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Metis Talent Management brand new website goes live

Last fortnight was a joy, as we came to the launch of Metis Talent Management's website. Metis is a Singapore based organisation that advises clients on Talent Management with a primary focus on Talent Development and Organisation Design. Best wishes to team Metis!

The other great thing is how folks at Metis approached this by going in for a full overhaul, including getting a new logo and brand colours. Do leave your comments on what you feel about the website and the logo!!

Why would you want to read Bangalore Tiger?

Extremely few companies in India have achieved such an astounding success as Wipro, which was founded as an edible oil company and turned to IT. In fact, people outside India would be surprised to know that Wipro makes childcare products, lighting products etc. It is now a USD 4 BN giant employing nearly hundred thousand employees. Read More..

Quitting Smoking Is Not Easy, Neither Impossible

The reaction of most smokers to the suggestion of quitting smoking is either of derision, or brushing aside, or in labeling the idea as plain and simple unachievable. Some even judge the thought of giving up their smoke as noble but impossible. I think the truth is somewhere in between, and certainly quitting smoking is not that big a deal. Read More...

Folks, slight change of Axis

Friends, I started blogging, I chose a slightly irreverent URL of masoomjanwar.blogspot.com in 2005, When Blogger allowed domain integration, I bought a domain and linked my blog to work on www.yaxis.in. My intention in selecting this location was to have a very simple URL. It served its purpose a great deal, but of late, I have noticed that Google directs lot of traffic from India, but does not do so from other geographies, atleast in the same measure. I also noticed that Google sitemap hints that my blog, because of the .in at the end, is seen by Google to be targeting traffic from India. I felt that this was not what I was attempting to do.  I just want my blog to be location agnostic.I have moved my blog to a more universal domain which is www.yaxislive.com. This is the new home of my blog. I hope you would continue to follow my blog. Folks who follow this site through feed should not be feeling any difference. I have also opted for Wordpress and I hope you would like the brand ne…

What's in a magazine cover? Nothing..

..Except the fact that when I as looking at these two trade magazines published from two different parts of the world (Auto Monitor - India & Automotive News - US), they looked like lost cousins!

Innovation in a shrink wrap

When I run a search on the word 'innovation' in the books section at Amazon, it returned over two hundred and forty seven thousand records. Don't believe this? Try clicking here or see the imagelet below.What I am trying to highlight is that innovation is probably the most written about subject in last few years. To the point that at one point I sincerely believed the word has become cliched - till I became a believer in this word again.Dr C.K.Prahalad and M.S.Krishnan have published a recent bestseller on "The New Age of Innovation: Driving Co Created Value Through Global Networks" (It came in a shrink wrap and hence the title of this post).Frankly, the last time I read Dr Prahalad was BOP and came back with what I can call as subterranean dissonance. With the expectation that beneath the shrink wrap would be a new idea, a new thought argument, I look forward to reading ( and subsequently joining the debate on this subject by kicking off a post) this new rage in…

Paying Taxes Online, is it a great idea?

It might appear surprising that I have tried to create a debate around an argument that appears settled - I mean why would you not want to pay income taxes online, when you do not have to write a piece of paper form or a cheque, you do not have to run to the bank, you do not have to stand in a queue, and you can do it with the comfort of your home or work, you can do it last minute and so on. The advantages appear so obvious.Almost so, till you try it out, something I did last week. The process is simple. You go to this site, locate the form and get going. So far so good. It even matches your PAN number with the Income Tax Department database to see if you have typed the correct PAN Account number, so that typos do not result in disasters of wrong credit. The form has no computational intelligence, which means it will only take values of the tax, surcharge and education cess etc. The portal also appears to offer direct transfer from several banks which is a great help.All went well, t…

