Consulting, Technology Ecosystem and Setting Expectations

Question

8 years back when I started my consulting journey, there were 2 major technology ecosystems to deal with. Depending on the problem evaluated it against business, application, development and operational considerations, was able to provide a solution which worked for most of my customers.

4 years back, things started changing. I was putting together the technology road map for the SBU I was working for. There were more than 2 technology ecosystems to deal with. One of the major question I had to answer at that point was if I choose a technology today and start developing, Can this survive the test of time? Can we avoid rewrite at least for next 5 years?

Fast forward to 2016, technology is changing so fast, 5 years seems to be a very long time. If you are starting to develop a product/framework/platform, you need to be prepared at least one or more of your components may change as you start developing and your ecosystem should be ready for that. This requires a different mindset with the business teams, architecture groups, development teams and your ops teams. As an architecture consultant, it is very important to communicate and bring everyone to same page. Having the expectations set right and being ready will avoid the frustrations towards the later part of the journey!

Happy Learning!

Bye Bye 2015! HNY 2016!

Another year has passed. We are towards the end of the year and It is time to reflect on 2015. Every year, there will be always good and bad things. This year is no different in that way for me. May be the percentage of not so good was more in 2015 😦

Good things to remember in 2015

  • Towards the end of 2014, had an opportunity to work on creating a SaaS based Real time streaming solution for a large security company. 2015 started with the win of this project and what a way to kick start the year!
  • Got an wonderful opportunity to work on integrating data from various marketing and digital channels and create a data lake for the world’s leading postal company.
  • Got an opportunity to work with a team to implement in-memory (Hana based) business intelligence platform for the world’s largest ketchup manufacturer. Worked with their Enterprise Architecture team to create a security blueprint and IDM implementation roadmap.
  • Did a fair amount of work with DevOps in 2014. Got a great opportunity to present/demonstrate DevOps capabilities to a great set of technical folks. Helped in winning the deal.
  • Got opportunities to understand and work with teams to implement HOLAP and Stream analytics.
  • Got exposure to Customer Service in an Enterprise SaaS world.
  • Understood the difference between Reporting and Dashboards (in a hard way).
  • The way I looked at SaaS architecture changed dramatically. Now, I look at the Maturity models based on the business landscape.

Personally, the start-up bug started biting me towards the end of 2014. We were close to starting a Services business on our own. Explored couple of Product ideas as well. Took one of the product idea and detailed it to a great extent. Did a fair amount of Customer Discovery and Validation exercise.

What I initially thought as a vertical add-on, eventually became a mammoth horizontal platform idea. Realized that it would take at least 3 to 4 years before can do anything with it. Dropped it after living & breathing the idea for almost 3 months!

Learnt a lot in the whole process.  Though it was a failed attempt, at least learnt what it means to take a hypothesis, visualize, conceptualize and start something 🙂

If you don’t code on your own, better don’t get into the start-up thought  process.

Thanks to Neelam, Subhajit, Sudhakar, Ashish, Gayathri and Sendhil for their help in the validation exercise.

Made some not so good (crazy) decisions with my career this year! Though it was not a great decision, at least i don’t have the thought that I haven’t tried anything new anymore.

No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying ~ Tony Robbins

From a technology front, 2015 was an year full of Data related projects for me. My understanding on this space has become much better in 2015.

Overall, 2015 was a decent year! An year filled with career adventures, self-disruption, lots and lots of learning’s!

Hope 2016 will be a better year!

Happy New Year 2016!

Wishing you all a Very happy new year!

May the NEW YEAR bring you GOOD HEALTHPEACE and HAPPINESS.

Image Source: http://happynewyear2.com/tag/happy-new-year-2016-greeting-cards/

Airtel : Customer Service : Does it really exist?

I have been having issues with my Airtel broadband connection for the last 6 months regularly. I would have called their customer support at least once every 15 days. Somehow things were working till last Friday, and whatever has happened in the last 5 days, i have decided to terminate my internet connection with airtel (after 8 years).

