Subba’s Serendipitous moments

June 18, 2007

Parable on competitiveness

Filed under: Business,Competition,Learning,Model — Subbaraman Iyer @ 1:48 pm
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Well, this parable on competitiveness found here has been around for many years. It makes interesting reading.

It reminds me of the time when as a Project Director of a very important project, I had to report to 10 individual executives and 3 internal committees, not to speak of reporting to the client.

Whenever there was any critical issue on the project, all the executives would give inconsistent and often conflicting decisions. It was also very difficult to get those 10 people on a single conference call.

One of the most frustrating stints that I had in that role.

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June 14, 2007

Infosys market cap higher than that of Accenture

Filed under: Business,Competition,India,Model,Strategy — Subbaraman Iyer @ 4:38 pm
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Does anyone realize that Infosys’ market capitalization is higher than that of Accenture, despite Accenture’s revenues being 6X that of Infosys?

Here are the figures:

Accenture (Aug 31, 2006):

  1. Revenues: $18.2 billion

  2. Gross profit: $4.99 billion

  3. Operating income $1.84 billion

  4. Net income $973 million

  5. Outstanding shares 593 million

  6. Market cap (June 12) $23.54 billion

Infosys (March 31, 2007)

  1. Revenues $ 3.09 billion

  2. Gross profit $1.31 billion

  3. Operating income $ 852 million

  4. Net income $ 852 million

  5. Outstanding shares 571 million

  6. Market cap (June 12) $29.12 billion

So, despite the EPS being in the same ballpark, Infosys market capitalization is 20% higher than that of Accenture. This is despite the fact that:

  1. Accenture outsourcing revenues ($6.75 billion) is more than twice that of Accenture.

  2. Accenture has about 80,000 employees in the outsourcing division (out of a total head count of 150,000) while Infosys has about 70,000 employees in the outsourcing division

  3. This implies that Accenture has twice the billing rate per employee compared to that of Infosys.

Despite this, Accenture has only a profit margin of less than 7% compared to Infosys where the profit margin is about 27%, which implies that at the current run rate, Accenture needs to get four times more revenues to get the same net income.

I guess the financial markets are rewarding the Global delivery model, giving Infosys a much better valuation.

Accenture and Infosys comparison chart

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June 13, 2007

Policy, not implementation

Filed under: Business,Leadership,Model,Perspective,Strategy — Subbaraman Iyer @ 10:37 am
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A centipede consulted a wise old owl about the pain it felt in its legs.

Said the owl, ” You have too many legs! If you become a mouse you would have only four legs– and one twenty fourth the amount of pain.”

That’s a very good idea,” said the centipede. “Now show me how to become a mouse.”

“Don’t bother me with details of the implementation, ” said the owl. “I only make the policy in this place”.

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Longing to fly

Filed under: Learning,Perspective,Stories — Subbaraman Iyer @ 10:26 am
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Owing to a variety of circumstances, the egg of an eagle found its way to a corner of the barn where the hen was hatching her eggs. In time, the little eaglet was hatched with other chickens.

Now as time passed the fledgling, quite unaccountably began to experience a longing to fly. So, it would say to its mother, the hen, “When shall I learn to fly”?

The poor hen was quite aware of the fact that she could not fly and hadn’t the slightest notion of what other birds did to train their fledglings in the art of flight. But she was ashamed to confess to this inadequacy, so she would say ” Not yet, my child, not yet. I shall teach you when you are ready.”

Months passed and the young eagle began to suspect that its mother did not know how to fly.But it could not get itself to break loose and fly on its own for its longing to fly had become confused with the gratitude it experienced towards the bird that hatched it.

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Enterprises using Wikis

Filed under: Business,Innovation,Model,Strategy — Subbaraman Iyer @ 9:51 am
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Based on a IDC report, Wikis are slowly making their way into the Enterprise.

It is interesting because this solves some key issues in the collaboration mechanisms that’s been detrimental for effective knowledge sharing. However, it requires more than a technology platform to be effective. Other organizational interventions are also needed.

Though a few enterprises in Asia Pacific express a keen interest in Wikis, I have yet to come across of a serious deployment of Wikis in the Enterprise.

