Sunday, December 16, 2018

EA Q&A : Who are the potential stakeholders in an Enterprise Architecture program?

Here is a recent question that came to me from an online forum -

Who are the potential stakeholders in an Enterprise Architecture program? 


 My response follows

The potential stakeholders in an Enterprise Architecture (EA) program may include:
  • The Sponsor of EA program - The business, functional or technology sponsor of the EA program will be a key stakeholder
  • The Sponsor’s direct reports - Those people will generally be engaged directly or indirectly in EA reviews
  • The Sponsor’s reporting managers/executives - The sponsor will engage his/her reporting executives in the EA program
  • IS and Technology stakeholders - The CIO/CTO may engage key people from their team for the EA program
  • Functional stakeholders - The term ‘functional’ or ‘Business’ is generally broad and may include operational leadership and functional leaders who drive strategic initiatives across the organization
  • Functional and operational team members - Do not underestimate the tacit knowledge that can exist in pockets across the enterprise. EA’s may have to engage with a wide spectrum of subject matter experts (SMEs) from across the organization
This is not an inclusive list, but just intended to guide you to explore the list of stakeholders.
After you identify your stakeholders, you will need a Responsibility assignment matrix (RACI) to ensure you engage and communicate with stakeholders.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

FAQ for NRIs: After being an NRI, what are the major setbacks you are still facing after returning to Bengaluru?

My wife, son and I have US citizenship (and Indian OCI) and we moved back to Bengaluru about two years ago. My dad, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer a while ago was starting to gradually slow down. My aging parents lived alone in Bangalore, and I got the dreaded phone call from my mother on the verge of breakdown herself, asking for help.
We had our fair share of setbacks after returning back to Bengaluru after a couple of decades in the west. Here are a few:
  • I’ll club the usual suspects - Traffic, pollution and general chaos of the life - in one bucket. This is something I had to work through and accept as a way of life here.
  • Bangaloreans have become more parochial and less tolerant of outsiders Refer to the question on Quora “When will outsiders leave Bengaluru?” and my response. Bangaloreans like me who have spent time outside the city and country are likely to feel a bit out of place in the new “Bengaluru
  • Organic growth of the city - I had grown up and worked in the Bengaluru where people still rode bicycles for short distance commutes. Now Cars, bikes and scooters are much more ubiquitous. After living in the west where zoning laws and regulations are generally respected, it takes a while to accept that such organic, unplanned growth is the way of life.
  • Bangalore was known as a Garden city, but there are hardly any private gardens (ref my post - Return to India Musings: when a home becomes a golden egg). Houses that had some patch of greenery or even a few coconut trees are giving way to concrete structures and flats.
As far as the last part of the question goes “Do you regret coming back to your home city and not being able to go back to your desired foreign land?”
I haven’t yet reached the point where the regrets outweigh the decision to move back.

Career advice: How did you succeed in a career in IT? What did it take to make it to a comfortable salary?

A recent online came to me asking me

How did you succeed in a career in IT? What did it take to make it to a comfortable salary?

My response follows 

The career in the dynamic world of global Information Technology (IT) has afforded me a comfortable living while earning in Rupees, Pounds, Euro, SFranks, C$ and US$.
My first job after I finished my masters in technology was in Bengaluru. My employer initially trained me as a MS windows developer and later in mainframe technologies. About 6 months after I joined, my manager asked me if I had a valid passport and if I would be willing to travel to England. Heck yeah! I thus found myself in the U.K. where I spent a couple of years.
From UK, I moved to the U.S for better opportunities. Along the way, I learnt new technologies, systems and processes, and got married. In my quest for the ‘American dream,’ my Permanent Residence (Green Card) application was approved. And along the way my wife and I naturalized as American Citizen, retaining our OCI status.
In 2003 when the Offshoring boom was taking off, I joined Infosys and spent the next decade working with a cross section of clients across geographies - in Canada, Europe and India. Based on my observations, I also wrote “Offshoring IT Services” published by McGraw Hill
While my family and I were comfortably settled in the U.S, we decided to move back to Bengaluru. My aging parents lived alone in Bangalore, and I got the dreaded phone call from my mother asking for help. Initially, I worked remotely for my employer and then switched jobs. This required revisiting my strengths and reviving my network in the local market.
Paraphrasing old adage, my career in the dynamic world of IT has allowed me to “join the Information Systems, and see the world.” Literally.
My career has given me an opportunity to live and work across dozen countries across three continents, and to visit scores more.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Looking for an ideal way to spend with kids? Check out Jawahar Lal Nehru Planetarium


If you are looking for an ideal way to spend with family, kids and others interested in Astronomy? Check out Jawahar Lal Nehru Planetarium.

