Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Long View Versus the Short View

It has been in the air for some time now, this all talk around the fast food generation — or the Facebook Generation as Gary Hamel prefers to term the Generation Y — and its so-called incessant need to live in the moment.

The importance of savouring the moment is not new to us. It has been taught to us for ages in scriptures, fables, poems...and new-age self help books. And yet, this speed-addicted "now" generation has glimpsed what corporate leaders around the world seem to be missing in the fog of this downturn.

Despite all the uncertainty surrounding layoffs and pay cuts, a large majority of young people interviewed in a recent KPMG survey rated training and development higher and more important than job security or salary. They also made it clear that the attitudes of the young had changed, with 83 per cent of students admitting they were planning more carefully in view of the recession. Nearly 72 percent were widening their sector choices to keep their options open.

While students are going steady and thinking long-term, despite the pressure to grab the first available job, corporate leaders seem to be doing the reverse. Yet the current business paradigm is crying for a long-term view, calling for building a sustainable economic environment. To do so, companies must reinvent their business models, revisit their market strategies and most importantly reignite their employee policies. We must respond — but not react — to the recession and its challenges.

Developing products to meet the challenges of tomorrow will be one essential step. In 2005, we had very few believers in the potential of integrated services by outsourcing. We decided to chase it as part of our blue ocean strategy and announced big deals. The rest of the market followed soon after.

I firmly believe that when the current slowdown ends and growth returns, it is unlikely to come back in the same shape and size. And so instead of building on services that have reached their threshold, it is time to find the next big idea. Our five-year investment in utility computing is taking shape and was recently recognised by Gartner. You, too, should be staying ahead of the race and investing in ideas for tomorrow.

Developing the market is the next level. Our decision to form a merger with Axon in these "uncertain" times was questioned by many. But acquisitions are not decisions dictated by the needs of the moment. They are about assuming responsibility for bigger things — like the long-term direction of the company.

These are also times for corporate leaders to invest in their most important asset — their people. The current downturn has meant a worldwide hiring freeze. I believe there is a lot to learn here from automobile companies and their ways of reducing inventory cost and waste. Instead of bulk hiring, companies will now need to bring in a "just in time" hiring system that would remove the inventory cost but provide the flexibility of picking up good talent any time from the market — and bring the focus to training and development. This will further ensure that companies don't have to lay off employees, but simply teach them a different skill set as needed. The only way companies will beat the recession is by empowering their employees to be prepared for the future and by ensuring they act as agents of change, rather than its victims.

Yes, the paradigm has shifted. But when has it ever remained the same? Bad times can be good. And it is time we responded to the opportunity this recession presents rather than simply reacting to it.

Disclaimer: This post has been published by Harvard Business Review and written by Mr. Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies Ltd, A Global IT Services Company. Reproduction of this work in any form is prohibited.

Green Leadership from an Unexpected Place

You've probably read about the dibba-walas of Mumbai. They are part of Six Sigma folklore today, having been showcased across the world for their error-free business model. Yet, just a few years ago, the thought that this local and unconventional grassroots business could teach the world a thing or two about cutting edge business practices may have seemed absurd.

Drawing an unlikely parallel, I do believe that the kabadi-walas, a traditional recycling business unique to India, could provide a valuable lesson to the new world, which — to borrow a term from Thomas Friedman's latest book Hot, Flat and Crowded — had declared a "Code Green."

The green alert has now gone far beyond the early efforts of a few people like Al Gore and David Suzuki. It resonates wherever you turn today, be it the World Economic Forum where Green Investing was an area of priority at the recent annual meeting, or the Obama clean energy stimulus plan.It is the new way of life.

Much against the popular perception, going green is no rocket science. It comprises small steps that change the way we think and do everyday things. Morgan Stanley's Little Green Book with tips on 50 things you can do to green your life personifies the simplicity of this movement.

Embracing green offers endless opportunities for change in every facet of life, whether you are building a home or workplace, driving to work, buying home appliances, or simply grocery shopping.

Now think of the value a kabadi-wala can introduce into this continuum with a business focused solely on reuse and recycle. In fact, the word "kabadi" stems from the word "kabaad" which literally translates to junk. The kabadi-wala could therefore loosely be described as a dealer in junk. Yet he is much more and an intrinsic part of the Indian fabric.

For centuries in India, every household in every neighbourhood has depended on their local kabadi to collect old newspapers, empty bottles, plastic containers, etc. from their doorstep and pay them that little pocket money to make the effort worthwhile. In turn, the kabadi is the supply source for endless small businesses that buy paper, plastic, glass and even scrap metal from him at deeply discounted rates.

The David Suzuki Foundation, which is doing some commendable work in highlighting the value of small green steps, has estimated that one metric tonne of recycled paper saves 4,100 kWh of electricity, 2.4 cubic metres of landfill space, 1,362 litres of water and two barrels of oil. Yes, it also saves seven trees.

There are no formal statistics on this largely disorganized trade in India, but it would be safe to say that every household would be saving this and more with just the newspapers they sell to their neighbourhood kabadi.

And, the fact that the kabadi-wala has survived through every stage of the changing economic landscape in India is proof enough that recycling is a sustainable business. So just like the dibba-walas were the unlikely source of Six Sigma lessons, the world would certainly benefit by studying the unique and enduring Indian tradition of kabadi-walas for important pointers on the roadmap for our return-journey to a green planet.

Disclaimer: This post has been published by Harvard Business Review and written by Mr. Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies Ltd, A Global IT Services Company. Reproduction of this work in any form is prohibited.

Cloud for IT Continuity

Typically a DR site goes live when the main DC goes offline or fails. Quite often, the IT infrastructure at the DR site sits idle waiting for an untoward incident to be kicked back into life. In some cases, the infrastructure at DR site is used to host development & QA environments also.DR sites are typically activated for a short period of time and when the main site/DC is restored, the DR goes back to idle state.So,is there an alternative to blocking investments in a DR site using the evolution in the technologies used in DC and still ensure continuity of operations?

Can cloud & cloud based services provide enterprise with the desired level of continuity along with financial flexibility? In my opinion, this is a subject worth further exploration.

During a disaster, you either operate at same or reduced business service SLA’s around performance & availability as from the main site. The requirements from the DR site are “elastic” in nature. Most of the time,they compute requirement around CPU, memory is pretty low except when activated and operations are run from the DR site.Usually it is the storage that has a consistent use. Now, one of the major advantages of cloud computing is to meet elastic demands. Put two and two together..i feel there has to be a case to use cloud for IT continuity!

One of the possible challenges is the consistency of the virtualization technology within the enterprise with that of the cloud computing provider.I do not think the cloud computing providers fraternity has something of an intra-operable virtualized images across different cloud providers and private cloud platforms..(or maybe they have and this is something i have not tracked in the google-sphere yet!). So basically what that means is you are stuck with those set of cloud computing providers who use the same virtualization technology as you use in-house in your DC’s for the time being,but compared to having idle investment in your dedicated DR sites, this may be a small trade-off.

Some points that i can think of while evaluating the cloud platforms for DR & IT service continuity is – licensing of your existing applications; then again does the licensing allow you to run the apps from a cloud computing setup, connectivity options to allow migration of large amount of data/images to the cloud computing provider’s setup, how are you going to keep the images of your apps etc in the cloud environment up-to-date with necessary patches, security policies of the providers and client access mechanism.

Disclaimer: This post has been written by Tajeshwar Singh, who is an Enterprise Solution Architect from HCL  ISD. To read more of his posts go to www.

Monday, January 18, 2010

10 Mantras for Emerging Leaders in 2009

Tomorrow became a little distant from today in 2008. With the challenges facing businesses today--versus even six months ago--emerging leaders find little solace in the best practices that have worked so far. So what can help us cope with the challenges ahead? I have put together 10 mantras that might guide us ahead. 

Read more on the 10 mantras for emerging leaders by simply a click.

Disclaimer: This post has been published by Harvard Business Review and written by Mr. Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies Ltd, A Global IT Services Company. Reproduction of this work in any form is prohibited.

Start at Point A

"When you grow up, what would you like to be?" That's a question parents, relatives, and even complete strangers direct at children in India. As a result, the journey through life begins with the desire to be somebody tomorrow: An engineer, a doctor, a pilot... kids start working their way to a Point B that lies in the future.

Read more on starting at point A by clicking here.

Disclaimer: This post has been published by Harvard Business Review and written by Mr. Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies Ltd, A Global IT Services Company. Reproduction of this work in any form is prohibited.

Look for Leadership at the Bottom of the Pyramid

The professors of doom are pitching their tents once again on the pegs of a "leadership crisis." This is nothing new. In fact, each time the world heads into an economic downturn we see soul-searching begin on the quality of leadership.

