Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Cow in the Ditch: How Anne Mulcahy Rescued Xerox - Knowledge@Wharton

Excerpts from:

Mulcahy, whom Fortune this month named the second most powerful woman in business, nearly didn't have the chance to muse on Wall Street's impatience. When she became Xerox's chief executive in 2000, her company didn't look like it would live long enough to deliver any kind of profits again, whether quarterly or annual.

At the nadir of its troubles, Xerox's cash reserve dwindled to nearly $100 million -- almost nothing for a firm of its size -- while its debt ballooned to almost $19 billion. At the same time, it discovered accounting improprieties in its Mexican subsidiary, setting off a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. Customers and employees began to fall away. And all this occurred against the backdrop of a weakening economy. "It was alarming how fast things began to unravel in late 1999 and 2000," she said. "We thought we had coined the term 'Perfect Storm.'"

A cold call to Warren Buffett didn't work as well. Buffett took the call and invited her to dinner in his hometown of Omaha. She flew to Nebraska, aiming to sound him out on investing in Xerox. Her chance came over dinner. When she finished her pitch, Buffett replied, "You know, I never invest in technology companies."

"So I decided we were going to do all of our [profit and loss statements] on a geographic basis. Is it appropriate in this day to have geographic P&Ls? I don't know, but I'll trade off organizational design for clarity and accountability any day of the week. I took out a lot of layers and think it was instrumental in improving performance."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

SAP picks up the staff who wander off the Oracle acquisition trail

says Computerworld.

Claiming staff have left in huge numbers from Siebel, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards, McBride said SAP has gained plenty of talent from Oracle's long list of acquisitions.

"The SAP ecosystem has been greatly strengthened; we receive an inordinate number of resumes so we are picking up the inside truth," she said.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

ex-PeopleSoft execs are doing OK!

Stumbled upon this article that talks about
PeopleSoft diaspora - 2005-08-15.

Here's a sample of Former PeopleSoft executives who've landed on their feet:

Executive, PeopleSoft Job, Current Company, Current Title
Kevin Parker, co-president and CFO, Deltek Systems Inc., CEO
Philip Wilmington, co-president, OutlookSoft Corp., CEO
Guy Dubois, VP-International, Cramer, CEO
Ram Gupta, EVP of products and technology, Plateau Systems, director
Michael Gregoire, EVP, Taleo Inc., CEO
Robin L. Washington, SVP of finance, Tektronix Inc., director
Murray Creighton, SVP-Asia-Pacific, Taleo Inc., Asia VP
James Shaughnessy, general counsel, Lenovo Group, general counsel and SVP
Craig Halliday, president-Japan, Mincom, EVP
Brian Hearing, VP, Authoria Inc., VP
Les Wyatt, VP, Harris Broadcast Communications, VP
Bruce Johnson, VP, Certus, CEO
Heidi Melin, VP of marketing services, Hyperion Solutions, chief marketing officer
Kevin Horigan, VP of Public Services, OutlookSoft, SVP
Kara Wilson, VP of marketing/communicatins, Network General Corp., chief marketing officer
Paul Pronsati, VP of operations, Taleo Inc., operations VP
Bill Hewitt, VP of global marketing, Novell Inc., SVP and chief marketing officer
Gary Conway, VP of corporate marketing, Nextel (Sprint Corp.), marketing VP

Monday, November 21, 2005

MVNO woes

The recent happenings in the MVNO world is mystifying - continued investment for the same demographic and the same piece of pie. As Om points out here, it apparently talks at least $500m to even begin investment in this area.

Wonder how much of that costs can be reduced by an MVNE such as Visage?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Build-it-yourself cell phones

Tired of waiting for phones to work like you want them to? Look no further!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ray Ozzie Memo

One of the foremost software thinkers of our time changing the course of one the most important companies in the history of software.

Here it is - uncut!


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Breaking News: Microsoft will offer Office as a service

From the WSJ:

Microsoft Corp. is creating online services coupled with its two major software lines -- Windows and Office -- that are designed to open new opportunities for the company to sell subscriptions or advertising associated with its software.

The offerings include Office Live, an online version of its Office suite of business productivity applications. The service is designed to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to set up and maintain Office than it is today.

This is a direct response to Google+Sun, which Larry Page declined.

In another thrust, Microsoft plans to offer elements of its MSN online service to Windows users under an online service called Windows Live. The Windows Live service will house Microsoft's Messenger instant-messaging service, a new Web mail service dubbed Kahuna and Microsoft Spaces, the company's service for creating the online postings known as Web logs, or blogs"

This seems like a resurgence of Active Desktop circa IE 4.0?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Mind Teaser

A buddy sent me this link.

