This blog has little bit of everything...


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

7 Essential Skills To Shape Up Your Professional Career

Here is a list of 7 essential professional skills that will help you shape up your professional career:

Know your stuff

- Ask 5 Whys to get to the root of the problem
- Understand well enough to explain
- Know and trust the facts, don't speculate
- Don't believe in too much theory or fluffy stuff
- Know what your stakeholder cares about
- Don't wait for an escalation, be proactive, take decisions
- Understand the bigger picture and the details too

Care about your work

- Take ownership of your work
- Make things happen, don't wait for things to happen to you
- Develop a "can do" attitude
- Remember Quality is important than Quantity
- Show up on time and speak up
- Internalize feedback and don't quit
- Don't wait to be told

Learn to Articulate

- When talking to business talk in business language, when talking to IT talk in IT language
- Less is more, be crisp and clear
- Know the audience, tailor your message accordingly
- Learn how to get to the point
- Visualize the complex
- Get to the point

Accelerate with confidence

- Develop a sense of urgency
- Do not allow yourself to be stuck
- Now is better than later
- Do not slow down others
- Identify and remove roadblocks
- Don't wait for permission

Influence your work

- Identify the impact of not doing the right things
- Hold the ground
- Assess win-win, win-lose, lose-win situation upfront
- Challenge the "matter/ issue/ problem' even if not popular
- Make a point

Drive and focus

- Bring people together
- Don't limit yourself
- Breakdown problem, inspire action
- Ask for help and escalate in a timely manner
- Believe in creative problem solving

Be flexible

- Be an active listener and incorporate feedback
- Learn to make adjustments in a timely manner
- Always have a plan B/ backup plan
- Think on your feet
- Be persistent to make decision
- Find multiple ways to solve the same problem

Hope you find this list of professional skills helpful. On a closing note I would like to share a best selling book that you should definitely read. If you are interested in getting better at setting goals you may want to read this recommended book for setting high goals...

Friday, February 10, 2017

Why Will Chat BOTs Fail To Replace BPO Agents?

You can't ask a fish to climb a tree or ask a pig to bark. But this is exactly what most IT giants are about to do. Let us understand how...

Today as a customer when you need 'service' you call the customer service desk or ping the customer service agent on instant messenger. A portion of the phone/ call support agent's work has already been replaced by the IVR machines but the instant messaging service-agents are not replaced by the chat BOTs yet.

Leading research and IT companies have forecasted that the next 2 years will be the years of digital transformation and in this period chat BOTs will replace humans in almost all forms of first level instant messaging interactions.

But is this for real? Will we be able to create intelligent, self-learning chat bots that will be able to succeed with the help of natural language processing (NLP) to a level where they can replace humans?

The answer is Yes and No. Yes because a miniscule amount of work will certainly be taken over by the BOTs and No because there is a limitation on how far the BOTs can go. Getting a BOT to respond to customers/ users may work at a very basic level, for example, the BOT may perform tasks like...

  • Gathering information from the customer/ user
  • Raising tickets or cases on-behalf of the user
  • Sharing URLs or information or status based on the keywords entered by the user. 

Chatbots in banking, chatbots in healthcare are few examples where chatbots integration with messengers(IM) has become reality. However, the above scenarios may be applicable to only a limited set of use cases. At best it may serve as an equivalent to the IVR system for receiving calls, that is, the BOT will route the customer to the right set of information or raise a case/ ticket as mentioned above. It may not work as soon as the customer/ user states a problem which requires analysis or in scenarios where 'human' behavioral skills are required to understand and manage the customer issues/ expectations.

For example, BOTs will not be able to...
- Take ownership
- Be Proactive
- Identify when a certain issue may be on the verge of escalation
- Know Implication
- Follow-up / Identify and remove road-blocks
- Ask for help

There is one more aspect that seems ignored at this point, that aspect is of 'user adoption' and 'user acceptance'. This requires real attention. No one knows how the customers/ users will respond to a situation when they get to know that they are not chatting with a human but with a BOT which is trained to support only few scenarios.

Having said the above my fear is that if not used wisely BOTs may in turn give rise to...
- Confused Users/ Customers
- Frustrated customers/ Reduced CSAT
- Increased cycle times of issue resolution
- Potential loss of revenue

The reason why I say so is because we are only looking at one side of the story. We are talking about humans being replaced by BOTs on the 'response' side of the chat but we are not at all looking at the humans on the 'request' side of the chat window. By 'request' side I mean the users/ customers/ or people who are facing problems. For the user and customer groups it will be a huge culture change. The success of chat BOTs will depend largely on how the culture change is managed. Hence, while driving operational excellence through digitization the IT giants should not ignore this 'human' side of the reality. If they do, it may backfire at them. Giving the command of frontline support to non-humans is like flirting with danger. Beware!

