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Friday, May 25, 2007

Dell’s Dilemma - Part Two

This is part 2 of my Dell's Dilemma series. In part 1 you can find how Dell Inc's business model is different from others and in this post I'm analyzing why Dell's business is (or appears to be) at risk.

Pros and Cons of dealing direct with Dell...

Advantage Dell:
The main features and advantages Dell and its customers have due to Dell’s Direct to customer model are:

1 Cheap product: Dell’s products have always been cheaper than competition for given configuration, due to Dell’s unique business model (explained in Part 1), hence a cost conscious customer would always prefer Dell.

2 Highly Customizable: Just like an assembled PC, Dell allows its customers to choose the exact configuration they want and pay for only those features required. Other PC vendors usually release several pre configured models which can not be customized beyond a limit. (I find that even Dell customization has some limits, explained later)

3 Built to Order: Dell units are assembled only after an order is confirmed. This gives you fresh technology, directly from factory to your home. In other companies, products do spend some time in shelf, in factory, in warehouse, with distributor/reseller etc before you pick it up.


Disadvantages:
1. You can’t see or feel the product before buying.
2. You can’t just lift a model, pay and take home. You will have to wait for few days to few weeks from the time you decide to buy and till it gets delivered.
3. No service centers where you can take the system and get it repaired. You need to fix the system using telephone help given by Dell

Dell Logo
Why Dell Sales declined?

Here are some simple reasons why Dell’s popularity is declining over a period of time…(Prices are quoted in INR)

Note: Majority of Dell's business comes from huge corporate accounts who continue to prefer Dell. Below points are from a viewpoint of an individual customer (Home users, and SMEs (Small and Medium enterprises)...

1. Fall in price deference: Because number of units of PC/notebook being sold has increased, the additional expenses Dell’s competitors had is getting leveraged across a large number of units, hence the additional expense per unit is minimal (Assume Rs 30000 per month is spent in running a showroom. If only 1 Notebook is sold then this entire 30 k needs to be recovered from this one notebook, in which case Customer will not buy at all (if he has to pay 30K extra for no apparent reason), if just 30 units are sold per month, each would have costed Rs 1000 extra (In this case customer will weigh his options and may or may not choose to buy from that shop), while if 100 units can be sold per month, extra cost per unit is just around Rs 333 which is negligible for a 30k to 50k product and the customer will not hesitate to buy. As other vendors are reducing their margin and focusing on volume, the Dell’s advantage in terms of cost is falling.

2. Non technical customers: Traditionally those who used desktops and notebooks were technical (Hardware/Software professionals) people who had enough technical understanding of the product so that they could understand the configuration, could use, maintain or do simple trouble shooting themselves with minimal help and choose Dell mainly because of cost advantage. But of late computers have become very common and everyone can afford to own it. But many people who are not well versed with computer architecture (say people like Doctors, lawyers, accountants) would rather choose to physically see a laptop in a showroom, see if the performance and features are good enough for them and then buy then and there. In other words, not everyone can decide between complex system configurations.(Dell website gives some basic explanation, which is not good enough) Most of us have simple understanding that higher the numbers better the configuration, few of us have understood that Dual Core is better than Solo (Thanks to Intel’s intense ad campaign), but tell me, can you suggest me which one should I choose out of Intel Centrino T5300 (1.73 GHz, 533 Mhz FSB) and T5500 (1.66 GHz, 667MHz FSB)? We’re used to measuring clock speed, but few realize why FSB is critical. Is Core Duo sufficient or should insist on Core 2 Duo? What about Sata Rosa? Without physically experiencing, can you tell me if geforce 7400 is enough for the games I intend to play or do I really need 7600 (They are 256MB and 512 MB graphics card from NVIDIA respectively). Microsoft says 512MB RAM is minimum for VISTA, while PC vendors suggest 1GB. Shall I go with 1GB or should I really invest another 10k and opt for 2GB? Unless one has some technical understanding, deciding on a optimal configuration is very challenging. If you accept all recommended configuration at Dell’s website, the price almost doubles the initial quotation. So many people who do not understand much of system hardware prefer Non Dell brands, partly because they can check the product before buying, and partly because they go by resellers recommendation.

3. Lead time: people want everything fast and instant these days. If it takes week’s time from the time they decide to buy and till the product gets delivered, it discourages them.(It takes 10 to 30 days depending on mode of payment, availability of parts etc) Lot of things may change in the meanwhile: I may change my mind, I may get a better deal elsewhere, technology may change, price may fall, but once you commit, it is near impossible to change.

