Sunday, 20 December 2009

ATM Risk: Did Banks noticed this?

The other day I went to withdraw some money from my neighbourhood ATM. I took my 2 year old son along. Since in India ATMs are housed in nice Air-conditioned secured room, I left my son in the room without paying attention to his activities. I got into withdrawing money. After I had entered PIN and it was about to disburse me money, I realised that the machine had shut down. When I looked around I realised that it was my son who had switched off the power to ATM and soon he had switched it on. I was worried if my account could have been updated with the transaction but I had not received the money.Bank should take into account this risk as well and place switches accordingly.

Money Resolutions for 2010

I strongly believe that each new year one should have money resolutions separately for oneself. Here are my "Money Resolution" for the coming year 2010.

  1. Keep track of every investment regularly and count & consolidate every month’s investment. So That you know how much money is invested every month and consequently for the whole year.
  2. Every 6 months look how investments are doing, redo them if required.
  3. Start Tax Saving investments early in the financial year.
  4. Every month invest surplus money somewhere, be it even the Liquid funds. But let your money earn at least something for you.
  5. Don’t ever dither on any financial decision. Make it then and there but not without thinking.
  6. Keep yourself up-to-date with personal finance knowledge.
  7. Be little bold in investing for your long-term money.
  8. Maintain proper balance in your portfolio by investing in all kinds of assets.
  9. Keep booking profits if profit goes beyond your expectations.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Can Wipro and HCL be top two IT service player from India

Somehow my gut feeling says that few years down the line Wipro and HCL would be top two IT services companies from India as against the current pack. My reason is that slowly the area for IT service companies is widening and they are adding more and more services to basket of services they offer. Currently infrastructure management is earning big dollars for IT companies and this means management of desktops among other things for customers. Would it not be a logical extension if customers start giving contract to the service provider to also bring desktops that means buy desktops from the service provider, give it contract manage it and etc. So service providers can offer a complete end to end solution in this. I see Wipro and HCL can do this to their worldwide customers as they already are into hardware.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Missing Spark: Am I reading it correct?

I have been working in IT service industry for quite a few years now and have worked in quite a few different IT companies in India, with lot of and a variety of animals (called software/IT professionals), coming from different backgrounds and different social setup and even from different economic strata of the society. In my view, many of IT professional come to the office to surf Internet, chat with online friends and do some gossip in cafeteria and in between do a little work, if time permits, for which they are paid at the end of month, that too handsomely (I bet if you find even a single software professional who would say that he or she is happy with the salary he/she is getting). Everyone would proudly flaunt their respective companies' (employer's) access card around their necks, like domesticated dogs carry belt around necks, on the streets but would jump onto next company if the pay packet is bigger there. They would not even consider once if because of this action of theirs, the client's work could be impacted and employer's image would be impacted or what would happen to company'bucks spent on their training.
These guys work daily without fail but they do not seem to work for a longer future. A long-term vision is not there which they seem to be trying to achieve. I do not find much in them a spark which says that these guys are inspired in their life to achieve something great. Neither are the so-called IT team managers are smart enough who seems to be inspiring individuals who can inspire the guys under him. All I see in these guys, including in managers, is that they are worried about the work they have to do, not because they want to do but because it is given to them or thrust upon them, then they are worried about next appraisal whether or not they deserve it. Everyone wants bigger and fancier title, bigger and bigger pay-packet without thinking even once if they really deserve what they are asking for and above all the want all this with less and less responsibilities.
And yet another reason of worry among IT professionals in getting fast onto the housing ladder. This is the biggest worry among most as today it has become a huge status symbol and a sort of competition is there among all to get a bigger and costlier house and more number of houses in one's name. This cause them to fight their reporting manger to grant them an ONSITE trip.
Onsite trip grants some guys huge status boost, Huge bank balance and proves that this guy has truly arrived.
The life of an IT professional seems like a fairy tale to an outsider. And as an insider I can say yes, indeed it is like a fairy tell. But all these above perks are, I would say, relatively easier to get because you do not have to do much of an effort to get these. Hard work is hardly required to get all these.
I would say the guys are talented, no doubt about that, if given a challenge they would face it bravely and succeed on it. But that sharpness is not there anymore in most of the guys, all have become blunt. I hardly see these guys talking about doing something greater in life or in next few years, or creating some vision and discussing some ideas. No, this never happens or to be politically correct, it rarely happens. But since these are knowledge workers and so-called brightest engineers from our academic institutions, so it's their responsibility to think on those lines, to imagine a better future not for them but for others in society. This is a real pity. We can not blame govt. at the centre for this because I don't remember if it has imposed any tax for imagining a better future for our society. Still they do not do this.
And just imagine the price we are paying for all this inactivity. We may me missing on some visions or some opportunities which would have become realities and would given something to the society at large.
I would have to blame someone for this huge problem. Two roles come to my mind who could be squarely blamed for this nation-shaming problem. One is the teacher who never taught us to think or imagine and this was his/her responsibility. Teacher never went beyond giving us some rote lessons and checking our homeworks.
Second role to be blamed for this is IT professionals reporting manager. As a manger RM is responsible to mould a rookie engineer into a thinker. But I feel these RMs always feel why should he spend his time in improving an engineer anyway she/he will leave company as soon as he gets a better job or he would go to another project under another RM. So there is hardly any culture in industry where employees are made to think. They are not taught or guided as to how and what to think.

