Sunday the 20th of September. At the Thames Valley Park.

The sun hidden behind the clouds. The grass still wet with morning dew. Chill wind in the air. 13 degrees C something.

300 odd folks gathered. In trainers and jackets. Beating the morning chill. Sacrificing a cozy Sunday snooze.

Yeah. The Spirit of Wipro 5k #SOWRUN – London.

Warm up. Stretch. Sip on electrolytes. The day starts to get sunny.

It’s a big day. Especially for amateurs like me. It’s a big deal. It’s a very very big deal!

Cheers and whistles push me as I cross the finish line in 26 minutes 24 seconds.

I wait for my friends to come through the finish line. And am waiting with excitement to tell them I made it in my personal best of 26 odd minutes. Until someone asked me, but who won?


As I battled this question in my mind, the sun which until then was gaily shining on us, slowly slipped behind the clouds like as if he was hiding a smirk!!!

Why do I run?

  1. Refreshes me. The best of my runs have been when my mind and feet were in tandem. My mind focusing only on the pace, the running style, balance and breath. A run that totally refreshes me and leaves me wanting the next. There are times, more often than not when on my run, am playing devil’s advocate with myself. Evaluating choices, contemplating decisions. With no one interrupting my thoughts, no text messages or phone calls to distract me. Noises around me cease in to oblivion. The road beneath my feet, the wind in my hair and lost in my own thoughts.
  2. I push my limits. Cut to 2013, when I decided to explore running. 2 minutes on the treadmill as I panted and gasped for breath. And now in 2015, 5 runs including 5 k and 10 k under my belt it’s been a long run, literally. Every time I was tempted to stop and re-tie my shoe lace, every time I was happy to stop for someone to let them pass, every time I rounded off my run time, to the smaller whole number – I can’t help but smile when I think of then and now. With each run, my timing has only improved. Each run makes me believe I can.
  3. A whole new world. Influences of people around me who have fought their own battles – from weight loss, to fitness, to belong, to get ‘me time’, to meet like-minded people, to win a race – the reasons are multitude. And the positivity that exudes in each one’s personal story of endurance and success, is endearing and inspiring.

I grew familiar with fellow runners, folks taking a stroll, moms walking their babies on the same route as mine. If I missed seeing someone on any day, and saw them on the next I would smile to myself – ok, all is well.

Indeed, a whole new world that opens up.

  1. Another excuse to shop. I now can genuinely browse through the sports section in a store. I can discuss specific requirements with the sales assistant. I have a section in my wardrobe for running. I have another reason to shop.
  2. Running clubs and fancy apps. I discovered communities that brought together coaches, amateurs and pros to discuss and learn. Some that helped me were the ASICS running club #asicseurope, The Running Bug #TheRunningBug. In addition to the Nike Fuel band #NikeFuel and the absolutely wonderful Android app – S Health #shealth. A perfect app to track, analyse and record your run.
  3. Let’s me explore. I find new routes to break the monotony. In the process, I tend to discover different cities. Discovering new stores and joints that have opened up in the vicinity apart from of course discovering beautiful paths and different terrains. I have been lucky to run the Spirit of Wipro #SOWRUN in Bangalore, New Jersey and London. Each came with the trappings of discovering new run routes, different terrains and starkly different climates.
  4. I eat all I want. Clothes fit me differently (also read easily). And despite digging in to that chocolate tart topped with ice cream and a spurt of fresh cream, I don’t feel guilty any more. Strangely enough, I seem to be naturally eating healthy and I don’t feel random urges to snack. Energy levels are always at a high through the day. Apparently science has an explanation for that – running boosts happy hormones.

For me, it’s quite simple. I run. I feel refreshed. I beat my own limits. I meet more people. I have more reasons to shop. I eat guilt-free. I discover. I explore.

And the sun peeks back from behind the clouds almost mocking that realisation has dawned. Did I win the 5k run? No I did not. I was a close 4th.

Would love to hear why you run. What’s your excuse?

Entrepreneurs vs. Corporates

I ran a successfully Consulting Practice, before deciding to explore the industry with a specific agenda on mind.

