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Goa Goa Gone Review

Go Goa Gone, is both a stoner movie combined with a zombies attack setting in the scenic heaven of Goa, India. As such it is a sharp, taut comedy with nice acting and crisp direction . The humor is bawdy but some dialogues have potential to be classic. A small budget movie- this is one nice production and shows Bollywood innovating global storylines and adding some desi masala to it. The newbie Puja Gupta looks hot, Saif Ali Khan lampoons the tough guy with a gun image, and Kunal Khemu and Vir Das are great in comic timing.

Go-Goa-Gone130507121941

Watch it for laughs, though it is probably unsuitable for a family outing or with kids. Clearly inspired the cult Hollywood Movie, Zombieland- it has its own desi spin on it. Spicy and Delicious!

 

Top five ways to do business unethically in India

Over a decade long career , I have often been reminded of this saying from erstwhile mentors in long forgotten consulting email group- It is not WHAT you KNOW, it is WHO you KNOW. The power of WHO you KNOW can defeat even what you know , have learnt or worked hard at. Accordingly these are some wry observations on how businesses sometimes take shortcuts in India, and the whys and wherefores.

1) Regulatory Arbitrage due to Lack of Regulatory Oversight- This is especially true in terms of labor practices. This includes under-paying Caucasians and non -Indians for internships , or jobs (in the name of sponsoring the work visa). India is an extremely inexpensive place to stay in, but it is sometimes unfriendly (in terms of laws not people) to people visiting from the West. This ranges from amusing things to paying 10 times the price for non Indian visitors to Taj Mahal- to not so funny things as paying them lower salaries because they need  a reason to stay on. Unfortunately this is true in many countries -underpaying aliens, but it is much better regulated in the West.

2) Stealing Intellectual Property- I have often known people to steal presentations and even excel macros from the place they were working to the new place. Almost no one gets prosecuted for intellectual property theft (unless you are caught with 10,000 pirated music or film cds)

3) Using Pirated Softwares – Lack of awareness of FOSS means many SMEs use shortcuts including downloading software from Pirate Bay and using this to work for clients in the West. Example- This could be as simple as downloading SAS software from Internet, or using WPS software for training and mis-representing SAS Institute’s name. (added confusion due to SAS -software,company,language ) . There are other major companies who suffer from this too, notably Microsoft.

This could be as complex as using academic versions of enterprise software for businesses purposes. In each case because of the geography, legal risk is quite low, and returns quite high from pirated software. It also helps lower the unethical vendor’s quotation of prices compared to the one who is doing it straight.

One way to avoid this is -ask your vendor to show you copy of how many legal licence’s for software. It can also help in cutting down exaggerated bench strength claims of vendors, as sometimes businesses hire many people and then put them on internal projects.

4) Illegal Trade practices- This include making employees sign a 1 year bond for not leaving the company after they have visited the West for company work- in the name of training . This also includes abusing the loopholes in various types of visa.

5) Ignoring signed contracts and negotiating to lower prices at every step illegally, in collusion with other vendors ( there is no effective anti -trust act ) and using the complete inadequate and lengthy nature of filing court cases in India.
Almost every non Indian client I know pays on time- almost every Indian client I know needs reminders. This is more of a mindset problem , knowing the reluctance to file lawsuits in India given slow progress in the courts ( India has 1.2 billion people and per capita access to judges and lawyers is quite low). The buzz word is- How much can we settle this? Lets do a settlement!

In the long run, this is choking off growth and potential of SMEs in India. In a continuing series- I will help the non Indian users with ways to use technology for legal remedies  in India for intellectual property  along with known case studies and examples.

Interview Pranay Agrawal Co-Founder Fractal Analytics

Here is an interview with Pranay Agrawal, Executive Vice President- Global Client Development, Fractal Analytics – one of India’s leading analytics services providers and one of the pioneers in analytics services delivery.

