Friday, December 28, 2007

Mobile (Value Added) Services


I seem to be preparing others well for interviews, I guess. Yesterday, a friend of mine pinged me to take some advice on an interview that he was going to take with a company that provides solutions/application for mobile services providers and devices.

I was quite impressed with my observations that I made about the mobile industry. I know this may sound pompous but i am not trying to blow my own trumpet.

First of all, mobile as technology never had a chasm. Before that we need to see if mobile technology is disruptive. Does it qualify in making the existing infrastructure irrelevant? There is newer infrastructure being set up for mobile services. They definitely are making many of the old landlines irrelevant but they haven't gone and I don't think they would. Two, does it change the way consumers behave? Yes, a lot. Completely? Maybe not. From the point of using the instrument, there is change but the basics remain. Sum total, in my opinion mobile technology is not disruptive. (Please refer ‘Fast Second: How Smart Companies Bypass Radical Innovation to Enter and Dominate New Markets’ by Constantinos C. Markides, Paul A. Geroski)

Anyway, if you look it as a standalone technology, mobile never had the problem of having to cross a chasm. Telephony is already well entrenched, there was always a pressing need. And bang, it took off. (Please refer ‘Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers’ by Geoffrey A. Moore)

So what next?

Mobiles are in main market, at least in India. After having satisfied the basic needs, both users and mobile service providers will naturally look to extract more out of it. That is nothing new about it, isn't it? Think about PCs, first calculations then productivity tool, internet, games, mailing... applications and usage are ever crossing new frontiers.

Isn't it amazing that Maslow's Theory of Hierarchy of Needs is so relevant in non-human sphere, too.

I am, surely, starting to believe that there is a great future of mobile (value added) services. SMS is already ubiquitous. Vodafone is probably one player which is at the forefront in pushing VAS through its ads.

I certainly think that more serious applications will make debut on the handset, if they have already not.

Of course, how many will use? Adoption is for sure going to take a long time. The company of ‘elite’ software engineers that I keep, many are still to do online shopping or banking. I hope I am making my point. If that is the case for PCs, how quick will users adopt it for serious applications? But I am sure the time will come.

I still remember the PR campaign for Tata Sky that I was part of while at 20:20 MEDIA. Tata Sky must be commended for demonstrating thought leadership in making market conducive for DTH before launching its service. For more than a year, we pushed for DTH’s cause. It was only after enough momentum was generated that Tata Sky launched its service.

Something that mobile service providers should consider for VAS.

I think to myself why people use cheque when there is funds transfer facility though net banking. No driving to bank, no traffic, no queues. At your desk, at your own comfort.

I, also, wonder why HDFC Bank charges for certain net banking services that customers avail. The bank should in fact be incentivizing.

Pic source: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514DMR6XWDL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU02_AA240_SH20_.jpg

Monday, November 26, 2007

Some Stupid Thoughts


An ex-colleague of mine was discussing his next move with me the other day. While discussing, this ambitious chap said that he wanted to do something called PR 2.0. Honestly, I am not sure what it means. But it is supposed to change PR completely. It will elevate PR to emhhhhhhh, hmmmmmmmmmm, not sure, can I say completely different levels. PR will no more be PR; God, what will it be?

Ok, ok. Let me not mock at my friend, it is just that he is passionate.

I told him something that impressed not only him but also elevated my esteem levels.

Before he uses it, let me record it and take full credit.

Here is what I said, "Changes in no industry is revolutionary; it is always evolutionary". Oh, what a profound statement! Am I full of myself? :P

As far as I know, no industry has changed dramatically overnight. Old ways might change but basics never. For example, I was reading about UPS which had transformed its business from being a courier company to a support services company. The company handles more and more processes which were traditionally handled by their clients. But then, UPS has built new businesses on the strong foundation of logistics network that they have.

But wait, what about ITC? They were a tobacco company. Today, they are into all sorts of business. Hotels, Foods, Agarbattis...

But then ITC is one company/conglomerate not an industry.

Courier, tobacco, automobile...all are industries and they would remain so. So would PR be. If PR does not remain PR, what will it be?

I, just, finished reading Dilbert Principle. Paradigm seems to be the most favorite term for people in management!

Pic taken from http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0887307876.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

Friday, November 09, 2007

Chennai to Bangalore

If you are planning to drive from Chennai to Bangalore or the other way, please take the Golden Quadrilateral.

