January 23, 2009

Let's Start LIVING, Start THINKING

We are born in this earth not to exist, but to live. That said, many of us just continue to exist. We have been taught to eat, taught to walk, taught to ride a bike, taught to read, taught to write...the list can go on endless. But, one question can make a difference - Have we every questioned these teachings? If so, how many times have we done this? Read on to know more...

How many times in our life do we really question ourselves "Why should/did I do this?". We continue to sit in a room with the lights on, even when the sun is up and shining to illuminate our reading desk. We continue to switch on the television as we read the newspaper because we are used to hearing the news in the mornings. We continue to keep the water tap open while brushing the teeth. We continue to drive down the same route to office (when there may be many shorter/better routes) because we are used to it. Each one of us would have some mundane ways of doing many things. We continue to do what we do because we are used to doing it that way.

Have you observed top sports stars? Have you seen a top runner's training programme? All top runners spend a considerable amount of time observing themselves when they run. Have you ever wondered why gyms have a lot of mirrors? Have you seen body-builders train with mirrors around? These mirrors are not (only) to see how good they look, but to help them observe their training! Observation is the core of all these sports and fitness activities. This is what helps sportsmen and women understand their pitfalls and identify points of improvement. A training programme without observing can prove useless!

Improvement comes when we start observing whats existing today. Observing is the fundamental need for innovation and continuous improvement. For instance, the way governments, industries, transportation systems and others have been operating is precisely the same. They continue to exist.

For a country to grow, the government should stop existing and start working. For the economy to grow, companies should stop existing and start working. For a greener world, industries and the energy sector units should stop existing and start working. Observing today's approaches, processes, systems and analyzing the pitfalls is the key to innovation.

Here is what I would suggest, to infuse innovation in your personal life and professional lives. Spend atleast 10 minutes a day for yourself. Think about how you spent the day, and how you did the things you did. Think of ways that could have made things better. Think of things you could have avoided doing. Think about what you saw on your walk down your company's aisles or your factory's floors. Ask yourself one question - "Why did I do it?" or "Why is this done that way?". Keep answering your question until you get a satisfactory answer. Finally, you have lived your day!

Here is nice video that you might enjoy. Keep Thinking! Stay Creative! Stay Inspired!

January 21, 2009

IBM.COM / THINK - A Smarter Planet

IBM has unveiled a whole new initiative this year to create a Smarter Planet. Here is the Tale of a Smarter Planet that would set you thinking, and possibly innovating. Together, let's build a Smarter Planet!

Hope this short video has set your thoughts reeling. I look forward to fueling your thoughts and innovation more in the days and weeks to come! Stay Mused! Stay Inspired!

IBM: 4Q08 Results are Out & Strong!

IBM has had a very impressive year 2008. The corporation's Senior Vice President & CFO Mark Loughridge discussed the 4Q08 earnings yesterday evening at the corporation's headquarters in Armonk, NY.

In a year like this, when the world has been facing enormous and growing economic challenges and uncertainties, IBM has shown some record figures in the reports. Here are some of the highlights of the full-year 2008 -
  • Record revenue of $103.6 billion;
  • Record pre-tax profit of $16.7 billion;
  • Record earnings per share of $8.93;
  • Record free cash flow of $14.3 billion, up $1.9 billion, excluding Global Financing receivables
In just the fourth quarter, IBM has again shown a good increase of 17% in diluted earnings and 12% increase in income. Here are some of the highlights of the forth-quarter results -
  • Diluted earnings of $3.28 per share, up 17 percent;
  • Net income of $4.4 billion, up 12 percent;
  • Gross profit margin of 47.9 percent, up 3 points;
  • Revenue of $27.0 billion, impacted by strong U.S. dollar, down 6 percent, down 1 percent adjusting for currency;
  • Software revenues up 3 percent, up 9 percent adjusting for currency; pre-tax income up 15 percent;
  • Global Technology Services revenue down 4 percent, up 3 percent adjusting for currency; pre-tax income up 35 percent;
  • Global Business Services revenues down 5 percent, flat adjusting for currency; pre-tax income up 26 percent;
  • Services signings of $17.2 billion, 24 deals greater than $100 million;
  • Strategic outsourcing signings up 20 percent worldwide, up 44 percent in North America.
A strong fourth quarter capped an outstanding year. In 2008 IBM performed well in an extremely difficult economic environment. Clearly our strategic transformation --- migrating to the more profitable segments of the industry, investing in growth regions of the world, and driving productivity through global integration --- is continuing to pay dividends
- Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer

With such extremely good results, we can expect more from IBM in the year 2009. No doubt that the current economic climate has made things more challenging. But not to forget that opportunities lie in challenges - The smarter ones take a major portion of the apple pie!

Some quick links:
IBM 4Q08 Earnings Presentation webcast - http://www.ibm.com/investor/4q08/#
IBM 4Q08 Earnings Presentation MP3 - http://ibmvancouv1.download.akamai.com.edgesuite.net/podcasts/2009/ir4q08.mp3
IBM 4Q08 Earnings Press Release - http://www.ibm.com/investor/4q08/press.phtml

January 20, 2009

How companies work in a bear market...

Dilbert Health

PS: Wondering why these Dilbert posts? Nah....I just wanted to take a break from serious articles! Watch out for my next article! Till then, Adios and have fun!

New job induction...when the industry was doing good

Here is what might have been happening when the job industry was doing good. You can even relate it to personal experiences...

Dilbert Work

Wondering how this scenario would have changed in an industry that's going through bad times? My next post has it!

January 15, 2009

Arnold Schwarzenegger, California, Tweets - They are related!

The whole world has been talking less and twitting more these days! Ever since Twitter was launched, there has been an exponential increase in the number of people who have taken to this microblogging platform. Personally, I find Twitter quiet useful and comfortable (thanks to the variety of Twitter tools that's been flooding around)

Many people have been using Twitter for different reasons (Google can help you with some top reasons). I know people who publicize information using Twitter and also people who do public chats using the tool. The uniqueness that Twitter brings to the internet world is with it's simplicity. It's a no hassle and no frill tool that can be used by a non-Techie.

Ah! That reminds me of something - Did you know that even Gov.Arnold Schwarzenneger's team uses Twitter? Yes, I'm talking about the same person who was once a Mr.Universe and a Hollywood filmstar! You must check out his twitter page, and will be surprised by the way his team has been exploiting this platform - They use Twitter to post updates on the administrative activities' progress and other updates that his administration is carrying out! Isn't this a novel way to use Twitter?

Have you been using Twitter for a unique purpose too? If so, do let me know!

Keep Twitting! Stay Inspired!

January 12, 2009

Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009

Curious enough, I was digging through Gartner's shelves. Here is what I bumped into - Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2009. Gartner has identified the following 10 technologies (in the order mentioned below) as the toppers for 2009 -
  • Virtualization
  • Cloud Computing
  • Servers — Beyond Blades
  • Web-Oriented Architectures
  • EnterpriseMashups
  • Specialized Systems
  • Social Software and Social Networking
  • Unified Communications
  • Business Intelligence
  • Green IT
There is nothing you might really want to observe with just this list. The curiosity arose when I was trying to compare the above list for 2009 with the list that Gartner released for 2008, which went as follows -
  • Green IT
  • Unified Communications
  • Business Process Modeling
  • Metadata Management
  • Virtualization 2.0
  • Mashup & Composite Apps
  • Web Platform & WOA
  • Computing Fabric
  • Real World Web
  • Social Software
It's quiet interesting to observe the fact that Green IT has moved all the way to the bottom of the list. Also, Computing Fabric seems to have disappeared? No, Gartner has preferred to explicitly call it Servers - Beyond Blades this year. In my opinion, Cloud Computing has been the one significant inclusion in the 2009 list of technologies. Yes, indeed this technology is fast catching up and many companies have gone ahead to set up cloud centers. More on cloud computing in a later post.

Green IT is more of a buzzword that is going to be floating around for the next few years. In a nutshell, Green IT is more about how we can implement technologies that are friendly to nature (viz., lower emission, low power consumption, lower heat dissipation, etc).

