Thursday, October 27, 2005

First Sketch

Hi !

Here is a sketch of mine. For those of you who have forgot my face this will make you relive the horror

this sketch is made by a 21 year old guy who happens to be deaf, dumb and his fingers were deformed. His story is really very inspiring .I will tell you about him in my next post. For now look and admire my beauty.

Wishing all of you a Happy Diwali


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Leaders- The Situational Hero

 Yesterday  morning I was going to Faridabad,  I had a appointment there with one of our prospective customer who was interested in SkillPoint . I had never been to the city even though it is in vicinity of Gurgaon. I was expecting a pleasant excursion  as I knew that 40 Km road to Faridabad is dotted with green mountains and they look stunning in the morning . To avoid the morning rush hours I left my place a little early than usual and with in 30 minutes I was among  the hills . the view was really stunning . there was moderate traffic most of the people were urban couples coming to work in Gurgaon.  I heard there are lot of husband-wife couple who commute to Gurgaon daily and live in Faridabad because of low real estate cost .

All was going fine until at a blind turn I encountered a big jam . on enquiry I came to know that someway down the road  there is a truck with flat wheels  and that is causing the trouble . with ¾ of the road blocked by that truck people have to use only ¼ of the passage ,and with drivers from opposite directions locking horn with each other   they were not able to use even that much properly. Every one was honking the horn to the person in front of him and cursing the truck driver . I cursed him too and began to think that I should call the client and inform him about the delay .

Than suddenly a tall slender gentlemen in his mid fifties came out from a Maruti 800 behind me and ask me  what is the reason of jam ?  I told him the story of truck . He walked up to the truck and moved  around the gap . than he climbed up a  nearby rock and looked at the growing row of cars and bikes . than suddenly he did the unexpected ,he took total control of situation in his hands  . he requested the driver next to the truck to stop honking and move back his car by a 5-6 steps so that bikes behind him can move  ahead .than he did the same stuff with the bikes on the opposite direction . suddenly out of nowhere there was a small lane where 10-20 bikes crossed the bottleneck and in process made way for a big Tempo truck and a Mini Bus to cross each other .  After that the crowd which was honking aimlessly 10 minutes ago began to act like a well behaved and self organizing systems . some young men from a Call center cab come out and began to assist the old man . now traffic was slowly moving . what was looking like a long jam lasted only 15 minutes . Now the old man was on his way back to his Maruti 800, as he walked  past me I bowed and said " Uncle !! Well done. Good job !! " .He smiled in acknowledgement and said " Beta !! hum sab ko office jana hai khade khade intazaar karne se kaam tou nahin chalta hai " ( Son !All of us needs to reach office on time , standing here and waiting is not the solution )

One may say this is a normal incident it could have happened anywhere in India and I am sure each one of us have seen the old man in one form or another . but if we look deeply on chain of events  you will notice something strange and interesting.  The  commuters which  were stuck in that jam were of various types . there were highly educated cosmo – couples in there SANTRO Xing , day laborer in tempo , BPO executives in Qualis , IT Sales person like me on Bikes and old man in Maruti 800 .

All of us were facing the same problem "The Unexpected Jam " but our reaction to the problem was totally different . I thought of calling the client and informing him, Cosmo couple in Xing thought of bad roads and cursed the system, govt ,driver and might  tell his wife how during his 10 years of stay in USA there was never a single traffic jam . Day laborer in temp were busy smoking the "bidi " and oblivious to all this BPO guys were sleeping in there cabs and listening to Radio Mirchi. None of us did any thing .


But this old man , who had a slight limp in his walk . took the charge and solved the problem . What was the difference between the old man and rest of the crowd . The difference was of a attitude . We were the cribber ,whiners and finally followers and

He Was a  Leader .


Anatomy of a leader :

Any body who would seen that Old Man  out side of that situation might not think of him as a leadership material . he was old , seemingly fragile and was walking with a limp. He doesn't fit in our mental model of a leader . big question here is that what do we think when we think about leadership ? usually we think of  enigmatic personality ,great oration , great vision and greater sacrifice and the list goes on . any body who wants to act like a leader should have either or all of these traits . than only  we will accept him as leader and follow his instructions . This is the real problem psychologists call this "The Warren Harding Error" .