Usually, my wife and I drive take that road. But a friend of mine this time suggested that we take the Old Madras Road. Hoping to beat the traffic on Hosur Road from Electronic City to Silk Board flyover, while coming from Bangalore we took Old Madras Road. I was also told that the drive is scenic. Scenic, it could have been, but I had to concentrate on the road all time time. First of all, unlike Golden Quadrilateral, which is four lane with a median, Old Madras Rd is just a two lane Highway with no median. Two, the traffic is heavy.

If you want a smooth faster drive, please stick to Gold Quadrilateral.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Piracy is Good....er



What am I saying?

A couple of months back, I bought an audio CD of Unnale Unnale, a popular Tamil flick, from Music World at Spencer's Plaza. Though the music was supposed to be good, we could not enjoy as some fault in CD and the player could not play it.

Recently, my friend gave me 'Cheeni Kum' VCD to watch. Same problem! The quality of the print was bad.

On the other hand, the pirated DVDs that I have bought at the Burma Bazaar equivalent in Anna Nagar have never given me trouble. And the choice of the titles is fabulous. The shopkeeper is also honest with you and informs whether the print is good or not.

Why would I go and buy original titles if I get a decent pirated stuff in the market at a cost which is almost one-fifth of the cost of an original.

Oh oh! I am educated. I am bound to follow rules and regulations. Respect copyright laws.

And oh yes, the companies spend loads and loads of money to create (software, movies, music etc). How can some dirty operator harvest the crop while they have toiled so hard?

I am sorry folks. But I am not alone. Millions and millions of people around the world are with me when they buy pirated stuff. There could an entire system which might be protecting the piracy industry.

As a marketer, is there learning?

Let us re-learn Market Segmentation. Wikipedia describes Market Segmentation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_segment) as a process of dividing a market into distinct subsets (segments) that behave in the same way or have similar needs.

Let us take an example. An original title of a movie may/would costs a consumer about Rs. 250. In the Burma Bazaar market, it will cost him/her only Rs. 40 (in some cases Rs. 50). What is surprising is that the piracy industry seems to know more about segmentation. There is a normal print then there is Gold bit. Of course, gold bit costs more than the normal print. Fulfill your customers needs based on affordability and preference seems to be the underlying point.

Can record companies take a leaf out from piracy industry's book? The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits by CK Prahalad is all about this.

Instead of fighting such a hard loosing battle against piracy, why can't companies just reap the benefits by serving a market (which in actuality is a very large market vis-à-vis the market that they get to serve in the current paradigm)?

I am not sure about the numbers but am pretty confident that the number of people buying pirated movies and music is much much much much...higher than those who shop for original prints.

I am also confident that this is workable model.

To illustrate, a music company should create two sets of labels. One, which costs about Rs. 20 or 30 or even 50. The other, should cost Rs. 300 or whatever sum the company thinks is appropriate.

The difference?

The formats. The difference between hard cover edition and paper back. Rs. 20 (or so) CD could be in a format which is in compressed format. The Rs. 300 CD should be in a format that provides the best quality. Say the difference between mp3 and WMA. Let connoisseurs pay for the quality they want. Let others buy what they would like to afford.

In the end, the marketer has a much larger market to serve and can increase revenues. I am sure that production, with automation and computerization, is not a concern or an issue.

The upside is also that the market channel already exits. While the upend products could still get sold in Landmarks, Odysseys, and Music Worlds, leverage Burma Bazaar style shops to push your lower priced products.

I am also baffled as to why Tamil film industry (or for that matter any industry which is highly regulated) wants to keep their releases boxed to theaters for long time. Why are not the producers willing to explore the opportunity of reaching out to audience through other markets?

Today, movie going has become an occasion. Theaters charge a bomb and rightly so. They provide an experience and charge for it. A family of four might end up spending upwards of Rs. 500 to watch a movie. Not so feasible even for an upper middle class family (if they are cinema-crazy which many families are).

Don't they know that despite all their efforts, Sivaji DVDs will still be available in the market, on day one?

I am not sure how this would work for software industry but there might be some learning for them, too.

Pic source:

www.edsupport.cc/mguhlin/archives/cat_mac.htm
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/life/2004/11/26/images/2004112600140301.jpg

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Don't Spit in Public


Does it sound dirty?

It is a way of life in India. Walk up the staircase, on every break in the flight you will find the corners pitch red. No it's not painted, it is the pan masala spat on the walls. Stand near the tea shop and watch smokers. Spit, spit, spit.