These drums have begun to sound in the past weeks, louderin the US and a little softer in India, yet clearly audible. So, what's new about the recession this time? Sure, the magnitude of the downturn is far greater now than it has been seen in recent times.

Read more on this topic by clicking here.

Disclaimer: This post has been published by Harvard Business Review and written by Mr. Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies Ltd, A Global IT Services Company. Reproduction of this work in any form is prohibited.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Green Touch: ICT to be 1000 times cleaner

The Green Touch Initiative launched by Bell Labs, will bring together academics and Governmental IT professionals on one platform with the vision to make global networking a thousand times more energy efficient.

Gee Rittenhouse of Bell Labs claims that in the next decade carbon emissions will rise to unexpected levels, and therefore this partnership will try and bring it to somewhat lower levels. Read the full report by Clicking Here.

This move will also see the rise of Green Teams. People who will voluntarily come together to educate and inspire employees about IT sustainability. Download the best practices in the research report written by Deborah Fleischer.

This year will see organizations seeking for clarity in the arena of Green IT. The Paradigm should involve: Conservation, e-waste reduction,smart resource allocation, energy efficiency and alternative energy use. Areas such as reducing costs on telecommuting and the ecological use of resources will be featured as a prime move.The long and the short though for Green IT is better and more responsible corporate accountability, therefore a culture change might happen in organizations.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2010: Year for the Cloud

Cloud computing which was lagering behind at #3 last year behind Virtualization and BI, has leapfrogged to #1 this year. Read the full report and also see the cloud map by Clicking Here

Organizations will increasingly use cloud as a resource for both pre-production and production workloads.CIOs and IT managers will test the benefits of creating and managing internal, elastic virtual datacenters, automated infrastructure with integrated and variable chargeback and billing capabilities.Infrastructure environments will become increasingly dynamic and virtualized,and the “virtual datacenter” or VDC will emerge as the new enterprise compute platform.

SMB customers will reap benefits this year with the cloud or the PaaS model. Also owing to the security concerns both vendors and users will form a Cloud Security Alliance.There will also be preferences for customers to move within the cloud with open cloud standards incubator.

These are some of the predictions for 2010 cloud computing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Changing Internal IT through the cloud!

Analysts claim that 2009 was a year of the cloud, though it was focussed over smaller projects. The main usage of cloud computing was in the arena of internal computing, or how could internal systems be connected to the cloud to gain maximum modernization.

By maximum modernization though, I mean how can existing IT architectures be reimplemented using he cloud computing concepts like virtualization, SaaS, SOA and Self provisioning. These concepts are called as  "private clouds" by many, this trend is more about learning to leverage internal IT resources effectively and efficiently than what was previously considered best practices. Specifically, this is the movement from single, monolithic, and underused systems to virtual environments, as well as the ability to address local and remote systems using APIs or services.

With such an amount of spend going towards the cloud, and internal users trying to revamp their individual architectures, IDC predicts that cloud will at 10% of all IT spending by 2013. 
To read the full report Click Here

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Climate goal gains prime slot in Smart2020 Project

Offering case studies of how enterprises apply high-tech solutions to building energy efficiency, transportation, the smart grid, and other areas, the Climate Group has unveiled a project to keep the IT industry on course. The move comes close on the heels of a report that outlined mechanisms by which IT can kick start a low-carbon future.

Christened "Pathways to Scale", the project comes as a follow up to the Smart2020 report which had revealed that the IT industry can play a role in achieving global emissions reductions of as much as 15 percent by 2020, and save companies over $725 billion by improving efficiency.

According to Molly Webb, Director of Strategic Engagement at The Climate Group, “Pathways to Scale”  shows that we still have some way to go to achieving the SMART 2020 goal,", said in a statement. "But the lessons learnt are very useful," Webb added. The Smart2020 report had found that companies joining in partnerships with other enterprises or NGOs achieve greater successes than companies working alone. It was also revealed by the Smart2020 report that products are focused on a narrow niche or single area rather than offering end-to-end solutions, and also that companies should optimize the energy savings on offer from their products, and use the financial savings to encourage that change to promote widespread behavioral change on the part of individuals,It has been urged that policy makers need to adopt a price for carbon and must also lower policy barriers to cooperations.

Recommendations in the report said that it has become imperative that smart solutions should scale up to climate problems. Development of a smart grid that links the generation and transmission of energy to its end use in offices and homes apart, the spread of technologies have been mooted.