Friday, 5 July 2013

The Saga of Sliding Rupee…

Hot Brews
Italy Espresso - 83
Latte Americano - 96
Irish Grand - 135
Cold Brews
Legendary Cold Coffee - 137
Chilly Frappé - 163
Lemon-Mint Iced Tea - 155

** Taxes Extra

“Hey Joe… what’s with the price hike?” ………………………………………………...

And I was there standing, waiting for that question to pop up! And it did. I knew this sudden, sharp rise in prices would put me in a court-like scenario. So I had to do my homework well. Get the facts and figures straight. It was going to be a long discussion.

Now might I also introduce you to the blaring, hot-topic doing the rounds today? Price escalations!  Well I'm sure majority of the world suffers from this global-economic epidemic. We are, too, in the race. And nothing short of!

Of course, with the fuel, land, and the exchange rates soaring high how could one expect to keep the coffee prices low? I mean look at the costs and pricing's of even the simplest and basic stuff you need daily. Eventually, even my coffee prices would be hit at some point. I couldn't pretty much help it. K

It's the Dollar v/s the Rupee
Well the root cause happens to be the depreciation of the Indian Rupee in context to the US Dollar. That’s the case with every emerging market economy, so they say. The news is all filled with those economists/ finance connoisseurs grappling with their respective opinions; and I only keep wondering how much more that slide in the value of rupee will hit me hard? Hit a common man hard?

Why isn’t anyone pruning from the grass-roots  Can anyone really join the dots correct? I hope someone does. In the meantime, I tried figuring out a few things on my own. Like how actually this inflation in prices does originate and ultimately how does it get construed in a vicious circle, a circle hard to knock off. 

So on the surface; it seems that the import business is hit the hardest due to this widening gap between the Rupee and a Dollar. One has to count more notes while importing. Whereas, that fall in rupee leads to a lesser export dominance, subsequently. So you, indeed, end up paying more to most of the generalised stuff.

Consider this. You have a monthly budget set aside. Now, of course, the increasing prices make the monthly budget topsy-turvy. So you keep adding to that budget. Again, and again, to keep up with your current lifestyle. So as the law goes – more demand = more supply. More money has to flow in, so obviously you work towards getting more. Probable job switches, probable hike in salary; which in turn makes the Company (or a prospective one) pay you more.

When the Company is paying more, their expenses are again increased. For many, cost of outsourcing then increases. And again the circle is looped in.

So the saga goes on. But I suppose, every dark cloud has a silver lining. Experts opine that this is the lowest the Rupee will go. And if it’s anything from now, it’s only going up. Steadily, bit-by-bit. For now, folks, let’s hope for the best.
For extra reference

Friday, 28 June 2013

Financial Compliance

After a week’s hiatus, I came back to do what I do best. Talk and share with you guys. Of course the vacation had left me in a phlegmatic state; but after realising the expenses I’ve had, last week, I got instantly on my toes.

More so, in all this frenzy, the tax filing completely slipped out of my mind. Back home, on returning, I was merrily greeted with the tax penalty letter, stating I crossed the due date by a week. Why do I always need to “appreciate financial compliance” after I have emptied my pockets?!

Most would be empathizing with me, for no proper tax planning. And I guess this scenario is pretty much the same over the world. That said and done, what about the other numerous monetary liabilities obliged on everyone. Almost everyone! And if not paid in due time, they incur additional penalties. Empty pockets all over again!!

That was just a micro level anecdote. I am presuming the case is more complex at a macro level - at a Company level. In times of receding economies, the business pages are all stuffed with various upcoming economic policies and regulations. It’s a cut throat competition to keep your financial compliances intact. A race that’s too long to keep running. Locally, this race is still picking its pace. But it won’t be too far when everyone would have upped their ante.

Most have already got in shape. Many are following suit. Where are you? Are you financially compliant too? I know of a company that had to pay gallons when the Compliance Officer locked horns with them. The newspapers are full of such stories.

Unethical practices like money laundering and tax evading have caused the emergence of financial regulations and compliances. I don’t mean to be a moral police here, but hey why do something that’ll get you in trouble. Money doesn’t always come the hard way.

Where India too has joined the international brigade of regulators, some of the essential financial compliances are Basel III, FATCA, Sarbanes-Oxley and FEMA. And of course, XBRL! Weeks back I sorted the basics of it. All of this is a big circle with many smaller loops. And remember, a circle is always unending!!


Friday, 14 June 2013

(Tasting) Testing Services

So last week we had an explosion of candidates for XBRL analyst positions. And today, I have yet another swarm of tasters! Oh, I meant ‘testers’…

Tongue-twisting, words can get. Uncannily, I have again started feeling a strange resemblance in the words tasters and testers. Perhaps, like I always say - IT has answers to everything! Will I be able to make a bizarre correlation again, here?

To my knowledge, AlphaBricks is holding a summit for the software testers, for which I am invited by default. What? I mean for the managed services of coffee!! The attendees will need it. Besides, my curiosity with IT is not hidden from you guys.

