Monday, February 29, 2016

Driving IoT to Solve Problems that Matter through Thoughtful Innovation


One of the most trending topic of current times IoT, is certainly a leap towards a better future. The advent of Internet of Things (IoT) now is rightfully compared to that of the advent of internet in 90s, which is going to once again revolutionize the way we live.  One of the most positive things about such technical advancements is that they create opportunities for newcomers and start-ups to be able to compete in the market purely based on innovations which would otherwise be almost impossible. Several start-ups became giants in the internet era, several conventional giants not ready to adapt to the new order fell apart and those who were ready to accept the change survived. Same is expected to happen once again, probably the resetting has already begun. However this time start-ups are large in number, people taking lessons from the last time, are ready to take risks for their innovative ideas. Also the internet has made us more confident by creating many examples in past in which, starting from scratch individuals and organizations rose to unimaginable heights, looking upon which we get filled with hopes and feel ready to jump into the arena.
 
However, with all this positivity, most of us tend to forget evaluating our innovation’s novelty and on top of it its usability. Mostly it is thought that every start-up is aware that the only way to ensure survival and competency amongst others is to solve a pertinent problem. And the extent of the value of your solution is mostly determined by the number of individuals who are going to be benefitted by it. This is the main issue currently crippling our start-up ecosystem. In a hurry to hit the market ASAP or maybe to prove their entrepreneurial potential, most of the time several newbies come up with complex technical solutions which are of little to no use or adds a new luxury to an already luxurious items. Most ideas revolve around two to three areas for example IoT in e-commerce (how to make it easy to shop using IoT), fitness-related (measuring various body parameters and calculating calorie burnt, steps taken etc.), home-automation (handling home appliances smartly and remotely).
 
I do not dispute the fact that moving with time often several luxuries tend to morph into necessities as has been seen in the past with the smartphones, e-readers etc. but that is a slow process and requires a specific set of conditions for example affordability, reach, marketing, peer-pressure etc. We have to evaluate ourselves that, up to which extent our solution comes into the necessity category right now. There have been several examples of innovations in history which were ahead of time hence the public, market and the ecosystem was simply not ready for them and hence these innovations never caught up and were discarded as unnecessary.  We place huge amounts of resources when we decide to innovate and create something new however the question sometimes that we forget to ask ourselves is, what the reason behind this novel creation is. Certainly if you are a start-up this reason could not just be an academic study. Other than that, placing such huge resources behind something needs to have a solid, logical and convincing answer to this question. Fortunately, there is no shortage of start-ups which are well equipped with this answer as well.
 
We should look up to the individuals and organizations around us who know what they are doing and why they are doing it. We can easily get and we certainly should look amongst our peers to refine our own ideas apart from professional mentors. Our eyes and ears should be open all the times focusing on the genuine problems that we ourselves face regularly. Hence, we should first become our own mentors, then our peers and people surrounding us may show us the path and finally professional, experienced guides can direct us into the suitable direction.

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This article has also been posted on Linkedin.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Untold Story - 1 : Is laughter the luxury that you can't afford?



When I was watching the above video, all I could think of was one person who was my roommate for about a year in my undergrad  college. There are several incidences that happened during that time which were coming to my mind with every word uttered during this video. Some of them I am going to mention here under. I remember those incidences so keenly because it was one of the most challenging periods of my life.

   Lets sail back in time a little. I was starting my undergrad college, kind of an aloof guy. I did have friends but not many.  And among those who were my friends almost no one was very close. Well, it all changed with time to such an extent that people were unable to stop themselves from telling how badly they hated me initially and how much they liked me now because of my new found Avatar. But I never realized how did the change came about in me, however I did feel few differences in my approach.

  This guy lets call him Mr X, was in my class but we had never talked till then, which was the case with almost every Mr/Miss X, Y or Zs except 4-5 select ones. I was introduced to Mr X by my existing roommate who was also in the same class. The day we met, I remember, Mr X talked whole evening almost till mid night about how unfair the life has been in his case. Although I used to be an aloof person but I was emotional as well. When I heard his life story, I was deeply pained by how much has he suffered along with everyone else in his life and how grateful I should be, having spent such an easy life myself as compared to his. And then, when he asked me to keep his telling as a secret, I was so touched that this person in first meeting itself has put so much faith in me that he told his best kept secrets to me, I felt honoured. Now, looking back at that moment I'm unable to decide who was dumber me or Mr. X.

  Now I had one more friend in my short list of friends. Time passed by and my list started growing. And one day some undesirable events happened and few of the students were expelled from the college which included my roommate and Mr. X's roommate as well. So, naturally being friends as well as classmates we decided to become roommates and that was the decision which gave me some of the hardest days of my college life. That one year made me realize that how mere words and facial expressions can turn your life into hell.  This was the time which tested my adaptability skills, which I didn't know existed.

