Smarter Organizations

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Clean up before you co-create

The upcoming rollout of Google Fiber network in Austin, Texas, poses the question: So, do I want a gazillion terabyte connection at the price of a dial-up?

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Autonomics – automation with intelligence

Imagine if automation itself became automated. That is what autonomics is all about. It is the next wave of productivity, where talent can be freed to work on more complex tasks that demand imagination, innovation, collaboration and collective wisdom. Embrace autonomics – ‘do more with less’.

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Sidestepping pitfalls in the search for technology innovation

A very successful private equity investor once shared with delegates of a packed conference that he spends more time on the road than he does in his office. The reason, he said, is that he wants to see firsthand the types of companies in which his firm is considering investing. Not only that, but he would go to exotic lands during the worst times (weather-wise) of the year. Monsoons would hit the coasts, earthquakes would shake cities, and snowstorms would cripple roads and airports.

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A cue that business leaders can take from a winning coach

Sports analogies in the business world are admittedly somewhat overdone. But I do want to share something I witnessed recently when I watched one of the world's greatest basketball coaches comment on his secrets for success.

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Turning a business model on its head

Remember when Saturn took the car world by storm 20 years ago? They shook up the industry by offering no-hassle pricing, friendly sales associates, and airy dealerships. But the brand's initial appeal wore off after a while. In comes Tesla – the car brand that has its own twist on the traditional car sales model. Read on to see how Tesla turned out to be different by going beyond century-old rules and conventions.

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Using the Sum of the Parts to Power Innovation

Google was faced with a challenge. So many people were using its search engine that Google was trying to keep up with the skyrocketing demand. Enter two developers - Jeffrey Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat. These Google developers recently won the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences for designing a significant part of Google's revolutionary software infrastructure – Google's Web search and indexing platforms as well as other Google applications.

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A lesson from Bollywood for outsourcing

In an industry filled with testosterone-laden wannabes and nubile starlets, one of Bollywood's leading lights has had nearly half a decade in the business. A superstar who needs no introduction. How does he do it? Genius? Beyond doubt. A great work ethic? Absolutely. But above all, it's because he has reinvented himself to stay relevant over the years. And repeatedly raised the game. While no one gets a prize for guessing who I am talking about, the septuagenarian superstar is Amitabh Bachchan.

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The journey to technology intensity: From seeking IT investment to inspiring it

My friend's organization was spending upwards of 3% of its revenue on IT. The corresponding figure for its peers is approximately 1.8% to 2.3%. So, does that mean my friend’s business has got its math all wrong?

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Balancing Compliance and Conversation

Here's a mashup of findings from two separate studies on the social media behavior of banks. According to the first, which looked at the Twitter performance of over 300 U.S. retail banks, almost 22% of the accounts were either dormant or deactivated. About 50% tweeted less than once every 3 days and 1 in 10 managed fewer than 20 tweets over 12 months. The second, a study of 50 leading private banks found that one-third did not even have an active Facebook profile and only half of the remaining two-thirds responded to a test request.

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When Global Outsourcing Includes Your Home Market

At the beginning of the 20th century, the world was fixated for a few months on a tiny farming community outside Dearborn, Michigan. It was in the hamlet of River Rouge that Henry Ford had decided to build a factory the likes of which had never been seen. It was a grand manufacturing experiment - un-forged metal and other raw resources would go in one end and a shiny new car would come out the other.

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Navigating the Innovation Economy

Part of the pleasure of reading a good book is being able to share it with friends and colleagues. And because Infosys provides me with this space to blog about topics like innovation and creating smarter organizations, I can supply you with a digest of some of my reading that's relevant to these areas.

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Farming it out without giving away the farm

“Now don’t get me wrong. I like innovation; just not too much of it.” That’s what I imagine I would hear if I were a fly on the wall of certain corporate headquarters these days. Large companies that once zealously guarded their technological innovations are now opening the floodgates of access to such technology.