I hope you find this information helpful. If you are more than 18 years old you would also like to read this post How Much Money Would One Save In USA? 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

H-1B Salary Hike To $130,000 - Clear And Present Danger To Indian IT Professionals

Last week U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced a new legislation ‘‘High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017’’ which sent shivers down the spine of Indian IT companies. As a result the stock market value of few Indian IT giants slumped all of a sudden.
“My legislation refocuses the H-1B program to its original intent – to seek out and find the best and brightest from around the world, and to supplement the U.S. workforce with talented, highly-paid, and highly-skilled workers who help create jobs here in America, not replace them,” said Lofgren. “It offers a market-based solution that gives priority to those companies willing to pay the most. This ensures American employers have access to the talent they need, while removing incentives for companies to undercut American wages and outsource jobs.
Lot of people are speculating the pros and cons of this proposed bill. At the surface it appears that the cons are more than the pros. Here is a quick analysis of the potential impact to Indian IT Industry and Indian employees:
Impact to Indian employees working in the USA on H-1B
Remember, employers need to make their profit margin. If this becomes a law you may lose your job because your employer may hire a local American at a lower cost. Instead of paying 130k to an Indian on H-1B, the employer may pay 90k or 100k to an American employee. As a result the folks who are currently in USA may need to pack their bags and come to India.
Impact to Indian employees working in the Indian IT companies in India
When a lot of skilled H-1B employees will return from USA the demand and supply situation will change here in India hence the low performing IT professionals in India may lose their jobs too.
On top of this, a lot many people with H4 and EAD may return to India as well, resulting in greater supply of talent. Imagine the situation where a lot of good people with Onsite experience become available in Indian market, this may result in bringing the salary bar lower.

Other side effects:
  • Night shifts from India may increase or the working hours of Indian may get changed to overlap with the US time zone because there will be fewer people workingat Onsite.
  • Near shoring may increase. IT companies may look for options like Canada or South American nations to setup their delivery centers. This will allow overlap with US timezone. But may result in decreased revenue.
  • Lot of young professionals may leave the job and choose to opt for higher studies like MBA or Masters degree.
  • Indian companies may look for new customers and new business in the non US regions like Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa etc. They may also focus on Indian markets more than ever.
  • Focus will shift on creating platform or solutions where minimal human interaction is required.
  • Usage of video technology, live meetings, telepresence, virtual reality etc. may increase.
  • Stock market value of some companies may take a temporary hit but few smaller companies may get closed or may get merged with bigger companies.
  • Body shopping companies will be severely impacted because they may not be able to make profit margins.
This legislation has been introduced at the time other executive orders have been issued by the President. Few of those are:

Titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” the EO "suspends" the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry of all nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days from the date of the order.

The same EO also suspends the visa interview waiver program that was in place at U.S. consulates worldwide. The interview waiver program, referred to as “dropbox” processing in some U.S. consulates, exempted some visa renewal applicants from an in-person consular interview. The suspension of the interview waiver applies to all U.S. visa applicants regardless of country of nationality or citizenship, and means that all visa applicants will be required to attend an interview unless it is not required by statute. This will likely cause wait times for visa interviews to increase significantly.
The EO also instructs the State Department and various security agencies to implement significant changes to screening processes that will apply to all immigration programs. Further details on this new program are expected in the days ahead.

Impact of Other Executive Orders
President Trump has also signed two other Executive Orders directly related to immigration programs, with more expected to be issued in the days ahead.  On January 25, 2017, he signed an EO titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” and on January 26, 2017, another EO titled, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” was issued.
While many details set forth in these EOs remain to be fleshed out, it is clear that the Trump Administration intends to place an increased emphasis on immigration enforcement, particularly in regard to the removal of those who have been convicted of crimes and those who have been charged with crimes. While the Administration is expected to provide more information about its enforcement priorities in the days ahead, it is expected that there will also be an increase in efforts to remove persons who have overstayed after a lawful entry.
Given the current situation, if you are an IT professional, this is the right time for you to get back to the basics and focus on learning new processes, methods and technologies. It is best to lay low as of now. Let the dust settle down in the next few months and wait till the time you have a clear vision.

I hope you find this information helpful. If you are more than 18 years old you would also like to read this post How Much Money Would One Save In USA?