Monday, December 26, 2011


All Products and Services can be categorized into two types - Premium and commoditized.

As a buyer try to convince the seller that his/her Product/Solution is commoditized.
As a seller try to convince the buyer that he is getting a premium service and he need to pay appropriate price for it. 

Keep in mind, convincing is not easy if the claim is grossly wrong. So you need to position your play appropriately.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What HR heads can learn from Cruise and Airlines industry

Short answer...Loyalty Programs to reduce Total Cost of Ownership. Continue reading for the long answer.

Let me be very clear..this advice will not help all the HR Professionals. Many HR Professionals (Headhunters/Job Portal companies etc.) will actually hate the plan because if implemented properly most of them have to close down. 

Who will love the plan..I think everyone except those HR Professionals. Customers, Co-workers and Managers - nobody loves to work with a person who is new in that role and who do not have complete information. Nobody wants to train a person from scratch and then loose that talent one day and start the process again. Attrition is costly - and the cost is generally underrated. Depending on the industry and the role that cost varies - but I think most don't appreciate all the cost implications of attrition. We generally consider the substitution cost (extra salary/compensation (which sometimes are as high as 100% or more) which needs to be paid to attract similar talent to fill that position) but don't account for the loss in customer confidence, extra hours lost by co-workers in knowledge transfer process and loss in intellectual insight when a person leaves the organization. From an employee perspective as well it may be beneficial - considering the pain of relocation, adjusting to the new office work-culture and extra work needed to create a good brand image. So it is a win-win.

Problems understood, what's the solution? My view: Organizations need to implement the best practices from the Best-run Loyalty Programs in the industry - airlines and cruise industry. Airlines have one of the most liberal rewards (loyalty) program in the world which actually creates a lot of stickiness. Cruise lines offer something unique - they provide repeat guests VIP treatment by inviting them to special parties, bon-voyage gifts or Champagne, priority embarkation, great rates for the next cruise etc. Result - cruise industry enjoys a very high-level of repeat clientele.

Organizations need to understand there are two pieces for employee loyalty - monetary (tangible) and emotional (intangible). Monetary parameters are important - nobody likes to stick to the same company if he sees that even the best performance for next 10 years cannot match the salary he can gain by a single switch. Companies need to understand the market forces and go for more personalized, more real-time approach towards compensation(why not increase someone's salary 15% when you need to pay at least 30% more for a substitute talent) .

At the same time companies need to understand a very important piece of the puzzle which is seldom appreciated. How you treat people, how you give them more opportunities, how you empower them, how you respect them (here is great book on this), how you make their life more easy is as important as how much you pay them. Learn from cruise industry - create special benefits for the people who have shown loyalty - it may be extra leaves, special bonus rates, invitation-only parties - there are no limits on innovation in this space.

Caveat: Loyalty programs are not for everyone. Companies do not like loss-making customers or
Bad-performing employees and do everything needed to get rid of them - and that is perfectly acceptable (I love Jack Welch theory of eliminating bottom 10% every year). What is not acceptable is treating good talent without special recognition.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rent a Toy!

Kids have interest for new toys only for few days if not for few hours.

Don't you think Toy renting is a wonderful business case?

But probably just want the parents to buy a new one for them..they probably don't care about economics.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yearly Driving Training can create Huge impact

Practical Tips - choose the class as you need. You can't do Parallel Parking - take a session. You do not know how to change lanes - take a class. If you want to take all the training - you can do it all.

I think this will drastically improve the driving skills of americans and drastically reduce the number of accidents. Other benefits include lower insurance premium, less carbon footprint and more importantly lot of saved lives!

Insurance companies/governments should sponsor such training programs as that will lower much of their cost.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

All you can eat - Is it a good deal?

It's a bad deal for both Consumer and Solution Provider...

Consumer pays more because generally the Package is charged at a higher rate by the Solution Provider(who wants to minimize the risk of cost overrun).

Consumer wastes resources, instead of mindful quality consumption consumer focuses more on quantity of consumption - only because he has already paid the price.

Why it is generally a bad deal for Service Provider?

(S)he needs to take the risk of cost overrun and estimation errors. There is also a risk of bad press due to bad quality - if you have tried a-la-carte and buffet in the same restaurant, you know the difference in quality. The restaurant owner cannot just afford to provide the best quality food in a buffet.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Life is boring...except these magicians

Business as usual life is very boring...think about it...anything predictable is boring.

So what makes life worth living...discovering unknown unknowns..miracles and magic.

If you want to get fun out of your life, fill your life with magicians!

You can find magicians everywhere(a great manager is a magician, a great cook as well)...make them your friend..learn from them and try to become one of them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Can the fear of 2012 Apocalypse stop the imminent recession?

