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Dedicated to the Telecomwallahs of India
Co-authored by two Telecomwallahs of Indian Origin, one who is retired and one who is still current
BOOK I and BOOK II
Book I: Pritam Bhattacharyya (The Retired One) Book II Sumit Roy
(The Current One)
Copyrighted to: Pritam Bhattacharyya and Sumit Roy @ 2009
First Published E-book Renedition, November 2009
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‘Everything ends in a Book’ Verlaine, French symbolic poet, seventeenth century AD
‘Histories which are not updated or supplemented are worthless; they are fit to wrap fishes’ Asinius Pollio, 3 AD, Roman Historian’s admonition to his protege on the art of writing History. The protege, Claudius went on to become Roman Emperor.
Preface: I had retired as a telecom engineer in 2002 after serving India telecom and humanity - perhaps well for some six years. I remained in the sector but was no longer doing anything to do with engineering. Next two years, I was doing something generic but most profound aspect of any business: supporting customers: retail and corporate entities that subscribed to some telecom services to fulfill their needs. Mind you, I am not saying business requirements or value-addition but simply needs. In 2006, I became a freelancer and started an online business. In 2009, I had thought of writing these sutras because no one had writen such a handbook when I was a young engineer in 1995-96 and was just entering job market. Hence, I invited a younger colleague of mine – Mr. Sumit Roy to make the book current. I felt that the views of a retired fellow and that of an operating one of the same sector would give a sense of totality to the narration. Sumit has got some eight years experience in the sector and he has worked in almost all the areas of the sector – landline, IP, mobile. He has worked in different geographies in India and with many companies. If my segment could be called as an ‘airbrush picture’, his segment is the ‘drawing part’ where details become visible and clear. As for need of this book, need of an organization and need of an individual are always different. Want an argument? The nuclear option: an organization is never a telecom engineer; a telecom engineer is always a person.
Pre-processing Module for the readers: Since I had experienced many follies simply because no one had written such a book while I was a telecom engineer, I consider it my duty to write this PPM for my readers. This PPM is compatible with those a. Educated in India as engineer from the period of 1990 – 2009. b. Working in Indian Telecom sector which includes transnational vendors. This is because as my friend Gobinda says, Barclays is Bank of Baroda while it operates in India. This is called Localization. c. Foreigners who are based in India and working in some Indian Telecom company including vendors as in (b) A. In India, there are three types of companies based on functions in telecom sector: Vendor (who sells equipment), Service Provider (who provides services owning or leasing switches and transmission media), and Government of India. B. There is no Research or Development in India for telecom sector. C. There are three types of engineers in Indian Telecom: a. those who check loop and routes b.those who check signal strength c. Who dont do these two either. D. There is a four pronged rivalry between mobile segment, landline segment, IP segment and none of the above segment engineers. None understand each other and that makes life pretty easier for top management. E. Due to this rivalry and confusion of expertise between engineers, the top management and senior level managers may not be challenged if their knowledge of telecom is only ‘hello hollow, sorrry, hello’ F. Since there is no scarcity of people in India at all, there is not much of concern of getting customers.
G. Indian Telecom engineers in general have a much embedded respect for nice looking equipments and brand names. Hence what is important is to have very smart looking, snazzy equipments. H. Indian Engineering schools – from the Government powered IITs and other TIER-1 institutes to the bania-powered private ones, all focus exclusively on
Hence, the fresh graduates have no chance to understand telecom as a business. They remain quite hypnotized by the LEDs, racks with
the very depth of engineering and techniques. cables, power and equipmements, anenna and tower, optical fibre and cable, PFA 30 and HP Analyzer for quite sometime. I. Contemporary Indian Media’s majority are leftovers of the talent pool. Hence the best of the generation, by some curse Indicorum is judged and assessed by the worst of the same generation. Telecom Engineers are also victim of these media hordes. J. In India, simplicity is seldom considered to be of any virtue. Hence, Indian Telecom engineers practice the art of obscrutinism from early stage of their career and they call this subterfuge by a term quite plastic in nature: technical. K. Middle or Top Managers in India tackle this by two methods, again extremes in their own way : a kind of complete de-valuation of the ‘technical hordes’ or talking incessanatly about some gibberish called technology in alphabet soups, like an automation. Customer: When this disconnnection problem is going to improve? Top Manager: Sir, we are implementing a MPLS router with redundant Layer 3 ATM-IP switches in our back bone gateway Routers and once the VPNs are in place, you won’t have these problems. *”£&*>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<;;;;;;***&&& (ASCII code for neural confusion)
This book is from the Retired Telecomwallah. This Book is an airbrushed, distilled and generic representation of the theme. The detailed version of the theme is given in BOOK II by a current, active and practising professional.
Sutra 1: You are not in High School. Dont be wide eyed or in awe. Telecom is a business. The moment of brutal truth: A business can be defined from many vantage points. From the vantage point of where you are, your definition to the organization is: a spanner or a bolt in a huge machine that had been running without you, is running most likely without you, and would run without you. BOOK II details the whole business model and its components. As a telecom engineer, your entry in the organization is the culmination of a very complex, shadowy process that involved cost calculation, investor confidence, demand projection, macroeconomic projections, obligations, career growth and vectorized resultant of many known and unknown urges of people you would never see nor know. You are here, in the control room or in the field or in the Network Operations Centre not for any intrinsic value of yours system has found in you but due to the uninterrupted running of a tired, dumb and standardized process called HR policies and recruitment. In the One Billion Funnel1 of India, you are a number, which is very prominent in the snazzy ID card you wear inside and outside office with great pride. That you are a number – by which you are defined, is another vantage point of business. Understand this by swallowing the pain and truth will set you free.
For further explanation of this, read the Retired Telecomwallahs business autobiograpy here at The Wordsmith Book of Business
Sutra 2: Hi-Tech is a word. It can kill you as a person. Instead, realize the first law of your existence here – The law of supply and demand Please understand: Don’t make a fool of yourself by accumulated arrogance of four engineering years that you are hi-tech or know better than those who had been suffering here when you were soiling your pants. Even if its yes, you are not among angels. You are not here not because someone needed technological genius like you. If you were, you would not have been born in this space-time for telecom. Period. Few Things – degrees, schools, technology, wine, beautiful women, handsome men, books, music are valued because of their short supply. If you are from IIT or MIT or Caltech, the value you command is not due to any instrinsic value (you have joined barely a year) tested but because of such ‘products’ are quite limited in supply in the market. So goes for your IIM / Harvard CEO in a more complex way. I would explain that in the later sutras. In business, all organizations consciously or unconsciously try to be owner of something which are needed a lot by everyone but very short in supply. Extreme case: Monopoly. Complete Opposite: Pan and cigarette shops in Indian cities and towns. Being in a system of One billion funnel and huge supply of engineering graduates from instititutions of all types, you are under heavy odds. You have become one of those pan-shops and your company or telecom sector is someone who buys pan or cigarette from such shops. Do you have any chance, in terms of statistics of commanding very high value?