Ajay- Describe Fractal Analytics’ journey as a startup to a pioneer in the Predictive Analytics Services industry. What were some of the key turning points in the field of analytics that you have noticed during these times?

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Pranay- In 2000, Fractal Analytics started as a pure-play analytics services company in India with a focus on financial services. Five years later, we spread our operation to the United States and opened new verticals. Today, we have the widest global footprint among analytics providers and have experience handling data and deep understanding of consumer behavior in over 150 counties. We have matured from an analytics service organization to a productized analytics services firm, specializing in consumer goods, retail, financial services, insurance and technology verticals.
We are on the fore-front of a massive inflection point with Big Data Analytics at the center. We have witnessed the transformation of analytics within our clients from a cost center to the most critical division that drives competitive advantage.  Advances are quickly converging in computer science, artificial intelligence, machine learning and game theory, changing the way how analytics is consumed by B2B and B2C companies. Companies that use analytics well are poised to excel in innovation, customer engagement and business performance.

Ajay- What are analytical tools that you use at Fractal Analytics? Are there any trends in analytical software usage that you have observed?

Pranay- We are tools agnostic to serve our clients using whatever platforms they need to ensure they can quickly and effectively operationalize the results we deliver.  We use R, SAS, SPSS, SpotFire, Tableau, Xcelsius, Webfocus, Microstrategy and Qlikview. We are seeing an increase in adoption of open source platform such as R, and specialize tools for dashboard like Tableau/Qlikview, plus an entire spectrum of emerging tools to process manage and extract information from Big Data that support Hadoop and NoSQL data structures

Ajay- What are Fractal Analytics plans for Big Data Analytics?

Pranay- We see our clients being overwhelmed by the increasing complexity of the data. While they are all excited by the possibilities of Big Data, on-the-ground struggle continues to realize its full potential. The analytics paradigm is changing in the context of Big Data. Our solutions focus on how to make it super-simple for our clients combined with analytics sophistication possible with Big Data.
Let’s take our Customer Genomics solution for retailers as an example. Retailers are collecting information about Shopper behaviors through every transaction. Retailers want to transform their business to make it more customer-centric but do not know how to go about it. Our Customer Genomics solution uses advanced machine learning algorithm to label every shopper across more than 80 different dimensions. Retailers use these to identify which products it should deep-discount depending on what price-sensitive shoppers buy. They are transforming the way they plan their assortment, planogram and targeted promotions armed with this intelligence.

We are also building harmonization engines using Concordia to enable real-time update of Customer Genomics based on every direct, social, or shopping transaction. This will further bridge the gap between marketing actions and consumer behavior to drive loyalty, market share and profitability.

Ajay- What are some of the key things that differentiate Fractal Analytics from the rest of the industry? How are you different?

Pranay- We are one of the pioneer pure-play analytics firm with over a decade of experience consulting with Fortune 500 companies. What clients most appreciate about working with us includes:

  • Experience managing structured and unstructured Big Data (volume, variety) with a deep understanding of consumer behavior in more than 150 counties
  • Advanced analytics leveraging supervised machine-learning platforms
  • Proprietary products for example: Concordia for data harmonization, Customer Genomics for consumer insights and personalized marketing, Pincer for pricing optimization, Eavesdrop for social media listening,  Medley for assortment optimization in retail industry and Known Value Item for retail stores
  • Deep industry expertise enables us to leverage cross-industry knowledge to solve a wide range of marketing problems
  • Lowest attrition rates in the industry and very selective hiring process makes us a great place to work

Ajay- What are some of the initiatives that you have taken to ensure employee satisfaction and happiness?