Here I am also part of the above herd.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Resurgent India: Our time is coming!

Two news stories of last couple of days have made me proud. For anyone outside India (especially westerners) these news stories would have been nothing short of shocking or even disgusting but for me they were pleasant pieces of news. You would wonder if Iam insane or even call me a sadist if I say I was pleased to know that a union minister sought to influence the justice or an MP slapped a bank employee on duty.
No, you are seeing glass as half empty, whereas I am looking at the glass half full. I am happy that the High Court judge made the incidence of calling by union minister public instead of following minister's advice( or threat) and happy because the bank employee filed a police complaint against the errant MP instead of toying with him. These sides of stories make me happy or joyous.
I am not surprised by the actions of minister and MP because we in India take these things as usual and they happen regularly so nothing to be shocked about. But the reactions of the two public employees are exemplary and I salute them for having taken their respective stands. They deserve all the praise and adulation from public in India. I am sure these two reactions would set the precedence now and more of such misuses of privileges by politicians would become public. These are course-changer events in Indian public life. They are true leaders.
These positive developments make me proud of my country and fellow citizens. Long Live Great India.
Leadership lesson: Doing what is correct and just without thinking of the consequences is what we called a true leadership.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Product Design: You can not escape, my love.

Automobile in India is now moving (or has already moved if I am late) from one being part of basic needs onto a luxury for the middle class. And when anything becomes a luxury, it doesn't just have to fulfil the basic requirements of that product (like for an automobile, to ferry people around) but have to satisfy the ego or even shoot up the status (in his or her own mind) of the owner. So for an automobile product to be bought it has to satisfy many criteria. And the top most of them would be the looks or the design of the product.

If we observe the automobile products launched in India over last decade, by having only a (and first) look at the product you can easily tell whether the product is going to be successful or not. Or you can even write obituary of the product at first look if looks are not very striking. In my mind I wrote the same for three Suzuki two wheeler products and two Honda products (Unicorn and Shine). In retrospect, I think I am fairly correct (no braggin or boasting) on those counts as these launches have not been so successful for their respective companies.

Today when a consumer in India (Indian consumer is mostly going to be a young person) buys a product he (mostly the automobile buyer is "definitely male") sees the look of the product as the most important thing. Yamaha has not been able to make any presence in Indian two wheeler market simply because none (except the latest launch FZ. Oooh! that's the best bike in India so far by looks) of their product have been worth looking at. The same could be the case of Suzuki two wheeler as well, since all three products launched so far are not at all good at design. Yamaha and Suzuki are well known world over for their superb two-wheeler technology still they are failing in Indian market. I am sure the only reason is that they do not have great product designers in their studios. Superb technology only gets appreciation when it's presented in best designed box. Even Honda is not able to make much of an impact in two wheeler because of the same reason. Bajaj would not be successful or worthy competition to Hero Honda until they hire some top-notch designers. Right now their products looks like underfed dogs or foxes. Pulsar had been successful mainly, because the category which it sells in, did not have worthy competition so far. By the way now Pulsar design has improved considerably but still not the best and has a long way to go. In this category the two new entrants TVS Apache and Yamaha FZ are going to be the scorching hot products, if they have good enough technology.