4. Dell discourages down selling: While choosing the configuration, Dell tempts you to go for higher configuration (This is called up-selling) but heavily discourages you from choosing lower configuration. For example, they give you an option to upgrade to Windows Vista Home Premium from Home Basic but do not allow you to choose Windows XP (which should be cheaper than Vista), or do not allow me to buy a naked PC (PC without an OS). (Most of the PCs sold with Free DOS/Linux are eventually upgraded to some version of Windows, pirated ones in most cases, but that can’t be a reason why Dell should mandate that all notebook buyers should buy it with Vista. If I have some Microsoft employees as friends I get Vista at much discounted price and may choose to install it myself, or if I choose to continue with Widnows 2000 i bought few years back, it is my choice. I'm not bound to buy every latest product MS releases...Do you agree?)

Also I found while customizing an Inspiron model that for a T5300 based system, I have no option of choosing a 533 MHz RAM and I have to opt for 667 MHz RAM only. (A 533 MHz FSB processor can’t make full use of 667 MHZ RAM and I would rather save some money by opting for 533 MHz RAM, but I don’t have that option.

5. Limited Customization:
Note: Whatever I write below is based on the experience I had at Dell website while attempting to customize. Once you raise a request Dell Inc will assign an executive who will facilitate further customization, which may nullify some of the points mentioned in point 4 and 5.
Latitude model has finger print reader option but Inspiron series doesn't. Similarly you'll face many such restrictions when you try to customize your Dell. In most of the cases I don't have an option of choosing 1 Single memory of 1 GB (instead of 2 x 512 MB layout)(What difference does that make? It makes lot of difference while upgrading: Motherboard will have 2 RAM slots - if both are occupied by one 512 MB RAM each, if I have upgrade later from 1GB to 2GB there'll be no free slots, while if I opt for one single RAM of 1GB, second slot will be free)Ideally Dell should allow me to customize A to Z with any possible combination (as long as the combination is feasible), but that is not the case.

So there're many limitations in Dell's customization and it might discourage few, who are very specific about what they want.

6. No fancy features: Dell has been very very slow in introducing most of the value added features its competition has incorporated (Such as face recognition of Lenovo, fingerprint recognition, Swivel Monitors and Tablet PCs by HP, detachable DVD drives of thinkpad, Blu Ray Disc reader by Sony Vaio etc). So except that you have the option to choose highest possible configuration, there won’t be much you can boast about your Dell machine. (Dell will be launching Tablet PCs by end of 2007 in India, Dell Latitude model has an option of Finger print reader, XPS model comes with rotating Webcam, and Dell would soon launch ATG in India (All Terrain Grade rugged notebooks which meet military standards in their build), but most of them are not available in combination.

June 27, 2007 update: Dell's new inspiron 1420 series (and 15xx series) is featuring multi colour bodies and also Blu Ray writer option (at INR 32000, not sure how many will opt for it), Some Dell Latitude Models have some unique features like analog battery meter (to check how much power is left, without having to switch on the notebook) and Wi-Fi detector, which blinks when a network is available...

7. No service centers. Today most of the people who use PCs and notebooks are non technical people, who do not have the time, patience or technical skills to fix a problem in their system themselves. While techies would even enjoy troubleshooting and experimenting on their systems themselves these people would rather hand it over to a service centre person, tell the problem they face and get it fixed by experts. But dell expects everyone to fix their problems by internet/telephonic information. Most of the people are not comfortable with this option and do not even give Dell a consideration since it doesn’t have a physical presence (I read somewhere that Dell has tie up with Wipro and PCS in India to provide service to Dell customers, but not sure of this as I don't find anything official about it)

8. Increasing non corporate, non technical customers: So far, majority of Dell’s customers were corporate accounts, who had dedicated departments to take care of Computer Hardware. But of late individual consumers who buy a PC/laptop for personal use are on the raise and for these people, after sales support is a primary consideration, in which Dell fails to impress. These individuals approach a consumer electronic showroom or such shops while buying laptops and salesperson there shows all available models but never mentions that there’s a company called Dell. Even if customer inquires, he tries his best to discourage a prospective buyer from opting for Dell, by highlighting all disadvantages of Dell. So not having some ground staff to promote Dell is diverting several potential customers.

9. No finance options: Today many people buy goods on credit. In any showroom you can find one representative of some finance company readily available, if you prefer credit. If Dell expects everyone to make full payment upfront (even before one sees their product and wait for weeks. It doesn’t give easy credit options, and this diverts another set of potential customers (Dell do have Dell Financial Services in some countries. But I don’t think that is operational in India)

10. No one to bargain or argue with: Most of us love to bargain with the shopkeepers and feel happy if we can get some extra discounts/some freebies. Also if somethin goes wrong many people prefer to walk into the showroom and question the people there. With Dell, these are difficult. (Dell will assign a salesperson to assist you in executing your order with whom you can bargain a bit. And if something goes wrong and Dell refuses to fulfill its obligations (extremely unlikely, I'm just exporing a possibility) legal actions are very difficult since the sales is purely online


Note: Dell's credibility has been very good, and most of the customers are happy with Dell (except few business users who are using the notebooks given by their company which doesn't fit their personal usage needs). Dell does good pre sales and post sale follow up and keeps its customers happy. Dell is setting up an assembly unit in India (in Chennai) which is expected to be operational from late 2008 (Currently Indian orders are assembled in Malasia and shipped to India, Dell products should be further cheap once they're assembled in India)(Note: The Hindu report dated 26th June 2007 says Chennai unit will be operational within months, my sources indicate it may take longer. This post doesn't intend to discourage people from buying Dell, but only analyses why potential customers may not prefer Dell.

