No resolutions for 2014, just some hopes and dreams


Happy 2014 everyone !

I have no new year resolutions – those don’t work very well , at least for me anyway. I do have some hopes though for the new year

First – I hope the US becomes a less divided country . We should stop letting MSNBC and FOX dictate our value systems . Let’s fully involve in Church and State , but keep them away from each other . Let’s not blindly believe what “our party” stands for today – and do a bit of critical thinking on what we choose to take and what we choose to throw away . Let’s unite against violence of all forms – within and outside this country . Let’s live and let live without extreme prejudice . Let’s try and fail , and try again till we get things reasonably right .

In India – I hope AAP will change the face of politics for good . The fact that they won against Congress and BJP is excellent news in itself . India is used to a socialist governance model – and AAP has a very socialist agenda , including their plans for economy . I can only hope that they don’t go back to the subsidy and reservation culture of yesteryears . In any case – a welcome change from incumbents , and let’s hope they can scale across India . I hope the anti-gay laws in India are taken away for good . I seriously hope they just don’t kick the ball between Judiciary and Executive and Legislature . It is legislature’s job to get it right for good. I also hope India becomes safer for women in 2014 – we certainly don’t need more gang rapes . This can’t be done by government alone – this needs society to do serious introspection and go through a painful change in how women are looked up on .

Between US and India , I hope they do away with the diplomatic issues quickly . World has more important problems that need these two countries to work together . Take away “official” maid service for diplomats – if the rest of us can wash our clothes and cook our dinner , a diplomat can do that too .

On IT front – I hope companies get to a better mix of services and product development . Let’s not spend 2014 mostly on “my puppy is better/faster/cheaper than your puppy” – let our “pups” aka products and services speak for themselves . Especially for Indian IT companies , I hope 2014 will see better employee satisfaction . In general – I seriously hope I don’t see another CIO vs CMO or Business vs IT rehash. There are no new angles here and I am so incredibly bored .

I have no expectations of cloud , databases , mobile, BI etc to do something earth shattering in 2014. They will all no doubt grow in the right direction – assuming we get the hype out of the way . IT World doesn’t need another SOA type cycle , if you know what I mean .

On personal front – I hope like most parents that my daughter continues to grow up into a responsible person , and enjoy her childhood . I also wish I lost some weight . I will definitely try to spend some more time with family and take all the vacation I can . I hope my older dog Boss continues to be in good health , the 5 year old Hobo continues to be the kind hearted good that he is , and the little guy Ollie grows up to be a well socialized dog . I would like Ollie to also be a good show dog – but that is not a deal breaker . I hope I can help my wifey a little more around the house in 2014 🙂

That is it – no resolutions , just some hopes and dreams !

Have a good one folks – cheers

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We need a Christmas for Enterprise Software


A big luxury during this time of the year is that I can have a siesta free of guilt . As I came down the stairs and turned right to the kitchen nook – I saw my little Golden puppy Ollie at his favorite. “Thinking spot” in the back lawn , acting as if he is figuring out the meaning of Christmas 🙂

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And that set me thinking – what is the meaning of Christmas ? And then on to – does Christmas mean anything to the world of Enterprise Software ? I think it does mean something .

To me, Christmas is all about giving , exchanging and sharing . These are not the first three words that normally come to mind when we think of enterprise software world . These things , barring a handful of cases, are (at best ) after thoughts.

Enterprise software world is mostly a place where every company is out to go all the way alone . Partnerships do exist – but usually in a very tactical sense. Just like in politics – there are no permanent friends and enemies in enterprise land either . Those that partnered in the past would go at each other’s throats , and sworn enemies will make bed fellows . I readily admit that I have taken it for granted too for the most part that this is how things ought to be done.

Every vendor in enterprise space swears they will do what is good for the customer – and sadly, it generally translates to doing what THEY think is right for the customer .