Pranay- We believe happy employees create happy customers. We are building a great place to work by taking a personal interest in grooming people. Our people are highly engaged as evidenced by 33% new hire referrals and the highest Glassdoor ratings in our industry.
We recognize the accomplishments and contributions made through many programs such as:

  1. FractElite – where peers nominate and defend the best of us
  2. Recognition board – where anyone can write a visible thank you
  3. Value cards – where anyone can acknowledge great role model behavior in one or more values
  4. Townhall – a quarterly all hands where we announce anniversaries and FractElite awards, with an open forum to ask questions
  5. Employee engagement surveys – to measure and report out on satisfaction programs
  6. Open access to managers and leadership team – to ensure we understand and appreciate each person’s unique goals and ambitions, coach for high performance, and laud their success

Ajay- How happy are Fractal Analytics customers quantitatively?  What is your retention rate- and what plans do you have for 2013?

Pranay- As consultants, delivering value with great service is critical to our growth, which has nearly doubled in the last year. Most of our clients have been with us for over five years and we are typically considered a strategic partner.
We conduct client satisfaction surveys during and after each project to measure our performance and identify opportunities to serve our clients better. In 2013, we will continue partnering with our clients to define additional process improvements from applying best practice in engagement management to building more advanced analytics and automated services to put high-impact decisions into our clients’ hands faster.

About-

Pranay Agrawal -Pranay co-founded Fractal Analytics in 2000 and heads client engagement worldwide. He has a MBA from India Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, Bachelors in Accounting from Bangalore University, and Certified Financial Risk Manager from GARP. He is is also available online on http://www.linkedin.com/in/pranayfractal

Fractal Analytics is a provider of predictive analytics and decision sciences to financial services, insurance, consumer goods, retail, technology, pharma and telecommunication industries. Fractal Analytics helps companies compete on analytics and in understanding, predicting and influencing consumer behavior. Over 20 fortune 500 financial services, consumer packaged goods, retail and insurance companies partner with Fractal to make better data driven decisions and institutionalize analytics inside their organizations.

Fractal sets up analytical centers of excellence for its clients to tackle tough big data challenges, improve decision management, help understand, predict & influence consumer behavior, increase marketing effectiveness, reduce risk and optimize business results.

 

Dhiraj Rajaram creates India’s first billion dollar analytics company

Dhiraj Rajaram, got featured in Economic Times recently as the CEO- founder of India’s first billion dollar valuation analytics startup.

Mu Sigma attracts a clutch of foreign investors, gets valued at $1 billion, Dhiraj Rajaram is now king of data

This year, the company which employs 2,500 people across a development centre in Bangalore and offices in the US, UK and Australia, will build a data analytics lab in the US and hire 400 data scientists there.

I first met Dhiraj in 2008 Q1 for a job. We didnt agree partly because I needed to be close to my son ( who was 4 mth old) and I ended up taking a contract with another Bangalore based company. What impressed me at that time was something I rarely see in India’s analytics entrepreneurs-

1)  A Grand Vision- Dhiraj said- I am trying to build the largest math factory on the world.

2) Focus- Dhiraj was focused only on analytics projects. No quick and easy outsourcing low end tasks and outsourcing for him.

3) Positivity- Not once during the entire two hour interaction did he say a negative word on competition, attrition, challenges, pressures.

4) Flamboyance- I wonder sometimes why a colorful culture like India’s end up with people being so meek in corporate culture. Dhiraj was probably one of the most flamboyant senior analytics leaders.

But there were some concerns I had in 2008 q1- including plans for IPO ( I thought that was early) and senior management flux ( the COO left in a few months).

Anyways Dhiraj grew the 200 strong team to around 900 by 2010 q3. This time again he called me for a job interview. This time we again found that there was nothing I was really good at in analytics company- with my interest in open source, blogging and writing books, and my morbid fear of managing people in operations. However I noticed some changes-

  1. There were greater signs of process driven orientation ( including messages to keep meetings short)
  2. There were newer people in senior management
  3. Dhiraj was slightly more restrained in his frank talk ( given his increasing stature and demands on his time and attention on him)
  4. I loved the sign on his Office- Jugad. Literally that means ingenuity in Hindi- and shows a glimpse into the maveric, brilliant and flamboyant nature of the CEO.

