Posts By: Satya
My mental location is that of an army general in a war room. Covid19 is, quite literally, a war situation. A bio-war across the world at once ! In every country, city, town and locality.
From a conventional/ business-as-usual(BAU) mindset or perspective, we are in the pursuit of business. But, this situation is not BAU. It is critical to tag this period as unprecedented war times. Our Goal #1 in the mission is that CL Educate cannot allow Covid19 to touch even a single member in any of our businesses across the country and globe. This is not an easy task at all.
Challenging times and our outlook :
Even the foremost experts who have given their lives to medicine are learning on the run. We, the lesser mortals, are learnings from the neighbourhood anecdotes, whatsapp forwards, fake news engines and FB updates. Those cannot be the basis to fathom the extent of challenge we face. And yet, you and I as individuals and team leaders have to make specific and clear headed decisions to run the families of over 1000 CL-ites with no crisis and interruption for a long period of time !
How long ?
Given the lack of clear knowledge, I am inclined to think that this is world war III. Each one of those wars were waged for a period of 4-6 years! Count Covid19 impact lasting till March 2024. You and I will not be reckless if we call this a bio-war being fought in our balconies, cars and the lifts of the societies that we live in.
Focus on health, team and families :
Let us learn to be grateful that we are alive. That CL business is touch-proof and we are able to continue of our economic activity with least disruption. Unless you log into this mindset, you will stay in the realm of inconvenience, entitlement and resentment! That is the worst location to be in when you are waging a battle to save the health, income and continuity of family and life!
Focus on your personal health. Do your walking and yoga at home. Listen to your music. Please keep checking the welfare of your working team and their family members. Keep the positive spirits up by rising above your own agony and helplessness.
Mindful of keeping commitments and promises :
Please remember that we have a big bunch of commitments to keep with various stakeholders of ours. Two of the biggest being – our CL and Kestone team (employees, business partners) that earns their livelihood by depending on us. In turn, these 1200 individuals have to keep the commitment made to our clients, customers, students, parents and so on.
No temporary lapse of judgement or sense of adventure can be allowed to come in the way of ‘Safety first’ policy in this real life war situation! Please be mindful of your responsibility in helping CL keep all her commitments and promises to all stake holders!
Stay creative about business development and customer delight :
As shared earlier, we have reasons to be infinitely grateful that we are in a business / activity that is evergreen and also unaffected (at the core) by the Covid19 situation. That calls for us to be at our creative and adventurous best in upskilling ourselves, trying newer ways of developing business and at the same time, improve further in our customer delight.
Be frugal on resources. Paranoid about cash depletion
I will again repeat the only infallible truth about any business. A business is safe as long as she has cash reserves in the bank. She will grow as long as customers trust and pay money to seek her services. Dozens of businesses die every quarter around us with what looks like great valuation, product, team , brand recall due to a great advertising campaign. Then why do they die ? Only one reason – the cash in the back account is exhausted ! So, be paranoid about cash in bank and be frugal on resources like the mother in a lower middle class family ! That needs no training to any Indian !
Share ideas in any area, shape or form. Don’t pre-judge. It is a flat and unfamiliar world for all
Lastly, We live in a world that has no experts. No seers who can see the tomorrow. It is flat. It is unfamiliar from the highest person to the lowest guy on the socio-economic ladder! In such a situation, your observations and ideas are invaluable. What you are seeing in your neighbourhood or context must be seen as more insight-providing than what a world leading economist says. If any such observation translates itself into an idea that we can implement in CL to improve the lot of our team members or our customers, please do not hesitate to share them with us. I would go to the extent of inviting you to write to me at email@example.com. Please do not pre-judge your idea. That could be the one we might be missing. I can think of a few already that belong to this category!
Finally, I would like to close by saying once again – Take care of your health. Keep checking the wefare of your team and their families. Stay hungry on business with a firm eye on your cash balances! God bless all !
With Love, Satya
CCD Siddhartha and the learnings :
Let’s go beyond hanging the convenient villian
The tragic episode of Siddhartha of CCD is very tragic, indeed. I recall meeting him for
the first time almost 15 years ago when he was taking-off as an entrepreneur and he
has always come across as one with a lot of energy and creative ideas.
