November 23, 2007

The Drupal-Facebook story

Everyone in the world seems to be talking about Facebook, and how to possibly use it in a way that would benefit their network and business. Infact, the announcement of OpenSocial by Google little did affect the fame and usage of Facebook.

Drupal, a web content management tool provider has been working on providing compatibility of its very famous content management platform with Facebook. The work they've been doing is really impressive. I just tried out their Facebook App module, and it looks promising. Though it has a lot of features missing, I'm sure they are working on them. Its still in the development stages, and hence the first official release might take a while to see the market. Nevertheless, its the initiative that matters.

Drupal For Facebook has updates about this initiative. Should you be interested in a demo of how this works, you have two of them to see - this or this.

I see a huge red ocean of Facebook apps in the near future. I'm sure there are many of them already with big plans of creating innovative blue oceans.

November 21, 2007

Appliances - The Emerging Market

People have for long got used to the concept of an 'appliance'. From the days when television was invented, mankind has been used to using appliances in one way or another. The very idea of being able to hold and feel a gadget is a satisfying experience.

The Atari video game, the video player and recorder, the cellphone, the walkie talkie, the iPod and iPhone are some of the very famous appliances that mankind has enjoyed. But I'd like to draw your attention to a very key point here - Most the appliances mentioned above took fancy in integrating more than one disparate functionalities into one. For example, the cellphone became an appliance that started to bring in a camera, video game, calculator, etc into one single gadget. So has been the way the market grew.

But today, we have started to see a 'U' turn in the way appliances are made - Companies have started to look at a way wherein some plausibly independent applications in gadgets can be used to address its niche market.

The Kindle kindles the fire! Yes, I'm talking about Amazon's latest product 'Kindle', an appliance that is in the size of a handbook, and can be carried anywhere to read books, newspapers and articles. Some years back, Amazon diverted people to online book reading. Today, Amazon is trying to separate the computer and the book reading application with this new device.

Again, such disruptive ideas and technologies create newer markets, and there will be several others jumping into this new market and flood it with their competitive applications and products till it one day dies out.

The product space has always been an interesting area to observe. I'm sure we'll have many other companies starting to make applications like bookmarks, sticky notes, messengers, etc for Kindle.

There is another place where the concept of an 'appliance' is now stepping in. More on this in my next post...

November 20, 2007

A Political break from serious tech business articles

I just couldn't stop from posting this video. Its a video that the Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Hukabee actually runs as his first campaign commercial.

Is he really serious about what he is doing? Its ridiculous!

Solution Architecture - How is this different from Enterprise and IT Architecture?

There was a gentleman who recently asked me a question in the context of my current job profile. He asked me
"What is your role as a Solution Architect, and how is the Solution Architect's role any different from an IT Architect or an Enterprise Architect?"
I did explain him the differences and the nuances of each type of architecture. But I also promised to post an article on the same. Hence this.

I forgot to cover this as one of the "most (ab)used words" in my previous article. The words "Enterprise Architect", "IT Architect", etc have been highly misused by people. No offense meant - Companies have used this as a "designation" rather than a "role" in some cases. I hence thought of clarifying these so-called ambiguous terms by outlining the differences between each type of architecture in the context of an Enterprise Architecture. (in conformance with The Open Group standards and definitions)

EA - Enterprise Architecture
EBA - Enterprise Business Architecture
EITA - Enterprise IT (EIT) Architecture
EITIA - EIT Information Architecture
EITAA - EIT Application Architecture
EITTA - EIT Technology Architecture
EITSIA - EIT Software Infrastructure Architecture
EITHIA - EIT Hardware Infrastructure Architecture
SA - Solution Architecture

I hope this has been useful.

November 19, 2007

Two most (Ab)Used words of 2007

The year 2007 has seen a lot of changes from an economic standpoint for various countries in various ways. The United States has seen a fall in the USD value while the Euro has shown a steady growth. India and China have been showing tremendous progress in the Asia Pacific.

With the economic boom, most of the countries have been wanting to ride on the wave to possibly create newer markets. This has resulted in the usage and creation of a lot of buzzwords. Some created them, while the rest have used (and abused) them.

"Innovation" has been topping the list so far. This word was mostly used by the CxO commuity (especially CEOs) in an attempt to redefine/ realign various areas of business (viz., strategy, finance, infrastructure, etc). With obvious reasons, there got created a lot of areas in the Line of Businesses where roles were created to focus on Innovation. Remember, this is the case with the biggies like IBM, Microsoft, Airtel, and the like.