This year – I have no direct sales responsibility . Otherwise , Q4 is the time when I get told repeatedly that every deal in progress needs to be made into a bigger deal . Many careers have been made and lost in this annual quest. As I look back in time – the best “deals that were made bigger” were the ones where one vendor gave up some short term business to another one (or a few others ) and went to the customer with a “deal you can’t refuse”. In the very best category are the ones where the customer is part of the deal making process throughout . Customers buy on price when the value cannot be expressed clearly and quantitatively in a way they trust . Trust is the operative word here . When customer and vendor trust each other – deals become boring and routine, and usually bigger . There is nothing I love more than routine and boring deals 🙂

No one software vendor has a portfolio to solve all requirements of a customer – yet, inexplicably it is only an absolute minority of cases where a vendor proposal includes products and services that are from someone else . That happens only when sales leaders of multiple vendors know and trust each other well , or when customers ask vendors to work together explicitly . Nether scenario is anywhere close to common .

Same is true for services . Everyone takes potshots at everyone else at the drop of the hat . Independents will say big SIs are out to get customers , who in turn will do every thing to keep independents away from projects , unless they are subcontracted through the SI itself . Product people will readily point a finger at services people – and vice versa – for every problem irrespective of merit . I have seen it from both sides – and it is exasperating , and funny too occasionally .

I have had this conversation with several software and services leaders over the years . The most common answer I get is “Power” – as in, the company with the most power (most marketing $$, best relations with customers etc) twists the situation to their sole advantage , and won’t share the “spoils”.

In my mind, nothing demonstrates true power like generosity . The ability to be generous – to give away for the greater good – is the ultimate power . This is true in the society we live in – and I strongly believe it should be true in the world of software too . The entire industry can grow by leaps and bounds if companies are a bit more generous with their products and services .

This is not to say competition should be eliminated , or that software should be open sourced all the time , or that profit making is a bad thing . Absolutely not – those are all fine and ok. My wish is only for some peaceful co-existence in the world of enterprise software .

Wouldn’t it be great if a good chunk of the vast marketing budgets of software companies are repurposed to product development , education , customer support etc ? Wouldn’t it be great to focus a little more on making ten things 90% right and resist the temptation of doing 20 things 70% right ? And how refreshing would it be to see messaging that “together we solve the world’s problems” than “my horse runs better/faster/cheaper than your donkey” ?

Will 2014 be the year when enterprise software companies get their Christmas spirit ? I will eat and drink to that .

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Merry Christmas to everyone . Have a great holiday season . And more power to the ones amongst you who choose to be generous .

Looking back at 2013 – A tale of two employers


Compared to the time between 2008 to 2012, when I was fast tracking through an IBM career in management – I had a pretty relaxing year at SAP in 2013 on many fronts . Mostly, I have been in a learning mode – and I did learn a lot about how this great company works .

IBM was rather command and control driven to some extent – someone up top decided what needed to be done . I had the freedom to figure out how to do it – assuming I met the goal ethically . Well, meeting the goal didn’t count for much there – you had to exceed the goal by a long margin to be seen as a leader . Every goal we had to hit had to tie back to corporate goals set by CEO – very little vagueness prevailed . Not that all employees liked or agreed with what the goals were – but everyone knew what hills were marked for them to capture .

SAP works very differently – here we like to build consensus for all decisions . People a few levels down from the board members can still define “what” and not just “how” . And I love that balance of top down and bottoms up decision making .

Both companies are rather heavy on process – SAP is smaller in size compared to IBM. But there isn’t much of a relief on process – everything has a process , and it takes whatever time it is supposed to take . I guess that is the price to pay when any company gets to a certain size and scale – from that point , process doesn’t get better or worse . One might learn over time to optimize the constraints or you might just get used to the process and it becomes second nature . I haven’t done either yet – still figuring that one out .

I know IBM occasionally gets flak in the press for not pleasing some customer or other . But having worked there for a long time (actually pretty short time by big blue norms) – I know those are exceptions to the rule . I grew up in IBM with “when in doubt – do right by the customer” drilled into my head . That is thankfully the general policy at SAP too – everyone jumps in to solve Customer issues irrespective of their day job or title . Again – something I absolutely love . In IBM , I had to stay back and deliver what I sold to a customer. In SAP – I don’t have to sell anything , just focus on engineering and related topics . I miss a bit of the adrenalin rush that sales comes with – but I think I am a better techie than a seller . I can live this way for a while .

