Archive for January, 2004

IPv6 – opportunity for leadership position for India

January 21, 2004

The IPv6 Forum, the organization that has been spearheading the next
generation of IP protocol (some time back it used to be called IP-ng – IP next
generation), has been quite active in India. Bangalore has been hosting the
Annual Event for the 4th year in a row. Latif Ladid, President, IPv6 Forum &
Trustee of the Internet Society has been regularly attending these meetings.
With Japan, Korea, China and other Asian countries announcing major plans in
this area, it is time that India announces and executes something within the
next four quarters. Asia will be the dominant consumer of Mobile Phones in the
coming years; Japan with its uncanny power to produce gadgets, is planning to
use IPv6 as a way to dominate he next generation of networks; China has
announced a multi-million IPv6 Test-bed across the country; India with its
strong foothold in Software should not lag behind
and quickly capitalize
on this opportunity. There are enough experts in IPv6 in Bangalore alone; we
need a national, high visibility project to capture the imagination of people
at large. Why not ride on the shoulders of the just announced Grid
Project
– the execution agency is C-DAC (Centre for Development of
Advanced Computing); its head S Ramakrishnan was earlier the ERNET coordinator
(who did us proud by taking Internet to all colleges during 1986-92, much
before VSNL brought it to the masses in 1995) and a lover of new technology;
DIT (Department of IT, Govt. of India) has announced budget of Rs 50+ Crores,
it seems; should we not take the plunge right away?

Ed Yourdon on Mega IT Trends – Scope for young Indians

January 21, 2004

Ed Yourdon, the legendary figure in software engineering who is considered one
of the “Top 10” names in the Software Industry (his name was inducted into
Software Hall of Fame along with Charles Babbage and Bill Gates) gave a talk
in Bangalore on January 20, 2004. One of his key prediction was interesting
– Dot.Com companies will continue to be important; while 90+% of them will
die, a handful of the survivors will fundamentally change the way we live or
ever
– Google is the most striking example (e-Bay, Amazon, Yahoo are the
other ones). What came to my mind immediately was Rajesh Jain created
Samachar.com – the way Indians read News got changed, though Samachar after
being sold to Satyam was one more tame offering from SIFY. Today it has led to
ePaper from Times of India (my blog of January 16, 2004). As such there is
enough opportunities for young Indians, as Dot.Com is more of idea and does
not need “big money” or “big marketing dollars” on Day 1. I hope we get
more Rajesh Jains in the years ahead

Why not landline phones learn some “smartness” from mobile phones?

January 20, 2004

On mobile phone handsets we are used to any number of features – address book,
list of numbers dialed recently, list of received calls, SMS capability, a
clock, music, ring tones, caller identification etc., not all of them really
useful. Unfortunately, we continue to miss all of them on the landline phones.
It is true that landline phone instruments are far cheaper; but it is also
true that cordless phones and those with answering machines cost as much as
mobile phone handsets. We do get separate caller identification module, SMS
capable phones etc., but the man on the street thinks that landline is
incapable of any smartness! Nothing prevents manufacturers from providing
most, if not all of the features that we take for granted in mobile handsets.

On the reverse side, manufacturers should also plan a display-free mobile
handset that cost just a couple of hundreds of Rupees to address a market
segment that just wants voice capability and mobility without any of the
attendant “smart” features.

So landline phones can add display and add functionality to meet “high-end”
consumers and mobile handsets should strip the display and offer real low cost
mobile phones for “low-end” consumers – two way learning that will benefit the
entire telephony. Any takers?

When will India outsource to Indians?

January 19, 2004

India is definitely emerging as the “preferred choice” for outsourcing
software services, IT infrastructure maintenance, call centers and related
customer-facing business process outsourcing, back-office outsourcing, legal,
banking and financial services outsourcing, engineering design services
outsourcing, R & D outsourcing in IT, pharma, engineering and high-tech
industry services. It is the fastest growing segment and expected to touch $
50 Billion by 2008 when it will account for nearly one third of India’s
exports. Major corporations like GE, American Express, and Microsoft are
setting up captive outsourcing centers; many Indian companies run “dedicated”
centers for many Fortune 500 clients; many others offer services to multiple
clients. This has led to nearly 150,000 jobs today that it is expected to
touch 2,000,000 by year 2008. Since many jobs are moving from USA & UK there
is a backlash, with many State and Federal Governments in these countries
banning movement of jobs to India through legislation; however, the
corporations find such movement of jobs as natural consequence of
globalization – on the one hand globalization provides business opportunities
to advanced countries like USA and on the other hand move jobs to the
destinations that are most cost effective. So much is written about this
development. NASSCOM is holding its meeting in USA to convince Americans that
ultimately outsourcing benefits Americans, though in the short run it causes
misery to some workers. Even our IT Minister want Asian countries to unite to
face such backlashes.