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Harnessing the Power of Paradox

Like it or not, we tend to think in extremes: He is incompetent. This job stinks. I am a failure. My boss loves me. This idea is perfect. She is an angel. But there's a danger of looking at the world in black and white. I am reminded of a recent webinar hosted by Hitendra Wadhwa, a professor at Columbia Business School. His fascinating presentation was titled The Power of Paradox: How to Unlock Your Full Potential by Embracing Opposing Ideas.

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Unlocking the Value of Innovation and Thought

The most famous songwriter and celebrity of the 19th century - Stephen Foster - is virtually unknown today. Some old-timers might recall the songs he wrote because they were still very popular in the first part of the 20th century. Tunes like "Camptown Racers," "Beautiful Dreamer," and "Swanee River" defined American popular music for many generations. Yet when he died after collapsing on the street in New York City, Foster was found to have just 38 cents in his pocket. Could you imagine today if the head of a major entertainment label or music publishing company were to die with less than a dollar to his name?

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Around Half the World in Eight Hours. What's Next?

Breaking new ground has always been familiar territory for Infosys. After all, we invented the Global Delivery Model; we were among the first companies to create salaried millionaires back home in India; and the first to dot the Country with office campuses that are more like resorts than staff work spaces. In fact, one of these campuses hosts the world's largest corporate university.

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A Jury of Our Peers Is The Toughest Judge

What is it about being judged by our peers that's so important? These days a global corporation operates in countless markets and, if it does an exemplary job, it receives accolades every now and then from the people and organizations with which it does business. Yet, there's really no substitute for being honored by the folks you know. Perhaps it's because they're the ones who scrutinize our accomplishments the most and are quickest to tell us when they think we've stumbled or haven't met their high standards

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Testing Times Need More than Time-Tested Actions

Business lore has it that the LED might never have been invented had a Japanese corporation not pulled the plug on a blue light-emitting diode project. This only steeled the resolve of genius innovator Shuji Nakamura who secretly persisted, despite budgetary obstacles and laboratory explosions.

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Does your company have a bias against innovation?

A longtime client recently sent me an academic paper he'd just read that - much to my pleasure - singled out Infosys as a model of innovation. I share this story because receiving laurels from academics isn't always easy. They're a tough, discerning bunch.

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Because, contact is no longer centered

It's interesting how stories of contact center excellence are still few and far between. And that only makes me wonder what it'll take to "customerize" these centers, and raise their standard of service and experience. And even more importantly, why this must even be prioritized.

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Strategy for gender equality: educate our sons

Global figures like Kofi Anan and Shashi Tharoor tell us that, perhaps, the single most powerful tool for improving the world is educating women and girls.

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When innovation takes on a mission

Sometimes, an idea, simple though it may be, can single-handedly change the way the world works. It can empower economies to put payment systems into the hands of the unbanked millions. Enable global corporations to reduce energy footprints.

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Finding heroes

Sometimes when you travel, you hear news from home you might have missed in your everyday life. This week I read an interesting article about my local library in Manly, a suburb Sydney, that made me think about leadership.

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Does your company have a bias against innovation?

A longtime client recently sent me an academic paper he'd just read that - much to my pleasure - singled out Infosys as a model of innovation. I share this story because receiving laurels from academics isn't always easy. They're a tough, discerning bunch.

Discuss

Manufacturing trends you cannot afford to miss in 2013

Just this morning I found myself whistling the tune of a wonderful old ballad. The song was "Just In Time" - the same one Sinatra made so popular decades ago. In any case, I realized I couldn't have whistled a more appropriate song after I stumbled across Infosys list of the five hottest manufacturing trends for 2013.

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It takes an innovator to lead a culture of innovation

Bill George teaches leadership at Harvard Business School. Imagine my delight when he announced to at the recently convened Infosys Executive Leadership Forum that one of the first cases he ever wrote at Harvard was about Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys.

