Tuesday, February 28, 2006


The weekend went by was one of the memorable weekends for me wherein I had to deal with some unprecedented issues. On Saturday my computer went into trouble without me having any clue of what has happened. For quite sometime the power on button of the computer was not working and it so happened due to Windows XP we need not have to restart the computer also quite often. The latter thing actually spoiled the restart button of the machine. So it does matter to use all the parts of the computer on time.

On Saturday evening it so happened that my computer got hung up and instead of restarting it from the main power, I used the spoiled restart button and then it was the end of it. My computer got hung and it did not start for the next few hours and then it so happened that even display was not coming on the monitor, CD Drive stopped working, Hard Disk was continuously blinking with the red light. I was like dead scared as to what happened to my life companion after spending close to 6 years. Somehow my dad got hold of a hardware vendor and he came and scrutinized the system for a while and concluded that it’s a chip level problem. I was like finished. Then he said RAM has gone and he won’t be able to do anything. He suggested taking the computer to Global Technologies in Secunderabad.

We reached Global Technologies somehow. The guy immediately within no time connected the required cables to the computer and was trying to figure out the error. Then when we were about to give it to him for repair, I told him the incident, which led to this problem. I must say the guy was intelligent and accordingly as per my description he removed the reset socket from the motherboard and the computer started working. I was like delighted very moment. Immediately, I saw this opportunity and somehow escaped from there without giving the computer for servicing. I believe the knowledge of the guy in repairing the thing shows the signs of High Performance, which delighted me a lot. I got the computer back home but then to my surprise, it looked like due to the deletion of restoration data the computer lost its display drivers and Windows XP started creating lot of problems. Norton got corrupted and the visual display went for a toss. All in all the computer became very slow and the Internet speed also got reduced tremendously. I decided that its time to format the hard disk. So I took the back up of the entire data on C drive and made the computer ready for the format process on Sunday morning.

On Sunday morning, I formatted the C drive of my computer loaded Win 98 and Win XP and brought the computer into its original form. It took close to 6 hours for the process to complete. By night my computer was back into original shape and I must say this time the problems I encountered were really big.

Another eventful thing, which happened on Sunday, was our trip to Yadagirigutta. Yadagirigutta is about 70 KM from our house and is a religious place having a temple of Lakhsmi Narsimha Swamy. We drove till their in our new ESTEEM, and I am sure Tej enjoyed the drive a lot. It was a good one while going we touched the speed of 70. While coming I drove it in the night continuously for about 75 KM and it was an amazing drive. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was one of the pleasing moments for me, which I will cherish for life. The speed I touched was 85 and I was pretty happy about it. It took me just about an hour to complete the 70 KM stretch. Driving on Highway gives a totally different kind of pleasure and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

WINNING by Jack Welch

Winning is my latest book which I completed close to two weeks back but then due to some preoccupations was not able to post my experience after reading the book. This is my, If I am not wrong, 7th Management Book, the last being India Unbound which is not very close to a Mangement book but it does have that kind of flavor.

Winning came into the market sometime in May 2005 and I wanted to read the book eagerly, right from the day when I read its review in India Today. I had spotted the book first in the LandMark Stores in Spencer’s Plaza in Chennai. But then it took close to 6 months for the book to come into my hand courtesy one of my friend. Albeit, the edition being partially pirated, the content being more important than the style or the design of the book, I was satisfied.

The book starts off with the favorite theme of every go-getter. Winning Does Matter. The essence of the book lies in the phrase stated above. Jack Welch using his past experiences tries to look into issues which are at the center of winning and which can make or break any game in life whether corporate or social. The book has come out when Jack Welch retired from GE and traveled across the world covering Asia, Africa, Europe, spoke at several places and conferences and had one to one meeting with several professionals on what it takes to WIN.

As with any management thought, the important part is to apply the thought in the real life rather than reading it through and have the pleasure. The real pleasure comes in when the Management idea gets into execution to give some real results. This time I had decided when I would read the book I will apply every idea in the text in my professional life and see whether it really works or not. Believe me it does work in 80 % of the cases.