These are some of the reasons I've figured out why Dell's model is at risk. Can there be a solution? Standby for Part 3 (Expected in mid- June)
Part 1 | Part 2 |If Dell were to sell motorcycles...(fun)| Comparision of Notebook Brands: Dell vs HP vs Sony vs Others

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Celebrating Blog Anniversary

22nd May 2006 was when first post of this blog (formerly http://enishispeaks.blogspot.com) was released and this blog is one year old now. Few weeks ago in my 100th post I have already mentioned my experience as a blogger [Check that here] and don't have much to add at this moment.

Over past one year my blog has reached a Page rank of 3 (A page rank is Google's measure of popularity of a website. Most popular websites like Google.com have highest possible page rank of 10 while new and least popular websites will have a pagerank of 0. Page rank of 3 is not something great but not bad either, considering I was not full time into blogging. Page rank is a dynamic phenomenon and keeps changing based on how many websites link to another website. Use prchecker.net to find pagerank of any web page

Display Page Rank Icon


Using this post to share some site statistics
All time most popular posts:
Will IBM Buy Satyam
Club Mahindra lifetime membership: Pros and Cons
BMTC Volvo City Buses
SkandaGiri Hills


Posts that received maximum number of comments:
None of my posts have exceeded a comment count of 10. I wasn't much active on that front...Bad but fine. Not all people have time and patience to stop and leave a comment...[Read Hari's opinion on comments here]
Patna Man wins Aish Skirt: Impact Analysis report
An analytical Challenge
SMS and Win Hype
Chennai Bangalore Hyderabad: Comparison of these 3 cities

The inbound traffic for my blog has been almost equally split between Search engines, Direct visitors and Referrals. Thanks all.


Note: The traffic monitoring tools were commissioned several months after blog launch. So actual visits exceed the count shown here.

Will be looking forward for your sustained support for the days to come...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dell’s Dilemma - Part One

World’s leading computer maker Dell is finding itself in troubled waters these days. After loosing Numero Uno position in PC sales to HP [link](Since margin is very less the position keeps swinging...this report says Dell has regained its position), after founder Michael Saul Dell taking over as CEO, Dell appears to be uncomfortable with its legendary Direct to Customer Business Model and is reportedly considering opening retail stores/appointing resellers to promote business. (Ref: Business Standard dated 18-May-2007)

This blogger has decided to come up with a 3 part series in this regard. In the first part I'll do a quick analysis of Dell’s Business Model, in second part we'll analysis merits and de merits of Dell's strategy and demands of current market scenario in detail and in last part, we'll try to come up with a feasible solution for Dell's crisis: possible options and approaches Dell Inc may consider as a part of its future plans such as feasibility of conventional business model for Dell (of via-resellers) and related information.

Quick Background: The main difference between Dell and its competition is that Dell has no middlemen, no resellers, no company showrooms. A prospective customer deals directly with Dell (by phone or website), and gets his/her computer delivered home by Dell. This results in lots of cost saving (which otherwise would have been spent in running a showroom, dealer/reseller’s commission, inventory carrying cost etc) and most of the savings are passed directly to the customers, making Dell products always cheaper than competition for any given configuration. Because of this advantage Michael Dell and his company was able to steal millions worth business from IBM and other PC vendors and reach top of the chart within decades.

There was a time when Dell was envied by rest of the competition. Most of them tried to imitate Dell’s Direct to Customer Business Model while retaining their existing sales stream and failed pathetically (because it is not feasible to mix conventional sales channel with Direct model). IBM eventually had to sell its PC business to Chinese based Lenovo, Compaq merged with Hewlett Packard. These companies worked hard to achieve cost efficiency and brought down the cost advantage Dell hitherto had, by increasing sales volume and by increasing operational efficiency. They had the backing of a robust sales and distribution network which Dell never had. All these factors have eventually led to Dell loosing its Business and suffering losses.

So should Dell change its Business Model? What are the advantage and disadvantage Dell has over its competition? Check it out in Part 2

Friday, May 18, 2007

Work phone:A serious joke

I do not usually post jokes in this blog but this one is an exception:

A family of three: Father, Mother and Son, all working, and a maid.

One particular month, the home telephone bill comes very high and father is upset about the excessive usage of telephone. he calls for a meeting of all family members and maid, lectures about cost cutting, reducing overhead etc and finally shows the telephone bill and says "I'm wondering why the phone bill has come so much this time. I never use this phone as I use the one at my office".