If the world is going to end next year we will live like there is no tomorrow. We will spend like anything - try to fulfill  our wildest dreams. We will travel the world, splurge in the best hotels and restaurants, buy our dream Louis Vuitton leather accessories and what not.

I am probably giving examples of Rich world, but the case stands true for everyone. A poor farmer in Bangladesh probably dreams of a vacation in Goa or a Financial Analyst in Mumbai wants to see Wall Street. You get the point right?

Can you think of any better stimulus if the whole world starts living a desperate life?

Are the world leaders listening? Forget economic stimulus...push the Adrenalin flow. There is no better stimulus than Fear of Death!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Josette Sheeran: Ending hunger now

Great TED talk on solving hunger problem - it has one of the best Return on Investment(ROI) considering the improved productivity and reduction in healthcare cost. I especially love the strategy proposals - starting mid-day meals in schools instead of food subsidies etc.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Jeremy Gilley: One day of peace - Spread the thought

Like the idea..but more than that I like the speaker and his passion..check this TED talk.

Let’s Cancel 9/11 - Love this article

'The attacks of September 11, 2001 were in every sense abusive, horrific acts.  And the saddest thing is that the victims of those suicidal monstrosities have been misused here ever since under the guise of pious remembrance.  This country has become dependent on the dead of 9/11 -- who have no way of defending themselves against how they have been used -- as an all-purpose explanation for our own goodness and the horrors we’ve visited on others, for the many towers-worth of dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere whose blood is on our hands..'

Read the full story here

Thursday, September 8, 2011

One of the best article I read in recent past

Here is the CNN link and if you want to know more about the author and read related comments check his blog.

We have to move to Independent Collaborative Value-addition model as the big corporation mode will be obsolete.

There is no way with Technological Progress and Automation we can continue to add(or even keep) jobs.

We need to reimagine,rework and rediscover work.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hopeless RBI

Reserve Bank of India(RBI) governor thinks he can control Food Inflation by increasing Interest rate. High Food Inflation has nothing to do with the Interest rate. It can be controlled only by increasing efficiency  and reducing leakage in the Farm and Food distribution system. Government's approach is risking growth, creating more pain for middle/lower middle class on top of high Food inflation.

I am ok to compromise with growth if Inflation can be controlled, but till now RBI has not been successful. Policymakers - please keep in mind India had huge food inflation even during Nehru-growth days. So growth is not the culprit - at least for food inflation.

Stop playing with RBI rates( reduce it) and better concentrate in reducing the wastage in Food Corporation of India warehouses.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Can US Solve these issues?

Barry Ritholtz posted a fantastic piece in his blog The Big picture. As I mentioned in my previous post innovation is highly overrated and just being optimistic(hope and pray) will not be enough. We need to be realistic, accept that we don't have an answer yet and try to solve the big problems


Additional Note: There is a chance that I am overreacing to the problems(some notes here). But as they say,"Only the Paranoid Survive".

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Solving Big Problems

It seems that we know the solution for most of the problems. We know big government is bad, huge national debt is worse. We know banker-politician nexus is ruining the economy - they are privatizing profits and socializing losses. We know we waste a lot of resource when the world is starving. We know we all can use public transport and significantly reduce our carbon footprint. We know we have limited fossil fuels, our alternate energy solutions are nowhere near sustainable model and we should invest significant effort, money and talent in discovering new energy technologies.

But still nothing changes...we continue to print money, waste huge amount of stuff(including food), drive gas-guzzlers, package debts in more complex CDOs and get excited about next about generation iPads (and think that our innovation can solve any problems). Why?

I think we have not really understood the root causes and/or have been able to solve those.  

Let me give some examples to clarify this. Let's start with Game-theory issues. Most of the Americans know that they are one of the biggest per capita greenhouse gas producers. Still most of them are really not interested in improving on this(I am talking about significant efforts(not using hybrids but using Public transports) and only motivated by the thought of 'good karma'(and not for controlling cost in the days rising fuel prices)). Are they bad people who are destroying our world for material comfort. Not really. It's a game theory problem. They are not sure even if they reduce the greenhouse emission their life(or for that matter everyone's life) will be any better. They don't have a guarantee that even if they compromise with their lifestyle billions of people in China and India will also do so. It's a case of prisoner's dilemma. Nobody wants to compromise because they are not sure about the other parties.

