Archive for November, 2005

Ma Bell in Baby Bell’s Mouth SBC complets AT&T acquistion

November 20, 2005

In the normal case you get news like this “Mother delivers a baby and both baby & mother are fine”. Corporate America can some time be strange – it delivers a news “baby swallows mother, and both baby and mother are fine”.

That is what happened on November 18, 2005. Finally, SBC completes its acquisition of AT&T on this historic day.

It is good news that the merged entity will be called AT&T – the legendary firm that is synonymous with Telephony for decades.

The new AT&T will be the largest US Phone company spreading across Wireless & Wired space. It remains to be seen as to how the “old new” service provider competes with the “new new” service providers like Vodafone and T-Mobile.

TCS and SBI form C-Edge

November 16, 2005

TCS is the largest software services company in India. SBI is the undoubted leader in India in Banking with 10,000+ branches

Formation of a Joint Venture C-EDGE betwen these two giants represents an imprtant step

With TCS acquiring CBS product form FNS from Australia, and SBI implementing core banking in its branch network (the largest in the world), it is an interesting development to watch.

Hopefully this is the beginning of IT companies joining hands with majors in other industry (auto, steel, retail, hospitality, healthcare, travel..); that alone will make IT India’s Tomorrow!

Philips CEO in India

November 15, 2005

Gerard Kleisterlee, President & CEO of Royal Philips Electronics was in India this week.

Sharing his views on “Innovating for quality of life” on November 14, 2005 at Bangalore, the Technical University at Eindhoven (TU/E) educated Kleisterlee talked of 75 years of association with India and being present in 18 Million Indian homes. He also talked of growing Philips business in India to $ 1 Billion soon.

Kleisterlee outlined his vision of “affordability, accessibility and availability” and the five key projects in India

    Healthcare – tele-medicine project (along with Indian Space Research Organization) and reach of health care through mobile van in Tamil Nadu
    Water purification – a new design that will enable most Indians to get access to “potable water”
    Lighting – solar power based light bulb that has potential to “light up” 100,000 Indian villages
    Communications – a low cost mobile phone with $ 20 cost that will be launched soon
    Learning in remote villages using TV and set top box

It was very satisfying to see the global major talking of technologies that are very relevant to India

He also talked of increasing headcount in Bangalore R & D Center to 2,500 and an investment of $ 60 Million

Interestingly, on this very day IIIT-B signed MoU with TU/E; Kleisterlee is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of TU/E!
On hearing about this development, during our interaction after his talk Kleisterlee was very pleased

Peter Drucker the Management guru passed away on Nov 11, 2005

November 14, 2005

At the ripe age of 95 Peter Drucker the renowned Management Guru (on whose name Claremont Garuaute Business School is named) passed away on November 11, 2005 in West Coast, USA. Peter Drucker is considered the foremost “no nonsense” thought leader in Management with deep insights and practical wisdom revealed through dozens of his books over the past sixty years.

Business Week described him as “foremost business thinker of our times”

Intel Chairman Andy Grove observed that “simple statements from him have influenced untold number of daily actions”.

Forbes Magazine had a cover page with his photo and the caption “the youngest mind” in 1997 (when he was 88)

It is instructive to note that Peter Drucker had the following to say on IIIT-B “the student of IIIT Bangalore are as good as anywhere in the world” (Fortune January 2004)

Technology, Environment & Society synergy

November 13, 2005

It is often made out as if technology is at cross purposes with societal needs and environmental sustenance.

It is true that with the effect of global warming perceptibly visible many of us tend to think so.

However, creative thinking would lead to technologies that can help bring harmony to society and lead to no degradation of environment.

Using IT industry R & D examples and recent product developments in India and abroad (Simputer from PicoPeta, $ 20 mobile phone handset prototype from Infineon, thin clients from VXL, PCO revolution pioneered by Sam Pitroda, Rs 10,000 PC, Energy Star compliance, multi-core microprocessors..) I tried to make the case that there are many success stories in keeping the societal and environmental balance in developing technology!

(Talk given at CII Quality Summit (Nov 10-12, Bangalore) on “New ways of winning”)

Low cost computing for India

November 12, 2005

Developing low cost computing has challenges that go beyond technical ones; there are human (societal), economic (delivery), and marketing (user needs assessment) that are often over-looked by “techies”.