This has though seen a lot of other players use the "Innovation" buzzword to attract customers and market mind share. For example, there are companies in the IT services sectors, which have started to use the "Innovation" buzzword in their services offerings. But if one really takes a closer look into the history of their operations and approach to even a year back, they would find nothing significantly different except the use of the "Innovation" buzzword. I'm not trying to generalize this to all companies! Its just a set of them.

The second (ab)used word is the acronym "SOA". This word "SOA" stands for Service Oriented Architecture. This is a very key architectural approach, but has been construed by many people in the sales area as a "single entity or a sellable product". The technical community have focussed on the "SOA" buzzword so much, that they have started to forget the underlying programming languages and constructs that help create an SOA.

There was a person whom I "almost interviewed" the other day, as he claimed to have worked on SOA. This apprised me to the fact that the IT junkies whose resumes one time read "J2EE Expert", today reads "SOA Expert"! This is the height of (ab)use.

With the growth in market and oceans of opportunities being created, I'm sure we will witness many more such buzzwords being created. Its imperative to nail down this kind of usage and help the world clearly understand what these buzzwords really mean.

November 16, 2007

Starting a Business in India

A very nice article on Starting a Business in on..


Legal Form: Private Limited Company
Paid in Minimum Capital Requirement: None
City: Mumbai

Registration Requirements

No: Procedure Time to complete: Cost to complete:
1 Obtain Director Identification Number (DIN) 1 day no charge
2 Obtain Digital Signature Certificate 4 days INR 400 to INR 2,650
3 Present name of company for approval to the Registrar of Companies (ROC); Get the Memorandum and Articles of Association vetted by the ROC and printed 2-3 days INR 50
4 Make an application to the Superintendent of Stamps or an authorized bank requesting for stamping of the Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association. 1 day INR 200 (for MOA) + INR 1000 (for AOA) for every INR 500,000 or part thereof + INR 100 (stamp paper for declaration Form 1)
5 Present the required documents along with the registration fee to the Registrar of Companies to get the certificate of incorporation 5-10 days see comments
6 Obtain a company seal 3 days INR 350
7 Visit an authorized franchise or agent appointed by National Securities Depository Services Limited to obtain a Permanent Account Number 7 days INR 66 (INR 66 fee & INR 5 for application form if not downloaded)
8* Obtain a Tax Account Number for income taxes deducted at source from the Assessing Office in the Mumbai Income Tax Department 7 days, simultaneously with Procedure 7 INR 55
9* Register with Mumbai Shops and Establishment Act, 1948 2 days, simultaneous with procedure 8 INR 1,500 + 3 times registration fee for Trade Refuse Charges
10* Register for value added tax (VAT) before the Sales Tax Officer of the ward in which the company is located 12 days, simultaneous with previous procedure INR 5,000 (Registration Fee) + INR 100 (Stamp Duty)
11* Register for Profession Tax 2 days, simultaneous with procedure 10 no charge
12* Register with Employees' Provident Fund Organization 2 days, simultaneous with procedure 10 no charge
13* Register with ESIC (medical insurance) 1 day, simultaneous with procedure 10 no charge

* Takes place simultaneously with another procedure.

