Archive for May, 2007

Microsoft Surface

May 31, 2007

Microsoft unveiled “Surface” a new human-information interaction appliance with “Table form factor” on May 31, 2007; this has been under development since 2001. After several design attempts, the current one in the form of a large 30” diagonal bright surface, with the processor hidden under the surface was unveiled.

There are many cute factors; but it is too early to comment as very few would have the privilege of experimenting with the surface.

Targeted at group interaction and usage model of multi-touch interaction, “Surface” might mean many things to many people, nonetheless very exciting product. Even according to Microsoft a commercial product is 3 to 5 years away!

Airtel sets a new record by crossing a subscriber base of 40 million GSM customers

May 24, 2007

Bharti Airtel is the largest GSM service provider in India. This week Airtel subscriber base crossed 40 million, a first in India; in the process Airtel becomes the 10th largest GSM service provider in the world, China Mobile with 316 million subscriber being way ahead of every one else.

Interestingly, while it took Airtel 11 years to get the first 20 million subscribers, it acquired the next 20 million subscribers in just 13 months!

Innovate or Perish

May 18, 2007

Taking a clue from the oft-repeated notion of “publish or perish”, I talked of the need for “innovate or perish” in the Sun Technovate event in Mumbai, on the eve of Sun Founder & Chairman Scott McNealy’s second visit to India. There were nearly 200 CIO/CTO in the audience.

My pitch was simple; innovation is happening all around in India, accelerating in the past 5 years, both inside and outside IT. It could be

    Infosys Global Delivery Model
    Ittiam becoming the “world’s most preferred DSP IP supplier” within three years of starting in 2001 and retaining it for 3 years in a row
    Kashyap perfecting slowly but steadily the concept of “public toilet” through “Sulabh Sauchalay”
    Reliance launching Rs 777 Classic phones
    Robosoft starting 700-seater Tech Park in sleepy Udupi (known only for low cost restaurants)
    HiCal Magnetics supplying components for Nokia
    Cosmic Circuits re-designing low-end electronics items for ultra-low cost
    low cost eye surgery in Arvind Hospitals
    low cost heart surgery in Narayana Hrudayala
    or
    the slew of low cost water purifiers.

Innovation is the only sustainable competitive advantage to serve the 5 billion people in the “bottom of the pyramid”; innovation provides 10-20 times (not percent) cost and time savings.

Naturally, without innovation India Inc cannot remain competitive in the long run

Sun Founder Scott McNealy in India

May 17, 2007

Mr. Scott McNealy, Chairman, Sun Microsystems is in India for 3 days (16-18 May 2007). This is his second visit to India (earlier in 2004).

In his informal chat with many of us on 16th night, he talked passionately about the role of Web 2.0 and the emergence of “participation” economy. He has been funding and spending quality time with the project “curruki” (Curriculum + Wiki), an exciting way to get the world educators create curriculum materials using the “open source” philosophy pioneered by Wikipedia.

In his keynote address on May 17th, he talked about the need for total cost to include “exit cost”; according to him “zero barrier to exit” is a key contribution of “open source” – an unusual insight.

Another interesting thought was Sun’s concept data center “black box” – a fully built data center that comes in the form factor of a container – just connect water source, power source and network tap the data center will start working in a remore village in India or Africa or a busy tech park in Bangalore – fascinating idea.

Reliance launches entry level phones at Rs 777

May 16, 2007

It is interesting to see Reliance pursuing the low-cost, high elasticity market of offering new phones at Rs 777 virtually wiping out “second hand” phones in the low-end category. Such low cost option also reduces the entry barrier. It is interesting to remember the Rs 25,000 price point that the bulky Nokia 6610 had in 1996-1998 time frame; we have indeed come a long way.

Unfortunately the political establishment that talks of “aam admi” is so busy wasting money on all grandiose projects that do good neither to the Government nor to the citizens but never take a moment to celebrate the real benefits “aam admi” gets, thanks to technology. One hope to see a generation of politicians who will genuinely work for the common man and woman of India.

Advice to graduating students

May 12, 2007

Today I had the satisfaction of seeing 418 students complete their graduation requirements at the New Horizon College of Engineering. There were several award winners. As the Chief Guest on the occasion the college management requested me to speak to the students. This is what I had to say.

1 Accept life as it unfolds

Increasingly I find today’s youngsters in India taking rigid postures about the job profile;

I want to be in “embedded systems” because it is hot;

I do not want to program in c, but only in Java;

I do not want to maintin software, I only want to develop;

I do not want to go to Bombay, I want only Bangalore

and so on.