Sutra 3: Fools are frustrated and frustrated fools are the best fools
You have no chance, actually and technially.
It is a very hard truth to digest, more so because haven’t your teachers, friends and many others have told you to be a great promise, a great student. You are not a student here and for people who matter, they finished their schools some three decades back. For them, your achievements in schools and colleges are 1, 45,67th choice in Google Search. They have children, EMI to pay, send their children to best schools, survive in the high politics and something which you have in excess and they are at the downhill: libido. Please empathaize. Hence dont be frustrated at all. Dont be frustrated at all if you look at some excel sheets all day long or do some paper work which could be done from your home also. Dont be frustrated by the confusion of cubicles. Dont lose heart by finding yourself, literally in a lab with columns and rows of cubicles with similar rats or rodent-like creatures inside. Your frustration could be used very nicely to add value in your career and life. Your frustration is the doorway to something you will
earn for your whole lifetime: to understand people’s behaviour.
Cast the skin of ‘telecom engineer’ you had so nicely woven around you in last few years among many such ‘skiny’ creatures. Be the snake, the Indian cobra you are – always vigilant, ready, patient, watchful and deadly while opportunity comes. The next sutra is called The Serpent Power.
Sutra 4: The Serpent Power: How a cobra defeats an elephant In plain dimensional analysis, a cobra has no chance against an elephant or a tiger. An elephant is perhaps an order of X 1000 in all dimensional analysis: size, shape, weight, resources consumed and so on. But forest officials with half a century experience will tell you: They have never seen a cobra crushed by elephant’s feet but quite few elephants had been victim of the lethal bite. Moral: Cobra did not become frustrated while he looked at the elephant. You are a cobra and your transnational; state of art, billion etc organization is the elephant. The question is: how would you command the respect of this behemoth? Introduction to Serpent power. Think of the attributes of a Cobra. First and foremost is the reputation. Imagine face to face with a Cobra and a non-poisonous snake. Then comes the near invisibility. The strategic positioning: a cobra knows what is moving and what is not but the source of movement rarely does so about this survellience. Patience: remember hybernation. Economy. Least urge to advertise itself. The eternal wait – in vigil. And when the opportunity comes, a coiled, potential energy strikes in a flash and aims the sanctum sanctorum of vulnerability: Central Nervous System and delivery at its very best. It is no wonder all ancient and modern tradition has a deep respect, nay awe for the serpent. In the next sutra, I will explain how you can nurture these attributes to command value from the behemoth.
Sutra 5: The Serpent Power: Learn through your all organs, even skin. If you are busy at organizational work from day one, it is pretty clear that your organization is not big and most likley, you will enjoy working there. As you enter a big organization, you will have pretty free time for quite sometime. Use this very effectively. Some sketchy and brief advice: interpret as per your situation. I am sure, by now, you are having a fair idea as what I am hinting at: a. Dont mix much wih your peers, or the same frustrated pool of telecom engineers. A cobra is never found like a herd of sheep. This will create some disturbance but that is beneficial for you. b. Cultivate a mystique around you. Differentiate yourself. Digest your frustration and help people to overcome theirs. They will immediately respect you. Keep your troubles to yourself. Brush that aside. Dont speak much while you are comforting. c. Have access to better and higher level information. Always look for opportunity as how to break into a discussion much higher level than yours. You will be noted. d. Be mysterious in small ways2. Never betray a trust. Show that you are interested in many things and have connection with many things. Dont be too narcisstic of telling all about yourself. Women (and men) are fatally attracted towards mystery. e. Be alone but always ready to make an acquiantance.
Be interested in French wines. Learn a new language. Subscribe National Geographic or Wired and see to it that it is delivered in your desk. Have a title like The Wordsmith Sutras delivered by express post from pentasect.com
f. Listen; listen as if your life depends on it. Everything. Through the skin. On the corporate jungle, lie very low, at the ground and listen to all – even the dewdrops from the high trees falling in the grass.
g. Observe. Observe not what your boss says about new technology or such and such but how he behaves
h. Use all lisenting posts and create a mental dossier of all the people who matter. Even to know this, you need judgement. i. Please understand that in the corporate world, people are actually very lonely. Trust is low; this is more prominent in larger organizations of today. Hence trust is a high-demand thing but at abysmally low supply. Moreover, people at the same level or immediate levels are potential competitor. So, try to access some +10 level than yours. Use the path of mentoring and common interests. j. Write in the neutral media: employee journals, newsletters, and employee blogs. Write not what most people will write: dissatisfaction, suggestions, how to improve. Please note that due to the very structure of these organizations, these cannot be seriously noted. Instead write something much broader, more profound, and larger – with a disinterested tone. k. Do everything that people dont think worth doing. l. Protect your reputation. m. Build character.
n. Resist temptation. o. Earn and retain trust.
Sutra 5: The Serpent Power: You are ready. Time is not. In my career, I had seen many extremely talented engineers languishing in their career inspite of very hard work. I had also seen and lived with engineers having much lesser talent than their peers but having better responsibility, greater joy and more freedom as time moved on. How? As an Indian Cobra that you are, you are born with the venom to succeed. You need not ‘work’ for aeons at least for that. Many people prepare for life, giving all control to the most most-infidel mistress: Time or Future. You are never completely ready. Technology demonstrates that everyday. Internet is screaming loudly this every minute. The readiness of the moment is unreadiness of the next moment. Hence what is the solution? The solution is as banal, as un-sophisticated and as unconventional but as effective: You are ready. Time is not. Dont waste your time and energy in breaching that infinitesimal, calcualasic d (readiness)... This is un-breachable. Instead, follow the axiom: The world will treat the way you treat yourself. I used to tell, little diplomatically at the very start of my career that our CEO is not taking proper policy in such and such issues. I used to be a critique of management among my peers and bosses. I used to get a load of sarcastic comments. What does this fellow think of himself, barely some year old in this organization where we have our all hairs made grey?
After ten years, I am CEO of my own company and almost all the wiseguys are either a prisoner of same cubicle nation or at best trying to get transferred into another cubicle. Our Mind is like a dumb network in a way – like Internet. It accepts all. The seed you sow gets processed by a system which works based on a model not fully known to mathematics and system engineering. The seed bears fruit – it does not matter whether it’s an apple or an orange, if you continue to sow the same seed and go on taking care – irrespective of anything. Persist.
An Indian cobra can wait six months in its hideout, barely alive and as the summer arrives, it comes out and still remembers, intact, to the last detail what it is designed for. It does not forget. It persists.