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Treating employees like customers

A friend of mine is the chief operating officer of a prominent real estate organization. She often tells me how extensively the business had changed over the past three decades.

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Just how sustainable is your culture of innovation?

Passion. It's a word we throw around quite frequently in the business world. I often hear friends say they are passionate about their job or about their career.

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Is fruitful partnering measurable?

For transformation partner-client relationships to deliver on the enterprise-transformation agenda, beyond trust and proven skills, there needs to be a strong foundation of alignment and synergies around what the measures of success and business value are. But above all, there needs to be a shared vision of how the partnership will help the client enterprise prepare for tomorrow.

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Got the technology? Now get innovative.

From merely supporting business competitiveness to becoming a catalyst of change and tomorrow-readiness, technology has come a long way. There is growing understanding and increasing consensus about its potential to seed opportunities of the future. Few will argue about the proactive role technology is playing in shaping business; and we all agree it's an equal participant in generating ideas for "what else" business can or needs to be.

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Making organizational change work

The way we define business transformation can differ; but strategic enterprise-wide change programs that have a significant impact on the business typically go by that name. Such programs tend to focus on leveraging opportunities created by existing and changing markets, increasing efficiencies on a domestic or global plane; and creating fertile grounds for pro-growth strategies.

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What else?

Enterprises go about their business - hurdling challenges, harnessing opportunities - as a matter of business-as-usual. And, every once a while, leaders stop to ask "what else?" How can we take that big leap? What's that big idea...that big pursuit...that'll make that big difference.

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The CIO mandate: Innovate

There isn't a CIO who'd argue the point when I say it's no longer enough to ensure or even increase operating efficiency. We must all reinvent our businesses to keep pace with the hyper-evolution around us.

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Building tomorrow's supply chain

"There are two flavors of technology-enabled supply chains - the first where there's been a clear business need all along that technology hasn't been able to support hitherto. Here's where, rapid advances in technology, today, will help organizations optimize their supply chains and fulfill those long pending needs.

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The CIO mandate: Optimize

Harley-Davidson contracted Infosys, in a 5-year agreement, for management of over 1,400 business applications, end to end infrastructure management and data center to network to help-desk. We have been engaged to optimize their local services delivery center in Milwaukee, also connected to their worldwide network, to ensure the center delivers elastic computing capability.

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The CIO mandate: Transform

Recently, Infosys was selected as sole partner by one of Europe's top insurers to run their strategic IT services; but with a difference. We are contracted to help them, over a period of 7 years, not just with IT activities but to transform and execute allied customer-facing operations as well.

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Ready to rethink your business yet?

The challenging business environment is clearly compelling organizations to think anew. Of course, most enterprises appreciate the need to 'rethink the business' but I am uncertain if we all pursue this agenda - down the ranks - with equal enthusiasm.

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No patents. No inventions. No new products. Yet innovative.

How so, you ask? Well, I've been looking at some idea champs in China. The first - Haier: The largest home appliances company in China. Their innovation model is all about tailoring products, invented elsewhere, specially for the Chinese consumer.

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Dimensions of innovation

I began my journey to rediscover innovation several years ago when we started to consolidate our views around Building Tomorrow's Enterprise. We clearly saw the 7 mega trends shaping the future and already had an enviable track record in internal innovation through our client delivery processes.

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Because, corporate social responsibility is more than window dressing...

Recently, when our ''Project Genesis' touched a great new milestone - over 1,00,000 students trained, it set me thinking. Some forty years ago, Milton Friedman famously declared that the "Social responsibility of business is to increase its profits."

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Why it's important for them to say "I do"

My story begins with a plan in a Scandinavian country to expand its railway system. If you've ever talked to people in countries like Sweden, Denmark and Norway, you know Scandinavians take great pride in their public transportation systems - especially rail.

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If I'd listened to what my customers wanted, I'd have given them a faster horse

The American industrialist Henry Ford once said this. Bet he'd heard the adage "the customer is always right". Yet, he trusted his business instincts and visioning rather just the somewhat limited wish-list of his customers.

