Archive for October, 2011

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warnings for Indians studying in America

Tuesday 18 October, 2011

Prasad Thotakora, President of the Telegu (the local dialect spoken in the part of India where I’m teaching) Association of North America & COO of ekNazar.com, was invited to GITAM, the school where I teach, to speak about “Education & social entrepreneurship-a comparison between India & the USA. He’s lived in the US for the past 25 years. When he polled the audience to find out who wanted to study in the US, many raised their hands, but he encouraged them to lower their expectations. After recognizing social entrepreneurship as organizations as ventures for social change which create social capital, he gave a bunch of examples of such people world-wide, starting with Warren Buffett & Bill Gates, followed by Florence Nightengale & Indians like Vinoba Bhave, Rippas Kapur of Child Rights, Jyotindra Nath of Youth United, Jay Vikas Sutavia of Bhookh.com & Madhu Pandit Dasa of Akohaya Patna.

He then quickly moved on to the topic of overseas education. The US issued 35K visas to Indian students last year, while the UK issued 25K, & Australia 15K, proportionately many more relative to student populations. Employability is only 25%, so the the value of this education is questionable. Indian students need to make sure they are applying to & attending accredited universities. The University of Northern Virginia has been a problematic example. Violence is a problem on some campuses & some students have been expelled & deported. Teaching Assistant positions are now more difficult to get in the US. He gave a couple of examples which illustrated how the US enforces the law regardless of who breaks the law, i.e. the Vice President was ticketed for driving with an expired license plate & senators need to go through security checks @ airports just like other citizens. Apparently politicians aren’t bothered by such things in India.  His suggestions were to get good guidance, don’t try to “beat the system,” & don’t try to win @ any cost.

Nasscom indicated that only 25% of Indian graduates were employable & that “finishing school” is required for the rest to be brought up to speed on communication skills, becoming professional & presentable, & working on teams.  Andhra Pradesh graduated 448K grads from 1920 undergraduate programs, 269K from 698 engineering programs, & 50K from 713 MBA programs, but quality has not been maintained.  Students lack analytical problem solving skills.  There is no quick fix-the solution requires hard work & application.  Building camaraderie instills confidence.  There is no need for some Indian students to go overseas to study.  There are centers of excellence right here in India.  He actually claimed that schools in India are on par with America’s Ive League, which was certainly pandering to the crowd.  If you do go to the US, go there for the right reasons.

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local techies woo government officials

Wednesday 12 October, 2011

The Confederation of Indian Industry & Vizag Information Technology Association hosted an event entitled IT Industry in tier II cities:  Prospects & Challenges, which featured many of the local resident politicians who have a say over what local resources can be dedicated to entrepreneurship, technology etc. The purpose of the event was ultimately to lobby for their support.
Information technologies industries have grown 20%/year for the last 10 years in India. As a major port city, Vizag is a logistics hub.
B. Chandra, Secretary, ITsAP & CenterHead-CA Hyderabad,  explained how growth comes about as a result of collaboration. Intergraph was the 1st IT company in Hyderabad, the biggest city in the state of Andre Pradhesh, in 1985-86. Vizag is approaching Hydrabad’s tipping point. $45B of India’s $60B IT market is exported. Each job in IT employment creates 4 more jobs. There is a multiplier for 3X for each rupee invested in IT. In Hydrabad, there is no poaching of employees because Team Hydrabad talks about it. The challenge of a tier II city like Vizag is attracting talent.
Kona Sasidhar, of the Vizag Development Authority promised to provide infrastructure & is opening an investment room.
Ahmed Nadeem noted that power & electricity affect the power of organizations, so they are doubling the substation in Rushikonda, (which is where my school GITAM is located) & also the Rushikonda tech park. They want growth in non-migratory jobs.
Dr. C. Sreedar, Executive Director of APIIC, Ltd. endorsed building IT City, but encourages an innovation center in the center of town.
Shiv Kumar provided the industry view of improving IT in Vizag:

  • The city needs to support existing companies, & not just attract new ones.
  • Part of the way to do this is by improving HR, training, & hiring incentives by creating a common training facility which offers industrial training incentives of 25-50K rupees ($500-$1K) to hired employees to complement the local Job Knowledge Center.
  • A bandwidth subsidy would enable more cloud computing & kickstart WIFI city.
  • A licensing subsidy with toned-down enforcement would provide an alternative to the cloud.
  • A tax holiday for non-Special Economic Zone companies would level the playing field.
  • Power cost reductions would help all companies.
  • Marketing support programs which provide financial assistance towards travel & hotels for overseas trade fairs would help.
  • An innovation & incubation center that mirrors Kakinda would be welcomed.
  • Abolishing the VAT & service taxes on software would cut costs.
  • Vizag needs a promotional video.
  • To attract new companies, the city must:
  • Provide better infrastructure
  • Create a better lifestyle