Sutra 6: The Serpent Power: Protect your Reputation and Adapt. Ok, you have a reputation now in the organization. Your peers come to you for counsel and your superiors hold you in high esteem. You are considered allies by some superiors and as threat by their opponents. You have mastered the art of lying low, being mysterious but honourable. One thing is for sure: your peers are no longer your threat. You have, as in The Art of War, taken the game a level up. Now comes the more formidable part of the game. So far you were radar dark and could play easily. Now you are in the higher and more sensitive radars. You have enemies now or they are growing. You are at the threshold of high politics of organization.3 Consider a cobra again. What attribute of this wonderful creature is equally valid in all situation – whether in a Safari or in your home or in a tennis field or in a garden or in a zoo? Simple and eternally difficult to maintain: reputation. In any circumstances, you know that a single second of carelessness can be mortally fatal. It carries the mark of fatality always – all the time. You cannot consider, even if you wish to, that now, in this enviornment, it may not bite or even if it does, nothing will happen. NO. It carries its reputation whereever it goes with a frightful consistency. As situation, rules of the game, type of environment changes, everything changes, but your reputation remains. Protect your reputation and adapt. How? See Next Sutra.
The low politics in office is promotion, raise, job etc. High politics is the politics of the future and always about intangibles and has impact beyond the organizational framework of incentives and punishment. High politics is always about some people a cut above.
Sutra 7: Protecting your reputation: Indicative advice Protecting one’s reputation is visceral and can only be indicated. I would rather invoke some examples to show how some people protect their reputation and this in turn enhances and pull them to pinnacle of unique achievment. a. Steve Jobbs: A rebel, a maverick, a game-changer by reputation. Many had written Jobbs down while Apple was under trouble and there were formidable competitors. Apple was no where in the Internet’s long tail. Many advised Jobbs to retire. Three years back, he pulled our i-Pod and i-Phone from his sleeve and what a magic this was. Jobbs remained true to his reputation. b. Winston Churchill: A maverick, an unapologetic imperialist, power-hungry politician. In 1933, he was written off as of any political value. In 1939, as a Prime Minister of England, he defeated Hilter and protected the Empire. Again, he protected his reputation. c. Rabindranath Tagore: A born artist, a born poet, an arist with a lust for Life. As new age movement arose in Bengali poetry, his position was threatened as a poet. He took to painting in his old days – started as an apprentice and within few years was considered a pioneer and master of the medium. He was true to the reputation of born artist. d. Nirad C Chaudhuri: The last imperialist of Bengal and a life-long critic of things Indian. Unemployed and persecuted, shunned and ignored, savagely attacked and little recognized, he protected his reputation till death. While feted in England, he was no less
critical of the British Civilization. He was true to his reputation till his dying breath. His verbal whip was same for friends or foe, in good times or bad times. He protected his reputation. There are many such instances. Rather history of all great men is the history of remaining true to one’s reputation, come what may. Imagine, there were times in each of these men’s lives, when they could have switched to something else, given up or just remained passive. The result would have been suicidal or worse than suicide: melting of the reputation they built for ages. Lord Krishna admonished Arjuna while he did not want to fight and told that such an action is worse than death because his reputation as a warrior would be dented and that is worse than death for a hero like him. His infamy will be sung through ages. Lord Krishna summarized for all men of posterity, in a one line:
স্বধর্মে নিধিং শ্রের্য়ো পরধমে ভয়োবর্ ো
[It is better to die to protect one’s reputation in one’s own path rather than embracing some other, albeit dangerous other path]
Sutra 8: The Structure of the Galaxy (Corporation) and the Star (You) I sounded cynical when I said that larger corporations had a structural problem of actually listening to what you are so carefully trying to suggest for the good of the organization. However, I am not as I will demonstrate from taking a metaphor from Astrophysics. You know what a galaxy is and you know how a star is a very small part of that galaxy – may be a billionth for larger galaxy. You are lesser than that in today’s galactic organization. But there is one instance, a singular event when a star, a lone star outshines a galaxy in emission. The event of supernovae explosion. In that event, the star breaks the status quo at some part of its life-cycle and starts sucking galactic mass inside him and produce focussed energy of such magnitude that the star becomes the centre of the galaxy. The lone star defeats the galactic status quo. Break the status quo. You will be listented to, heard and valued once you change the rule of the game. You have to make that leap. You have to undergo that transformation.
In short : You have to transform yourself from a paycheck-greedy, dependent, complaining, frustrated, nothing-is-ok-here, lamblike helpless cabbage to a coiled cobra with ideas, knowledge, information, guts, contact and one half of the entire consciouness in the edge of whats coming next.
Dont be just a shining star of the galactic corporation. Be a supernoave.
Sutra 9: Learn to be a thinker, not an honest and nice worker only. As a telecom engineer, you have three options regarding your workenvironment. Remain in a hermatically sealed environment in some Network Operation Centre talking in techno-jargon, be some kind of punching bag for customers or sell commodity like items called bandwidth. As an aside, evolution points to the fact that telecom service providers would soon resemble electric companies. Do you pay more per hour for the electricity or broad-band? Do you pay more for a downloaded song or internet access? Think about yourself. I have not heard any post yet which runs like this: Great and cool is my electric company! See how wonderfully they are powering all the nice gizmos I run and watch youtube! This example should demonstrate without any ambiguity that just being an honest worker is not going to earn you anything other than some monthly reward which is again under the law of diminishing utility. I am going to explain this law in next sutra which I am sure you have never tried to understand – being too much self-hypnotized by the aura of technical prowess. But this law will come again and again in your career and if you are not aware, you will add your name to the very long list of the candidates who confirmed it.
Sutra 10: Law of diminishing marginal utility – Translation for you: You will be useless sooner than you think You are actually a utility item to your organization. Just like a car is for you. A new car has infinite utility value packed inside it while it’s new. As you use it, its marginal utility diminishes and hence value. So after few years, you have almost used up all the utility stored in it. This process is irreversible except for two factors: a very niche value of the car (like you could keep the car in running condition for some hundred years and then you sell this as a vintage car) or suddenly it is found that your car can fly like an airplane. There is no third way to avoid the downward slide in value-incline. Now, you are a car for the organization. Your utility has started to go down as soon as some years are gone. Now, follow the analogy above. You can either become vintage, i.e. can retire in the same organization (forty years to remain in the organization like your grandfather or even father did) and become promoted successively in year-based promotion. Or you become something other than utility. Since you are in Indian telecom sector, you have very little chance of cyclic re-selling with premium (job-hopping) because there are barely 56 large organizations and everyone knows each other. Moreover, Google and other social networking sites make all information quite easy to find for anyone, unless.... Unless – yes unless you have done something or been doing something which ‘utilities’ dont do or are not expected of.
One line, no non-sense conclusion: You are already useless. Only
the behemoth and sloth – your large organization does not know it yet.
Sutra 11: Theory to practice: Some unsettling and shocking gutter level advice Have you noted the most significant and most damaging (for you as a plain telecom engineer) development in the history of telecom for last 30 years. Here it is: The incremental cost of carrying an additional bit anywhere is approaching zero. What does this mean? It means that all the processes of solely transferring bits from one place to another can be priced lesser and lesser. Effect: Price of International Call = Price of Local Call Free. You can still recline in your chair and take calls from Credit Card agencies not because your marginal utility is high but because of the fact that there are many new markets for your commodity. What are these markets? Low telecom penetration areas and markets needing upgradation – incremental. Like increasing the speed of connectivity or bandwidth capacity. One Line advice-list: a. You are selling virtually commodities and hence your utility is decreasing. Think. b. And act. Your thinking will keep you afloat but action will save you. c. Dont fall into the ‘too big to fail’ trap. Remember: Dynasuars are extinct. They were very big and had a monoploy of the planetary market for millions of years.
d. The interest of your teachers, the interest of your company, the interest of the future customers and your own – all are different. Harmonize.
