LIC is Passe

Surprised to see the LIC Life insurance premiums are way too high compared to any others. Going through Offline agents is passe – still there are umpteen agents around. Offline premiums are about a half to a third higher than the online Tech Term premium by LIC itself and definitely twice or more than the other private players. I guess we are all paying for the added risks of all NPAs that LIC gets loaded with. Past only-play-in -town like LIC has to learn from competition now. Most of the time their premium calculators do not work in their website. Too many products in life insurance space to confuse customers and most of the agents are unaware of all of them, and sell only a handful. SBI and IndiaFirst (promoted by Bank of Baroda and UBI) are both having dismal to bad settlement rations of claims. MaxLife seems to be the winner on both accounts – both lower premium and claim settlement ratios but one needs to understand the riders better. #licofindia #MaxLife #SBI #Indiafirst

Hardware Design Services is a Niche area

How many big services company have got it right when it comes to Hardware Design? IMHO, I can name only one Indian company who started off from scratch in mid-80s with board design and invested in a few labs and testing. May be another also-ran Indian one but more into resource augmentation.

Any big professional services company who gets 99% of the revenue from the software business cannot crack the hardware game – HW is not a volume business, it is a niche business. Really hardware electronics engineers are needed -just using a few tools to assist in some designs is not proper services. Huge investment is needed – unlike software. One needs to have sufficient labs and testing facilities. Lots of eco system involvement is essential – like manufacturing, stringent testing requirements facilitated by different labs, etc.. hence project management is key in putting these together as dependencies can hit timelines badly.

Smaller stand-alone fabless design services company can do SoCs. There are few credible ones. Remember only a few semiconductor companies are present who may like to outsource only older designs for support, or ask for proper resources to augment their team on need basis. Having a software mindset and trying to venture into hardware services is suicide. License cost for a single tool would be in lakhs of Rupees and the CFO faints upon hearing there would be no RoI for quite some time. Training the folks in the tools is the first step, showcasing some pilot design is the next and that is how you grow up the value chain. I was asked once by a senior corporate leader in a big services company if I can build a $1B business in 3 years if he can recruit 25000+ engineers – I politely had to explain a few things to him. Lots of acquisitions have happened in this hardware services space over the past 3-4 years, but not sure if they materialize enough.

Calling oneself an embedded design services company or a PCB layout company is not enough – yes, it gives the feeling of specialization, but getting to know what the customer wants and doing end to end system design is the need of the hour. Design a SoC, do the board, develop the system, do the firmware, do the testing and product engineering and giving it back will have lots of takers. For these, today, I personally believe 5-6 vendors have to work together to make to happen. The dying field (meaning lack of proper engineers) outside of Defense based projects, which is RF design, is critical to any wireless design and getting the right folks here and miniaturizing these circuits along with analog ones is critical.

So, as summary, stick to what you can deliver based on what you specialize in, get the right projects to execute and always be a value adder to the customer – no point showing glitzy images in Microsoft Powerpoint and throwing big jargons at free will to woo customer as they would see straight through with some really pointed queries. And for big services company, trying to acquire smaller companies does not necessarily lead to bigger wins. Sometimes, it is better to stick to your core and not venture out. Hardware design services is left to passionate engineers who want to build something for the future, few steps at a time, in the automotive, wireless, media, computing and in the defense sectors.

The author is a Principal consultant in Business Intellects and comes with 25+ years of experience in hardware and software space.

Answer the Questions

” By doubting we are led to question; by questioning, we arrive at the truth. – Peter Abelard”
I do not understand why we Indians getting offended if someone asks too many (relevant) questions? I see lots of folks saying ” you are asking too many questions”. Just because lots of unknowns are there in the situation and one needs clarity the queries are being asked. What is known to you does not need to be known to me or others. We do not ask enough questions to the management as we just wag our tails and keep quiet. We do not question the Tempo driver for driving rashly seated in the company owned bus? Why? Why Not? A High intellect usually likes to answer all the questions, however stupid they are. It speaks a lot about you when you try to avoid questions and not question enough if there is a need. Do not close your eyes when something is happening around you that needs to be questioned (unless the ones surrounding you have big weapons!). “Effective questioning brings insight, which fuels curiosity, which cultivates wisdom. – Chip Bell” #questions

A Soldier wishes for ‘tomorrow’

The best gift for any soldier is “a tomorrow”. That is what they would want the most. First seek a tomorrow, and then a great tomorrow. Believe in the tomorrow and make a great day today so you deserve a greater day tomorrow. Yesterday is too late, today and tomorrow are your best bet – stay healthy and safe, and ensure you make something good out of any tomorrows.