So talking of relating testing with tasting, it’s only plausible if I break it down brick-by-brick. This summit is actually for TaaS - Testing as a Service. So there’s going to be all that techno talk and I will again be left with wonderment. Trying to bring pieces in order. 

What seems to be understood from the surface are the various types testing is segregated to. Rather, I should coin it as the various approaches. Now that’s the direct interpretation of testing with my job skill --- “tasting” ---

Pun intended. Where I have delivered Coffee as a Service, at numerous times (including today), this summit is about Testing as a Service. A new entrant in the market. Again the offerings here are many. You can either choose one, or opt for a deemed combination of the following.
Manual Testing.
Automation Testing.
Functional and Regression Testing.
Performance Testing.

And very recently, there’s been this whole Agile anticipation around it. I have been keeping a check on Agile news also. Many experts opine over the incorporation of Agile Methodology in Software Testing, if it proves beneficial in the long run or no. Remember the Agile piece I wrote before?

So then, what’s all this hullabaloo about the summit? It’s about testing being outsourced. What I feel is, TaaS will provide third person’s vision to the entire project. An out-of-the-circle view! If testing is outsourced, I think not only the quality but the efficacy will also be upheld. Thereby freeing you of space, resource, and time. So ultimately, everything seems to fall in small pockets.

For now, the journey from tasting to testing is a little far-fetched. But yes, everyone needs an expert opinion. Have you outsourced it, yet?


Testing is an infinite process of comparing the invisible to the ambiguous in order to avoid the unthinkable happening to the anonymous. - James Bach

The story so far... (Testing Timeline)

Friday, 7 June 2013

Understanding XBRL

June brings with it the soaking rains. The first showers of monsoon replenish not just the earth but the hearts too. And what eudaimonia! Hot cappuccinos served with the frore, wet mizzles. A terrific combination.

The drops of rains running down the glass-planes made for a nostalgic sight, for one and all. Perhaps, soothing the tensed nerves of the interviewees. I had to brew more than regular today. This bevy of new applicants was high-on-demand for my special servings.

Often, I have come across foreign acronyms nudging me persistently. Today was time for a newer one to poke me deep. X… B… R… L… yes that’s what I heard repeatedly here at the Café. And to no wonder, I started wondering what this XBRL would mean? Hour of investigation. 

XBRL is a language understood by and for computers. When expanded it reads eXtensible Business Reporting Language. A unique language designed exclusively for filing your financial reports. So there is no meandering of that money one earns. It’s an electronic form of communication of your business and financial data. No hiding your earnings from the authorities, so to say.

Funny enough, but why all this? Actually it didn’t take long for me to remember a popular scenario. Days back I stumbled upon particular celebrity endorsement news. Seemed like the company who signed the celebrity, astoundingly paid 4 times more than its annual profitable income! Well, well, well… from where did all that money barge in? So you see the picture is clear. People trying to manipulate and hide their earnings, in order to evade taxes, are the root cause of all evil.

But XBRL is just a roadmap to a broader highway, named IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) that is all set to stretch right till the limits of your organisations. And the territory of this roadmap? Of course, Financial Compliance.

So now, XBRL has been mapping its way through all the leading nations. A common platform for sharing business information, such as a financial statement in an absolute unified way. An XBRL instance document is compiled of internationally accepted taxonomies, led down by XBRL International, Inc.

Where the practice of XBRL filing is gradually taking a curve, here in India, I cannot help but wonder on the possible professional opportunities it has in store for those young accountants, passed out fresh from the colleges. So I believe, AlphaBricks is serving the two ways. The nation and the youth of it too. Wish this trend had emerged in my teens! And perhaps, the strong reason behind this horde of interviewees. The young professionals, hustling with energy. So there is always something for everyone her in IT…

Now that these frugal currents of XBRL season have started to flow, have you given a thought to taking any precautions? The sooner, the better. Take a cue from these candidates…


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

In Pursuit of Attention!

Well, not much to say at this point because this post is for the Technorati members to verify my ownership over this blog. Funny, but true.

In no way, I am claiming the ownership over this image!!
So here it is, the unique code - BDDKSGKYUCSA - I hope the verification overs soon. Thanks for stopping by, people :) 

Friday, 31 May 2013

What’s so BIG about Big Data, anyway?

"And, when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." - Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Apparently, I seem to conform to this famed quote; more so now. What started as a mere curiosity with Agile became more and more inundated with information and data, each passing moment.

Universe is huge. And ever-evolving. And so complex, yet, infinitesimally ingrained in everything. Little did I ever wonder that IT industry would have its very own share of synonymous universe! The Big Data.

Well talking of what’s currently making waves in the IT industry, Big Data is to be looked at. So what’s all the hubbub around it? Neither did I know of it, until that day! I'm on good terms with the Solutions’ Architect, here at AlphaBricks, who (in a bantering mood) introduced me to the term, ‘Big Data’.