So when we are faced with a situation in personal, public or professional life which demands us to play the role of a leader and if our own idea of our personality doesn't fit in the prototype of  leader we think that we are not cut out to do it . we wait , we crib, we whine , we complaint , we accept  & we follow .

We often confuse leadership with the image of successful leaders we know or we read about . The old man I meet today was not a leader in that sense. Thinking about his action I can say a leader is one

q        who doesn't accept the things as they came up .  

q        He doesn't find himself helpless in the time of adversity .

q        He takes initiative

q        He need not necessarily be excessively vocal or pushy or arrogant

q        He never sit around and complaint .

q        He might be working for his own benefits/ necessity and good of other might be a byproduct .

q        Leaders drive Maruti 800


Sometime in  our lives , We all face a situation where we need to rise up and take action , there is always a chance of being rejected, being ridiculed, or laughed at but like the old man in my story we should do what is right .

All of us might not be the born or natural leaders but I think  most of us can be situational leaders . next time when ever I will face a situation like the one I face today I will try to play the role of Old Man and I hope that you will also try to do it .

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

SANIA OR IT: What Does Brand India Stands For ?

Very recently I finished a book titled " The World is Flat " by Thomas Friedman. It is one of the most eye opening work on globalization and its impact on our day –to-day life that I have ever came across. This book explain how India and other Asian countries are emerging as a preferred destination to outsource most of the work in America and how it will effect the common man in both countries.

Now we all know what globalization is. We are hearing of it since we started reading Economic Times and watching "The World this week " on Doordarshan. But if my neighbor's teen age son asks me what globalization means to him ? I had no answer. I can't possibly explain him. But I am sure Mr. Friedman can.

Somewhere in his book Friedman says that during his teenage years, mothers in America use to say to their children " Son!! Eat this food properly because in India there are many children of your age who are not lucky enough to have this"

Now his wife tells their children "Son! Study Mathematics properly. Because there are many children in India who can study harder than you and will take away your job for half the salary ". From the object of pity Indian seems to suddenly morph in to object of fear. As an Indian it inflated my ego like anything. I am from a country, which is flavor of the era; I am living, breathing the spirit of Brand India. India is Hot.

Swollen with the pride I begin to ponder where else Brand India is making its presence felt other than IT /ITES. Manufacturing? No, China is stealing the show there. Textile? Same china Factor. Cricket? Yes but not what it used to be. Tennis Yes! Sania is talk of the game .She is may not be number one but she is undisputed Queen of Hearts. At the young age of 18 she is already creating history. She is an ICON of youthful spirit and Epitomize "Can Do "attitude of our country. I jump to conclusion that both Sania & IT/ITES represent the Brand India.

But here irony of the situation hits me on my face. S it fare? Does both phenomena (BPO and Sania Mirza) really represent the same thing? Or is it the two entirely different fa├žade of our Nation?

As a coincidence I am writing this piece at 8 'o' clock in night while waiting for a client of mine who owns a Call Center. I see guys and girls brimming with confidence moving around in lobby. They are of same age as that of Sania. Yesterday I was going through their job postings at They are looking for every body that is graduate and can speak decent English. Their job is to handle Inbound call for a large US based Firm. They have 2000 employees on their payroll in India doing same stuff. Prior to this process shifting to India the same stuff was perhaps being done in some US City by Equal or more number of people. Most of them were college dropout, with lesser IQ than their Indian counter part. Still they use to draw at least 100% more salary and benefits. One can attribute the wage difference to currency conversion rate but there is something more disturbing here than Dollar to Rs ratio.

