Category: Gyaan-Bhandaar


Privacy Debate 2.0

Mark Zuckerberg in 2010 said, “Privacy has ceased to be a social norm…”. It was when Facebook faced thousands of critics over the privacy issues….Today its Google who is facing the brunt.

I got to know about the changes in the privacy policy of Google via an email. Since Google had taken the pains of notifying me, I had an idea that this change was an important one. I tried to forget this issue but Google kept reminding me to check these new policies whenever I made a search on Google or sent an email via Gmail or watched a video on Youtube.

So…What is this fuss all about? Would Google know a person better than his/her life partner? Would this change be bit too much revealing for a normal chap? Does this defy Google’s informal motto ‘Don’t be Evil’? I can’t answer these questions with certainity nor can most of the critics…

Google has been gathering a lot of data in the past. It claims that it won’t add any other ‘type’ of data to the exisiting bunch. So what is going to change? It is the way in which Google weaves the data. As we know that Google provides a huge bunch of services like, Search, Gmail, Youtube, Maps, Google Plus. It is planning to use the data collected via one service while providing some other services. In simple words, I would be considered as a single user across all the products once I log in.

For example, if I make a search on Google for a mobile phone. This would suggest Google that I am interested in buying a mobile phone and it would immediately be added as a ‘task’. Suppose, the next day I am wandering near the market place with my friends, and Google Maps locates some Mobile Phone shop near by, it would immediately remind me of that ‘task’.

Another example: Say, I watched a video on Youtube, let us say, it is about a hair styling product. Next time the ads placed on my Gmail page may contain information about similar products for sale.

So, would this enhance user experience? I think it would! But would this make some of us uncomfortable? Again, I think it would!

Some critics have been supporting Google and have following considerations:

  • Google won’t collect data if you are not logged in
  • Google makes life simpler, saves time and money. So the cost of having a non-intruding ad on search page or gmail page is not much. After all one doesn’t have to click on ads.
  • Since Google is a publicly traded company, its primary aim is to make profits for the shareholders. It, for obvious reasons, wants to sell ad space to businesses at higher rates.
  • Almost all the Google products have substitutes. So rather than relying on the single provider one can opt for different bunch of providers. If I don’t like it, I won’t use it.. Simple!
  • Some are happy with the fact the Google has been so transparent about these changes.

The only part that bothers me is that after March 1, all the old policies will be revoked and new ones would be in place. There is no turning back. So will people abandon Google. No way! Today communication systems have become more akin to food and water and are not considered luxury services any more. And Google has touched the life of almost every person in the planet in some or the other way. Taking it out of our lives doesn’t seem to be an option at all….!

Merger-Mania

Every firm needs to grow.. grow in terms of size. There are various ways of describing size of an organisation, by its number of employees, market share, market capitalisation, revenue, number of outlets etc.

‘Growth’ is very crucial! No arguments against it. But how to grow? This is a very important question and needs to be addressed. Should one prefer organic growth? This means that the firm would grow by improving its own business activity. Or should one take the path of inorganic growth which is usually through mergers and acquisition. The path of inorganic growth is taken usually in conditions of paucity of resource. Also inorganic growth is usually seen as a faster way for a company to grow when compared to organic growth.

The world has been witnessing a lot of mergers and acquisitions  in the recent years… Many scholars term this as merger-mania. Most of them argue, that the companies follow the M&A path without even understanding the purpose of one. They try to justify this, by saying that, the ROI for most of the corporations have come down after M&A. While the corporates argue that, one should not concentrate on the short term gains but on the expected value of long term returns.

Types of Mergers:

  • Horizontal Merger: takes place when the merging firms are in the same area of business
  • Vertical Merger: takes place when the merging firms are involved in different stages of production/distribution
  • Conglomerate Merger: takes place when the merging firms are in unrelated business

Principle to be followed: For such a transaction to be justified, the two firms involved must be worth more together than they were apart.

Let us try to understand the advantages and disadvantages behind any M&A:

Advantages:

  1. Cost Efficiency though economies of scale
  2. Increase in market share
  3. Benefits in terms of resources, technology
  4. Easy entry into new customer segments
  5. For financial leveraging
  6. Entry into new geographical regions
  7. Tax Benefits
  8. Reduces competition
  9. Risk Spread

Disadvantages:

  1. Diseconomies of scale if the company has become too large
  2. Integration may be difficult
  3. Business model conflicts
  4. Clashes of culture

Usually the announcement of an M&A deal leads to a change in share prices. Usually the share price of the acquirer falls down, while that of the firm which is being acquired increases. But it need not happen everytime. A lot of people also keep raising questions on the way the firms are valued. Also the intention behind an M&A matters a lot. As per investopedia most of the deals fall out due to the wrong or unjustified intentions.

After the 2008-10 crisis, the M&A trend has slowed down, but it seems it might catch up and increase at an unprecedented rate soon. Let us wait and watch, if the argument of long term returns holds good or not!