What is NOT addressed in all these arguments is the fact that there are so
many outsourcing opportunities to outsource jobs in India – within Government
departments and Corporations to others who are best suited to undertake them.
Thanks to some pioneers like G4 Security security services are routinely
outsourced; similar is the case of vehicles to transport employees; even IIT’s
& IISc took time but ultimately found that outsourcing suits them best. It is
true that some employees directly affected go through some pain points that
must be addressed; but once it is done squarely, it opens up more
opportunities; far more faculty members use transport at IIT’s; there is no
“mix up” of private and public use; there are more vehicles, more drivers (and
cleaners, maintenance people) that the economic activity grows. If you look
beyond there is still a huge resistance to outsourcing, even across Government
departments. While you find ICICI Bonds sold by Post Offices you do not find
BSNL SIM cards available in many Post Offices! Every Government Department is
setting up a Kiosk – BWSSB for Water Supply, KPTCL for Electricity, Bhoomi for
Land Record at great cost to the Nation – while Post Offices are languishing
for business and approaching Sabarimala & TTD Devasthanams for distribution of
Prasadam. Every Public Sector Bank is putting up with vengeance ATM’s (there
are only finite number of citizens with limited amount of money in their
accounts) at great cost; if only they share their network and outsource the
entire ATM services there will be phenomenal cost efficiency; similar is the
case of Banks that are going for Core Banking. When Bangalore can maintain
many HP Data Centers around the world or Chennai office can run the
back-office for World Bank, why cannot IT Indian companies be allowed to
manage Core Banking for all Public Sector Banks with a couple of Data Centers
run by RBI? There are any number of such opportunities – our city roads must
be cleaned every day, electricity and water distributed in an orderly manner,
sewage collected, building painted… offering huge opportunities for
outsourcing. BHEL or NTPC may be better suited to run electricity related
services – all software companies can outsource their power plants, switching
yards and distribution & maintenance, rather than every software company
struggling to run their power yards. How about Electronics City, L & T
Infocity and ITPL, Pune Software Park and Bombay Software park outsourcing to
BHEL / NTPC who can run a dedicated power plant at extraordinary efficiency
instead of getting stuck with State Electricity Boards? I can quote any number
of examples; true, some jobs will be affected, there will be backlash but
ultimately outsourcing will help everyone. May be NASSCOM should lobby for
Internal Outsourcing too!

What is special about India for MNC IT companies?

January 18, 2004

There are two special points that come in favor of India –

1. EQQ (English Language, Quantity and Quality of our engineers).

Everyone knows about our English proficiency.

We produce 300,000+ engineers per year (a million engineering Undergraduates
are there in our engineering colleges at any time!).

The quality of our engineering education is epitomized through IIT engineers
who are valued throughout the world (the selection process is so arduous that
one of my colleague’s wife on knowing that I am an IIT Professor quickly
declared that I deserve to be shot dead; because, I had made 20 million
Indians’ life miserable – the argument is that 150,000 students sit in the
Joint Entrance Examination every year and only 2,000 make it to IIT; since the
parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties and even grand parents get
involved in their wards attempt to enter IIT’s, and most of them become
unhappy once their wards do not make it, I had indirectly caused enough misery
to large enough people that I deserve punishment was the Lady’s argument)

2. The contribution of Indians, Indian companies and companies that operate in
India

Many know Vinod Dham (Pentium Designer at Intel), Vinod Khosla (Sun Micro
Co-Founder); what is not known is that way back in eighties Apple Talk design,
COBOL compiler for Apple, not-so-successful spreadsheet 4-5-6 (pun on Lotus
1-2-3), project management software InstaPlan (that was the “recommended
choice at Harvard Business School) had “India Inside” and “Indians Inside”; in
nineties, we had InstalShield that installs Microsoft and Sun software on to
your desktops, HotMail; more recently, Apple iPod MP3 player, Philips DVD,
Intel processor based Laptops, AppServer that competes globally with IBM &
BEA, ERP software that powers Swatch Company in Switzerland and many others
have “India Inside” too

(“India Geek Mythology” – talk given at Ness Global Meet in Bangalore on
January 14, 2004)

ERP – What is in store?