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Sky in the eye

If there's a silver lining to the invasion of privacy, it is that it has inspired iconic works. But I'll bet that neither George Orwell - author of the dark classic "Nineteen Eighty Four" about state surveillance - nor Alan Parsons imagined that the invasion could go so far, or be so good.

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Baby steps or a moon launch - it's your decision

When the U.S. found itself almost hopelessly behind the U.S.S.R. in the space race in the late 1950s, it made the decision to have man walk on the moon as its goal by 1970. NASA was created and the space program was totally reinvented.

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No aspiration beyond respect

Every once in a while, a young engineer fresh on the Infosys campus, pops this question - "In the hierarchy of corporate aspiration, what comes at the top?" My answer is always the same - " In my book, it's respect." Because quest for respect is the enterprise's conscience keeper....the compass that ensures that all of the organization's efforts are always aligned in the right direction

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Respect is its own reward

Earlier last week, Infosys won the P&G GBS External Business Partner Excellence Award for 2012. An award recognizing just 6 GBS partners for their excellence during 2012. And this is the second consecutive year that Infosys has won this award - a very infrequent occurrence in the P&G GBS World.

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Is your apps ecosystem an elephantine challenge?

In the wild, elephants play a critical role - come floods or drought. When there is excessive rainfall, elephant-paths create drainage trenches for the gushing waters. During dry summers, these same elephants dig up much-needed waterholes in dry riverbeds.

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Musings from Oracle Open World

Serendipity. I have always found this word and its connotation of possibility rather intriguing. The implicit promise of a happy accident waiting to happen is so exciting. Shibu's presentation, yesterday, at Oracle Open World made me think of this word again.

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Knowing what to innovate.

Just this week, Forbes ranked Infosys 19 among the top 100 most innovative companies. And, I think this is just the moment to talk about how people and enterprises can learn all those skills to improve their own "innovator's DNA".

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Releasing innovation. And how!

Confluence 2012, Monte Carlo. An ironically 'easy' setting for discussions on tough-to-crack topics about innovation and business success in a difficult economic climate. And, there was a lot of that over the course of two days. Yes, times are tough.

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Industrial revolution, industrialization and IT

The industrial revolution was a turning point in modern history, and had a profound impact on the economy, society and culture of those times. As industries matured and the industrial age set in, most things, from automobiles to consumer durables became more affordable.

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World Economic Forum (WEF), Tianjin

So, what's the headline? Simple. "Economists won't bet on world economic trends. They'd rather do something innovative to keep businesses going. And believe it's important that governments work closely for the progress of global economy - after all, it's all interconnected."

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A question of attitude!

It was a clear Tuesday morning over the Atlantic, and we were a little more than halfway through a flight from London to Dallas. After a light meal, I was getting ready for a short nap when the captain made a cryptic announcement that we were beginning our descent and were expected to land shortly, not in Dallas, but in Newfoundland, Canada, because the U.S. had shut down its airspace!

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Collaboration: Physical-virtual. And potent.

Online collaboration, for all of us, is familiar terrain. Blogs, wikis, social media, collaboration applications on forums like Facebook, and social-CRMs are an integral part of our everyday life. But, collaboration can have a very different dimension - Virtual physical collaboration.

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Infosys edge

It's a world of growing complexity and changing dynamics. And, I often find many vexing challenges, that businesses face, stem from the fact that they must, on the one hand, add on new capabilities to adapt to change, and on the other rationalize these add-ons in the interests of organizational efficiency and operational simplicity.

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Getting to the top

Since 1955, around 2000 companies have found themselves in the Fortune 500 list, but only 65 of these have managed to stay on. Getting to the top of the Fortune list and staying there is like mountaineering. Take Mt. Everest for instance - around 4000 people have tried to surmount it, with just 660 succeeding.