The book is divided into 5 different parts altogether, which have a central theme that is – What Does it take to Win?. The first part introduction starts by talking about the various aspects of business and theories behind the business functions, the idea of Candor, which Jack Welch strongly advocates, and the issues like Differentiation. The second part of the book talks about the essential elements of Company. How a company should be structured and what are the issues to be kept in mind. It talks about the essentials of business like Leadership, Hiring, Change and Crisis Management. Next section talks about Competition in terms of strategy, budgeting, growth and M&A. The penultimate section in the book is titled “YOUR CAREER” which is one of the unique features of any management books I have seen till now. Generally we do not find a section dedicated specifically to the career. This section starts off by talking about what kind of job is a right job for an individual then the issues in performance appraisal to the issue of a bad boss and finally closing on one of the most important issues of 21st century – How to balance work and family life.

In the last section, Jack Welch talks about some of the questions, which cannot be part of any of the other four chapters mentioned above. Here in he covers issues like Threat of China, Diverity, Regulations like Sarbanes Oxley, Business response to AIDS, His successor Jeff Imelt and How he is doing together with the last question on whether Jack Welch will go to hell or heaven.

One of the topics, which Jack Welch forces the most and deals in extensively, is the issue of CANDOR. Candor is something, which we all will never wish to practice in our live's because we fear it immensely. But I did practice it in my professional life in a situation wherein I felt that the things are not going right and yes it did work it.

All in all, WINNING is a great read and is a must for every individual who looks at good career as a journey and not as a destination.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Narain Karthikeyan vs. Sania Mirza

This post is dedicated to one issue which I believe should be discussed in many forums in concern to its importance. Yesterday I was looking at Times of India where I read that Sania Mirza has been signed by Deutsche Bank as the Brand Ambassador for promoting its retail banking product since Deutsche Bank was operating in India only in the Corporate Banking space. Daily if one watches the television you can spot number of ads featuring Sania Mirza but is there a single ad which features Narain Karthikeyan. Leave alone ads. Think about other recognition.

Sania Mirza recently got the Padmashree.If we look at the statistics Rahul Dravid even after being in the Indian Cricket Team for more than 7-8 Years got the Padmashree only in the year 2004. We all know what has been the contibution of Rahul Dravid to the Indian Cricket and what he is to the Indian Cricket team.

Now look at one sport which is not very popular in India. Formula 1. This sport considered to be the hobby of only the elite class and was till a few years back not even seen widely on television is now a raging sport amongst the youth of the country. Infact Chandra Babu Naidu ex chiefminister of AP had a proposal to come out with the Formula 1 Track in Hyderabad. Our only image in Formula 1 amongst 1 billion people considering the past and the present records is Narain Karthikeyan. Till date he is the only driver from our subcontinent to break into the elite league of Formula 1 considered to be one of the costliest sport in the world. But no one not even media bothered to cover it in a very proper manner. The way hype has been created about Sania I believe not even 10 % of the hype was created for Narain. We all know how important is media for the growth of anything in this world. If media publishes wrong information about any company or some kind of news than the company's stock price will go for a toss. Similar is the case with the sports person also. Any news however small if hyped considerably can really make a person god within few hours thanks to the ever increasing influence of media in our life.

Does the fete of Narain Karthikeyan any less than the fete accomplished by Sania Mirza or is it that people do not want to recognize some sports as Cricket gets a lot more priority over any other sport in the country. Very recently Narain Karthikeyan was also signed up by William the team of stalwarts like Montoya and Ralf once upon a time as a reserve driver. This is not a small feat.

I think its high time the media recognizes the importance of every sport and does not brush away any sport which does not spot glamour in it. We also need to remember that with formula 1 we have one of the biggest corporate house's TATA's name associated.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

SENSEX Touches 10000

India's stock market benchmark Sensex on Monday pierced through the magical 10,000 points level for the first time on aggressive buying by funds.

The market barometer was at 10,002.83 points, higher by 260.25 points. Similarly, wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty spurted by 66.55 points to set a record high of 3007.15.

The Sensex finally settled with a huge gain of 2.4% (238 points) at a record high of 9,980.

The Nifty surged by 60 points to close at 3,000.

The Bombay Stock Exchange's 30-sensitive index (Sensex) which set an intra-day high at 9993.92 points on February 1, remained sluggish thereafter and touched a low of 9,713 points before completing the last lag of its journey to the historic 10K level today.

The major support to the Sensex came from Reliance Industries, Infosys, ICICI Bank, ACC, Bajaj Auto, Housing Development Finance Corporation and Larsen and Toubro.
Any change in the share prices of Reliance Industries, Infosys Tech and ICICI Bank changes the market scenario as the trio enjoy over 30 per cent weightage on the index.

