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The Future of Information Systems in a nutshell

To understand how the future is let us start with current trends in hardware:

  1. Multi-Core and parallel computing technologies: Bringing the power of multi processors and parallel computing to the masses (which was only seen possible with high end mini/main/supercomputers in the past).
  2. Improvements to virtualization: Go full throtttle with multi-cores by using virtualization, systems are pushed to the maximum capacity by running more than one Operating Systems at a time.
  3. Improvements to network infrastructure: Gigabyte networks, perhaps pave ways to terabyte networks soon.
  4. Convergence of devices (phone, camera, gaming consoles, audio/video players, computer): Pushing electronics to do more than expected.
  5. Lower hardware costs (memory, processor and everything)

Followed by trends in software:

  1. Cloud/Grid: Do I really need to buy, install and manager operating systems or applications locally, when I can run them on a resourse somewhere?
  2. On Demand/Software as Service: I’ll pay only for the service I’ll use and depending on how often I’ll use.
  3. Social Networking: Focusing on collaborative applications.
  4. In memory content: Shrinking hardware costs and higher bandwidth will let softwares forget about memory or resource availability concerns.

The above two trends helps to drive the following business needs:

  1. Shrink costs (IT, Software, hardware, maintenance)
  2. Bring value (win customers loyalty with great services, technology is not a niche anymore)
  3. Synergy (one place is good for everything; too many stuff depreciates the value of the system.  I personally like the Google and Microsoft’s approach on collaborative tools)
  4. Speed (Be flexible and agile to add new services in demand)

While organizations push technologies to a space where software application will no longer run on a physical box, the limitations of current technologies will be forgotten soon.  Perhaps one can imagine a future where everything is on the network.  The Operating system is your browser on a net book; the applications will be served to you based on your subscriptions, and you will pay fees based on your usage.  All this seems cool and the solutions are coming up slowly, if not now, this could be the case 3-4 years from now.

What could be in demand (to name a few)?

  1. Cyber security and policing
  2. Information centric web (Windows Mesh, Google docs, Salesforce and alike)
  3. Collaborative Tools (Google wave)
  4. Parallel programming skills (we’re not using the 100% effectiveness of the resources one has today, not all applications are developed with this in mind)

Factors to consider:

  1. Bring end users to adopt this trend
  2. Make end users feel secure (don’t let Sky Net take over)
  3. Turn business monopoly to multi-organizational teams

Solutions can be found for the challenges with new technologies invented.  For all this to happen, we need people to make them happen, without the right people, all these are just dreams.

Summary:

Change with the wind and catch up with the technology, think business cloud, innovate and move forward.  What matters is what you contribute to the change and how you will be the change.


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Comprehensive plan for a healthy and wealthy family

We all aim to be successful, earn money and live the life without limitations, yet only a percentage of us can do it, this raises a couple of questions which can lead one to the answers.

  • Why is that?
  • What goes wrong?
  • What can be mended to set the course right?
  • Can we repeat somebody’s success?
  • Do you wonder if you can repeat success?
  • Did you ever

Dream: I want to be millionaire, leaving fortunes behind for generations …

Desire: I wish my parents left me a fortune so that I did not have to work …

Had anguish: When am I going to stop working for money?

Then I assume that we’re normal human beings trying to make our way in our lives … The belief “everything is possible” and the positive attitude is an essential ingredient … however, the time we begin amassing wealth changes the status quo on how much one can achieve. So, looking at various stories one can draw a blueprint and say, you can repeat the success stories and achieve some of it (if not entirely).

Here are some tactics that can work: I welcome readers to contribute so that this tactics becomes useful…

Financial Intelligence: Having information to make decisions is the corner stone to success.  Always maintain log of income, expenses, and investments to generate statements or reports of your net worth, balance sheets to evaluate your situation and plan.

It’s never too late: A percentage of earnings is set aside for savings.  Check out Power of investing early which demonstrates the fact that the persistence maintained is well paid.  No matter what, consider this amount written off until you retire.  Hard to do, but this becomes a foundation for the future.

Take one at a time: Must remember that can’t get everything on day one.  When it comes to everything, it directly translates to bad debts, instead hit small by small, one by one to move ahead.  Which can also get rid of debts in all forms?

Managing debts: The first five years of interest payments will drain you; ideally if you can clear those debts during the first 5 years, it’s wonderful.  Not in reality, but what I mean is, making 5 year plans is the right way to go.

Re-evaluating: Every 5 years, check the net worth, asset allocation.  Churn them around to make a difference.  For instance, after 5th year, when you’ve accumulated some money, use it to fund to buy real-estate, take a loan to fund the rest (this kind of churning is good).  But don’t stop the investments.  Sell it when essential, make profits, re-invest and keep moving forward.