  Every time, barrage of complaints from small to big to giant. Initially, I thought, maybe with time I will be able to adjust, so I tried listening to those complaints and put efforts in getting rid of them. One complaint was that I woke up too early and made noises in the room which disturbed his sleep. I started leaving the room the first thing with my daily stuff in the morning and come back later. Then came a new complaint that I slammed the door too hard in the morning while going out which disturbed him in sleep, I started taking 5 minutes time to just close the door so that it wouldn't make any sound.

  And after sometime I started ignoring small regular complaints like fan, bulb etc. Then one day came a big one. In the night he asked me something about his charging laptop, I was almost sleeping, I thought he said that switch off the charging pin and so I did. The next day, he told me almost with a weeping face that he specially asked me not to switch off the charger. He made such a big scene and remembered all the villeins from his past life (which was the secret that he shared with me the first time we met) and compared them with me. I was infuriated. But I said sorry to calm him down.

  Every time for the smallest of the reasons he looked back on the darkest periods in his past and made the surrounding scene very repelling. His facial expressions were the worst. I was able to tolerate everything but the face that he made over negligible problems or things which no one would categorize as problems. Later, I came to know that the secret story of his life which I thought only I had the privilege to know was his opening statement with almost every friendship that he ever started in that college. Technically, that was very necessary for anyone to be his friend because all the times he made references from the darkest time that ever existed in his life.

  In the process of trying to adjust with him, I honed my acting skills very much. First I started ignoring his negative facial expressions and usual whining but when that wasn't enough, I started acting as if I cared. But truly, from the bottom of my heart I had realized how shallow his stories and every word he uttered was and I never cared, not only there was nothing worth caring but also because I am a careless guy. And this was a situation where carelessness was nothing less than a boon for me.

  Once he was weeping because he though I was deceived him by starting a project with few other friends of mine who were his friends too by the way. The project was something which he openly didn't like and didn't wanna work on but ignoring that fact he became so angry that he wept in front of me. I wanted to laugh but I didn't. I acted like I always did in front of him but better this time and consoled him by saying sorry, making almost equally weepy face.

  One thing that I understood about myself was that how eager I was to get rid of the negativity and fuss around me. I always knew that I was candid and never thought that I would act to satisfy someone so that the peace is maintained in surrounding. Unknowingly, this person gave me several great lessons in my life. I wouldn't say that he was a bad person but I also would not defend him as well. I am not going to say that I wrote this post for the greater good. The fact is that I criticized him on facts in this post just because it was fun to me. Now it is on him (in case if he reads it which is very unlikely) to decide whether to use my factual criticism for betterment or just for whining.

Can he afford the luxury of laughter?

There are several such Mr/Miss Xs around us and also there is a little bit of Mr./Miss X inside us. All we have to think of, is how to make the luxury of laughter affordable.       

Saturday, May 2, 2015

What is Dadbod, and Why Is Dadbod an Important message for Advertisement Indutry?


"Dad Bod" the term which is spreading like wildfire on the internet. According to one article on Business Insider , "It's a term that's forced itself into the mainstream in the past 36 hours. And everyone's loving it."

So what is Dadbod? and why is it a good news for Men? Well, according to Mackenzie Pearson, who wrote the original piece for The Odyssey, “The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. The dad bod says, 'I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.

In an article published in The Cut , "The dadbod is a physique characterized by undefined muscles beneath a light layer of flab, usually topped off with a beer belly."

Basically, Dadbod is that body type in men which is healthy but not as muscular and unnatural as advertised by the entertainment and fashion industry. This marks a very positive trend in the society. Till now our society has been highly influenced by the kind of advertisement we have been seeing. Those advertisement pretty much decide the fashion trend that we follow. But now public is coming out of the illusions created by the advertisement industry in many ways.

The sudden fame of the Dadbod body type is actually not that sudden. We all feel something about the synthetic nature of the advertisement presented to us.  No one speaks though, due to the fear of being isolated probably. But when someone comes out telling that something which we have already felt or we constantly feel, it acts as eureka moment and we instantly agree to join hands for the same.

There is a clear message in these events surrounding the term Dadbod , which reveals that now public is ready for a change in perception about itself. Now it is not ready to be fooled by non-realistic advertisements. It marks the our steps towards a more mature society.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

An Open letter from an Indian Man to Shonali Muthalaly and like minded women

Dear Miss Shonali  Muthalaly (and her Angry friends)

I could not resist myself but write this in response to Miss Muthalaly's aricle in The Hindu titled "Tch, tch, tch these Indian men…".   Before entering into the context, I would like to clarify that I am not writing this to show my anger and I can understand and totally empathize with the problems that female members of my own society, sometimes face in my own surrounding. This is a genuine problem which should be brought into the attention of one and all.  This letter is to point out the phoney and casual nature of the presentation of vague facts in a Nation Daily newspaper without intending to offend anyone.

Through this letter I would like to draw the attention of all towards the dilemma protruding into the minds of an average Indian Man due to such kind of poorly presented facts and opinions. The dilemma or rather confusion starts the moment I use the word Average Indian Man, because according to Miss Muthalaly and her angry friends an Average Indian Man is the one who winks, stares, stalks and makes obscene remarks which by the way is nothing less than absurd and silly stereotyping. Wherever in the above mentioned article some specific act by some antisocial element is talked about, it is said to be done by Indian Men, as if those anti socials are representing the whole Indian Men group.