Another case - Politician and Business lobby nexus - again a story of short term gain('in the long term we will all die'). Do you think Obama has no idea how to fix the economy or for that matter Ben Bernanke. There may be some amount of analysis-paralysis but know for sure that they have the most informed and knowledgeable advisers available in the world. Above all they have enough amount of intelligence to understand the situation. Then why they cannot take bold action? Why can't they solve the 'Too big to fail' problem? Why can't they solve conflicts of interest problem between business and rating agencies? Because politicians need financial supports from banks and businesses. A too big to fail bank can provide huge campaign support which an average Joe cannnot. 

Last case(most won't agree) - our technological or business process innovation is highly overrated and we have misinvested our talent in low priority problems. We see a lot of changes. But I have a feel that most of our changes are cosmetic and there has been very few epoch-making improvements in recent past(except Internet or few other stuff). Think about it - most of us still drive to office everyday, do 8-5 job, comeback home, see TV/movies and sleep. We still have very low level of control over many diseases(AIDS, Cancer etc.). We still can not control natural forces(flood) or even predict them(earthquake). We still have billions of people in the world who are dying for basic needs - food, drinking water and safety. Millions are people fight against each other and die. If you think Apple will can save the world - think again! Companies concentrate on opportunities which can be monetized quickly(low hanging fruits). Solving big problems such as energy is a high risk high gain play. Most investors do not have capacity or attitude to take that risk. Governments should pitch in but again government is never good in execution(different parties have different views, less focus etc.).All in all no progress.

Bottomline: We need to solve big problems. Our Innovation need to tackle these root causes(game-theory, Information Asymmetry, conflict of interest, pricing etc.) and should not be busy in walkman-> ipod kind of progression. I don't have a answer on how to do it but I have a sample solution how it should look like.You must have heard of 'invisible hand of the market'.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Healthy body No Diet

I love to eat..and eat a lot. Unfortunately all my favorite foods are the worst things to eat for keeping a healthy body - Cold drinks, Cheaps, Frys, Ice Creat, Goat Meat, Salad Dressings etc.(probably foodies can appreciate the fact that most healthy foods taste crap..not sure if we can create genetically modified food which taste great and still have less calorie, sodium or salt). So it's a bad compromise...(healthy slim body+Eat less food(which generally taste bad)) or (Become obese with all related problems+ Eat yummy food as much as you like)...I hate it.

Can we have a TRIZ like solution - have the best of both worlds? Will eat whatever we like but still have BMI within our control? I don't know if it is too complex to make but one solution can be placing an intelligent machine within our digestive system which will control the absorption of nutrients. Once just enough nutrients are absorbed for the time being it will stop the absorbing that specific element. Example once enough fat is absorbed no more fat will be absorbed. At that time Vitamin -A need may not have been fulfilled, so the system will look for any opportunity to extract Vitamin-A from the food we continue to eat - the rest of the food will be bypassed.

Sounds like a science fiction? I am sure you will love it and hope this is available in the market before we die obese :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Customer Loyalty, Acquisition Cost, Promotional offers etal.

In today's marketplace Customer Loyalty is a rare phenomenon. So many companies are trying to get Customer attention and share of Customer's wallet that it is increasingly becoming costlier to acquire Customer's business. Everyday customers are flooded with Daily Deals emails, Coupons in the mailbox, Promotional offers and account opening bonuses. Most of them ignore it(never open the email or throw them in the mailbox garbage bins). Second largest consumer category - exploit the offer and move on. Only the very few accept the offer and become loyal customers. Very inefficient, yet most popular(easy solution?).

There are few rare exceptions who never(or rarely) discount their prices but still can manage to get an extremely loyal customer base. Think about Apple or Disney - Have you seen them giving away deep discounts on a regular basis or sending promotional offers through mail? They do not. Instead they concentrate in creating an amazing product which people love to buy. Delighted customers do the advertisements free of charge(Inbound marketing?).

There is another great way to secure loyal customers - by being human and providing great customer support(zappos was a great example). When a company grows big it introduces lot of processes and procedures and thus become a giant robot loosing the human mind to help customers. 'We are sorry to hear that but as per our process...' instead of ' I am so sorry, let me try something for you...'. No prize for guessing who will win customer's soul.

Both these are tough to do when you are a big organization. Hence they are so rare. But they are worth the try!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Beautiful Design and Elevator Pitch - But most startups fail to attack the big problems

I was reviewing the AngelList Startups. Most of them have fantastic website design and great elevator pitch(Can someone tell me how they draft such a beautiful story with multimedia, graphics etc. - there must be some great tool I am not aware of). Unfortunately most of them are either minor modification of familiar websites(leaders can easily implement the extra features and kill these followers, I saw many type sites) or target very small market size to become really successful(I found one website for buying travel plans for russia).

Niche is the theme for startups but I think there are many niche areas which have huge untapped potential and ideal for startups. 