Budgeting & Planning: Most important of all is the planning aspect, one will need a comprehensive plan for running a family; it takes a step to start and every step thereon leads to a better position, here is what a plan can look like (this is just a guideline, and it must be tweaked to suite the personal needs).  This section will serve has a functional instructions for a family to be run well by providing the best life by establishing good values, healthy living and frugal life style.

Objective:  Have a stated objective such as, “To provide the best life possible to family members, accumulate wealth and to contribute for a good cause of the family/community”.

Goals: Have a goal oriented approach, something like

  • Accumulate amount XXX,XXX for kids education in next 10 years
  • Accumulate amount Y,YYY for travel in next 3 years
  • Accumulate amount Y,YYY,YYY for retirement in next 20 years

Theory: Assuming after tax earnings as 100% one can split the earning into the following mandatory and optional pools, before we proceed talking about allocations, I like to add that frugality and understanding that being self-sufficient is a first step towards happiness.  In this materialistic world one forgets to live life within the provided means and tries to reach the luxuries quickly and with greed, which is where the whole world around us spins and halts.  Being successful does not mean that one should have the materials to substantiate it, in my opinion internal bliss and the sigh of fulfillment comes from within, in otherwise, being contempt within the provided means is the simplistic truth of being successful, and let this planning be the first step towards it.

Allocation at a glance

Allocation at a glance

Mandatory: 70% of the earnings are considered to be a mandatory portion, the 70% funds are allocated as per below mandate

60% – Investments: Driver for building wealth

60% – Equity-Debt: Allocation of Equity-Debt instruments is as stipulated below

100% Equity – Between ages 21-30

80%-20% – Between ages 31-40

60%-40% – Between ages 41-50

40%-60% – Between age 51-retirement

20%-80% – after retirement

The allocation in equity-debt must further be classified for a purpose as appropriate at every 5 years of life.

Education of children

Marriage of children

Retirement booty

Dream home project funding

High value assets

10% – Commodity: Assets like gold and sliver

This is essential, as it forms a good investment and also a good source of gift for family members.  Ideally, this 10% funds can be utilized to buy some ornaments on every anniversary, birthday or special occasion.

20% – Health & Life Insurance:

Ideally this is a risk cover component, and term cover insurance must be considered to help family survive a sudden demise.

10% – Emergency Fund:

The remaining funds should be kept in liquid form for emergencies, when this money accumulates to an amount which can help my family survive 6-12 months life without compromising lifestyle, it can be used to fund equity-debt investments.  This is ideal to manage a situation where a job loss can be sustained for at least few months.  The funds in buffer must be revisited every time a change in earning potential.

40% – Running Costs: The 40%  allocation towards runnings costs may not get consumed in the entire form, hence the following suggestions:

5% – Goodwill: Good to do this; be it family, friend, environment or a good cause, doing something here is a great achievement in itself.

15% – Education/Travel: Funding higher education, taking a trip should be done with this allocation.

The reminder 80% of the funds will be used to fuel family running costs which must ideally be at a level covering purchase of groceries, appliances, utility, transportation, education, paying rent and other house hold chores.  This way, the family runs the way it should meeting it’s demands and constantly builds wealth.

Optional: 30% of the remaining earnings are considered as optional allocation,which is allocated towards smart-credit as per below suggestions, smart credit is considered a good policy, where the funds are used to accumulate assets in long run.

80% – Mortgage: of which can be used for paying EMI towards home loans or other property loans essentially for buying assets.

20% – Auto: Purchase of auto must be made with at least 70% of auto cost towards down payment; the remaining 30% can be funded by credit, without exceeding the 20% cap on credit allocation towards auto.

Strategy or policy:

Family first: If  the immidiate family can’t survive, I do not think one will be able to support any good cause, so build the family to level of confidence such that even if the family is not survived by the bread winner, the family can be run as a self-sufficient entity, once this is attained, goodwill and charity will fall in place automatically.

Smart credit: Good credit is fine, bad credit is not allowed – Paying of credit cards, personal loans is the first priority.  In case of mortgage or good loans (funded to buy assets), ideally must be paid back in 5 years from the date of loan.  This avoids paying a huge sum towards interest and increases credit rating as well.  Where interest rates on credit availed is less than the rate of return on investments, it makes sense to stay invested, and in situations, where the interest rates are higher, it makes sense to pay them back at the earliest.

Investment: Review of investments every 5 years is a must, this ensures that the family goals can be reviewed and funds can be re-shuffled to meet the ever changing demands.

Key Responsibilities

Joint Account: Ensure accounts are jointly held or at least have nominations (Important ones: banks, investments, and real-estate).

Will: A will must be in force at all times, and must be reviewed when ever a major change occurs in family or any one of the above objectives change.

