What is in a name?

Have u ever wondered how ‘googleable’ your name is? Wow! This is getting interesting every day. I sometimes wonder how things have changed over the past few years. Information Technology, more commonly internet has changed the way people tend to behave in their day to day activities.

No doubt, Google has the greatest contribution here. For all those who think I am a die hard Google fan, I would like to clarify once again that you are absolutely right. He he… I won’t glorify Google here but one thing I would like to say that every product that comes out of the company is unique and amazingly user friendly. I will write something more on Google and its products in some other post later…

I am coming back to the concept of ‘googleability’ now. I was flabbergasted when I read an article in TOI a few days back where I came to know that people are naming their newly born kids only after checking the ‘googleability’ quotient of the names. I heard about intelligence quotient, emotional quotient et al but what is this ‘G’ quotient all about? It means when you type the name, how precisely Google replies back with the results. It is basically a measure of the precision with which a name’s search queries are returned by Google. Wow! People have started thinking about the future already.

Everyone knows that the future is going to be paperless. Digitization of everything will take place gradually. Now, people who want their kids to have a private life in future might keep a common name so that when their names are searched on Google, then millions of pages are returned. For people who would like to see their kids’ names being returned in the first page itself can have a totally grotesque name so that the Google web crawler does not find it difficult to locate them out.

This is just the start. What other interesting things could happen?

  • Brides searching for the groom’s track record on Google before accepting the marriage proposal. Guys beware! Your better half could be watching you. Don’t send too many odd requests on Orkut to unknown fairer sex. 😉
  • A girl’s father tracing her movements through live Google Earth. Imagine what would happen to the love birds in Gujarat who do (what not?) during the navratras. The sale of condoms will fall… unfortunately for Kohinoor and the types.
  • Cops will try to locate criminals through Google. They will search for information and then proceed according to the directions shown by Gooogle maps.
  • Bollywood will go for a sample testing of its trailers on Google users and will continue with the movie only when they get satisfying response.
  • USA will pay billions of $ to Google for helping them in finding Osama.
  • Pakistan will consult Google to help them in finding solutions to their unstable domestic problems.
  • Indian cricket team will have an online dedicated coach created through a paid Google account which will help them in learning new and scientific methods of fielding.
  • Politicians will campaign through their blogs on blogspot and they will take the comments into consideration before finalizing their agenda for the elections.
Informationalization has truly changed the way we look at things. Information access has become so simple. Web is going to be the exciting thing in the years to come… Hope Google’s philosophy of converting the internet into a giant Operating System becomes a reality.

India… Renditions from my quaint heart!

I recently read a McKinsey Quarterly article on the MNCs originating from Latin America. The authors say that the reasons why the companies in Latin America are not going global are the following:

  • The companies in Latin American countries have been living inside a shell for too long. They are yet to come out of that protective environment and venture into the global market. They never had the global mindset.
  • The capital market in that part of the world is not really very well developed. So that could have hampered the prospects of expanding abroad because a company takes time to develop a base for its global initiatives.
  • Another interesting reason put forth has been the lack of expertise on the part of the management team in the companies in that part of the world to take the bold step of global expansion.
  • Latin America is famous for its economic problems. The memories of the Argentinean economic crisis are still fresh. These problems could be attributed to corruption and the lack of good economic policy makers in the governments in those countries.

The report however does not discount the fact that there are some companies which are going global and doing great in their fields. Brazilian CSN is one of the largest steel makers in the world. Embraer (the Brazilian aircraft maker), Compania Vale do Rio Doce (Brazilian Minerals giant) and Tenaris (Argentine maker of steel pipes) are remarkable players in the global market. There are many more which are trying to expand thanks to the changing economics and increasing global competition.

Reading this article made me ponder about the Indian corporations which are going global. Our marketing professor at IIFT Delhi often said that in today’s global world, a company has to be competitive internationally to be successful domestically. More and more companies are coming to the country and these give the consumers a lot of options to choose from. So, every domestic company has to be an innovator as far as their offerings are concerned and they should give value to money because the ‘monopoly’ word does not exist anymore. I still remember how Maruti used to be a huge monopoly in India’s car market till a few years back. Liberalization changed everything. Now see how Maruti has changed itself. Hyundai is making India its export hub for smaller cars. Industry is calling Chennai by the name: “Second Detroit of the World”.