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Infosys recognized as one of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ in the United States

This annual award recognizes top employers showcasing leadership and innovation in engaging their employees. At Infosys, we've always understood that these practices are not just good for employees but the bottom line for us people managers

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Renewing our vows

This month my wife and I are celebrating our 30 year anniversary. It should go without saying that I've spent the last few months trying to think about what we will do to celebrate. Of course, a natural place to look for reminders of that wonderful day was our wedding album.

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Supply chains: Perhaps lean and flexible, but are they predictable?

One quick look down the past 20-30 years for changes in the supply chain, and you'll see straight off that organizations have been focusing on making their supply chains more efficient by reducing inventory, implementing just-in-time ideas, consolidating vendors and leveraging technologies like RFID.

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The insides of a smarter organization

Efficient organizations are commonly mistaken for smarter organizations. But a smart organization is way beyond efficient - it can reinvent itself as and when required, without external initiatives or intervention. Recently, I wrote here, about the first steps in the journey towards becoming a smarter organization - building a learning organization.

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Balancing the equation between education and employability

Ironically even as the population of the World is reported to be growing, study after study reports a shortage of skilled talent required for the knowledge economy. While it is the constant drop in the number of students opting to further their education in math and science, in the developed world, in countries like India where numbers don't pose a challenge, the issue lies is the quality of education.

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Building tomorrow's nation

India's growth, over the last 2 decades, has been phenomenal. For the majority of us urbanites who stand at the cusp of India's transformational journey it's a rewarding experience. And, we barely see beyond the cocoon we are ensconced in. Yet, there lies a world beyond - Rural India. 72% of India resides in villages.

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When the parts matter the most

The computer industry has always tussled with the problem of forging a unique identity. Semiconductor companies and other hardware component suppliers for consumer electronics typically lack a direct relationship with end customers.

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Supply and demand management: Optimizing the flow

We've all seen headline-grabbing stories on supply chain disruptions caused by tsunamis, floods and other natural disasters. These occurrences create volatility that results in manufacturers scrambling for alternate suppliers, production delays and unhappy customers who are quite vocal.

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It's time for a new way of thinking about Public Services

Government organizations have an undeserved reputation of working on less challenging business issues and being technology laggards. Yet many US Government agencies support missions which are highly complex and directly impacted by the effects of globalization, growing and aging populations, global threats and the recent US economic issues.

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No outage, please!

I am talking of ensuring 100% reliability and efficiency of the enterprise IT infrastructure. This is to make sure there's minimal - or better still - no outage.

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How to deal with organizational complexity

I take the conversation onward from my previous blog "Simplify or have an egg on your face" that you can read here .The next obvious question before us is - How does an organization deal with complexity - at the strategic, operational and individual levels?

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Creativity versus the learning organization

Think about how good your organization is at learning new things and challenging the status quo. Do you see the conflict that it can cause? Learning organizations lay a welcome emphasis on its people continually learning and sharing new knowledge.

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Simplify or have an egg on your face

Simplification is a persistent theme in the minds of executives leading large global organizations. As organizations grow in size, they also tend to become complex. The number of products they offer increase and so does number of customers, operating locations, suppliers, systems, employees - all increase in quantity and variety.

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The Hole-y Road to Simplicity

As I drove home one evening, I observed something not unfamiliar to those of us who've lived in this part of the world. The road had been asphalted a few weeks ago. The rains had already caused some damage and what should have been new was already pockmarked with potholes that were unmerciful to an unsuspecting driver.

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How smarter organizations simplify…or don't.

To say that an organization can get smarter by keeping things simple is to oversimplify the argument.

Simplicity, the way I see it, is the end result achieved by organizations that smartly manage their complexity. Note that I say 'manage' and not 'eliminate'.

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Because building tomorrow's enterprise needs tomorrow-ready people

US$ 450 million - that is what it apparently costs to send a shuttle into space. That's also what we've invested in our Global Education Centre. Yes, the facilities are unparalleled and can cater to more than 13,500 people in a single session. But that's not the story.