My motto on team work is simple – success of a team is determined by whether the members of that team watch out for each other even after the people no longer work together . Not everyone works well with my style of leadership. I am fairly hands off – and I hold people responsible for an outcome. There are no marks given for steps – and neither does my team ever get a goal that I am not directly measured on . We succeed or fail together . That is not everyone’s cup of tea – which is why I said people still watching out for each other years after going through a hard project is how I determine true success. At SAP I think I have successfully talked many people out of joining my team full time 🙂

With most people I have worked with in past – I have the faith that I can call them at any time of the day and they will not only pick up the phone , but will also do their best to help me with my request the best they can . And they know they can expect the same of me . Just two weeks ago in India – two of my team mates (Nitish and Anupama) from 2008 came to my hotel late in the evening just to say hi to me and chat . I can’t express how happy that makes me feel . Not everything in corporate life is enjoyable – but this , building a team and seeing them grow , never ceases to be a fulfilling activity .

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Compared to my time at IBM , my direct team at SAP is minuscule in size . But I have nothing but utmost satisfaction working with them – if you see us debating you might think we are eleven year olds arguing in a playground 🙂 . We challenge every idea – especially the ones that originate from me . But then we get things done . Our little skunkworks project to offer a free BW on Hana trial on AWS ( http://saphana.com/bwonhanatrial ) is a perfect example . With no formal project – not even a cool code name – we managed to get it done , and in a couple of months this trial has had more than thousand sign ups and more than 50000 hours logged . It was not just our little team – we got full commitment from everyone we requested across the company .

This was a complete déjà vu for me – when the SAP innovation center was formed at IBM, this is exactly how we did it . A small team of volunteers from across the globe who believed in the cause came together and we got it done – without formal budget , headcount and so on . That team is now a big part of IBM – ably led by Gagan Reen, my most trusted wing man those days . I am happy beyond words that this model worked just as well in SAP with Ingo, Rohit and other colleagues . It also reaffirms my belief that good things get done at great speed when small ad hoc teams get formed on the fly .

When it comes to my reputation(?) – majority of people in IBM knew me mostly as a solid technologist in the first part of my career and then as a consulting leader with good abilities in both sales and delivery . In SAP , I am most commonly introduced to other colleagues as a blogger that Vishal hired . It still amuses me to no end – but it has happened at least a hundred times . This leads to people asking me occasionally if I can blog about their product or retweet something they have tweeted . I am honored that some colleagues think I have enough clout in social media to positively amplify their work . However , this is not something I like doing – as an employee , I have very little credibility if I pimp something about SAP . That is best left to the ecosystem – if they see value, they will promote . If they don’t – they will criticize or ignore . While I continue to blog whenever I feel like it – it is rather rare these days that I blog about SAP like I used to before . If 2014 continues in this way – I guess I should interview with Jonathan Becher for a job in social media marketing 🙂

Perhaps the biggest difference between a software job and a consulting job is the org structure . In consulting teams are formed according to project needs – otherwise skilled people form part of a resource pool (I hate the use of the term resource to refer to human beings). In software , there seems to be more of a rigid structure of a team assigned to a manager for a very long time . Neither model is completely inflexible – some part of the team is always made up of people assigned from other parts of the organization . Having been used to working with the flexible resource pool for a long time , it is a bit hard for me to get used to the seemingly more rigid structure at SAP . It is most probably a factor of time – and I am sure I will get there at some point , hopefully soon. Or die trying 🙂

People have asked me many times this year on what is the one thing I miss the least from IBM days – and My answer has not changed . I am happy that I don’t have to deal with lotus notes any more . I never liked it – and I really hope I don’t have to use it again . I don’t ever want to choose between “do you want to delete ? Or do you want to remove” when I try to delete an email .I know there are many IBMers who love notes – more power to them . For me – no thank you !

No idea what 2014 has in store for me – but not going to worry about that . I could use the vacation time to train my dogs , and spend some much needed time with my family away from airports and planes .

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Happy holidays everyone !

When did diplomacy become so undiplomatic ?


Devyani Khobragade, and officer of the Indian Foreign Service, got arrested in US ,handcuffed in public before her children, taken into custody, stripped and cavity searched like a criminal drug dealer, and then let off on a $250K bail. Her alleged offence – paying less than minimum wages to her maid, while having documented a higher wage on visa filings for the maid.

I am dumbfounded that this issue was so carelessly handled by both US and India. The word I am looking for is UNDIPLOMATIC.