Sutra 12: Are you bored in your office/work? If the answer is yes: You are an honest person and you have great promise. If the answer is no: You have myopia. If the answer is ‘I dont know’: You need immediate EEG, followed by a vacation of 3 months.
There was downsizing going on my company4 and a 20 year experienced telecom engineer was shown the marching door. He pulled out his experience of 20 years and the reply was: 1 year * 20 times.
Who is right? Both. You have to convince yourself that there is a crtical level of size and scope of an organization beyond which it starts producing boredom. No management skills can prevent that. Just like pregnancy produces many uncomfortable symptoms, organizations beyond a certain point produce discomfort, boredom and joylessness. Only Knowledge and a ready mind will save you from boredom. Why is this so, please read the next sutra where I will explain the response of top-management to fight the most important boredom
for the organization: boredom of customers with the company?
What about you? The employee of the compnay?
Please see my own boredom while working in Indian Telecom here at The Wordsmith Book of Business
It does not matter! It’s pathetic, nay tragic: You as an employee do not matter!
In order for you to matter, you need to know the inner working of any large organization and I am sure your teachers in engineering schools never told you so. Rather, they had no chance to know.
Sutra 13: How companies react when customers get bored with the company? Focus your attention. The moment customers get bored with the company, following events happens in succession or parellely and same for your large company also: 1. Cash Flow gets affected. Immediate response becomes to lower prices. Mind you: customers got bored not because of price only. 2. This does not work, naturally for long term as competitors do the same. 3. Then the company tries some very dirty tricks: It tries to take unfair but not illegal means, like making customers a debtor making switching cost higher. Consider 12 month contract for some providers. 4. Technological threat and compatibility issues are brought in. Regulators are browbeaten or cajoled. The market gets more and more closed and vested interests run roost. 5. At this stage, people who had appointed CEO and top team start notice and ask to do something. 6. CEO
and his team imemdiately go downsizing, i.e. sacking people and immediately the balance sheet looks very good. The customer boredom has not decreased at all.
7. In return for this very innovative and cutting-edge management exercise, appointers of CEO (the Bankers) now route more money
– via sharemarket and debt and media is given money for the ‘spin’. 8. Customers are bored now, very much. They tell their friends their disgust. Revenue (i.e what comes from customers in the form of hard cash) goes low and there seems to be not much in future 9. CEO
and top management teach employees that Times have become very tough and some sacrifice will earn you (the employee) great glory. In other words: Some utilities are not needed anymore. In the
evening, they dump their stock options and continue trying to be in the pecking order of the Bankers.
10. Either at this point or later, a competitor takes over or the company goes to Taxpayer (i.e Boss of the Government) with a bucket to get it rescued. 11. In other scenario, situation goes one for decades. In India that was the norm since 1960s. Only in the late nineties, this changed. In the next sutra, I would touch a kind of strategy large corporations are coming up with to offset the fatal drift but this is also not working well. One of the reasons: Internet and user behaviour.
Sutra 14: My experience of customer behaviour being Founder and CEO of an online business
Customers now expect that Head of Operations, Head of Accounts, Head of Delivery – all remain present while he does business with you – anytime, anywhere. Dont believe me?
One line summary of this sutra: Just remember how you did an online transaction at 2200 hours where the company was based in US, the accounts in Edinburgh, the Merchant Bank in London and the Customer support in India. Large Corporations understood this well enough. They were getting sleepless by this new behaviour paradigm of customers.5 As usual for a Large Company, their strategy was to put in more and more people at the lowest end – they came cheap and hence needed very little expertise. The result: Middle Managers were replaced by automation, centralization, no-paper office, globally automated supply chain and at their expense an army of faceless, stateless mercenary army of Customer Support and Sales team.
This army of Call Centres, Back Offices resembled in a resricted sense the spam of Internet based mails.
Just 10 years back, people in India used to go to a bank and return back only to find that desk clerk was on leave and money could not be withdrawn. People now consider an ATM to be there even if they are in Moon.
Let me sharpen and contextualize my definition of spam: A ubiquitous, available, irriating but not completely useless piece of facility that loses its value for anyone considering his time valuable. Have you called a Mobile Operator Call Centre Recently? Press1, Press 2...Press9.... You hold to hear till deaths that you are valuable.... then – you need Wordsmith Communiucation6 to know what is being asked from you..... The cash-flow looked good. Everybody was happy. Some Consultants and Professors were given Chairs with unlimited money, authority and prestige.
This is a Language Translation and Cross Cultural Consulting Agency
The Cross-Over and Cross Talk Sutra This sutra belongs a bridge between what is being told so far and what will be told next. Telecom Companies are in a cross-road. Either they start delighting their customers or remain in the backwater of being a utility company. Like elecricity, gas or water company. Or they need to discover something like Internet or Google. Or into transportation technologies perhaps. At best what they can do is to put more high capacity digital pipes for each user in the planet. Just like our governments of emerging economies were talking about bijli for each village. But that is not a glamourous job and investors would not be very liberal with their purse. This is 2009, not 2001. Or they might float many dubious and freedom-destroying, innovationkilling idea of network neutrality where those providers would remain as gatekeepers to the content. What they are saying is this: I had transferred all the bits where you told me to do. Now people read those bits and pay you. I want a part of this. Then I say: All these are not written by you nor you have done anything except working as a carrier. You have absolutely no investment here – in my work. No. I dont want to understand all this. I had worked for last 200 years to lay all these cable, network and I want it now. I want that chocolate, I want it... [goes on nagging ]
History neither listens to nagging nor to retrospective accounting systems. As an employee, this historical aspect of Telecom Company’s fate touches you as well. In order to understand that this threat is based on evidence and observations, you need to cross over to the next section where it is explained as how large corporations actually function, what are the priroities and where you as an employee fit in.
The Next Sutras are not for those who have simple curiosity. You will be dissapointed, no you will be devastated. Proceed further only if you feel that there is some resonance inside you: what is told and how you faintly feel that in your skin.