Don't think you can get away from it when you are driving. In addition to watching for signals and traffic, please do watch out for the head which suddenly pops out of the bus/car/lorry or for that matter any goddamn vehicle. Spit, spit, spit.

We, Indians, can spit our way to glory.

So, I opened a new Community (my own) in Orkut. Called it 'I Won't Spit in Public'. Sent invites to more than 80 friends. Guess, how many joined? Seven.

Coming back, why do we spit?

I am no different. During my hotel management, I went to Park Sheraton for an outdoor party (to serve, not to enjoy). After crossing the security, I felt this sudden Indian Spit Urge (ISU). And, I did it. Unfortunately for me, the chief security officer saw me committing the act. He promptly came to me and asked a simple question "Will you spit inside your house?"

Do we spit inside our house? Of course not. Do we spit in the living room while watching TV? Do we spit while we are lying in the bed? Do we spit around the dining table?

Yes, I know we do spit in bathroom. But that is a place we can spit.

In that case, why do we mindlessly spit in public?

It is so much in our genes. It is something that we are proud off. There is a Tamil film song which describes how one can chew beeda and spit anywhere we want. I used to like the song then, but no more.

Forget illiterate crowd. ISU is as prevalent amongst the highly educated in India, young or old.

If a board comes up somewhere requesting people not to spit, next day you will find that board completely covered with colorful spit.

We don't realize that spitting helps transmit diseases.

What perplexes me is that we would not dare spit in public when we cross our borders. Guess, that is hypocrisy!

At least for our well being, can we stop it?

Hold on, don’t we have a bigger problem? Pissing in public!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Most Loved Company


With so much competition for manpower, every corporate worth its salt wants to portray itself as the best employer. And I am sure the magazines and HR agencies are making a killing.

Recently, I heard about an incident in this IT Company which is probably the most favorite brand in the country. It is said to have made many of its employees (drivers, gardeners...included) multimillionaires. It is a brand that every Indian Software Engineer would want to work for. The company also constantly wins many of these Best Employer surveys.

A Software Engineer posted in of the Development Center of this company located at the Southern most tip of Chennai was traveling to office in the company vehicle. Suddenly, the driver applied brakes and because of the impact, he hit against the front seat and broke his nose. For treatment, he was admitted into a hospital. Due to the injury, he lost seven days. After which he joined office and resumed his work.

How would you expect yourself to be treated if you had gone through such an incident? Empathy?

On the salary date, the engineer realized that he received a lot less of salary. Upon checking with the HR, he was told that the seven days he lost due to the injury was taken as LoP (loss of pay).

Astonished with this behavior and feeling let down of such treatment by the company, which is 'supposed' to be the most employee-friendly organization in India and what with its visionary leaders, the employee quit.

Now, this is what I heard from my friends. I am not sure how true this is.

If this is actually what happened then there is something wrong with the company. The leadership cannot take shelter behind Processes.

Maybe then companies should participate in Best Process Driven Company.

Pic source: http://www.whyvancouver.com/images/hollow-tree-close.jpg

SMS De-Addiction


Very recently, I got addicted to messaging. Smsing. I am sure many of you have experienced it or are still addicts.

Mobile Service Providers offer many packages that offers unlimited messaging which makes keyboard communication more preferred.

My problem was compounded because my wife has taken about two month holiday and visiting her sister in UK. With no one around, I took to messaging. Helped with a lil one who patiently replied to all my queries and stupid jokes, the addiction went to such a level that I was looking forward to sms-es and would so hurriedly reply to messages that sometimes I would respond even before the messages are delivered (exaggeration for elucidation).

If I did not get messages, I would get Withdrawl Symptoms .

I realized my situation pretty early. I think the first step in addiction to recognize your problem. Having done that various measure were taken to fight back the urge.

While this is not an attempt to draw a map for de-addiction, what I have realized from my recent experience is that one must be aware of oneself's behavior.

My situation now is under control (that is what I would like to believe).

But what does one do if the drug is freely and mutually available.

Pic sourced from www.telegraphindia.com

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sanjay Dutt, Sorry For You! But...



Sanjay Dutt has finally been sentenced.

Poor thing! But hold on! He was in possession of AK 56, wasn't he? Oh, what did you say? It was to safeguard himself and his family during the communal violence. Good point.

Mr. Sunil Dutt was an MP, if I am not wrong. I am sure he could have arranged security. Again, I read that Sanjay Dutt bought it from Abu Salem. Why would he buy it from an alleged terrorist/mafia man?