An episode like this could be very tempting to find the most convenient villain of the
piece. Greater wisdom lies in soul searching and introspection by each stakeholder as
the shifts have to be made oneself and not just stay prescriptive towards other
stakeholders while absolving oneself entirely.
Entrepreneurs need to stay firmly grounded and be guided by the wisdom towards long
term value creation and also be smart enough to separate noises from the true,
valuable music. Success, fame and wealth are unavoidable outcomes of impacting the
society and delivering value on a sustainable basis. No success anywhere in the world
has escaped this fundamental rule of entrepreneurship. Of course, funds, board
members, mentors, technology etc all are important enablers. However, they are just
Unfortunately, far too many entrepreneurs including successful ones fall prey to the so-
called pressures somewhere along the way. I meet a dozen a week who fall in this
category. I try my mite with them and I also helps me in my own journey.
Investors are going to be abused for a few weeks beginning today. In my own view,
there are as many rogue investors as entrepreneurs. Not more. Not less as they all
come from the same society.
At the same time, both kinds of investors (whether with or without experience of having
built business hands-on) need to be humble about what limited purpose capital can
achieve or enable. Capital is not a Panacea. If any, it could even be a distraction or
nuisance if wisdom and clearer thinking are in short supply. Also, practices based on
IRR guarantees, side letters, backseat driving belong to a different era and is rearely
found in the practices of truly great investors.
Government and government agencies have their own reflection to do. India, as a
Startup economy, is still in her adolescence. If we need to to build a society with a
million entrepreneurs and with each giving jobs to about a 10 or 100 or a thousand
youngsters, we need to embrace 21 st century governance models in a hurry. If we
dream of solving the problem of the society through innovation and education,
education, the government systems need to wake up and reboot once again. Wealth
creation through creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation can only be aspired for by a
government that practices these on a day to day basis.
Finally, I would only pray for the family of Siddhartha. May god bless them with enough
courage and wisdom to deal with the loss of a dear family member and also to deal with
the challenges on the business front.
Cloud and Voice are the next big things that are already here. The tech giants are betting big on this. Amazon, through AWS and Alexa, has bet big not only in these two technologies but in education / professional reskilling as a segment.
Here at seattle at “AWS Imagine” conference that has leaders from education – corporate leaders K12/Higher Ed, EdTech and policy makers.
Andrew Ko, MD-AWS and Teresa Carlson, VP-Public Sector lead the conference.
Cloud degrees and Voicetech transformation are beginning to see traction. Are you cued into this shift in education?
What is Voicetech ?
Voice will replace typing are keyboard led interaction between man and machine that is the core hypothesis of voiceTech Revolution. Google, Apple, Amazon, Alibaba are leading the multibillion-dollar investments into this future innovation.
Every day mgmt of customer / student life :
Information about products/servuces/ programs, info on all aspects of consumer engagement are some of the interfaces that are moving into an Alexa or Siri or OK Google interaction.
This is called the Voice enabling of everyday management of a customer’s life.
Every company, brand, university have to enable these information using voice technology or chatbot on their websites.
Help me learn:
The next stage of voice Tech is in the area of ‘help me learn’. How do you perform better with a product, – are the next level of applications that are being researched and developed by this technology Giants.
You can join these movements and innovate along with the world. Or stay cued in, at least.
The world is transforming infinitesimally every moment 🙂
Fascinating, to say the least 🙂
What are Cloud degrees ?
Students or professionals enroll for courses on cloud from a variety of universities, collect credits, aggregate that into a degree with certificates in various areas.
Internships/real world experience will be on cloud with touch points on the ground.
Industry accepts these degrees and participate in a placement process that is tech-enabled with f2f touches where needed.
This movement is gathering momentum. Amazon web services is working on building this cloud university with courses from top universities or professors.
Are you wanting to host/offer a course or two from your company / campus or dept or a biz leader ?
Are you wanting to recruit from this cloud univ world shortly ?
An interesting question !
The link between academia & industry is a broken one, not just in India but across the world. In fact, it never was built consciously in the first place, not even in the developed nations over the past many decades. Hugely inter-dependent and evolved sub-systems can surely be seen as in Boston/Massachusetts, California, Tel Aviv, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Bengaluru, etc. However, those are mostly specific to an activity or two, such as innovation or start-up funding etc. These, in addition, have been cases of gradual evolution than an outcome-by-design.