The mother replies: "I too never use this one. I make calls using the my office phone".

The son also adds: "I use the company provided mobile for all my calls. I haven't made any calls using our land line".

Now all turn towards the maid, who calmly replies: "So where is the problem? All of us are using our work phones ! ! ! ..."

Jokes apart, we're always like that: If it is our property, our people, our life which is at stake, we go to any extent to protect them, but if it belongs to someone else, we hardly bother about it. Why so?

Also read: CRM at provision Stores

About me & My blog

First time visitor’s Guide: All you wanted to know about me & my blog.
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Thanks for your interest in my blog


My name is Nidhi, Shrinidhi. Better known on the net as eNidhi. I’m born in Udupi, Karnataka and currently operating out of Chennai. My profile and interests span over multiple categories. I work as a Business Analyst in a leading IT services company and am passionate about writing, travel, chess and more...
I enjoy writing. I wanted to become a journalist once. Have managed to get few of my works published in media so far. With the advent of blogging, I feel I’m moving away from print media since blogging is easy, quick and fetches almost instant feedbacks, as against print wherein I’ll have to wait for weeks in anticipation. But seeing my name in print has its own thrills- Some of my articles that came in print are listed below:
Ramanagara Rock Climbing - Ergo March 2009 
Binsar Travelogue in Ergo, November 2008 [Read]
Wayanad Travelogue in Ergo, October 2008 [Read]
Event Report- Dr. Stephen Crocker’s talk in Chennai Published in Ergo, August 2008 [Read]
Strategies in selling petroleum- Vijaya Karnataka (Kannada Daily), April 2003 [Read]
Credits:
1 Contributed as a member of advisory board for Silicon Times for nearly 4 years during my engineering days (This was a Bangalore based IT monthly-now not in publication)
Contributed several articles to this magazine, such as Cyber Begging, Snooping
2 Member of Jury panel in our company's internal blog
3 Served as editor of various internal newsletters at the organizations I studied/work with.
4 Other blogging credits 


  • Blogging since May 2006
  • Gave a presentation on blogging, internal to my company- July 2007
  • Was part of Club Mahindra's Coorg trip for select travel blogger, Dec 07 [Details]
  • Moves blog to own domain, www.enidhi.net , January 2008
  • Post on Club Mahindra Timeshare membership- was discussed in at Barcamp Bangalore.
  • Gave a talk on Corporate Bl0gging at MMSC '08, Manipal- April 2008 [Details]
  • Live blogged the event at WebInnovation08, Mumbai, May 2008 [Details]
  • Karnataka Home minister VS Achar comments on my blog- June 2008 [Details]
  • Other than the 3 blogs I run here, I've also been contributing at Churumuri * EvanCarmichael * Helium and few more places
  • Supervised a spot blogging contest at MSRIT Bangalore and gave a talk on Blogging, September 2008 [Details]
  • Was part of Club Mahindra's Binsar trip for select travel bloggers- October 2008
  • Times of India runs a clarification for publishing one of my photographs without credit
  • Mint features my blog in a story about plagiarism by media [Read]
  • Participated in Article19, Manipal Institute of Communication's annual festival


  • Shrinidhi Hande as everything else
    Passionate about travel, Amateur photographer, enjoys driving, Chess player and more 

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    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    Thomson Buys Reuters:eNidhi is little sad, little happy

    Glancing over Business Standard newspaper today in my office Canteen, I saw the news in cover page that Thomson Corporation will be buying Reuters for US $ 17.2 Billion.[Derailed news here and here] This might be just another business news for most of the people but to me, this is something partially heart breaking/ partially delighting.

    I love journalism to the core of my heart and I like Reuters founder Paul Julius De Reuter very much for his innovations in news media. Paul Julius Reuters [Full details
    here and here] was probably the first in modern history to sell news for money. He identified the value of having right information and right time, devised mechanisms to collect and distribute news at a time when news used to be hand delivered by messenger boys (and used to take days to travel across from one place to another) and eventually founded Reuters news agency. Julius Reuter, also known as Israel Beer Jeseph Josaphat, struggled in his early days to make people realize the importance of information and to make them pay for it. He used pigeons, telegraph, trans atlantic cables and several methods and mechanisms which were extremely innovative at that time to ensure that he could get important news (such as stock information) delivered to his customers (mainly merchants)at the earliest so that they could take advantage of the news and make money by taking appropriate business decisions. If time permits read more about him to understand and appreciate how he struggled and succeeded.

    We may not be in a position to appreciate all these today because we have everything at the click of a mouse. But in the 19th century, things were not so. During my higher primary education (Class 11 I think) we had a lesson on Reuter in our English text book (CBSE), ever since, I have been his fan. The Reuters news agency he founded that time is valued now at US $ 17 Billion and I have to admire the courage and vision of this man and his company.