Below is a video where David Cearley discusses these top 10 technologies at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Orlando 2008.

With the economic slowdown, these technologies will definitely play a key role in shaping the world and aiding mankind.

It's Business and not Technology that Leads

A brief look into the history books would set the picture right - Technology jumped in to help man do things more effectively and faster. The wheel was invented when man wanted to move heavy boulders from one place to another. The computer was invented to help man perform calculations much better. The list is endless. The crux of the matter being that the need leads and the technology just follows. When needs become endless, technology starts to evolve!

Due to technological advancements, the world started to rely on technology more than what was earlier. The setting in of the Information and Technology era marked the setting in of full fledged usage of technology in business. Over a period in time, the world got into a technology rat race. IT companies started to compete in the technology space and businesses started to chase success with the usage of better and sophisticated technologies. Eventually, many of the non-IT businesses started to set up an IT arm to pursue its techno dreams.

In the pursuit of technology dreams, businesses started to get more technology dependent by slowly getting more of their business closely linked to IT. Today, most of the world's biggest businesses across different industries are heavily based on an underlying IT infrastructure. Unknowingly, the leaders and head honchos of world's biggest businesses have invested so much into IT, that they cannot survive without it.

Inadvertently, the IT heads of these non-IT businesses have started to focus so much on technology and lost focus on the real business objectives! In bigger corporations, this problem has been accentuated by the inter-department/intra-company politics - Often, there is a clash between the business, functional and the technology wings of these corporations!

The latter point mentioned above has resulted with information redundancy due to the creation of information silos! In simple terms, this is nothing but information gluttony. This inter-department/intra-company politics sometimes goes to such an extent that the IT management shuts doors to the business teams, and eventually sets up an IT infrastructure that is sometimes contradictory to the actual business need!
"IT people have a fundamental belief that they're not doing anything wrong," says Tony Fisher, CEO of data-quality specialists DataFlux. "That's because they lack an understanding of the business at large. You end up with an environment where the IT manager sits in his office naive and happy, thinking he's doing all the right things, reading all the right journals, and executing everything according to specs that have everything to do with technology but little to do with the business."
- Excerpt from Dan Tynan's article on CIO.com

In a time of recession, it's more important for businesses worldwide to focus on resolving these intra-company politics and work in unison. When the demand is low and the operations are slow, businesses should start to realign their departments and operations in a way that lets the business drive and use technology as a means to grow. Taking an inward view of their internal operational layout will help businesses fine tune and innovate their operations and approach, thereby becoming a lean and agile enterprise!

January 11, 2009

Chennai Open ATP Tennis Tournament 2009

Thanks to our family friend, I got to see the Chennai Open ATP Tennis 2009 last evening. I happened to witness this wonderful mens singles semi-finals game of tennis between Marcel Granollers(ESP) and Marin Cilic(CRO), which the later won 6-4, 6-3. Some pictures can be found below.

Not sure if it was Somdev Devvarman's good or bad luck, he has made it to this ATP tournament's finals without having to fight his opponent Rainer Scheuttler, who suffered a wrist injury.

After Leander Paes(1998) and Prakash Amritraj(2008), Somdev Devvarman gets to share the limelight for being the third Indian tennis player to have reached an ATP semi-finals (and...is the second Indian player to reach the semi-finals in Chennai ATP, after Leander Paes did in 1998).

For my email subscribers who are not able to view the above slideshow, do visit my flickr page here. I'm hoping to be able to make it to today's finals match between Marin Cilic(CRO) and Somdev Devvarman(IND). Will definitely share some pictures if I happen to make it! Till then, stay tuned!

PS: Should you want to use any of these pictures, do feel free to drop me a note!

January 07, 2009

Why do I Run?

Every passionate long distance runner on earth would, some(many)time in his/her life, be asked this question-
Why do you have to run such long distances? What is in it for you?

I've been a victim of this kind of a question many a time till date. The most interesting came after my Singapore marathon...and it was-
Why did you have to go all the way to Singapore spending thousands of rupees to just run 42 and odd kilometers? You could have done it in the very place you reside, right?

