Thursday, July 31, 2008

Indian IT going green

Going green is the mantra I often hear among Indian IT companies today. Patni Computer Systems constructed a 175 crores worth IT/BPO campus that got certified as green. Cisco has adopted the "Let's Talk Cisco Green" program that aims to spread awareness among employees to keep the green aspect foremost on their minds. CSC spearheaded a car pool initiative that avoids the AC for six months a year and its ‘Save Trees, Go Green’ campaign which recognizes employees who save paper by minimal use of printers. Several Indian IT companies are adopting "Going green" as a integral part of their corporate wide policies. Why and what in the world is prompting the IT industry to go green?

Going green is all about "Sustainable Design of Products and Processes". The official definition of green engineering is
Green Engineering is the design, commercialization and use of processes and products that are feasible and economical while minimizing:
• Generation of pollution at the source.
• Risk to human health and the environment.
Launched as a program by Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), USA in 1998, t goals of the Green Engineering Program are to incorporate “green” or environmentally conscious thinking and approaches in the academic and industrial communities regarding the design, commercialization, and use of processes and products.

The recent news clips on global warming, climate changes, recurrences of high intensity hurricanes, breaking of ice shelves at the poles and the ultra rapid growth happening over a wide swathe of the planet have all induced an element of urgency in inculcating the green aspect into the DNA of every major corporation and institution. Just hoping we are not too late !!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Outplace your emplyees; Don't fire them

You recently changed jobs. You got a better package. You are settling into your new job. Just when you thought you had made a great career decision, comes the revelation. Your former boss in the previous company was hand in glove with the the head hunting company that helped you find your new job. Your former boss didn't want you and did away with you in the easiest possible way. No firing, no handing out pink slips, just get the person a new job.

Does the new package look all that great now? Can't even pat yourself for a great career decision, can you? Feel cheated? Or feel fine that it was win-win for all parties involved?

This is exactly what IT companies in India have started doing as per a report in ToI. Why fire or hand out pink slips only to earn unwanted media attention and a bad name? Isn't this a truly innovative way to get rid of unwanted employees? Just use the head hunting firms, the same channel used for hiring employees to also get rid of them. They even have a name for it - "Out-placement".

Monday, July 21, 2008

Inflation - Why are we worried?

One of my colleagues was asking me the other day on what is the surest indication of inflation happening around us? With all this talk of 11% and 12% inflation, where can I see it? A common colleague of ours replied, “Don’t you see prices going up?”. “Yeah, I do, but any more obvious signs?”. I said, “Remove all the coins from your pocket and count the number of 1 rupee, 2 rupee and 5 rupee coins you have”. He had 2 one rupee coins, 6 two rupee coins and 4 five rupee coins. “Well, remember the time when you had more of 1 rupee coins and less of the other two?”. “Man, you are right buddy”. “That’s inflation happening right in your pocket, my dear”, I concluded.

Following that the conversation turned to how inflation might be eating into IT margins. Employees feel the pinch on their pocket and ask for hefty raises. With a 12% inflation, a 15% salary hike is a insult because you are effectively getting a 3% hike in very rough terms. Customers squeeze margins because they try to make up for what they have lost to inflation. Multi year contracts are up for re-negotiations much earlier than anticipated. Quarterly results turn topsy turvy because companies that predicted rosy results by resting on the assured cash flow from multi year contracts suddenly find the tap drying. Inflation has a dampening effect on the stock market. Foreign Direct Investments(FDIs) are being retracted. Exclusive offshore development centers (captive centers) which bloomed in part as result of FDIs are no longer an attractive proposition to MNCs outside India. So all this brings the 8-10% GDP growth to a grinding slowdown. A low GDP growth means low spending power among the working class. A slow GDP growth results in bringing down inflation as the demand from people for goods goes down. So the whole cycle is self adjusting. Why then are we worried? We are worried because nobody wants to be part of the slowdown having enjoyed the fruits of an economic flurry. No generation wants their golden years in life spent in waiting for the economy to take off again. Isn’t it natural human psychology?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Of Stem Cells and Contextual Advertising

I had just settled into my armchair to check my personal mailbox. I clicked on the 'logout' button of my wife's mailbox. The screen transitioned to an online advertisement that I usually ignore. However, this time around it was an ad that caught my eyes, not just for its uniqueness but also for the way contextual advertising had been tapped to the hilt.

It was unique because the advertisment was from a biotechnology company named LifeCell offering stem cell preservation services in India. The service they offered was to preserve the umblical cord of your newborn. In case at a future point in time when the kid/adult gets diagnosed with a life threatening ailment and needs a transplant, the cells from the umblical cord are harvested and grown into a organ fofr your child. Absolutely no issues in terms of compatibility. The patient's body will accept the new organ like a fish to water. I was amazed to see and Indian company offer such services.

My mind then shifted to why was I seeing this ad? It so happens that my wife had changed her marital status to 'married' in the profile before I clicked on 'logout'. I guess that some program in the background sensed that the user being an Indian, a female and a newly wed, the interest aspect in such a service would definitely be high. Wow, that's a called targeted bombing. And the point is that you haven't asked the end-user a single survey question yet to identify his/her interests.

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