Obviously when a product's design is great second most important thing should be the underlying technology. Hero Honda has got these two things right in the same order in most of their products and we can see the results.

Same could be said of the passenger car market as well. Unknown (at start) Hyundai is successful in Indian market whereas the mighty GM and Ford are still struggling here for precisely the same reason.

I always wonder why can the management of Yamaha, Suzuki, Bajaj etc not see this point? A business magazine "Businessworld" (oooh, my favourite) carried a cover story on product design Check Spellingcouple of years back but probably CEOs of these above companies did not read that issue and paying price now. Had they paid Rs 5 for that issue they would have made a few thousand crores for their companies and we Indian consumers would have had even superior product marquees to choose from.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Being Responsible at every time: How aware are we?

Today I was on my way to office (in Hyderabad India), I was driving on a stretch of the road which is very wide road (6 lanes) and is normally never congested (surprise! isn't it?). You always get smooth drive through here but today there was a huge unbelievable pile-up of the traffic and traffic was moving very slow, at snail's pace. I was stunned (yes, I really was!) by seeing traffic-jam at this road. I went on and on and finally at one point road became clear as it always was. When I looked for the reason for this traffic pile-up I could not help shake my head in disgust.
The reason for the jam was that people were moving slow even though there was clear way. And why there were moving slow? The reason was that there was a minor accident on the other side of the road divider and people were slowing deliberately to see the accident site. This caused accumulation of slow moving vehicles and ultimate traffic congestion.
So what can we learn here from this incidence. People who wanted to know or understand the accident scene were (un)knowingly causing others problem by blocking their way. People may be in hurry to make it to an urgent customer meeting, or to attend an interview, both of which are very critical in current situations and are life-or-death situations. So some were being irresponsible unknowingly which could cost someone else very dearly.
So we should always be aware of our actions, be it in traffic or at anywhere in public or private place. Sometimes unintentionally, a trifle act or ours could prove very serious for others. If we try to learn be responsible in such small ways and become aware of the consequences of our little actions or gestures, over time we could become compassionate which is one of very essential quality of a leader.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Career Confusion: Loyalty vs. Money

People working in IT service industry are always confused about their career. They are always in dilemma whether to stay put in the same company to move up on the ladder and forgo the chances of more money outside or opt for job offer from another company for more money and a higher position. There are always confusion, one have to spend long time on bench sometimes even around year doing almost nothing. This sometimes frustrate guys (smarter guys make use of this time to hone their hobbies, interests).
Then comes the time when recession starts and everyone including the loyalist start fearing about their job. Here probably everyone has the risks of loosing his or her job.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Choosing a career: Based on strength?

I was recently reading a book on Strength Finder2.0 by Gallop. This says that you have to first find your correct and exact strengths and then choose a career or profession accordingly. If you do not do so and choose any career, you may not achieve true success in life and cannot do justice to your chosed profession. I do not agree with this (at all). The Gallop findings may be true for western countries, but not in Indian context.
What I observed in Indian context is that normally a person follows his parental profession. Be it business, profession (medical, law or anything ) or anything else. And the second generation make it good in their parental profession, sometimes even better. Take examples of Ambani brothers, so many generations of politicians, innumerable small businessmen, people in Bollywood, just to give a few examples. I have also observed some families where there is good environment in home about education or spirituality or religion, the kids of such households grow up to be stronger in those area. This confirms that what kind of environment kids get at home and how serious they take their chosen area,they would become successful in that area.
In Indian middle class, students almost always choose their career options based on either family members suggestions/insistence or influences by peer group's choices. Hardly anyone has any idea as to what he or she really likes, barring a few exceptions. And even in such situations people turn out to be quite successful in their career. I feel except for few areas like art (painting, music, etc), or research when you really have to be passionate all other areas could be mastered by interest and hard work (obviously smart work).
I do not claim to be a researcher but I can claim to be a good observer in the above area. Please leave your comments and views on the topic.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Books One should read