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Innovation at Apple

Filed under: Business,Innovation,Leadership,Model — Subbaraman Iyer @ 9:13 am
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The Economist has a great article on Apple and its model for innovation. Clearly some aspects of Apple’s innovation model stands out.

In fact, its real skill lies in stitching together its own ideas with technologies from outside and then wrapping the results in elegant software and stylish design.

Second, Apple illustrates the importance of designing new products around the needs of the user, not the demands of the technology.

Listening to customers is generally a good idea, but it is not the whole story. For all the talk of “user-centric innovation” and allowing feedback from customers to dictate new product designs, a third lesson from Apple is that smart companies should sometimes ignore what the market says it wants today.

The fourth lesson from Apple is to “fail wisely”.

While one can never deny that Apple can be counted as amongst the top innovation companies, they have been using a proprietary innovation model right from the beginning to their most recent product — the iPhone. Clearly a lot of developers have been asking that iPhone be opened up so that third party applications can be developed. Apple very deftly managed to side step the issue, by just launching Safari (the web browser) on the Windows platform. Developer access to the iPhone would be through the Safari, rather than releasing a iPhone SDK.

For one, the Web may be a better platform for application development, but by not opening up the iPhone SDK, the applications may not be multi-threaded and may even run slowly.

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June 7, 2007


Three men set out on a journey. Each carried two sacks around his neck — one in front and one in back. Which of them finished first?

The first man was asked what was in his sacks. “In this one on the back” he said, “I carry all the kind deeds of my friends. In that way they are out of sight and out of mind and I don’t have to do anything about them. They are soon forgotten. This sack in front carries all the unkind things people do to me. I pause in my journey every day and take these out to study. It slows me down, but nobody gets away with anything.

The second man said he kept his own good deeds in his front sack. ” I constantly keep them before me” he said. “It gives me pleasure to take them out and air them”.

“The sack on the back seems heavy,” someone remarked.” What’s in it?

“Merely my mistakes,” said the second man. “I always keep them on my back.”

The third man was asked what he kept in his sacks.

“I carry my friends’ kind deeds in this front sack,” he said.

” It looks full. It must be heavy,” said the observer.

“No,” said the third man, “it is big, but not heavy. Far from being a burden, it is like the sails of a ship. It helps me move ahead”.

“I notice that the sack behind you has a hole in the bottom,” said the observer. “It seems empty and of little use.”

“That’s where I put the evil I hear from others,” said the third man. “It just falls out and is lost, so I have no weight to impede me.”

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Some ingredients for success

Filed under: Perspective,Winning,Winning strategies — Subbaraman Iyer @ 4:44 pm
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To be able to carry money without spending

To be able to bear an injustice without retaliating

To be able to keep on the job until it is finished

To be able to do one’s duty even when one is not watched

To be able to accept criticism without letting it whip you.

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Filed under: Inspiration,Perspective,Stories,Winning,Winning strategies — Subbaraman Iyer @ 4:40 pm
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After actor/ director Michael Douglas had been in five block buster films, his father, Kirk Douglas wrote him a small note.

It said “Michael, I’m more proud of how you handle success than I am of your success..”

It’s a note that Michael Douglas treasures

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June 5, 2007

Belief and Faith

Filed under: Inspiration,Perspective,Stories — Subbaraman Iyer @ 9:35 pm
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There was a tightrope walker, who was so good that he could walk between two twenty stories building on a tight rope with a balancing pole. Thousands of people would watch him perform his breathtaking feat. After he walked across the building he would have his assistant sit on his shoulder and he would proceed to walk across the building. Everybody were amazed and gave him a thunderous applause.

He asked them whether they believed that he could do it again. The crowd said, “Yes, we believe that you can!” After a while he asked the crowd again, “Now, who wants to volunteer to get on my shoulder?”
With that the crowd became silent.


There is a difference between Believe and Faith. We can believe what we see. In the above story, the crowd believed in the tightrope walker because they saw him perform the feat. But when he asked them “Who wants to get on my shoulder?” everyone was silent. You see, the crowd had Belief but they did not have Faith. This story clearly illustrates the difference between belief and having faith.

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