Again, there were some odd points. Mu Sigma continued to have the perception ( true or false, I dont know) of having a large number of attrition at junior levels. Again there were rumours that Dhiraj had become a bit autocratic in management ( which I found no clue of). I found that the biggest problem that Mu Sigma, Dhiraj had – they were creating enemies just by shaking up the slow IT Services mindset of India- where easy money was available just by low quality labor arbitrage. This cultural opposition to anything new (like a pure analytics company), or anything rapid ( like a company that scales up organically) could have stopped lesser men, but Mu Sigma moved on.

So it was quite nice to read the news, finally an Indian company , had broken the 1 billion mark. Allow me some leeway here. I truly believe analytics and maths have no nationality. But if you see the rampant poverty in India , what we need is more aggressive and impatient businessmen like Mr Rajaram, than the chalta hain _ ” it is okay” attitude.

Dhiraj and team, take a bow. You make us proud!

 

 

 

 

The dichotomy in being a writer on open source with a non-open access publisher

  • The publisher adds credibility to your work

versus

  • A self fulfilling prophecy where researchers want to publish in exclusive journals and closed -access books, for the sole reason that others did so as well before them and thereby donate their knowledge and money to the publisher

aaronswartz-v2

The dichotomy in being a writer on open source with a non-open access publisher?

  • I write on open source R , 
  • and I have been published (one book )
  • and am on contract to write two more ( R for Cloud Computing) and (R for Web and Social Media Analytics)
  • My publisher does have open access journals.
  • But the book is at $50. Most of India lives at less than 2$ per day. Thats 800 million people in my country alone.

But the publisher is the most reputed in this field. So what are my choices? How do I get more people to have choices to read books.

Take open knowledge , curate it, and turn it behind a $50 paywall. I am sorry, Aaron. People like me are the reason ……

 

New Delhi R User group meets up

Inspired by David Smith ‘s blog post at http://blog.revolutionanalytics.com/2012/10/r-user-group-sponsorship-applications-open-for-2013.html I set up a meetup group for New Delhi at http://www.meetup.com/New-Delhi-R-UseR-Group/ ( India to my surprise has only 1 R user meetup group before this in Bangalore). The first meeting was awesome, we met in a  cafe, and the plan going forward is to cover cross domain learning and collaboration on tools, startups, mashups and training.

Hopefully we can reach out to analytics enthusiasts in Mumbai and Chennai to help kickstart the R User groups. Indian companies like Mu Sigma have been using R more and more in analytics (offshoring). You can even use the sponsorship from Revolution Analytics to start your meetup group , Meetup.com  gives you a 50% discount if you pay 6 months in advance, and given Oracle’s and IBM/Google\s big Indian presence I hope they lend a hand to User groups for R in India as well.

A 3D Printed World

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing[1] is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material.[2] 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes) which mostly rely on the removal of material by drilling, cutting etc.

A world without factories , or atleast not as many. Where the only thing to be bought is design and raw material . Direct from the creators to the consumers.

Imagine 2025 – with the latest generation of 3 D printers. You browse though online catalogs, select designs  for furniture, accessories, clothes. Click buy and then print.

No more inventory planning ( except for the raw material wood,synthetic,cloth, plastic or better still an intermediate that can be done in all of these). Everything is bio-degradable in this new world of 3D printers.

That future is closer than you think! No more Made in China vs Made in USA

Everything will be made at home! designed by artists! delivered by Internet.

This is probably how they will shift manufacturing back to the rest of the planet to the First World, as both China and India are lagging behind in understanding the ramifications of mass produced 3D printers. 3D printers could do to factories what automatic washing machines did to laundry.

  1. http://mashable.com/2012/07/17/3d-printing-continuum-fashion/
  2. http://singularityhub.com/2012/04/23/3d-printing-robot-produces-chairs-and-tables-from-recycled-waste/
  3. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/08/3d-weapons/
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