Finally, one thought about the whole context is being smart, the way funds are managed, and moved from one source to another based on timing, family conditions, market trends is the the key.  Once one gets a hold of the basics of budgeting and planning the rest is just about execution.


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Taking decisions by exploring your business with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

One of the coolest inventions which will really transform the way we look into data is SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.  Be it personal data or business data exploration, this tools does its job and proves its metal.

Lots of stuff has been spoken by SAP about explorer for business, in my view, it also changes the way one can view their personal data differently.   For instance let’s say you’ve a bank statement or a credit card statement which you like to dig into and find out what went wrong and what works, then explorer is a good place to begin with.

Explore and feel the difference in your experience with your personal data at On Demand.  One step approach is the best user experience you can get, once you choose your data, the tool samples and automatically suggests a way you can look into it which, you can then explore to derive a meaning.

Here is a screen shot on how income-expense can be tracked and I hope it was exploratic!

SAP_BOBJ_Explorer


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Bringing images to your reports with Text to image

In SAP BusinessObjects labs one of the tasks we have is to come up with ground breaking innovations and see how the new ideas pick up the pace, reaching out to communities is one way of show casing the, and the first post is about “Text to image”.

Ever wondered how to make reports look better with images?  Believe me, it’s a tedious task of gathering images, getting them organized, storing them in a place accessible and finally using them in reports, woof, that takes a lot of time.  What Text to image does is to simplify the tasks by providing few tools to build such images and using them in your reports.

Sample Report

Are you eager to see how it works? Watch the video to find more about it.

For further details, visit SAP BusinessObjects Innovation Center


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An ideal mutual fund portfolio (Indian market specific)…

Objective:

  1. Create a portfolio that can yield year-to-year 20% over a period of time.
  2. Keep the portfolio as simple as possible (5 funds maximum)

Factors to choose the right fund:

ConsistencySince the launch of the fund, how is it performing? Ability During downturn, how does the fund perform? Adaptability How the fund’s portfolio changes depending on the market conditions?


Analysis:  Let’s take a look at the snapshot from the top performers as of today, though they are reported best, obviously, they do not become the right choice, why? the top performer slot is just temporary, today’s top performer may not be the best performer in long run.  Hence will apply the above criteria to determine the right choice.

After spending the whole day, I found that every situation can turned into opportunity if we use as per our requirements, the below list is constructed.

My choice of funds

My choice of funds

My ideal portfolio choice is to have 5 funds maximum and nothing more, nothing less; this keeps the portfolio simple to manage and change as and when the right time comes.  Honestly I’m not there yet in terms of an ideal portfolio as it has 12 funds and the recent market conditions has challenged me from keeping it ideal, but will be there soon.

2 large caps, 2 mid caps and 1 balanced fund – pretty good for now and we’ll evaluate it over time and see how it goes.   For now my criteria has been to select few funds that has good track record say at least 25% (pushing it a little over stated objective) and the above ones came up as good bets.  Accept for Reliance Growth, rest all the funds have significantly given +ve returns even during 2008 and hence I believe that they will continue to give good returns moving forward.

Finally the 6th fund – a sector based choice; this one is a tough bet, however depending on various news and developments in the country one can make an educated guess.

Usually I do not suggest sector funds for one prime reason, they are very situational.  For instance, today there has been a hint to boost Infrastructure in India; check out http://www.moneycontrol.com/mccode/news/article/news_article.php?autono=400677&special=mkt_topnews

and recently there have been newsletters sent by various asset management companies (few of them starting new fund offers) and few of them presenting a use case for strong growth in this sector; which makes me to believe that we should take this opportunity (as asset managers would have done their homework and we should take the hints) to ride the wave and make some profits.  If you feel comfortable and have some funds, I guess you should consider this.  I suggest you to look into ICICI Pru Infrastructure, Reliance Infrastructure or even UTI Infrastructure fund … I’m not betting 100% on them, however, some money into it will help to make some good returns.  As well, there are other sectors which you can watch out and my sincere suggestion is that sector funds should be less than 20% of your portfolio.

Overall, the coming year seems to be good and I wish you good luck to ride the wave and make some profits.

Comments from my friends:

1. From Srinath (sent by email)

I also have DSP Blackroc top 100 equity growth that I like both as a fund house and as a large cap – has shown good performance across the years.
While implied I may bring two other dimesnions to your document – the performance in relation to the approproate benchmark to give a sense of what good perfromace means and the fund manager record/approach/philosophy where available as a qualititative filter.
I am bullish about the infrastructure sector in India as the country cannot move forward with out it ( as Narayana Murthy put it we a re two decades behind China).  So I believe we dont have a choice but invest and improve and so I do have ICICI Pru Infra.