Lav Agarwal, the Vizag Collector & district Magistrate, a powerful position in local government, observed that Vizag is on the threshold of where Hyderabad was 10 years ago. The government’s challenge is implementation. To create a full ecosystem, IT needs connectivity (which is available), power (which is supposedly the best in the country), infrastructure, & human resources. 3k ft2 are available for an incubation center. The video is under development. This isn’t just about land deals-it requires sound business ideas. Vizag has supply issues with drinkable water. The government is partnering with employers to provide housing. More bus frequency is coming. Make a proposal & they’ll consider it.
Peter Schneeburger, CEO of VITA, gave a quick history of IT in Vizag. 1st , big investments by MNC’s need to be championed by government. IT exports are rising 20%/year. In 2000, there were 50 SME IT companies, but the internet bubble burst them. in 2002, miracle software was the 1st to locate outside of the city. VITA was established in 2003, the same year HSBC came to town. Wipro came in 2005 supposedly to do world-class software development. Kanaxa & Symbiosis won product awards in 2008. By 2010, we noticed that there is a brain drain to Hydrabad & Bangalore & there is not world-class infrastructure in Vizag yet.
The Vision 2015 plan envisions employing 10K people in IT directly & 15K indirectly. Anchors would be HSBC, Kenexa, IBM, Satyam, Sutherland. SWOT analysis reveals that strengths in Vizag are it’s location, lifestyle, infrastructure, & skill level. All this requires vision & a common goal. It needs to be positioned in high-tech R&D & low-cost BPO. The goal is to create a $1B industry, create 1-1.5K jobs/year, 40-50 new patents/year, & 1 product company with $20M in revenues.
Sanjay JaJu, Secretary, IT&C Dept., Govt of Andhra Pradesh, admitted that Vizag is his 2nd home. His job is to bring stakeholders together to grow. Andrah Pradhesh is #4 in IT in India. Issues were raised about infrastructure, but the real issue is human resources, which are required for new business models. Space is not a problem. An investment center would be helpful. Special Economic Zones attract investment. IT is being declared essential services. Vizag is an industrial town, where there is a huge domestic spend too. Companies move because of cost arbitrage, which is why companies are moving to the Philippines & VietNam. Vizag needs to exploit these opportunities.

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Indian Institute of Management Prof on Indian innovation

Wednesday 5 October, 2011

The Indian Society for Training & Development hosted Abraham Koshy, a professor @ India’s top-rated business school, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedebad who essentially talked about people development. As a pure thoroughbred marketing person, Koshy co-authored a marketing book with noted Kellogg marketing guru Philip Kotler. Additionally he noted that great organizations require solid foundations of people. He sits on the board of directors of 1 of the top 500 banks in asset quality as chair of the HR committee.
He discussed 3 themes:
1. Inevitable competition
2. The requirement for innate competence
3. Individual growth & organizational growth are inseparable
The landscape in India is changing. There is no growth in western markets, so international brands are coming to India & building their manufacturing bases here. The competition is becoming intense & cutthroat. Technologically, tablet computers& “the cloud” are taking over desktops & laptops. End-user applications are changing as the value creation chain changes. The rate of change in the last 3 years is even more rapid than 10 years ago.
The marketplace has changed & now requires a different set of competencies. The environment was predictable before, but no more. There is a real need to “sense” customers & base decision-making on those predictions. 3rd party research & opinion polls are just cold #’s. We must read consumers minds. Competitive mapping provides the capability to plot brands vs. brands visibly & alternative consumer behavior too. Nokia once led the mobile phone market & has since slid. Android has overtaken Symbian as the operating system of choice for mobile phones. Organizations need a competency in adaptability, but how is it measured? Individuals must adapt for organizations to adapt. Re: innovation capabilities, academics are outdated in 2-3 months, so their methodologies are misplaced. There are generational differences. Today’s students are a different species. We need to innovate with students & incremental/linear innovation won’t cut it. Organizations are simply the sum of their individuals.
We must invest in our intellectual maintenance. In investing in individual development, we need to change from the routine to the creative without responsibility for the organization necessarily. Further, we need to move from the mundane on to significant things by transforming from doing to thinking. We must also strive to push daily to change our state of mind from mediocrity to excellence & transition from being followers to leaders. New students @ the IIM’s are inexperienced & don’t even know the theories, so there is an absence to sense. They simply look for data to confirm their biases.
So what do managers do? Assess market opportunities & pursue those opportunities.
Q&A

  • There are many tools to assess individual competence. Assessment centers can identify gaps & even map organizational competency.
  • Koshy objects to the term “emerging” economy when applied to India. When did India emerge? It will be producing markets soon too & no longer just with cheap labor. The collective performance of the economy has a macro feeling of which Sensex (India’s stock market) is no indicator.
  • Most Indian companies have struggled to innovate because they are shy of experimentation. They expect the force of change to start @ the top & work it’s way down, but actually markets change from the bottom up, so leaders don’t actually need to lead these changes. But for the masses to change, it takes time.
  • Organizations do change. Even @ Indian factories, now 20% of their workforces are women. Jobs & workrules need to be redefined & organizations redesigned. It’s easier for service organizations to change. Training & retraining are important. There is a leadership role in change & that is in communications.