Could it be because he didn't trust the Indian Police system? But AK 56, was he trained to use it? If so, from where?

Anyway, that is not what I wanted to write about.

I am pretty aghast by Bollywood fraternity's sympathy to its family member whenever they do wrong.

Salman Khan mauls people sleeping on the road. Drunken driving, I am told. Maybe, he was drowning his sorrows in the event of Loosing Aishwarya. But guys, he took away lives of people who matter a great deal to their families. Then, there is the adventure of shooting wildlife.

I am not sure how Sushmita, who vehemently supports and defends Salman, will behave if her near and dear one is run over by someone. Will she still say 'Oh, she/he is a nice guy!'

I am aghast at the way the Bollywood, instead of condoning these acts comes out in (the) open and displays its empathy to wrong doers. And the media reporting their QUOTES set a wrong precedent.

What is wrong with us? Why can't we just accept that Sanjay is being penalized for the wrong that he has committed? The intensity of this period in life may become more bearable.

Btw, I witnessed another incident while traveling by a suburban train. A guy got into the first class compartment without a valid ticket and was cornered by the TT. Instead of gracefully agreeing to pay the fine, the guy kept explaining the situation to the TT and requesting him to pardon him without having to pay a fine. Of course, the TT wasn't moved. I was reminded of a similar incident that occurred to me. I also did plead.

Pictures sourced from www.thehindu.in

Friday, July 27, 2007

Me at CommunicAsia

 
 
 
 
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Me at CommunicAsia!

 
 
 
 
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Spill Ur Dill


Wow, now that is a lovely ad!

I am talking about Cornetto's ad. The campaign started with teasers. A cute boy is playing basketball and the ball crosses the fence. He goes to collect it and finds a cute girl holding the basket ball and smiling. That killer smile just eats me up.

The teaser went on for sometime and then came the complete ad. Apparently, the girl likes the boy and is spreading her net to catch the boy. After the basket ball meeting, the two meet each other again and yet again. The girl comes out of a shop holding the Cornetto cone. The boy bumps into her and finds a smear of ice cream just above her lips. He points out to it. She, coyly, wipes it. Then the final sequence. The boy and the girl bump into each other in a shop and find that there is only one Cornetto left. And of course, what do you expect. The boy sacrifices but gains the girls love/heart.

But hold on. All these have been planned by the girl along with her friends.

Oh my. It is such a nice naughty love story. Both girl and boy are really cute-looking. I, just, love that girl. She reminds me of my ex-girlfriend. Which one? :P

It is nice to watch such a nice one amongst the garbage of ads.

The other ad which is impressive is the Bru ad, featuring the beautiful and sexy Lakshmi Rai.

Amidst the boring serials and other programs, ads like these keep up the spirit of TV. Ad men have become so good that they are now attempting the larger format. Waiting to watch R Balki's 'Cheeni Kum'.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Gere, Shilpa, & the kiss!


It was all unwarranted, uncalled for, and absolute stupidity on part of Richard Gere.

By what I could make out from watching ABC.com's clip was:

1. It was not a planned act. Shilpa was caught unaware.
2. Was there something about the guy who was whispering into Gere's ears just before the act?

Ok, now I am not fundamentalist. I am not going to admonish Gere. Neither am I going to burn effigies nor file cases.

What must be said was that the action seemed to be straight out of a Hollywood movie. And of course, Shilpa, quite quickly, gained control and did not seem to mind the act.

Oh, what was the occasion? AIDS awareness! Maybe it was joke.

Mr. Gere, are you married? You almost started the action with a lady who was neither your girlfriend nor fiancé. Wife, she is not, I am pretty sure about that.

Let’s not get into the debate of whether it was right or wrong.

Not sure, what message the truck drivers got?

Now, if that was not enough; the show was as seductive. Women were dancing in 'nice' cloths, and drivers would have got a high. Where do they go straight after the show? Not a hard guess to make!

Do visit:
http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3045762
http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3087742

Pic source:
www.indiafm.com/news/2007/04/16/9262/

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Good ol' umbrella


When was the last time you used an umbrella? I can't remember.

I used one today. First, I was little apprehensive thinking it was too feminish. Then, I was not sure it is in vogue. But it is so hot in Chennai; I thought it was better to use one.

Felt little akward to carry it when it is shady. So I would bring it down to my side. Then again raise as the cloud-shade vanishes. It is not all that uncomfortable to use an umbrella. But I sweat was much as I did on other days. Maybe I would have reduced the melanin tissues and sun burns.