Revisiting the academia-industry strengths:
Supply of young talent, nex-gen start-ups, cost-effective infra for research, development & training and high quality researchers are some of the riches that are available inside the academic institutions while the funds, demand for talent and innovation, cutting-edge knowledge relevant for new courses and an ability to commercialize knowledge are in abundance on the industry side.
Given these strong inter-dependencies, one would expect that a slew of collaborative activities such as student placements, industry internships, new course updation or launches, innovation collaboration, research funding, start-up conversations in a seamless and abundant manner, etc. However it does surprise why no one has been able to build a platform play for such a strong and potent opportunity. A bit of deeper thinking, conversations with stakeholders and on-ground observations throw up some interesting cause-effect debate.
The US reality and a chance for India:
Unlike in India, there is no real concept of campus placements in the US in that formal a way. Most of the heavy lifting is done by the students themselves with facilities and pointers available institutionally in various forms. Such a strong need or activity could have given birth to a start-up that could have gone on to scale it using technology over the past decades, much like other tech-giants of today.
Let me read the tea leaves and think aloud on what is likely to shape up in our own future!
Test-Prep & Training Modules:
In the current form, most assessment companies focus only on assessments. Only 5-15 percent of the aspirants get placed as they are seen as good enough by the recruiters. The rest of the aspirants are left to their fate even as the recruiters return empty handed and perpetuate the truth that there is no hire-worthy talent.
In such a context, adding booster training modules to help aspirants prepare for the tests is as critical as aspirants preparing for GATE, CAT, GMAT kind of programs. Training partnerships are beginning to emerge between assessments and training companies to make this happen.
The new world order in academia-industry collaboration will be aided by three other critical shifts over the next few years.
University on the Cloud:
The time has come. This is one place where the world is truly and undeniably flat. Indian, Chinese, Korean and American markets are all discovering this compelling need at the same time. Some others are well underway in their journey of discovery. Most will follow suit. The success of AWS and the waking up of all the tech-giants including Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Google etc. will make this a hotly pursued sector. During the process, Ux-SAAS becoming a reality is something I would punt on. Some exciting pilots are underway across the globe. Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, 361DM, ed-Cast, etc. are having a go at it in their own ways. A couple of them or who knows, even someone else, as yet unknown, will emerge a winner here.
Open innovation platform:
Democratised open innovation platforms that help students, researchers, founders, corporates etc. to collaborate seamlessly by staying in their respective places across the globe is the third disruptive movement whose time has come. WAIN-Connect, arguably, is the only platform doing this in a scaleable way with over 80,000 innovators, corporates, funders and mentors live today. Some parts of this effrt is being aided by initiatives such as start-up bootcamp (9 global locations), Y-combinator, TIE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) etc. But the end-to-end seamless tech-driven open collaboration is missing.
If one contrasts that with India, every higher education institution is measured hugely by her ability to deliver jobs as a part of her “campus placement” outcomes. The IITs, IIMs, NITs and other leading tech-institutes and b-schools lead this massive effort. Hence you also find some start-ups and other linked services such as e-litmus, co-cubes, aspiring minds, formistry, Tata-ion have taken birth over the past decade. Tata-ion is emerging as a compelling leader with the resources of TCS available to invest and scale. Ion NQT test has had over 280,000 test takers in 2018. That was about 150 percent higher than in 2017. Upon aggregation, if this number scales a million, it should surprise none of us.
If played right and across industry verticals, the branded NQT might become ubiquitous, not just in India but across countries around the globe. It could disrupt many micro-testing exercises that are sub-scale for many years now.
With a million jobs and more on offer in the IT and related sector alone and an equally large need from the other sectors such as auto, finance, consumer, infrastructure etc., India is likely to build out a world beating solution that will be a global highway between the institutions and the industry.
In sum, an integrated solution:
U-on-Cloud, Student skills training, placements and research/innovation collaboration are the four legs upon which the nex-gen higher education universities will be built over the coming decade. Over a hundred nations where the GER and university systems are fledgling will partner with a scaled-up movement such as this and leapfrog into the 21st century higher education architecture. This story will play out similar to the landline-mobile or bank-mBank generational change which played over the past decade at a blink-you-miss speed. Africa, Central Asia, Asia and Lat-Am will be the greatest beneficiaries from the game-changing innovation that is underway.
Stay cued in and watch the play.