I could not resist a chuckle when people asked this question. Nevertheless, this question has always managed to set my thoughts reeling. Hence I thought of putting these recurring thoughts in black and white.
In today's fast moving world, one hardly gets time to think about day to day routines. More than often, we end up doing something because we are used to doing it that way. The reason for us doing this is predominantly the fact that the conscious mind concentrates on the main task while giving the subconscious mind the responsibility of doing these mundane tasks.
And because of various reasons, the conscious mind gets loaded with a whole slew of new tasks, that the older tasks get moved into the subconscious mind. This cycle of the mind's working has taken off the comfortable cushion space to think differently and be innovative.
This is the reason the mind starts to get dull and loses the enthusiasm to do anything. I had experienced such a state many a time in the past (before I took up running). That's when I was thinking and realized that -
We work so hard for name, fame and money to eventually be happy. But over a period in time we realize that we've done everything but being happy

Why does this happen? It's simply because the mind has become duller and has lost that glow. A mind that has continuously engaged itself in chasing goals, tends to miss out recognizing achievements. This tendency results in the lack of happiness (as, you always keep feeling "I've not accomplished anything").
Running is something that came by just in time for me. Though it sounds like just a physical activity, Running is a gift in different ways. Running is one single activity, doing which can give you the following benefits - all in one shot! -
  • An excellent physical exercise - Shorter your Waistline, Longer your Lifeline!
  • Rejuvenates the mind - More oxygen to the brain, more active it gets!
  • Cleaner and Fresher skin - Sweat gets the darn dirt out of the skin pores! An increase in metabolism will result in fresh skin faster!
  • Stronger legs and back - This greatly helps us stay fit (if your work is in front on a computer, you would appreciate the value of a strong back!)
  • Staying closer to nature - What can be better than an early morning run? Hearing the birds chirp and smelling the fresh air...it's Bliss!
  • Run your errands - I sometimes shop during my run...Yes! I'm not joking! Ain't it a healthy way to shop?
  • Travel and see places - What better excuse can one get to travel to different places to run half or full marathons? It's fun!
  • Meet people and network - Running on the roads around your place, you are sure to bump into many of your neighbors and exchange a casual HI! Joining running clubs can give you the best experience of networking!
  • A feeling of achievement - Running past people with large waistlines, seeing your waistline reduce after some consistent running, finishing longer distances and marathons, etc can give you a sense of accomplishment. Doing two kilometers more or doing a distance faster than before, can fill you with great pride! You don't have to wait for a job promotion or a salary hike!
  • Tunes the mind to fight longer battles - Running long distances can impact the mind to persevere and fight the long drawn battles at work and personal life. It fills you with grit and determination!
What more could I ask for? Would you say NO to a cartload of gifts packed in one neat package? Ain't this a good reason to run? So, to you, here is my advise - Step out and start running! Fuel your creativity and innovation....and you are sure to be a winner for life!

Happy Running! Stay Inspired!

January 04, 2009

Chennai Runners presents Running Plus!!

Time has come to relive your dreams...
It's time to brush shoulders with some serial marathoners in this part of the country...
You need not wait more to talk to a sports doc about your fitness related queries...

Chennai Runners proudly presents Running Plus, a first of a kind Running Clinic in the city of Chennai! Details about this event can be found here. Do give me a holler if you need more details..
Chennai Runners Running Clinic

A larger picture of the above invite can be seen here.
If you are in Chennai on 10th Jan 2009, do come over!

January 02, 2009

My 2008 Book Collection - Did I read them all?

As many would say, time and experience teaches a lot of lessons. The year 2008 has been the 'teacher' year to me. It taught me a lot through real life experiences and it also made me buy a lot of books!

I was just looking around my bookshelf (Uh! My books are pretty much scattered everywhere!) and realized that I ended up buy quiet a bit of them in the past year (14 of them!). But then came this question "Karthik....did you read them all? Don't say a 'yes'!" Huh! yes, I've gotto admit...I did not read them all 'fully'. While I did manage to finish most of them, the rest of them are still with those bookmarks. Nevertheless, I enjoy building my own library (...and compete with my dad! He has got about 300 novels so far!)