Procedure 1.
Obtain Director Identification Number (DIN)
Time to complete:
1 day
Cost to complete:
no charge
The process to obtain the DIN (Director Identification Number) is as follows: - Obtain provisional DIN by filing application form DIN-1 online (; provisional DIN is immediately allocated. The application form must then be printed and signed and sent for approval to the MCA by courier along with proof of identity and proof of address. - The concerned authority verifies all the documents and, upon approval, allocates a permanent DIN. The process takes approximately 4 weeks. - Within 30 days of receipt of the approved DIN, directors submit Form DIN-2 to the MCA along with the approved number of all companies of which they hold a director position. - The above companies submit DIN-3 attested by Company Secretary to concerned Registrar of Companies (ROC).
Procedure 2.
Obtain Digital Signature Certificate
Time to complete:
4 days
Cost to complete:
INR 400 to INR 2,650
The Digital Signature Certificate can be obtained from six private agencies authorized by MCA 21 (Ministry of Corporate Affairs 21st century). For the purpose of using the new electronic filing system under MCA 21 Project the applicant needs to obtain a Class II Digital Signature Certificate. Company directors submit the prescribed application form along with proof of identity and proof of address. Each agency has its own fee structure which ranges from INR 400 to INR 2650.
Procedure 3.
Present name of company for approval to the Registrar of Companies (ROC); Get the Memorandum and Articles of Association vetted by the ROC and printed
Time to complete:
2-3 days
Cost to complete:
INR 50
Company name approval must be done electronically. Under e-filing for name approval, the applicant can see the availability of the desired company name from the website of the MCA 21. The RoC electronically informs the applicant whether the name is available within seven days from the date of submission of the application. Once a name is approved, the Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association together with miscellaneous documents have to be filed within six months of the approval. In practice, if the proposed name is available the same is granted within 2 or 3 days.
Procedure 4.
Make an application to the Superintendent of Stamps or an authorized bank requesting for stamping of the Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association.
Time to complete:
1 day
Cost to complete:
INR 200 (for MOA) + INR 1000 (for AOA) for every INR 500,000 or part thereof + INR 100 (stamp paper for declaration Form 1)
The application should be accompanied necessarily by the following: (i) Unsigned copies of the Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association. (ii) Payment receipt. Ensure that the copies submitted to the Superintendent of Stamps or to the bank for stamping are unsigned and no promoter or subscriber has written anything on it by hand. The Superintendent returns the copies, one of which is duly stamped, signed and embossed evidencing the payment of the requisite stamp duty. The rate of stamp duty varies from State to State. According to Article 10 and 39 of the Indian Stamp Act,1899, stamp duty payable on memorandum of association and articles of association for a company to be incorporated in Mumbai, Maharashtra is: AOA: Rs. 1000/- for every Rs. 500,000/- capital or part thereof subject to a maximum of Rs.50,00,000.00. Stamp duty for the MOA is Rs.200.00 Once the Memorandum and the Articles of Association of the Company have been stamped, the same is required to be signed by the Promoters of the Company including commencing with the name and description, father’s name, address, occupation and the number of shares subscribed for in their own handwriting which is duly witnessed. After signing the documents are to be dated. Declaration form 1: On Rs 100 stamp paper
Procedure 5.
Present the required documents along with the registration fee to the Registrar of Companies to get the certificate of incorporation
Time to complete:
5-10 days
Cost to complete:
see comments
After the stamping of the MOA and AOA, 3 copies along with the following documents are required to be scanned and uploaded on the MCA-21 Portal: - The stamped copies of the MOA and AOA - Copy of the Form-32 along with the consent letters of the Directors of the Company, who are appointed therein. - Form-1 - application and declaration for incorporating of a Company and printed on non judicial Stamp paper worth INR 20. - Form 18-evidencing the address proof of the Company. - Form-1A-evidencing the name approval. - Copy of challan evidencing the fee with respect to above mentioned forms. - Power of Attorney from the subscribers in favor of any person for making corrections on their behalf in the documents and papers filed for registration .This must be on non judicial stamp paper of INR 100. - Identification of the subscribers by way of copy of driving license, passport, voters identity or ration card. These documents, in addition to their online uploading, are also to be filed in original with the ROC. Once the documents are uploaded and confirmation of payment of fee is received from the Bank by the ROC, it processes the papers in order of their receipt. A software ensures that the queue can not be jumped by ROC. The fees paid to the Registrar for registration are scaled according to the amount of the authorized share capital of a company as stated in its memorandum. The schedule is as following: For registration of a company whose nominal share capital does not exceed Rs.100,000: Rs. 4,000. For registration of a company whose nominal share capital exceeds Rs.100,000, the above fee of Rs.4,000 with the following additional fees regulated according to the amount of nominal capital:- - Rs. 300 for every Rs.10,000 of nominal share capital or part of Rs.10,000 after the first Rs.1,00,000 up to Rs.5,00,000; - Rs. 200 for every Rs.10,000 of nominal share capital or part of Rs.10,000 after the first Rs.5,00,000 up to Rs.50,00,000; - Rs. 100 for every Rs.10,000 of nominal share capital or part of Rs.10,000 after the first Rs.50,00,000 up to Rs.1 crore; - Rs. 50 for every Rs.10,000 of nominal share capital or part of Rs.10,000 after the first Rs.1 crore. The above stated fees is required to be paid in the office of the ROC by way of a Demand Draft/ Treasury Challan. The DD has to be drawn in favor of either the office of the concerned ROC or in favor of the Pay and Accounts Officer, Department of Company Affairs, Mumbai. In the present case the total amount of fees (including the filing fees of the forms filed) to be paid in the office of the ROC for getting the company registered with an authorized share capital of Rs.1,00,000 approximately would be Rs.4,800/- Schedule of ROC filing fees for the Articles and for the other forms l, 18 and 32: - Rs. 200 In respect of a company having a nominal share capital of Rs. 100,000 or more but less than Rs. 500,000; - Rs. 300 In respect of a company having a nominal share capital of Rs. 500,000 or more but less than Rs. 2,500,000; - Rs. 500 In respect of a company having a nominal share capital of Rs. 2,500,000 or more.The ROC will then scrutinize the documents filed by the Company and if necessary the authorized person will on intimation make the necessary corrections under his initials. The authorized person will be provided the Obtain the Certificate of Incorporation of the company from the office of the ROC. The company can commence its business on getting incorporation certificate from ROC. The other procedures given below can be done after the business is started.
Procedure 6.
Obtain a company seal
Time to complete:
3 days
Cost to complete:
INR 350