1. No one is above the law of the land : There is no excuse to pay below minimum wages to anyone. If visa filings for the maid had a higher wage than what was actually paid, then it is clearly wrong and such practices should stop. Why not send the diplomat back to India if that is an option , and never allow her back into US ?

2. Will US government arrest everyone paying less than minimum wages?: Clearly there are a lot of illegal immigrants in this country who don’t make minimum wages. They are allegedly mostly employed by US citizens and US incorporated companies. Will US now go all out and arrest everyone it suspects in that category ?

3. Why would US Marshall do a cavity search in this case ? Diplomat or not – what was the point of cavity search in this case other than to humiliate the woman? The alleged crime was not about dealing with drugs or something like that. Is this appropriate for law enforcement in a civilized country ? Standard Operating Procedure is a poor excuse for what happened.

4. US cannot have it both ways : When Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor , killed 2 people in Pakistan – US demanded diplomatic immunity. Even the Preident of US demanded Pakistan to provide immunity to Davis.  Eventually US paid millions of dollars to get him back into the country.  Here is the wikipedia link with the details http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Allen_Davis_incident With that background , is it fair to now take a stance that the Indian diplomat (a REAL diplomat, unlike Davis who was a contractor)  does not have immunity ?

5. Why does an Indian diplomat need a maid in the first place ? : I am sure she is a busy woman. But then there are plenty of busy women (and men) who work in the US who are not diplomats and they don’t have a maid. Most mid-level people cannot even afford a full time maid. So why do Indian diplomats get maids on official passports? That seems like a remnant of colonial rule and I really wish the Indian government stopped this practice. If there is a lack of will to stop the practice, can’t the government at least pay its diplomats enough to cover the expense of having a maid service?

6. Retaliation to undiplomatic moves from one side is NOT more undiplomatic moves from the other : I am not a diplomat – literally or figuratively. But my impression about diplomats in general is that the one thing they are good at is to keep talking in good times and bad times, and not act in a rash way. Yet – India’s response was rather childish. Rather than keep communication open – they did pretty childish things like removing barricades near US embassy in New Delhi. I also read that Indian government officials stripped US diplomats of special ID cards etc. And Indian ministers and officials refused to meet with congressional delegations from US.

7. Diplomats will kiss and make up quickly, common man in both countries will need more time : It was with utter dismay that I read the comments to articles in the press that reported on this situation. Some accused Indians of being caste crazy and caste system as being the reason for paying the maid below minimum wages. Some also suggested sending back all Indians in US back home and stop outsourcing. The response from Indians accused US of racial discrimination, and ill treating immigrants and so on. The diplomats on both sides will forgive and forget quickly (at least I hope so)- but the longer this stays unresolved – it will divide and polarize the common folk on both sides. Common folk have to work closely with each other tomorrow – and every time these things happen, it takes time to start respecting each other again

8. Is there more than what meets the eye ? :  If this article states the facts right, then I am perplexed with the US actions. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Timeline-of-Devyani-Khobragade-case/articleshow/27601818.cms

9. It is in everyone’s best interest to not forget the big picture.:The political balance in South Asia is delicate, and India is by far the best buddy US has in that region compared to China, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It would be incredibly silly for US to have a less friendly India . India is friendly with Afghanistan – but have tense relations with Pakistan, and a somewhat tense relationship with China.  Similarly India relies on US for a lot of its business in IT and IT enabled services, and other trade. And US does not have a good short to medium term solution if they decide to take away business from Indian IT companies.

10. US should be happy that BJP is not the ruling party in India now: Sadly, same sex relationships are criminal in India. BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has taken a position that US diplomats in India that have same sex partners should be arrested . I hope no one listens to him – but as the time taken to resolve this issue increases, this is the type of rhetoric that will come up, and it just makes it miserable for people who have nothing to do with this issue directly.

My wish list on resolution is pretty straightforward

1. US approves the move of the diplomat to UN , and drops the charges against the diplomat. I don’t think US should apologize to India if the visa filings were false. Future issues of this nature needs to be handled more diplomatically.

2. India stops allowing its diplomats to have maids, or at least pay for the maids and not break the laws of the countries they are posted. India should restore all privileges it allowed US diplomats a week ago, and make sure their safety is well taken care of.