Tedha Hai Aur kaafi bore ad bhi

I noticed a TV ad of a 'snack' featuring Juhi Chawla. This fairly long ad ends with the punchline 'Tedha hai par mera hai'. True, creative ads need not always come from big agencies. or vice versa as in this case. Someone was kind enough to put the ad on YouTube. Yes, deep pocket clients demand,"Give me something out of the world" and advertising agencies oblige. Yes, this ad is quite out-of-the-world as far as I am concerned. Mindblowing (!) too. And quite jarring too. Tedha Hai Par Mera Hai Ad via YouTube I am not buying Kurkure anytime, no I would not. And I would even not take an Airtel connection even if they run the Maddy & Vidya Balan ad five hundred times in three hours. The creativity of the ad has been killed by the big media budget. They need to pull out some money from the incessant carpet bombing of this ad to creating meaningful ads- more ads with less number of rotations on the TV screen.

Cold Steel by Bouquet & Ousey - Superb!

Over the last few years, I have read several books around some of the great corporations of the world. Some of them have been written by people who have led those companies. Jack Welch (Straight from the Gut) and Carlos Ghosn(Shift) have written books which essentially talk about business transformation of the companies they have led, or continue to lead. I have also come across books such as those by Madan Birla (I have attended a webinar he gave in my company, not read his book titled Fedex Delivers) who have been senior leaders of some of world's great companies.I have also come across books on a theme where the reflection of a corporation keeps coming back again and again - such as Tom Friendman's The World is Flat (Sorry, but I remain a dissenter when it comes to The World is Flat as a book.)I have almost finished reading Cold Steel by Bouquet & Byron. The books I have read in the past have traced the history of corporations over decades. This one actually traces a mo…

New Device to make pop corn- your cellphone!

Cellphones are unarguably wireless devices, and therefore work on waves to route communication but the below video showing showing cellphones working as kitchen microwave is too much.See corn popping up on a flat table surrounded by four ringing mobile phones. Not sure which company makes those phones, but they sure have an unexplored line of business ready- Portable Microwave Oven or Rechargeable Pop Corn maker. If they are just another phone handsets, well, I suddenly feel quite convinced the good old wireline phone is such  a great idea. Meanwhile, bhejafry, anyone?

Tickets available for Adults, Children and Foreigners!

We were at Mysore last Sunday and among other places, we visited the Mysore Royal Palace too. There were three types of tickets available :AdultsRs 20/-ChildrenFree EntryForeignersRs 100/-So, it has been publicly firmanned that foreigners visiting the palace are neither adults not children. (Somewhat reminded me of my OB teacher Raji Philip who described the boardroom of a company  as having three types of toilets, one each of the ladies and gents, and one for the Directors!!)The Mysore Palace is grand, and the only downer is that you are not allowed to take your camera inside the palace.The palace looked absolutely dazzling during the evening lighting though (thankfully, nobody- adults, children, or foreigners needs to buy any tickets to see the lighting), take a look at the picture taken from my phone(the picture hardly does any justice to the real thing but nevertheless). The sheer size of the palace compound appears quite overwhelming. Ankur has shared some real cool pictures of M…

Big Switch has a tempting teaser on the jacket

Okay, I totally agree it is a bad idea to judge a book by its cover. However, Nicolas Carr'sBig Switch ("The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google") has quite a compelling teaser on its jacket. I haven't started reading the book though.It says that a hundred years ago, companies stopped producing their individual power and joined newly created electrical power grids. Something like that is happening to our lives through the internet via the likes of Google, Salesforce.com, Microsoft and Google and so on."The Big Switch provides a panoramic view of the new world being conjured from the circuits of the "The World Wide Computer"."Now, doesn't that sound very promising? Geert Lovink has a detailed post.

