Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Amazon Cloud Player!

Amazon has introduced Cloud Player stating the complexities in personal media management. You have to download, synchronize, backup and all that with your traditional devices, PCs and the media provider. Amazon says, You don't have to do all that. Amazon itself provides a million songs to download - sorry - to listen. And you can personally add to your account and listen to those songs wherever you are and whichever device that you use. All the media files are managed from Amazon cloud. Doesn't it sound so simple?.

The emerging architecture trend is that you just need to have a net-enabled device that connects to cloud. That's it!. You would have universal access to products/services!. Amazon says that its not just media, you can pretty much manage any digital content like documents, photos, etc.

The biggest problem that I see is that, why would I need to manage my personal music on a Cloud and consume it from a Cloud. I need to unnecessarily payout the data charges to my Internet Service Provider [Unless amazon is providing Internet for free! :-) ]. Yes, I do manage my emails on cloud, because email is an inherently network-intensive application.And there were good amount of reasons for managing emails on the cloud during good old days where people didn't have access to PCs or SmartPhones.

We are dealing with a powerful dichotomy here...The Smartphone are getting better and better and more powerful competing with PCs. Cloud is becoming more mainstream and competes with mainframes in capacity. So, the kind of applications that we would want, should have an architecture that would leverage the best of both worlds. Not just one dimension!. I see amazon Cloud Player just leverages the Cloud and not the devices!. In the era of Smartphones, people would like to have immersive experiences that would take full advantage of the device's capacity, not a dumb client.

If we design our applications to be cloud intensive or rather chatty, customers are going to pay for it big time to Telcos!. I think the conversations with the cloud needs to be moderated by the application architecture!.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Warren Buffet - Technology, Business and Life!

Its Warren Buffet Week in India!. Every other newspaper in Bangalore was carrying the complete coverage of Warren Buffet's maiden visit to India and his first stop at Bangalore. Though I am not trade savvy, I happened to read Buffet's interview in almost all major dailies!. Interesting observations!.

No market jargons!. His interviews were filled with simple wisdom!.

While our Enterprise IT software product marketing constantly makes noises around the need for business agility, urgency in change, flexibility of business systems, etc - The third richest man in the world bats for long term sustainability and growth of the business that he invests in.

Look at this - He says "I don't understand technology or semiconductor business. Give me a Chewing Gum or Coca Cola business anyday. I want to invest in a business which i am familiar with so that I know it will stay stable for 10-20 years. I dont really want to be part of changing industry. In such a scenario, there is more room for failures".

"We don't look for growth sectors. We love growth when we find it but we are perfectly willing to buy businesses that are relatively slow growth. Growth does not drive our investment decisions. Competitive advantage, good management, honest management, a sensible price and the ability to see where the company will be in five or ten or twenty years, that's what drives our investment decisions. I do not rank industries by their growth potential. I am willing to go into businesses that are not growing at all if they are good, solid, fundamental businesses."

That sounds fundamental to me and a big relief that someone in the World is really talking sense and Ok with going slow and steady.

He also admits - "If you put me in charge of this plant (that he has invested in), I wouldn't know how to run it. But I do know whom to put in charge. The real skill of mine is to sorround myself with smartest people". And that's a big management lesson - The ability to have smartest people work for you.

Some more fundamental comments from him - "I just keep doing what I have been doing all my life. It's nice to have a lot of investors come to Berkshire Hathaway. I am just painting the same painting I have been doing for over 60 years and it does not change my life. I go to work at the same time, I am eating the same food, wearing the same clothes. I have a privileged life, but it's an unchanged life. I work with people I love, they make my life easy. I just have nothing to complain about. I would like to find something to complain about but I just don't know what it would be."

“I have never missed a meal in my life, never a movie. My family and I have never missed a vacation either. It is simply that I have more money than I need and which would greatly help a lot of other people if given to them".

After reading those interviews, it left me wondering - Why don't we take our business and life in such simple terms?. Pls don't get me wrong. I am not against uncertainties, discontinuities and its opportunities. But Am definitely against that becoming the way of life and dictating terms to you in business and life!

Be it Enterprise IT or the Stock Market, there is a general hysteria around Growth. Everybody wants to grow in double digits and if those ambitions result in single digits, they get upset!.Look at this article, Wipro's Growth numbers are dwindling quarter-on-quarter, and rumours doing rounds that Wipro is planning to layoff the non-billable resources!. Not just Wipro, I think the entire IT services industry is missing something!. We are in the constant pursuit of short-term gains that we almost forget there is a horizon called long-term. And everybody needs to sustain, eat the same food, drive the same car and live almost the same life.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Smart Cards & Smart Government

Its been quite sometime that I blogged. But, I was active on Twitter and LinkedIn for the past couple of months and busy preparing for Open Group India conference Chennai. It got over yesterday and I presented a topic that compares Enterprise Architecture Vs Project Portfolio Management. The session was received very well and invited good amount of questions. I wish I had more time to discuss and debate those questions.

In this post, I wanted to blog about a recent announcement that was made in Indian Budget. So far, Indian Government has been giving subsidiaries for food grains and offers them at lowest prices to people below poverty line thru public distribution systems. Now, the delivery mechanisms - Public Distribution Systems - are not that effective to pass on those benefits to poor. They are lost in transit or quality food grains are not offered to Poor due to various reasons. So, the Plan was perfect, but the execution was bad.

To solve this issue, Indian Government in the recent budget has made an announcement. In this new system, the Government would pass on cash transfers to poor people instead of provisioning subsidised food grains. so, people would be able to buy food materials at market prices (because of cash transfers). Its a change in delivery mechanism, instead of sell side, the subsidiaries are passed onto the buy-side.

Ok, Where is technology coming to picture here?

Now, the question is, How do the Government make sure that cash transfers are made to the right people/people who deserve?. It's by means of two mechanisms - one a unique identification number (UID) that Indian Government has started allocating to its citizens and second a Smart Card. A smart card would be associated with UID and the cash transfers would be made not in the form of physical cash, but in the Smart Card format. Hence, people who deserve only can make use of the scheme.

Now, the Smart Card would get used atleast two places - one at the time of credit, by the Government. And second, at the time of debit, by the retail stores/public distribution system - pretty much like a credit/debit card. And the citizens can't buy whatever they want using the virtual money. To start with, they can buy only kerosene and LPG Gas. Food Grains to follow soon...

Its interesting to see Technology is making inroads into the Social Fabric of the society. And soon, the same Smart Card could carry quite a lot of other information as well like health information, patient records, utility bills, etc. Its just the beginning!