Archive for January, 2010

Ariem Technologies – My Journey So Far and Job Openings

People have been asking me how my new job has been, so far? It is about time too. It’s been more than 2 months since I joined Ariem Technologies (thanks to Sateesh Andra, who introduced me to Ariem).

Before I go on and talk about what I do, let me take a moment to talk about what Ariem does.

We believe in simplifying access to information for the masses. Our first product is for the education segment and specifically, targeted at the teachers to help them reach the internet and create audio/visual content in a very simple way and deliver it in the classroom using our gadget. This truly helps bridge the digital divide between the teachers and the students. The simple appreciation, I’ve seen over the past few weeks in the eyes of the students for their teachers when they show them audio/visual content created by themselves, is testimony to the power it delivers to the teachers. And as far as the teachers are concerned, it is so simple to use and intuitive that they don’t feel that they are using something very complex.

Ok, now back to what I’ve been up to. We are trying to enter the school segment with a solution that on one end can be termed as affordable technology and on the other, is simple and extremely effective in delivering what a teacher would want to do in 90% cases – that is use audio/visual content to enhance the learning process in a classroom. We are developing several channels to convey our message and we’ve been approaching the schools directly, attending expos and conferences, maintaining a digital presence to spread the word. I’ve worked on creating the marketing collateral and the digital presence (the website is still work in progress, so if anyone wants to talk to us about it, I’m all ears!!!) and directly approaching the schools with our solution. Will keep posting more…as we go along.

In the meanwhile, we are looking to hire people – telemarketing, sales executives and trainers.

So, if you are a fresher or have some BPO/KPO/Admin role experience and want to work for an exciting startup, please do write to me for the telemarketing role.

For the sales role, we are looking for candidates who are passionate about making their career in the education industry and have had any kind of previous sales experience (FMCG, Insurance etc..). Again, if working for a startup excites you, do write to me.

For the training role, we are looking for current/ex-teachers who are passionate about training as a career. 

These roles will be based out of Bangalore, India. You can reach me here or send an email at jobs@ariemtech.com. Looking forward to hearing from interested folks.

Passion for Programming: Start At The Roots

We need to have a serious look at the way we teach computers to our students today. And by serious, I mean serious! It is unlike any other subject that is taught in the schools today. It is dynamic, unlimited and created by the users. This demands a total revamp and “on-its-head” approach to teaching the subject today.

For once, instead of teaching the students how to program, we can start by teaching them how to identify problems to solve and create solutions for them using programs. Secondly, we can show them the “cool stuff” todays young hackers are churning out and in turn, inspire them to use/upgrade their skills to create something even better.

What got me to this post were a couple of separate experiences in schools ranging from a computer teacher teaching 40 students power point on a single 12-inch monitor screen to the same old “reverse a string” problem being posed to 10th standard students in a major CBSE school.

The PPT introduction was being given as if it was another dry history subject! No context on what it is used for, where they would use it, PPT etiquette, creating the “different” kinds of PPTs etc. Just straight into animations (ha! of course, what else is the soul of a PPT!!!) and the “reverse a string” was “school as usual” problem from another uninspired computer teacher. Common, the world has moved on, isn’t it time for us to reframe our computer usage and education in schools???

I would love to hear your suggestions on how we can create more digitally savvy generation that is not just looking at computers to check email, facebook or twitter?

The Idea Ad Does It Again

Just when I thought it was impossible to better the “what an idea, sirji?” ad. The creative agency Lowe Lintas does it again! Unlike the other telecom companies in India that focussed on limited and neighboring concepts of connectivity, availability, creativity they took on a larger concept of “creating change” and so far have been doing it in style and have tackled topics related to fitness, education, democracy etc… 

With the new ad around “save paper” and “prevent deforestation”, they are continuing their theme in style. However, I admire them upping the ante on creativity with this ad. It is truly fresh and refreshing and I love the punchline where they put a spin on “paid” as the hindi word for “tree” and ask the tree that has Abhishek Bachchan’s face which is about to be cut whether it is a “pre-paid” or a “post paid”. Pretty innovative!!! I will not bore you with details  – here are the videos for you to watch.

And of course, congratulations to Abhishek Bachchan and Idea Cellular on winning the award for the “Best Celebrity Endorsement of the Year” at the first edition of NDTV Tech Life Awards. Well Deserved!!!

The Bangalore Metro Fiasco

I drive across MG Road in Bangalore everyday. There is Bangalore Metro work going on there, of course, and the lane goes from 3 lane to 2 lanes. A couple of days ago, they started digging on the other side of the road too and hence, rendering the road one lane and creating an unnecessary traffic jam for 1 hr. It kind of ticked me off and set me into action (though that was not the first time I thought about it…) searching for information on the background and history of Bangalore Metro.

Here is what I found, so far… They have a website – here and there is information on fares, stations, savings (or benefits) for Bangalore due to the project (in crores!!!) – ALL GREAT. Do check it out. Here is where the trick is, in all the mumbo-jumbo they have missed the point (I’m assuming naivette as opposed to willful negligence here).

