Practical Thoughts

Life Should be Easy

Monday, December 11, 2006

Airtel Call Home - India Calling Service - A case of No Action Talk Only

Bharti Airtel launched their India calling service for US based NRIs called last week. It was launched with such a big bang that most desis were talking about it at work. The catchpoint was 7.9 cents per minute and the best part was the signup bonus of free minutes. Add all this to the brandname and brand ambassadors behind Bharti - Everyone was gaga about this.

I too like most desis use Reliance India Call to call home. It costs 12.9 cents per minute and is very reliable. I immediately thought that Reliance will have to cut their rates to compete. Next day I tried registering at their site. The ordeal that followed was nighmarish

1) To start with, the site was extremely slow
2) During sign up, the website captured all details except my phone numbers. No matter how many times I try updating that field, it comes with with the message "There was some error in updating your registered number".
3) After the registration, they assigned a login id which was a random number. How the hell am I supposed to remember a random number to login in everytime? Usability went for a walk !!!
4) I thought to myself, I have seen this.Its just teething issues. They just went live couple of days back and maybe they are working on it. Let me try calling home. But what followed even more terrible. The calls got cut every 3 minutes and it was extremely frustrating. The saving grace was the sound quality during the time the call was on.
5) I tried contacting their support thru their "Contact Us" link. In the comments field (textarea) no matter how much text I fill, it says I have left it empty. Some amazing Javascript work there...

Overall I was very happy to see my favorite Indian company launching such a service for people like me but the happiness has turned into frustration in no time.

This kind of makes me think what kind of testing would they have conducted before launching the service? I am sure they never did any kind of load testing or performance or stress testing. The management was just eager to upset Reliance and in the process has compromised quality. All my friends who used the service last week were disappointed just like me.

2 things Bharti could have done
1) Gone the old fashioned way and do some thorough testing of their systems and account for some load given the attractive price point at which the service was launched
2) Gone the GMAIL way where they should given out membership by invitation only. They could have tested the load incrementally and signing up for this service would have become something like a "Must Have" thing very quickly by word of mouth.

Anyway, they went with all guns blazing when all they had was only water pistols.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Annoying Habits

I share my cubicle with my friend...lets call him Sanjeev. Sanjeev like every other human being takes breaks and sometimes gets out of his cubicle. He does not have to tell me where he goes and neither am I interested. But whats annoys me is when people come looking for him when he is not there.

The first question they ask me is "Hey Sandesh, Sanjeev is not there ?" I get pissed and I answer "Yeah..He is not there". Why can't they use a little bit of common sense to look for clues if a person has come in or not. Like for example, look for bags, coats, lunch boxes on his table, switched on computers etc.

I was thinking what could be a equally pissing off reply...Next time one of these morons come along I am gonna say this...

1) Hey Sanjeev, Apna Mr India wala watch uthar ke saamne aa..
2) Hey Sanjeev, Remove that Harry Potter cloak you borrowed yesterday
3) Start searching for Sanjeev under the table and in the drawers
4) Simply mislead people that he did not come to office

A Rant post after a long time !!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

PwC tries to get the Indian Retail IT pie

There was this piece of news in today about PwC being in talks with Reliance and Bharti-Walmart to manage their IT systems. This is just great news !!!

This is also a wake up call for Indian IT majors like Wipro, Infosys & TCS to look homewards for huge IT deals. Remember the multi million dollar deal that IBM won from Bharti some time back !!!

Setting up an IT infrastructure for these companies would be a huge task. Managing that would be bigger. The IT opportunities in this sector are unlimited. Starting from the POS systems to the entire supply chain to HR systems, it would be one huge opportunity.

I would like to believe that these companies would go for a 3 tiered approach
1) In house Core Team - Their own employees for all decision making & providing direction
2) A world class Consultatnt - A PWC or Accenture type company helping them with the process and guidance. This group would help the retailer to buy initial software across their divisions
3) An IT services company to manage this whole deal

Surely this space looks interesting...