What are the fall outs of this?

  • India’s GDP is increasing. We can proudly say that the GDP has crossed the psychological $1 trillion mark.
  • More people are getting employed directly. If you look at the indirect employment being generated, then it is a huge figure.
  • India as a brand is being recognized abroad.

Why did TATA go for the Corus acquisition? Why did Hindalco pay so much to acquire Novelis even though this deal would affect their balance sheets for the years to come? Why is it that Mahindra tied up with Renault to manufacture cars in the country? Why is RIL showing interests on acquiring the plastics business from GE? The answer lies in the changed business scenario:

  • A company needs to grow big so as to increase its value. This would help them in entering more markets and making more profits. But at the same time, it would also make them more secured from hostile takeovers because a smaller fish is always an easy prey. And a bigger one is always the one which goes in search for the preys. Mergers, Acquisitions and Joint Ventures also give strategic advantages to the companies. Suppose a firm wants to bring in a new product into its kitty and it does not have that required expertise, then it usually goes for the M&A or JV route to establish that know how.

Comparing India Inc. and the Latin American companies, I can say without any doubt that Indian companies are performing way ahead of them. Even India Inc. was within the strangleholds license raj system for too long. Nepotism, corruption and politics impaired the corporations in the country. Even then the Indian companies have started making their marks in the Global space within a short period of one and half decade post liberalization. I could think of the following reasons which helped the India Inc.:

  • Indians have great risk taking abilities. This has helped them in competing with their global counterparts.
  • India produces a good lot of skilled managers who have a broad and dynamic outlook. This helps the companies to strategize and march ahead in the global space.
  • India again supplies a great amount of skilled engineers and low cost diploma or ITI pass outs. These have helped in the country being a very big player in the entire outsourcing market including the services and manufacturing outsourcing.
  • According to a London Business School Survey, Indians show the second best entrepreneurial spirit in the world. That means Indians are more into starting their own businesses which definitely helps the country in every direction.
  • Last but not the least, the rigor of facing and sailing through the Indian corruption and politics makes the Indian companies prepared for any sort of competition globally and domestically.

Here, I am not eulogizing the India Inc. but we must give credit to the companies who have done and achieved so much within a short span of time. Incidentally, China has very few global players. China’s development has been driven more by investments from abroad but it is not true in the case of India. Off course we are not self sufficient. We also need FDIs in infrastructure; otherwise the growth cannot be sustained.

One another striking feature in Indian’s economy is that our growth is more of consumption driven. Most of our goods produced are consumed within the country. That again means we have a great opportunity in terms of increasing the GDP by increasing exports.

I as a person can visualize so many things at this point of time. I see the scopes of improvement everywhere. I believe in one simple philosophy: “If you cannot innovate any new thing, then try to improve upon those things which are existing. Nothing is perfect… Everywhere one can see chances of improvement”.

I can give you an example. India is the second largest producer of vegetables in the world. But do you know that due to the inefficiency of the supply chain (from the producer to the end customer) and lack of proper storage facilities, we waste around 50% of our produce? That means, you improve your supply chain and you will have more to export and that means more revenues. Organized retailing is hopefully going to change this within the next decade. Just imagine the opportunities in front of today’s youth.

I always believe we as a generation are lucky enough to be born in an era where we are seeing a resurgent India. We have opportunities which are not defined even by the sky. We need to ROCK because we are the flag bearers of our country.

Air Sahara to Jet Lite

Finally, the deal is over. Jet Airways, India’s largest airline buys out 100% stake of Air Sahara. It really took a long time. There was a due diligence, and then talks for the acquisition failed after Jet backed out. Air Sahara registered a case against Jet and finally Jet buys Sahara for a sum of $500 million.

Kingfisher Airlines’ has already brought a change to the Indian air space. Very typical to Vijay Mallya’s aura as a party man, he has positioned Kingfisher as a carrier with a difference. Kingfisher is aristocratic and sexy. It is stylish and premier. Although Jet is the leader, Kingfisher started taking its share of the business class market and the low frills carriers are always there to bleed the industry. Jet needed to grow real big. It was losing its share in the domestic market. Infrastructure is a big constraint in the Indian civil aviation industry. This deal will help Jet in terms of increasing the number of aircrafts, giving access to the parking bays and ground staffs in the air ports. Additionally, economies of scale will always help the bigger airline. The two airlines will also be complementing each other on the routes common to both.