Recently I have added one more person to the list of my role models (I am not going to disclose all), or the people whom I like to follow. This person is Rajesh Setty. I found his book selection for reading match exactly to my interest. So I am putting a link to his list here on my blog.
Two reason for this:
1. so that I can refer as and when I wish
2. if someone bump into my mind he can also view the list.
I have always wondered what books should one read and who to tell what to read and what not to as there is huge information flood (books, journals, blogs, Internet). I thanks Rajesh for putting his list on Internet.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Best Way to layoff employees

Media is flooded with reports about the imminent layoffs at Satyam and how management of TechMahindra and Satyam are planning to layoff 5000/10000/18000 employees from Satyam, depending upon who is the source of news or which media is publishing the news. Whether there has been any layoff or not at Satyam, at least one thing has been constant for several month is that there are imminent layoffs. What this has done is created fear in the minds of Satyam employees. And they have started to look for jobs outside on their own. Employees, who were not very serious to change job at this time, are now seriously in the market. The constant news of layoff have made these employees creative enough to find ways to get new jobs at any cost.
How this has helped the management at Satyam is that without them having to layoff employees company's employee strengh has come down significantly. What else would managment ask for when their goal is being achieved without them having to worry about consequences of laying off.
I wonder if the constant media coverage of layoff was a well tought out strategy of management. Whatever it was it was good. As neither employees had to go through the anogy of being laidoff not management had to draw any flak.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Monetise Taj

Taj Mahal is a historical place and Indian govt. has control over it. Why not govt. use it to monetise it's appeal. There are lot of companies who use Taj's image in their marketing, like Berger paints, Taj tea, etc. Why not govt take some kind of royalty from these companies?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Long Leave Indian democracy

The election results yesterday was simply stunning by any measure. None, absolutely none, in his/her wildest dream would have thought that the Congress would be getting absolute majority (almost!) at the centre. But that happened, and in style. I, though, did not favour another term for Congress govt. at centre, however I am really happy for the way Indian voters have given so clear a mandate for politics which is not divisive, not communal, pro-people, and inclusive, at least on paper. Voters have chosen the best option available to them.

I have never felt so confident about India and it's future as I do now. I now feel confident that if there is problem and none is able to decide which party, which person or which ideology should lead India, I think we should leave that to Indian voters and they will decide it best. Today I really feel proud of Indian democracy, they way it has matured and the way it will protect my future and that of my son. We can proudly tell to the world that we can teach you a lesson or two about democracy.

Long Leave Indian democracy.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

More instruments in financial markets?

The current crisis in the world is caused, as they say, by the new instruments created by bankers to make more profits. The new and innovative instruments like sub-prime lending, Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO) and likes were introduced to encourage more and more lending. And this led us to this point.

Now every experts see the problem in these instruments and blame regulators of the time for not having checked on them when these were introduced in the market.

Why not regulators make it a point that they keep a close eye on the market and see if any new types of instruments are being introduced by market players like banks, PE players, hedge players and investment bankers. When this happens the regulators should not clamp down upon them immediately instead get some of the experts together and discuss pros and cons of them threadbare. This can help unearth any shortcoming if they have and accordingly regulations can be introduced so that we do not come to this point. I know it's easy on my part to say in the hindsight.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Foreign Coaches: and their payback

I never knew that a foreign coach can add so much value to a team's performance and lift it up at least by a place. That too a coach who has been very successful in his last assignment as a coach of a successful sledging team, incidentally this team was also very successful in two formats of a gentlemen's game. Having a foreign coach, and entire an entourage of assistances and what-nots, all forrign born with white skin, to help(?) the team in every department possible. After this coach was hired, the team has been doing wonders and the coach is making sure that the team is at least not on the last spot in the ladder.
A lot of new innovations were done by this coach, like making every team member, except the one who captained team in last season, captain of the team. This way everyone has incentive to do his /(her?) best. Another innovation of packing back team members who are not fitting in the team's scheme of things (saving a huge amount of money specially during recession when money is honey). And another innovation is recruiting coach's sons in various newly created positions within team. And another innovation .......will come later. Not all today.
So out obsession with everything phoren is really paying dividend. Next time think this team's owner should also be foreign and so be all the players. That way team would be wining more games.
Our national team also had a foreign coach who is compatriot of the above coach. During this national coach out team also did wonders.
I just wonder should we not have our PM, president, everything phorener so that they take us up and up and up and we enjoy the fruits sitting on the ground.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Keeping promise: At the cost of other’s life!

