Saturday, November 27, 2010

Partnerships to build ecosystem-anyone?

It is time we built our own bridges!

Some of the impressions interacting with start ups at the Nasscom Product conclave earlier this month were reinforced even as I listened to the concerns of the small but very intense gathering at the NEN workshop yesterday- most (wannabe) entrepreneurs expect that Venture capital is the solution that would make their dreams come true!

It is my perception that we in India must find out our own paths to building sustainable organisations -especially since what worked in the Silicon Valley may not be as truly transplantable-as there are some fundamental differences in the US & Indian economies:

-The cost of capital in US being around 2-3% has seen most investing in the stock markets to enhance their personal wealth. In India, the higher cost, combined with the native propensity for savings provides for a much more stable & secure life.

-The success stories of start ups making millionaires out of one's neighbours in the US-spurs not just entrepreneurs but also aspirants who are willing to be employed . In contrast, the growing economy in India has made employment a lot more glamorous option (with juicy placements at entry level, lucrative salaries as MNCs chase those with a proven track record-and an assured annual increment of 10% -and close to 20-30% hike in salaries if one jumped on board!)

-There is also a huge parallel economy in India-that drives investment in real estate-apart from the largess of 'benami' money finding its way into many a business. In fact, it is not surprising to find a lot of wealthy family businesses/owners with 'financially sick' companies-at times even vehicles of converting black money into seemingly honourable avenues. So you see, the ROI is incomparable!

-Add to the above-the social /peer pressure that condemns failures in business opportunity, and the nascent stage of the banking system to promote businesses without collaterals-the odds are very much against the aspiring entrepreneur.

Here is a silver lining though. All the bubbling spirit we see all around - is in spite of the hurdles! Hats off to the spirit of entrepreneurship!

There is a caveat though. Almost all of us have offerings that would find acceptance within our own local communities. If only start ups bartered their services /products with the ones in the ecosystem-I feel there is a tremendous scope for all the players to go one notch up-finding paying customers, find talent to scale, and get past the 'break even points' or the threshold where one finds maximum mortality of small ventures. In fact, most entrepreneurs spend lot more time looking for funding ..than their own core competencies. Further accentuating the decline of their enterprises...isn't it?

The willingness to invest in improving partnering capabilities is one of the factors that help successful companies develop collaboration as a new and important source of competitive advantage.Take Boeing's case study-rather than trying to become the primary expert in the new composite materials that were being deployed, Boeing tapped the expertise of smaller firms that already possessed leading-edge capabilities in those materials.

"Leading firms make significant investments to develop their collaborative capabilities—for instance, by experimenting to learn what processes and practices work best or by selecting a new partner in order to tap its broader experience of cooperating with others. These firms don’t assume that their existing staff and processes are equipped to work with creative partners around the globe. In fact, they believe the opposite—that they must discover new skills and organizational arrangements to make collaboration work."

Let me try and articulate what I could probably have to offer to my potential partners, beyond merely providing resumes!:)

-Over 26yrs of experience in the Indian industry beginning from 1984. A stint of 9 yrs in the corporate world and the rest in an entrepreneurial mode trying to leverage on the opportunities-first in a liberalised India -and now looking to global avenues.


-Functionally-hands on experience in selling agricultural inputs (fertilisers, pesticides, diesel engine spare parts) to rural markets during my employment days. Since embarking on the recruitment consultancy -I have worked with over a 1000 companies -across industries, and differing life cycles of growth/decline, a variety of professionally/owner managed firms, and hence a pulse of what makes organisations/people tick!


-Access to an ever growing Rolodex-not just restricted to the relationships forged over the last 3 decades, but also to those being consolidated-thanks to the growing social media power to build and engage more potential relationships through collaboration.

I look forward to hearing from you...can we partner?


RSVP [email protected]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Geography or Google?

Is Geography history?

Earlier this month, I visited a friend in Kuala Lumpur-who had moved in there few years back- immediately after having sold a very successful business in Hong Kong. Being a truly globally networked professional, (he is a Westerner, and has close to two decades of experience across a dozen countries in the Asia-Pac) he has been orchestrating a network of contacts/relationships across the world -across industries, and business domains -thanks to the growing power of Internet, technologies & communication that erased many a nation's borders.

What amazed me- was that he had a nagging feeling...was he missing out some action elsewhere? Interestingly-he had visited China last month-and changed his Linked in status to being based in China. And hey presto, there was this sudden avalanche of enquiries-trying to leverage on his multicultural exposure!!

The same person. Same capabilities. But a change of location...and the perceptions changed!!

If you aren't google-able you don't exist, right? Or do you?

Juxtapose it with a couple of more tidbits I came across recently.

At one hand, as per reports from CB Richard Ellis, we see that India is the only country in Asia where there is a strong disconnect between GDP per capita and real estate costs! Mumbai is the now the 4th most expensive office locations across the world! In such a scenario, does one still need to have multiple offices?? Even if those offices just had a token physical presence?

Yet an industry which believes in "location, location and location" as the mantra-retail -is also moving closer to the customers. Or 'where the business opportunities are'!!

However, globalisation is changing a lot of old mindsets! Companies are relocating, resizing and re-looking at their strategies as a consequence!

Options is now well positioned to become a global player. Do we invest in offices/locations or do we expand by leveraging on the expertise and reach of our international partners and collaborate?

As a potential hiring manager or a potential job seeker..who would you want to reach out to? Are you happy connected to an automated email id? Or an IVR system?

We are in a world where one can Skype and actually see & talk with someone across the world..and transact business even from home-with someone REAL. Or even better, someone in your own country-who understands your aspirations & motivations- and strongly networked across the world.

RSVP [email protected]. I shall be glad to have your impressions!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jobs for locals...globally!