Here are some of the books I bought (click on them to get more details about the book) -

For those of you who has not read any of the above books, here goes my recommendations.
Who Moved My Cheese?
is a very good book, which is now available in an abridged version (which is better) too. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to live (not survive!) in this world and make the fullest use of every opportunity in every front.

It's Not About the Bike. My Journey Back to Life falls next in the order of reading order priority. Lance Armstrong has very beautifully written this book, in which he talks about how he fought with the world's most deadliest of diseases, cancer, and got back to do what he loved to do.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is the next best thing to spend some useful time with. The author of this book, Robin Sharma, needs no much introduction to many of us. While many motivational speakers tend to use disconnected examples to explain (and elaborate) different areas of life and work, Robin has adopted a different approach. Robin uses the character of a monk to connect with his readers. A true masterpiece and a must read!

The Power of Impossible Thinking was another good book I bumped into accidentally when I was browsing in the bookstore. I found this book really thought provoking. In a way, it has helped me a lot to change the way I approached many things in life. I would recommend this book for a good read while traveling.

The Einstein Factor - Ah! Win Wenger has done an astounding job out of this book. The reason I'm writing about this book after having written about four other books is because this one falls under a different category. This books demands time. This book combines practical exercises to boost your thinking power. I would highly recommend this book for weekend and holiday reads. If possible, do get your hands on its audiobook version.

The Toyota Way is more to do with the way we do things ('manufacturing' is the context used in this book) and how we can do it better. This is about how Toyota revolutionized the world of automotive manufacturing by incorporating some of its home grown approaches. This is today widely accepted my many companies.
Freakonomics - This is a book I'm still half way through. It's been a good read so far. I would reserve my recommendations till I complete my reading.

As far as the rest of the books go, I haven't read them (except The Greatness Guide...which is OK. Robin set too high an expectation with his first book!) yet. I might set my hands on one of these when I get time (unless I spot a really good book in one of my future bookstore jaunts!)

Have you read a good book? Would you mind suggesting me one? I would love to read them too! And if you are one of those who has not cultivated the habit of reading books, do try it out....it'll become an addiction!
Till my next article....adios and have a splendid weekend!

January 01, 2009

Geni, the Genius Genie

Oops...I'm not going to be writing about Genie in a Bottle or a Genie from Alladin's magic lamp. This is the Genie I discovered on the internet some long time ago. This Genie has phenomenally helped me connect to different people in my own family. This Genie has helped me know many unknown people in my own family ...wait...unknown?? Yes, that's correct - unknown. Read on to know more...

In late 2007, during some loose internet searching on a topic related to genealogy, I bumped into this wonder-full website called Geni. As expected from any inquisitive internet searcher, I went ahead and got myself registered with this service. That was it....I never even cared to get back to this website from the next day on (as my objective was different at that point in time - to search for some information related to genealogy).

It was in early December of 2008 (just a few weeks ago!) that my dad suddenly came up to me, asking me if I could help him document our family tree that he had written down long time ago. Ah, that triggered a thought in me - Why don't I see what Geni had in store? Does Geni still exist? As I was in front on my laptop (which I am most of the time!), I quickly went on and revisited Geni....and to my surprise, I did remember the password and username I had registered with!

What has happened from then on is something really spectacular. Today, I am connected to more than 2733 people in my own family!! I've been able to send birthday and anniversary wishes to so many people in my own family, that I was simply amazed by the sheer Human Network this helped me create from within my own family.

From my experience I can say one thing for sure - There is nothing in this world that's more powerful than a good human network! Networking and Collaboration is the key that enables communities, businesses, cultures and policies. Geni precisely does this - enables an ever-growing and self-participating human network within families across the world. Once you add a relative and his/her email address, Geni gives them the power to add people in their family (your extended family!).

Behind the scenes, Geni uses the GEDCOM specification. GEDCOM is a standard file format used to save, transfer, and transport genealogical information. To know more about GEDCOM, here is the Wikipedia page link.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and take the plunge! Create your family network on Geni, and I'm sure the rest will fall into place automatically. Begin the new year with everyone in your family!! Good Luck and Best Wishes!