    There are other startups (like Google/Microsoft/Dell etc etc) which have achieved billions of dollars of market capitalization in a very short time and have been started single handedly by one or two people. Still, Reuter's circumstances were different.

    Inspired by Reuters, I had introduced couple of enhancements in our school's News telecast approaches during my school days. I was studying in
    Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) located at Chara village, near Hebri, Udupi District, Karnataka. This is a residential school run by Ministry of HRD, Govt of India. We used to have daily assembly where news reading was one the rituals performed everyday. One identified person had to collect latest available news and read it in assembly in front of hundreds of student and staff to update them of latest happenings. Our school was far from city, so news papers were coming late. A news paper dated today used to get delivered by today evening or next day morning [I’m speaking about year 1999-2000], and this paper was referred to the next day to prepare news. Effectively the news read today was used to be 3 days old and I was upset that we are giving obsolete news. We had a television in school using which we could see DD News every evening (that was the only available channel, with limited news telecasts that time, 8 pm to 8.30 pm in Hindi, 8.30 to 9 pm in English). I started preparing news by taking notes from TV news instead of referring to newspapers. This way I was able to provide news which was less than 12 hours old for next day's assembly. Others were forced to follow the same practice and many people used to hate me for this because now they had to listen to TV news and take notes, while earlier they could simply lift the title and content from newspaper. Later when internet was introduced in our school I was one of the first few to take advantage of that and I started giving latest news collected and compiled afresh few minutes before assembly. Not that my work changed the school overnight or made some difference to people, but still I recollect those days. [This incident re narrated in this post]

    Now that Reuters is getting sold, I’m just taking a look back. Good thing is that the name Reuters will still be retained in the new entity, so the identity will not be lost for ever.

    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    The Approach

    When you land a plane, you need to follow two steps in sequence: Initial approach and final approach. In initial approach, you get runway into visible range, align the aircraft in the direction of runway and start descending. In final approach, you ensure that the nose of the aircraft is at an elevated level (because rear wheels should touch ground first) and lower the landing gear and prepare to touch the ground. Some military aircrafts do take exception from these approaches during emergency but usually any landing would necessarily involve the above two approaches.

    Why I’m telling about approaches is that the approach you adopt for any particular task plays a very critical role in determining whether you succeed or not. Approach you adopt partially reflects your attitude and mainly indicates how strategic you are in your way of handling things.

    Let us consider some examples:
    To find a girlfriend different people adopt different approaches: Few get a bike (with their father’s money of course), remove its silencer, and roam around ladies hostel or women’s college making loud exhaust noise hoping to impress girls. Few think creaking a fake profile in orkut with John Abbraham’s image in it will get them Bips, few choose to enroll for Gyms, Dance classes and attend parties in the hope of making new acquaintances, few go offensive: by zeroing in on someone, and then begging/threatening her into accept him. Few others choose to salivate in front of Forums, Garudas, Centrals and such happening/hang around places. (People choose one or more of these approaches as they deem fit, as per their affordability/mentality/way of thinking...No further comments on this)

    When you are given a work you are not able to/capable of/willing to work on: Few declare outright that they are not going to work on it, few struggle day and night, learn the task, take it as a challenge and finish it off with success, few others cunningly delegate the task to someone else and escape, some choose to spend time till deadline approaches, then come up with dozens of excuses as to why the task couldn’t be completed…All these are different approaches.

    You have worked hard all through the year but didn’t get a good rating: How do you react?
    A few choose to succumb to their fate, accept life as it comes and proceed with it.
    A few start crying, make a big fuss how he/she is betrayed. Few choose to fight with the management and get some justice. Few silently find themselves a better paying job and quit.

    At this point I wish to recall a scenario my mother used to narrate during childhood:
    Two sellers: Ram and Shyam: Both had provision shop in a village. Both were honest, were selling high quality goods at same price. But Ram’s shop used to attract lot of people but Shyam was running in loss. Why?

    Here’s why: It is because of the approach they used to take. If he had to sell 1 kg of something, Ram always used to add some 900 gms first and then add another 100 gms in front of customer to make it 1 kg. But Shyam had a habit of adding 1.1 kg initially and removing 100 gms in front of customer to bring it down to 1 KG. Though both were finally giving same amount (1 kg) Ram’s customers always felt they got more, because he used to add in front of their eyes, while Shyam’s customers did not like him as he was removing the goods from the box in front of them. Thus, though results were same, the approach adopted made all the difference.

    If you have decided to fail, there’s an approach for that also. But if your approach is wrong, you will fail for sure. (This last sentence is taken from one of Ravi Belegere’s (Kannada media personality) article in Vijaya Karnataka)

    So, choose your approach carefully.