Ironically, before and after following lines in the article,

"We don’t want to descend into silly stereotypes. Or juvenile name calling. And male bashing is so passé. Besides, like all of you, I know plenty of wonderful Indian men. Men who are smart, funny and — yes — gorgeous (complete with six-packs). "        

the only thing that has been done is silly stereotypes and juvenile name calling.  
And seriously, I am amazed to see the male objectification from the first para to even in this vague disclaimer.
Few of the take away points from the article are :-

Following two points came out of initial two paragraph for which the best friend of Miss Shonali is responsible and is in full agreement with Miss Shonali's own thoughts since she gave this much importance of including those casual juvenile lines from an Angry friend in search of six packs supposedly available only outside India (specially in Italy)   
  1.  All Italian men are hunky with six-packs and Indian Men are inefficient just because all of them lack in this particular quality
  2. A group picture of five Men is sufficient to define the whole group of Indian Men. (for more about what that group looks like refer to the article)
Now, points directly backed by Miss Shonali Muthalaly
(Please note that there is  no information about legitimacy of the people involved in following social media instances.)
  1. A facebook page made for specially Indian Male bashing gives the opinion of all Indian Women.
  2. All Indian Men do not have proper knowledge of English grammar since the responses on a facebook page were ungrammatical. (Seriously?)
  3. One question on yahoo answers and 300 replies from American girls on quora makes up for the opinion of more than about half a billion Indian women on more than half a billion Indian Men.
  4.  Article on indiaopines.com titled "13 Things An Indian Man Wants In His Wife" (which is just an opinion of someone, neither backed by any survey nor is in requirement of any authenticity) gives the whole scenario of the future which an Indian man dreams about. 
I am really amazed by the fact that this vague article written by someone who researched 5 minutes on google and wrote what was present on the first page of the google search and added few messages from whatsapp made it to The Hindu.

But despite of all these things I am not angry because I am fully aware of the fact that neither the opinion presented in the article belongs to the larger mass of the female Indian Society's view nor Indian Male bashing would be able to make any impact on the thoughtful females in our society.  

And with reference to the para where your female colleagues were afraid of your supposedly bold step Miss Muthalaly, Indian females are much more fearless than them in general. Please do not force your opinion on naive people whom you may influence from your own naive and crude ideas based on your narrow offline and online surrounding. I would never have invested my time in explaining my point of view if the same article would not have been published in The Hindu because apparently, my efforts may not make any change in the opinion of the writer and her angry friends but even if my effort reach to few of those naive minds which might be affected by this piece, I would be happy.

Please do not back and propagate obsolete and non existent facts about ALL Indian men in general from a random website and put it out to a larger mass as food for thought. I am an Indian Man and I don't think and average Indian educated Man conforms to any of those ridiculous 13 things that you talked about in your article. But certainly because of the stereotyping done by such kinds of articles, ideas and opinions, every Indian Man has to face shame and name calling. 

I agree to the fact that disrespect towards women by anti-social elements is an existing social problem which needs to be resolved. But your acts do not make any difference in lives of those probably 10% antisocial elements but make the lives of rest 90% normal people miserable. It is not the correct way madam.
 
Hope your introspection would last longer next time you sit for writing and your work shall be authentic and fact based. And if it happens your writing would not appear to be passé. 
  
Yours sincerely,
Ambuj Mishra
An Indian Man  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

India : Cheapest place to live in the world



According to the expat website movehub India is the cheapest country in the world which it has shown through an infographic (shown below) created by the data collected by Numbeo.

I was amused to see that the cost of living in our country is lesser than the cost of living in our immediate neighbours like Myanmar, SriLanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and even Nepal. Nepal is second last in the list of 119 countries and India is the last one. But there is one more interesting and very positive point that I noticed about India in that list from Numbeo. The last column mentioned the local purchasing power index(PPI). And it was 65.79 (for India), way more than any of the above mentioned neighbours. And to the extent of my surprise the purchasing power index value for china is 48.64, country which has got much greater position in this list.

This give an idea that we are the cheapest in cost of living but we have more purchasing power than most of the countries mentioned in that list. We are the lowest according to consumer price index(CPI) which is 26.27 for us (India). To make this point more clear lets take the example of our nearest developed neighbour Singapore. Its CPI is 93.61 (almost 3.6 times than that of India) and PPI is 75.40 (1.15 times as compared to India). Singapore's cost of living is 3.6 times of India but its local purchasing power is only 1.15 times of India. Which puts India in much better position. Well, India is at 39th position according to purchasing power index (PPI).  

The list has taken cost of food, transport, restaurants, utilities into account. Housing, Education, Clothing and other such essentials were not considered. CPI in the list is relative to the cost of living compared to New York.

An interesting map from MoveHub reveals living costs around the world.

Global Living Costs Map