1. Why was an east-west and north-south route chosen the way it has been?  – The way I see it (and I’m not an expert here…) the people who travel through the routes mentioned are less likely to take a public transport than anybody else in Bangalore.

2. Did they identify the traffic hot-spots, anticipate how they will develop/change a few years from now and chose the stops based on that? – Because, again neither Koramangala nor the newly developing areas around Hebbal are being connected. And, given the fact that Bangalore’s floating population is burgeoning and bursting at the seams, was there an assessment made as to where they were relocating to or where they were travelling on a day-to-day basis? Again, I don’t see it on the website, if there is anything – pls do point it out to me, I would love to see the predictions around the development of our dear city. Moreover, if assessments/assumptions have been made about population clusters what kinds of policies are being driven to ensure that those assumptions become a reality, so that all this expenditure and inconvenience can be put to good use!

3. Though there are grand claims around reducing the public discomfort on the website (by ensuring work done at night and modularity etc.) I don’t see any of them being implemented in reality (again, I only have a snapshot but I have it at random times every single day at least twice, if not more, of different work sites)

4. No mention of the security precautions, quality measures or tests being done – did u say I should not be worried especially after the Delhi Metro issue?

5. Deccan Herald reported that IAS/IPS officers associated with the BMRCL went to foreign countries on the pretext of understanding the metro systems there. The BMRCL issued a statement condemning the article and stating that nobody has travelled abroad on any pretext for the Bangalore Metro. Now, I’m even more worried. It is ok for some people to learn best practices and if it takes some IAS/IPS officers to travel abroad and learn the science and art of good metro planning and construction, it should happen. Shame on the newspaper for reporting it as if it is a scandal and while BMRCL’s reply was appropriate, I would have felt comfortable knowing that they had in fact consulted with the best before doing what they did – DIGGING UP ENTIRE BANGALORE, WITHOUT A PLAN IN PLACE – to alleviate our problems after 4 or 5 or 6 years of putting up with the digging and shoveling.

Would love to hear from Bangaloreans on what they think about this issue? Any insights that I’m not aware of?

Googly, Woogly, Woosh and Spaaaaaar Fresh

In todays post, I would like to cover two specific advertisements to mention two points – the first one talks about the need for adapting advertisements to different media and the second one will talk about brand building based on customer perception.

1. Ponds Charmis has been running an ad campaign with the song “Googly, Woogly Woosh” (ad here) for sometime now. I recognize the tune and LOVE it, seriously! However, I recently heard (repeatedly) the same tune on radio, without a mention of the product name or any words to indicate what it was about. Left me wondering….with the visuals, the tune in the background adds a lot of value, without the visuals one would need some amount of audio (apart from the really catchy tune) to build your brand on the radio. Else, aren’t we talking about wasted airtime?

2. Spar Hypermarket is running a major campaign on Bangalore FM with the tagline “If it is not spaaaaaaaaaaaar fresh, it is just not fresh”. Again, I love the tagline, it is fantastic and the ads are innovative too. However, one of the major reasons I go to Spar in Bangalore (a really long drive from my home) is because it has one of the largest ranges of groceries and the store is always well stocked. One might argue that there is always “Big Bazaar”. I would say that by limiting the scope of what they offer, Spar has been able to offer a reasonable depth in what they offer and do so in a format that doesn’t feel over-crowded or messy. If they are trying to reach out to the people on a weak spot and build a brand around this specific fact of “freshness”, it might be a good strategy. But if this is how they are trying to build their brand, they might want to ask their customers why they choose to come to Spar vs. other options and build a story around that.

Pathetic Services in Bangalore Hospitals

Ever wondered about the kind of pathetic healthcare service that is meted to you in a city like Bangalore? I dread to think of what happens in the B and C towns in India! I want to talk about two such experiences in recent times. For those new to this blog, here is a reference to my continuing anguish with services in Bangalore hospitals. So here goes…

Manipal Hospital – We called up in advance to ask if the doctor was going to be around and were told that they would not be if we did not come before 12 noon. So, we rushed and reached the hospital only to find that there were atleast 20 people in the queue and no semblance of any queue system being followed. People were being randomly shown in and everyone was constantly told that there were 5 people ahead of them in the queue. The worst part was when we wanted to submit a feedback form to report our complaint on the way out, we just couldn’t locate the complaint/suggestion box and the attitude of the staff was more like they couldn’t care any less. It is pretty sad to see this kind of service in a hospital like Manipal.

Columbia Asia (near Hebbal) – Now, this is the funny part. We got an appointment here on a holiday and we were surprised to say the least. We double confirmed the appointment and reached the hospital on time. However, in spite of waiting for 45 mins there was no sign of the doctor. The staff had no idea where the doctor was and when he would come! So they took an appointment without checking with the doctor.

I wonder why hospitals and their staff behave like they are doing us an act of graciousness by even being around and its your problem if you fell sick. Well, its great to have hospitals (what would we do without them) but seriously, can’t one get a good healthcare service without knowing the doctor personally? Not even in Bangalore?


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