Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Connected OnBoard

Have read it and heard it. Now I can claim to have personally tested it - On board WiFi, courtesy Emirates.

Speed is good enough, charges are dear.
However to start with, at USD 5 for 30 MB I think its a fair price for emergency usage.

Now that we have Wifi and phones working at 35000 feet, what next?

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Conversations with strangers

When we were all kids, we were taught to not speak to strangers because they could be dangerous(they could have kidnapped us). We all took it so much by heart that most of us don't do it for the rest of our lives.

I somehow find it a tad interesting talking to strangers for no specific reasons. Strangers can sometimes talk about things we otherwise do not think about or sometimes just a random conversation which can leave a good taste in your mouth or may just leave you thinking.

Today morning I stopped at a traffic signal. Next to me stops an auto rickshaw.

Autowala: Where is the number JK from?
me: Jammu and Kashmir
AW: Hmmm(with a broad smile, kind of astonished and a cloud popping over his head, where is J&K on the Indian map etc.)..pause
AW: what model is this car?
me: 88 model
AW: hmmm(even more astonished. Another cloud above his head - thinking what was his age when it was 1988), very good car..always keep it..
me: thanks..

He and I both left smiling.

Not all strange conversations can be short and sweet. But, I guess to have a few we need to try more often.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


When was the last time you set a goal for yourself, chased it hard and had the pleasure of achieving it. It was great to Sachin Tendulkar in that state on Saturday night - it took him 22 years to achieve his life's goal of winning CWC.

I have been trying to setup a goal for my self for the last few quarters and at the end of every quarter it remains untouched, not started.

This time I thought to pen it down here to see if I can come back 3 months later and hopefully see the goal achieved.

Code named 7032. This would be a big and tough goal to achieve in 3 months. However, the tougher the goal is the more is the joy of achieving it.

So let's see..

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Customer service

Last week while flying Delhi-Jammu, I bought a toy for my niece on the airport and gave it to her. However, policeman stopped my brother on the boarding gate as the toy did not have a tag. I had already thrown the bill by then. Helpless i just took over the toy back to put in my bag as I was flying next flight.

One of the Indigo ground staff on the boarding gate noticing this, assured us to carry on to the shuttle bus and mentioned it will take him just one minute. Thereafter he took the toy, ran back to the scanning machine, got a tag, got it scanned, got it stamped and got the toy back for the baby before the bus left from the boarding gate. Now that's a lot of effort for good customer care and is worthy of appreciation.

Who says, there is not much budget airlines can do to differentiate!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


There were a couple of different names I was thinking for this post but either they would have been too long or only touching upon one of the aspects of change in airtel. So I stuck to what is this post all about.

A few months ago, when airtel changed it's logo I made a very foolish argument. My argument was - the logo lacks any creativity. It is almost like an inverse image of the Vodafone logo and this when Vodafone is airtel's biggest competitor at it's home ground - India.

This according to me was a loss of vision and differentiation and reduced focus due to it's immediate and major focus on Africa and widening the foot print.

Honestly, I knew my arguments were good fun for a water cooler discussion and did not make any real business sense to begin with.

With so many veterans and top managers at work from airtel and agencies this wasn't a school project. It was part of a Rs 300 crore marketing campaign airtel was to take on for its expansion to Africa and 3G roll out.

However, looks like the worsened logo and theme tune were signs of what was to come from airtel in future. How airtel has changed in last few months in it's network, service and marketing quality now makes me think - may be I said something right while I was giving gyan.

In the last few days some things that happened which make airtel look weaker than ever before.

- While sitting in my Bangalore office I got an SMS 'welcome to Airtel Chennai, enjoy great roaming rates'
- On requesting the Re. 1, one-time missed call alert, I got the first SMS for thanking me that we have received request and charged you, I never got the SMS with actual missed call details.
- I have had more call drops than ever before in the last so many years.
- I get 'number is invalid' response for calling numbers that I call every day and a few attempts later it starts working. It's the first time it's happening despite using airtel for over 5 years now.
- My friend requested for number porting to airtel. While the first request was rejected by VF due to billing problems, the second request did not even fetch a response from airtel.
- But since he did submit his documents in the first request, even though he does not have an active connection with airtel yet, last night he received an original hard copy of a zero rupee bill. Yes, it has his name printed and has bill amount 0 - while he is still happy and active on Voda.

Many of the above are not bad customer care or kind of bad reviews you will find on mouthshut.com, they are plain vanilla mistakes on customer focus and ensuring quality.

Not to forget their campaigns on number portability, 3G, DTH, VAS service have become more lackluster than ever before.

Being one of the ardent loyalists of airtel for ages it feels sad to see it loosing its qualities that led it to reach the heights it stands today.

No wonder as data shows, it is no longer leading the race and is managing to be at the end.

Would be interesting to see if it can do some magic again to be back in the race and lead the pack.

Till then 'Express Yourself'

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Aptitude vs Attitude

A couple of years ago I had written this. It was about hard work vs intelligence. I am still unable to answer this question convincingly enough to myself.

Rephrasing the question this time, what is easier to change - Aptitude or Attitude?

At that time, my thought was driven from peer comparison, from people who were working with me in similar profiles and observing them in two shades - hard working but not so smart and vice versa.

I still face the same question for people in my team. There are those who are smart and intelligent but lack that element of ownership and then there are those who are the most dedicated ones but short on smartness, a factor that could make a big difference to their results. Of course there are those who are somewhere in between too.