BPO is just another tool used by MNC to increase their margins and cut operational cost. Most of the firms who outsource their work to India do it because they can't afford to remain competitive in USA if they have so many people working for them under US labor law with minimum wages compulsion, health care compulsion etc. so they send the work to India. Now here we love to believe that we have beaten American in their own game and Mr. Friedman reinforce that viewpoint that it's a victory of sorts for our country. He may be right. I don't deny the importance of BPO to Indian economy. My sincere thanks goes to every US firm who trust Indian firm to handle their work. But at the same time we shouldn't't believe too much in our own cost advantage based lead. Because there will always be countries with lower wages and cheaper currency. We should remember that we have a very fragile lead we haven't really played and beaten American on level playing field and by playing under same rules.

That's precisely what Sania has done she has chosen a game dominated by Firangs with no Indian role model to look up to and made her own road. Playing under the same set of rule and standards. She too is feared by her opponents but not because she choose to accept the equivalent prize money in Indian rupees. Her advantage is long lasting. It is not circumstantial. She stands for the face of India, which doesn't ask for Favors. She is personification of our country looking in to eyes of world and saying, " Make no Mistake! I am as good as you are ". Her T Shirt bluntly declares, "Well Behaved Girls don't make history ". And she is actually making history.

Indians in US, start companies like juniper, hotmail,,, sycamore networks, SUN, intellicorp etc. and invest in startup like Google, Skype and other product based business. But when in India they start an IT Service firms. Why?? What do we lack? Why we don't have a world class IT product coming out of India. Israel is a small country but still they have more than 50 firms listed in NASDAQ all of them in IT Product space . In India we have only 2 or 3 firms listed at NASDAQ .why ??

Problem is with our attitude. Recently in a conference in US some reporter asked CFO of a Fortune 500 firm that what is his views about Indian Programmers & Managers. His one line reply was " Humble & Hungry " and it was printed in an Indian newspaper with pride.

I sincerely believe that my country has a millions of Sania Mirza, Narayan Kartikeyan, Sabeer Bhatia, Tarun khosla, and, Pramod Haque,Ram Sriram , Vishwanathan Anand Moninder Singh (from IIT K ) .Only thing is we need to give up our submissive mindset ,be aggressive and take risks, go out and play heads on.

We are really in the process of making history. Choice is ours. Whom do we want to choose our brand ambassador Sania Mirza or Humble and Hungry IT /ITES Executive. .

World is indeed Flat. We can't go up or down but still we have to answer where do we want to go today? For me I want to go with sania. I hope you will join me.

Prashant Singh

Monday, October 17, 2005

iPod -A Case Study in Apple Way of Innovation

Last week  Apple launched its much awaited  Video iPod . Now in   $299 you can buy this marvel of electronic miniaturization and enjoy your Fav. Music video or Television show on the go. Apple C.E.O  Steve Jobs unveiled it at a jam packed auditorium in San Jose ,California . It will hit the stores soon and people will fall for it . Hats off to Jobs and his team .


All over the net I see observations like " This company surely know how to innovate " ."Apple never run out of big idea " . " T hey have innovation in there DNA " . " This will bring back the glory days of  Apple " . "After sick GUI of  Microsoft .. it's a  refreshing change "   &  " I wish I could be slim like iPod "  J


I am  amused . I am not saying that jobs and his team has done a bad job or Video iPod is not a milestone . I agree totally with this basic premise .what I didn't subscribe to is the theories people weave around it .   I can understand most of the comments as the euphoria of  launch .it will die its own death . sale of the gizmo's will shoot and will reach a plateau. We will power on our PC's and will start working on windows and   some of us will be hearing the latest song on iPod   . For me I will look forward to the day when I will be rich enough to buy it or when iPod will be cheap enough that some of my friends will gift me one on my birthday ( It's on 24 th of March) .


But over the course of last few years I have seen that one school of thought is gaining ground that Apple is the only company which knows   how to innovate .it's the only company which can launch ground breaking products. Well ..I disagree ! I don't think that Apple is the most innovative company around or there way of innovation is the best one .