Major GainersICICI Bank rallied 6.4% to Rs 607. HDFC moved up 2.5% to Rs 1,338, and HDFC Bank added 1.7% to Rs 745. SBI was up nearly 1% at Rs 865.Ranbaxy soared over 6% to Rs 414 following the company's announcement that it has formed a JV with a South African firm to tap the African market. Dr.Reddy's and Cipla moved up 2.6% each to Rs 1,190 and Rs 496, respectively.Reliance gained 3.4% to Rs 720. ONGC ended with a gain of 2.5% at Rs 1,191. ITC surged 2.7% to Rs 157, and HLL advanced over 2% to Rs 194.TCS rallied 3% to Rs 1,680. Infosys gained over 2% at Rs 2,845 and Satyam added 1.8% to Rs 739. Wipro, however, ended a tad lower at Rs 514.The BSE Bankex zoomed over 3% (162 points) to 5164. The BSE Healthcare Index also moved up over 3% (113 points) to 3478. The BSE FMCG, Oil & Gas indices closed with gains of over 2% each today. The BSE Teck index gained 1.5% (35 points) to 2,442.
Advances were ahead of declines - out of 2,570 scrips traded, 1,443 moved up, 1,071 declined and 56 were unchanged today.While 302 scrips hit their respective upper limits, 177 hit the lower circuits today.


Ever heard of this word now in the boom economy where literally each and ever sector of the economy is doing very well and the global economy seems to be very vibrant. But everything does not seem to be going well for the US retailers who fear store closures as the retail business faces problems.

In one of the articles on CNN, I came across the plight of US retailer’s inspite of retail being one of the fastest growing industries globally. WALMART world’s biggest retailer is also world’s biggest company in terms of revenues and features above giants like Exxon Mobil with net sales of 346 Billion Dollars in the past fiscal year.

As per the research done by the Davidowitz & Associates recently, there are three factors that can be attributed to the downfall of retail stores in US. These are:
  • Growth in Online Shopping
  • High Energy Costs
  • Overcapacity.

Some of the well-known names, which are planning to bring closures of some of their stores, are Zale Corp, OfficeMax, Toy R Us, Musicland Holding Corp. and a few others.

  • Zale Corp., which is set to turn off the lights at more than 30 of its high-end Bailey Banks & Biddle stores.
  • Office supplies seller OfficeMax announced it would close 110 of its 950 U.S. outlets this year as part of its ongoing restructuring efforts.
  • Department store chain Mervyn's plans to close a third of its stores in 2006.
  • Toy seller Toys R Us is closing 75 of its namesake stores, most of them by springtime, and converting 12 others to Babies R Us locations.
  • Music retailer Musicland Holding Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this month, is considering a "significant number of closings of unprofitable stores" under the Sam Goody and Suncoast names

Some of the factors quoted by the research firm were concerning to the too much overstoring of the retail stores hence it has become a victim of its overcapacity itself. The report also says that there is about nineteen and half square foot of retail space for every shopper in the country. This calls for a debate on the ever-expanding mode of retail stores in US inspite of projections saying that consumer spending will come down in the future. There is actually another component of energy costs, which is actually coming over the head of every retail store.

It is so happening that only big retail stores like Walmart and Home Depot are able to sustain these costs and able to face the competition well. The other factor is the online stores. Online stores recorded sales worth $ 142.3 billion according to ComScore Networks, market research firm. Online stores like Amazon.com, Ebay have largely taken away a big market share of Brick and Mortars store.

Research experts suggest the only solution to this problem is the true convergence of the Online retailing with Brick and Mortar stores. Now just try comparing this problem with the story on Big Bazaar.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Konica Minolta Sell Camera Business

This has to be the biggest and most shocking news in the world of camera and photo business. Konica Minolta announced on 19th Jan 2006 that it is withdrawing from the camera and photo business. They will be transferring assets related to their camera business to Sony who will continue to develop digital SLR's based around the Konica Minolta lens mount. Konica Minolta it appears will continue to work with Sony (a relationship announced last year) in the development of digital SLR's and lenses but they will not be branded as or be sold by Konica Minolta.

This is the press release of the withdrawal plan.

Konica Minolta Announces Withdrawal Plan for Camera Business and Photo Business

Konica Minolta has long been a leading company in photo imaging business covering wide range of imaging from input to output. In addition, it has also provided inspiring products and services by fusing unique technologies.