How to guarantee your luggage won't be lost or stolen next time you fly

Interesting idea...this blog is full of interesting ideas:)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Junk or Interesting - what do you think?

Read here and discuss :)

People here just vanish..

'There are no nameplates, no flowers and no reminders of their lives. People here just vanish'

Thanks Dr. Gupta for this story

When will we give enough importance to basics - Food, Water, Health and Education(Information)...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thoughts on Statistics

Sometimes statistically negligible items get huge media importance but more critical but boring stats do not. Here is a fantastic TED Talk and a fantastic article.

'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kiva - Best way to Help Entrepreneurs to grow out of poverty

Loans that Change Lives  - Kiva is offerring first $25 loan offer to get started. Believe in the power of multiplication effect, rather than helping a person with one time $25 you can use the same dollar multiple times and help multiple people by providing them Loans.

Give it a shot.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Daily Deal - Only good for buyers and deal sites

It does not really help merchants, very few people really do repeat business. People who follows deal sites are opportunists – it is stupidity to expect them to be loyal and pay the retail price. See the analysis here.

This deal site business is in bubble zone. Must cool down after some time.

Career Success, becoming famous and...

There are two ways.

Either you choose a career path which is very competitive and proven to be very rewarding for people on top and then be very good at it. For example you choose medical profession and join Harvard Medical School(top one percentile or less).

Or you can join a career which is new and market is yet to appreciate the potential(hence less competitive)and then be reasonably good at it. In this case you don’t need to be genius or extremely good but if the market demand increases you will automatically make it huge(early mover advantage). These people are either visionary or they are ordinary people rejected by competition from the hot career options.

This is not only true for choosing a career. It is a more generic than that. You can choose a crowded street and try all your best (dangerous) driving skills and reach your destination in one hour instead of one hour and ten minutes or find an unknown shortcut and make it in five minutes. These Information asymmetries are real.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Job Applicant screening – Unique idea

See how a new startup 'Square' has done this. Here is the link

To apply, please submit along with your resume a critique of the following code:

#!/usr/bin/env ruby


# This program encrypts and decrypts messages at the command line.

# It runs setuid root, so that it can be used by users without giving

# them access to the (root-owned) secret encryption key.

require 'openssl'



cipher ='aes-256-ecb')

case ARGV.shift

when 'encrypt'


when 'decrypt'



puts "Usage:"

puts "$0 [encrypt
decrypt] "

exit 1



input =

output =, "w")

input.each_line do

output.write(cipher << l)


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street

Check out this fantastic documentary on Wall Street. Last decade saw many Scientist moving to Financial world as Quants and they loved it.When I was in college I read this fantastic article  and had a dream of joining wall street someday(I loved both Physics and Finance). But I have now dropped that idea. I have a feel that there are many other areas which are more important than so called 'Financial Innovation' and gambling through high frequency trading. Finance should just have an role of intermediary for money flow - take money from investors or savers and hand it over to entrepreneurs or businesses for creating value. Instead it is earning lion's share of revenue from trading, creating synthetic instruments(CDOs etc.) and gambling with other people's money risk-free. This is not creating any value, it is actually a value-destroying activity.

Remember, sustainable wealth can be only be created by creating real value through Innovation(by creating new products and services and thus solving some problem for large number of people). Trading and creating synthetic financial products can not substitute that. And we need a substantial mindset change for appreciating that. Too many talents are wasting their time in wall-street firms just for money.

The best thing that the government can do to solve many of our problems is to change the wall-street Compensation policy(I am not suggesting a cap on compensation, but compensation based on risk-return and appropriate clawback - Hedge Fund managers can get a share of profit, but then they have to take a share of loss as well). Once this is in place, all this wall-street excess will be gone and it will be more boring  place for many innovative minds. That will be good from two perspectives: Finance will limit its role to the point it creates real value for people - small firms borrowing and lending money(not like today's 'Too big to fail' gambling organizations). At the same time other industries(energy, biotech etc.) will get talents for solving real big problems the world is facing.

Leave East Coast and come to West Coast. West coast is all about casual dressing and creating real value. East coast is all about vanity fair and Financial manipulation. Its your choice!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Have some Free Computing TIme..Volunteer!

Use the idle time on your computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) to cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research. It's safe, secure, and easy. Try BOINC

Do you support bitcoin and wikileaks?

I do..what about you?

Netflix Gyan - Nice!

Enjoy the insights. I would love to work in a team like this.

My 2 cents - I always think the peer group comparison performance ranking, percentile ranking is never a great idea for Teamwork, which is essential for great organization. The NextGen companies are starting to recognize that fact and trying to create a 'helping organization'. Keep great people who can think beyond the obvious and the synergy will move the company ahead. The compensation should be primarily based on Team Performance. Individualistic variances will be required based on market needs but that should never be Peer-comparison rating based. It should be based on Individual meeting their own set targets.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

We need Angel Investing/Venture Capital instead of Share Trading

So many analysts are wasting their time on Stock Analysis and misguiding general public. They are just trying to grow trading volume so that Financial Services community (Fund manager, Trading companies, Analysts firms) makes money and general public loose out. This is a Win-Lose scenario.

Let me suggest a win-win scenario. A platform is badly needed so that common people can invest some of their money in new companies, startups etc. These New Companies new Venture Capital money and sometimes good ideas die just due to lack of Venture Capital funding. Today common men(say having investable capital less than one million or so) cannot participate in Venture/Angel funding – government rules prohibit that. Also common people probably do not have enough competence to do the due diligence before investing in new venture. Why can’t we relax the rules of Venture capital funds where anyone can invest with their small amount of money. Government should allow this as they are investing agreeing that it is a high risk-high return investment and they can lose money(it is anyway true for a stock after IPO).

If this is allowed we will see Financial Analysts will get some interesting job to do(rather than suggesting Buy on stock today and then recommending ‘Sell’ after a month)which will actually help the economy to boom. Prudent investors will get an opportunity to invest and benefit in the early growth of a company and new entrepreneurs will get enough funding to pursue their dreams. They will get much more options to ask for money than they get today.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Really Fast Food...

My wife was preparing some wonderful Indian Foods yesterday. Preparing good Indian food takes a lot of effort, estimation skill( and some amount of luck) and time - you need to put all spices at the right time, fry or boil ingredients based on quantity of food being prepared etc. She spent almost her full day preparing different foods and it took just 15 minutes to eat all these good stuff. We started at finished - it seemed to be over in no time. That is frustrating for me (and I hope some of my readers think in the same line) - we should improve on this to save time on cooking.

Make no mistake, I am not suggesting that we stop experimenting with food, try new things to create exotic dishes but once we figure out the recipe we should be able to automate it and the cook can just set instructions and forget about it. It will be ready in five minutes without any supervision.

Preparing food is nothing but some chemical and physical reactions done at controlled environments. I think we have not done good research on these processes and chemical reactions - if there is a way to expedite the process through some catalysts etc. So instead of having an detail instruction of the procedure the recipe of future will just have the ingredients and the Names of Chemical reactions(which can be set into a universal 'Fast Cooker').  Probably there is way to reach same final state much more quickly and one day we can have Chicken Biriyani within 15 minutes instead of hours.

Think about it. Everyone(even people like us who can't cook) should get a chance to eat tasty

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Where should I park my car?

I am not sure if somebody has already thought about it(I could not find any patents). It is a pain to just move around searching for a parking place in a big parking area(I feel whenever I enter office late).

Why can't we have a Imaging/Recognition system which can scan and inform motorists of any parking space in a big parking area? I can just check and go straight to park my car?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Are your People Over Communicating?

Communication overhead is a major pain for large companies. Effective communication and right amount of Information sharing is required but what happens is too many people is trying to convey too many items to too many people in too many ways(email, phone calls, meeting, memos, Town halls). All these noise(people don’t care to what the others are saying) decreases company focus, wastes the most important resource of employees which is time and increases operational(including Technical cost).

Companies need major culture change – follow minimalist philosophy. But before that they need to do some surveys and number crunching – How many man-hours of meetings happen in the company, How many emails are sent and received(check how many emails were sent on same topic because of gap in communication), how many minutes of phone calls are made etc. and then get a pulse from employees – how frustrated they are with communication overhead and how they think this can be reduced.

This should then be benchmarked with companies of similar nature and statistics of best performing companies. Do you have any other thoughts on this?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fix my Stuff

In United States or other advanced countries there is generally no concept of fixing stuff - be it shoes, Electronics, or any other stuff. We purchase, use for some day and when some small things go wrong we just throw them out. This is because cost or time needed to fix them do not justify fixing it - it is much more easier to buy a new one. The reason is price of a new item is generally less due to scalable factory operation procedure but generally the process of fixing stuff is unorganized and not scalable increasing the per item cost.

Not fixing and just throwing them out is a very bad solution from environment and resource utilization perspective. We could have saved a lot of natural resources, energy, effort, money and pollution(waste) if we could fix things in a more scalable manner.

Why can't we have a scalable business to fix stuff in a more scalable fashion reducing the cost to a level which will encourage people to fix things rather than buy a new one. This should ideally be a factory with a high concentration of specialists as a part of gating process. They will receive a defective item - understand what needs to be fixed and channel to the right channel. Then the fixing process can be should be routinized and low cost affair providing the advantage of scale. Initially it will have entry barrier - but with time it will become much more scalable.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Revolution or Evolution

Not suggesting we need a socialist country where we reward bad behaviour. But today rich are are rewarded much more than the value they create. We need to Tax rich(I support redistribution) and use that money for education and research which can solve next big issues such as Energy, Food, Health etc.We also need to ensure that we have more people moving to elite professions such as Medical profession etc. and reduce the supply demand curve in profession(commodatize elite professions to some extent).

As suggested by Raghuram G. Rajan we need education to bridge the gaps. This is the only way we can avoid revolution and move to overall prosperity by evolution.

There will be huge pressure from the Elite Lobby(such as medical school lobby) and we need a strong mass leader to lead this.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'Truly' Active Portfolio Management

Read a fantastic article written by Scott Vincent of Green River Asset Management named 'Is Portfolio Theory Harming Your Portfolio?'. My view closely matches with his view on Risk Management and Portfolio construction. Historical Number crunching is not the best Risk management approach and ideal portfolio should not have any bias for specific security class. Ideally investors should look for value and concentrated approach really helps in managing the Portfolio.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Food - Why so much waste when there is so much need and why no business is working on stopping this?

Per these reports(here is a more detailed report) we waste a huge amount of food every year. Any waste is bad especially when we cannot feed good quality food to everyone in the world. Leave aside the people from poor countries, even many families in economically advanced countries such as USA can’t have healthy food everyday(they consume cheap quality fast food as healthy food is costly). Food Inc. suggests that this cheap fast food culture can become very costly in the long term considering the high cost healthcare impacts(Obesity, Diabetes etc.). So this is a huge problem – social, health, economic - from all perspectives. Now any problem is an opportunity for new business – then why we haven’t seen any successful business effort to solve this problem. To answer this let’s think through the problem and see if some solution emerges.

Pre-consumption food waste due to perishable nature of food products:

This is the waste which happens during Production-Processing-Distribution stage. It is primarily supply-chain management and storage management problem. As soon as the food is produced it needs to be either taken to market or stored in Cold storage. Primarily a problem with Developing countries.

Consumer Food waste:

This happens after the consumer has purchased the food. Primarily a Problem of Plenty – Purchase more food than they can consume before it gets wasted. Sometimes this is a problem with lifestyle in wealthy countries.

What are the Possible Solutions and Business Opportunities:

Supply Chain and Food Storage Management:

There is a huge infrastructure gap(especially in poor developing countries) for quickly processing food, storing food in cold storage(warehouses) at right temperature and then managing the supply chain using FIFO or appropriate algorithm. In many developing countries 30-40% of food wastage can be avoided if these are taken care of. There are problems of politics and local power play as well impacting the scaling up of these systems. Instead of these issues I think there is a huge opportunity of supply chain and Food storage management business(especially in the developing countries).

Demand dependent Supply management:

Storage of Perishable food is a big challenge and this add to the cost of the food (also has Greenhouse impacts due to Cooling requirement). This problem can be avoided if Supply cycles can be matched closely with the demand cycles. For example a company can provide intelligence to the local producers based on the typical historical consumption/sales data. Just in Time(JIT) Production from local Producers can really help in minimizing the waste.

When producing corps farmers can divide their field in 12 small sections and target the harvest in each month. This way we can minimize the need of food storage and also produce a uniform distribution of food. This will also help farmers to streamline their revenue-cost cycles and reduce the risk of waste/lower cost of produce.

Waste of Food in Restaurants:

Two ideas – Restaurants should have capability to offer Real time deals (similar to what Groupon is going to offer) when they see they cannot sell their food at standard price.

Also in case they cannot sell the food there should be some collection agency collecting the food from restaurants which can be offered to the poor people on food stamps. The Restaurants should be given some Tax breaks as a motivation. A social Business(NGO/Government sponsored agency) can offer the service of collecting the food and distributing to the poor people. Great if these agencies can have intelligence on the demand-supply needs and expiry date of the collected foods to make intelligent decisions etc. This will allow these agencies to transfer the non-perishable food to poor countries as well.

Waste of Food in Households

Again we will love to have an intelligence on our future food needs and have suggestions on when to buy at what quality. A portal can provide this intelligence – I will enter what all I plan to eat in next few days and based on my availability of grocery in my freeze it will suggest what else I need to buy in my next supermarket visit.

Monday, May 9, 2011

How boring life can be - A short film

Housewives live such a boring life - terrible waste of human energy. I think they want to do good work - but due to different reasons they can not. It sounds great that you have no work, you can enjoy all your time in seeing TV but in reality it is terrible life. See the comments in the movie - one guy could not even see this 10 min film. Then just think how painful it can be for the housewives who live such life years after years!

Happy Mother's Day - Valuing mom's work

Here is a great article which does the valuation of the work moms do which generally gets unnoticed, and unrecognized.

Mom's contribution in our lives is priceless but do we always appreciate it?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Air India - How TaxPayer money is getting destroyed by the Dishonest Politicians

There has been a great story around AirIndia - how the minister-industrialist nexus destroyed the institution. I am not against the privatization of Government owned institutions (considering the historic mismanagement of Taxpayers money) but we need to make sure it is sold at right valuations.

We have seen similar cases in the privatization of other government owned companies - where the valuation was less than even their book value(or Networth).

Not sure if we can stop this, but it is always worth a least post Lokpal satyagraha success.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to make a better workplace

I am a great fan of Jason Fried of 37signals(Frankly speaking my dream company to work for). Check out this TED video on making a better workplace - no meeting, less manager disturbance.

Also read a great book from them.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Simply Jaw dropping:Computing a theory of everything

Example first, theory later!

Here is the Demo for Wolfram|Alpha:

And here is the Theory and more discussions from Stephen Wolfram:

Interested? Try yourself here

My Two cents...this is not exhaustive, but a wonderful start!!

Some Fantastic Life Lessions from ZenHabits

Read, Enjoy and Implement.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pmail - More Control, Less Resource and Better User Experience

As per the April 2010 Radicati Group study around 90 trillion emails are sent every year and approximate email users in the world are around 1.9 Billion. Unfortunately 90% of these emails are Junk. 

These numbers are alarming when we consider the inefficiency associated with the Productivity Loss, Network usage and Email Server usage. In present avatar email systems have huge redundancy. Consider the case when an email with 2 MB attachment is sent to 1000 people (email sent to groups/Reply all/Spams) out of which only 10 persons are interested or need those data. But everyone receives a copy; the transmission takes huge bandwidth, Email servers take huge storage and ultimately People need to spend thousands of unproductive hours to delete those emails.

There are other issues with email. In today’s form once you press the ‘Send’ button you don’t have any control to restrict the content. This is because all receivers get a personal copy in their local mail box and you don’t have access to Delete that data. But ideally the sender should have a control to restrict the data even if the sender sent the email by mistake (controlling confidential data).
From the receiver’s perspective controlling unwanted emails is a pain. Sometimes we receive unwanted emails as Reply Alls and then the chain continues – everyone pressing ‘Reply All’ and flooding everyone’s mailbox. This should be changed – if the receiver marks an email as ‘unwanted’ – no other email (Reply All emails) on the same topic should not reach the receiver’s mailbox.

Permission MAIL (pmail) – a new avatar of email

Here I propose a new permission based standard of email communication – Permission mail or Pmail. Here are the basic features of Pmail communication:
·         When a sender sends a Pmail he/she do not send the whole content of the email to everyone – only a lightweight version with the links to open the content is sent to everyone. The content is stored as a single copy in the sender’s email server. Multiple copies are not created and send to everyone.
·         If the receiver is not interested in the email he/she can delete the Pmail – Deletion of a Pmail means the read/copy access to the mail is lost. The original mail content is not changed/deleted.
·         If the receiver is interested he/she will have an option to copy the content in his/her local email server – for future reference. Ideally the receiver keeps a local copy only for Business critical emails (Just to ensure sender cannot in future revoke his/her access to read the Pmail).
·         If the receiver is not interested in the email he/she will have a control to avoid any further mail discussion on the same topic (no reply all emails will come to his/her mailbox). The receiver will also have control to mark the mail as spam and in that case no mail sent from the sender mailbox will reach his/her mailbox.
·         The sender will have control to restrict the access of an email sent. As only an access is sent to the recipient (instead of a local copy) the sender can control that access in future. Of course if the recipient has already read and then copied the mail to his/her local mailbox this feature won’t work.
·         In case someone ‘Reply/Reply all’ to the original Pmail a new single copy will be generated in the sender’s email server and everyone else will get a permission link to read the follow-up conversation.
·         Anyone can again delete the follow-up mail – which simply means the deletion of the access to the original copy.