Infosys has been telling (or boasting) all along that it will honour all its promises of job offers made out to the campus recruits (close to some 16000). Infosys has also got a huge bench of over 25000 staffs. So if Infosys is to be believed they will have 41000 free people to be employed in this financial year on various project (this figure may be little less if attrition is to be factored in). This tells that the company must have so much work coming its way (pipeline in industry jargon) in near future which can absorb all new and existing bench employees. There is also news that more staff would come off project this year.
But in contrast, Infosys itself has been telling that there will be almost no growth (projected 1.5% in rupee terms) in current financial year. Now we hear that company has asked its employees who are on the bench to work for its BPO arm. I understand that if company do not have enough work then it should ask employees to work for associate companies. This way jobs are saved, employees get to learn new skills and associate companies get resources when required without recruiting from outside. But what’s point in sending your existing employees to associate companies against their wishes and recruiting new (which Infy is doing by honouring its campus promises). If company does not have enough work why should it hire more which impacts job securities of its existing employee, severely impacts company financial affecting shareholders.
There is a famous saying in Ramayan “Jaan Jaaye par wachan na jaaye” (Keep your promise even at cost of your own life). Infosys seems to be following this saying, but with a little twist. Twist is that if life has to go it will not be its own but that of its employees. How unethical!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Infy Guidance: Impact on years to come.

The result by Infosys yesterday were not that bad, they were almost on expected lines but what guidance Infy gave for the year ahead was really SHOCKING. Infy gave guidance of just around 1.5% of growth in rupee terms (a negative growth in dollar terms, worst still). This was the most shocking news of yesterday and I would say of this year so far.
Implication of this piece of news is:
1. Infosys is considered the bellwether of the overall Indian IT services industry and any trend set by it is considered to be replicated by the overall industry. So we can safely assume that the overall IT industry would also grow at the same rate. That is almost a 0% growth.
2. As there would be hardly any growth in IT service industry so there would not be need for new recruitment and certainly IT industry would like to rationalize their existing bench (generally Indian IT companies maintain up to 30% bench strength). This means there would be lay-off of resources that are currently on bench in companies.
3. Real estate in India is almost singularly dependent upon the uptake from IT industry be it for commercial or residential sector. So as a result I would say it’s safe to say that there would be no takers for real-estate that means the property prices are going to CRASH badly and LOUDLY in a years’ time.
4. Indian IT industry employs a huge no. of youth. As there would be hardly any growth this year so there is going to be significant problem of unemployment this financial year.
5. As lot of industries, home loan, financial industry to some extent and many more industries depend directly or indirectly for their growth on the growth of IT industry, so these industries would not be growing and that would impact employment too. So ultimately India would see huge unemployment problem among the educated youth (thankfully for political parties the election would be over by that time).
6. Infosys is saying that there would be hardly any new requirement for IT services in their target markets (western world), that clearly says that there would be no growth in those economies for this financial year. So a badly needed pickup in economic activities are still at least a year down the line. This means if we reasonably assume that economies in the west would start picking up only after this financial year (if nothing goes wrong now of which there is no surety). It would take at least a year for western economies to take off and then they will generate the requirement for IT offshoring so Indian IT companies should wait at least 2 year for their services to be required.
7. When in 2000 dotcom went bust, IT industry in India was impacted in 2001 and it took another 3 years for requirement to pick up. It’s only from 2003 end that serious recruitment started by IT companies. Which means a small problem like dotcom took two years off from the job market growth in India. Assume how long it will take this time as the problem is far far serious this time.