In camera business, it has expanded picture-taking opportunities by developing innovative technologies such as the world’s first auto focus cameras. In 1962, our camera, well-accepted for its high reliability, boarded on the US’s first manned spaceship “Friendship 7.” Also, ever since introduction of the world’s first body-integral autofocus SLR camera, Maxxum/Dynax series, in 1985, SLR cameras have become more popular among picture-takers, and we have succeeded in selling 16 million units of interchangeable lenses since then.

However, in today’s era of digital cameras, where image sensor technologies such as CCD is indispensable, it became difficult to timely provide competitive products even with our top optical, mechanical and electronics technologies.

In photo business, represented by the silver-halide photography such as color film and color paper, we have produced Japan’s first photographic paper in 1903, and Japan’s first color film in 1940, thus pioneering joy of photography for more than a century. In 1984, we introduced the world’s first compact washless photofinishing system known as a minilab system. The minilabs contributed to the expansion of worldwide photographic market by making photos closer to consumers and amazingly shortening delivery time.

However, traditional silver-halide photographic market is shrinking astonishingly by the surge of the worldwide digitization. In such a changing world, profits for camera and photo businesses worsened in recent years, and it became necessary to drastically reform business structure for the further growth of Konica Minolta. Ever since we decided and announced restructuring guidelines of our businesses on November 4, 2005, we have been considering practical and detailed plan, and we would like to announce our decision made today as follows:

1) Camera Business

In camera business, we have reached an agreement with Sony Corporation(Sony), having numerous image sensor technologies such as CCD and CMOS, to jointly develop digital SLR cameras in July 2005. In order to continue to have our customers use Maxxum/Dynax lenses, and to maximize possibilities of the optical, mechanical and electronics technologies accumulated through development of SLR cameras in the years to come, we came to the conclusion that it was best to transfer assets concerning camera business to Sony. Since then, we have been negotiating with Sony, and as a result, we have reached an agreement with Sony to transfer a portion of assets regarding digital SLR camera system to Sony.

*1. In this relation, we have decided to withdraw from camera business

*2, such as film cameras and digital cameras, within Konica Minolta Group as of March 31, 2006.

Sony is planning to develop digital SLR cameras compatible with Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system, so that the current Maxxum/Dynax users will be able to continue to use them with Sony’s digital SLR cameras. In addition, we will consign camera service operations for Konica Minolta, Konica,Minolta brand cameras and related equipment to Sony.

2) Photo Business

In today’s shrinking photographic market represented by color film and color paper, we have been considering to scale back and to continue photo business at an appropriate size; however, when we foresee the photographic market, it is quite difficult to maintain profitability in this field, and we have decided to withdraw from photo business. As schemed below, we will, as much as possible, avoid causing any inconvenience in providing products to our worldwide customers in the course of withdrawal.

For color film and color paper, while considering our customer needs, we will step-by-step reduce product lineup and cease our color film and color paper production by the end of fiscal year ending March 31, 2007.
For minilab business, we will cease production of the system by the end of fiscal year ending March 31, 2006; however we will have such company as Noritsu Koki Co., Ltd to provide maintenance and customer services so as not to cause any inconvenience to our customers.

In line with the above scheme, with consideration to our customers and regional situations, we will step-by-step reorganize our sales offices and withdraw from all of our photo sales activities by September 30, 2007.

3) Personnel Management

As a part of Konica Minolta Group’s restructuring, we will proceed with withdrawal plan for camera and photo businesses and aggressively shifted their management resources to other Konica Minolta Group companies. While continuing this effort, in order to rationalize a number of employees, we have decided to reduce worldwide Konica Minolta Group employees by 3,700 from the current 33,000 including early retirement offering by September 30, 2007*.

* The early retirement offering is for Konica Minolta Group’s holding company, five business companies and two common function companies in Japan. The expenses to be incurred with this restructuring are already included in the forecast for fiscal year ending March 31, 2006.

Konica Minolta Group will make our utmost efforts not to cause any inconvenience to our customer due to the decision we made this time. At the same time, camera and photo businesses are our traditional businesses ever since our founding, and we wish to express our heartfelt appreciation to the worldwide Konica Minolta fans for their patronage to our products for more than a century.

Konica Minolta Group is aiming to become more powerful corporate group by swiftly meeting market changes and pursuing “selection and concentration”. We will, from now on, be concentrating our business resources on non-consumer businesses, such as the core “business technologies” field, the strategic “optics and display devices” field, and the growth expected “medical imaging” and “sensing” fields, increase competitiveness, and endeavor to further expand corporate value.