The sanctum sanctorum of a Contemporary Telecom Corporation of Large Size
Sutra 14: The metabolistic engine of a corporation Language never lies while at the hand of a true wordsmith. Hence ancients venerated poets so much. Just pause: Corporation comes from Latin: Corporeal, French: Coeur all mean body, sentinent beings. You are also a corporeal being and hence you have an internal engine: breath and food and water. Stop supplying any of them to a body for sometime, the body becomes non-corporeal, i.e. dead. What are the core ingredients of the metabolistic engine of our Contemporary Corporation? Fund / Loan / Cash / Promise of Fund – This is the alpha and omega of any corporation we are examining. They have got names like revenue, profit, equity, debentures, debt and much other esoteric financial stuff. Essentially all is about cash. People who would provide this continuously in is entire Life Cycle - This is called Cash Flow. Group of people who would manage this
continuity of cash
by providing products and services to the customers to
ensure continuity of Cash Flow. They are called Employee and headed by a person called a CEO. For large corporations, CEO does not own the Corporation – instead he is a labour-component brought from the market at a price. He is neither answerable to the employee, nor to the customers but only to them who has appointed him.
Who appoints him? You will not find this answer anywhere, at least not in your
Banks. Very powerful group of people called Large Banks.
Sutra 15: The Banking Crisis of 2008 and learn the lesson The shortest sutra but the centre of all sutras. Comprehend this very carefully. Many companies went bankrupt during Banking Crisis. Now, all remained same. Employees were ready to work. CEO was experienced and competent in some companies. People needed products and services. It is not that suddenly all people got aged 40 years and went into ventilliation. Sun shone, Birds sang, rivers flew their course. Tide and ebb was as regular. Eclipses came and gone. The whole cosmic structure did not have any change. But people lost job and killed their children by shot-guns. People committed suicide. For many, the crisis was no less than losing the very lust of Life. They found their metebolistic engine going off. Why?
Sutra 16: Largest Corporations are the most indebted entities of the world. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of Art of Living Foundation had captured this irony in a poignant sentence. What he essentially says that a company prides himself on being some $ 2 billion corporation with $ 3 billion of debt. Now, who is richer? Someone with $ 100 worth with no debt or the corporation above. Telecom companies were no exception and during the 2001-2003 era, there were a series of bankruptcies in the sector simply because of this debt-taking in the name of huge projects: undersea cable, mobile, dotcom boom and so on. From where does the debt come: One comes from share market and another comes from large banks or Consortium of Banks? In a zero-interest rate market, debts dont make much of a difference in short run. But with interest rate being non-zero, debt matters a lot. It is
the only matter finally for some organization.
Who controls interest rate? Central Banks.
Sutra 17: The short-circuit of organizational process: Financialization Refer to Sutra 13. It can be quickly seen that if an organization can, somehow maintain cash flow continuity, it does not matter whether it actually sells products and services. Actually, it may not need to sell any product or sevices at all. GM during its last days was earning more money by lending loans to buy its vehicle rather the selling cars. Cash does not need to come from customers. What was important was continuity of cash flow. Briefly, following were done: a. Creative Accounting. b. Compromising Management and Regulators c. Making a ponzi-scheme where market discovery process is continously shifted to another demographic. Remember frequency hopping. You use the same frequency in another area just to prevent interference. d. Buying the prime agents of market discovery process: Media. This process is called Financialization and there are many dubious names in the list when the process imploded – one is a telecom giant: MCI-Worldcom in the heady days. We have also added an Indian name in that list, albeit, more current: Satyam.
Most of the employees of these organizations were completely in the dark. They had no idea that such processes are underway.
What is very tragic and mark of our age is this: Why? Because: They loved the status-quo and were in great comfort.
Sutra 18: What all these have to do with me? It keeps you prepared and provokes you. It just opens another window in your mind which had not seen anything other than equipments and technical books, LEDs and racks, Towers and excels sheets, PFAs and cubicles. These all are at the very low end of the organizational structure. They are imporant but not decisive. Here is some outline of the industry where you are now:
a. In great irony of history, the so called mage telecom corporations will become cost-factory – a keeper of status quo whereas true innovation will happend elsewhere – in smaller units, in small groups, in an individual, i.e. You.
b. Please understand this fact: A country or a region does not become great because it has all Fortune 500 companies. These companies came or were born rather for an attitude, a way of life, a value-system. In the same way, a company does not become great because it has brought the most fashionable CEO from the market. c. Since you are young, you have the greatest advantage with you: Time. You have more metabolistic propellant. Use that judicously. d. Penetrate. Your top management and many entities would try to put a veil of occult or esoteric in the way organizations work. Dont be hynotized by the priesthood. e. Be in knowledge, learn with discrimination and remain alert
f. Dont be in debt. Debt has ruined men and nations. Only borrow for three things whose value increase over time: house, getting proper education and business. Rest all are value-reducer. g. You have to make the choice: Do you want to be a utility, a man/woman to respect / a counsellor to your organization and the larger world?
The choice is yours. The effort is yours.
This book is from the current Telecomwallah. This Book is more detailed, step-by-step and bases its strength on the varied experience of the author in the nuts and bolts of current Indian Telecom Sector. Essential reading for those who are fresh graduates and going to enter telecom sector.
Real Business Model of Telecom
What is in the Office?
Now we will take you through the technology, the know-how about the business, Systems, various Departments and how they work in conjunction. This will help you to choose proper department/position where you can think about putting yourself in the ring. Indian Telecom/IT/Support industry is pretty enormous and divided into several parts. Before sinking into it, let us first understand the business which we call telecom and how it is run by and how profit is generated. The telecom network in India is the fifth largest network in the world. Presently, the Indian telecom industry is currently slated to an estimated contribution of nearly 1% to India’s GDP.
What is it?
Telecom is a transmission over a distance for the purpose of communication. As on today 2009, the modes of communication and business verticals are: Voice (Telephone (Wireless and Wire line)) Data ((Internet, GPRS (through your mobile phone)) Any other office/business communication, including database transaction, mail, Voice Over Internet or VoIP) Outsourcing/Consulting business VOICE and DATA through your voice line Voice business in India has already surprised the world due to its sheer number of consumers and it has already attracted competition across the world. Now, let us
examine what exactly is voice business and what type of companies are drawn into it. Definition: Communication by word of mouth carried over long distance using communication technology. In telecom business Voice communication is again separated in two modes -wireline and wireless. Wireline Wireline: in its good old days: In simple term, it is our very popular landline phone, available in every home. This service was provided by BSNL/MTNL across India. And look at India 15 years back, it was the only mode of voice communication in India. How (The Technical Know how)? The Service Provider connects their nearest exchange to your phone through cable (there are many connection and distribution point from exchange to your home). And then different exchanges are connected to each other in parent child mode (Child exchange connects to parent and parent to their parent). And based on the numbering plan allotted to each line the traffic from one number to another number is routed from exchange to exchange. Magnified Picture: From the viewpoint of home user, all cable connects to the nearest exchange. Gradually all exchanges connect to its parent exchange. Its something like water from different pipe is put into a bigger pipe and sent to destination and then again redistributed to different small pipes. In technical terms it is called mux-ing and demux-ing. The equipments used in this take all calls and route the same through one pipe( having similar characteristics and in the same way from taking all call out of the same pipe and route to different destination. And voice switches (used for routing the call) and Policy configured in switches (identification of destination path based on the number dialled). In a broad sense these are the boxes/equipments used for wireline communication. Hardware of these boxes service provide don’t develop by themselves neither they have the expertise to
maintain (this maintenance is not the day to day activity of regular configuration in the boxes; this is maintenance of hardware fault). Boxes are ordered from Vendors who manufacture the hardware, few names:
MUX/DEMUX: Marconi, Tejas.
