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March 11, 2013

Infosys Team at IBM Pulse 2013

 

I am back again in Vegas for IBM Pulse 2013. Last year, I covered the event live with daily blogs, but this time my whole schedule was so packed that I hardly had any time to write. Hence summarizing the whole event in one blog.

Checked into a different hotel this year - Excalibur - and it had the full view of New York - New York Roller Coaster from my room window. This Roller Coaster runs until 11 PM every night, giving me sleepless nights until then, due to its screaming passengers, but worth the view.

Theme for this year was same as last year'- Optimizing World's Infrastructure, with IBM's four offerings - Cloud, Smarter Physical Infrastructure, Mobility and Security.

Infosys was Gold Sponsor again, and our focus was Maximo. We had representation from our ECS, RCL and MFG teams for Maximo, in addition to Cloud.

Due to some unavoidable circumstances, our marketing team was not present at the booth, hence we ourselves -Aditya, Kiran, Dheeraj and I, setup the booth with all the banners, posters etc and it came out pretty well. We had a bigger and more strategically located booth this time - compared to last year.

This year, for the first time, I attended Tivoli Business Partner summit which happens before Pulse. Tivoli has new General Manager - Deepak Advani - and he mentioned that if you read Tivoli in reverse direction, it comes out "I lov it", and so does he. For the readers, who don't know the connection - Tivoli is one of the IBM's software brands, out of six, and Maximo comes under Tivoli.

Ray Wang CEO, Constellation Research (http://www.constellationrg.com/users/rwang0), a speaker with tremendous energy,  spoke about how innovations are changing world and why agility is required in order to stay current. The Guest speaker was Chris Gardner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Gardner) of The Pursuit of Happyness fame and he spoke about himself, his philosophy on life and of course The Pursuit of Happyness. Chris doesn't need any introduction, hence not writing about him.

IBM had nominated, our Maximo Utilities Amplifier solution, in best solution award for Best Asset and Facilities Management Solution category, but unfortunately we didn't make it to the winner. The winner was a solution from a company called CFI (http://www.gocfi.com/). I checked with them later. Their solution was based on Maximo & TRIRIGA and they managed to get an excellent feedback from the client (Dow Chemical) for which they developed this solution.

As usual, event opened Sunday evening with an international connection reception and expo theater inauguration. This time, again majority of the event sponsors were Maximo services provider and almost everybody was showcasing TRIRIGA as well.

Attended Dave Gasdia's product roadmap session for Maximo and TRIRIGA.  Important update was that Maximo and TRIRIGA continue to be two separate products with enhanced integrations between these two.  Earlier uncertainty about merging these two products is gone now.

Our IBM alliance team arranged multiple IBM executive meetings. We discussed and strategized on how to improve our relationship and deliver more value to our clients. The common important message from all the meetings was that last year has been excellent for IBM with respect to Maximo and TRIRIGA software. It has been the best ever year in IBM history for both Maximo and TRIRIGA software sales.

We also had discussions with powerplan (http://www.powerplan.com/) team which shown interest in our Maximo Utilities Amplifier Solution. Our Maximo Amplifier solution complements the features of powerplan and both these solutions together make a perfect choice for utilities.  

I presented our Maximo Amplifier Solution in Expo Theater which was well received by IBM, powerplan and clients. We have done a significant investment in this solution and we have plans to further improve this solution by working with clients in a co-creation model. This solution has been developed based on inputs and learning from many of our utilities clients using Maximo, SAP and Oracle.

Pulse event has always been able to bring some great speakers to the attendees. All of these great personalities have made great strides in their life and provide real motivation to all Pulse attendees. This time we had Peyton Manning, the great footballer.  In the past, I had an opportunity to listen to many such great personality and orators - Peter Schwartz, Magic Johnson, Al Gore, Lance Armstrong, Steve Wozniak etc and every time, it has been a new experience with a new message.

We had many clients, IBM executives, Maximo sales Reps, business partners, my old time Maximo colleagues and friends across the world coming to our booth and talk to us and share ideas, market happenings, current & future trends and how they continue to love Maximo and so do I.

With this, good bye to Pulse 2013, with a hope to generate new business and get more clients with our investment in various Maximo Solutions. Look forward to meet all my peers, friends, clients once again, next year.