Interestingly, the understanding on the other side of the table at my interviews initially took me by surprise. I gradually got used to the pattern of questions and finally reached a point of amusement.

It went like this:

“It must have been good being your own boss?”

This really had multiple questions embedded in it. Can you take instructions? Do you understand hierarchy? Honestly, as a start-up we really are never our own bosses. That is a myth. Our customers drive us to deliver. We are answerable to our investors, our employees. Taking a break is psyching because, business did come to a stand-still, until I was back. And well, I did not start my consulting practice to be my own boss! I was only exploring to what extent I could position myself as a brand and garner business on that brand worth.

“How was it doing all the work yourself?”

Here again, multiple connotations. Are you a team player? Can you translate your boss’s expectations to your team? Ahem! I had a team. But since you have jumped to the conclusion, I hope I can help simplify it for you. Non-core business areas like HR, Accounting were outsourced. Investment was in key skill sets driving business turnover. The team was small, but yes I had a team. A team that was paid higher than industry average, a team that was beyond time sheets, coffee vending machines, appraisals and politicking.

Only 2 things kept us going.

A shared vision. A satisfied customer.


“How come you shut shop?”

I can already read the assumptions in these few words. Did you go bust? Was it just a hobby, since you didn’t know what you actually wanted to do? Your idea failed?

ROFL! A thousand thoughts flood my mind. As I assimilate them in to a logical sequence, to help explain. Though am not sure if I really want to try explaining.

When you start an enterprise, you have a dream you are chasing. It almost always is measured by the moolah you make. Either through the process or as the climax before moving out. And almost always the assumption is to sell off a business and rake in the money before calling it wraps. At least such stories are what make headlines. In cases like mine and many such others, while the moolah happens during the period of the business, you need to make choices as you go along. Have you made enough that you want to wrap up? Do you want to pause and look around, come back and pick up the threads? Do you believe investing your earnings in another idea is a better option?

Honestly, each to their own. There is no set mantra. There is no set entry strategy as much as there is no set exit plan. But all this may be too surreal to explain to someone who has never stepped out of the four walls of a cushioned office.

Perspectives are interesting, amusing and noteworthy. As entrepreneurs return to corporates and as corporates explore entrepreneurship, the blending of the two worlds could only have far reaching, positive impacts. The entrepreneurial drive, self-motivation, ability to think beyond, strive and excel coupled with scale, investment ability, business processes.

An ideal mix of both I believe would make enterprises geared up for the future and sustain an impressive growth path.

How intelligent is Artificial Intelligence?

Digital, big data, artificial intelligence, and robotics are the key buzz words today – not limited to being lingos but are anticipated to have far reaching transformative effects on the way businesses operate, deliver value to customers and effectively increase top lines and brand value.

Organisations globally are being vociferous about automation to drive optimisation. Recent public mentions refer to building or adapting tools around artificial intelligence and adoption of robotics. Boardrooms are abuzz with these discussions and at the same time, it is also being interpreted in interesting ways in cafeteria chatters.

It has been predicted that jobs that are being done by humans will be replaced by robotics or digital agents, by 2025. This further leads to obvious questions. Will automation replace jobs or will they complement existing jobs? What will be the implication?

  1. Automation will replace jobs which are redundant and predictable in nature

Retail, healthcare and banking are the industries where automation could have a bearing impact. The opportunity to catapult consumer engagement and experience is a huge possibility. In healthcare for e.g., intuitive apps that capture patient profile, medical history, reaction to drugs, fitness levels and so on could enable diagnosis, without the intervention of a physician. Similarly with retail and banking, AI will enable a more intuitive version of what online retail and online banking are today, and with robotics entering the game, the entire landscape changes; thereby reducing or eliminating the need for floor staff and point of sale.

With a direct impact on bottom lines as result of this, huge cost savings can therefore be redirected towards enhancing consumer engagement, experience and overall value delivered. The predictable and routine jobs therefore can well be replaced.