Cold Steel at 100 pages

It isn't my practice to comment on books while I have not finished them, I am deviating this time. I started reading Cold Steel byTim Bouquet & Byron Ousey early this week. At end of 100 pages (out of a total of 323 ) some observations:

This book is about personalities, and personalities.Expect no great business insight, this book is general reading.Ergo, if you hate business books and like general reading, go ahead and buy a copy.The book is like an extremely long event report, language will make you feel you are reading a newspaper at bedtime.The Arcelor management have been characterized from the beginning as irrational, insecure, somewhat immature. The authors have started this book with a certain mindset, which cannot be termed as fully balanced. And of course, as you would expect, Mittals family members and Mittal employees have been shown as competent and temperamentally very controlled. Have no illusion, this book is only about the Arcelor and Mittal Steel merger, nothi…

Some dangerously interesting business titles

When highly respected Subroto Bagchi was speaking on TV the other day, I was amused to see his title. It read as Gardener. I could relate somewhat, a business leader of his stature can only be expected to nurture what's around. How appropriate, I thought. Cisco likewise, has a Chief Globalisation Officer. Ron McDonald, the mascot of of McDonald's , is believed to be called as Chief Happiness Officer by McDonald's.Not every position in the world has such undergone such a profound thinking exercise.At a later day, I was reminded of the old days of the Soviet Union. A person could be called Fourth Assistant Secretary to the Chief Vice Minister or something equally weird. There was no way you could perhaps understand what such titled gentleman (gentleperson?) could be doing for a career.Can you believe, the top boss of AOL match making service is called CEO of Love! Also, that the main organiser of the highly awaited Berkshire Hathway's annual meeting is believed to be cal…

The Big Switch or Cold Steel?

Blame it on IPL. My reading (blogging too!) has suffered a slowdown of late. More so because I did not notice seriously appealing business reading in my last few trips to Landmark and Odyssey stores. I also felt quite irritated at the parking problems in Chennai Citi Centre and the crowds at Landmark Spencers to just drop the idea of some serious book-surfing.However, when you cannot chase books, sometimes books themselves beckon you. I find two books on my table competing for my attention. So what am I planning to read?Nicolas Carr, thinker and author, who kicked a storm few years with his earlier work "Does IT Matter?" His latest book is titled equally provocatively, "The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google".The other option is "Cold Steel: Lakshmi Mittal and the Multi-Billion Dollar Battle for a Global Empire" by Tim Bouquet and Byron Ousey.I remain quite fascinated by anythingsteel since I first worked at SAIL. The sheer scale of any…

Confirmed:Other Dads watch Pogo TV Channel too!

My wife remains quite annoyed by my daughter's addiction to Pogo channel. She remains even more annoyed by the fact that much against her rightful protestations, my daughter is joined by me in watching shows such as M.A.D and Takeshi's Castle (Oh, have you heard the hilarious voiceover provided by the very talented Javed Jaffrey? !). And just btw, even now my TV is showing a Harry Potter movie and I am the only viewer in my house!!If that generates your sympathies for my wife, read this. I recently noticed a Hitachi AC ad on Pogo. Now kids don't order ACs, which means someone told Hitachi (or provided somewhat credible viewership data) that dads and mums watch the channel too!! And hey wait, they just showed a Tanishq jewelry ad. Pogo,thanks for making it easy for me to accept this reality!!!

'Blink' is all about pre-compiled code in Human Mind

Many times we don't know that we already have a prepared logic to handle a situation. Like sometimes when we say, "Don't know why but I do not have good feeling about this move" or so on. In some such situation, we have already debated the pros and cons of such a move at a subliminal level of our mind, and though the logic is not known to the upper layers of our mind, we pretty much know what to do. Such logic that we ourselves are not cognizant of the existence of such logic but it tends to guide us. In simple words, intuition in some situation could be the result of an internal evaluation of a situation without becoming aware of such a processing. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell is is all about that. It is all about the existence of what programmers would like to say - existence of pre-compiled code in human mind. If you haven't read, do grab and read this brilliant book.Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

Olympics - Suddenly the uncool word in advertising?