There are various benefits to this plan – for every key stakeholder, Sender, Receiver, Email Service Provider etc. Here are some of the benefits:
·         Huge savings in resources by reduction of redundancy – Huge saving of Network bandwidths, Email Server Space utilization etc. Only the interested people will download the email and associated files to local folder.
·         Less pain from Spam mails – Today Spammers send huge amount of junk emails causing big wastage of email servers and network bandwidth. In the Pmail protocol spammers need to own the data – saving corporations lot of email server space and network bandwidth.
·         More Control for sender – You can still restrict even after hitting the ‘send’ button.
·         More control for the receiver – Better Customer experience– No junk reply all need to be entertained. No need for frequent mailbox cleanup.
·         Balance between Control and Contract – In this protocol both Sender and Receiver has Control over the Content. If the Sender had full control over the content he/she can refuse sending any such email – which can be against the contractual obligations between two parties. To avoid this receiver has a permission to create the local copy. At the same time Receiver has right to control the access of the data sent to unintended recipients.
·         Huge reduction in Carbon footprint by the reduction in server needs.

Implementation challenges

This is still a theoretical concept and needs Technical Implementation. Here are the known challenges for Implementation:

·         Agreeing on the new standard by all players – This is an epoch-making change the way we communicate through electronic mails. It will take time to convince all the players to move to this new Protocol. But considering the huge benefits a tipping point will be reached and it will become the ‘Next Practice’.
·         Initially the users may be uncomfortable in this new format – they may not like that they need to access a centralized place for accessing the email content. To reduce this risk the change needs to as transparent as possible to the user. The pmail can have one or two line content(summary will help reader to decide if the email is relevant to him/her) and then a link to read the full content. The users also need to trained for the new helpful features of Pmail.
·         There may be some security concerns around this model- Public access (although restricted to the recipients only) to email servers may not be acceptable to companies (fear to hacking). In my view the email can become a cloud service and with proper User Access Control the data security issue will be greatly reduced.
·         There may be ‘unknown unknowns’ – which can adversely impact the acceptance of this protocol. This fear is more after the so called failure of ‘Google wave’ although I feel ‘Google wave’ is a wonderful product and may have been killed due to Google Internal failures.

P-email adoption in business – private cloud model

Within an organization most of the emails exchanged are internal. This makes a good case for Pmail implementation as a Private Cloud based service. Private Cloud model will ensure that no Data security is compromised as well as resource duplication is reduced. Message Archiving and Storage takes major chunk of the cost for email. Reducing email content duplication in email servers can dramatically reduce this cost. At the same time it will save money on Network use, reduction of operational costs etc.
Once Pmail is successfully implemented within Business different Public email providers (gmail, yahoo etc.) will start using the model. But for Inter domain email exchange a common standard/protocol need to be created. Different organizations such as IEEE, W3 etc. need to be involved to create the mail exchange protocol.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Analyst who makes sense

Some thoughts on US Laws

I was watching a CNBC Program on Divorce Wars and some thoughts came to my mind on US Law and Enforcement system (although CNBC Reporters generally create all the undue noise and misguide people, the 'CNBC Originals' series is worth your time). 
In one divorce fight the wife made an allegation that her husband watches and stores child pornography. To prove that she took her husband's Laptop and produced in the court.  Now Storing or even viewing Child Pornography is a serious crime by US laws and the Husband was facing life-changing punishments. 
During the investigation, it was found that all the Internet Browsing history was deleted from the Laptop. 

But the Lawyers were able to restore those histories and found a suspecting pattern which indicates that the person did not visit any pornographic site except one day on which all the materials were downloaded. Also it was found that on that date the husband was far away from home but the local offers(which pops up based on your IP address) were all from his hometown. This proves the point that the person did not downloaded the materials but probably his wife did to make a powerful divorce case. The wife wanted to ruin her husband's career as well.

The program asks some serious concerns over the marriage, financial impact of divorce, divorce laws etc.but today my point of discussion is something different. I am  concerned the way laws are formulated and the way they they are enforced. I am concerned if the lawmakers really want to stop a crime or they just want to keep a law for helping lawyers and government to make a good business from the law. Let me explain the reasons for my concern:

Let's take the case of Child pornography or a more generic case of pornography. All the lawmakers and Law enforcement authorities know that pornography is a big business in US and all over the world. It is very easy and very common for everyone to access pornography in the Internet. If lawmakers and enforcement authorities are really concerned about the society and they really want to stop the curse they have easier way to stop it rather than making allegations on few people: They can just block the sites promoting pornography.
Similar is the logic for stopping cigarette . We all know cigarette kills people and no less harmful than drugs, but lawmakers have not banned cigarette. They say they are discouraging smokers by increasing taxes, adding warning etc. But not just make it illegal to produce? They won't because they make good money out of this business. Policymaking is an art - behave!

This is not really specific to US but a very generic problem all over the world. In India we have no less laws- but all laws are meant to be broken. It helps police, politicians, lawyers and journalists...and probably everyone except the unfortunate few.