  1. Human ingenuity will create a new profile of jobs

Economies have gone through the Agriculture revolution, grown in to the Industrial revolution and moved further in to the Information age with the digital revolution. Through each of these periods, employment and linked social structures have changed, adapted and grown. The profile of jobs in each of the periods, was vastly different from the other. On the same lines, it would be easy to believe that the age of automation, will also bring with it a new profile of jobs, social structures and economic growth. Automation is set to re-define the framework of organisations, management of processes and optimisation of routines.  Thought poignant to note is that, the industrial revolution introduced machines which aided and improved what was being done by hand earlier. The digital revolution is making these machines so capable that they will be able to run on their own, without human intervention.

But someone has to build these robots, develop AI-based solutions, create frameworks for data, bring in advancements in digital channels and similar such complex activities, that only the human mind can envisage, design and drive. This can only lead up to investments in a slew of new skills, raising the bar on speed of information, quality of outcome and cost of resources. A new normal is what we are staring at.

In the words of Vint Cerf, VP and Chief Internet evangelist from Google: “Historically technology has created more jobs than it destroys and there is no reason to think otherwise in this case.”

Google Soli – Humanising Technology?

Switch channels on your TV by just swishing your hand in the air, do away with the selfie stick; just pose and snap your finger. Do a thumbs-up, to post a like on FB, raise your hand to mute the speaker, point your finger to transfer files from one folder to another. . .

These are just some of the multitudes of possibilities opening up with the emergence of gesture-based technology. We have travelled through the ages of touch-based control, witnessed an exciting phase of voice-based control and are now at the threshold of hands-free and voice-free control. We are soon entering the age of gesture-controlled wearables. Tasks can be achieved through simple movement of fingers, regular gestures that we make in our daily lives – to open a door, flip through the pages of a book, stop / hold something, point to indicate a direction and so on. This opens the realms of opportunities in terms of how we can leverage gesture control wearables, to make the most of possibilities in real life, virtual reality and augmented reality. The amalgamation of these three worlds can lead to nail-biting scenarios.

Google recently launched the exciting Google Soli, a radar-based wearable to control anything. A small radar the size of a 50 pence coin, that sits in your wearable. This detects your hand and finger gestures enabling control of any electronic device. Here is a link, which gives a view in to Google Soli.

Leap Motion has launched the impressive Leap Motion Controller. A simple device that connects to your computer. It senses your hand gestures and allows you to interact with your computer in a radically new way. Quick Switch from Leap Motion is yet another gesture-sensing app, which helps one transition from VR to the real world, with just a wave of the hand. Simply exciting! Check out this link, which shows you how.

I am inclined to explore the avenues of adoption of gesture-based technology in Healthcare, my current pet industry


  1. Remote access: Mount Sinai Hospital has accomplished robotic surgery for head & neck disease and sleep apnea. Surgeons sit at a console to control the robotic arm, which actually performs the surgery. Gesture-based technology, will take this a step further. Robotics, coupled with gesture-based technology is a step in to the future. This will allow specialists sitting anywhere across the globe, to be available for patients. With improved infrastructure capabilities, cost of investments will gradually stabilise enabling increased adoption of path-breaking medical treatments such as these.
  2. Call for assistance: A bed-ridden patient need not reach out to press the assistance button. By just motioning his / her fingers, an alert is raised for the physician to attend immediately.
  3. Post-discharge: Patients can effectively monitor their physio-therapy routines. With routines programmed in to a system, and topped up with gesture-based technology which can map the accuracy of the postures, patients can instantly monitor how accurate they are in their physio-therapy routines. Almost like the Microsoft Kinect Xbox which scores you basis accuracy of your stance.
  4. Hygiene in an operation theatre: Surgeons periodically check the screen, or the x-ray while performing a surgery. The surgeon sanitises his / her hand each time to return to the surgery, or they simply ask someone else to read out from the scree / report. With gesture-based technology, it eliminates the need for the surgeon to physically touch an xray / access the system. Thus, enabling a smoother, faster and sanitised operation routine where every second could be critical.

In my opinion, gesture-based technology would make a difference, where existing infrastructure is replaced with a simple device that recognises gestures. Like in some of the possibilities indicated above, gesture-based technology frees us to focus on the task at hand. Whether it will replace voice-based control completely, for eg: in mobile phones, I would not think so. Hands-free has its advantages. What I can do by just speaking in to my instrument I would not see the need to use my hands to communicate the same message.