Pic source: www.alibaba.com/.../UFO_Cap_Umbrella_.html

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Faking, a big stupidity


An IT company recruited a candidate for a particular skill set; to be deputed in a client location in another country. The person goes through a technical tele-interview and clears it with flying colors. He is given an offer letter and sent to the foreign land.

The candidate goes abroad and right into the frying pan; has to start working on day one. The man fumbles. The client questions him further. He breaks down and admits that he did not have skills in that particular language/technology!

How did this happen? The man desperate for a job; fakes his resume. Taking advantage of the fact that he doesn’t have to answer technical questions face-to-face, he gets someone else to substitute for him. Of course, someone who knows the technology.

He is sent back to India.

He brings along shame - to himself, to the company that recruited him, and more importantly to the nation.

Now, if you are laughing at this, you must stop. It is not a single incident. I am told that this (bad) practice is quite prevalent. And I am also told that such incidents are reported more from one particular state in the country - Andhra Pradesh. Not too sure about that; nor can I ratify it.

Whatever the case may be, I do not understand how one can so blatantly lie.

Just imaging what impression does that leave about India.

Pic source: www.oznik.com/art/gallery/04/040521.html

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

KBC 3


Hey is it KBC 3 or 4?

I really don't care! What I remember is that it was launched with much fanfare; with a new super star at the helm. I did watch a few episodes just for a couple of minutes. I really have not followed this format, except for the first edition. I really wanted to participate; called the contest lines; cleared round one; and bunked an entire day just to ensure that I don't miss the call from KBC. How stupid? But I am sure many might be doing that today.

The call never came and after the initial enthusiasm; I lost interest. I did not follow the second edition and till yesterday day I had not followed the third one, too.

For a brief minute, I got glued on to TV watching KBC 3. No, it was not to answer the questions before it is finished like a moron. I wanted to figure out who is a better presenter - Big B or King Khan?

Some reports said that Big B was great and King is no where close. Others said King Khan was faring well.

My views?

Big B was a presenter who had presence. He has been here for a longer time. He is sober. Expresses well. His appeal cuts across all classes/age groups. Naturally, it would be that way, isn't it? Indians have followed him all the time. When he touched the zenith as an Angry You Man, drop like the meteor with repeated big flops, and then again rise like the Phoenix, turning everything that he touches into gold. Actually, it was all because of KBC, isn’t it?

Shah Rukh on the other hand is about energy. He is not that stop-pause-speak (through eyes) kind. He speaks. Lots of fun. He is, of course, relatively new (vis-à-vis the B). He has proved himself in the industry and is considered larger than life (at least by Women-Unkind). What's Women-Unkind? We will discuss that another day.

Verdict. Big B cannot be King Khan; King Khan cannot be Big B! Wasn’t that diplomatic?

Can we have something else other than KBC?

Btw, I have always wondered how Hindi movies and tele-serials always have model-looking actors. Are always shot in plushest of places (sets)? Apt would be 'Woh Serialain Hain Mahalon Wali'!

Dilli and Mumbai me koi gareeb nahi rehte kya? Unki koi kahani nahi banti?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Chennai EMUs: My Saviour


Today, after about a month, I again started traveling by EMU. Hopefully, I will continue to do that for a long time. It is not something that dawned upon me this morning. As soon as we shifted to Harrington Road, I had decided that I will take the train. But alas, I hurt my knee.

Otherwise, home to Nungambakkam station is about 10 minutes walk; and from Guindy to Office is another 5 minutes. The time taken by an EMU in covering the distance between Nungambakkam and Guindy is JUST 10 minutes, can you believe it? Even if I wait for five minutes in the station for the train, I would only spend about half an hour in commuting.

Compare this to traveling by car. Typically, I would start at 8.45 am. By the time I cross the Chetpet signal; take the Haddows Rd. and reach Gemini; it would easily take half an hour. I don't even want to discuss the rest of the journey. Constant braking, changing gears, and brawls with auto drivers and others! Reaching office daily can be a harrowing experience.

Of course, there are downsides. I sweat a lot. Walking in Chennai isn't the same as walking in London.

I have recently invested some good amounts of money on car stereo. Now, that is something that I will miss, terribly.

But then, I am beginning to realize that the amount of vehicles on the road will continue to increase disproportionately to any betterment in infrastructure. Better use the public infrastructure than driving your own vehicle, if you can.

I am just thinking; why can't the IT companies provide pick up and drop only from the Tidel Park MRTS station?

