Archive for June, 2008

CACM has a new birth

June 23, 2008

The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), the first society in computing, re-launched its flagship magazine “Communications” today with July 2008 edition.

For many of us used to CACM (the way Communications is called) since 70’s, it is indeed heartening to see the transformation in

  • Content

  • Layout

  • Design

And

  • Branding

It is refreshingly pleasing to the eyes; there is depth in content; consistency in style; and, clarity in addressing the different stake holders.

I am sure CACM over the next one year will claim its exalted position within computing literature.

Lord Balaji comes to Bangalore

June 23, 2008

Reviving a 600+ year old tradition, the authorities of the famous Balaji temple in Tirupati Tirumala, namely TTD, had arranged for a Kalyanotsavam of the divine couple in the Palace Grounds on June 22, 2008 (Sunday). It was an exciting event. The pandal was large enough to hold as many as 3,00,000 people. All the devotees had free darsan. The lighting arrangement was superb; they had very large (up to 10 feet) screens for those sitting far away. The audio was excellent. They had re-created Tirumala temple in many aspects. The flower arrangement was fantastic. Prior to the Kalynotasavam starting at 6:10 PM, there was excellent music; Mandolin from Srinivas and Annamacharya kirtanas by one of the famous artiste, with a gifted voice. The temple priests did a great job; the devotion, festivity and the spirit of positive energy was palpable. The crowd was managed well, through a system of volunteers (though the VIP crowd gave them a tough time). The authorities brought 1,75,000 laddus all the way from Tirumala; distributed it along with food and water in 75 counters!

In all it was a great effort; hopefully the Lord will bring some relief to the battered government headed by Mr. Yeddyurappa, Hon’ble Chief Minister (who was present with his colleagues) and good progress for Karnataka in general and Bangalore in particular. His Excellency Mr. Rameshwar Thakur the Governor was present throughout. Only divine intervention can help the sagging spirit of Karnataka and Bangalore, bruised for long by people who let the slide continue for 40 months.

Toastmasters Club at CapGemini

June 20, 2008

It was nice to be with folks at CapGemini (top 10 global outsourcing company) at the launch of their Toastmasters Club. I had to speak on Ethics, Corporate Governance and Leadership.

All that I did was to take examples from Infosys, Wipro, HP and Microsoft (interesting life experiences of the founders) to drive home the point ethics must be practiced

Corporate governance is not one more “SOX utility” but the very DNA of the company

Ethics practiced well and corporate governance at ALL levels is the only sure way of leadership

NEN Start-up Day Zero at IIIT-B

June 20, 2008

NEN (National Entrepreneurship Network) had the first edition of their innovative idea “Start-up Day) at IIIT-B on June 19, 2008.

The concept is interesting; with start-ups getting to speed, there is a need to get the best students look up this option seriously. The Placement officers in the Institute are forced to give Day 1 slot to the companies to the companies that would offer the largest number of jobs (IT service companies) or highest salary (product companies, MNCs); start-up can match neither of them. Getting on the last date of placements does not help the start-ups. By keeping a day exclusively for start-ups that too on Day Zero (before the placement process starts) we expect to give the best option for both the students and the recruiters. There are also other innovations; “speed dating” so that the companies need not go through long presentations, written tests, interviews..

An interesting experiment, that is likely to go to other places also soon.

It was great listening to the founders / CEO’s of start-ups

RedBus, Mango Technologies, Mobisys, OutDo, Readiminds, Yos Technologies, Tyfone, 8KMiles

Sanjay Anandram, CEO of JumpStart mentioned some interesting ideas through pithy statements; those I liked include

  1. Do you want to be the 72,942rd employee or the third or 20th employee?
  2. Journey is the award
  3. Do you want to climb Everest or want to watch others climbing Everest in National Geographic TV?
  4. The five things VC’s look for in a start-up during evaluation “Team, market size, growth, USP and business models”
  5. Cost arbitrage, Labor arbitrage, Unique to India, Served out of India for the world – the four models available today for start-ups

Canara HCBC Oriental Bank of Commerce start India’s 19th Life Insurance Company

June 17, 2008

HSBC, the global banking & insurance giant, with $ 9 billion annual insurance premium alone, Canara Bank, the second largest public sector bank with more than Rs 260,000 crores of deposits / loans and Oriental Bank of Commerce a focused public sector bank with more than Rs 120,000 crores business in India announced the launch of its operation on June 16, 2008.

 

The first eight policies were issued to chosen children from the underprivileged sections of the society. The kids

  • Eight yeal old Ganesh wanting to be an engineer
  • Harinakshi (13) wanting to be a teacher
  • Fouza (14) wanting to be an engineer
  • Shabaz (7) wanting to be a doctor
  • Amit (7) wanting to be an engineer
  • Anubashri  (8) wanting to be the Principal of a school
  • Prashant (13) wanting to be a teacher
  • Prakash (13) wanting to be an engineer

represent truly the future India.

 

 

 

In addition to the MBN Rao, CMD of Canara Bank, Clive Bannister, MD of HSBC Insurance, David Fried of HSBC Asia, Naina Lal Kidwai, Country Head, HSBC (India), and Alok Mishra, CMD, Oriental Bank of Commerce there was the first CEO of this new venture Harpal Harlcut.

 

Interestingly, Canara bank with $ 66 billion of annual business, and Oriental Bank of Commerce with $ 34 billion of annual business are coming together (making into a nice $ 100 billion) to start this joint venture.

 

 

 

HSBC the world’s local bank with $ 2.4 trillion assets and operation in 50 countries globally has deep Indian connections; there were 2 businessmen in the founding team way back in 1865; currently the able team of 33,000 people led by an outstanding leader Naina Lal Kidwai contributes $ 500 m to HSBC; HSBC installed the first ATM in India in 1987 and handles 5% of India’s export-import business.

 

It was instructive to see the Finance Minister referring to “inability of logical explanation to convince those ideologically opposed” in his speech. He also referred to the need of “simple” policies to meet the needs of “simple folks” of this highly under-insured country who manage to keep India a country with one of the highest savings rate (35%)

 

There was an excellent “Laser Show” for the launch; another Laser Show talked about Canara Bank reaching yet another milestone (reaching 1,000 branches in its core banking initiative)

Indian pharma Ranbaxy major becomes Japanese subsidiary

June 12, 2008

“Japanese drug firm Daiichi Sankyo announced the acquisition of a majority stake of more than 50 per cent in Ranbaxy for over Rs 15,000 crore” according to Economic Times.

 

It represents an interesting development;

 

  • First, Indian firms could get such high valuation internationally, proving he arrival of the truly India-born MNC’s.
  • Second, promoters are ready to accept reality than get bogged down by emotion.
  • Third, globalization has made the full circle in India; Tata acquiring Corus steel, India-born Lakshmi Mittal emerging as the largest global steel company thru Arcelor- Mittal; and, Ranbaxy being acquired by a Japanese company.

 

Interesting times indeed.

Apple launches iPhone 3G and iPhone 2.0 software

June 10, 2008

The January 9, 2008 launch of Apple iPhone 3G is a turning point in the mobile handset evolution. With 3G speeds (at least double of EDGE), added ffeatures (GPS, Search), SDK (Software Development Kit), affordable price ($ 199 for 8GB model), reach (70 countries including India) and “AppStore” for third party applications, iPhone will “democratize” smart phones and elevate iPhone into a platform that will generate a huge eco-system for the converged (computing, communication, entertainment and gaming) market the way IBM PC did in 80’s for “computing”.

 

Though Apple iPhone sale of 6 million is insignificant compared to Nokia’s 400+ million, iPhone may be able to bring a level of focus to the fragmented market today that has vendor specific interface, operating system and services (often proprietary) forcing third party application developers to work with every major vendor (Motorola, Samsung, LG, Sony-Ericsson’s) separately.

iPhone will also push 3G into mainstream, particularly in USA and India; WiMax might suffer in the process

The next few years will be interesting to watch the shape mobile handsets take

Hillary Clinton’s concession speech – out of race with so much grace

June 8, 2008

In her concession speech to a packed crowd on June 7, 2008 in Washington DC, Democratic Party Senator and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was at her best. There was no rancor; she must have been sad that she was bowing out, but there was no sign of sadness in her face. She was full of grace, in her face, her words, in her expression and in her mood. I was touched by the grace; it was an education for anyone to see some one going out of the race; some one who fought so fiercely could go down with so much grace.

 

She started thanking everyone and repeatedly expressed how grateful she was for all that her supporters did; the crowds cheerfully acknowledged that. She talked of “democratic party as the family” that unites every one. She was gracious in her references to Barack Obama and repeatedly (almost like Pallavi in Indian musical compositions!) talked of “that is why we need to help elect Barack Obama as our next President”.

 

She also scored a point for Democrats. She talked of “in my forty years of political life there were 10 Presidents; only three times we could send a Democratic President to the White House. The man who occupied the “oval office” two times out of the three terms is very much here (reference to Bill Clinton who was present in the audience). You know the prosperity of the country during those two terms. How prosperous America would have been if we had Democratic candidates in all the ten terms?”. She went on to say “that is why we need to help elect Barack Obama as our next President”.

 

It was an enjoyable experience; I fondly wish that our politicians take a leaf out of her concession address and leave the contests gracefully in the interest of the nation.

Bangalore is global No 2 Tech Spot

June 5, 2008

As per the latest global tech spot list of Silicon.com, Bangalore is only next to Silicon Valley.

http://www.silicon.com/research/specialreports/techhotspots/ lists the top 20 global hot spots

  1.  Silicon Valley
  2.  Bangalore
  3.  London
  4.  Tokyo
  5.  Boston
  6.  Cambridge
  7.  Shanghai
  8.  Tel Aviv
  9.  Seoul
  10.  Beijing
  11.  Chennai
  12.  Pune
  13.  Singapore
  14.  Helsinki
  15.  Moscow
  16.  Hong Kong
  17.  Hyderabad
  18.  New York
  19.  Sydney
  20.  Shenzhen

India & China have 4 each; US has 3 and UK has 2; while Australia, Finland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Russia and Singapore have 1 each.

Interestingly America has 3, Europe has 4, Middle East has 1, Australia has 1 while Asia has 11!

 

Remembering Jim Gray

June 1, 2008

On May 31, 2008 more than 1,000 computer scientists gathered in UC Berkeley to pay homage to Jim Gray, an astonishing computer scientist.

Rarely there was a person who was respected by so many.

Undoubtedly, he is the father of transaction processing; but for his seminal work that brought speed and efficiency (cost reduction of 100+ times), e-commerce would not have been possible today. He also played a key role in the design of Non-Stop SQL for Tandem computers. He is a Turing Award winner.

Till 2007, he was with Microsoft Research; the “world telescope” project was his brainchild where he combined his mastery of managing very large databases with the enormous data generated by giant telescopes.

In an unfortunate accident, he was “missing” from his sailboat journey in January 2007; in a rare display of cooperation across communities, there was a massive effort to search him using a variety of techniques & technologies, though in vain.

UC Berkeley has such illustrious alumni

I had the fortune of spending time with him when I was in Microsoft HQ in 2003 & 2005.