– In the management education, a lot of emphasis is laid on the case studies… We read cases, we analyse them, we discuss them and may be we tend to forget them… In one of the classes, our Prof. asked us, ‘if you were working for the corporation mentioned in the case, would you just devote 2 hrs of your time to it?’

– ‘Have few ideas, but all of huge mileage’.

– ‘Diamond and Graphite are made up of the same carbon atoms, what makes them soft and hard is the structure!’ This one is very applicable to the firms of today.

– ‘Ours is a collective profession(management)’ – for the class, so that all would be attentive to the speaker.

– ‘Character of the head of a firm determines the character of the organisation’ – by some student

We at XIMB get a lot of feedback from our seniors, regarding courses, professors, projects etc. Relying on the feedback we eagerly wait for attending the classes of few Profs….Prof. IC is one of them.  He took our first class yesterday…. Was it the best lecture I had ever heard? Did I understand all of it? I dont know… I really don’t. What I really know is that he made me think, he forced us all to think…

While delivering the lecture he mentioned of Chaos Theory, to which one of our batchmates pointed as ‘The Butterfly Effect’. Believe me, I had never heard of this term. And when I got to know the meaning, it got me thinking!

Origin:

Edward Lorenz a mathematician & meteorologist at MIT while studying weather thought of combining mathematics and meteorology. He constructed a mathematical model of the weather, which contained set of differential equations representing  changes in temperature, pressure, wind velocity, etc.

One day, Lorenz decided to re-examine a sequence of data coming from his model. Rather than restarting the entire run, he  restarted it from somewhere in the middle. He entered the inputs using some printouts. He was surprised to see that the model now had given a different curve than the previous one. As per the wiki, he entered the decimal .506 instead of entering the full .506127.

He looked into the matter and found that his data printouts showed three digits while the data in the computer’s memory had six digits. Lorenz had assumed that the difference was inconsequential. He realised that many a times, a small change in the conditions can trigger off a huge event.

Once he was giving a talk on this, one of his peers suggested him to keep the title ‘Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?‘ This is how, it came to be known as ‘the butterfly effect’. It means that the flapping wing can represent a small change in the initial condition of the system, and this may cause a chain of events leading to large-scaled effects.

But as Prof. IC says, not every butterfly can cause a tornado. But one should always remember that how small an event might be, one should be careful enough and remember that this may have a ‘snowballing effect’ or ‘domino effect’ or ‘the butterfly effect’.

And Oh yes, this is not a new theory…. you would be remembering the rhyme ‘For Want Of a Nail’ which has been considered as a proverbial rhyme for centuries!

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The Leader!

 ‘A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves’

It has been days since I have met a personality whom I would love to learn from. So I have suddenly started missing my mentors and managers whom I regard as God’s gift to me so that I would never walk unguided…

I have worked under 9 managers to be precise in  a span of 34 months. I met both good as well as bad leaders. I never was bad at my work…but I was at my best when I worked under few good leaders.

Were these leaders different? Yes, most of them displayed the qualities that are listed below:

  1. Rational Beings: Don’t follow the masses but have a logical approach to decisions
  2. Information Percolation: Know how much of information flow is good enough for subordinates and even upper management
  3. Lead by example: Know that preaching does not hold good for a long time, leads the team by his own example
  4. Not easy to be fooled: Know the basics of business as well as the product well. Can’t be easily fooled
  5. The only Motivator: Bond with the team so well that they want to work for him in even worst situations
  6. Blame Game: Stay AWAY from the blame game… if essential takes the blame upon himself and shares the success
  7. Calm: is calm and composed in uncertain situations
  8. Talent Recognition: Can identify the best of the talent available, knows how much a person can be stretched, has an idea of utilising the available skills, can very well shape the career and learning curve of his subordinate
  9. No to adulation: Recognizes and stays away from adulates

There was one particular instance when our team had an important release.  I was sharing my views with one of the main architects of the project who worked in other location. I just said, that if you were a king, I would have expected you to join your army in the battlefield. And guess what, he flew to this business center and was all along with the team during tough times.

There have been many instances when as a new user I would heavily criticise any technology/tools/processes. One of my managers always used to very patient with me during these times, listening to my burning views all the time… and almost all of the time I used to realise at a later stage that I was so terribly wrong.

In one of the projects, my manager proposed that she would be doing all my tasks for a week, so that I would go on for a week long vacation!

Wonderful! Aren’t they? I can count on many more instances but am saving them for future usage 😉

Is it so very tough to be a leader. For some, it comes on naturally. I mean that such persons have strong value system, are keen on learning and are very determined. They are also very receptive to ideas and suggestions. Analytical skills need to be good enough to find out ways in midst of issues and should possess good communication skills inorder to convince others.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader- John Quincy

So let’s try to be lead our teams as leaders. Our country is known to have a huge pool of doctors and engineers. Hope, we would be counted in as part of the leaders’ pool!