Procedure 7.
Visit an authorized franchise or agent appointed by National Securities Depository Services Limited to obtain a Permanent Account Number
Time to complete:
7 days
Cost to complete:
INR 66 (INR 66 fee & INR 5 for application form if not downloaded)
Under the Income-tax Act, 1961, each person is required to quote his Permanent Account Number (PAN) for tax payment and Tax deduction Account Number (TAN) for depositing tax deducted at source. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has instructed banks not to accept any form for tax payments (challan) without the PAN or TAN, as the case may be. The Permanent Account Number (PAN) is a 10-digit alphanumeric number, issued in the form of a laminated card, by an Assessing Officer of the Income Tax Department. The Income Tax Department has outsourced PAN allotment to UTI Investors Services Limited. The outsourcing was done as a means to speed up the allotment PAN. Any authorized franchise or agent appointed by National Securities Depository Services Limited can accept and process Permanent Account Number application. If done through a service center, a period of 14 days is allowed for making an application. The application for PAN is to be made on form 49A along with a certified copy of the certificate of registration issued by the ROC along with proof of address and identity. The fee for processing of PAN application and ‘Request for New PAN Card or/and Changes or Correction in PAN data’ is Rs. 60 (plus applicable taxes).PAN forms can be obtained from TIN Facilitation Centers (TIN-FCs) or freely download from
Procedure 8.
Obtain a Tax Account Number for income taxes deducted at source from the Assessing Office in the Mumbai Income Tax Department
Time to complete:
7 days, simultaneously with Procedure 7
Cost to complete:
INR 55
TAN or Tax Deduction and Collection Account Number is a 10 digit alpha numeric number required to be obtained by all persons who are responsible for deducting or collecting tax. It is compulsory to quote TAN in TDS/TCS return (including any e-TDS/TCS return), any TDS/TCS payment challan and TDS/TCS certificates.The provisions of section 203A of the Income-tax Act require all persons who deduct or collect tax at source to apply for the allotment of a TAN. The section also makes it mandatory for TAN to be quoted in all TDS/TCS returns, all TDS/TCS payment challans and all TDS/TCS certificates to be issued. Failure to apply for TAN or comply with any of the other provisions of the section attracts a penalty of Rs. 10,000/-. An application for allotment of TAN is to be filed in Form 49B and submitted at any of the TIN Facilitation Centres meant for receipt of e-TDS returns. Addresses of the TIN FC are available at or The processing fee for the both the applications (new TAN and change request) is Rs. 50 (plus applicable taxes). Income tax is levied by the national government. since the outsourcing, any authorized franchise or agent appointed by National Securities Depository Services Limited can accept & process Tax deduction Account Number application.
Procedure 9.
Register with Mumbai Shops and Establishment Act, 1948
Time to complete:
2 days, simultaneous with procedure 8
Cost to complete:
INR 1,500 + 3 times registration fee for Trade Refuse Charges
A statement containing the name of the employer and the manager, the postal address of the establishment, the name of the establishment if any and the category of the establishment must be sent to the Inspector of the local area together applicable fees. According to Section. 