Switches: Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, ZTE, Huweai (We will designate these companies as vendor). Once Service providers have bought these boxes, one has to configure and maintain the same. As a thumb rule, one time configuration is done by vendor and the add-on will be done by the service provider or by the vendor itself for which they charge the SP (Service provider). The hardware maintenance of these instruments, in case of hardware fault or outages, intimation is sent to the Vendor for replacement or rectification of same. Vendor ships the faulty card/hardware to manufacturing realm and gets replaced in agreed TAT (Turn Around Time) with the service provider. This practice is called AMC (Annual Maintenance Contract).
Let’s appreciate the different types of team that are by and large built, to run the Voice Business in service provider standpoint. Field team: for maintaining the connectivity from the exchange to your home. The NOC team: monitors connectivity and triggers field team for any link failure and check equipment health and update vendor about outages The decision making/planning team: plans and prepare documentation in case of a green field project, end to end monitor for add-on to existing deployment.
The product team: who selects vendor based on pricing and other parameters based on the received requirements from planning team and coordinate with them. Billing team: generates bill for customer based on your plan (they call it), after the data is received from the billing system and sent to customer for payment. Though it is not of much interest but still thought about sharing, the node used for charging is called “HLR”. HLR means Home Location Register is a reference node for all Billing, Tracking and ownership issues. Sale/marketing and Presale team: Service provider also needs to sell their product, so this team is pretty important from company’s perspective. All of these teams work in sync and this model get change based on company to company and time to time. This practice always creates insecurity and dread among employees (:)-) and top management happily calls it restructuring. Previosuly, the same line was used for voice as well as data communication. When the cable is connected to the handset the communication mode is Voice, and when to Modem the mode shifted to data. Elaboration: The Cable is connected to your modem which in turn, inserted to PC and then the consumer dials a particular number provided by service provider. After dialling and handshaking process, once the customer is authenticated, you are connected and ready to use your supported applications like browsing/mailing from your supported node (your Personal Computer). So the gist is that the service provider needs to have another setup which supports data communication. In this case the setup is your personal computer. And how to identify which call is made through the end box is for voice purpose and which one is for data purpose? Same is already shared and it is the number service
provider allocates to data users. These numbers are connected to the box which is capable of understanding data packet. There are a lot of devices used for successful end-to-end data communication, to name a few: RAS (where the dial-in numbers are terminated at service provider end), radius (Authentication or access to data network), DNS (used for browsing), Server (use to keep customer information in terms of billing and login details), switch (node used for connecting different devices), router (used for traffic distribution). Here also the same concept of vendor and service provider applies which we have already discussed. Now let’s glimpse on the teams that are mixed up in service provider for Data communication The NOC(Network operation centre): team which monitors connectivity and triggers field team for any link failure and check equipment health and update vendor about outages The decision making/planning team: plans and prepare documentation in case of a green field project, end to end monitor for add on to existing deployment The product team: who select vendor based on pricing and other parameters based on the requirements received from planning team and coordinate with them. Billing: team who generates bill for customer based on your plan (they call it), after the data is received from the billing system and send it to customer for payment. Sale/Presale team
These teams can further be drilled down to smaller team and have their individual vertical which works with each other in tune(Is it? refer to the first half of our discussion). This is all about Wireline voice communication as of Service provider standpoint and this model was happily flourishing in India till 2002-3. It is obvious, you might be wondering what happens to the vendor company, be patient we will take you through their model as well. Vendors: You have already understood that vendor’s job is to supply equipments for new requirement and replaces/rectifies in case hardware failure of already deployed boxes in live network. That’s it, no, they do lot more than that, let us explore: The Vendor Service model (Voice/Data) In Indian market during 2002-3, the service providers were mainly the government operator, the slow moving rule bound organisation, where things are certainly not clear. For any new requirement, Vendors used to bid in terms of their equipment, scalability, features, pricing. Immense competition is inevitable among vendors. Vendors had their Product, presales and sales team coordinate with operator’s product, they call it RFP. This is around 400-500 pages document asking for the requirement, and then vendor gives the acceptance about all the features asked by operator as RFP Response, as compliant or not. And based on the RFP response pricing is done. These team members participating in RFP are generally big in no’s and they are normally high compensated, more often than not they are the product team who work on the RFP Planning team who will plan in location for deployment and deployment team who will go to the site and install/integrate node.
The next step is to make it live. Then maintenance team, vendor, need to have the technical team who will coordinate with operator on fault update received from NOC team. Then the team for tracking the replacement for faulty material and ensuring despatch of new or rectified node. Have you thought that each and every node requires software to operate (operation prudence)? Vendors do have their software team to code. As the hardware model keep on upgrading hence the software model also need to keep up. These companies have their software centre built in India (India is good in it) and outside India as well. The team who identify the up gradation/modification required hardware/software based on the demand from customer(here operator’s are the customer for vendor) and develop/test the same in the LAB are called R&D team. The R&D centre is normally outside India. Once the R&D is identified the correct hardware/software same need to be built in hardware centre. You know the country that is good at hardware. So all goes to them.
This is the vendor setup as on 2002-3 in India. Now let’s survey current scenario in wireline Business.
WIRELINE BUSINESS Not many changes have been incorporated in wireline business model due to its downward demand among customer. Customer needs more now; the base requirement of transferring 4 KHz across wire had become very common. It is available for granted. Face value is now the feature set given with the product, attractive plans, browsing bandwidth, SMS, caller tune are the main focus. Hence the data services have become strong. New nodes are introduced for making the above features available to consumer. The only problem in wireline is absence of one of the very important features which leads to evolution of another business -
Wireless Business Model.
That’s it all for Wireline business. As we discussed, earlier, the telecom business model is consisting of a) Voice (Telephone (Wireline and Wireless)), Data (Internet, GPRS (through your mobile phone), other data Services). We have only completed the wireline part. Let’s cruise through the rest of business model.
This is very popular model as on date in Indian economy - players (Service providers) are healthy in terms of profit margin even at the time of writing this, when market is traumatized with the hit of so called recession, this market is untouched and profit is there for everybody. And analysts still believe this will persist for at least 20 years. This market is yet to mature. Service providers (e.g. Airtel, Vodafone, Aircel, Reliance, Idea, Tata Indicom etc), who have the license from India government to provide, mobile services to consumers. And the setup is that customers use mobile with the SIM card. This card is unique for each and every service provider. The phone connects to nearest base Station for that service provider, this is called BTS, these BTS are again concentrated to BSC and then many BSC are uplinked to MSC and MGW. These MGW and MSC’s are interconnected for carrying call form one location to another. In this model most of the service providers have outsourced the entire
business processes to Vendor ( e.g. Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia-Siemens Network…). The hardware of all nodes supplied by vendor, the connectivity is maintained by vendor, safeguarding is done by vendor, backend support given by this vendor.
