Wednesday, December 29, 2021
I got my 2 vaccinations and the booster shot of Pfizer plus the flu vaccine. Son went to school and I went to the office 4 days a week. We masked when going indoors to shops and only recently started going a few times to a restaurant. Other than close trusted friends and relatives we did not socialize much. In December my pleasure activity was 2 restaurant visits and a holiday party. Well after these activities, I got a sore throat on Christmas day. Since I was expecting my niece and family, I wanted to make sure that this was not anything more than a common cold.
Sunday, December 05, 2021
Written in 2017 for a Indian new site and was not accepted
This week I joined the 369,000 Uber users from the US who use Uber in India annually (Source:NDTV). In 2010 I was in a conversation with Travis Kalanick then CEO of Uber at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in DC where I had mentioned being impressed by the GPRS tech-enabled radio taxis in Hyderabad. He was curious about how taxis were used in India and little did I know that Uber would launch in India 4 years later.
What did Uber disrupt for visiting NRIs? Usual ways to travel on visits to India
Request to be picked up at the airport by relatives
Hitched a ride with relatives while going from place to place
Hire cars for trips out of town from independent operators
These methods had their own issues. Flights arrived at an ungodly hour and that meant whoever received you at the airport had to be sleepless as well. Autos were dusty and you never knew what was the right fare. Hired cars had the baggage of driver bata, meals etc.No matter what you paid you always felt cheated when paying cash for anything.
This trip to India was a technology triumph. My Google Pixel with Google’s Project Fi network welcomed me to India. This meant that I no longer had to look for the nearest mobile vendor and fill up paperwork to get a SIM from an Indian telco. I summoned an Uber to take me home and did not have to withdraw cash at an ATM. I can use my ICICI debit card at almost all places. It seems easier to buy a movie ticket online than go to the booking counter. Maps are much better and Google does a fantastic job with directions and addresses. Connectivity is much better everywhere. Internet providers have relaxed the data caps presumably due to the competition.
Uber is not the same experience as you would think. According to an NDTV article, there are 450,000 Uber Cabs in 29 cities in India. An Uber driver estimated that there are 150,000 in Hyderabad during our conversation about the Uber driving experience.
Uber has proved that technology is changing behavior. Uber Pool lowers the barrier for usage. The navigation using Google Maps helps Uber drivers find shortcuts. Most drivers I used were balanced in their driving and very courteous. To achieve world-class stature Uber may have to take care of these points:
Training in GPS usage: The Uber App makes it very easy for you to set up your pickup location yet some drivers get confused. I have had drivers wait on the other side of the road and ask me to cross the road even when the app accurately set my location.
Communication: The concept of Uber’s technology usually makes it unnecessary for any communication between you and the driver. I was at the Uber Pickup point at the main entrance of the popular Forum Mall in Hyderabad. I spent 20 minutes trying to give the driver directions to where I was standing and ultimately had to cancel.
Expectations of Car types: When I picked a premier Uber I was surprised that it was not very well maintained Toyota Etios. I think an Uber Go usually will suffice for 2 people. On one ride the car’s a/c had broken down and we had to cancel the driver and choose another one. Training drivers to keep their car well maintained is very important.
I am enjoying the freedom to travel by Uber without the need to ask for a ride from friends and I can see that Uber has caught the wave and has completed almost 500 Million rides in India. One of my drivers had almost 6,000 rides in 2 years while other drivers I used had around 3000 rides in two years. Uber has changed the way people ride and also started providing employment. I hope they will invest more in training to make their services even better.
Shashi Bellamkonda is CMO of Surefire Local in Washington DC and teaches Digital Marketing as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University in Washington DC. He believes knowledge not shared is lost forever. Friends have called him “Social Media Swami”. His work has been written about in 17 leading Marketing books
Sunday, November 07, 2021
- Growing up in India, you could be either one of these 3 groups
- Government schools
- Private schools
- Convent schools
- If you spoke English you were higher up in the hierarchy ( Ranked by convent first, Private second, and government third)
- In some states like New Delhi, government officials asked you to talk to them in Hindi, and in Tamil Nadu, English was more acceptable than Hindi (This is my experience) Luckily I spoke 6 Indian languages.