Can you find the 3 differences in these two pictures? I have only found 2 so far.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2005


A few months ago, I plunged into a new world of communications. Immediately folks I worked with threw jargons at me - SIP, Wi-Max/Wi-fi, IMS, IPTV, VoD and on...

This article on LightReading does a good job of demystifying the hype and reality.

Monday, September 26, 2005

VoIP Investments

Om comments here that (VoIP) Forecast Calls For Pain VoIP revenues per Frost & Sullivan are peaking at $4B by 2010.

I agree with the assessment that VoIP will continue to be a second line and not a primary replacement of the PSTN line unless bundled in some form of a triple play offering. The only fly in the ointment here is that Comcast (very visionary) has although rightly put this as a phone service (not a VoIP service), they continue to charge a price premium than a Vonage which does not make sense.

True value from triple plays is by offering new services - not just consolidated billing - to justify the price premium.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Management gets analytical, and why IT needs to wake up

Amazing that how the same principles apply to large and small companies. HP's Mark Hurd has a candid interview here. Guess what I like - start with the end goal (3 year plan), work backwards, put metrics in place and then go from there. Funny how matrix structures have a way of destroying accountability, strategic thinkers devoid of execution and lack of appreciation of systems.

I used feel back for IT folks complaining about business users, but now I see why - the problem is on both sides.

IT treat business users are a necessary "pain-in-the-ass" constantly demanding change just when everything is "stable", so they retaliate by making things as hard as possible, like punching in a 5 digit code before every non-local call.

Reality is that there is an awareness problem. IT people - get out of your cubes and sit with the business users.Spend time understanding how users use tech, and help them. Then see how the appreciation flows your way. Good luck!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ran into Larry Grey of Grey Sparling PeopleSoft Expert's Corner in San Ramon yesterday. He's started a company called Grey Sparling Solutions Inc. with a couple of ex-PeopleSofters.

The classic pattern of all new companies is to include some form of blogging as connectors to the marketplace, and Im glad to see Larry starting off the right way. Pick these guys if you are a PeopleSoft customer and want to continue to leverage your investment with additional innovation in 8.4x, 9x be damned!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Think of men as hunters and women as farmers in India?

Read the autobiography of Sudha Murthy, the "real" founder of Infosys...
Nithin on ? Story of Narayana Murthy And Sudha

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Infosys loses sales head, 4 others to follow

Per this report
CIOL : Executive Track : Basab Pradhan quits Infosys

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Om draws a nice parallel between 747 and PCs, IP networks.
Om Malik’s Broadband Blog ? Did Silicon Valley Build Its Own 747?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Flickr Art: Creativity in the strangest places

Check out this creative collage on Flickr - this was created by programmatically combining 50 images of pictures that users have tagged the same.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Different angle, same thing

Lessig referred to JC Watts. Who's he? After some Yahoo-ing I discovered a speech given by Watts to the NRA.

Watts makes a powerful point- is spirituality being erased in the name of political correctness? I attended a "convent" high school with was run by a catholic church, and being essentially an Hindu did NOT make me a convert, or hate christianity. It had the opposite effect - better understanding of a different religion makes me appreciate what are the good parts in both, and empathize better with other cultures.

I worry now about my daughter about to enter kindergarten in a month in the USA growing up without any spirituality besides the one at home, which she surely will not pay attention to since it is perceived as so wrong in the outside world.
Lessig's presentation style

I've listened to Larry Lessig's presentations on freedom from copyrights for sometime now thanks to ITConversations, but never got a chance to watch them. You can see what impressed the auidence so much here.

I'm truly transformed today.
Time for a change

Decided to change the name of this blog to reflect something bigger than one's job. Sure, for a long period of time it defined who I was. But no more.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

EDS is rumored to sell A.T Kearney

Per the WSJ, EDS CEO considers management consulting "non-core" and wants to focus on basic outsourcing. Its ironic that other India based firms are coming from exactly the opposite direction and are expanding into management consulting. Maybe Infosys or someone will consider this purchase?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Voice Scrambler for cubicle privacy

I need one of
The New York Times > Technology > these Electronic Silencers.
Google Earth = Keyhole next gen?

New version's out for beta testers Google Keyhole = Google Earth | newrecruit per this post.
Interesting. This would have helped me in my GRE...
Common Errors in English

Friday, May 27, 2005

Winning by Jack Welch, other lessons of leadership

This is a stunning new book by Jack Welch who has been a great influence in my professional life. I was a little skeptical when I picked up the book at first as a rehash of his autobiography, but was pleasantly surprised.

One section that is very useful is the strategy section, or how NOT to do strategy. The exercise to follow the latest analyst trend devoid of competitive assessment is weak, and really needs to be changed to what he recommends - an honest candid view of where we are today, and where we want to go ,and the obstacles to get there.

The problems in doing this: a) no time from top management for true strategic analysis, besides traditional SWOT. b) Candid discussions killed due to politics c) People in the room not qualified/interested

I guess its frustrating to see problems happen when solutions are in sight, and not having the ability to do anything about that at a macro level.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Yahoo! Watch: My Web

Yahoo! introduces a new feature to keep persistent content from web searches.
Interesting at the least, probably competes in a low way with - but without the tagging. The important thing here is that searching is a way of sorting through random stuff to get to what you want, but once I found something I want I'd like to classify it in an orderly fashion. "My web" misses that point and is basically advocating searching as the only metaphor even in a reduced domain space.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Yahoo! acquires.... Flickr!

per this note in FlickrBlog, it is confirmed that Yahoo! is now the new master of of the the most innovative websites of 2005, the beginning of Web 2.0, IMHO.

It's unfortunate that HP decided to acquire SnapFish instead of Flickr, as they needed Flickr more... I'm sure Google was deciding on what to do here as well. :)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Web 2.0 is here

So you've used Craigslist, and also Google Maps. Well someone's married the two. This is very very cool.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Travel Tips

For all frequent travelers like the one I've become, I found this link very useful:
Flash / How to Fold a Shirt

You are welcome. Send me your PayPal donations ;-)
Here's an intersting technology development - its called AJAX ( short for Asynch Javascript and XML). As this Microsoft Watch article talks aboutCould Ajax Wash Away 'Smart Clients'?, and Mary Jo questions - will we see a world divided between Ajax and Smart Clients? The reality is that smart clients are no different from Ajax if MS truly wants to see this survive and get adopted.

The interesting piece is that it is not an either/or situation - smart clients will need to have common foundations, and perhaps the only way they will deviate is in the usage of Flash. As my buddy Chuao points out, here is one company called Xamlon that integrates Ajax and Flash( you can also read the news article here).

Don't forget to check out their cool demo here.

Monday, April 04, 2005

CTIA presentations from New Orleans

Here's the link:
Business Wire: The Global Leader in News Distribution

Don't miss ESPN's George Bodenheimer talk.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Too much tech

Last week, I was in New Orleans for the CTIA Wireless 2005 conference. This was the happening place for Gizmodo-heads. Everyone who was anybody in telecom was there. It easily seems like the whole industry which was facing a slump is suddenly awake and alive with ideas. There were CxOs from all kinds of companies - service providers, applications, device manufacturers, chip manufacturers with a conspicous absence of systems integrators. Of course, the exception to this rule is the telecom unit of Patni where your's truly is currently employed.

The funniest part of this event was networking. With everyone having a cell phone stuck to their year, it was really difficult to have a normal F2F (face-to-face) conversation. On once occassion, I called the guy in front of me who was on another line and introduced myself as the person standing in front of him, just to get his attention! That worked!
More on Desktop Search

OK, so after some experimentation in the best way to find information on my PC, I stumbled upon ViaPoint here. This is a new class of applications that are becoming increasingly prevalent - founded upon the new platform for the web - Google web services. ViaPoint simply extends desktop search and sits on top of the Google Desktop Search tool.

The goal as I understood it was to make it easier to categorize and provide a rich user interface to find your stuff. The concept is great, but falls pretty behind on the execution, IMHO. The scan process takes infinitely long, the install is a whopping 75 Megs and at the end of the day, what a Google can do with just 3 Megs seems more than the sloooow unintuitive interface that ViaPoint provides.

I see that as a problem. Anyone else care to refute?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Yahoo! now jumps into Desktop search

Try out the beta version here. I have the Google version installed, and the absence of indexing PDF is very painful... since most marketing collateral are found that way.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Are you a HedgeHog or a Fox?

Obviously taken from Jim Collins "Good to Great", here's an interesting read for those who have asked about what their next career step should look like. It should be something like this:

Here's an extract:
... a Hedgehog Concept is a simple, crystalline concept that flows from deep understanding about the intersection of the following three circles:

1. What you can be the best in the world at (and, equally important, what you cannot be the best in the world at). This discerning standard goes far beyond core competence. Just because you possess a core competence doesn’t necessarily mean you can be the best in the world at it. Conversely, what you can be the best at might not even be something in which you are currently engaged.