3. We all move on with our lives – and not let this incident create any bad side effects
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Added around 7.30 PM AZ time :

4. Give a work visa to the maid , and help her get a real job.

I should add that there is a net positive in this situation . The US Attorney has effectively given a much needed warning to people who bring servants on visas . These folks should get every protection mandated by the law – whether employed by diplomats or not .

Incredibly Impatient India


Last Thursday, I hosted a panel in Bangalore on future of innovation in India . One of the panelists was my buddy Abesh B from Kolkata . His comment was “Indians have always been innovative – our word for it being jugaad”. It immediately resonated with me – I could totally visualize his explanation of wearing a helmet while cutting onions to avoid tears . I have seen folks cutting onions next to a burning stove, and the heat apparently burns away the acid that makes your eyes burn .

Jugaad is one side of the coin – it cannot seem to exist in India without impatience as the other side of the coin. So let me give you a taste of the impatience factor .

Growing up in India , the busiest I have seen of any city was Mumbai . A guy who has absolutely nothing to do that day and idling away in bed at his home – when he needs a chai , he will stride out in great hurry and jump the line at the way side chaiwallah and get his tea – only to go back to his bed and idle away . Ok – that was purely fictional , and please don’t flame me for being Anti-Mumbai . That is the impression I got as a resident of the sleepy town of Trivandrum , visiting Mumbai . Many years later – I had the same impression visiting NYC from my sleepy hometown of Chandler, AZ . Everyone is crazy busy – including Indians who live there . It has never stopped fascinating me till date .

When I learned to drive in India in early 90s – I had no idea what lanes meant . I asked many an elder , but was none the wiser till I moved to the US . I have never seen any one stay inside their lane while driving in any city in India. If a road has 3 lanes – on an average there will be 8 vehicles trying to be parallel to each other . How do I know ? I sat in traffic and counted every day last week 🙂

Honking is the national pass time of drivers on Indian roads . We honk if we have to pass someone , to attract the attention of anyone we know who is walking past us while we are driving , we honk when there are 8 cars using 3 lanes in parallel , we honk if we are happy, sad , mad or bored . It is a group event – if anyone honks on the road , everyone else honks too. Everyone honks all the time . Most trucks have a “sound horn to overtake ” sign on their rear ends . It is the most natural thing for Indians to do . It was really hard for me to unlearn this habit when I moved to US . We don’t honk because we think honking will work – it is involuntary , like breathing . All things being equal – the vehicle with the loudest horn wins on the road .

My mom rarely takes me with her to temples any more when I visit . She cannot deal with me picking up arguments with everyone there who will refuse to stay in the queue . I never quite understood why anyone would jump the line in a temple – does Chitraguptan ( who has a similar role to Saint Peter as the gatekeeper to heaven , but for Hindus ) give extra credit on judgment day to those who try to elbow their way to the front while they are alive ? I wonder if he secretly promotes texting while driving too when he needs to hit his KPIs.

And then there are the airlines – all of them . Boarding a plane in India should be able to replace trying out for college football or rugby . It is a full contact sport – with 20+ walkie talkie bearing airline officials trying to act as referees .

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It is nothing but absolute unadulterated chaos . I clicked this picture yesterday while trying to board a plane to Delhi . This was roughly 10 seconds after they announced that boarding will begin in 10 minutes . Don’t ask me how many people stepped on their grandmothers to get into that plane 🙂 . That was a small domestic flight . It was much worse boarding the huge Dreamliner from Delhi to Frankfurt . I didn’t have to fight my way in . I took a deep breath and got in the middle of the passengers – the momentum carried me literally to my seat . Along the way, the passengers were yelling at each other and the crew , the crew was yelling at each other and the gate agents , and so on .

What was incredibly funny was this Marwadi business man (who eventually sat next to me) – he was on his phone yelling at someone the entire time in boarding area, and every two minutes he took his attention away from phone to yell at the passengers pushing him, only to return to yelling into the phone . Although the flight attendant tried his best – this dude wouldn’t stop yelling into the phone till he lost his connection at 10000 feet after take off . He immediately fell asleep . I was woken up by his familiar yelling about two minutes before we touched down . He yelled his way to the passport control way ahead of the rest of the passengers .

Indians are incredible at adapting to their environment quickly . Case in point – I have probably honked twice in the entire time I lived outside India . You won’t see Indians jumping the line at the movies in Arizona waiting to get tickets to “Hunger games”. But if it is an Indian movie – usually brought in to the town by an Indian association , with a 100% Indian audience – the elbowing magically returns .

