Key Tracks Archive

Insights from Nasscom Leadership Forum – global citizenship, the old, the new, cross-generation and nostalgia

 …visit Ram’s official blog to read all his posts more

What brings delegates to NILF?

Three days of deliberations at NILF 2011. As I walked into the halls and looked at all those heads listening in rapt attention to the speakers, I thought, what is it that gets so many people to an event like this – what would their expectations be? Unlike the World Economic Forum, where you have heavy weights walking the corridors and delegates jumping on board to “be seen”  at the right place at the right time, NILF is more targeted at the software industry and does not have a snob value for people with a stiffer upper lip. So what bring the industry there? more

Masterclass- lessons in competitive strategy from Vishwanathan Anand

I have cheated a little and borrowed the term “Masterclass” from the NILF agenda for my blogpost as it seemed the most apt way to describe the concluding session on Day 1 at NILF 2011! Anand, in somewhat unfamiliar territory, came with a well prepared speech- while he may not have displayed oratorical brilliance, the content of his talk was really interesting.
To draw a parallel between competitive strategy in business and the game of chess, he explained his preparation for two important matches he had played and won- one with Kramnik and the other with Topolov. Here is what I took out of the session:
1. Each competitor is different- so, for every new “game” plan ahead, and plan differently
Kramnik and Topolov are different kinds of players- one vertical and the latter horizontal. Hence, preparation for the games, months in advance, which included an analysis of the opponent’s strengths, was very different. Businesses likewise, need to anticipate competition behaviour and plan for surprises and to surprise them.
2. Each competitive face-off is different – though he prepared with equal intensity for both games, the one with Kramnik played out very differently than the one with Toplov. With Kramnik, by using surprise as an element, he got a near unbeatable lead and held on to it. Whereas, with Topolov, it was up and down till the very end, and the 12th game was a decider- thus he really had to hold his nerve to win the match. We come across similar situations often times in business oftentimes, when we go prepared for a certain response but end up dealing with something entirely different. The ability of your business to adapt, take risks and be resilient is key to emerging successful in that round!
3. Failure teaches you more than success – Anand referred to the time after winning the world championship for the first time in 2000 when he went through a major slump in form. What he did to recover taught him more than what his many successes had. Companies would do well to analyse losses and see what they can learn from it. In my experience, post-bid win-loss analyses is one of the most under-leveraged business tools.
4. Preparation is the key- Reaching the top is one thing, staying there is another, they say. Listening to Anand, it was evident that diligent preparation held the key to his sustained reign at the top. Similarly, for companies in the IT industry, especially those that have had a good run so far, keeping at it, staying focused, and learning not to underestimate the competition would be the mantras for continued success. more

What keeps Chandra awake at night?

Engaging with customers better and understanding how his organization (TCS) can become more and more customer relevant appears to be the most important question in the mind of the CEO of India’s largest IT services company – Chandrasekar of TCS. Chandra explained that simple as this may seem in concept, doing this right and in a sustained way was far from easy. A deep understanding of your customer’s business, and understanding how IT can drive efficiencies as well as growth, are key to stitching together sticky and enduring customer relationships, said Chandra in conversation with Shereen Bahn at NILF today.
Chandra added that one reason why the Indian industry (read scale players) handled the recent downturn better (compared to 2001) was because they had become more customer-relevant and were in many cases the strategic outsourcing partner. Having said this, keeping at it and making customer engagement deeper tops his list of priorities. more

It’s great to be back at NILF

I reached Hyatt, a little later than planned, towards the end of the morning keynote. But we (my colleague Jayanthi and I) were in business in quick time, thanks to NASSCOM’s super-efficient registration process. As a 3rd time official blogger, I carry a media tag (albeit with mixed feelings!). As always, met a lot of people I knew (and usually get to meet only at NILF) – and towards the second half, attended a couple of interesting sessions as well. I enjoyed the talk “ Understand the future if you want to be a part of it” by Michael Roger, Vishy Anand’s talk on strategies in chess ( which have so much applicability to business). I also thought Chandrasekar’s perspectives on running a business in unusual times were practical, down to earth and bang on target. more

Sit local, reach Global

Okay so I have tweaked the oft-repeated phrase a bit. But, all for good effect. At NILF every year, one of the biggest draws has always been the country sessions. It is an opportunity for the participants to understand and gauge the potential of all these visiting nations in terms of trade and likewise for the countries to seek out their prospective associates. Let us take a sneak preview on what we have in store this year. more