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced-the future is going to be driven by networks! And the power of collaboration..

Globalisation has changed the way companies have approached businesses in the past decade. Outsourcing.
Off shoring. International trade. Emergence of worldwide production markets.And consequently, brain drain. Movement of jobs.

While companies have been pushing for dissolution of boundaries to facilitate seamless flow of products and services, governments are getting paranoid about their sovereignty. More and more countries are resorting to barriers to protect jobs and shelter local industries from international competition!!

At the recent conference of NPA, The Worldwide Recruiting Network, that our firm is part of, we had over 50 participants from 13 countries under one roof for a couple of days and constantly comparing notes. While there is an increased hiring activity across the globe-especially compared to the sentiments in the preceding 18 months, there is a certain pattern to it!

-Cautious Optimism : While companies are willing to fill in (actually 'back fill") the roles, they are lot more choosy and fussy about whom to hire. There is no tearing hurry to hire, and in absolutely no mood to compromise.

-Lesser number of expat hires. There is an increasing trend and clamour for hiring 'returning natives' -or those of local origin but with international experience.

-Increasing use of social media to attract and retain the attention of the Gen Y! (there is an increasing emphasis on 'balanced life' in this segment compared to the GenX or the Baby boomer generation!)

-There is a slew of innovative initiatives most clients are experimenting with! For example
*RPO.
*Should they hire an expensive person for 6 months vs hiring a junior person for a whole year?
*Flexible offerings from third party vendors ( Not just sourcing, but providing semi in house services such as screening and assessment!)

But if there was one common thread that was obvious- it was the emergence of the Asia Pac region as the new market for most companies. Western companies looking to the East for growth & consumption, not just for reasons related to cost arbitration. As also regional players going global in their aspirations.

As NPA partners, there is a huge opportunity for most of us to help our respective clients-as they expand globally-while still hiring local talent -in each of the regions!! With over 350 owners -with over a decade of expertise in the respective domains/geographies, the extended reach is immense.

Imagine-as a prospective job seeker- the odds that someone among the 1800 recruiters in the network is working on a similar mandate, matching one's aspirations & abilities, could be quite enriching !!

PS here is an interesting presentation..

Sunday, November 14, 2010

#nasscompc, entrepreneurship & some thoughts

This blog post is almost an afterthought!

This year's Nasscom Product Conclave was a super hit-considering that they had stopped taking (with over 1200 ?) registrations a week before the event! The media coverage, blogs..and the tweets (at last count over 12000 posts on 11th November afternoon..with even half a day to go!)and the bytes there-of, only validate the views, opinions, and so I was inclined 'not to blog' about the same events!

At least not until I saw a fresh bunch of comments last evening- for some posts blogged by me 4 yrs ago (courtesy [email protected])! It was nice trying to understand/reflect on my view points then-in the context then!! Some of those thoughts are still part of my core belief's while some have since been totally revisited!! As an aside, I had then 'promoted' networking by scrapping on orkut (!!)-guess Facebook wasn't as popular then!! So, this post is more to record my random thoughts for posterity...something I could revisit a few yrs from now and reminisce about :)!?

My takeaways?

-great place to network! Under one roof one could catch up a lot of people- some old pals, some business acquaintances one had lost contact with, a few celebrities, apart from rubbing shoulders with folks one had been following online!

-get a ringside view of the latest fads in the industry, and pick up contemporary jargon. The themes predominant in this edition being

a) Lean start ups

b) Cloud as a disruptive phenomenon

c) Partnerships -both practical & tactical ones to help one 'go2market' and scale up faster!

-great insights from the 'one-one discussions' with a couple of speakers & some fellow delegates-as I had a vicarious pleasure of learning the way they have been able to navigate through the uncertain twists & turns that occasionally impeded their progress.

-a software product focused using social media for recruitment and enable me hopefully to stay engaged with some of the communities of my interest.

-a new product that would help my daughter -prepare for her ICSE Xth Board exams -giving her 'enough net practice'!

New heights?

Well, there are a few other thoughts that have been triggered- and only time will let me know if someone had the prudence to act on it: Much was waxed about opportunities being thrown up for different mobile applications using the UIDAI. Or some veiled references to making business plans to capitalise on the offerings courtesy National Skill Development Corporation ! Is there a way one could 'productise' the recruitment services-to the huge ocean of SMEs?

I somehow feel a lot can be done by collaboration! Presumably, there were over 500 start ups participating in the conclave-with some outstanding solutions to the daily life problems that most of the start-ups face. Now, if only there was a way -to focus their applications/test market within the ecosystem, I would believe the mortality rate of many a players would increase!!

Some points to ponder : Some of the interesting quotable quotes one overheard during the course of the interactions/deliberations need more introspection and analysis!!!...

"Indian IT services cos have a DNA of 'throwing more people to solve a problem'. In contrast, Israel, because of it not having enough people-make world class hi tech products! "

" the ecosystem of mentors & investors is more than adequate- an entrepreneur should also know when to change course..even pull out if necessary "

"Learn how to become a good partner...A Business Alliance must be approached like a marriage-both parties must have interest in winning"

"Cloud computing is today's version of the timeshare concept!!"

"people coming from humbler schools seem to try harder to succeed..there was little or no correlation between academic performance, as measured by grades & the type of college a person attended, and their real on-the-job performance! " ( Review war for talent?)

"Give away your products free to early adopters. They often have the power to influence the customer who can pay"

"Location is in our mind-It is the same all over - ONE GLOBAL INTERNET. Make the most of it. "

"Only a 'nobody' will help another 'nobody'. A 'somebody' is not likely to help 'a nobody'!

"Keep experimenting. Scale successes. Discard failures. Simple, no?"

Time to put some of the learning's to practice. And evolve, right ;)!?