Located at the heart of the city, Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium (JNP) is administered by the Bangalore Association for Science Education (BASE). BASE is devoted to science popularisation and non formal science education.

Here are some pictures and details from our recent visit to the Planetarium. Our most recent trip was in Sept 2018.

Little Vijay pointing at the stars !

Location : Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, Sri T. Chowdaiah Road, High Grounds, Bangalore - 560 001
Working Hours 10:15 am to 5:15 pm (Mondays and Second Tuesday are holidays)

Practical tips: 

  • There generally are long queues at the Planetarium. If possible, book your trip online before your visit.  Website: http://www.taralaya.org/contact-info.html
  • You should plan to spend at least 1 hour for the show and budget additional time at the park surrounding the Planetarium complex. 



Check out my review on Tripadvisor


The Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium in Bengaluru is one of the hidden treasures. It is an ideal place to visit with family, friends and kids.

The area around the Planetarium is well maintained and landscaped and the park outside has a great play area and outdoor science 'learning' games for kids.

The auditorium indoors is air-conditioned with comfortable seats and the sound-and-light show is well orchestrated.



More pictures from our trip

Inside the Auditorium 

The Planetarium


More pictures of the park






Sunday, September 30, 2018

Designing Enterprise Chatbots - Dear Enterprise chatbot: what is our CEO’s annual salary?

This morning, my brokerage sent me a survey asking me about their new Chatbot Ted (or was it Suzy?). The survey was simple enough. The 5-6 questions asked me if I used other chatbots and virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, etc. It also touched on security concerns I had about sharing personal details with a the brokerage's Bot.

The past year has seen tremendous advances in chatbots integrated with machine learning, cognitive computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques. The bots are moving from quirky, esoteric tech tools that amuse us to serious business productivity tools that enhance the UI/UX design and usability of systems.

Organizations are evaluating bots as the front-line of customer service to address routine queries before (expensive) humans are engaged. Most major banks, brokerage houses, Airlines and eCommerce companies have rolled out cutely named Bots and virtual assistants that pop up when we try to engage with their portals. Many of these bots are being designed to take on basic human interactions like the recent demo of ‘AI Assistant’ by Google's Sundar Pichai that went viral.



In the demo, Google showed off its Assistant having a human-like conversation with folks at a hair salon and a small restaurant. The rather simple use-case also highlights the complexity of human communications, even for seemingly mundane tasks like making reservations that we take for granted while dealing with other humans, even those who have different sounding accents. Enterprise Chatbots that blur the line between human and system interactions, are also starting to appear in the corporate world.

Motivated by such viral videos, some CxOs, are asking their internal Business-technology teams to evaluate Bots for their internal users. Typical corporate Use-Cases include service help-desk functions for IT, HR, payroll and other shared services. Incidentally, these are also areas where organizations have been attempting to minimize manual interactions by enabling employee self-service techniques including searchable databases, FAQs, personalized portals and internal social-networking.

Technologies to power chatbots include commercial and open source tools that enable Machine Learning (ML) algorithms and natural language understanding to learn appropriate answers to user queries over time. While enabling and integrating chatbot tools in a corporate landscape can take some time and effort, training the Bot to learn the corporate context may require a lot more effort that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Hi HR-Bot, what is our CEO’s annual salary?


Design and training an enterprise chatbot requires functional context and access to enterprise data; data that may exist in silos. An FAQ of typical queries to the sales help-desk may include queries about monthly targets, details of product catalog, positioning and even sales data for the prior months. Such data may be business sensitive, and restricted even within the teams. For example, the sales team in the mid-west may not want their sales numbers exposed to other account teams, leave alone published to rest of the organization without aggregation or masking.

The design for an enterprise chatbot may also have to restrict information based on roles of the person querying. It should recognize that the senior executive asking if “margins of ACME account have improved since last month?” is authorized to review such information.