I think while hard work and dedication is a lot about attitude; smart, clever and intelligence are qualities driven out of aptitude. Challenge seems to be, which one is easy to imbibe, mentor and infuse into others. The intelligent ones are often not the keener ones, because they are the so called clever ones. On the other hand those who are working hard and trying their best, you can only guide them to act smarter, but picking up the smart things requires you to be smart in the first place.

Thus the basic question remains, what is easier to change in someone - attitude or aptitude? How do we go about doing it?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Profit sharing

Why don't organizations do profit sharing with employees like they do with share holders in the form of dividends. Aren't employees share holders too of a different form?

May be organizations should take out some portion of profit to be doled out as dividend to employees. Each one would get in proportion of their salaries. Of course this would be apart from the Variable pays and bonus etc. Since that also depends on the roles of each person.

Quarterly, half yearly or yearly could be debated though. This could make people look at the organization as a whole and not just team, unit, function etc.

Yeah, top management could ask - when company makes losses? Well they do cut jobs and reduce salaries or don't give any hikes in such times. So why not, do it the same with profits too.

Imagine, 3% of profits of next quarter distributed among employees. May not be a big sum but still not bad.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Open feedback

Do you think there are some good people in your organization and some so unwanted people. On top of that the unwanted are more prevalent than those better ones. How do you share your feedback for these people on a platform for their supervisor, his/her supervisor and HR to see it all. Obviously, you can't put that up on the intranet notice board.

How about, an open feedback system. Just log-in and search for the fellow colleague and share your feedback. Could be on a certain scale or just plain subjective description. Like may be an over all rating or detailed rating on certain traits expected from their jobs. Well, it could increase the scope of performance review, although it could have it's challenges too.

There could be of course some checks added, to ensure a more sane system, unlike a Face book group where every one bashes every one else.

- You may not be allowed to provide feedback for people 2 levels above you. I guess somehow we always see very little of those people and assume too much in framing our understanding. Hence, barred from putting those assumed understandings on
- You must have worked with your fellow colleague for minimum X number of days or have had certain valuable amount of interaction to be able to provide the feedback.
- Feedback will be viewable only to supervisor, reviewer and HR.
- It could also be kept anonymous to all except HR. So that it can be revealed only in critical cases.
- This could have certain weight in the over all appraisal scores of an individual.
- And of course a complex algorithm to convert the feedback into scores by identifying keywords from feedback provided with predefined scores for such key words.

Though it may sound so much like a cliche process again, but imagine kicking the butts of those unwanted people, on the system and actually letting the feedback translate into some action(may be).

Till then may be only cribbing helps.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Experimenting Smartphones

Smartphones are all over the place - nothing new. They have been so for years now. You may have one too or may be planning to buy one. But, did you use it for a few days before buying it?

Before you buy an iPhone or HTC Android or a Blackberry for that matter, don't you want to use it for a few days before you finally swipe your card for that big, fat sum of more than 25K. It could just make you so much more confident about your decision to buy that very smart phone which you plan to flaunt in front of your friends, family and coleagues. You may have seen your friend's phone or even used for a few hours but that would have only given you a few hours of feel and may be tried a few popular features that you have read and heard. But, what about feeling the size fitting in your pocket, experiencing the battery life, varying touch senstivity of different phones, using the app stores and much more.

So what if I offer you the phone for a few days before you buy for a small rental fee? Would you pay?

Let's assume you come over, ask me for an iPhone, I swipe your credit card and block the card for the iPhone price and give you the phone for a week. You keep it, use it and make a decision. If you do not like it and return it, I will charge you Rs. 500(hyppthetical amount). if you like it and buy, I will not charge you anything? If you do not return, anyways the credit card will be charged as soon as 7 days are completed.

Now, if you do not like it and return it and want to try HTC HD2, then I keep that Rs 500 and take the iPhone back and give you HTC and we repeat the remaining cycle. If you are too thorough in your decision making, you could even repeat this over and over again for a few more weeks.

You would end up using these phones for a few days each for Rs. 500 and be much more sure few weeks down the line, which one you want to buy. Now purchase it and see the difference it makes to your blood pressure during those few seconds when you see your card's magnetic tape passing through the iron machine charging you hundreds of rupees every few milliseconds.

Why don't you take a 3 question survey here Purchasing SmartPhones
and share your thoughts.

Friday, September 24, 2010


You would have seen those thriller movies, where suddenly everyone around you freezes. What if you are in the middle?

A few days ago, while I was with my coleague on one of he Metro stations here, he pointed and I noticed - everyone slowing down.

While we were still walking noticing carefully what is happening, a few seconds later everyone froze. By now I already had goose bumps, thinking about all those horror movies where some evil happens after every one freezes.

In seconds, every one was frozen where ever they were. On stairs, near ATMs, tickets counters, on the entrance, police men, ticket vendors, public - all.

We both decided to slow down and stop as well, because we did not want us to be noticed by those evil forces which might be looking for human with moving flesh and blood. Our Eyes still ticking left and right trying to see where are those ghosts who have cursed this evil to all these people except us.

We heard some music over us - too low to be heard clearly. With our antennas now trying their best to catch this sound and figure out what it is, I thought may be pide piper was calling.

A few seconds more while we were still trying to decode this background music. Life resumed like ever before.

It was 6 pm in the evening and giving it a little more thought, we realized it was the national anthem.

Horror apart, I think it is a good idea to run national anthem at 6 in the evening at all public places - railways stations, airports, bus stops and all else. At least everyone comes together for those 20-30 seconds and pauses. Every one does get nation on their mind, which we all seem to ignore otherwise. Could be one step to bring the nation closer and together.