What does the service provider do? They keep track of vendor. Really this is the business model and this is very popular believe it or not. When I only discussed the 3-4
types of node, this is only to give a broad picture of connectivity. Actually the type of equipments, used for end to end call establishment is numerous in numbers. There are so many feature we need to support in your mobile, the roaming all across world, policies to be maintained, authenticating customers based on different plan/balance availability, data features like GPRS, mobile bill pay, balance check, banks services, mailing, SMS, MMS, mobile chatting etc. There is no end to it. Broadly it is basic voice services and data services. Team involved in these services in Vendor side: Sales and presales team to get the order from operator. Same like wireline service. Planning team who will plan in location for deployment and deployment team who will go to the site and install/integrate node. The next step is to make it live. Then maintenance team, vendor needs to have the technical team who will coordinate with operator on fault update received from NOC team. Then the team for tracking the replacement for faulty material and ensuring smooth despatch of new or rectified node. Have you thought that each and every node needs software to operate (operation prudence). Vendor does have their software team to code these. As the hardware model keeps on upgrading hence the software model also needs to keep up. These companies have their software centre built in India (India is good in it) and outside India as well.
The team that identifies the modification required hardware/software based on the demand from customer (here operator’s are the customer for vendor) and develop/test the same in the LAB are called R&D team. The R&D centre is normally outside India. Once the R&D is identified the correct hardware/software same need to be built in hardware centre. Entire setup is outsourced to Vendor.
The only division which is still with operator is customer service, where all different types of customer complaint land. And the call is forwarded to different department in Vendor, based on the nature of complaint. And thus they can track the service standard provided by vendor, whether same is as per the Service Level Agreement (SLA). Penalty is imposed on Vendor if the SLA breach occurs.
The coordination/connectivity between different operators is based on policy circulated by telecom ministry. This model of business is very popular considering the roadmap of introduction of 3G in private operator and their demand among consumers; they are eagerly looking forward to it. 3G is popular due to its support of many features, triple play services and availability of enormous bandwidth to each handset.
The next type of telecom business admired across country is Data. It is electronic transmission of information that has been encoded digitally (as for storage and processing by computers). It is mainly the high speed data exchange. Even your very popular internet browsing is one type of data communication. Example: Your yahoo mail box is stored in form of data in yahoo server (computers with high storage and processing power) and internet is the communication mode through which same is made available to you in your
personal computer. And once it reaches your PC we use different application to make it fit to be seen using IE/Mozilla Firefox. Technology The model of Internet is decentralized by design. There are so many protocol which support this communication, TCP/IP, UDP and many other type of application for decapsulation of same in end node e.g. http, https, ftp, tftp etc are very popular. Data Communication for corporate/business Now most of the companies want to transact data among their different offices which are very critical to their business and some are sensitive information, and they need safe transaction. They don’t want to merge their data with common internet. They need dedicated line. But to have something dedicated will surely cost the consumer (In this case the companies) and they don’t want to do that as well. They use something called Virtual Private network (VPN). Dedicated but running on shared media. VPN are again of different type. There are so many types of it, overlay, point to point, dedicated, shared etc. The service providers in India for data communication are Tata Communication, Reliance, Bharti, Sify, BSNL/MTNL (Government Operator) etc. The market shares are by and large distributed among them. Here also again the same model vendor provides all the Hardware and AMC but mostly the monitoring team stays with Service provider in Data Communication. And obviously customer service. These service providers have divided their business focus for two types of customers. Corporate (Who take big pipe of Bandwidth from service provider across country for their different offices for internal communication (VPN) and Internet) and Retail (Home users). For home users the setup is same as voice business, the “Triple A” model (Authentication, Authorization and Accounting).
The Data teams, in Service Provider end are, The NOC(Network operation centre) team which monitors connectivity and trigger field team for any link failure and check equipments health and update vendor about outages The decision making/planning team which plans and prepare documentation in case of a green field project Project managers for tracking the project Customer service, retails and corporate Field maintenance team The product team who selects vendor based on pricing and other parameters based on the received requirements from planning team. Billing team who generates bill for customer based on your plan(they call it), after the data is received from the billing system and send it to customer for payment Sale and presale team for picking order from market. Here we have not gone into the details of hardware and technology, and we don’t require this as of now. The Vendor model is already discussed; it’s the same out here in data Business as well. When we call it data, it’s the 0 and 1 which can be transmitted over wire. It can be anything, even it’s your video, applications convert it to 0 and 1, transmitted over wire and again the conversion takes place to make it to visible and audible application. Only thing you have to ensure is quality of service, minimize the effect of delay and jitter, which is predestined while using the shared media. That’s all right, today’s hardware are well capable of it. Some of the big corporate, have their own data team, mainly the centralized team. These teams coordinate with service providers to ensure speedy resolution
of outages and maintain quality of service to their end users. The same team is also responsible for internal network maintenance and setup. Outsourcing/Consulting business The last model of our discussion Definition Consulting: Advisory services to help companies improve the effectiveness of business model in data communication, process, or operations by assessing business needs and reviewing business functions, plans and directions. Definition Outsourcing: Outsourcing is subcontracting a process to a third-party company In today’s world communication is a must need criterion for each and every company irrespective of the business model they are in. But they have expertise in their own field and not in communication technologies. And rightfully why should they bother about, what sort of equipment is required in communication, what is the hardware, communication mode (VPN or plain vanilla Internet) and their maintenance. But someone needs to answer this. Answer comes from those companies who are into these business models. They are called consulting company. They provide expertise, they plan, they install, configure, monitor the network, maintain hardware. Only thing Mother Company has to bother is for payment. Companies like HCL, Wipro, Accenture, MBT, Infosys, and TCS etc are best examples of those who pursue this kind of business models. Teams involved in these models are Sale and Presale Team: to pick order Planning: Plan the model of network based on requirement Installation team: Site installation and configuration NOC: Network monitoring and maintenance AMC: back to back AMC with vendor.
This model is popular across the world and India has her engineers outsourced to these world giants. This is all about telecom business, so many types of business models so many companies, so many teams among them. It’s tough to recall lets summarize in form of flow, for easy visualization.
Fig I : Telecom Business Model : Summary and One glance View
Welcome and Wishes: After all these discussion you have got fair enough idea of these model, company, and department/section. You know the sutras to handle office conflict and stay smart and you know the model which exactly fit to your choice. So, all set Best of luck and Welcome to Telecom Industry.