You may be able to take us away from impatience with some effort , but you cannot take impatience away from us . That is how we interpreted it when Steve Jobs said “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.

I am walking into a plane at Frankfurt to SFO – and it honestly feels weird to not have my businessman seat mate from yesterday sitting next to me yelling at everyone . I am tempted to yell and push at some one – you know, just because …. 🙂

Incredible India – a short trip report to SAP Teched Bangalore


I landed in India at the city of Kochi – popularly known as the queen of Arabian Sea . And about an hour later , I delivered the Inaugural address for the international conference organized by the School of Management and Communications Studies . To my pleasant surprise , I was given a very warm traditional welcome by a group of beautiful ladies – who I later found out were top scoring business school students too . Beauty and Brains !!!

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My special thanks to the faculty , students and fellow speakers – it was an excellent experience for me , and such an honor . The theme was “building customer trust” – something that is very close to my heart .

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I had crowd sourced the keynote – and several friends gave me wonderful ideas on what this audience would like to hear. Judging by their reaction – I think the keynote was well received , and I am firmly convinced that crowd sourcing is the way to go for my future keynotes too.

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The quality of service and food in Indian hotels and restaurants never ceases to amaze me . Like last time , this time too I stayed at the Taj Vivanta at Whitefield. Exceptional experience – they have definitely acquired my loyalty and I look forward to next time . The photo below is what I got for breakfast – Masala Dosa and Bonda . And the state of India today is well represented by the fruit preserves kept on the table for folks who like a western breakfast . There is something for everyone here . Plenty of Japanese and Chinese options too .

The highlight of the keynote was Vishal Sikka’s keynote – as always .
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I have always been a fan of Vishal’s speeches – and if I could change anything about it, I have two suggestions

1. Vishal should wear a SAP mentors jersey to keynote stage . This year, we got Michael Reh to wear a mentor jersey to his part of the key note – next year , I am counting on Vishal doing that too 🙂

2. Try to cut down the length of time for the keynote to 60 minutes – or maybe 90 minutes at most . This is quite hard given the awesome content – but maybe more than one keynote at the event is the answer .

All parts of the SAP portfolio were well represented in the keynote – proving SAP is both a platform company AND an applications company .

Hopefully the keynote from Bernd Leukert puts to bed the recurring questions on blogs whether SAP has moved away from apps business .

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If I were to pick the three highlights from the keynote for me – they were
1. Announcement of SAP Ganges by Abdul Razack (his first keynote I think)
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2. Open sourcing part of SAPUI5 as openUI5 by Michael Reh

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3. Announcement of River by Jake Klein

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All 3 are important first steps in their respective domains – and I am sure those teams are going to execute out of their skins to get all three to live up to their promise .

For all of us who worked hard to make BW on Hana trial a big success (1000 sign ups , 40000 hours used in about 2 months ) – Michael and Vishal gave us a big shout out . Thanks guys 🙂

After his keynote , I got to interview Vishal on SAP teched live TV .

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Pls checkout the replay here

http://events.sap.com/teched/en/mobile/session/8854

The highlight for me in this interview was Vishal clearly articulating that BW on Hana is NOT something that is on a death bed . On the contrary, he explicitly called out SAP’s continuing investment in adding innovative capabilities to BW on Hana . We even have a brand new release coming out in few days – BW 7.40 . The BW on Hana pod never had anything less than three deep crowds – which makes me a very happy camper.

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Special thanks to the people who made it happen – Ingo , Rohit, Marcus and CAL team, Dan Kearnan , Bill R and marketing team, Praksh D, Daniel R and solution management team, Lothar H, Thomas Z, Klaus N , Stefan Sigg and all others from dev and product teams , and everyone else who came together to make this happen. I am incredibly proud to be a member of this amazing team.

I also got to host a panel on the future of innovation in India . There is work to be done – but the panelists were upbeat on India’s ability to be an innovation powerhouse . Thanks Abesh , Kumud (also wish you a very long and happy married life) and Amit !

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Check the replay here

http://events.sap.com/teched/en/mobile/session/8854

And then there was Failfare – learning how to fail fast and fail responsibly – my dear friend Marilyn Pratt’s brain child .

