Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Be Lankan, Buy Lankan - the story of Micro Trend

This I saw on a Micro Trend Car. For those of who don't know Micro Trend it is a locally assembled Chinese car. It is the second car to be put on Sale by Micro, the first company to produce a fully indigenous car.

When I saw this only it struck to me that I have seen only a very few Micro Trends on the road. You can't complain much about the looks of it, if I remember correctly it was designed by an Italian design firm. Since it is Chinese, it must be as good as any Chinese made car. But for whatever reason, you see more Cherry QQ's than Micro Trends on the road. And personally speaking I think the QQ is a bit hideous looking to start with.

Maybe it's the price factor. The QQ is a few lakh rupees cheaper. So is the Maruthy 800. But what about the cars that are in the same price range. The Maruthy Zen and the Maruthy Alto. I think they are in the same price range. But they seem to be more popular than the local make.

Maybe the deep down reason is that we do not trust our local makes. This lack of trust is keeping us away from the Trend. When I saw the Trend for the first time, I thought it was a pretty good looking car. There were two things that kept me away from it, it's size (I need a bigger car due to my long limbs) and the lack of automatic transmission (it's a luxury that I have come to enjoy too much with the bumper to bumper traffic on Colombo roads).

So why do people choose the Indian or the Chinese varieties over the Sri Lankan assembled Chinese car? Maybe the price? So if the government gives the company enough subsidies to help them bring the price down, then they may have a pretty good market.

But the good news is the two Korean SUV's assembled by Micro in Sri Lanka seems to be having a good response from the market. The secret there maybe because they enjoy a price advantage. So why not do that for the cars and create a Sri Lankan automotive industry?


Monday, May 07, 2007

Dependency on connectivity

We are having Internet connectivity problems at work these days. Due to lightning, our network equipment has got damaged and hence we are on a very slow Internet connection.

This slow connection made me realize how dependant I have become on the Internet. Without a speedy Internet connection, I am seriously handicapped. Come to think of it, it is not just Internet that I have come to be dependent on. It is overall connectivity that I have come to depend upon.

I feel seriously lost if I step out of the house without my cell phone. It has become a part of my lifestyle so much I feel insecure without it. More than the incoming calls, I need it in case of an emergency. Not that I have managed to come out of many emergencies thanks to my cell phone. I wonder how my mother does without one.

The Internet too is becoming second nature. If I don't check my mail for a day, I feel as if something is a miss. It is not that I am expecting anything on the mail. Just that I need to be on top of my mails. I hate to come to my mail box with mails that are several days old and the total running into a few hundred.

There's another side to emails. You feel a strange loneliness when you haven't got any mail for a day. But thanks my clients there's hardly a day that goes without me getting a mail with some lame and sometimes stupid complaint.

What would it be like to spend a week without emails and your cell phone. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to do that while I'm on the job. I am obliged to answer my cell phone as it is a company phone and if I don't answer my mail within the day I am bound to end up with a few more complaining about the lack of a response.

So has technology made our lives easier or has it made us more connected and tied down and made us slaves to the technology? Can we go home after work and just forget about work? We can't. If something comes up, we are bound to get contacted over our cell phones. We will have to answer our urgent emails from home. I even work from home over the week ends, responding to client queries and resolving issues.

I think technology has blurred the line between work and private time. We can no longer have a truly private time away from work. If something comes up, by the mere fact that we are connected we will have to respond. So who gets affected? It is our families and the relationships that get affected.

I think we lack a certain level of discipline. Just because we are connected we should not jump to work while you are at home. I had a client once in Singapore who had clearly drawn a line between work time and private time. If you contacted him during off office time even for a small clarification, he would politely tell you that he would answer the query when he gets to work. I think it is a worthwhile discipline or a practice that you should develop, unless of course you are a workaholic.

The ideal Scenario

The ideal scenario out of this connectedness would be an ability to work from home. To have the ability to spend more time at home but still get work done. To be able to remotely work from home. But our mind set and the culture has not come to that stage where our physical presence is not required at work. I think we have not got used to working in that fashion.

But the good news is we are getting there fast. I have seen geographically dispersed project teams working on projects using collaboration tools and thier productivity is no less than them being on the same room.

Taking time off 

I want to take my annual leave for at least 10 days at a stretch and be away from my emails and cell phone during that time. I will dedicate all my time to spend with my family and maybe do some reading. That will be some holiday.

Now if I can sort things that are pending so I can actually go on that holiday...