Ways OF Innovation : Worst Among the Equals


Some time back the whole IT industry was divided in to two school of thought over the issue of Product development ideology . These two school of thought were poles apart from each other. Eric Raymond explained them in his seminal work   "Cathedral And Bazaar ".


In cathedral way of product development  company develop every thing   in-house under a veil of secrecy and the commercial right  of  product rests with the organization .Microsoft is said to be a champion of this ideology . critics   argues 

That in this system the idea which sees the light of the day is the one which insure most revenue generating potential .   some time best technical break through is buried because it is not aligned with the business model of the organization . people also describe it as a equivalent  of Capitalism in Hi Tech market place . This school of thought   leads to monopolies and ultimately user  suffer.




Other way of developing a product in Hi Tech is called Bazaar where product development is responsibility of the community . the blue print and some time source code belongs to community . they argue , they code , they refine and they use the product . Advocate of this methodology claims that because of peer reviews and diversity of perspective available in this system the resultant software is more robust and more flexible . Linux is a champions of this philosophy and after reading   Cathedral And Bazaar , than  CEO of Netscape Marc Anderson got inspired with this framework and threw the complete source code of Netscape   browser in public domain . this system leads to a more collaborative development of software and user have more control over his destiny .



So which way is suitable for you ? there is no correct answer . it depends on who are you ? and what you want to accomplish ?   but what disturb me is how thoroughly we confuse and often misuse the word" USER ".


In both of the definitions END  USER is described as someone who is playing an active role . but the truth is that in real life User of the software is the most passive player in the game . He simply accepts what is offered to him . he is oblivious to the philosophies which goes in building the application. All he cares is that it should work . Linux may be a free OS but still it is Programmers OS not users' OS . The responsibility of Linux community is toward the programmer not the end user .


Half of the folks I know are curious about Linux but they can't try it because it is not easy to install or there neighborhood AMC guy doesn't support Linux and The device driver of a particular printer is not shipped with it . this kind of chaotic and self organizing model has a basic flaw that everybody wants to do what they enjoy most and nobody wants to do the dirty work of support . so in spite of being free the maintenance and operating cost of Linux goes up.


similarly Microsoft way of product development is nothing but the way to develop better mousetrap . Only time Microsoft listen to market is   when user find a better alternative. During  the war of browser with  Netscape    It took them approx  one year to come up with there version of improved IE shipped "Free"  with windows operating system . but since then the innovation is stopped. they didn't even cared to add a simple feature like tab browsing .



Crux of the problem is not how to innovate ? but Why we innovate and what to do after you innovate ? Xerox PARC lab invented the Mouse based human computer interface paradigm which started GUI era of computing . but Xerox never benefited from its research . corporate sponsored research in various labs. Fails to morph in to any commercially viable product . Problem is how to aggregate the outcome of   innovation  in your product offering .



One possible solution is to foster the communities  of user or product enthusiast and hear there remark properly . it is a hybrid of both world.   community can be on volunteer basis where targeted user of the product comes at a platform and discuss the problem and road map for product . some company call it focus group testing .   In his  best selling book "The Tipping Point " Malcom Gladwell gives a dazzling description of such focus groups and there effect on the product acceptance . Important point here is that this focus group should have enough diversity of thought in them   and it's proceeding  should be moderated by the organization. Leading companies like StarBucks, Casio, Harley Davidson   said to have tried this format .



These communities can also be on incentive basis like  leading French drug company    Elli Lilly  often put a tough problem in drug research  before its focus group of enthusiast and announce a bounty for who so ever   solve it .this hybrid model is called Communities of Creation .


Coming back to the question of Apple  now under which section you will put Apple Cathedral or Bazaar or "Communities of Creation". Apple's charismatic CEO jobs tries his best to   distant himself from Microsoft and pretend to world that he is a champion of Community way of product development . but none of Apple's product were discussed in public forums ever. there   product development happen behind the  four walls of there office and Steve unveil the product one fine day . Even they don't have  a framework for capturing the user expectation .May be for the kind of work they do it is   right also. After all who among us can articulate a need of iPod before actually seeing it . When it comes to choosing the philosophy for product development Apple is no different from Microsoft   . Still we have raving fan club for the company. Why ??