7 of the Bombay Shops & Establishments Act. 1948 it is a obligatory to register the establishment under the Act. Under Sec. 7(4) the employer is obliged to get his establishment registered in the prescribed manner within 30 days from the date of which the establishment commences its work. According to provisions of Sec.7(1) it is required to submit to the concerned Shop Inspector under jurisdiction the prescribed form 'A' together with prescribed fees for registration of establishment. Pursuant to Sec. 7(2) on receipt of statement in form 'A' along with prescribed fees, on being satisfied about the correctness of the statement, the Registration certificate for registration of the establishment is issued in form 'D' in accordance with the provisions of Rule-6 of the Maharashtra Shops & Estts. Rules 1961. Registration fees Rs. (Alongwith Form 'A') Establishments having no employees 50.00 Establishments having 1 to 5 employees 150.00 Establishments having 6 to 10 employees 300.00 Establishments having 11 to 20 employees 600.00 Establishments having 21 to 50 employees 1,500.00 Establishments having 51 to 100 employees 3,000.00 Establishments having 101 or more employees 4,000.00 In addition, a sum three (3) times the registration and renewal fee per year is charged as Trade Refuse Charges (TRC) under the provisions of Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888.
Procedure 10.
Register for value added tax (VAT) before the Sales Tax Officer of the ward in which the company is located
Time to complete:
12 days, simultaneous with previous procedure
Cost to complete:
INR 5,000 (Registration Fee) + INR 100 (Stamp Duty)
VAT tax registration will be effective from the date of application. In the State of Maharashtra, from April 1, 2005, Sales Tax has been replaced by VAT and for VAT registration Form 101 is filed. Further, the authorized representative signing the said application is required to be available at the Sales Tax office on the day of verification of the application. Accompanying documentation included, certified true copy of the MoA and AoA of the company, registered office address proof of the company, antecedents of Directors copy of the office premises agreement as proof of the place of business (in Mumbai), copy of registration certificate under Mumbai Shops and Establishments Act, 1948, copy of Income Tax order, if any and PAN card, bank current A/c. number, original challan of payment of registration fees, two passport size photograph of the authorized signatory, and board resolution authorizing the signatory to sign the application form, appear before the Sales Tax Officer and to complete the formalities related to registration
Procedure 11.
Register for Profession Tax
Time to complete:
2 days, simultaneous with procedure 10
Cost to complete:
no charge
According to section 5 of the Profession Tax Act, every employer (not being an officer of Government) liable to pay tax and shall obtain a certificate of registration from the prescribed authority . The company is required to apply in Form I to the registering authority. The registration authority for Mumbai Area is situated at Vikarikar Bhavan, Mazgaon, Mumbai.The application should be supported with the documents such as address proof, details of company registration number under Indian Companies Act,1956,details of head office, if the company is a branch of company registered outside the state,company deed, certificates under any other Act.etc. depending on nature of business.
Procedure 12.
Register with Employees' Provident Fund Organization
Time to complete:
2 days, simultaneous with procedure 10
Cost to complete:
no charge
Provident Commission (part of local labor authority). Procedure: Fill in application. The applicant is then allotted a social security number. The Provident Fund Registration is focused on delinquency under reporting or non-reporting of employment strength. Provident Fund Registration is optional if employee strength is not more than 20.
Procedure 13.
Register with ESIC (medical insurance)
Time to complete:
1 day, simultaneous with procedure 10
Cost to complete:
no charge
In terms of section 2(A) registration is the process by which every employer/factory and its every employee employed for wages, is identified for the purpose of the Scheme, and their individual records are set up for them.-The employers registration form is Form 1A and Employers cansubmit application online for registeration under ESI Act. 1948