When the deal was done, the first question that came to my mind was how would Jet position Sahara? Would it go for a rebranding or would it stick to the same old name? The second option was highly unlikely. They are going to change the name of ‘Air Sahara’ to ‘Jet Lite’. How is that going to help the merged entity?

Jet is changing itself into a stylish and premier airline and going for a head on collision with Kingfisher. It is also concentrating more on the international routes. The new and refurbished Jet will be positioned more towards the Business class travelers who are ready to shell out pretty pennies for elegance, ambience and style. With the Indian economy booming, the number of business travelers is only going to increase. This will help Jet and similar carriers. Plus, tourism has immense potential. Indians are beginning to spend a lot on travels abroad. With newer routes coming up due to many agreements with different countries, the situation is only going to improve. However, there are challenges as well. There are competitions from foreign airlines in the international routes. Jet will have to constantly re invent and make itself more desirable by cutting costs and giving more value for money to attract passengers.

Air Sahara (or Jet Lite) will not be positioned as a low frills airline. Instead, it will operate in the tier II and III routes where there is no need for full time service carriers. These routes usually have middle class travelers who go for the lowest cost tickets. Naresh Goyal, chief of Jet Airways says that Jet Lite will not be fully positioned as a low cost airline. Its fares will off course be lower than the full service airlines but it will serve complementary beverages as well. It will try to bank upon its better services to attract passengers. I believe even middle class travelers are ready to pay 200 bucks more to travel on time. If they get some complementary beverages on flight, then that is always an icing on the cake.

I am sure Jet Lite will be giving tough competition to the likes of Air Deccan and Spice Jet. With better service and timely arrivals and departures, Jet Lite can give a new definition to the low cost sector of Indian civil aviation. Jet Lite will also ply on the international routes where budget carriers are preferred more over the business class service airlines.

I can only say, the space is getting more and more exciting. Airbus A-380 coming down to India testifies the fact that India is no more on the sidelines. With the commonwealth games going to be held in Delhi in 2010 and the prospects of India becoming a major economic hub within the next few years, the need for a robust airlines industry is imminent. There is a plan to develop Nagpur into a world cargo hub. The government will have to take drastic steps so as to make the city ready for such a project. If it turns into reality, nothing can be better. A cargo hub means more business and that means more revenue… more employment… more prosperity!!!

In my opinion, more consolidation will take place in the industry in the near future. That will help the aviation space. Jet also plans to roll out a cargo airline of its own. That will be great because they have the expertise and looking at the trends, they really have great prospects.

Comments Please…

Ma Tujhe Salam

Today is the World Mother’s Day. A friend of mine reminded me in the morning to wish my mother saying that, “She is a wonderful mother”. So true… I sometimes wonder if I am forgetting my responsibilities towards my mother (or my father)?

I have been staying away from home for the last 5 years… Yes! I do visit home for one or two months in a year but somehow I feel a gap has developed… I find it strange to adjust for the first few days… Probably it happens because of the kind of environment we live in far away from home. Back there in Assam, my parents are always dealing with their day to day businesses… Here we are hardly worried about those things… We are career savvy… worried about moving ahead in life… without thinking what would happen if we forget our roots… i asked this question to a very close friend of mine… he replied saying, “This is very natural… The most important thing at this point of time is how you as a person try to keep the relationship intact”. He is right… My parents won’t be able to comprehend my view points so easily… So it will be a display of sagacity on my part to understand my parents rather than expecting them to understand my changed lifestyle or way of thinking… After all, i can do this much for them who have taken so much pain for me!