One reason is that most of the end user doesn't understand   the technology so when you have to sell something to them you can't sell it on the technical merit   only. You need a story, a myth and a need to show them a way to  participate in something which can change the world . Then in most   CEO of the company  comes in to the picture. For most of the folks   Microsoft is Bill Gates , Sun is Scott McNelay ,Hotmail is Sabeer Bhatia and Apple is Steve Jobs . they superimpose the persona of CEO on the complete product range .


iPod is basically a extension of Mr. Jobs's  larger than life personality . Now when you look at Steve what do you see ? a Silicon valley Kid fighting the Corporate America , a die hard romantic trying to create a new world , a man in denim and sweat shirt   up against Pinstripe  suit . a visionary ,a non conformist  Galileo of our age with a entirely new and refreshing way of doing thing . the Un Sung innovator     waiting to get his due and his glory .


As I never had a chance to meet Steve so I will not comment on how true these things are ? they might be true and 100 years from now mankind may realize its foolishness . but as I am something of a Tech Salesman myself I can tell you that this is a dangerous practice to tightly associate the CEO and brand with each other. you can have only a mortal brand this way.


This precisely is the thing which went wrong  with   Apple again and again . there brand inspire and excite to only a particular class of user which connect with the Steve's  personality but in doing so it alienate rest of the world .so there product became elitist and never mange to cross proverbial Chasm of Software market .


For me the simple rule of thumb is Do guys in Taiwan or Guys in Nehru Place find your product worth copying ? if yes . than you have a truly groundbreaking product, rest is fad . fads of varying lifespan. No wonder Dell's  CEO dismissed iPod before even its full launch.   does he know something which we don't ? Yes . He know the core of Apple ethic which is both its strength and weakness .


I am a very big fan of Steve , his is the greatest comeback act in the recent Corporate History . His folk hero like image is something to die for . his recent speech at Stanford is most inspiring thing I have ever read in print . but all this is spilling over   to Apple which I think is not the best way to go about it .


" Never link your brand with yourself. you may die one day but your brand will live long after you are gone."





Prashant Singh
Ladies & Gentelman ! Take My Advice
PullDown Your Pants & Slide on ICE

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Google Vs Microsoft : War of Paradigm

Now a days you can't go to a technology discussion board or  a business news portal without hearing a remark about the ongoing bloodshed between Google and Microsoft . All self proclaimed IT wizard, Market   analyst and blogger are bidding for your attention with there version of what is going on and what is the solution or who will be winning the battle . Everybody support there argument with insider information from trusted source , sources who are close to the both camps .


For the record I want to clarify I have no such source and all the views mentioned hereafter are purely a creation of my own brain this is my version of the " Clash Of Titans" and any resemblance to  final outcome will be a fluke or purely coincidental .


HERO & UNDERDOG : The actors in the drama

Everybody loves Google ,it's a great site  started by two bright young men from Stanford and for sometime they were everyone's   good guy and nobody other than the early stage investors thought much about there search  technologies . than in an environment where market was slowly recovering from a downturn , IT spending were moving up , Amazon has shown profit for the first time in 5 years   people were looking for investing in tech stocks there was the Google IPO and windfall of $  come to the Google . now when you have   billion of $ of investors money you need to do something with it . you have to take a mission, you have to do something which make you look like a Hero . and in this industry what can be more Heroic than fighting with Microsoft ,and fighting head on . thus a hero was born . for the last generation of "casualties of Microsoft " (read Netscape and Linux ) this   hero was there another chance . they give him there blessing ( along with there browser and there Ex-C.E.O )  .Suddenly Google was in the eye of storm. From a Valley start up It became   a threat to The dominance of Microsoft .