So, Big Data. Pretty much what it sounds like. Data that is vast, gigantic and very crude, to an extent. I did a Google check to find more relevance, and apparently it seems that Big Data is only getting bigger each passing breath. I mean, what else you could expect if the 90% of current data in the world was generated within past two years! That’s some kind of an evolution. To be precise, that is 2.2 million terabytes (1012 bytes) each day created. Ok, I know too much of hard facts.

Thus if it’s so large, where are the even larger reservoirs of it hiding? Nowhere, actually. It’s us and our behavioural and existence patterns that are creating all this quintessential information. How? Our everyday infinite electronic transactions are drawing all this information - RF scanners, social media (tweets/posts/blogs), digital pictures and videos, purchase records, emails, climate sensors, website clicks, call-centre conversations, GPS tracking systems, etc. to name a few. The list is equally exhaustive.

And, how does that help? Well let’s say, there’s most of unpolished and raw data out there. We need to analyse and extract noteworthy information from this mammoth data. Information that can profitably serve the organisation. Like mapping the customer habits. Predicting the buyer moves. Deriving an indirect feedback. That’s an untapped resource. Exploit it to the fullest.

But yes, processing those many bytes ain't a cakewalk. Big Data has various forms – structured, unstructured and semi-structured. Where structured data can be processed easily, unstructured requires a bit more effort. Unstructured data is nothing but ‘human information’ not readily processed by computers. And the difficult part is here, unstructured data makes for 90% of the story. Hey, and that’s where Big Data analytics plays its role. Deploying analytics technologies like NoSQL, Hadoop and MapReduce make it one-notch easier.

One can understand Big Data as under -

1. Volume of data available
2. Variety of data and its sources
3. Velocity at which data is being received
4. Veracity of the data so received

To sum it, taking all the data and turning it into meaningful information is Big Data.

Clive Humby famously coined, “Data is the new oil”. Sure it is, but the Industry is still sceptic of the complete potential Big Data can offer. That unmined information is lying there, although many still doubt its sustainability! Meanwhile, I better collect my piece of Big Data.

Nevertheless, coming back to the earlier quote of Paulo Coelho, I think Big Data is pretty much a universe in itself. Whatever you seek, it will combine forces to deliver you that. Food for thought?!


Friday, 24 May 2013

Breadcrumbs to the Future.

'Bizarre' is the word that I've lately come to recognize with the advancing technology. Talk about the good ‘ol days when the idiot box (TV with the regular antennas) was only there to entertain you, from a distance. Hey do you remember those 80’s sitcoms? I still do, and sometimes crave too! Thanks to the DVD’s I have the entire seasons now, stashed into one disc. So on weekends - it’s me, sitcoms and the lonely nights. (Duh. Why am I getting so philosophical!?)

Expectantly, I've to come to expect the unexpected, here at AlphaBricks. Today was no different. While at chore I see this bevy of people, like a swarm of bees, speeding towards the Café. And not just people but some paraphernalia too, along with them. I wondered why would the Café need a renovation, but it turned out that they were mounting a new TV screen.

WOW! The screen was breath-taking. It was all black and shiny and so thin. Almost like paper. I couldn't resist from not looking at it. It was a beauty. I was then reckoned with that it’s a Smart TV, as in a Smart Phone. Seriously, I wasn't aware of Smart TVs, and this one looked loaded with awesome features even before it was switched on! So while all guys greedily waited for the screen to start, I pushed myself off to the pending work.

Hey Joe, come have a look at this. It’s surreal… someone yelled for me. They wanted me to join the bandwagon too. I did. Was shocked. Stunned. Amazed. This screen was all about ultra-responsiveness. Touch, swipe, drag - like a smartphone being hard-pressed & flattened into a bed sheet! This was new and news for me. Interactive TV wasn't something I was looking to cross paths with any sooner.

Soon everybody was engrossed in the 3D TV viewing. Yup now the game finales were going to be an absolute magnet for keeping even the unoccupied minds busy. Smart! But this technology is still evolving; you can’t perceive where it’s headed for. Perhaps, for a larger-than-life-experience! 

What about “augmented reality”? I think Smart TVs would someday eventually culminate at augmenting our lives for us. Maybe delivering ‘live’ experiences on our couch itself. Or even better, make us a part of the viewing experience. What brilliance, if someday I get to shoot the villains in Die Hard series! Terminator would also do, especially assisting Arnold. Sing along with the High School Musical star cast. Travel space. Race bikes. Dive deep. Cast spells. Kill Voldemort. Incredible…

Check the video below to know what I am talking about. Brilliant stuff.

Live Augmented Reality for National Geographic Channel / UPC from Appshaker Ltd on Vimeo.

That would be real innovation. Infusing the real with the virtual. Not just see, but feel too. Not just view but experience, too.  I am sure that day will trespass soon. Until then, I guess I’ll have to be happy with the Smart TV working as a jukebox. “Next number please!”