Sunday, December 6, 2009

Productivity Paradox

IT is everywhere but in productivity...that is the great productivity paradox!

While evaluating a CRM software for my earlier employer, I realized there was little or no difference between most of the software products that we had short-listed. The only difference (aggressively made visible by product companies) was in features and the price associated with it. However, none of us were in a position to comprehend how does the difference matter to us....?

We set out to do a must have, good to have and nice to have categorization of features and again realized that all software products ranked the same. Eventually, we selected the brand that was most reputed and the cheapest; ended up using very little of the product features and marginally improved our productivity.

Some days back I attended the demonstration of a software product developed to manage 'ideas' in a company. It had features where you could post ideas, classify them, vote and accept, reject or reward the best ones. Most of these were a mix of bookmark, email, share and tag features in google ad-ons and other similar applications. Do we need a separate tool for managing ideas now? I am not sure!

Both these instances were a realization to C K Pralhad's view that "technology has produced great diversity and choice in products but has contributed little to increase the satisfaction"

Perhaps, we need more IT companies that think about and advise customers on how to get the most out of a particular software tool than to develop more of these tools!

As customers we need to focus more time on implementing the software than evaluating IT ;)!

Any other ways to get rid of the productivity paradox?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Urban Infrastructure in India - All Planning No Expertise!

Most of the leadership at state as well as center level in India has its mass base (or roots) in rural India (Bharat and all). Their political thought, aspirations are woven around the rural fabric. In fact a pro-urban stand for many of these would be suicidal. So who is taking the cause for urban India? corporates and NGOs?

Again, the rest of the leadership from urban areas has little or no authority in assembly or even center. Besides they have a limited understanding of the scale and depth of urban issues leave apart expertise to solve the problems.

The muncipal councils operate at a tactical level and are seldom seen taking any pragmatic decisions. Unlike panchayati raj, the urban civic system allows little or no public participation....result an alienated and ignorant urban civilian.

Add to this an unprecedented growth, migration and the urban infrastructure will collapse in absence of a rapid upgrade that match the demand. But given the lack of leadership, expertise and a platform to drive the up-gradation of urban infrastructure, the disaster seems unaviodable....

Time for some serious leadership and representation for urban India?...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Consulting by large firms - one size fits all attitude?

Can advise from large consulting firms do any good to SMBs?

Today, I got to hear another story where a small regional media firm hired a large consulting firm and on changed lot of things too quickly on their advise only to leave its employees and customers confused ....and to invite huge losses for itself

SMBs especially the family manged business have a difficult to change type DNA, and it appears the large consulting firms either ignore this reality or just expect these companies to suddenly behave like "professional" large ones...the consulting firms typically sell the newly foreign educated second or third generation leadership team from these SMBs a big dream, do a brainwash to change their traditional business measurement matrix and give them a lot of aggression for a huge fee ...and SMBs are set for disaster

the problem here is most SMBs were/ are started by entrepreneurs for a "purpose", the mission that goes well beyond growth and profitability and stakeholder most cases, I bet, the the SMB leadership itself has limited cognizance of this "purpose" leave apart the ability to articulate it ...however, its seen in their actions, again not necessarily through policies. This is where the large consulting firms miss the point! Rob or confuse the person of his identity and you set him on the path for self destruction...

The large consulting firms are very quick to dislodge any such "purpose" under the pretext of not mixing emotions with business...and rob the SMBs and founder entrepreneur of their identity. With original identity and purpose devalued the SMB stakeholders find it tough to allign and bring in the same levels of passion for the new matrix focused purely on monetary aspects and thus begins the journey to self-destruction.

But then like of all too, in the end, there is no one left in the game to take the blame ..