November 12, 2007

Phew! Finally Cognos gets into IBM's portfolio

After a long wait, IBM has finally completed the Cognos buyout at $5bn USD/ $58 per share. Here is a detailed news.

With the buyout of Cognos Incorporated, which is predominantly a Business Intelligence (BI) and performance management software company, IBM has bolstered its Information Management software portfolio. With products like DB2 Alphablox (another acquisition of the past) and Cognos, I see IBM as a very strong player in the BI market space now.

With the growth of information and information overflow, this is yet another good acquisition by IBM. Kudos to the Big Blue!

Great Leaders Build Off Great Relationships

This is a topic that I love to speak on. Having spoken about this in different forums, here is the analogy I use to explain the above topic -

"Great leaders are like the Central Nervous System of a human body. They are so well networked, that their absence will always have a serious dent to the business they lead"

Having said that, I'd like to share a nice article by John Baldoni ...

"If you want to get along, go along!" That was legendary Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn's advice to a young Lyndon Johnson when LBJ was an upwardly aspiring congressman from Rayburn's home state of Texas. If Rayburn, for whom the Rayburn Building, which houses Congressional offices, were alive today, he could make a good living on the business lecture circuit.

Connect to others

"Building relationships is one of the strongest skills sets related to leadership effectiveness," says Jean Leslie, a researcher at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). "Managers with experience building relationships are seen as more effective." That statement emerges from a comprehensive research study undertaken by CCL involving more than 438,000 respondents. Two thirds of respondents said that "building and maintaining relationships is a critical competency."

Coupled with relationship building is collaboration. In another CCL study, nearly every one of 250 executives surveyed said that "collaboration is critical to success." Given the complexity of today's business challenges, compounded by 24/7 schedules and global competitiveness, working with another person to create, develop and sustain projects, processes, or products requires true melding of talents and skills.

The trouble is that today's senior leaders are not adept at either relationship building or collaboration, according to CCL. Relationship building ranked tenth out of sixteen leadership competencies; meanwhile, only 47 percent of managers believed that "leaders in their organization were highly skilled in collaboration."

These results are not surprising given the state of American management. Our companies crave strong leaders; we tend to value the man who stands up and takes charge. But that model is in flux. One reason for this is the rising influence of women in the workplace; women tend to be more collaborative than men. Another is that it is collaboration that enables innovation, which plays a key role in a company's ability to stay competitive. And strong relationships are the underpinning of any collaborative effort. So how can you nurture both these skills?

Learn to read people. The pace of management today is so hurried that lunches sometimes become a luxury. That's too bad. Getting to know someone can occur more swiftly and genuinely over a shared meal, even in the corporate cafeteria. When you sit across from someone you can listen as you munch; you can observe the person and make mental notes about what he says, or likely does not say. In time, you can determine motivation and aspiration as well as commitment. Call this reading people.

Lyndon Johnson was a master at sizing up others; he could read people as quickly as he could skim a newspaper. And in doing so he could divine their hopes and desires. This skill came in handy when Johnson needed to do some arm-twisting of his fellow congressmen. Sometimes leaders need to twist a few arms. But rather than start off that way, a savvy leader begins with the quiet read and then strives to achieve his aims by working with another to come up with joint solutions.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Yup, it's the Golden Rule and believe it or not, it works in business, too. Relationships emerge from trust; you establish trust by personal example. That is, you follow through on your commitments. You also reach out to help others achieve their goals. You demonstrate teamwork. And you stand up for what you believe and hold yourself accountable. Leaders who do that build relationships with their employees but they also build coalitions with their peers. Management demands cross-functional collaboration but that can only occur when people know and trust each other.

Put yourself out there. If you want to collaborate, you need to put yourself into it. Genuine collaboration calls for the blending of ideas, a synthesis that creates a better whole. Sometimes the genesis will derive from a single person, with a few suggestions from others. Most often, however, collaboration is so thorough that the end result is totally original, that is, no one recalls or can determine who had what idea. That kind of collaboration is selfless. It cannot be mandated; it must come from people trusting one another because they understand each other. That takes time as well as genuine leadership. The most collaborative leaders are those who stir the pot, those who get people focused on the task but then drift back to see what happens. More and more that's what today's leaders need to do.

Strong leaders, too

Relationships and collaboration are essential but neither negates the need for strong leadership. Organizations cannot rule by consensus; the term "analysis/paralysis" no doubt arose from observations of corporate boardrooms that dallied and dithered over responses to business challenges. After all, it was Sears which ignored Wal-Mart, General Motors overlooked Toyota, and IBM never gave a thought to Apple. Arrogance breeds complacency.

Strong leadership did rescue IBM and General Motors. In 1993, Lou Gerstner took over a dying IBM and shook it to its core; he and his team revamped management policies and freed the company from decades of hidebound management practices. Six years later, Rick Wagoner did something similar for General Motors. He brought in fresh talent and gave the newcomers free reign to develop new products. GM's comeback has had its ups and down but seems on the upswing today. Gerstner was more of a top-down manager; Wagoner is by nature collaborative. He shares the spotlight but, more importantly, he lets decision-makers decide.

Strong leadership does not negate the need for relationships or collaboration; it embraces them. Leaders by themselves achieve very little; the measure of effective leadership lies in the results a leader achieves by inspiring others. In a corporate setting those results come by working with people, either as individuals or as teams.

Relationships are critical to leadership success and must be nurtured. And one way to nurture them is to get in line once in awhile and let others lead. Old Mr. Sam, as LBJ called Rayburn, also knew this. "You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you," he said, "unless you know how to follow, too."