    Note: I have revised my Blog roll section. Some of the blogs I used to visit frequently are hardly updated these days, hence have implemented a rating system which I shall be revising regularly. If you haven't updated your blog even once in past several months consider updating your blogs once a while.

    Sunday, May 06, 2007

    Work as an independent Consultant...If you can...

    You might have seen external consultants visiting your office, spending few hours and billing exorbitant amounts. This post does an analysis of pros and cons of working as an independent consultant vis-à-vis working as a full time employee.

    Note: By consultant I do not mean having some “Consultant” in your designation. I mean working as an independent consultant, not being on payroll of any company. Most of the doctors,lawyers,Architects who do not work for any specific company/hospital and run independent practice can be called as consultants. Hope you got the difference.

    It is not easy to brand your self as an independent consultant. You ought to be highly specialized and sought after person in your area of specialization, whatever it is. You have to be confident that you’ll be in a position to find enough customers on your own to keep you engaged throughout the year and in return you can enjoy a premium billing, only fraction of which you otherwise would have got if you were to work as a full time employee for any other company.

    Advantages of working as a consultant:

    1. Tax soaps: Consultants get a huge tax advantage as they’re allowed to exclude all administrative expenses from their income. Salary paid to office assistants (even if the “assistant” is home maid or other domestic servants), money spent on petrol (even if it was spent while driving your car to a shopping mall located in other part of the town), expenses on computer (though it is used mainly by your son to play games) or printer (which your daughter used to print her project reports) and several other expenses everyone incur in daily life are passed off as administrative expenses and no tax is paid.

    2.Consultants charge a premium amount. You get much more money than what you otherwise would have got as a full time employee, for the same work. (This is because your employer retains a bulk of income earned from you to meet several other expenses incurred)

    3. You own your life. As a consultant you have the liberty to choose your customer, what assignment you want to work on, how much you want to bill them…as a regular employee you won’t have these options.

    4. Better exposure: As a consultant you get direct exposure with clients and other people and this adds a lot to your communication skills and business skills. This much interaction will not be there for an employer who reports to a manager instead.

    5. Full credit/Blame If you succeed in your work as a consultant you will get full credit and if you fail you will have to take the entire blame. In a salary job, credit and blame will generally be shared among the team and other stake holders.

    Disadvantages:

    A consultant’s life is not always that easy.

    1. No support system: If you work for a company you can take advantage of several support departments which focus on certain specialized tasks so that you will be able to focus on your core activity (like HR department to aid you in recruitment and addressing concerns, a marketing department to take care of pre sales, billing etc, travel department to coordinate your VISA, air tickets etc). But as an independent consultant you will have to take care of all these tasks on your own, from winning a contract to arranging your travel to billing realization (or hire an external agency who will charge a premium)

    2. No guaranteed income:If you work on a salaried job, you have assurance of a regular monthly income. You won’t be fired after a project completion. Even if there’s no immediate work you will be paid. But consultants will be released from their duties the moment management feels their service is no more needed. This is because consultants are hired for a very specific task for a short duration and paid on an hourly or daily basis.

    3. No backing: When you are on a payroll of a company you can easily claim experience and can use the brand name of your employer. As a consultant you need to struggle really hard to build up reputation credibility and your own identity in the market.

    4. Competition : If you have learnt a specific skill (say Java programming language) and managed to secure a job, you need not be worried that another million people have enrolled into various training institutes to learn Java. As long as you meet the expectations at work and continuously build up your experience and skills, your job will be more or less secure. But as consultant, your demand or billing rate will go down if the skills you have are available abundantly in market.

    5. Investments: If you work for a company you can take advantages of huge investments the company has made in infrastructure and other things (A video conferencing facility or a projector etc for example. Companies can afford to spend on these as thousands of employees benefit from them). When you are on your own you might not be in a position to invest in few items.

    Above are few pros and cons I can think of. Which one do you prefer? A safe and secure salary job or a challenging but fruitful task of an independent consultant?

    Also working as an independent consultant will be your first step before you gather up enough courage and money to start your own company.

    Bike Review - Honda Unicorn 2007

    Review of new Honda Unicorn 2007
    The new unicorn is here...upgraded looks and added features

    With all bikes in premium segment boasting of new features and looks, Honda couldn’t afford to continue with its conventional look and not upgrading Unicorn could have been fatal to business.

    So new look unicorn boasts of a set of features borrowed from other biks

    Primary improvements are:
    Introduction of black alloy wheels, aircraft style fuel tank cap, black coated disc rotor with gold coloured clipper, clear lens indicator and new graphics. The front look is now similar to HH CBZ extreme, except for protruding indicators. (May be in next upgrade they’ll introduce LED tail lamps, digital speedo console and other features by which time Bajaj and HH would have come up with several new features)

    Unicorns legendary mono suspension and smooth performing and reliable engine will continue to be the primary reasons why people would buy Unicorn because other fancy features explained above are introduced too late to grab any attention, because rest of the competition has implemented these features long long back.