January 17, 2004

What is next in ERP is a frequently asked question. My take on this question –
globally and in India

Globally, I see four trends

1. ERP has to extend “beyond enterprise” (incidentally I teach a course
on Extended Enterprises”), to encompass Supply Chain (on the supply side) and
Customer Relationship (on the demand side). Also, everyone needs SCM & CRM,
not those in the Auto industry alone. Practically everyone needs extended ERP.
2. While ERP came with a promise of “process view” and “break the chutes
of functional kingdoms”, ERP, SCM, and CRM software became chutes themselves!
in the process, you created a whole new “integration industry” under EAI (Web
Methods, Tibco…). I see ERP II seamlessly moving across the entire extended
enterprise
3. The term “best of breed” is much abused; it might be great for vendors
like i2, Siebel and PeopleSoft to talk of them being the “best in class” in
SCM, CRM and ERP respectively. But the integration pain is so much;
enterprises would be happy to stay with a “single solution” that seamlessly
addresses the applications across the extended enterprise.
4. When Microsoft and others introduced Office Suite in early nineties,
many users thought it was a way to save cost of selling individual boxes; in
fact, what Office Suites did, was to emphasize the fact that integration of
Word Processing, Spreadsheet, Database and Presentation (and later Web Design,
Project planning…) was a dire need. I do expect that some one (could be
Microsoft), would bring an Integrated Enterprise Suite (ERP, SCM, CRM, and
more importantly Web’ifying applications, Portals and Exchanges) as a seamless
application suite. That would be the real contribution. If it comes from
PeopleSoft nothing like that!

Specific to India, there are again four issues

1. Indian CEO’s have a feeling that they have “duped” into ERP; they do
not see the benefits. As Enterprise Software vendor you need to address the
“measurable” benefits.
2. You need to work with consultants like E & Y, IBM, KPMG to evolve a
methodology for post implementation assessment to give the comfort to end
users. Indian enterprise software induction exercise puts all energy on
“procurement” and practically no emphasis on “utilization”
3. You need to educate consultants like me to get the message that
PeopleSoft is NOT a mere ERP software vendor that too focused on HR function.
The consultants’ ignorance cost you business!
4. Banking sector alone in India would invest about a Billion Dollar in
the 18 months. You should focus on this segment, particularly when you can
boast of Marquee clients globally. Most banks are focusing on Core Banking
products alone; they need HR functions too. Who can be a better bet than
PeopleSoft, particularly if you can offer it a “hosted mode” (I am NOT using
ASP because it has become a bad word in business!)

(Talk given at “PeopleSoft India Heads of Practice” Conference in Bangalore
on January 13, 2004)

Times of India launches ePaper

January 16, 2004

ePaper.timesofindia.com is the latest innovative addition to the offerings
from Times of India, that has systematically added several glories to it over
the past eight years. Through the innovative “invitation price”, city
editions, full color, international size, using print medium to announce
Web-based poll results, localization efforts, Newspaper in Education and
several such measures, ToI became world’s No 1 English Daily in October 2002.
This “What You See Is What You Get” Edition, one more “feather in the cap” for
this giant, will be great for many of us, the frequent travelers who want to
read Bangalore Edition wherever we are. Hopefully, the bandwidth issue will be
settled so that we need not wait eternally for the pages to load

Cellular phone quality far below TRAI norms

January 15, 2004

It is interesting to note that the magazine Voice & Data did an extensive User
Satisfaction Survey involving thousands of users and found that the quality of
telephone service among cellular phone users in India is far below TRAI norms.
To all of us the users it is no surprise; however, it points out that many
service providers, notably, Reliance have sacrificed quality in their process
of quantitative growth. With equipment prices falling across the board (thanks
to excess supply in the global telecom market), and the recent duty cuts in
telecom switching equipment, TRAI should take up the issue and force the
service providers to improve quality; unfortunately (as I wrote in my earlier
Blog of ), TRAI seems to be spending all its energy in creating and solving
legal wrangles rather than taking care of customers!

UGC sets up four National Institutes of Science in Allahabad,

January 14, 2004

UGC has decided to set up four Institutes on the pattern of the highly
successful IIT’s; these Institutes will focus on Science and expect to attract
bright minds towards them. Over the years Engineering & Medicine have been
attracting the best talent. With IT boom it became more pronounced and
enrolments in Sciences have been falling. With the IT meltdown of 2000-2001,
IT and Engineering streams had fewer intakes; as such, the setting up of
these Institutions is very timely
; bright students who are getting “turned
off” from IT will have pre-eminent Institutions to look forward to.

Hopefully, these Institutions will enjoy the autonomy that IIT’s enjoy, admit
students in a fair and transparent manner, attract students from all over the
country and focus on high quality teaching, research and outreach programs.
Most important, if they switch to a 4-year Undergraduate Degree
programs
, there will be standardization across the disciplines
(Engineering, Medicine, Architecture, and Law). Currently the Science students
suffer a lot due to 3-year B Sc degrees; it is not widely known that the IT
industry preferred Engineering students mainly because US (the main source of
software business) insists on 4-year Undergraduate degree for Visa purposes;
other countries also follow similar practices.

Election 2004 to be “paperless”

January 13, 2004

Election 2004 to be “paperless”

The Chief Election Commissioner has announced that the Election 2004 would use
Electronic Voting Machines all over the country, making it a “paperless”
election. It is interesting to note that United States still has a lot of
reservation, while Indians have embraced technology more easily including the
100+ million “illiterate India” – a true leapfrogging and absence of “legacy”