Monday, June 27, 2005

Let a thousand Infys bloom

Tired of the traffic jams and the high tariffs of five-star hotels ( rack rate of Rs.9000+) , Infosys is starting a luxury hotel on its campus. This is a special case of corporations playing a dual role; reacting to slow infrastructure rampup by the government and setting the value equation right in a scenario where business economics of supply and demand have gone haywire. Infy was forced into making this decision because of the situation. Going forward, Infy can do a lot more looking at what it has already done. Here are some stats:

Infosys has 36,750 employees.

Its 270 acre Mysore campus can accomodate 4500 trainees at any given time. Assuming 2 weeks of training per person, more than a lakh people can be trained in a year. This is supposed to be the largest training centre in the world.

Infy plans to hire around 12-15,000 employees a year to keep its growth momentum.

Infy receives around 200,000 applications a year and processes them.

There are similar figures for TCS. It has around 40000 employees, just a shade under TISCO which is an institution by itself.

If the IT industry has to maintain its scorching pace, soon these companies have to create supply ecosystems to enable growth. As leaders of this industry TCS,Infy and Wipro would have such scale in running certain operations that other companies can outsource to these leaders.

Why should any company now have a HR department. If you didnt know, HR depts in most cos for 95% of their time just recruit, 3% of the time organize dinners and parties and 2% decide on training programs which benefit none. In the future, every prospective graduate has to just apply to Infy, Wipro or TCS. There will be one common interview and based on a complex model prepared by these software cos , one will find a job in some company. If you are decent, you will find a software job. If you are good at English you will get a BPO job. The rest would get a job in some company in India.

Rest of the firms in India will also gain, given the high attrition rates and dynamic state of Indian economy, any good employee is as good as any employee. And prospective graduates will be happy for this social security net.

Taking this further, Infy, TCS and Wipro would also get into education, land development, gene pooling (so that a coders DNA can be multiplied) and finally run the country by 2015. By that time, every kid born in this country will know exactly what his future job will be thanks to a combination of gene mapping and complex job search algorithms. And maybe Narayana Murthy would be PM. Not bad eh?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Talking, walking and swearing English

The latest cartoon from NewYorker where an American parent admonishes his child to finish homework since there are children studying in India and China has created many a ripple. Every parent in India except the 50% of the real destitute ones wants their kid to speak in English. By 2010 its expected that most children studying in English medium schools in urban India wont speak their mother tongue. Already prominent theatre artists like Vijay Tendulkar are whining about the decline of Marathi. Similar statements are being made by srtalwarts of other languages.
My cousins kids staying in Bangalore only speak English since the parents dont want any Tamil accents in their English. In fact lot of parents now take a lot of pride in saying that their kids just dont know their mother tongue. Or if asked if the kid knows Hindi (assuming thats his mother tongue), the kid would reply " sometimes with dadi difficulty se speak karta hoon". Most parents whom I have seen in office talk to their kids in English. In fact even in first class compartments of the Mumbai local, dudes speak with such an accent that one would believe they were born in Virginia rather than in Virar. English is the lingua franca, accented English is the lingua India. The BPO job has become the equivalent of a govt job in the new real India and I can talk, walk and swear English is the only way to go.
Some people might think this is some propaganda by some right wing party. But I just wonder when my generation can speak 3 languages which would include the mother tongue, enjoy movies and literature in all 3 and still hold good MNC jobs, is this new found love for English serious overkill?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