This time, I could not blog live due to my tight schedule. Last year, I covered the event with much more details. In case, you missed last year's happenings, you can refer to:

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 0

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 1

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 2

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 3 (Last Day)

March 8, 2013

Dynamic Pricing : Is it really worthy

In today's world, its very common for airline, hotel and other industries to dynamically vary their pricing on the basis of several factors. For example, a hotel might charge couple of hundred rupees more if the booking is for a weekend. Similarly, the private airlines very easily fluctuate their prices on the basis of dynamic demands or on the basis of vacation seasons. The variability can be as high as 100% for some cases. Also coupled with online booking sites, the whole idea is to create a consumer surplus that would ensure maximum profits for the industry. Consumer surplus is defined as the difference between what the consumer is willing to pay against what the consumer actually pays. However, the prime question is whether dynamic pricing is really beneficial for the industry or not. Price is something that has a huge impact on the customer's perception about the product. The trust of a consumer might get highly affected if he sees a constant fluctuation in the price of the product. This could even affect the brand value of the product.  For eg: a stable price of a product commanding a high brand value sends positive signals to the consumer in terms of stable sales for the product. On the contrary, a product commanding a lesser brand value with fluctuating prices might send negative signals to consumer. One more disadvantage of dynamic pricing is that the decisions have to be taken so fast that the data to drive the decision may not always be accurate.  For example, in case of the mobile handset industry its very common to increase the price of a new version of a product if the previous version has recorded high sales. However, this can allow the competitor to come out with a similar product with same features at lesser cost which might eventually cause lower sales for the new version of the product. Its also very common in some countries that the prices of products go drastically down or upon some specific days (eg: black Friday). This could discourage the consumers to buy these products in previous seasons in the expectation of a price cut.
Its very important for organizations to understand to have a long term vision and not be short sighted. They have to understand that in order to expect customer loyalty towards their products, its imperative to concentrate more on quality, brand value, after sales service, customer support and not just pricing.

March 5, 2013

Is Customization a Boon or Bane?

  One of the biggest challenges for an enterprise today is to constantly upgrade and optimize their IT infrastructure to cope up with the fast growing technology and never ending business demands. As the IT consumers have to transform their heavily customized old school enterprise applications to a standard technology platform, the Enterprise application developers and the Companies are having a stand of between customized application and a configurable solution.

What is the difference between the customization and the configuration; at the very ground level it is nothing but the difference in the approach to reach a solution. Do you want to design and develop a new feature in an enterprise application or you would like to have an inbuilt framework to turn the feature on and off.

Today's enterprise solutions like SAP, BAAN, Oracle, IBM Packages, INFOR etc., see a major challenge in the upgrading to allow more configurations possible. As customized solution delivered to one business client may or may not be a requirement for another client in the similar line of business and more to come. They need to work continuously to meet the market demand.

It is very much certain that companies are following are strict no-no policy for customizations, what makes these business and software consulting agencies to go for configurations and alternative solutions to an extent even compromising business requirements at times? What makes them to be very cautious to go with the customization? To get to know the outcome of the customization one must understand the various degrees of the customization and its impacts.

What makes the Customization a non - desirable action?

 

 There are several factors which play on the minds of the companies that need and deliver the IT solutions in using customization as an option.  Though, as an example, by adding single line of code could make the GUI of the application to be more user-friendly or remove the unnecessary functions which are not required for that organization; Most of them believe that the customization bring more trouble than a good as it will continue to grow.

 

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      1.       Customized solution/ element of software could always takes more time to move into a comfort/ reliable zone

2.       Skills of the resources have to be upgraded to break and fit the packaged solution of ERP / CRM / EAM etc.

3.       Lot of testing efforts are needed to bring the confidence on the piece of code that has been customized

4.       After any Enterprise application upgrade, a good amount of time has to be spent to ensure that customized piece of code is holding good.

 


A Positive Dimension on Customization

 

Even with many positives in going with Configuration approach, it presents its own set of challenges, as more and more configurations are built into the application, a company needs more highly trained skills to ensure the delivery what has been asked for.

Even with these shortcomings carried by the customization from the configuration, at situations vendors & Clients are forced to go with the customization. Could I get any benefits out of this? Answer is yes. At some of the instances customizations are inevitable either to fit the business requirements to standard / Industry best practices or to standardize a new process.

In certain occasions customizations are used to render the brand image of the vendor going to an extent to completely form a new skin over the packaged solution, following nonstandard integration frameworks etc., and bring a new level of user experience. It always provides an edge over the standard package implementation.

Conclusion - What is the winning Key?

 

Winning combination knows the limit and level to which a customization can be applied over enterprise solutions and the integrated components. The lower the customizations are the higher the reliability of the system and lesser the break down or maintenance cost. But, one can conclude that configurations alone cannot help them to compete with the today's business demands and they have to strike a good balance with the customization need. Companies that follow a very strict discipline and standard guidelines can fly high even with the customizations as part of their systems.

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