Appendix – I: FEEDBACK AND PRE-PUBLISHING DISCUSSIONS While we thought of writing the book, we thought of asking the feedback of some of the telecom professionals with regards to the content, architecture and relevance of the book. Many professionals obliged. Below is an excerpt from one of them, which is representative as well as comprehensive:
Feedback from Ms. Rashmin email@example.com Vyawahare. Rashmin can be contacted at
While I completely subscribe to the central theme put forth in the E-book about lack of relevant business dynamics and knowledge a telecom engineer possess when he enters a professional organization, I think this problem is not unique to the Telecom sector but is a problem in all other professional domains in India. I think the root cause for this problem is two fold: Systemic: Disconnect between academics and the professional world. Some surveys indicate that only 40% of the engineering graduates in India are employable. This is proven with the fact that most IT players in India have training programs designed for 6-8 months for fresh graduates; same is true with the BPO/ KPO and Airline industry. However no such thing exists in the telecom sector except for the 2-3 days of induction training which happens in most organizations. My sense is there is an urgent need for an institution like a finishing school in the Telecom sector which bridges the gap between the academic and professional worlds. [May be this is a good business opportunity!!!!!] and helps fresh graduates understand their personal preferences and aptitude in the telecom vertical and get them the right placements. [I know i sound very idealistic, as for most graduates the key factors while accepting an offer letter is the monetary benefit and care a damn to check if they have an aptitude for the offered job]. Again I am trying to drive home the point that people tend to look at the short-term gains vis-a-vis looking at the long-term picture.
Socio-cultural: I mean no offence to particular communities in India, but certain sections of the society do not inculcate the idea of entrepreneurship as a socially acceptable practice and hence curb the risk taking ability of an individual. The individual mind is not tuned to look at the big picture. This in my opinion hugely restricts one's ability to grasp the business aspects of a particular job profile in the organization. To a large extent, I, believe that we are now addressing the above phenomena by having entrepreneurship cells in institutes like IIM's and IIT's as well role models of first generation entrepreneurs like Mr. Narayan Murthy. I personally do not think the Sutras mentioned by the author would have drastically changed my approach in my career, had it been published before however I think they may act as good guidelines for a fresh school graduate. Personaly I am a strong believer in the theory of mean reversion and I have tried my best to put that in practice. Let me elaborate: [I may sound like a stock analyst], but this is true with for an individual as well. The theory of mean reversion suggests that in a free market, prices tend to eventually move back towards their historical means or averages. [You will always have periods of underperformance and exuberance: to give an analogy there will always be periods in which asset bubbles are created whether its real estate, stocks, commodities etc due to supplydemand constraints, but over a long term the prices tend to move towards the historical mean]. I, believe that for an individual to succeed professionally one needs to have a skill [the skill can be soft as well] which is short in supply and hence you are able to outperform the historical mean of the broader peer group/ competition in monetary as well as knowledge terms. The question is how does one crystallize or narrow down on one's ability or USP which will help the individual to differentiate him from the competition. My sense is that an individual hungry for success and knowledge will always find a way out to realise his or her potential.
Review by a non-industry observer and writer. Reviewer Sucharita is an alumnus of Presidency College Calcutta and a teacher, mother, writer and reviewed the pre-published text for Pentasect . Sucharita can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The title of the book immediately intrigues with its incongruity. Telecom, being a modern industry, and the ancient wisdom of the ‘sutras’ do not seem to belong together. In fact, these forcibly juxtaposed words seem as mismatched as the author seemed to be in the telecom sector. This incongruity is further reinforced when we are first taken through a PPM (Pre processing Module), a distinctly modern management terminology, before plunging into the ancient traditional world of the ‘sutras’. The fact that the author declares the e-book to be ‘in proviso’ seems to be a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for the always-in-progress-but-never-completed nature of the Indian telecom industry. Major portions of the book seem to be written with tongue firmly in cheek. The writer himself confesses that he has been “sarcastic”, and his dry wit is directed towards dissecting the employer-employee relationship. This relationship is based on attrition, and not affection. The writer cautions the employee from feeling any sort of reassuring smugness in his chosen career, because, as his analyses and experiences show, the employer is always ready to exploit the employee, much as the galaxy overshadows individual stars. To avoid annihilation and exploitation by this monolithic behemoth, the writer offers his prescription to the employee. He offers an age-old solution, how the cobra outwits the elephant. If the giant telecom company is like the elephant, the telecom engineer/employee must be like the snake – and have ‘the serpent power’ of patience, adaptability and ability to ‘protect his reputation’. Told through a series of meandering, serpent-shaped sutras, the ‘gutter-level advice’ (as the author terms it in Sutra 11) highlights innovativeness and a willingness to learn, adapt and take one’s chances. The relevance of this advice is not limited to the telecom sector alone, it is applicable as a survival guide in any corporate jungle. And the author offers himself as the best proof of the validity of his sutras. As he says in Sutra 5, ten years after his telecom stint, he is the CEO of his own company. He has stopped being an assembly-line ‘utility item’ and has carved his own niche. When such experience speaks, we feel bound to listen. In this e-book, the author also shares his experience about customers in the Telecom sector. As he says in Sutra 3, it is very important to ‘understand people’s behaviour’ and this may be done by observing the Company-customer dynamics. This is examined with wit and incisive humour, as when the author, in the PPM, reveals the ‘alphabet-soup’ gibberish which managers use to impress and befuddle the complaining customer.
The customer-Company dynamics is exposed in greater detail in Sutra 13 and 14, where the author exposes the panic-measures taken by the company to deal with customer boredom, and how the expectations of the customers are frustrated in the call-centre experience. Again, the validity of the exposure is not limited to the telecom industry alone, but to the entire corporate sector as a whole. As the author focuses on innovativeness throughout the book, it is only appropriate that the structure of the Sutras would also have some innovation. This comes in the form of a bridge – a “crossover or cross-talk sutra” between Sutras 13 and 14. Thereafter, the author analyses the modern recessionary crises (“The Banking Crisis of 2008” – Sutra 16) which was caused in part by the huge un-repayable loans taken by companies from banks. From this, he draws a conclusion that even small individual entrepreneurs should not get into debts. This is indeed valuable advice. In Sutra 12, the author pertinently asks, “Are you bored in your office/work?” This is the type of person who will find this book full of interesting suggestions and benefit most from them. To use boredom as a launch-pad for self-improvement and self-enterprise – that is what The Telecom Sutras is essentially all about.
Appendix II: Acknowldgement and Thanksgiving Our thanks to many telecom organizations, too numerous to mention, from where we earned our livelihood sometime or other. Special Thanks to Reshmin and Sucharita for their time and effort to give a feedback which we think is more of a part of the book rather than anything else. Hence we have included in toto the same. To Koel, previous colleague of both of us, who had been involved with the project since its begining and she had been instrumental in making the feedback process happen. We stand grateful. Wordsmith Communication and Pentasect Team for their support in making all these texts coming in some structured format. Gobinda - telecomwallah, colleague and presently Founder and Chief Mentor of Lakshya Foundation for giving me those quality adda-hours where many part of the books were written and re-written. Indrani, a software professional working in Microsoft for listening to the manscript for hours and delighting me by telling that many parallels in the software sector do exist. Subhadeep, a content writer in Oneindia.in for educating me on SEO, Google Analytics and other arcane issues that writers and publishers should know nowadays. To Chandrani, my wife who had provided me with the environment conducive for a task, like writing a book.
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