With so much of noise it was inevitable that Microsoft would remain oblivious , they assembled there crack team of geeks they codename the project as "Underdog "   and launched a invasion to outset the Hero as the default destination for internet search . and there Microsoft committed there first mistake .  by doing so Microsoft acknowledged Google as the worthy adversary . classic rule of War is never to challenge the enemy on his own turf . you don't have a chance to win , remember USA was not able to beat Vietnam and still not able to find laden . Microsoft missed the point that why Google got such momentum ? and why they were so hard to beat ?   well  one reason that I can think of is that they are not trying  to replace OS ,they are only making it irrelevant . up until now Redmond giant never   faced anyone with the intention of changing the perception of Computing as we know it  . in past  battles where Microsoft won , every one was fighting in the eco system of desktop computing, the turf of   Microsoft but suddenly there is a company who doesn't attack directly and to beat them you have to go to there turf and start from a point of weakness . and that's what makes Bill Gates uneasy .




Define The Battle: Behind Enemy Line


Now to there credit Google core team has never said anything on record about the intentions of replacing Microsoft but the expectation is there . Some are born great ,some acquire greatness and on some   greatness is forced . sadly same can be said about martyr also .  in my view this ongoing war is somewhat over hyped and over chronicled and things got snowballed . in all the hype nobody cared to define the battle .


Question is what are we fighting  for ? what if we win ?   and What if we loose  ?


For  most diehard fans of Google  the company is fighting for beating Microsoft . for me   that argument is bogus you don't go on war just to beat somebody. at least not in business  you go to war with some company because either they encroach your territory   or they are an obstacle in your growth . strangely both of the conditions are not there in this battle , As long as Google wants to make money from selling targeted ads Microsoft has no problem .


when some enthusiast tell me that  one day  Google will launch Google office and we will have all our data lying on Google servers so any desk top application like MS Office will be out of market   I can only smile in amusement .well  sometime back same people said that digital office will be paper less and E- Commerce will make dollar bills virtually non existence . I am only 27 and don't think that   any of these things  will happen in my life time . there will always be paper and there always be dollar bills . people will always prefer to store there files on there disk .


If you are in Microsoft  you can ask "so what is it we are up against ?" my answered is you are up against your self . Sometime back there was a company named DEC they created Minicomputer and pulled carpet under the feet of IBM and other makers of Mainframes   this was an incremental innovation  it may have caused a loss of few millions to  Mainframe industry but it doesen't disturbed the whole eco system of Mainframe based computing . Then there was a paradigm shift   and world began to shift toward desktop computing suddenly DEC was irrelevant they missed a  paradigm shift which was fatal . Point is as long as you do incremental innovation with in the existing eco system there is always room for few more players . but suddenly someone from outside do a disruptive innovation and whole eco system is swapped . this is how Microsoft made a mark and this is what Google has stumbled upon . the whole point is   that BATTLE IS NOT BETWEEN GOOGLE VS MICROSOFT : IT IS BETWEEN "DESKTOP ECO SYSTEM"  VS "WEB SERVICE ECO SYSTEM"  


Ever since the dominance of windows in established from Windows 3.1 to Longhorn , Microsoft is too busy doing incremental innovations . but truth about Hi Tech market is that incremental innovation doesn't create news   you have to be a " Bull in The China Shop" to get the eye balls . sum guys from Mc Kinsey call it " Creative Destruction" and the published a whole book around it . I Think much of it is crap . Bull in china shop is not always good, for the obvious reasons people are not comfortable with a bull around if they are running a china shop. For past some time the same war is being fought although in a less celebrated manner in the market of CRM Software between SAP,Siebel Vs although has craved a niche for themselves but still its not likely that they will replace sieble and SAP of world in near foreseeable future .


Why ? because  big business of world are not comfortable with the idea of there critical data   stored on a remote server and sitting next to your competitors data everybody wants there data to be within there premises . that is the main bottleneck . Now we should accept the fact that Microsoft is Microsoft today because some very very big business choose to back it and Enduser accept it as a fate of life . I am not a very big fan of Windows or Microsoft .In my view during a paradigm shift when territory is   unexplored ,people accept whatever they are offered with out thinking  much because much of the time they don't have a choice . It happened with Sony In VHS-Beta Format war , With Windows   In the war for desktop OS . and with IE in war with Netscape . it's the backing of big boys which matter more than the substance of your product . we all know that Beta was more technically sound ,Mac was having a better interface and Netscape was a better browser but does that change anything now ?   So the point is when you are out there to conquer the world you can't do as a lone-warrior ,size does matter  and what I do see is that   Google is a company hyped by enthusiast like me  or nerds like my friends in the business of code writing .