DNA DNA pe likha hai padhne wale ka naam

The much ranted media wars in Mumbai have taken up most of the billboards in the city. As you drive to work to the city, there are hoardings
Asking you to see the light when your only focus is the traffic light. (Hindustan Times)
Cut the size,crap,fluff and Page 3. (Mumbai Mirror) Why did the owners of this paper peddle crap in the first place?
What's in your DNA? (the 4th leg of an agonizing never ending campaign)
The DNA campaign started off well esp. "Sex is overrated", "Bring back Nigar Khan", "When did Page 3 became Page 1". It evoked the response it wanted, although one still did not mind seeing Mallika Sherawat in all her splendour on Page 1. Then it went into really bad slogans like " Women should wear armours" and "who won the British Elections,Bush or Blair", etc. Then it tried to create a target segment of sorts by asking who will book and who wont. The people shown booking were the smart, sophisticated, upwardly mobile crowd and people shown not booking were common stereotypes like the Parsi lady, some lower middle class worker and a doped youth. Now finally they are back to asking whats in your DNA. The questions are " ManU or Arsenal" "Original or Copied". All these questions are neither linked to ones DNA or readership. Thus a campaign that started well has now obfuscated both the positioning and the target segment. Plus DNA it seems has done a survey to know what the reader wants. If the most common pitfall of market research comes true , the respondent would have worn an ideal hat and said " I want to see the plight of destitute children, stray dogs and other such socially great things." Most readers would immediately want the page 3 stuff after a few weeks.
Times of India has steadily built a war chest over the last year. In fact most readers do not know that the price of TOI is Rs.4 on weekdays. Thats a sinful price for what the owners themselves admit has a lot of crap. And the Mumbai Mirror is supposedly for a younger audience, although most of the stories there are from news agencies. So the positioning seems to be you get the news and info, no analysis. And no bindaas stuff like Mid-day. Why launch such a newspaper, except as a smart move to pre-empt competition.Plus the war-chest built up will be used for aggressive price wars with competition. No crap in this strategy.
A full-fledged newspaper for Rs.1. Good radio ads about the uselessness of reading newspapers.
Does content really matter for all the light the newspaper would provide at a price lower than a cutting chai?
So what does the Mumbai reader want. Inertia (TOI), price(HT) or market researched analysis (DNA). Bolo bolo, tell tell.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Was "D" company the original Indian BPO

In "D" Deshu says to his muse ' Main aage se apna business London se karna chahta hoon ', signalling how sometimes evil forces innovate faster than good. He had got the strategy right, create a distinct brand which would evoke fear when somebody calls from the Company, just like "Hello madam I am calling from Citibank credit cards". So once the fear(brand) is built, the location is immaterial. Secondly, the Company also used labour arbitrage. How?
By using cheaper immigrant labour which keeps coming to Mumbai from Bihar and Bangladesh. Earlier sharp shooters had risen to a level of importance and went by names of Salim Hatela, Ismail Kurla , etc. and their bargaining power increased. The Company attacked this problem by using the cheaper labour and making them shoot at the head (Kanpatti pe). Remember Bhiku Mhatres stark dialogue when he gives the gun to Satya " Kaunsa tereko competition mein chalana hai". The shooter/worker becomes a mere cog in the wheel, easily accessible, easily trainable, easily disposable and damn cheap. Sab ganda hai par dhanda hai yeh...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"D" for disappointing

"Kuch log doctor hote hai, engineer hote hai, main gangster hai". Deshu adds a new profession amongst the choices available to a youngster. If you have a life where your baap couldnt save your mother and you get beaten up by the police for not identifying some suspects, and you have enough daring, one can become a gangster. But as said "is line mein entry sabko mil jaati hai" the question is of survival and sustaining it. And Deshu offers lessons for that which even a MBA with a plum job can apply to corporate success.
Gain the confidence of the boss by solving his biggest problem. (Deshu kills Mangli, a rival of his boss Goga Kapoor)
Show your competence in a territory where the stakes are lower (Like Deshu accepts Gujarat instead of Mumbai and delivers higher profits)
Wait for the kill or your opportunity but in the meanwhile completely weaken your opponents.
But apart from these global takeaways, the movie doesnt entertain nor does it have the flair of Ramus earlier gangster movies. Although Ranveer Hooda in his designer shirts and sunglasses gives gangsters an uber cool status but the story telling leaves a lot to be desired. The movie is an assortment of sequences with characters flowing in and out. Its at best a good revision of gangster movies. One thing, Chunky Pandey returns after Qayamat and is quite enjoyable. And like all his movies he dies before the end. I will write a longer post on the history of gangster movies in out for that one.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Retail round-up