An account management team I once worked with was paranoid about the queries in a FAQs that could expose 'salary ranges' for some roles. Teams like that will certainly not appreciate queries to a Bot that ask "what’s our CEO’s salary?" Never mind the fact that most of us can just google the information from public sources; and a well designed bot enabled by machine-learning will eventually learn to search for that information on the internet.

The design of a machine-learning enterprise Chatbot also needs to guide (read: control) it to stay in the context of its enterprise domain. Many of us also continue to learn from experiments in the social media; like Microsoft’s ‘innocent’ chatbot, Tay that was ‘corrupted’ by Twitter and digirati in less than 24-hours.

Advances in AI, ML and NLP are pushing the envelope, and promising productivity gains by enabling self-service. A well-designed Chatbot, enabled in a specific functional context – like an IT, Claims or Benefits service desk – can aid productivity and also employee engagement while minimizing manual effort in responding to queries. However, given the current challenges in human interactions with systems, chatbots from Banks, brokerages and eCommerce companies are not being designed to be truly Machine Learning tools. At least not yet. While they respond cutely to routine questions, they don’t really ‘learn’ from queries posted by random users on the web.

Bottomline:  While there is a lot of promise that cool enterprise Chatbots hold, wider adoption in large organizations will also have to go hand-in-hand with organizational design.




Thanks for reading! Please click on Like, or Share, Tweet and Comment below to continue this conversation or share your favorite 'trend to watch' | Reposted on my linkedin blog

Friday, September 14, 2018

Enterprise Architecture career Q&A : What skills to learn?

I came across an interesting question

"How do I change my career from a software developer to an enterprise architect. What skills I should learn?"


My response follows:

This is an interesting question though a lot will depend on your interests and background.
A “software developer” is a very broad term and can range from a core Java/Web developer to include folks configuring and customizing COTS products like SFDC or Oracle Fusion.
There is no indication of the business domain or industry you come from so I will assume you have a basic degree in IS or IT and have a few years of software development experience as a Java or .NET developer.
If you have identified an opening within the EA group in your organization, you will have to evaluate an your understanding of basic EA concepts; for example TOGAF’s ADM (link)


As a software developer you may be aware of some aspects of Information Systems and Technology Architecture, primarily by developing and deploying code to meet business requirements. As an Enterprise Architect, you will have to broaden your horizon to other BDAT dimensions too. Some of it can be done by attending training sessions on EA topics. You should also seek mentoring from EA’s in your organizations or your network.

Note: This is a rather short answer to a question that requires a lot more context about your background and long term goals. My response to similar questions on my blog - How important is it for an Enterprise Architect to have business domain knowledge?

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Asymmetric information on jobs and Hiring on LinkedIn: and how to stay ahead

A while ago, I updated my Linkedin profile to indicate I had relocated and taken on a new opportunity. A few in my network noticed and messaged me. Nothing new here. People switch jobs all the time. However, a few also noticed that I had relocated back to Bangalore, the ‘Silicon Valley of Asia,’ and were curious especially about my experiences in exploring opportunities here. Rather than respond individually, I thought I would blog this piece about my observations.

My relocation was prompted by a personal need, to be around to support my aging parents. With the safety net of a job with a multinational, I initially tried commuting between my home in North Carolina and Bengaluru. However, I quickly realized that it wasn’t a practical option and I couldn’t plan to ‘work remotely’ in perpetuity.

I began to explore local opportunities in the market, and leveraged this platform, LinkedIn extensively. Most headhunters will tell you, networking and social media are the primary source of leads and opportunities so I began to revive some of my dormant social media contacts, especially people I had worked with in the past.

Networking has to be contextual, which means understanding the market to have a focused engagement.

The Market and Job Segments  


The IT Enabled Services (ITES) industry has transformed in the decade since I had been here. According to NASSCOM, the Indian trade association, the IT sector generates revenues of US$160 billion, and employs over 3.1 million people. The ITES also experiences an attrition of over 20 %, which means nearly a million people are switching jobs every year. The trend is similar across the spectrum of the industry – software companies, software services firms and also captive shared services organizations. All this makes for an extremely vibrant marketplace by any account.

Most of the tech jobs are concentrated in tech belts in three or four major metros in India, and the ITES industry continues to be bottom-heavy. Although the industry continues to mature, the jobs seem to fall into distinct categories in a pyramid.