November 08, 2007

On the lighter side - Die and you're under arrest! Britain's most stupid laws

LONDON (AFP) - Queen Elizabeth II's speech in the British parliament Tuesday may have been routine but at least nobody got bored to death. That would have been against the law.

Dying in parliament is an offence and is also by far the most absurd law in Britain, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 people by a television channel showing a legal drama series.

And though the lords were clad in their red and white ermine cloaks and ambassadors from around the world wore colourful national costumes, at least nobody turned up in a suit of armour. Illegal.

Other rules deemed utterly stupid included one that permits a pregnant woman to urinate in a policeman's hat and murdering bow-and-arrow-carrying Scotsmen within the city walls of York, northern England.

A law stating that in Liverpool, only a clerk in a tropical fish store is allowed to be publicly topless, was also ridiculous, said a poll of 3,931 people for UKTV Gold television out Tuesday.

Nearly half of those surveyed admitted to breaking the ban on eating mince pies on Christmas Day, which dates back to the 17th century and was originally designed to outlaw gluttony during the rule of the Puritan Oliver Crowmell.

The laws and other regulations were culled from published research into ancient legislation that has never been repealed although subsequent statutes have rendered them obsolete.

Respondents were given a shortlist and asked to vote.

Most ridiculous British law:

1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27 percent)

2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down (seven percent)

3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (six percent)

4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day (five percent)

5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter (four percent)

6. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet (four percent)

7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail of the queen (3.5 percent)

8. It is illegal to avoid telling the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (three percent)

9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour (three percent)

10. In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow (two percent)

November 07, 2007

The Plone experience

After that exciting read about Zope and its edge over other frameworks, I decided to give Plone a shot. I went to the Plone site and downloaded their installable for the Linux platform and uploaded it to my shared hosting space with a hosting provider.

The installation went off really fine. I then thought of starting my Plone server. But this failed. The server was supposed to be available at http://localhost:8080/manage. I called up my hosting provider's helpline to realize that port 8080 does not work in a shared server space!

Total time spent - 5 hours (to read about Plone, download videos, down installables, upload them to my shared server, install them and test)

So, for those of you attempting to deploy Plone - Don't do this in a shared server!

Better Web Application development frameworks

I've always been a Java guy. Having started my career with C and C++, I quickly graduated into the Java language and the J2EE platform. But with the increased popularity of web application development and the growth of social networking sites, I started to open my eyes and ears to see and hear new web application development frameworks out in the market.

With the increased popularity of Google and its various products, I realized they use Zope as their development framework. Recently I heard of this new Python based framework called Django (I just evaluated this). With the increased popularity of Python in this space I thought of evaluating each of these frameworks. But I guess Sean Kelly made my job much easier now. I recently bumped into his study on the various web application development frameworks, and it is really good one with a good amount of detail covered.

As a guy of the J2EE generation, this report was a NEWS to me.

The details behind the above findings can be seen at this screencast by Sean Kelly.

November 05, 2007

Human Capital & Talent Pool - A Glimpse into the future

Some key happenings in the recent past -

  • US H1-B visa restrictions
  • Growth of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries
  • Kingfisher on the F1 track
  • Fall of the US Dollar [1 USD = 38 INR (previously 48+ INR)]
  • India's SENSEX crosses the 20,000 mark
  • Mukesh Ambani becomes the world's richest man

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more under each of the above happenings - reasons and results.

We saw brain drain happening in the past many years (from the 1980's till date - except for the period when the dot com bubble burst). The primary reason we saw this happening was because of the US Dollar's high value and the resulting economy in the United States.

The big companies attracted talent from countries like India and Brazil into the United States to compensate for the shortage of talent. This later got diluted to a time when body shopping became a common scenario in the IT industry with smaller companies (or consultancies) hiring human capital from the developing countries and deploying them in the United States. This resulted in the movement of lower skilled staff into the US, and hence making it tougher for the citizens of the United States to compete.

Today, with the scenario totally changed, we see a different trend - People have now started to think of getting back to their home countries (esp. Indians). The reason is very obvious. With the H1B visa restrictions now, the United States is all set to witness a big time reverse brain drain - First time in the history of USA.

As we see in many walks of life, history repeats! India was once called as The Land of Milk and Honey. It was only after the series of conquests made by the British, Afghans, Dutch, Portuguese, and French, that India saw the state of poverty.