Shivaji and I covered the trends in retailing last week on how people are buying new refrigerators and cupboards and new homes to stock impulse purchases from Food and Big Bazaar, how shopping has become a cool way to chill out , how the great Indian male is slowly embracing change in roles thanks to the ease of cooking and shopping, how people with sizes more than the fastest selling inventory would have niche shops (how does XXXL sound as a name) catering to them and how new pyschological disorders are emerging due to excess shopping. In fact we are planning to write a movie script about a Rampal Yadav from Rampuria who gets trapped inside a mall (like Tom Hanks in Terminal).
Just in case, anybody is interested HSBC has come out with a detailed equity research report on retailing and are heavily bullish on Pantaloon, although it trades at a princely 64 P/E valuation.
Some excerpts
Organised retail gets hyper
India’s urban consumers want more. They are richer, younger and more aspirational than ever before.Now the nascent organised retail sector is showing signs of being able to keep in step with its customers. Shopping malls, supermarkets and hypermarkets are springing up in cities all over the country and franchised foreign brands have never been more popular. In this report, we show that Indian retailers with the right formula face enormous growth opportunities. We believe organised retail penetration (ORP) will increase from less than 3% in 2005 to 8% by 2010e. We see rapid growth, especially in three key segments - food and grocery, apparel and household improvement.
The last one is still nascent, so thats where interesting business plans can still be made, can leather sofas be sold at Rs.10k , modular kitchens for Rs.15k?. I am already thinking, lets see...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Movie cut- TV paste

Its staring from most hoardings " Woh rehnewali mehlon ki", a new soap by Rajshri for Sahara One. Its about a woman who leaves riches and leads an ordinary lower middle class existence, like haggling for subjis and cooking (sic!).When will the Barjatyas ever grow up, and get out of their time warp. Just like their movies, they never seem capable of any innovation. Sahara One should probably get over their filmi hangover and stop expecting their movie cut- TV paste strategy to work. Sridevi, Karishma, Raveeena Tandon, Hema Malini have all failed to attract viewers to their channel. Trite comedy like Madrasis speaking Hindis dont work any more. People are moving to classier stuff. Somehow when the movie industry makes serials, they just dont realise the TV industry has dynamics of its own and its no longer that people will lap up anything a successful movie maker dishes. Woh rehnewale hawa mehlon ke perhaps. ?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Yeh world of Bunty and Babli

Yeh world hai na world, is mein do tarah ke movies hote hai , Pehle jo ek movie mein kuch cheezon pe full focus karte hai, doosre jo ek movie mein hi sab cheezon pe focus karte hai. (Borrowed from similar dialogues scattered throughout the movie)

Bunty aur Babli tries to be the latter and thats why it falters, it attempts to please everyone and tries to pack romance, action, small time aspirations, exploiting screen chemistry of baap-beta for first time and parodies all to create a blockbuster. Sholay banana chahte the Shayad Ali.

Two things let it down big-time ,
1. Music - except for the dhadak dhadak song none are catchy
2. Script - especially the gags used by B&B to con people are neither funny nor exciting. The first gag does tickle a bit, , and the selling Taj Mahal gag evokes humour thanks to the mayawati take off bit and the morcha outside her house.

But there are some moments of cinema magic which redeem the movie,
1.Abhishek-Rani screen chemistry
2. Amitabh playing Dasrath Singh, a chana chewing bidi smoking policeman. After a long time Big B comes in style and speaks Allahabadi Hindi. And he is a delight. Wish his character was introduced earlier. And the way he kicks is still the best in the industry even though its just a chair.
3. Baap-Beta's drunken scene and the item song with the global item Ash in an Umrao Jaan takeoff. ABs and Big B's dancing to Kajra re (a qawaali after a long time) elevates the song to great heights making it the best sequences of the movie.
4.Rani and her costumes.

Thanks to the above the film is time pass. But if Shaad had used Dhoom type slickness for his gags, Hera Pheri type dialogues for the situations, given Big B more screen time, played rapchik music, he would have been in the history books.

Yeh world hai na world , is mein do tarah ke reviewers hote hai. Pehle jinke reviews koi nahi padtha , doosre jinke reviews sab padhthe hai. My blog hits show I belong to the former.