While Beijing Olympics are just round the corner, one does not see much advertising around it even now. In fact I remember seeing Lenovo ads around Olympic torch relay about six months back. Suddenly it faded out and no new advertising is noticeable , on web, TV, outdoor or print. Shall we blame it on IPL or am I expecting the Olympics based advertising too early in India? Or, is it the violent run of the Olympic torch that has made advertisers wary? Just wondering aloud.As a matter of fact, the list of sponsors for the Olympics is really impressive. The usual big time Olympic sponsors Coke (remember the Atlanta Olympics were dubbed as Coke Olympics ) is there, along with GE, Atos Origin, Kodak , Visa, Samsung and of course, Lenovo. Plus a plethora of Chinese companies as one would expect. Where are the ads and the Olympic themed promos though?PS: Sara, I am back!

Kalam-Musharraf conversation- please forgive my deja-vu!

I was fairly amused to read excerpts from former President Kalam's former secretary PM Nair's book via this report, which gives a real description of the conversation between Kalam and Musharraf as it happened.“Mr President, like India you also have a lot of rural areas,” Kalam said, and put a poser, “Don’t you think we should both do whatever is possible to develop them on priority?” As Musharraf said “Yes”, Kalam wasted no time to detail his “favourite” subject of Providing Urban Facilities in Rural Areas (PURA). It took 26 minutes to brief Musharraf on PURA.The duration of this meeting was 30 mins. That kind of reminded me of my own post, done about a year back, which was titled,"Humour:A conversation between Presidents Kalam and Musharraf which never happened". Musharraf: Mr. President, my entire country right upto every single child wants…. Kalam: Ah, children. In my last five years, I have met two lakh children every year and conveyed the value of science, huma…

YouTube will Pale against Mobile Phones indeed?

I was reading with great amazement the stats revealed by the MD of Nokia India on India's mobile revolution. But before I go to the statement, it ought to be noted that the MD of a mobile phone company was speaking at Goafest which is all about advertising, marketing and media planning. Read Saurabh Garg's or Rajiv Dhingra for more . So what's the relation between advertising and mobile phones?The connection is content, as well as new emergent channel of 3G services of mobile, which allow content to be captured and shared with much ease. And when there is content and a channel, advertising cannot be far behind.Now look at the slightly hyperbolic statement from D Shivakumar, MD of Nokia India.“If YouTube is big, 3G services here will redefine the space. YouTube will pale into insignificance in the next few years with India user-generated content”If you wish to point out that YouTube does not enable content creation, only dissemination, your point is taken. He too perhaps me…

Resuming reading with Blink.

I have read The Tipping Point  by Malcolm Gladwell and even commented about it in passing. I did like the central point of that book and though been meaning to read Blink (Full title is Blink- The Power of Thinking without Thinking) but then reading has been a little low of late.Finally I am resuming (with great hopes!) my reading for 2008 by borrowing Blink from my boss' personal collection (I am blessed- he's quite a bibliophile).Meanwhile, do check out SR's and prolific reader Heather's impressions of this book. I shall come back with my thoughts few days from now.Related post: Shelfari is a book lover's delight.

Do we always need gurus to make good ads?

I clicked this picture in the parking outside my office -I found it simple and crisp. I am not talking more, let the ad talk for itself - see below.The medium of communication - copy on a tyre - provides an instant connect with the service being promoted, which is tyre puncture (or flat tire) repair service with a mobility. The placement of the ad in the parking area is just apt.The ad is not loaded with unnecessary detail. I was amazed by this intelligent ad! Do we really need to outsource creativity or necessarily expect only gurus to come up with brilliant advertising?!!

Has the TOI- The Hindu outdoor war started already?

Okay, I agree I have been giving too much of this blog's prime real estate to the Times of India upcoming launch in Chennai. Not that I have a great love for current day TOI, but as a graduate of marketing, I feel competition in this media would make the readers great benefits. And yes, I would get to see my childhood newspaper, in my city.To be fair, others have tried to challenge the Hindu in Chennai , the Deccan Chronicle and the New Indian Express are there too, but have not been able to come up anywhere near the market leader.As I suspected, the outdoor action has started. I noticed this advertising hoarding yesterday on my way to office. The traffic at the Turnbulls Road curve was standstill, giving ample time to click this snap.  While it does not say about what product it is advertising, the hints are that it is a Times of India ad, which is seeking attention and acting as the teaser for something to follow. The artwork is a collage of some newspaper, presumably, the TOI. …