Poori & Monica, is there an EMU facility in B'lore? No, no. Not the bird. EMU stands for Electrical Multiple Units. Too technical for ya Bengulureans! :P Suburban trains, does that ring a bell.

Did I hear - METRO? HA HA HA HA

Picture taken from: www.irfca.org/~shankie/emuenigma/emuenigmaac.htm

Monica, Oh My Darling!


Having written about Orkutting, it would be worthwhile to mention that if not for Monica; I would have never got into the groove.

Monica, I am, in the first place, honored that you (YOU) invited me to be your friend in Orkut. And of course, I will always remain grateful to you for bringing some meaning and purpose to my life on Internet.

It was for you that I, now, have close to 60 friends in the virtual world; though they are known ones; yes, I would have otherwise not kept in touch with them with such ease.

Never mind that I am quite addicted to Orkut and waste a lot of time; and also never mind that Savitha frowns as soon as I log on to Orkut; as she knows that I might go on doing nothing but stare the screen.

Never mind!

Monica, if not for you what would I have done!

At times, I wonder to myself “what would have happened to Orkut without her?” : P ;)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Runny nose!


Now, this is not something serious enough to write about. But it is bothering me.

I have been having a cold for the past one week. Constant sneezing and running nose.

My problem is with running nose. If I am in my cubicle, I am fine. I can blow away my nose to glory. Though my wife disapproves publicly blowing my nose. But then I can't run to the loo every time I want to clear the blocked passage. Then, I might end up half my productive day doing that.

The most irritating thing about cold is if your nose starts to itch during meetings. It is difficult to take our your already soggy kerchief and blow! Any attempt to just wipe it away is futile. You become so conscious. Think about it, your boss is staring at your face and making some important remarks, while you are following the flow inside your nose. You are worried if it is starting to show through the holes.

Oh God! Help me!

Pic source: monkey.org/~lordgud/ASSETS/runnynose.gif

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Traffic Kills Me!


Before I start, let me admit that I am not a good time manager.

But the traffic in Chennai kills. Usually, as soon as I come to office the first thing I do is to start the Mail Client and then couple of messengers to check personal messages. Today, I decided to vent my frustration.

Usually, a stretch which should not take more than half an hour now take one and half hours to commute. No, the distances have not grown; it is the traffic. I have always cursed B'lore for its traffic. But then there it is so because the infrastructure there itself sucks. It was never the case with Chennai. We always had good broad roads. The traffic always moved. But for the last two years, the growth in the number of vehicles on the road has outstripped any initiative to create better infrastructure.

It is good to see that, today, people are able to afford good cars. The question is where do we drive. Driving is no more an enjoyable because of the condition on roads.

Is there a solution?

I would say that infrastructure in Chennai is not all that bad. We have a North-South EMU service. One section is Beach-Tambaram line which run almost the entire stretch of Chennai. It runs (almost along) the GST Road which itself is a good broad road. From Central, there are two sets of line. One which goes towards Gumidipoondi and sometimes till Sulurpet. Another line runs slightly towards the West.

The bus service in Chennai is good. The MTC, though with slightly old fleet, is quite dependable.

The latest addition to Chennai's transportation infrastructure is MRTS line which runs from Beach to South-East of the city. Today the service is operated till Tharamani which houses Tidel Park, Chennai's first mega-IT park. The plan is to stretch it till Velachery , which is probably the fastest growing suburb.

But all these, just, doesn't help. There are various bottle necks. At some strategic places, the roads have to be stretched.

I remember an interview of Harshad Mehta, long time back. He said that Railways could build huge office complexes on each of their railway stations. Think about it, you get down at the station and then take an elevator to your office. Dear Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav, are you reading this.

I am sure there are more ways to help reduce misery. I am not the one to do it. But please whoever is in charge, take care.

Till then all that I can console myself with is that Chennai is still better than B'lore. :) That line is for you Monica Darling.

Picture: Traffic Jam was drawn by J.Sreevenkatesh, VIII A, Vyasa Vidyalaya Matriculation School, Chennai. And it appeared in The Hindu. www.hinduonnet.com/.../gallery/0363/036306.htm

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Telecalling


Now I am no more in the PR industry. After seven glorious (blowing my own trumpet), I have joined an IT services company in Chennai.

Apart from Marketing, tele-calling is also comes under my portfolio. I have always been against tele-calling. I have never liked an anonymous person calling me and offering me goodies or offers. Yes, I have fallen for few but generally I hate it.