  • Hands on roles – These hands-on folks develop code, configure service and test and debug services. Those with 1 to 5 years experience are the most in demand.
  • Tech-Leads and Mangers – Generally people with 5-10 years of experience. They gather and validate requirements, manage and guide teams of hands-on developers
  • People Mangers – These professionals, with 10-15 years of experience, are generally at the top of the pyramid either as client facing leaders or delivery managers who may manage several teams. Their primary focus is on managing ‘resources’ – people and other resources needed by their teams
  • Others – This category is broad and open ended. It includes line-of-business managers who own P&L and sometimes experienced consultants



Recruiters and hiring managers are rather rigid when it comes to this ‘years and roles’ mapping. A person with 10 or 15 years’ experience is not expected to be hands-on. Therefore, a seasoned programmer or developer will find it hard to sell herself with a resume showing 15 years’ hands-on development experience. Each category in the pyramid has a distinct pay-package associated, and there is a perception that over-qualified candidates may not be tenured or stick around, even if they are willing to accept a lower package.  Recruiters automatically screen out such profiles as ‘over qualified’ citing cost constraints and tenure risks.

After a brief review of the market and vetting my understanding with a few people in my network, I began leveraging LinkedIn in my search. After all, there are anecdotal accounts to indicate that social media, especially LinkedIn is the primary networking tool used by candidates and hiring managers alike.

How does LinkedIn connect candidates with opportunities?


There are hundreds of thousands of ITES professionals on LinkedIn; some more active than others. Not surprisingly, there are different techniques candidates and hiring managers use while connecting with each other across the market and job segments.

Managers posting opportunities directly: During my search, I noticed that scores of hiring managers directly posting opportunities on LinkedIn. The reach of such posts can be amplified beyond one’s network when peers ‘like,’ and ‘share’ such posts. Such direct engagement can connect you instantly with hiring manager posting the request, especially if you have the skills and experience in the topic of interest. 

Such posts may have some limitations too. When a senior-executive with a social network of similar peers posts for a junior hands-on role, job-seekers at the bottom of the pyramid who are not connected to the said manager may not come across that post. Lost in the general cacophony – Posts announcing opportunities may get lost in the barrage of notifications in one’s landing page. A few likes that these posts generate have to compete for eyeballs against other self-serving posts. For example, ‘Yay, Here I am standing in a queue to get an autographed copy of Warren Buffet’ will generate dozens of likes, shares and comments; more than a simple “update on hiring”


Announcing ‘seeking an interesting opportunity' – Many candidates update their LinkedIn headline to indicate that they are actively seeking new opportunities. Recruitment consultants are divided on this approach. On one hand, a person who is active in LinkedIn groups whose profiles indicates they are also available may interest hiring managers or recruiters. On the other hand, recruiters are generally more interested in those who are already employed and less excited about those in between jobs.

Updating Career Interests – The ‘Career Interests’ section on Linkedin is an effective tool to announce one’s career interests. Updating that section is an effective but stealthy way for candidates to appear in searches without explicitly announcing, “I’m available”

Be active in the medium – Posting Pulse blogs, engaging with others on LinkedIn groups and answering queries on topics will get your profile noticed. You should select the mode of communication like a Pulse Blog based on your interests. For instance, not everybody has the time or inclination to post lengthy Pulse Blogs. Such engagement should also focus on specific groups like that of Salesforce, RPA, Mainframes or areas. If change in work location or geography is what you want, engage in forums where target employers and recruiters are likely to find you. Intelligent and articulate responses to queries on such forums will help you showcase your command over the topic while helping peers.

Search and Apply – LinkedIn is also turning out to be a vibrant job search engine with hundreds of thousands of new jobs posted every day. Recruiters across industry segments and geographies are actively engaged in the job portal. Many also leverage the one-click apply feature that allows candidates to automatically import from their LinkedIn profile to the employer’s Applicant Tracking Systems.

For some of us, networking on social media platforms like Linkedin can become second nature. However, navigating a platform that attracts millions of active users like you and me, may sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. Some people may find it hard to get their profiles to stand out.



The creative few may find it refreshing to go off the grid: like the Bangalore techie who recently became an internet sensation by riding a horse in busy traffic on his last day at work.

Thanks for reading! Please click on Like, or Share, Tweet and Comment below to continue this conversation or share your favorite 'trend to watch' | Reposted from my LinkedIn Pulse