Find the Sequence of Events here.

Fri23rd Oct 1310day 23rd (1:10 PM)
I started getting only 3 Mbps speed (instead of 16 Mbps). I called their customer support and the support guy spent 15 minutes with me over phone trying to change settings, restarting etc. After 15 minutes, he said he will raise a compliant and I will get a resolution in 24 hours.

Friday 23rd (3:00 PM)
I get a call from one of the field engineers regarding the issue and he asked me what time he can visit me to troubleshoot the issue

Friday 23rd (5:00 PM)

A field engineer visited my place. Tried something for 15 minutes (note: i had a slow internet connection. After the engineer did something my internet connection stopped working). He said he is going to get a test modem and will be back in 10 minutes.

I was waiting for him till 6:45, lost my patience and called him. No response. After 30 minutes (2 tries), he finally responded to my call. He said there is some issue in the backend and it will get resolved in an hour (23rd 8:00 PM).

Satu24th Oct 0841rday 24th (08:39 AM)

Internet connection is still not working. No calls from the support team. Got furious. Called the Customer Care and said I had enough and I am cancelling my connection.

 

Saturday 24th (07:00 PM)

Karthik from Airtel Special resolution team calls. He spoke to me for 30 minutes. Tried understanding the issues and said he is shocked that I had to call them so many times in last 6 months. Asked me to give him a chance and he will waive my fees for 15 days. After 30 minutes of discussion, I said ok… will give you one more day, but make sure my connection works.

Sunday 25th (07:00 PM)

Karthik from Airtel Special resolution team calls. Asks how is your connection speed now? Is everything working? I told him that no one from Airtel reached out to me in 24 hours and how will the issue get resolved. Karthik says he got an email from his team that the issue is resolved, hence he wanted to talk to me and show the assurance.

He realized that nothing has happened and wants one more day to fix the issue. Since I don’t have anything to lose, I told him Fine, but I don’t have any hopes.

PS : Thanks to Karthik. I think he gave a sincere try.

26th Oct 1429Monday 26th (14:27 PM)

I get a SMS from Airtel that thanks for contacting us and your issue will be resolved by 11:00 AM on 27th. (Wow!! I didn’t call them. Great SLA game guys!)

Monday 27th (19:00 PM)

Someone from Airtel field support calls and asks for my house location (?). He says that I have asked for a replacement router.

26th Oct 2140Monday 27th (21:45 PM)

I call airtel support again and said, please CANCEL my connection. I don’t have any hope of getting internet connectivity now.

Tuesday 28th (8:30 AM)

Support engineer from Airtel calls and says When can he come and look into the issue. He mentions that you have raised a compliant only yesterday. I lost my cool and told him that I cancelled the connection.

Tuesday 28th (10:00 AM)

Another call from some service team. Wants one more chance. I told her that I don’t have any energy left to explain her and thanked her for calling after 5 days.

Tuesday 28th (11:00 AM)

Another call from Airtel Support saying, I have asked for WIFI connection. I told her, Thanks for calling and disconnected my call.

Few more pointers

  • My airtel cable has been replaced atleast twice or thrice in last 3 months quoting problem with the cable(?)
  • My modem has been replaced only couple of months back
  • I have called their so called highest level of escalation (appellate) also in last 15 days. Not even a call back after that to check whether my issues are resolved.

Following are my conclusion after 5 days of frustration.

  • I understand Airtel doesn’t have lot of competition in Indian market. They have the maximum share.
  • I have this connection for last 8 years. Airtel don’t seem to be caring about their existing customers. There are enough people in India to give business to them and their business seems to be growing.
  • SLA games with their outsourced field service seems to be a normal way of life.

I decided to pay the 1500 RS (What I was paying to airtel) to some other provider. I understand that it is not lot of money for a company like airtel. But I don’t want to spend 1500 for 20 days of internet connection every month.

Quote

“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”
― Roman Payne, Cities & Countries