    Buy what I find missing in Unicorn in the handlebar balancer.

    What is this handlebar balancer?

    Handlebar balancer is the extended portion of the handle bar. It is a heavy weight piece fixed at both extremes of handlebar. All other bikes, pulsar, apache, discover, CBZ have this

    What purpose does it serve?

    Having a Handlebar balancer in your bike gives following advantages

    1. Should the vehicle fall on this side, the handle bar balancer absorbs the impact and prevents damage which otherwise might have happened to your hand, throttle or other parts

    2. While driving, your hand will be on throttle while handlebar balancer extends outside under your hand. In the event of another vehicle coming very close to your bike (by its side, say while overtaking) and screeching , your hand will be protected while handlebar balancer absorbs most of the impact

    These are the two reasons I prefer handlebar balancer. They are just a piece of heavy metal and do not cost more than hundred bucks in production. Still they provide good value addition to your bike.

    But Honda unicorn desperately misses this and I’m wondering why Honda engineers are not thinking of this feature

    Competitively priced and mileage is good. So you are unlikely to regret your decision if you buy.

    Update: Nothing much has changed in Unicorn even in 2015- 8 years since this post is written. A 160 cc version has been introduced.

    Other Product reviews: Yaari.com | Big Bazaar |Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less|It Happened in India | Zest Breaks |

    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    Jeffrey Archer’s "Not a penny more, not a penny less"

    Jeffrey Archer’s "Not a penny more, not a penny less" is drafted on a great concept and story line is short, simple and keeps the reader interested through out.

    Plot

    One clever mastermind and self made millionaire, Harvey Metcalf turns from jobless young boy to multi millionaire in a very short span all with his own clever tactics, both legal and illegal. In the process he cheats several people in several ways. Four of his victims, who lost their lifetime money in a stock market scam masterminded by Harvey Metcalf team up and decide to beat Harvey in his own game. They draft ideas, finalize plans and work as a team to recover every penny they lost to Harvey including the expenses incurred while recovering the same. First hal of the novel is about Harvey’s legal and illegal activities (which made him millionaire) and the rest is all about how those four men recovered their money

    I did like reading the novel and finished it in 2 nights, some 4 hours each.

    However I have spotted following weak points in the story line:
    1. Stephen Bradley and team (victims of Harvey’s Prospecta Oil scam ) were to recover every penny they lost; not a penny more, not a penny less. But while they return from James wedding they were still around 1.24 $ short. Is that not a deviation from their principle?

    2. They successfully duped a Nobel laureate, a world famous Doctor, university Vice chancellor and a world famous painting. In real life it is very much unlikely that this amount of impersonation will go undetected

    3. There was no counter plan by Harvey or anyone else while these men were cheating him. Had Harvey detected that he is being cheated and had there been some counter strategies the novel would have been more interesting to read. The story goes almost one sided.

    4. The first Para of the novel says Harvey managed to earn a million illegally, legally and even managed to retain it. But since he lost his money to four of his victims, I’m wondering how is this sentence is justified

    5. End of the novel: Prospecta prices soar again and those who bought Prospecta shares are now rich people. Stephen and team got more money than they had lost...Again a deviation from title...

    6. When James tells the secret to Anne or when he finds that Anne and Rosaline are same I was expecting this will backfire to their plan at some point (as it happens in Bollywood movies) but nothing happened as such. Rosa ended up being a silent witness to these four men robbing her dad (She even arranged $250000, may be all out of her love for James and in appreciation of these four men’s efforts)

    7. In Monte Carlo, when Harvey becomes ill (due to powder mixed in his coffee) and Harvey’s driver demands "Where are you taking my boss?" Stephen tells "We’re taking him to hospital; you go back to Yatch..." Why no one suspected "How did Stephen know about Yatch"?

    What did I like?

    Still I like the novel for following reasons:
    1. Tells you about stock market scams: How some people mastermind scams, manipulate share prices, make money and render several small scale investors penniless in the process

    2. Never give up. If you loose something there ought to be a way to get it back. The spirit of Stephen Bradley and his team is highly motivating experience

    3. Simple, straight forward narration and not a lengthy novel. Makes interesting reading through out.

    Other Product reviews: Yaari.com | Big Bazaar |Bike Review: Honda Unicorn 2007|It Happened in India | Zest Breaks |The 3 Mistakes of my life-Chetan Bhagat|Merchants of Deception- Eric Scheibler

    Friday, May 04, 2007

    Photo Exhibition: Set 1

    PG for one Man and One Woman...
    PG for one Man and One Woman!
    Lucky they didn't write mans and womans...