2. What drives your economic engine. All the good-to-great companies attained piercing insight into how to most effectively generate sustained and robust cash flow and profitability. In particular, they discovered the single denominator—profit per x—that had the greatest impact on their economics. (It would be cash flow per x in the social sector.)

3. What you are deeply passionate about. The good-to-great companies focused on those activities that ignited their passion. The idea here is not to stimulate passion but to discover what makes you passionate.
Google Maps

Talk about changing the way maps work with a cleaner neater interface, and introducing some great technology! Google Maps takes the cake.

Here's a link to an explanation of how this works.

On a related note, here's a link to a visual overview of the California Coastline. This is a manual painful process of accumulating photographs of the coastline.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

10 Years on the Web

Yahoo! turns ten today and releases this to commemorate.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Sayonara Oracle

Well, 'tis 'bout that time to day Goodbye. Just sent a note out to my friends and colleagues at PeopleSoft (now Oracle) that its time for me to move on.

There has been a lot of changes and yet so much remains the same. Its hard to look at the empty offices. Its hard to imagine the dramatic nature of change of leadership at the top. But it happens. There's a lot going on right now... except that very few of us are privy to what it is. I'd love to tell, but you know as much as I do now.

I've been fortunate that I chose to leave, was not laid off, unlike my friend Skanda here. He has a heart rendering tale that is a must-read - we have successfully evolved modern society into a heartless, terror ridden economic machine where people's contributions absolutely do not make any impact as compared to the bottom line.

Is it impossible to hire people and run a profitable business? I asked myself this question over and over again. I think I have an answer.

I'm betting my career on it.

P.S. ex-PeopleSoft folks, you need to take networking opportunities in your own hands.. so don't delay, register here at PeopleSoft Alumni Network now!

Friday, February 11, 2005

This one was too funny!


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

This scenario is not too far away

As noted earlier on BoingBoing, this link to the ACLU's clip may be closer to the truth that we can imagine. I've had the pleasure of working with different vendors on several technologies that come very similar to this all under the umbrella of CRM.

In a nutshell, we want to run a large company as a small business.How do we do that? By enabling all pieces of customer information in the hands of the company representative.

Let's say that you are calling your mobile phone carrier. It is likely that they have all the phone numbers you dialed. They also have your social security number. It is not inconcievable now that they can get a lot of information about - who you dial the most, or who calls you the most; they can link with a host of publicly available information, crossreference your email id with all public accounts and get consumer data from Axciom and similar providers about your details.

What will the company rep do with all this information at their fingertips? Something very similar to the video clip above. All the public domain knowledge must be balanced responsibly with commercial interests. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if taking a legal approach to this problem is the only solution.... shouls software vendors be held accountable for explicit violations of privacy?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Robert Cringeley's expansion on the Mac mini

As quoted here Bob Cringeley has a great theory that involved two companies that I greatly respect in terms of their innovation and business models - Apple and Netflix.


"You do realize that the MiniMac is the Netflix killer, and the next wave of the "digital content" revolution? With the MiniMac, a decent set of HD movies as well as old content, an iFlix client connecting to legal content and BitTorrent to transmit, Apple has eliminated the most costly part of the NetFlix model while maintaining all of the good pieces. When you examine the NetFlix annual reports you can pull out the fact that one of their most expensive costs is the handling of physical media. The man power, physical shipping, and multiple location warehousing is much greater than the cost of getting the content.

"Apple can use their existing contract with Akamai to deliver graphics to instead act as a collection of Torrent Tracker nodes. All they need to do is to start to build the actual content and then wrap it in a reasonable DRM solution. Tie it to a program that keeps the list of movies that you want to watch in a download order, and then keeps the top 5-7 on your MiniMac. You sign a subscription with Apple to pay $20 a month to have 4 movies. Since the top 7-5 on your list are down, you could instantly check in one movie and check out the next one.

Compelling? I think so!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Knowledge Management, Part 2

Jon Udell wrote an interesting article on the (in)ability for vendors to invest in
basic web pages for knowledge management and allow a collaborative
community based approach for knowledge gardening.

I blogged about this here a while ago.

There seem to be a few basic problems here:
a. Vendors are highly skeptical of trusting knowledge outside of the boundaries of their own company - although it has been repeatedly proven otherwise
b. Vendors do not have a correct strategy to reward the contributors
meaningfully.Vendors, however have talked internally about tracking via points that
can be exchanged for training credits, marketing goodies etc. Reputation management is a key here to sustain the contributions.
c. Message Boarding - by this, I mean the perpetual fear that there would be an outpouring of negative feedback on the products that would overwhelm the site admins and would add unnecessary overhead on the maintenance of the site.