, or hypertext markup language, is the predominant language for web pages used by almost everyone.

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Six "Must-Do's" when Leading Wall-to-Wall Change

Organizations that engage in transformational projects would do well when their leaders employ six cardinal rules for successful execution. These include, making communication the top priority; engaging and empowering people; setting value targets and making people accountable for achieving them; giving people the success they need; staying positive; and staying on course.

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The difference between coaching and mentoring

Organizations that are keen to train their executives need to employ coaching and mentoring at different stages based on the needs of their executives. Also they must understand that coaching is not synonymous with training. And training can be one component of a larger coaching initiative. Mentoring can, by definition, be more abstract. Mentoring also happens largely through relating the anecdotes of the mentor.

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IT services are not like baseball caps

Commoditization of software is a constantly debated topic in IT industry and there are not many buyers for the one size fits all approach. Constant discussion has led to realignment of enterprise offerings. Smarter organizations are keen to realign services in sync with business of their customers using technology as a tool rather than employing it as an end objective.

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Why every manager should think and act like a CEO

Enterprises embracing this approach report incredible results within teams and managers. This facilitated a sea change in the functioning of organizations and the way they responded to challenges and handled complexities. Apart from motivating employees, this approach helps managers to think in an unconstrained manner to solve complex issues.

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When the past should be seamlessly woven into the future

In business model reinvention, future success depends on selective destruction of past practices and making way for the new. Applying the same logic in the IT field does not hold good as legacy applications support operations of billions of dollars of profitable business. In IT sector, for better alignment with business goals, past investments have to be seen in the context of the present and present investment in the context of the future.

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Honey, I shrunk the time to market

BPO executives have long morphed from bottom-line cavalry to top-line samurai and strategic players, who are well versed in the art of fueling growth. If enterprises are willing, BPO service providers can offer a wide array of services that help organizations attain their goals faster. Shorter time-to-market is just one of the benefits. New market penetration and successful M&A services are just two of the areas.

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In a difficult economy, talent matters more than ever

New approaches to innovation and new business opportunities test enterprise ability to attract and retain the best talent. Given the enterprise mandate for cost containment and attaining top line growth, the new business environment with economic challenges, evolving technologies, regulatory requirements and rapidly changing workforce makes talent an important differentiator. In this juncture, the function of Human Resources towards business success, achievement and growth is paramount.

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Is monitoring our actions spying - or an incentive to improve performance?

Advances in data visualization and analytics offer executives intriguing opportunities to shape team behavior. Viewed in a positive light, they enhance real-time awareness on key performance measures; leveraging positive and negative feedback systems. In a less optimistic tone, one wonders where Big Brother is lurking.

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How do you photocopy someone's head?

In the IT world, knowledge management necessitates associates to record their knowledge assets in a structured manner and share it securely with colleagues. This poses a challenge to enterprises, especially in protecting substantial investments in intellectual property rights. Learn how Epistemology, Ontology, Information and Security Architecture can bridge the gap.

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Who said butchers can't inspire?

Tech geeks today will need to keep their ears and eyes wide open so that they can spot opportunities, observe business and market scenarios and learn from beyond their own shop to achieve a Henry Ford-like success.

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Weak Link Breaks the Value Chain?

Smart leaders adopt holistic thinking for evolving strategies to beat competition. They evaluate value chain from four perspectives – quality, cost, quantity (volume) and cycle time. This helps in addressing the weak links in a value chain.

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Old is New Again!

Boardroom discussion on innovation and transformation seem to have relegated focus words such as optimization and efficiency to the back seat. But optimization is much like good cholesterol; its absence is felt more acutely than presence. It provides a whole new dimension to user engagement and co-creation.

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Don't you want to know what you "know?"

The process of harnessing knowledge assets is more than just deploying technology or standard procedure for data collection. It is about creation of a knowledge environment that makes it natural for employees to create and share tacit and explicit knowledge.

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