Now if that is the case for commodity/end customer products, we need to consider if tele-calling/cold-calling the best way to reach out enterprise customer and talk to them about services which have long decision making periods and not impulse purchases.

I cam across Cold Calling Is A Waste Of Time: Sales Success In The Information Age, a book by Frank Rumbauskas. Am reading it to make sense to my job.

Will share experiences.

Image source: www.Amazon.com

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Orkutting


One Fine Day (no, not the flick), Dinesh, an ex-colleague, asked me whether Naru, our director, was on Orkut? I told him that Naru was not available and then pondered to myself why would Naru want to be on Orkut.

Orkut is a social networking site.

Naru is pushing to 60 and is a well know Marketing Consultant in India. Why would he need Orkut? He already had memberships at some of the prestigious clubs in Chennai. He is also, I am sure, is part of the strong IIM alumni club. Many of his peers would be of similar age and may not prefer Orkut to be a place to network. I am sure that either at this age they prefer not to network or do so in different platforms.

Turning to myself.

After some initial enthusiasm, I found Orkut to be dull and useless site. But I kept hearing more and more about Orkut. It seemed like a place to be in. Just like once upon a time Yahoo Chat was supposed to be.

Then one day my wife told me that one of her college mates had scrapped her. No she did not do anything dirty, Scrap is writing a scrap note. Easy way and non-fussy way of writing message. She told me that she had lost contact with this friend long back and despite trying could not establish any contacts. And then suddenly, after a long time comes a message from this friend. That lady is now in Mumbai. My wife met and stayed with her when she travelled to that city.

Now that excited me.

My dad was in the Air Force because of which I changed schools every three or four years. I would make very good friends and then loose them. Even today, I miss Titus from Sulur, and Sanjay Yadav, Rajeev Chakraborty, and Shaji from Delhi.

I tried hard to search them on Orkut but wasn't as lucky as my wife's friend.

Then one day two young girls came to office and I was discussing Orkut with them. I told them my problem and they said that I should check out school communities and check for my friends there. They also taught me how to do advanced search.

I tried my luck again. But...

Then one fine day...

A mail on my GMail from Shaji Menon. I was thrilled but acted with caution. I wanted to be aboslutely certain. And to my releif and excitment it was him. My good old friend from Delhi. The guy whom I had last met of heard some 20 years back. We both are excited. He is in Gulf. We have decided to meet when he is in India this July.

Isn't this great?

Both of us had joined KV No. 1, Delhi, community. Here is where he searched for me and reached.

Thinking back, Batchmates.com and another site, think it is Mates.com or something, also offered this scope.

But then it is Orkut, which is making its presence felt.

Coming back, am still relatively young and spending time on Orkut. If I was 40 and more matrued, would I do that? Will Naru ever use it.

Btw, I am still waiting to hear from Titus, Sanjay, and Rajeev.

Image source: http://www.egothemag.com/archives/images/scitech/orkut_main.JPG

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Big Brother fuss


In the end many would acclaim that it was a win for Shilpa and a bigger win for India. Sure, must admit that Shilpa handled the situation well.

The Hindu had a fabulous editorial on the subject.

I watched Big Brother when I was in England in 2005 and wondered why one would watch such a program. Big Brother, I believe, is neither intellectual nor anything close to entertainment. Some faded stars and unknown faces sharing their lives and letting a broadcaster exhibit the same to viewers. I am unable to understand as to why would any idiot want to sit before the box to watch this.

But India for sure is following the global path. We have a Big Brother for the Indian eyeballs. Called the Big Boss, the program features on Sony. My wife told me that her friend who stays in Mumbai was hooked onto it. I did manage to watch it for a couple of seconds. Believe me, it was nothing but a made up act.

Goody reasons can be attributed to the resurgence of this format of TV software. It has been a win-win for all. Big Brother will, now, not be axed. Shilpa has won and made more money than she was supposed to. A newspaper claimed that though this new found celebrity status will not help her sagging Bollywood career but could get her offers from Hollywood. Watch out Aishwarya!

Times Now carried a program on Shilpa and her adventure. Some of the participants felt that she would become an ambassador for anti-racism activism and represent Asians in UK.

Jade Goody, though lost Big Brother, still has made herself a celebrity.
She is likely to visit India on a correction mission. And I am sure, she will be treated as a devatha (maybe devi) because now she would be an athithi (guest).

If there is some reality about the reality show, it is the racial abuse of one segment by another. Racism in UK is a reality. I have heard many stories of racism against Asians. They are looked down upon and at times handled violently. There have been many articulations of such incidents in the press.