With the ability to recognise intuitive gestures, gesture-based technology is humanising technology. Are humans better understanding technology? Or is technology better understanding humans?

Cyber Security – Time to Act!

“If the sophistication of attacks keeps ahead of defensive capabilities, the resultant new cyber regulations and restrictive policies could hurt innovation by about USD 3 trillion by 2020” – The Economic Times 2 March 2015. While cyber threats are not restricted to the financial space, credit card theft and online financial fraud; but cyber security is gaining larger implications.

The recent cyber warfare between Russia and Ukraine opened our eyes to a new world of attack. Another incident that took the world by storm was the blatant attack on Sony on the attempted release of ‘The interview’. Not limited to traditional warfare, but a cyber-army working towards disrupting communication networks, accessing sensitive defence information and wiping out critical information. What is poignant to note is that cyber security is not limited to boardrooms anymore, but nations, politics, religion are under threat. It’s a geopolitical threat. We are entering the age of cyber weapons.

The recent cyber theft at Anthem is yet another revelation indicating that cyber threat is becoming industry-agnostic. Wherever there is rich information, it is but imprudent to ignore cyber threat.

  • With the emergence of IoT, extensive adoption of smart devices, mandatory norms for EMRs to track personal health information, there is data everywhere. A mine field for potential hackers. How equipped are smart devices with security features as much as they are loaded with user friendly features?
  • With mandates on data back-up organisations are faced with the threat of not just financial loss but also reputation damage, in addition to loss of sensitive trade secrets. In the face of such long lasting impacts, should organisations be proactive than reactive to handling cyber threats?
  • There is nothing scarier than bio-warfare. With access to genetic sequencing and DNA codes, a nation’s health repository; it makes it that much easier to build a robust bioweapons program. Is it the prerogative of governments to ensure cyber security or is it the onus of service providers?

It’s a new world. The ramifications of cyber theft, cyber war are far reaching and not limited to individuals. It’s time to sit up and notice. Or that just might make it too late. It’s time to act!

A note to Pepper – the Humanoid Robot launched by SoftBank Group

Hi Pepper

Welcome to our world! Am sure you are looking forward to spicing up our lives. Am curious. Were your first worlds “Hello World”? Or something more your style?

It’s absolutely exciting to have you with us. Am sure you have opened up new horizons, to improve and impact our lives. Read about you and learned that you will not do my laundry, or my coffee and you will not even do the vacuum. But I figured you are here, to make me feel happy always. You are here to interact with me. I think this is going to take relationships and companionship to a whole new level.

But some questions that flood my mind:

  1. Robots are not real people: The fact that I know you are programmed to make me happy, in itself makes me feel like I am in a bubble. The real world is out there, and I am here with you, who is tuned to making me happy. But will you give me a perspective that will help clear up my clouded mind, when I am low? Will you give me the inspiration to succeed, triggering my happy hormones? The way it appears, if you are fitted with artificial intelligence you could have the ability to learn and grow with me emotionally. But I will always know that you – the robot knows more than me!
  2. Human emotions are complex: From virtues to vices, we humans grapple with a multitude of behaviours and reactions to situations. In a competitive world, the reason for my happiness may in some cases make my neighbour feel low. And you, in your mission to making the world a happier place for everyone – I can almost foresee the movie I, Robot turning true. Have you watched that one?
  3. Best to be programmed to enhance lives, functionally: Given the complex nature of human behaviour, with an innate behaviour of sense and feelings, probably best to leverage you to make my life easier. Don’t complicate yourself with my emotions. But how you could help me is by telling me what I look pretty in, workout with me to help me keep pace, tell me if am overshooting my spend. Make my life better in areas where I can park my thoughts aside and let you do the thinking for me. Better life. Happier life. Leave my emotions to me. You don’t want to go there. It’s a complex muddle of love, desire, dislike, aspiration, worry, anger, excitement, frustration, thrill and these are just to name a few.

On that note Pepper, welcome again. I hope we do exchange notes on our journey together in this complicated yet fascinating world.