Today, India is rich in talented human capital and the economy is doing well. Its like a sinusoidal waveform - positives and negatives come in alternate cycles.

From a economy standpoint, my personal feeling is that we will witness the BRIC nations growing in the days to come and the United States will not be looked upon as THE place to do business. Its going to be a Global Market where the customers and the suppliers will be competing in a global space, and will not be demarcated by national boundaries.

Some key challenges that I foresee in this kind of a market are -
  • Companies revamping their business model(s) to address the global market space
    • Bigger companies have realized this long back, but smaller companies need to consciously plan
  • Visa regulations of countries need to be given a serious look
    • Need to be able to issue business visas at a short notice - Waiting period needs to be reduced a lot
  • Product and Service Management needs a global perspective
    • International market exposure will help leaders and managers manage their products and service offerings better - making them more relevant to the global marketplace
  • United States H1B visa restrictions need to be made more meaningful - something in the lines of a point system will make more sense (like how Canada follows)
Some countries that I think are going to be the czars of this century -
  • Canada - Will replace the Middle East with its huge oil resources
  • China + India - Pivotal countries in the IT space - Deal Hub that will be equivalent to how USA is today
  • Countries like Philippines, etc will be the next destinations for outsourcing from countries like India and China
  • Singapore - continue to grow as the hub of business in Asia Pacific
  • Japan - Will be the Automotive leader with companies like Toyota and Honda leading the space with highly efficient vehicles
Tips for the younger generation of aspiring professionals -
  • Keep your eyes and ears open to technology and business advancements across the world (not just your country)
  • Ride on the social networking boom by utilizing its services to get networked with people globally - for the right purpose and a good cause
  • Specialization is a key space. However, being knowledgeable/adept in more than three different areas is good to compete in a global marketplace
  • Force your brains to think 360 degrees and bring in different perspectives to every walk of life

November 02, 2007

Generation Y - What is that?

There's been a lot of talk recently about Generation Y. Its members, born between 1982 and 2005, are known for their sense of entitlement, outspokenness, inability to take criticism, and technological sophistication. Fortune deemed Generation Y in its May 28, 2007, issue the most high-maintenance, yet potentially most high-performing generation in history because its members are entering the workplace with more information, greater technological skill and higher expectations of themselves and others than prior generations. In addition, Time described members of Generation Y in its July 16, 2007, issue as wanting the kind of life balance where every minute has meaning. They don't want to be slaves to their jobs the way their Baby Boomer parents are.

Like it or not, Generation Y is your fickle new talent pool. To attract the workers from this generation that your organization needs, you need to understand what makes them tick and how to work with its members to bring out their high potential. They may require a lot of management, but they're worth the effort. Statistically, Millennials are the most pluralistic, integrated, high-tech generation in American history—traits that make them ideally suited to our increasingly demanding, diverse and dispersed global workplace. They are well positioned to address the global issues of our time, inclined as they are to seeing the world as a vast resource of connection, knowledge and community. In addition, these kids are smart and driven to make a difference. They demand fast-track career positioning, greater work-life balance, positive feedback, training and cutting-edge technology. By challenging workforce conventions, Generation Y offers us a long-overdue reality check on the shortcomings and hypocrisies of the American workplace that may ultimately change it for the better.

While this has been talked about more specifically with respect to Americans, I do see most of it applicable to people in other developing countries too.

Here is a good article on about How to Manage Generation Y people at work. Check it out here.

Open Social Launched!

Watch the launch of Open Social here -

Google has launched its series of "Google Campfire One" to interact with its developer network. Its indeed going to be very interesting to watch the space of social networking on the web in the next few years.

Marc Andresseen, in his blog mentions "Freedom wins, and openness wins". While I agree with this comment of his, given the situation of the social networks war, I think the key is the creation of blue oceans (Blue Ocean Strategy, by Prof.Chan Kim).

Facebook did create a blue ocean by having its platform open to developers and having a proprietary standard like FBML. Now, Google has created a bigger blue ocean by creating a social networking platform standard and by making the learning curve shallower for developers. In my opinion, Open Social is a true blue ocean, as it creates opportunity for other social networking companies to participate, rather than compete!

Who is next? Lets wait and watch this space..its going to be really interesting.

November 01, 2007

Open Social - The Killer Whale?

Open Social is the next big thing in the world of social networking. To give you a better idea of what this is, here is a screencast:

Find more screencasts like this on Ning Network Creators