a day.

Having said that recent protests against reservation by 'Youth for equality' and formation of
'Lok paritran' party gives some ray of hope. From the business week article I also got the following information:


"India has nearly 500 million people under age 19 and higher fertility rates. By mid-century, India is expected to have 1.6 billion people -- and 220 million more workers than China. That could be a source for instability, but a great advantage for growth if the government can provide education and opportunity for India's masses"

So the youth of the country is going to be the deciding factor. By reforming
governance, providing good education and generating employment for 220 million workers Indian can demonstrate its true potential and will be able to give what I call it as 'Good finish'.Otherwise this will be another generation with 'lost dreams'