It is heartening to note that Atul Arora (ARM India head), Kentaro (MSR India head), myself, Swami Manohar (PicoPeta CEO) and Sridhar (Head of Embedded Group in CMC) felt similarly – a maturity of IT professionals in addressing the problems of taking technology to the masses.

(Panel discussion in IEE International Conference on Embedded Systems, Bangalore, Nov 11-12, 2005)

Premji receives Faraday Medal and does India proud

November 11, 2005

IEE (Institute of Electrical Engineers) UK conferred the prestigious Faraday Award on Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro and Azim Premji Foundation on November 11, 2005 at Bangalore.

This is the highest award by the 130+ years old IEE (UK) and a rare honor (given not more than once a year). This is the first time this prestigeous Award was given to an Indian

The Award itself was endowed in 1922 on the occasion of the 50th year of the Society.

The earlier recipients include several legendary engineers and scientists including

    Oliver Heaviside, British Mathematician & Physicst who predicted radio transmission in 1902 (that became a reality in 1924) and the person who introduced much of the terms like impedance and capacitance that every electrical engineers uses every day;

    SZ de Ferranti who as child prodigy built the “arc light” for street lighting, bet on AC (alternate current) as opposed to Edison (who bet on DC); and, the company with his name built the second commercial computer Mark I;

    Nobel Prize winners J J Thomson, Lord Rutherford, and James Chadwick;

    inventor W D Coolidge whose invention X-Ray tube is known as “Coolidge tube”;

    Sir I Schoenberg the pioneer of television;

    astrophysicist John Ratcliffe;

    Intel founder Robert Noyce;

    British computer scientists C A R Hoare and Roger Needham;

    Sir Robin Soxby, founder of fab-less semiconductor company ARM.

Interestingly, the award itself was handed over by Sir Robin Soxby (Faraday Award winner in year 2002) who was present in Bangalore on this august occasion.

The award citation not only mentioned the great contribution of Azim Premji in his creating the $ 3 Billion Wipro Corporation – whose annual sales is higher than that of “ARM”, whose microprocessors power 80% of mobile handsets in the world – but also Azim Premji Foundation that does pioneering work to fulfill the mission of Azim Premji to put six million students who drop out of school back to the school in India over ten years.

It is an occasion where every Indian is proud of the illustrious citizen Azim Premji

Professor Raj Reddy to receive “Honda Prize” on November 25, 2005

November 2, 2005

Professor Raj Reddy of Carnegie Mellon University will be the 26th recipient (6th American) to receive the Honda Prize, a coveted award (Yen 10 Million). As per Honda web site, Soichiro Honda and Benjiro Honda founded Honda Foundation will formally confer this Honor on Prof. Raj Reddy in Tokyo on November 25, 2005.

Professor Raj Reddy hails from Andhra Pradesh, went to Guindy Engineering College (the same college I went to) for undergraduate engineering degree, before moving to Australia for Master’s Degree and Stanford for his PhD degree. He has been at Carnegie Mellon University for decades. He founded the Robotics Institute that has been an anchor organization for promoting the science of Robotics. He is a Turing Award winner (considered the Nobel Prize in Computing).

It is a proud moment for computing professionals in India

He is the Chairman of the Board of IIIT-Hyderabad; IIIT-Bangalore had the fortune of hosting him for a talk in the year 2002.

It is inspiring to read his talk given at the time of his receiving the Turning Award in March 1995 -“To dream the possible dream” (http://www.rr.cs.cmu.edu/turing.htm)

Sanjay Dasgupta the first IT Secretary in India is no more

November 2, 2005

Sanjay Dasgupta passed away in the early hours of Nov 1, 2005 due to sudden cardiac arrest.

Son of JNU Professor and a very creative person, Sanjay Dasgupta was an unusual IAS officer (Indian Civil Service)

Karnataka was the first State to have an IT Policy; the State was also the first to create a separate IT Ministry and Sanjay Dasgupta was the first Secretary of the Department – the Center had Department of Electronics that became IT Ministry and later merged with Telecom Ministry to become Ministry of Information & Communication Technology (MICT) much later – IT.com, South Asia’s largest IT annual event (IT.in from year 2005) was also his brain child. He coined the slogan “IT capital of India” for Bangalore.

The IT Policy itself was written by the Industries Department that talked of an Institute focused on IT (IIIT-B is the final result).

Incidentally, he was the person who after a brief interaction in March 1999 told me and I had been selected for the job of Director, IIIT-B!