- Now I am in the US and I have my own version of English which depending on the area of the US people may understand
- I think people who come to the US and learn English are better off as they learn the accent here quicker than English speakers who migrate here.
- Sometimes depending on the audience, you may need to change your accent
- There will be people who will insist they do not understand you despite your efforts only because you have an accent that they are not used to hearing
Monday, July 05, 2021
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Entering the library after the pandemic for the first time, I headed to the new book section, chanced upon this book, and read it over the July 4th holiday. The book is funny, joyful, emotional and gives you an insight into realistic fiction and the lives of families of South Asian origin in the Washington DC area.
The main character Serena while being highly successful still has self-doubts about her achievements. Some of the exploits in seeking new companionship are hilarious. Immigrant families, parents working hard and children trying to navigate two cultures, office politics, mixed racial couples, bonding between colleagues - you find all that in this book. One of the few books that I read without putting the book down. I am going to check out the other books by @Sonya Lalli
View all my reviews
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Saturday, February 20, 2021
When things are normal, the distribution system of the pharmaceutical drug supply chain in the US has been robust. According to the CDC over 48% of the US population receives one prescription drug in a month. Combine this stat with the fact that the US Pharma industry provides 2.9 Billion drugs in a year, we have an already existing supply chain that can more than adequately take care of the vaccine distribution for everyone who wants one in the US. (source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/drug-use-therapeutic.htm)
Judging by the pain that local communities have been feeling especially in Montgomery County where I live, where there is fragmented information on where, when, and how people will receive the vaccine. We need to think differently which actually means to think traditionally and put the vaccines into the Pharmaceutical system that exists today instead of reinventing or standing up a new distribution system.
Pharmacies already have our data. They can determine age, eligibility, and existing medical conditions. They already have our contact information, insurance information, and location. Pharmacies and stores have pivoted their infrastructure to cope with the pandemic. When the pandemic struck, one of the quickest changes was my local CVS who just mailed my medicines and continued the process without any disruption.
Here are the steps I suggest:
- Communication: Stop people from clogging up appointments by letting them know that they will get their vaccination from their existing pharmacy. They are free to change their pharmacy the same way as they do today. People struggle with multiple channels of communication. Just like I do not hear from the county for my regular doctor prescribed medicine, they can stop talking politics and try to run a supply chain themselves which is already failing miserably
- Education: Use the enormous marketing and advertising talent available to run ads in all the local media channels on how the process works. Pharmacy companies are masters at selling their prescription drugs in Ads. Even though this is almost a monopoly, they can unleash those ads for letting people know the method of how the vaccination will work.
- Action: Set up a control room that includes pharmacy retailers, Insurance companies (for data), and logistic experts to monitor the distribution and reroute vaccinations where necessary.
- Results: For every phased stage, patients will receive a text message or email asking them to set up a time for going to their local pharmacy or clinic to get the vaccine. No stress, confusion or anxiety that the US population is facing today.
This may be simple and I am sure many of the experts have already thought of this. There may be some quick legislation necessary in case data needs to get transferred which I am sure Congress can pass very quickly. This type of system has worked in Israel according to an article in the MIT Technology Review (https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/01/22/1016471/israel-covid-vaccine-rollout-hadas-ziv/) I am confident that we can do the same thing if not better. Remember the stress is not only for the patient in this case but to the whole family. Anything we can do in these dark days to reduce the stress is I am sure calming to everyone.
Tuesday, January 05, 2021
- This is more the late 90's and the competition was cable or over the air TV. Next came the internet which was through your phone providers which was dial-up. Think AOL and the CDs that they distributed all over the world and I got one in India and did not own a computer then.
- An advance from dial-up was DSL again provided by the phone company
- Till the late 90's cable companies did not pay attention to the internet providers. They were comfortable that this "internet" was not a threat to the programming of the cable TV providers
- 2007; All of this changed when Netflix entered the market with streaming
- We moved from live cable TV (or Over-the-air TV) and borrowing videotapes or DVDs to streaming. Netflix did not wait for the providers to get their act together on the internet. They developed a streaming technology that helped make the streaming of videos better so moving from tapes and DVDs gave a great example of instant gratification. The lesson here for companies is to make sure you think of the entire chain of customer connectivity to make the experience better.
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