Often they are not aware that the tools, technologies, corporations, business locations might change, that too over 45 years of active professional life ahead of them. It is better to accept the assignment that came by, excel in it over the next 3 years and decide. The chances are that you yourself might change your views!

2 Keep learning & read a lot

The Internet generation has lots of strengths but one major weakness. They seem to have substituted “read” with “browse”.

With IT industry offering jobs at the end of the second year, many of you seem to stop learning from the third year. Remember getting a job is important, but not the ultimate purpose of life.

Reading is deep, involves the brain and leads to learning. Browse can often be very shallow with very little learning.

You need to cultivate the habit of reading; it could be structured browsing, with clear notes as to what way and how you benefited through browsing

3 Be Loyal

The market dynamics being what it is, many of you keep shifting jobs often for marginal increase in salary. Unfortunately our friends in HR departments of corporations (many of them present in this very occasion) also seem to encourage such frequent shifting. While you appear “smart” in short term, you will be proved “dumb” in the long term. Most successful professionals had strong loyalty to an area, a corporation and a domain; that alone wins you in the long run. The very same HR managers who encourage you to shift, will discourage the senior management to consider you for senior positions, many years from now! Beware!!

4 Enjoy life by giving

Since many of your starting salaries in IT industry are comparable to salary of senior folks in other industry (including your parents) you tend to develop a false sense of superiority and celebrate life too early. Most of you get into the habit of celebrating by “consumption” (party, dress, travel..). It is important to celebrate, have fun and enjoy; but remember India is still a poor country; there are so many who did not get the benefits of education that you got. How about “giving” them some thing – may be educate the children of your maid servant or security guard, help blind people with jobs, help sanitary workers with tools, help clerical staff with English language – you give your time, attention and some money. That can be far more satisfying than party. Once you develop a sense of “joy of giving” you will never go back

Congratulations and my very best wishes on a momentous occasion in your life.

Australia commits $ 5 billion fund to promote research in Universities

May 9, 2007

It is heartening to find that the newspapers today are full of the news of the creation of a Reserch Endowment Fund of A$ 5 billion to prime up research in Universities. This fund comes out of budget surplus generated by the government.

Two things are clear;

    countries like Australia clearly look at Universities as the correct places to invest, that toosignificantly.

    second, the ministers manage to generate surpluses.

Both these things are worth emulating by Indian governments. I hope it happens some day

Visit to Monash University

May 8, 2007

Today was the last day in Australia with visits to many facilities in Monash University.

Relatively young (compared to Melbourne University) Monash is big with 50,000 students spread across multiple campuses (near Melbourne and as far as Malaysia and Africa!)

At least in Engineering, Monash is No 1 in Australia, I understand.

How do such Universities grow, sustain the growth, globalize and yet reatain high quality? Is it not the first thing that the powers-that-be should learn and benefit for India?

I hope one day Indian students will have the pleasure of walking around with pride in university campuses in India that are as exciting as Monash and welcome global students on to our campuses.

Can we realize such a dream during our days?

God alone can decide

Visit to Melbourne University

May 7, 2007

It was yet another eye opener to see University of Melbourne and Melbourne Business School doing so well. It is an old, established, public University. Yet it has consistently done so well, No 1 in Australia for many years now and often reaching very high rank globally.

It is a relatively small (by Australian standard) University with about 15,000 students, but with amazing facilities that are so well maintained.

What is strking about Australian Universities (Group of Eight top Schools particularly) is their constant growth, adaptation, emphasis on measured performance, transparent systems and amazing efficiency; Governments play such an enabling role that it benefits everyone.

Is any one in Shastri Bhawanin Delhi listening? Will someone go and learn and implement in India? That will change the face of the Nation

Visit to Canara Bank branch in Hong Kong

May 5, 2007

Today I visited the Canara Bank branch at Hong Kong. Mr Srinivasan, Chief Excecutive, Canara Bank HK operations was kind enough to take me there, introduce me to the staff and even offer an excellent cup of coffee.

Talking to the staff I realize that the direct presence of Canara Bank is just a month old; they are planning activities for the next three years. I did tell them my wish

In eighties .Japanese companies like SONY slowly started to put their neon signs on the skyscrapers of New York and other big cities; by mid-nineties it was the turn of Korean MNC’s like Samsung. It is time that Indian MNC’s like Tatas (TCS and Tata Motors), Infosys & Wipro as well as Moser Baer and others including Canara Bank and ICICI start showing up on the skyscrapers in Singapore & Hong Kong, if not New York. One day I would like Canara Bank to claim the position held by HSBC today.

May be a tall order today, but definitely reachable tomorrow. IT can help!