Friday, March 27, 2009

H1B or No H1B?

Looks like the planned reduction of H1B visas will end up increasing US jobs going to South Asia instead of the opposite. According to the WSJ;
"In January, IBM sent layoff notices to about 4,600 people, including workers in its software unit and sales department.

Earlier this year, IBM also told employees that if they wanted to move to an emerging market, they could apply for jobs there with IBM, but they would be paid in local wages. A spokesman Wednesday said "dozens" of people have taken the offer, usually natives of those countries."

That's the story from the US side, while on this side of the world, companies like Infosys seem to be looking for aquisitions as well as future business from other countries, especially in the EU. According to Nanadan Nilekani co-chairman of Infosys;
Rising protectionist sentiment in the U.S. also is affecting customers' decision-making about outsourcing. The economic-stimulus bill, for example, includes a provision preventing participants in the U.S.'s financial bailout program from hiring workers with H-1B visas, which are commonly used by non-U.S. outsourcing companies. "Political issues have become more pre-eminent in our conversations,".
Hence the new trend of Geo-Diversification of the project mix in most companies, in order to reduce their dependency on the US. For instance at Infosys, the US now accounts for about 63% of revenue. But according to Mr. Nilekani, he would ideally like that to be about half. This has been a trend in companies like Virtusa as well. In the past few years, they have expanded rapidly in the UK and EU markets.

The fundamental Economic principle most politicians seem to ignore here is that The Firm is a profit making unit. The goals of maximizing stock prices, in turn maximizing share holder’s wealth, is the objective for firms that are publicly traded. No matter what legislations or sanctions are in place, publicly traded companies will adopt their strategies to maximize profit. When you approve legislation to satisfy the Peanut Gallery, you risk ending up losing your competitive edge and more often than not, shaking the very foundation of your economic dominance as a country.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Are MBAs the Problem?

Are MBAs the Problem? - HBR Editors' Blog -
"The type of person who has the appetite for this second kind of risk-reward equation--plus the brains to excel in a rigorous academic setting--is the same type that Wall Street firms have been so eager to hire. The financial sector hasn't valued people for what they learned in their top-tier business schools, but for the kind of intestinal fortitude that got them there, their willingness to make huge sacrifices, and the drive they have to attain that MBA, at nearly any cost."

A thought provoking read. Make sure you read the comments as well. Most of those seem anti B-School but once in a while, you'll come across reasonable ones such as;

"It isn't just the teaching, or the curriculum, it's the culture. If the idea comes across that business is about innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship, that's great, but if the underlying message is about maximizing shareholder value, profits and making money, everything shifts.

Any group of high-powered individuals will become competitive, that's what you expect, and to some degree, that's what you want. The question becomes who defines the areas of competition? What is valued? What are the rewards.

- Posted by DJB
March 17, 2009 9:28 PM"

Not that I agree completely with the commenter, but I like his view on 'Competition' and 'Areas/Rules/Values of Competition'. I think this takes us back to the Nature vs. Nurture debate. A competitive environment, that provokes and rewards individuals who, by nature would succeed at any cost without concern for those around them is bound to fail at some point. B-Schools or any other school can not be completely held responsible for personal traits. What they do is give more ammunition.

Once you are done going through the comments, I suggest you read the FT Article MBA bashing is a case study in misdirected anger. It ends with a nice summary too.

"The MBA brand has been damaged but not destroyed by recent events. Some may still enjoy a good sneer at this famous set of initials. But blaming the MBA for the crisis in capitalism would be like blaming all maths PhDs for the invention of the collateralised debt obligation: a case study in unfairness and misdirected anger."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Yahoo Briefcase will be closed on March 30th 2009.. for good!

I just received the following mail. I have completely forgotten about this service too. The last file I have put there was in 2004. It's good to know that Carol Bartz is doing her job.

Dear Yahoo! Briefcase user,

We will be officially closing Yahoo! Briefcase on March 30, 2009.
Until then, we are offering you the opportunity to download your files
back to your computer. You will need to take action before we close,
after which any files remaining on Yahoo! Briefcase will be deleted and
no longer accessible.

Download your stuff and say your good byes!

Friday, March 06, 2009

WSO2, The New Open Source BPM Provider

Talking with... Paul Fremantle of "New Open Source BPM Provider," WSO2 - BPM in Action
Paul explains the overall Carbon technology, likely applications of Carbon in business process management, the open-source connection, and other aspects of the announcement in this 9-minute podcast.

Vivek Kundra is the new US Government CIO

In case you didn't know. Vivek Kundra was behind Apps for Democracy, a Mashup contest initiated by the Washington D.C. government while he was the CTO. It invited contestants to use the government's official Data Catalogue with a Mashup Platform of choice to produce useful applications. "City in the Cloud" is another initiative by him, migrating D.C. government employees and processes to Google Apps in the cloud.

Hunting The Elusive CIO Dashboard

Hunting The Elusive CIO Dashboard -- InformationWeek
"For too many organizations, IT is a black box. Projects and systems are so complex that few CIOs can predict a direct impact on the business, making it hard to win budget and resources even in prosperous times. And when the CIO can't get a clear picture of the real-time data that underlies critical applications, infrastructure, and projects, IT too often ends up reacting to issues after users and customers are having problems.

The answer is a CIO dashboard that gathers key performance indicators, or KPIs, into a central repository that, in a single window, identifies the performance of critical systems and projects in real time. In our discussions with companies of all sizes, such a unified view tops their wish lists. While vendors have been slow to introduce products to meet this demand, we're seeing movement, and it's time for IT to take a look."
This was published around a year ago and highlights a few key focus areas. The article also provides an impact assessment of CIO Dashboards along with a sidebar on how to define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). A good read, if you are wondering what a Dashboard is, how it adds value and to whom.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Aston Martin One-77

Aston Martin One-77: Hand-Crafted Aluminum Shell, 700 HP+ V12 Inside
Naturally, such a spectacular chassis demands – and gets - an equally exceptional drivetrain. It comes in the form of an immensely potent 7.3-litre, naturally aspirated V12 engine. Thanks to the adoption of a dry-sump oil system the engine is mounted 100mm lower than in any previous V12-engined Aston Martin road car, which helps keep the One-77's centre-of-gravity as low as possible. To further aid agility and endow the One-77 with progressive handling and stable, predictable on-limit behaviour, the engine is also mounted 257mm aft relative to the front wheel centreline. In so doing the front-midengined layout shared by all of Aston Martin's current road car range has been taken to a new level.

Translation: You will go around a roundabout three or four times just for the pure thrill of it.

This is my favourite among many concepts unveiled recently at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show