I can see that there will be no clear winner or looser in this battle . world is too big to accommodate both eco systems. only happy outcome of this war will be that it will perhaps validate   web service as a acceptable way of doing business . but that too will be restricted  to there niches . perhaps in future we will have enthusiast, Mom & POP Stores and   SME's working on web service and Big guys using application or better still hosted application on there own server .


Will Microsoft be hit ? YES  in a substantial way.  More than financials or anything this forced war will take  toll on its image of "King Of the technology hill" . There will be lot more stories of Tug Of War for talent and media will have a good time reporting them .


Business Sense In Future Tense :The Road Ahead 

Now if there is anything which make me very happy in the whole drama is to see how both parties are preparing for the situation when they might have to loose . if you look at the actions of both camps closely you will observe both are trying to spread there risk across both platforms . If   Google    has launched its desktop tool bar then Microsoft's latest offering .Net is having web services in its central theme . no body wants to keep all there eggs in one basket. In edition to that Microsoft can find one more opportunity to come up with a RAD like tool for development of web services . .net frame work is still very very programmer friendly and doesn't appeal much to an average user . I think there   is enough room in market for a tool which can cut cost and complexity out of  web service creation and maintenance the way MS Front Page did for HTML Publishing and RSS did for Blogs .That might be a jump or a discontinuous innovation which Microsoft needs . but truly speaking I don't think this will happen in near foreseeable future, top brass of Microsoft   is too busy with the Antitrust trials and  Managing the Longhorn project . I seriously think that anything with the intention of taking over web service   space will be done only after this saga is over . Essentially that's suit Microsoft the company is known for pulling up good "Catch up Act "  and don't be surprise to read a cover story titled " Empire Strikes Back "  few  years after the current drama is over   or Don't be surprised to see few Antitrust battle .


 Its said no  one get a second chance in life to prove themselves specially when the stakes are too high but Eric Schmidt seems to have got it   for the third time  same is true for Gates ,Ballmer & Company . Drama is getting interesting. Enjoy the fight. but hold on to your chairs because Steve might need them to throw around .

Prashant Singh
Ladies & Gentelman ! Take My Advice
PullDown Your Pants & Slide on ICE

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Agony of Doing Sales

This June I completed my  one year  of working as a salesman for WebPalins Information Systems . strange as it may sound but this year seemed to passed in a blur . as I look back in a reflective mood   and evaluate what I have done in last 12 months I find myself  a bit happy a bit  frustrated and   full of optimism .


 I  accomplish one key goal of my professional life . I wanted to sell software   I wanted to be known as a software sales guy , I wanted to prove to my self that I can pick a unknown brand of software and sell it to a demanding customer segment and looking back I can say that I did a good job of it .By luck ,fluke ,intelligence or sheer dog work   I was able to do some thing on that line some thing which was not spectacular but was better than just surviving at job ( I hope my boss will agree with me )    . I got a proof of concept of my core competencies . Now in the coming year I look forward to capitalizing on this and scale up my volume and numbers .


This year brought  a lot of insight in my professional and personal life , I was always intrigued by the     hostility and suspicions which is associated with the sales profession. No matter what we say about customer service and relation ship management  and all that bullshit .client always seems  to giver more  weight to  a tech guy and consider whatever I said as ,well    sales bullshit . I tried to understand  why it was like that ? why in spite of  best of   the intentions there was a shade of mistrust ?  why a sales guy is considered guilty till he prove his innocence .