Leave that aside… No one can question how much I love my parents… Every move of mine is to make them happy… I want to do something so as to make them proud…

I was interested in knowing about how the custom of mother’s day started… I browsed the net and found the following theories:

  1. The earliest celebrations of mother’s day go back to Greece during the spring times when Rhea, the mother of Gods was honored.
  2. During 1600s, English people started celebrating mother’s day. The day used to be called the mothering Sunday. It was (is) celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent. The custom even included the poor servants who worked in the homes of the rich people. The servants would take leave from their masters to visit their mothers to honor them on the occasion. It was customary to take a cake alongside to give the atmosphere a festive look.
  3. Slowly and gradually, Christianity influenced the celebration of the mother church. That gave a spiritual touch to the concept of mother hood.
  4. In the US, Mother’s day was first celebrated as a day dedicated to peace. In 1872, Julia Ward Howe wrote the words of the Battle Hymn for the US Republic. Later on, in 1907, Anna Jarvis campaigned to start the celebration of National Mother’s Day on the 2nd Sunday of May in West Virginia. That day was the second death anniversary of her mother. Next year, the state of Philadelphia also celebrated the Mother’s day and by 1911, every state in the US started celebrating the day to honor the mothers.
  5. I wondered if there is any such tradition related to India or Hinduism in particular. I tried searching but I do not have any information on that. I feel Hinduism does not have any special day dedicated to the mothers because we consider the worship of God as a MOTHER. We have many deities whom we preach as mothers. We even treat cows as mothers. That’s why it is not really necessary to celebrate any special day because we always pray to our deities as mothers. It is customary in Hinduism to touch the feet of our parents every morning (We hardly do that); treating them as Gods. Even if we don’t do these things, we should treat them with respect in our hearts so that we can make every day special for them.

I loved reading on this topic because no matter what happens, a mother is the only person on earth who can do anything for her child. She deserves our love… One should respect every mother on this earth… Even if she is your wife, she is the mother of your child. Rather than celebrating another day, we should try to make every day a mother’s day for our mothers… We owe a lot to them!!!

Cheers to all mothers on this earth!!! 🙂

Bangalore 2.0

After I got to know that my summer training would be in Bangalore, the only thing that worried me was the ‘forthcoming experience’ of the infamous Bangalore traffic. I was otherwise happy. My office location is the Electronics City (EC) campus of Wipro and I heard from many friends of mine that it would take me three hours from IIMB(the place where we are putting up) to reach the office. That means six hours of traveling by bus during the entire day. I asked many people who had been to Bangalore but never got a convincing answer. Everyone had his/her own theory and it ultimately increased my tension. I started planning for some accommodation near the office so that it would not be difficult for me to travel.

I reached Bangalore on a beautiful morning. It was a nice experience seeing the beautiful empty roads so early during the day. I was dropped by my Volvo bus (coming from Hyd) at the FORUM mall. I took an auto and came to my friend’s place. Everything was nice; I was just worried about the “traffic” problem because I was not clear about the situation by then. My induction was done on 13th April. That day many of us who were inducted a day before told me that it did not take them more than 40 minutes in the morning to reach the EC office. In the evening however, the bus takes a different route and so it would take around one hour and fifteen minutes. Thank God!!! I am relieved.

Bangalore’s population has increased tremendously over the past few years but the infrastructure supply has not been able to keep pace with the demand. With the IT junta willing to spend a lot during the weekends, they find very few places to hang around. I had the unfortunate opportunity to visit the FORUM mall during one of the weekends and I was shocked to see the human rush over there. I had to walk carefully lest I step on some lady’s delicate feet. I saw people everywhere… the only places which were empty were the shops. People here do what we Indians are good at doing, i.e. Window Shopping! J

One another problem which is severe is the lack of sufficient parking spaces. A friend of mine brought his car one day and we had tough time trying to find a parking space for his car. He told me that there is no parking place near the all famous MG and Brigade Roads. Very unfortunate…!!!

While going from IIMB to the office one morning (Hosur Road), I tried to analyze what is worse in case of Bangalore’s traffic situation: The infrastructure or the traffic sense of people? The answer was very easy. People here are real rash drivers. The buses change lanes without following any order. There are no blinkers near the crossings. People do not follow the traffic signals… Usually one would see one or two poor traffic ‘people’ who would try to moderate the traffic motion. Pedestrians would find it difficult to walk on the roads here because there is hardly any ‘foot path’. There are heavy vehicles plying on the roads which make things worse. One evening, I had to stay back for sometime in the office. I took the 7:15 bus instead of the 6:15 bus. This bus takes the normal route through the Hosur Road. The weather was bad and it was raining hard. The traffic situation got worse… I thought it would be better for me to take a nap. I was really very tired that day, so I could sleep easily. Before sleeping I saw one hoarding at an angle of 60 degrees from my eyes. I slept for around half an hour and when I woke up; I was shocked to see the same hoarding this time 60 degrees (negative) from my eyes. That meant, all the time I was sleeping, the bus could proceed only around 400-500 meters. That was my worse experience with Bangalore traffic. It took me around 2 hours 30 minutes to reach IIMB that day. A friend who worked here before told me that sometimes walking takes lesser time than going by a bus. Very true!