Indian Government Organisations take baby steps to blogging

This morning I noticed Google Reader was recommending a feed of from one of India's largest telecom service company - BSNL. This company is an example of a corporation being formed out of what was earlier a government department- though its business is to facilitate conversations, it certainly is not one known for having conversations with its own customers - you would know that if you have been a BSNL service subscriber yourself. Needless to say, I quickly added this feed to my list. What attracted me even more was that there were over 70 subscribers already - okay, not very high, but interesting.  I had also noticed the term 'blog' on Indian Income Tax Department main website, as well as Police Blogs, and this whole phenomenon of Government Departments and Government Owned Companies moving towards 'conversation' appeared attractive enough to check out.Cut to BSNL blog. It is actually a news feed, and not a full fledged blog with its own crisp URL (such as blog.bs…

Pankaj Ghemawat takes the globalisation debate further

The debate on globalisation moves forward. Move over Tom Friendman, here comes Prof Pankaj Ghemawat. To be frank, when I had read Tom Friedman's The World is Flat in 2005 at the height of its frenzy, my first thought was that it is an over hyped reporting, rather than something really based on facts and figures. It is good to hear that a scholar such as Pankaj says the same in this interview with Economic Times. Not that I am an accomplished scholar as Prof Ghemawat to be able to counter Tom Friedman's oh-so-adored theory, but simply put, it appeared to further a romantic idea of globalisation which everyone wanted to hear, rather than something based on facts. I had done a post on this subject on this blog, which incidentally, was among my first blog posts.While I have not read Prof. Ghemawat book Redefining Global Strategy yet, certainly waiting for it to appear in the shelves in India. So what if it was published in Sept 2007- the world is so flat yet.

CIO India is launched but wondering who gets copies.

While International Media GroupIDG has brought one of its most popular IT publications for managers CIO, subscribing to it is a pain. The first issue of CIO India was published in Nov 2005 and according to IDG, currently distributes 6000 copies across India. I wonder who gets them.Having followed US edition of CIO (It is absolutely first rate) for a while now, I was quite delighted to know there is an Indian edition too. However, try to subscribe to a paper copy. First, there is no concept of paid subscription. One need to register a request for a print subscription, and that begins an endless wait to hear whether your subscription was approved or not. (I registered in May 2007 and am still waiting to hear back from them!). And no, CIO does not sell off the shelf, it only comes into your letter box.I wish this subscription request and acceptance process is improved significantly if CIO India has to indeed make a mark. I have sent multiple emails over the last three quarters and follow…

Virgin Mobile India Ads - Ethics Anyone?

Richard Branson may have managed to see his Virgin Mobile being 'launched' in India via an arrangement with telecom operator Tata Indicom, but the ads being used to promote the brand are perhaps crossing the soft line of irreverence.In its quest to reach out to young audience the ads have young characters in the centre but then look at the values being propagated. In one ad a teenaged girl is seen trying to get her parents encourage her to go to Goa with a boy. Nothing wrong with the intent perhaps, but whole effort is around misleading the parents.The second ad is far more questionable. It shows a teenager hauled by a policeman for a traffic violation setting up his friend as his father and then using his friend to get away from the police. Actually between them they con the Policeman. Certainly not something to really encourage.See the below video on YouTube. (Copyright as applicable)Ethics Anyone?Related video: Richard Branson's launch stunt for Virgin Mobile in India h…

TOI Chennai Launch - How would the Hindu react?

Of course this post is speculative in nature but then isn't that the case with lot of things :)

The question is, how will market leader the Hindu react to the Times of India's proposed launch in Chennai:

Do nothing, no one can shake me - 0% probability.
Do nothing on the surface, work on the distribution control - 10 % probability.Start outdoors before the TOI does, buy hoarding spaces - moderate probability.Go for a drastic price cut and start a price war - almost certain to happen ( Do remember price positioning is not good but then you just lost the chance)Make the paper better - which means not saying a leading star hotel in Nungambakkam but saying Taj Coromandal instead- 10 % probability.Start publishing more color photos- 50 % probability.
In all we would be keen to watch whether the Hindu would adopt a defensive strategy and try to save the turf or a very aggressive strategy and try to kill the new edition of the TOI. And how about no strategy as a strategy?

Waiting for Times of India's Chennai launch

Newspaper launches are never easy, especially in markets such as Chennai where you have a fully entrenched leader, who, for all practical purposes, has not faced any meaningful competition in a while now, and one who controls the trade with its so significant ability to influence everything connected with it. Nevertheless, having fed on Dainik Bhaskar's now legendary launch in Jaipur to challenge Rajasthan Patrika while at IMT, I am certainly keen to watch this round.We stopped taking a daily newspaper at our house few months back. Plain and simple, web appeared a good alternative option. And personally speaking, the left leaning thoughts of the Hindu did not resonate with me. Last six months have been without a newspaper for me. Cut to 1988. I was in Delhi and a school student, and Times of India was the morning breakfast with R.K. Laxman's cartoon being the opening bite. It was lobbed with clinical precision into the balcony of our 4th floor apartment by the delivery boy who…

So why has Maggi Club has vanished without trace?

Few posts back I promised to talk about conversational brand properties in India and specifically mentioned about Maggi Club, which I had noticed on one of the packs few months back. The idea sounded exciting and for curiosity sake, I even tried to register that time, but I found I need to be in a certain age band to be able to register. However, the link www.maggiclub.com is broken and there is no site hosted at this URL. I have been checking periodically and looks like the Maggi Club site has been pulled off.

To be sure, I verified the domain is still registered in the name of Nestle.

Is this the case of the low net penetration in India making such a property commercially difficult to justify?



Web Enabled Prosumption in Print Media

When Alvin Toffler coined the term Prosumptionin 1980, he may perhaps not thought about the various forms this would acquire in a later day. He would certainly not thought at that point that newspapers would use reader generated content to enhance brand engagement and build loyalty.That is exactly what a Chennai based free-to-distribute Tabloid Ergo is seeking to do. Ergo has gone one step forward in reserving a space every single day for a reader contributed photograph. To be fair, reader contents have adorned the pages of print media for very long, whether it is humour columns such as Life's like that in the Readers Digest or story writing contests.Playing on the urge to see our work in print, Ergo invites its readers to email pictures shot by them which may interest other readers. The column has been quite a success, and going by the response seen by me, certainly generated a certain sense of loyalty in the readers. Such is the rush to send photos that many of the contributors …

Social Networking or the Behaviour Patterns- What attracts the marketers

So, what did Microsoft buy when they paid billions to take 1.6 percent stake in Facebook? The appeal behind the social networking groups site is not just access to a large user base, but access to behaviour, group and individual, which can be used to promote a product, a gift idea, a charity.Why do the marketers love SNS?Love to know group behaviour and communication patterns. Ability to influence word of mouth recommendations (influencers). SNS' offer some degree of well identified closed group, unlike web which is open. Think about a community of guitar artists and the guitar manufacturer gets a chance to place an ad in this group. Communities based on interest groups are even more homogenous(marketers love when the crowd is homogenous). A lively photography community is more likely to receive a camera equipment ad especially if there are folks who are talking about it. When people talk, they generate peer pressure.It does not only happen in teens but in all age groups - most of…

The conversation on conversation continues..

Let me state this upfront. This series was taken up by me in response to a question from a friend, who is a marketing tiger, but a wet cat, when it comes to anything digital. Now read the last two posts to get a sense of what I am talking about!

Look at this blog from Income Tax Department of India. Yes, government departments too have realized the importance of a conversation(atleast pockets of the government have), which those in India, will agree is a complete change. So, you can register, post a question of common interest, and Income Tax department will address( Yes, sometimes you get to ask them a question and they would answer). I would not say it has really taken off big time, but certainly sounds a very promising idea. Which brings us to the central point of this post - how many of us really know about this particular blog?

'Discoverability' of a blog may not be automatic, and certainly require some promotion. Barmer Police Blog is a case in point. It is listed in Nar…

The conversation evaluation framework..

Last post I mentioned about talking about the brand blogs we see in India in different segments. I started to think what yardstick to use to talk about them, and what to measure. So, first things first.

The most important criteria in defining a brand blog in my view remains the ability to create content by the target segment themselves. This could be by way of full length text articles, reactions, pictures, videos, links or just comments. Some form of prosumption is a must to have to get the conversation going. In my judgment this is what differentiates a community and a conversation from a billboard or a print ad, which you just see, smile or ignore, and walk on. In short, this is which engages and builds the readership ,this is what makes people come back again and again. A glossy looking site, is bound to fail, if the target segment thinks that is an advertising portal. Finito. So make them talk. I looks at glossy ads only when I am getting bored waiting for my medical appointmen…

Coming Soon - The state of the conversation

This one has been an intention for a while. I have been watching the evolution of blogging as a brand conversation medium (brand touch point) in India. Lot of interesting (and not so interesting) development happening all around.

It is my intention to take a sector and talk about blogging and non-blog conversation, for example, at Maggi Club. Coming soon. After a break!

Living Life Kingfisher size!

Earlier this week, I went to Goa for a conference.For me this was a new state added to my list, having been to sixteen of them earlier. Yes, number 17 and the youthfulness of Goa go so well together!

I and some of my colleagues chose to stay in beachside tents at a resort on Varca beach.And we flew Kingfisher where we had a completely different experience, which is certainly setting up very high standards. Will tell you why, in the next few lines.

To be frank, we did feel a little weird in choosing to stay in a tent, which did not even have a lock on the door, only a zip slider! But then I have been a little adventurous type in these matters. The Mumbai Goa Kingfisher flight was an A321, which not just had a personal screens on all seats, but had two channels, that were better than the live TV that was playing on other 31. One of them was the GPS channel, which gave the aircraft location, speed, altitude, and time to destination etc. The other one was a real treat. The aircraft had a c…

Now which one is customer intimacy

Comparisons can be odious I agree, but sometimes necessary too, as they happen without any effort and results are starkly different. Last week I had to visit two bank branches, one of State Bank of India and another of ICICI Bank and the experiences were so different.

At ICICI Bank, I encountered a queuing machine with very confusing options, and as I stood trying to figure out how to get a token to the correct service desk, a smart looking lad appears, asks me what service I require, quickly punches a few buttons on the machine and hands me a token. Before I say thanks, he asks me whether I need a credit card. I say no, thanks. Lifetime free, he says (What a positioning!). I reach the counter, finish the address update business and head out. On my way out, again confronted by a girl, do I need a credit card.So, ergo, I declare I have one issued by ICICI and hope I would be able to peacefully, she snaps back, "which one is that- Gold?, we can give you Platinum, Titanium". I s…

Microsoft + Yahoo = Last Mughal (Moogle)?!

So the truth is finally out- world's largest software company has accepted defeat by almost saying - their index is better than mine. Microsoft wants the search and advertising capabilities of Yahoo, which essentially means an excellent products company is seeking to integrate the capabilities of a wonderful services company. Saul Hansell of NYT wonders likens it to taking two aircraft carriers and making a new one out of the spare parts. And mind you, two aircraft carriers of different make and flags. Will this work indeed.

The sad truth is that Yahoo is not just search or banner advertising. Its portfolio of services is amazingly diverse. In slightly curt business language, it is not a one trick pony.

Microsoft's letter to Yahoo's board is perhaps the politest communication one has heard from MSFT in last decade. Give me your crown jewels, I need them and I know you guys need money, else.. is a one line summary. So instead of frightening Google which is going beyong just w…

Will Sabeer Bhatia's SabSeBolo Succeed?