I am sure this is not a British phenomenon. Indians (even other immigrants) might be facing such situation in an alien country.

But then why get upset? We experience such discriminations even within our motherland. ULFA urges for an Assamese’s Assam. I have heard that Shiv Sena was born to weed out others from Mumbai. Kannadigas hate the sight (and sound) of Tamilians. Sardar jokes are top favorites for all Indians.

The way Indians practice discrimination is unparalleled.

Why fuss over treatment meted out to Shilpa when we ourselves behave as Big Brothers?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ganesh, the hypocrite


I was driving back home last week, when I saw this hoarding about a Veg Expo in Chennai. Suddenly, I was reminded of two incidents in my life – one long back and the other every recently.

Long long ago, when I was in grade XI (must be 1993); Vegetarian Congress had announced a public speaking competition. As it was a big event, my Biology teacher took a couple of us, who were to participate in the competition, and gave them dopes on why being a vegetarian was good.

I, in my usual style, spoke very casually with loads of humor peppered. All this despite the fact that I eat anything that walks, flies, swims or crawls. Shameless, am I not?

I was adjudged third best speaker. I collected Rs. 50 which was the prize money. And guess what I did? I watched Basic Instincts!

After so many years, I got an opportunity to speak on TV. CNN-IBN was doing a small bit on Chennaites food preferences. They were looking for someone who could speak as a non-vegetarian. I volunteered.

And since I love fleshy foods, I did a good job I guess.

And suddenly after looking at the hoarding that evening, I wondered to myself "What a hypocrite, I must be?"

Am I not?

Pic coutersy:
Vegetarial-central.com
Iowa-city.com

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ridiculous, The Price Regulations


At the first read, I thought it was great news for cinema goers! The Government of Tamil Nadu had announced that cinema theaters in the State cannot charge beyond a certain price. So, the prices of a premium ticket could not exceed Rs. 50 and the minimum had to be Rs. 10. The prices in theaters beyond the city limits were designed to be so low that one would not mind traveling distances to watch flicks.

Well, this was another pro-poor people step by the DMK Government.

Isn't it the best gift that a movie-crazy Tamilians could get, close to Pongal?

Suddenly, my practical soul woke up. I prefer going to only a couple of theaters in town. This would limit my choices to Satyam and Mayajaal. Whenever I would want to do a full family outing that means with my pets, I preferred Prarthana Drive Inn. Now prices at Satyam and Mayajaal are definitely on the higher side. But so is the quality of experience. There is ample parking, good AC, ease of booking, the interiors of the theater, the promotions they run, well maintained utilities, snack bars, seats, audio, screens...the list doesn't end.

Satyam is a case study by itself. A couple of years back, all theaters in Chennai were more similar to each other. One could buy tickets only in black. The theaters by themselves would be very, very, very dirty. Satyam has really changed the rules of the game.

Back to price regulation. I strongly believe that no Government has a role to play in price regulations. And that too regulating the price in theaters is ridiculous and absolute nonsense. In a free economy, firms compete and excel based on understanding of its customers, offering services and charging accordingly. The consumer has the final say on whether he wants to accept products or services at a desired price. In such a case, there is enough opportunity for all players. So, is the choice for customers.

It is bewildering as to why the Government is keen on regulating the price?

Some of news report suggest that the prices at theaters have sky rocketed and have become unacceptable or inaccessible for cinema-goers. Then another group claimed that the move will make piracy unattractive. That could be true!

But why cinema tickets? Is there anything better that it can do? Maybe like, give DVD players, mobile phones, cable connections and many more things free of cost to poor people.

As if regulating petrol prices is not enough.

A little birdie informed me that the kith-and-kin of someone very close the Power in TN has forayed into Film Production and Distribution. So, the person wanted the distribution rights of flicks of top actors due to released shortly. It was denied to them. And thus, to teach a lesson to the people who denied them the business, the Government brought down the prices at cinema theaters.

Not sure if that is true.

Anyways, so what happens if the prices are reduced?

It's a chain reaction. If the prices are brought down, the profits of cinema theater owners goes down. Since their profits go down, they bargain with distributors. Since it takes longer to make profit from a flick now, the distributors take longer to make profits. So, where do the producers go? To the actors. Why? Because, the cost of stars is the biggest component of film making.

Got it?

What a vicious cycle? Scary isn't it? Wonder if that happens to you.

Pic source: www.ew.com