Being a manager, I should be a part of the solution. As far as my understanding goes, the traffic situation in Bangalore is worse during the morning and evening office going time. To reduce the problem, the government can block the heavy vehicles from plying on the roads during that time of the day. Apart from that the companies like Infosys, Wipro and Siemens which have many buses carrying employees at the same time can change their timings with a mutual agreement. Wipro is planning to go for flexi timings which will definitely help in improving the situation. I believe discipline in driving habits can also save much time. Lanes should be specified for smaller and heavier vehicles so that time is not wasted. Usage of modern technology like traffic sensors etc. can help people in guiding themselves regarding the traffic situation. Apart from these things, the government should be proactive in dealing with the problem. The metro project has taken years to start. The flyovers are being constructed at snails’ pace. I never understand why a city like Bangalore has such a corrupt municipal body in place.

Looking at the slow pace of work in the so called silicon valley of India is very irritating. The city needs changes. Otherwise, it would not be far when the city collapses.

What is a LOGO?

What comes to your mind when I say: “Apple Computers”? I am sure in 90% of the cases all of you will see the following picture flashing across your memory within the spur of a moment:

This is what a logo is. I have been thinking about writing about this for quite sometime now because logos have always fascinated me. What is a logo then?

First of all let me tell you what the meaning of a brand is. A brand is like an identity. Any product or company develops its identity in the minds of the consumers/customers. A company can be a brand in itself or it can have many products or offerings which are brands themselves. For example, “Apple Computers” is a big brand. But at the same time it has Apple i-Pod which is also a brand. In simple language a brand to a product or company is what a name is to a human being.

Logos and brands are very closely associated. Again if a brand is the identity, then the logo has to be the face of the brand. When I say “Partha Pratim Basumatary”, you will remember my face. Here my face would be my logo!!!

You would ask me the difference between a logo and an icon. There is hardly any difference in practical usage but going by the definition an icon is to a picture what logo is to a word. However companies use logos and icons interchangeably and their logos are combinations of some pictorial symbol(s) and one or more motto/tagline.

Look at the picture above… The kingfisher bird is the icon here and the tagline “Fly the good times” and “Kingfisher Airlines” are the logos.

Wikipedia describes a logo very nicely:

“A logo is a graphic element, symbol, or icon of a trademark or brand and together with its logotype, which is set in a unique typeface or arranged in a particular way. A typical logo is designed to cause immediate recognition by the viewer. The logo is one aspect of the brand of a company or economic entity, and the shapes, colors, fonts and images are usually different from others in a similar market. Logos may also be used to identify organizations or other entities in non-economic contexts.”

Why is a logo so important?

The logo is the face of any brand. The importance of logos is related to the human psychology. We often tend to remember flashy and beautiful things than boring words or assortment of some characters. Logos are easier to remember for one and all and that’s why the brands prefer them to be their representatives.
Again another important thing is that a logo’s style or design should be in sync with the image of the company/product. If a company is targeting the youngsters, then it should display a sporting and colorful logo. On the other hand if a brand is more sober and targets serious things, then it should have a logo which displays the essence of the brand by being discreet.
Logos are used to create an indelible impression in the minds of all the stakeholders. At times companies go for changes in their logos. The reasons could be many. Old and outdated logos stop appealing to the customers. A matured company could see changes in its vision and mission. The logo should vary accordingly. A very good example would be the change in the logo of the TATA group. TATA group realized that it came a long way from the old Indian company to a dynamic and vibrant global corporate group in the era of globalization. Their logo had to reflect the same attitude and so they paid a big sum to Wolf Ollins consultancy to do a complete overhauling of their logo thereby changing the company’s image. “Their new logo was meant to signify fluidity; it may also be seen as a fountain of knowledge, also as a tree of trust under which people can take refuge”.

The new TATA logo
Some of my favorite logos: