Tuesday, July 14, 2009

World market vs Football market

I am sure many people have been following the recent transfer saga on Cristiano Ronaldo (CR9), Kaka and Benzema to Real Madrid and Tevez to city. Real spent a whooping 171.6 million pounds to acquire these three players. No doubt Real will be competing and looking to win all the three competitions (UEFA CL, La Liga and Spanish Cup), and will probably succeeed. But, 171.6 million pounds is just too much!!!!

A time where there is recession all over the world and when people are finding it hard to obtain credit from the banks, the question is, Where is Signor Perez getting all the money from? Has he learnt a lesson from his last spending spree in putting together the "Galacticos"? We will just have to wait and watch....

Here is an analysis done by LA Blaugrana ----> Where does Real Madrid Get So Much Money?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Outsourcing" the Indian Premier League

I have been meaning to write about the IPL season 2 since a long time. The first season had been a tremendous hit among the local people and it is sad that it had to be moved to SA citing security reasons.

I read a few articles where the columnists were very critical about the "Indian" Premier League in South Africa. Almost everyone criticized the BCCI of being stubborn and money minded as they owned the TV rights and earned tremendous amount of money. The main reason for the change in venue was because the IPL schedule clashed with the parliament elections and the state governments could not provide logistics for the security of the players. And after what happened to the Sri lankan team in Pakistan and the mumbai terror attacks, the BCCI didn't want to take risks. So, I partially agree to the logic of their decision to "outsource" the IPL.

But what can we gain from it?
There are many young players in the IPL and they would get good exposure and experience playing in bouncy, fast tracks which they are not used to. They could also learn a great deal from other experienced players on how to play well on such tracks and this would definitely help India build a good team for the future.
That's one huge plus I could think of.

Other than that, I have been talking to some of my friends back in India and they say that the excitement is not the same anymore and they do not feel that connected this year... understandable! But I really hope that the next edition is held in India and looking forward to see the Mumbai Indians this time around.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fifa 2009 gaming tournament

I recently saw a flier in the college campus about a FIFA2009 tournament being organized by the undergraduates as a fundraiser event to install taps in some of the regions in Nepal. A project for a good cause and a game I loved playing...

I was introduced to the EA Sports Fifa games well back in 1999, around the same time I started following soccer. Being an intense and a fast-paced game, I was quickly addicted to it and played for 5-6hours at a stretch. I started with FIFA 97, then moved on to 99, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008. I had mastered each and every level in all the versions and was looking forward to take part in the event. But I had not played their new version, 2009!!

I registered for the event and paid $10 and was excited to take part in such a tournament here. I had entered a similar tournament back in my undergrad days, which I won..:) The same day, I borrowed the CD from a friend and installed it on my laptop, I wanted to WIN this tournament too!! I practiced whenever I could get some time off assignments and projects. 3 days to go, and I was counting down.

The day came, I was confident of playing well even against a seasoned opponent. As I entered the venue, I was literally shocked. I could see TVs and Big screens, NO computers. Yes, the gaming tournament was on XBOX !!!! I had never seen a XBOX before, let alone play. All the confidence I had of playing well, went down the drains... I played 2 games and lost 3-0 and 2-0. I was happy not to concede 10 goals...:D

I had FUN and what the heck, it was for a good cause!

Forcing your customers isnt a good idea

I have been using the MS Office 2007 for about six months now and I feel that I am much more comfortable with it. Now, I know where to find the icons I need and don't have to do some "how to..." searches on Google, like I was doing when I just installed the product.

When I did some research, I found the main reason for them to dump the old menu style for a new one. Many customers asked for certain features to be included in the next version. When Microsoft analyzed these enhancements requests, they found that 85% of the features were already available in the existing version. The users could not find them as they were hidden within the menu structure. Coming up with the new "ribbon" design made sense to make these users happy and make the features easily visible to new users as well. It also looked "cool". But what did not make sense was that they had not provided a configuration of a "classic mode" wherein users could go back to the old menu structure as they were used to and comfortable with.

Why would they not make it configurable? Why force the faithful customers to change the way they worked, learn new techniques to do the same thing they could have easily done with the previous version? Weren't they worried that they would lose some of their customers to competitors? This was the time Google, Novell and Sun Microsystems were coming up with office suite of products to compete with Microsoft. They even cost less and some were in fact free!!! The customers could easily switch to OpenOffice.org or star office as they could get them for free and the time required to adjust to the new suite would almost be same as the time required to get comfortable with the new design of Office 2007. Wasn't Microsoft worried about that? Developing a configuration for the old menu structure was also not difficult to implement. Within three months of the release of Office 2007, a third-party came up with a plugin that would make the old menu structure visible.

I am not sure how much customers they lost(individual or corporate customers) to their competitors, but I think it is a significant amount. I respect Microsoft for many innovative things they brought to the market, but I feel that the decision of not making the "classic mode" available was a blunder on their part.

Did you switch to Office 2007 or OpenOffice? How long did it take you to get comfortable with the new product? Do share your views.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Halo Effect

I recently came across the phrase "the halo effect" and did not know what it meant. So, I googled it and found this wiki page - Halo Effect which was quite informative.

The theory really struck me as so very true and I had never thought about it before. This happens in our everyday life, don't you think? Perception of one trait influenced by perception of other trait i.e the normal human tendency to make specific inferences on the basis of a general impression about something/somebody. Attractive people are often judged as having a more desirable personality and more skills than someone of average appearance. Thus, we see that celebrities are used to endorse products that they have no actual expertise in evaluating, and with which they may not even have any prior affiliation - Harold Kelley. When I come to think of it, YES, I have seen this happen and in fact I have also done this subconciously when I meet someone.

Why do we do this?
May be because some of the questions like how good/lovable is the person?, is he/she helpful? etc are not tangible or concrete. We cannot associate a number with such things.

On further research, I came across a group performance experiment done by Prof. Barry Staw (UC Berkeley) . The experiment showed that members attribute one set of characteristics to groups they believe are high performers, and a very different characteristics to groups they believe are low performers. When told their group had performed well, members described it as having been more cohesive, with better communication, and more open to change. When the same group was told that it had performed poorly, they remembered the opposite. In fact, their performance was just about the same but the only difference was what the professor told them.

This is true even in the business world. when a company is doing well with high sales, profits and stock price, analysts describe the company as having a smart strategy, the CEO as a visionary, the employees as motivated. However, when the sales are low and the stock prices fall, they quickly conclude that the company's strategy went wrong. In fact, nothing much has changed!!!!!!!!!!! Our perceptions of them are based on other things that are concrete and un-ambiguous, like their financial performance. We cannot measure how smart the company strategy is or how visionary their CEO is or how motivated their employees are.

Now I understand why my professor asks for "hard numbers" when I give my opinion in class discussions to support my point of view.

Please share if you have some similar experiences or any examples you have come across.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cost cutting !!!

I have started to apply for internships for the summer and I am trying to contact as many people as possible to inquire about the possible opportunities available in their company. Many of them have got back to me saying that there is a hiring freeze and some companies are also in the process of laying-off employees.
Companies are taking some drastic steps to cut immediate costs in order to survive this bad patch. How can they cut costs? Here are some things they can do:

1. Hire Interns - I am not saying this because I am searching for one. I understand that companies have to lay-off some non-performing resources to cut costs. Hiring interns would be the best option to get the work done at low cost.
Interns(esp. college graduates) would be looking to impress the company and work hard to get the job done. They would also want to add some valuable experience in their resume as they have started to understand how competitive the job market is. By hiring them, an organization need not worry about extra compnsation, health insurance etc and the risk of liability is very less as compared to permanent employees.

2. Go Open Source - One of the best ways now to reduce significant IT cists is to go open source. I cant believe how much licensing costs IT can save by moving to open source products. Although it sounds easy, it is very difficult to implement throughout the organization. Employees who are used to the products will not like the sudden change and they also should be trained to use the open source products. Training costs is much less compared to what a company can save licensing costs.

3. Save on Real Estate - Do you know how much it costs to buy an office at a prime location (say Manhattan or Boston downtown..)???? I dont know, but i bet an acre in manhattan would cost around 100million(just a wild guess). Can companies ask their employees to work from home? Sure they can. People already "work from home" during snow or bad weather conditions. Technology available these days that can help this transition. There is internet, videoconferencing etc to help with this.
A mid-sized company can easily save a huge sum by asking most of the employees to work from home. In cases like client visits, important meetings, they can surely rent an office space on the 40th floor of a nice building for one day and impress their clients.

4. Go Green - Recycle and reuse is one of the best options to save money and this also helps the environment. Its like hitting two bullseye with one arrow.:)

5. Negotiate and Re-negotiate - Everyone wants to sell their products and they will sell it even if it is at a very less profit. So make sure that you negotiate effectively. Shop around to find a better deal.

There are many more ways to cut small costs like reducing magazine/newspaper subscriptions etc. Reviewing your financials will also help you come up with many more things to do, TO CUT COSTS !!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

£243 Million for Kaka !!!!!!!

Does this make a business sense??? shelling out such money for one player?? I definitely don't believe so and here are my reasons:
  1. Football(soccer) is a team game and no one player dominates the opposite team. I agree that he can inspire his teammates to raise their game to a certain extent. We have seen what Roy Keane was for Manchester United (a great captain who brought out 150% from his team).
    Kaka is a fantastic midfielder, versatile, comfortable with both his feet, good passer-plamaker, chips in with the goals consistently, big-game player, no nonsense guy...etc... But if strikers like Benjani, Darius Vassel cannot take advantage of Kaka's vision, what is the point?

  2. What about the ROI?
    Mancity is not a HUGE club and does not have a fan following like ManUtd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Real Madrid or Barcelona. So, they sure will not be able to get sufficient returns from club mercandise. Remember what happened when Beckham moved to Madrid? Real Madrid claimed a return on their investment in their first season itself after their pre-season tours to Asia, where Beckham is hugely popular and has a tremedous fan following. Now thats a business decision! Although Kaka is popular, he is unlike beckham in a global scene.

  3. He is 26 and is at the peak of his career. He has around 4-5 seasons left in him to be realistic. 243m for 5 seasons?? Is it worth it? And in a game like football, players are bound to get injured. What happens then?

I think Mancity can use this money in buying a quality GK, one defender, two midfielders and two strikers. Someone like Riquelme, david villa, Juninho, benzema etc. Now wouldn't this make a better business sense?