Knowledge management is very much a fundamental part of CRM and self
service is on the priority list for every large customer I have worked
with - but in a very limited way. Until the fundamental perception of
how a community can change the support costs can be communicated,
companies will continue to do business the same old way - if you have
a problem call 1-800-help!
Andy Hertzfeld on Blogging and Podcasting

In this Cnet interview, Andy Hertzfeld (of says:

No. I think people overrate blogging. I think the overall phenomenon to me is Web pages. Blogs are just Web pages, a certain stylized form of Web page. Much of the blogging is driven by egotism.

Is it really? It is easy to mistake this as egotism due to personal nature of the information being shares. Andy - would this be non egoistic if this was a simple web page? The real point here is that blogging has unleashed a simple way for non technical users(read: not webmasters or developers) to post information on the web in a universally searchable manner. This, I would argue, has far more benefits to the community than to themselves. The blogs that singularly focus on themselves are very lonely indeed.

Andy goes on to say:
I'm down on podcasts. I think that's ridiculous. Suddenly you're taking the information and making it completely inaccessible. You can't read it, and besides a podcast is nothing. It's streaming MP3s that's good, but no one can take credit for inventing a new term because streaming MP3s is simple and has been around for a while. Doing it through RSS enclosures is basically bad--to automatically download big files before hearing them.

This is an interesting observation, and I tend to agree with this to an extent. I have several MP3s that I listen to from IT Conversations, but sometimes it takes me at least 5 - 10 minutes to determine even if I am interested in the content of the conversation. How nice it would be if I could immediately see a transcript for this even before I download, and that I have the ability to search for the content that I need before I decide to download ?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

RSS and Enterprise Applications

Here is a phenomenon that is sweeping the next generation of the Web often called Web 2.0 - the ability of expose information to a devoted set of people via RSS. What is interesting here is the lack of adoption in the Enterprise application areas. Do Enterprises do not need this ? Here are few examples:

CRM - can we get a RSS feed for new Knowledge base items that have been added for the products that a customer may have purchased? Or a Sales rep being notified when new marketing collateral comes out, competitive information is published or pricing is changed?

SCM - how about when a customer can easily track shipping information, replacing or augmenting formal ASNs(Advanced Shipping Notifications) with RSS feeds - that are personalized and relevant?

Typically event based frameworks have tried to get a stronghold in the enterprise application space - the ability to raise alerts and explicitly manage subscriptions, role and permission based content management, and end user filtration to ensure only the relevant messages get to the end users. This is a typical example of the control and auditing that is common in enterprise apps. Contrast this approach with the ones that we are seeing right now, founded on very basic principles:
a) There is only one set of information
b) The end user decides what is relevant and interesting

Now only if we add the capability to audit this information, and provide the ability to aggregate the RSS information into a portal, enterprise apps will now have a capability to participate in the next wave of the web.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Finally, a Mac for the rest of us

Apple today unveiled a $499 version of the Mac called the Mac mini. Why is this significant? Price. Steve Jobs has historically been opposed to pricing things cheaper, preferring to innovate rather than compete on a price basis. Look at the Mac family v/s anything that is out there - Mac is always more expensive, and feature-rich.

Jobs says that they would now like to go after a low cost market that has historically not seen any innovation. So, does a stripped down mac mean innovation ? Or does it mean a demo-ware loaded machine that serves as a sampler to upgrade?

Marketing books tell us that there are 4Ps that you need worry about - Product, Placement, Promotion and Price, and that the last one is the easiest to change, but is the hardest hitter towards profitability. Undercut the market and you set the stage for low-cost innovations, a la Dell. There is no other way to go but down. So being caught in a commodity war with the other PC makers hardly seems like a prudent step. I would expect similar cuts to follow from Dell, Gateway and others-hey, if Apple can release a Mac for under $500 with 5% market share, why can't the big boys for the same reasons?

The new $99 iPod shuffle does not seem to have the same oomph that the original iPod did - most notable is the lack of display and the innovative roller wheel to control what was playing. This like a direct strategy to capitalize on the iPod brand and sell it cheaper to unsuspecting crowds taken in by the iPod glitter and make a very ordinary purchase. The other way to look at this is - how could Apple keep their music download business healthy if the original iPod is still out of reach of a large market segment (the under $149)? Since $0.99 download must be losing money, this is an excellent way to make sure that the volumes will push that part of the business into profitability.