Why Sales ? : It's  nobodies  idea of a decent job


One year back when I was looking for a  job change and went  through some interviews .almost always the first question of the interviewer used to be   Why you want to  go for a sales job after doing a bachelors degree in computer Science. ?  Some were amazed ,some were sympathetic, some were suspicious whether I will stay in the sales profile for a long time and whether I will jump to the first chance I will get to join software company as a programmer . somehow I convinced all of them   and almost every body  offered me a job in there firm .


Working  in a small software firm is always hard and more so if you are the sales guy there . you are commented and advised by everybody who will rather like to die than face the customer . you are dammed if you stay in office and dammed if you move out in field .


I used to think why people were so averse to the idea of doing a sales job . was it because of the hard work it demand ,but almost every type of job require to work your ass off . I discussed it with few of my friends . One of them said "well I can never do a sales job because I can't handle rejections and uncertainties which come with it " .



Rejection & Uncertainty  :  so this was the reason, ........well lets   look at it


Well at the first pass it looks like a good reason to stay away from sales. After all who wants to be rejected in life , Be it from Girlfriends or from Customers we hate being rejected . so logic goes that anybody with a respectable and big enough ego can't opt for sales as it demand you to take initiatives and risk the rejection .

Lets take them one by one : Rejection : my take on the fear of rejection is that we all are making our living here and doing the work . We go to our workplace equipped with our knowledge, we have tools ,we have raw inputs and we give some out put. That's the way world works . an accountant goes to world with a knowledge of   taxation and accounting there  he find a table or a ledger with figures he has to tally them. A software engg goes to his workplace with the knowledge of   C,C++ and finds a programmed needs to coded   or debugged ,he writes the code with intention of implementing a particular functionality in software . A sales man goes to work with the knowledge of a person(s) who is his prospect he understand the prospects work , requirements and   knows how he can solve the problem by the product or service he sales .


 Now in a typical workday an accountant might not be able to tally figures in a single table or a programmer might not debug a simple code but that is termed as "Natural" because the subject of there action can not speak out but in case of a Sales Guy making cold call over telephone the subject on the other end is a real living breathing human being and he can shout back if you act stupid   . If for a moment we imagine that we have a C /C++ complier who on every syntax error shout back " You fucking cock sucker !!,Can't you type the damn thing with proper attention? " or Ms-Excel saying " You spineless weasel!! it's the god damn Payroll of your colleague  you are messing up "
If we have these type of tools I think Programming labs and Accounting rooms will have more noise   and less work.


In a typical software firm  programmer tends to think that sales guy is at best is a necessary evil .These species of professional run from the fact that much of the respect which software programmer have commended in India is because of ignorance . people don't know what you are doing , you earn a lot of money and don't come home drunk and beat your wife .   All this automatically elevate them to a higher plane but if programmer stops for a minute a think that does  a word of appreciation from someone who don't understand what you are doing   means anything ?  how long does it give a artificial security to you when deep inside you know everyday you are less productive than your actual potential because of your stupidity .


I know many guys who say "I was debugging all day " and not many who says " I found out 10 bugs and fixed 5 " in the world of programming there   is no objective constant . there is only subjective realities , when they screw up some feature they philosophically declare " Fine ! that's one more and perhaps a better way of   implementing it " . Everything is subjective   to the interpretation of a spineless programmer .


They refuse to face the objective realities of outside world and love to live in there air conditioned cocoons . they can afford to do that because someone else is facing and fighting the world on there behalf and that someone is the sales guy . Even in developed and service centric economies like US producer is still revered as the creator of all the value in world and rest of the people including salesman is just passing the   torch . No wonder  we know Bill Gates , Steve Jobs and N.R.Murthy  and no one (until recently )cared about   Steve Ballmer , Sculley and Phaneesh Murthy . they were and they are merely a bonsai in the shadow of banyan trees .


Is it just a co-incidence or a nexus ? well your guess is as good as mine . and your guess depends whether you are a salesman or a Programmer .

Prashant Singh
Ladies & Gentelman ! Take My Advice
PullDown Your Pants & Slide on ICE