Monday, July 25, 2016

Coming of the bots

If you have ever had an online chat - that starts off with an initial intro and then refers you to someone or makes you hold - you have interacted with a bot.

If you have pinged for train details (for examples) and got a response online - highly likely that it is a chatbot. And this world is growing - there are bots that run on Messenger, Telegram, WhatsApp and Kik (which actually has a bot shop and is fairly ahead in this game. Check this out.). There are bots that can mimic talking to your idol. There is a bot that you can chat with your bank - for instance.  Ordering food - for instance can be easily botified.

But since then the world has gotten fairly more complicated - there are bots in more places than you can think. The earlier example of ANZ is just the tip of the iceberg. Banks are trying to move their transactions to bots. Indeed all of Indian Railways tickets currently manned by humans is an ideal candidate to be 'botted' up.

We can think of this as sufficiently far away at your own peril. After all, we grew up in an era when banks still have tellers - but the ATMs killed that off as a career (if at all) very soon.

The point being that if you are in any job that is sufficiently rule driven, it is better that you plan your own succession with a bot.

What does this mean for us? Well, many things I suppose.

Guess what - here is Grammar Guru.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The bots are here

This is slightly old news, but it is news all the same. As there is talk about robots and robots replacing  humans - this is happening - and happening at a far frenetic pace than you can imagine.

I learnt from a colleague that ANZ is at the forefront of RPA (Yes, Robot Process Automation) and found something on the internet (obviously).

Read this:

What does it mean? BPO - where processes were outsourced to India, Philippines will get hit sooner or later. They say it won't affect human jobs - but hey, it will.

Like the rapid decimation of 'project managers' in IT - the bots will soon take over the BPO landscape (among other things). What other functions could be affected? Accounts payable, Mortgage administration and hold your breath - HR support. That is interesting is it not?

Now think which other job roles are essentially 'rule based' or 'gatekeeper based' or 'permission based' ? Almost all of them are under the scanner...

What does it mean?

Reskill yourself soon...The bots are coming!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Uberization: Superspecialists?

In a world of cannons, what is the need for a sniper? Plenty.

Cannons are common. Snipers are not.
Cannons can hit a lot of places inaccurately, Snipers get you one target - spectacularly right.

This is mostly a game analogy - I have zero military experience to comment on the reality. The example was more to derive a point that - to take advantage of the uberization of work, there might be merit for companies (big and small) to try out super specialists.

For example, instead of going to an organization that will support you - but actually has the lowest common denominator preparing a rather stupid questionnaire - leading to fairly blah business results - why not engage the super specialist who will engage herself and diagnose your ailment correctly - or if she is  a real super specialist - will actually refer you to another super specialist.

When I was in my corporate avatar - this happened to us - more than once. We had engaged a company for a consulting engagement - but the outcome of the whole process was quite lame. The questions framed were lame - the administration was equally poor - and eventually the outcome was clearly nowhere close to the stratospheric levels we had aimed for. And this - not because the company lacked the expertise- they did not - but it was delegated to the lowest common denominator with very less input from the person who truly had that expertise.

This is worth thinking about. Engage an organization because they promise scale or engage a super specialist (the sniper) for that one hit? Do you know who those super specialists are? 

Clash Royale: Are we playing an algorithm?

So, the Clash Royale addiction continues. The levels keep going up (and sometimes down). We have resisted the temptation to buy virtual goods (though we have spent a teeny weeny bit). But the doubt we have is: Are we playing an algorithm?

Every card has its strength and every card has an antidote. Each card and level is perfectly graded. A level 8 barbarian will be defeated by a level 9 barbarian. If you have minion horde, arrows are all  you need to pin it down. And so on.

To me it feels like Clash Royale is a giant big data analytics platform where the platform matches you  and your battle decks and there is clearly some set pattern to it - in terms of winning and losing - irrespective of the quality of the cards. The quality of the tactics is the only differentiator - but I suspect that may not account for so much - once the matching is done in a particular way - rather than a pure random match.

So, we now 'predict' a winning streak or a losing streak or type of chest - for example, rare chests seem to have a periodicity associated with it.

And all that has kind of made us feel that much ennui. As a learning experience, when you know you pit your wits versus when you know it is kind of a  platform you are playing against....

Now think about that when you build your own learning experience...

Update: Fazed by the probability of being manipulated by a giant algorithm, we uninstalled the game. Adios Clash Royale!

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Design Thinking Framework

I was lucky to be part of Design Thinking teams in my last two organisations. Design Thinking as popularised by the Stanford D school is an open source methodology and I have seen it being used in a few organisations to good effect.

What is wonderful about this methodology is what you can do with it. It is fast, it is fun and it is productive. It is simple, yet - you can go through it many a time and still discover new things. There is fun in designing around it - and seeing the possibilities unfold in so many ways.

It is early days yet, but we have seen how this approach has a lot of we discovered in a recent workshop that we conducted to go after some fairly commonplace 'problems'. But at the end of it, as I have seen in every other workshop before this, the 'insight' is always different. There is always something new that comes up when one uses this framework.

As I constructed it, I realised that Interviewing with Empathy is not easy, nor is Ideation and that made us think on how we can strengthen the process while not losing the core...

Early days yet, but still, we are working on what we can do with this process and the journey is indeed exciting...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

An Entrepreneurial Journey begins

Taking the plunge
Being unsure
Choosing a name.
Getting the company registered
Getting a million copies of every document.
Then Scanning.
Being unsure
Then self attesting.
Getting this done and that done.
The website is not yet done.
Work and deadlines
Self doubt
Proofreading everything
Being courier boy
Working from home cursing Bangalores erratic electricity
Working from cafes
Working at odd hours
Working more than ever before
Goosebumps before the first deliverable
And the second
Endless discussion with a virtual team of collaborators
New ideas
More new ideas
No time
Where is my next work going to come from
Reaching out to people
Kindness of strangers
The logo is still not done
Accounts - who will get that done.
And such it goes...

Outthinc Consulting is born...