Marilyn couldn’t make it to the event due to a personal emergency , but Jeanne Carboni did a fantastic job to back her up .

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I traded my speaking slot with a better speaker – my buddy Yariv Zur (we have a running contest on who is the bigger expert at failing) . Kumud and Jhansi were the other panelists and both were very good . I enjoyed listening to their experiences . Lucky did the emcee job to perfection .

A huge shout out to Neel , Ravi, Rakesh, Joe, Gian , Abhijeet, Gansu and other colleagues who made Ganges a reality . In the one year that I worked at SAP , there is only one project I liked as much as the BW on Hana trial that we did – that was Ganges . It is not every day that amazing technology gets used to fundamentally improve the life of common man – in this case, the mom and pop retail shops in India . You guys made the impossible possible . I am happy to have had a chance to be a cheerleader for you . Rock on guys !

Goes without saying – a big part of the enjoyment of being at teched is hanging out with SAP mentors . It was a blast – thanks folks . Let’s keep those conversations going . Special shout out to Tammy Powlas for staying up late and attending our sessions remotely .

Last but not least – HUGE thanks to Chip Rodgers , Margaret Laffan, Jason Lax , Maggie Fox, Mark Finnern, Andy Dey and other colleagues who made my first teched in India so memorable . I will be back !

Did India socially regress by a couple of centuries in the last one week ?


As I look back at the last one week in India , I am both incredibly proud of what we have accomplished as a country – and incredibly sad and angry at how much is left to be done to bring India socially forward from 1800s to 2013 .

Let me get the awful stuff off my chest first . Supreme Court ruled that consensual sex is criminal , if the parties involve are of the same gender . Essentially they upheld a law that was made in mid 1800s under British rule and over turned the high court verdict that decriminalized this . Supreme Court took a very narrow view of the matter – essentially , they kicked it to the legislature to amend the law .

India is a free country – so why does the government think it is constitutional to get into the sex life of its citizens ? Essentially this law also negates the possibility of gay marriages . It is a gross violation of citizens’ fundamental rights for government to decide who they can have consensual sex with and who they can marry . Life imprisonment apparently is the punishment for gay sex. I can’t believe we have to deal with this in 2013 .

Congress party has made its stance clear that they oppose the judgment . BJP seems to be in support of the judgment – which is not a surprise given the party has limited secular credentials . Not sure where AAP stands on this . But essentially – this means the legislative route will take a while since there is no broad base support to pass legislation smoothly . There are legal options the government can file – including a curative petition . I hope they do that quickly .

I am rudely surprised I did not see the President and Prime minister of India making a comment on this SC verdict .

What was most appalling for me was the reaction I saw in Social media . People who should know better came out in BIG support of the Supreme Court ruling . Broadly their argument was
1. It is unnatural and god doesn’t approve
2. Only a minority of people are gay and rules should not be bent for their benefit

How do these people get to judge what god likes or doesn’t like ? Why didn’t the rest of us get that memo ? India has a clear distinction between church and state – so why is religion even brought into this discussion ? And why is there no similar extreme outrage when people cheat in their marriage and sleep around with others ?

Also – if minority rights don’t matter , why are politicians dead worried about religious minorities at election time ? Would they stop having reservations for education , jobs etc based on religion and caste ? Clearly the answer is NO . So why is being a minority being used against only gay people ? Gay people have all the same responsibilities in India as other citizens – so why should they alone have less rights ?

I got so worked up seeing the social media conversations that I unfollowed and unfriended a bunch of people . I cannot believe these folks could stoop to such a low level .

Political parties have a lot to answer for – this arcane law has been around for ages . When the HC overturned the law – and the appeal went to SC, why didn’t the government start a parallel legislative effort to erase this from the law books ? Clearly they are worried about how the voters will react in next election . So they tried to play it safe and thought they can leave this alone for judiciary to deal with . Judiciary inexplicably issued this terrible judgment as a result .

This is just a reflection of the larger social outlook in India . Being gay is still not a socially accepted thing in India – large part of the population still think it is a sin of some sort , and they react in terrible ways . The way to change this is only via education – over a long period of time . But in the short term – there is no excuse for not pursuing legal and legislative options right away .

Please don’t forget – Gay people are people too ! Live and let live