Sabeer Bhatia, often identified as the guy who sold Hotmail to Microsoft to make his millions, is a serial entrepreneur. Quite a few of his post-Hotmail ventures have not quite been half as successful. Arzoo became a travel agency from what it initially was, and there is nothing to say that it has really been greatly successful either. Live Documents has been a mild ripple in an unproven market of online office productivity suites, which already has Zoho and Google Docs, both getting good reviews, but seeing poor corporate adoption, which is where the money is.

Now Sabeer has launched SabSeBolo, which is a teleconferencing service, where you get a sort of ten party 24X7 permanent bridge(Like MML).And yes, unlike other service providers in India such as Webex and DSNL, it is a simple sign on. Will he succeed? Is it idea, timing, execution or business model, that would make SabSeBolo be a winner?

Idea: Idea is not new, but India is an exploding telecom market and conference calls faciliti…

Breathtaking views from Kumarakom

We returned fairly convinced from Kumarakom that those who have not experienced the backwaters of Kerala remain inferior beings. I hold similar views of Kashmir valley too but then circumstances are different there.

Actually, along with the picture post card views of Vembanad lake, there was a freshness and calm in the breeze, that perhaps the visuals cannot capture. Thank God we planned this Kerala trip.

Kumarakom town is few kms from Kottayam city, and the ambience completely changes once you reach there.
The house boats, which are nothing but floating hotels, replete with a kitchen, sit-out and a bed room are an experience by themselves. The Kumarakom town is criss-crossed by canals and it is such a pleasure to be travel in one of them on a boat. It is also an expensive place. A night in a house boat will set you back by 7-10 k rupees. Worth every penny I would say. We certainly came back with what appeared to be a true out of the world experience.

It was also noticeable that thanks t…

Adsense Marrying Indian Railways Ticket - Cool Idea!

Ever since I read Wikinomics and Naked Conversations, weird ideas come visiting my head sometimes. When I was waiting for a train at Ernakulam Railway Station, I was watching a fellow passenger looking at his ticket. Came an idea, how cool it would be, if all train tickets stationary have a dynamic ad printing logic like Adsense, which would analyse the to and fro location and the demographic information already available on the ticket. For instance, a train ticket for Ooty purchased by two students in Chennai would print ads of suggested locations of tourist interest in Ooty. A train ticket of a couple heading for Varanasi, would print ads of Saree Shops in Varanasi, and for a very old couple carry ads of easy to locate Hotels near Sankatmochan temple. This, rather than the standard ads that come on the ticket stationary. And depending on the class of ticket purchased, an a hint of the passengers buying power can be gleaned too - all operable marketing information. Imagine how coo…

Real life Rendezvous with Dr Kalam

While I have written about Dr Kalam on this blog earlier, today I had the chance to see (and hear!) him from a close distance, when he visited Satyam. No matter how much you try, Dr Kalam's simplicity and open personality is bound to touch you. While the interaction was short, I had few observations:
For all his apparently soft spoken personality, Dr Kalam gives the impression of being a demanding task master. (He challenged the very existence of the word 'impossible' in professional language)Homework: He appears quite meticulous with the targeting of his speech and comes prepared with a very well researched speech, full of facts, figures and anecdotes.His website is updated several times a day, and few minutes after he finished his engagement at Satyam, the text of his speech was up on the site.Extremely sharp and witty: A journalist asked him whether he would buy Tata's new car- Nano. Completely mindful that a yes or a no response would have the potential of gettin…

A Stunning View of the Periyar Lake

A recent vacation trip took us to Periyar Dam in Kerala. We had fortunately arranged to stay inside the Park in KTDC run Periyar House (mind you, you are not allowed to step outside the Hotel after 6 PM) and experienced the wild like never before. The boat ride on Periyar Lake was quite an experience and gave us some amazing views like the one above taken from the upper deck of the boat . While the elephants refused to show up, it was still quite an experience.

PS:I will attempt to post some more pictures in days to come.