    Dhoom:3
    Cop on tractor!
    A traffic police was found taking ride on a tractor in front of Cyber Towers Hyderabad during March 07. Chasing on a tractor could be a nice theme for Dhoom 3

    Cat outside Oracle office Hyd:
    See the photo below carefully, you should be able to see a cat.
    Oracle Hyd office!
    What this cat was doing outside Oracle office? Was it trying to learn SQL query to search Milk or mouse database? Google Hyderabad office is only few meters away. It would have been a better idea to go there and simply search instead

    Race course, Bangalore which was hidden behind high walls earlier is now easily visible, courtesy Anand Rao Circle flyover.
    Race course Bangalore

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    The 100th post: An introspection of a blogger

    This is the 100th post on this blog, which is nearing its first anniversary. Using this opportunity to share my experience as a blogger so far and a quick introspection… (September 07 update: I've deleted some old posts hence the post counts have changed now)

    Though I was a bit late to enter the blogosphere, it was better late than never. I opened myself to the idea of blogging after reading couple of posts of my cousin Sandesh Karanth (check my blog roll for link). Later I’ve inspired few others to start blogging (may sound like a self praise but it is true. One such acknowledgment can be found here(It in in Telugu language))) and the journey has been pretty smooth so far.

    I wrote whatever I wanted to and in the process have offended many people directly or indirectly. Though I don’t regret what I’ve written I hereby apologize to all those who might have been offended by my words.

    Many people still believe I'm the only visitor to my blog. That is not true. I get few dozen to few hundred visitors per day(Have a look at the image below or check this for live statistics )Five to six thousand visitors have been to this blog since one year.
    Nearly a dozen people have subscribed to my blog by email and I know another dozen people who visit my blog on a regular basis to read what I have to say. I’m very much thankful to the readership of these people in particular and to all my readers in general for their patronage.
    enidhi (Shrinidhi hande) 's blog visitor stats

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    Several totally strange people have visited my blog, most of them came through search engines and others by reference. Some of them found what they wanted and spent time reading my posts, while others left within few seconds and probably even cursed me for not keeping the content they were looking for and blaming search engine for wrongly directing them to my page.

    Some left comments, some did not. Some readers mailed me, some just clicked on the rating widget. Still it is a nice feeling to know that people felt it is worth spending few minutes of their time reading my posts.

    As a blogger I’m been reading several other blogs regularly, have given them links in my posts or blog as relevant and in return, many people who liked my blog have given a link to my blog in their sites. Thanks to all of them.

    At times I felt as if I’m on top of the world, when some of my posts got listed in top of search results for specific queries (ex: my post on IBM Satyam takeover rumor was appearing in top 4 matches out of 65000 possible matches at one point of time. Detail here)

    I wasn’t consistent on the type of contents I published in this blog (I still amn't). I wrote in English, Kannada, I wrote about different topics and subjects, I added photos, videos; as a result I still can’t define “what my blog is all about”. I haven’t focused on any one specific category, which probably is not good.

    During the initial days I used to trouble everyone by mailing them about the new posts and inviting them to read my blog. I soon realized that such unsolicited and un-specific mailing will irritate people and eventually stopped begging people to visit my blog (though I kept blog URL as email signature). I still got a decent number of hits.

    I experimented with HTML, I tried adsense and I employed several widgets to give value addition. In the process I learnt a lot about page ranks, Google’s search algorithm, page indexing, CTR, Search engine optimization, traffic generation, protecting and defending my contents against violation of intellectual property rights (i.e. some one copying your content and claiming it their own), usability and user experience, user navigation and browsing habits, what interests a reader and what makes them navigate out of a page and many more things. All these were good learning experience.

    I learnt to live with people who say “Ya Ya… I’ve just read your latest post” even without opening my blog. Such people turn blank if I ask one more question like “what was the title of the post you last read” or “were there any pictures in that post”. (When you launch a blog you generally expect all your friends and relatives to read the posts and comment, but that will not happen, not becaue they have something against you, but because many people will not have the basic interest of reading or will not have the time to read your posts. I never forced anyone to read my blog but they probably wanted to be kind). I’ve also learnt to absorb comments like “You have no other work or what? Why do you waste so much time on this?” (If I watch couple of movies every week spending 5-6 hours no one will ever know, but if I use same time on blogging everyone will think I have lots of free time)

    Some posts become popular, result in dozens of comments, while many others will not even be read fully by anyone. That’s all part of the game.

    Going forward:
    I don’t intend to be a full time professional blogger and make a living out of it. I have a day job to defend and I have no commercial interest in blogging; I have other interests to pursue. So blogging will only be a hobby for foreseeable future for which I can spare few hours per week.

    Thanks again

    Felis domestica: Our pet cat's photo session

    You might have heard of Moti the dog guiding its owner to the place where thieves hid the stolen goods. This video is of our cat which lead us some distance, din't show any jewels though (or may be we failed to understand?)


    Photos of our cat has been moved to my new photo blog:

    http://photos.enidhi.net/2008/07/felis-domestica-our-pet-cats-photo.html

    Related:
    Animal Photos