Friday, January 12, 2018

ERP and block chain

The sales story that drove the ERP industry, and made many a multi-million dollar ERP sales person, was pretty straight-forward –
Build/Buy a relational database, centralize all your data;
Buy an integrated applications for all the business functions;
Share trusted data between and across silos within the enterprise.
Once that’s in place the enterprise’s operating leverage can be leveraged.
Now, if you step back and think about it, what are we doing in blockchain tech?
1.      For many (not all) use cases, we are again focused on business process flows, except this time we’re focusing between and across multiple enterprises.
2.      From a database perspective, we are focused on offering a single version of trustful data that multiple enterprises can share.
3.      From an application perspective, we’re creating new software co’s that integrate and optimize the process flows of multiple enterprises.
Essentially, we are back to eliminating silos and removing interfaces all by facilitating the sharing of trusted data. Except now, we have moved up an organizational level from focusing on optimizing the flows of a single enterprise to that of multiple enterprises, or as we prefer, focusing at the ecosystem level.
To further this idea, consider what central authorities are in most cases, they are interfaces between producers and consumers. For which, if you redesigned the process flows, you can potentially reduce/eliminate their cost. Now, that is not to say central authorities don’t play critical roles. What it does say is that their value is going to be tested versus better/faster/cheaper alternatives process flows and if they don’t match up, well, they’re disrupted. Simply stated, if peer-to-peer has a better value proposition we don’t think any level of intervention is going to stop the drive for optimization.
What Blockchain might mean for ERP
Theoretically, Blockchain and ERP have a lot in common as ERP is all about having a single version of information, and Blockchain too aims to create a single table of information which is shared by millions of users online. Due to this evident similarity, speculations that Blockchain might replace ERP in the near future have started surfacing.  However, speculators might be neglecting the core difference between ERP and Blockchain. Unlike in case of ERP, in Blockchain the information is decentralized and can be accessed by diverse enterprises at the same time. In Blockchain, the flow of data is transparent to all its participants but none can manipulate or alter the data without consensus. This particular attribute of the distributed ledger technology lends substance to the idea of integrating ERP with Blockchain. Such an integration can be instrumental in establishing trust between disparate companies.
Blockchain should be seen as a supportive application that can make the sharing of information between diverse parties more seamless, by providing a secure channel. The above-mentioned integration can help organizations in obtaining the existing data from enterprise systems and regulating the shareability of such data. The entities participating in a Blockchain can give selective access to their information. The record of each and every transaction contained in a Blockchain is verifiable, leading to obvious advantages.
Till today, a major chunk of corporate data resides in private silos. The advent of big data has helped businesses in obtaining greater insights from these data silos, but businesses have largely remained apprehensive about sharing such insights, fearing they will lose that competitive edge. Blockchain can quell such apprehensions by resolving the data access or sharing issue.
A few pilot projects in Aviation Industry are also making a strong case for an ERP and Blockchain integration. These projects have tapped the potential of Blockchain to track supply chains, parts shipments, and keep records of maintenance work. For Aviation Industry, Blockchain can establish consensus among disparate parties of Aviation Industry, provide information on the origin or history of data, and can be a source of immutable records.  In this industry, where highly complex equipment can move from owner to owner, having complete traceability is vital, and this need can be adequately met by Blockchain.
To understand why and how the blockchain may gain adoption, it is therefore useful to understand why many large organizations end up adopting an ERP system despite its high cost and complexity. The ERP typically replaces a bunch of much cheaper department level software. The logical question is why not harmonize the pre-existing pieces of software instead? For example, if marketing is using an invoicing software and accounting needs this data to account for the sales, all that is really needed is for the accounting software to accept data from the marketing software and use it. The reason this solution does not work boils down to organizational politics. In the first place, the accounting and marketing departments do not typically trust each other. Second, marketing would insist on providing the data in their preferred format and argue that accounting can surely read this and convert it into their internal format. Accounting would of course argue that marketing should instead give the data in the accountant’s preferred format which is so obviously superior. Faced with the task of arbitrating between them, the natural response of top management is to adopt a “plague on both houses” solution and ask both departments to scrap their existing software and adopt a new ERP system.
It is easy to see this dynamic playing out with the blockchain as well. There is a need for a single version of the truth across all organizations involved in many complex processes. Clearly, organizations do not trust each other and no organization would like to accept the formats, standards and processes of another organization. It is a lot easier for everybody to adopt a neutral solution like the blockchain.
A key insight from this analysis is that for widespread adoption of blockchain to happen, it is not at all necessary that the blockchain be cheaper, faster or more efficient. It will not be subjected to an ROI test, but will be justified on strategic grounds like resilience to cyber threats and Byzantine actors. A lot of challenges have to be met before realizing the idea of a regulated supply Blockchain. For instance, there is still no concrete mechanism by which the participating entities in a Blockchain can be notified of an event-completion in real-time.  Also, enterprises are still a bit wary of security and privacy when it comes to adopting this technology. The original Blockchain was entirely public, which is understandably not ideal for most business transactions. While most of these companies may end up opting for public Blockchain, it will be safe to say that in the initial phase, private Blockchain will be preferred for business operations, as in the private space tried and tested methods already exist for managing security and privacy.

From ERP(Enterprise resource planning) to ERP(Ecosystem Resource Planning)

Of the major ERP providers, SAP looks clearly ahead in blockchain experimentation. Through their SAP Leonardo platform, they are facilitating the integration over time of blockchain into both SAP ERP apps as well as custom apps developed on the SAP platform by partners and even individual corporate customers, with much of this experimentation revolving around provenance and supply chain management.

One good use case for the blockchain is manufacturing. In the blockchain, manufacturers can include who designed a part, its specifications, and the history of each iteration. Within this same chain, a manufacturer also can record where each instance of a part was made, and what machine made it.

An early test case is Moog, an aerospace defense firm. They are working with SAP on using the blockchain for digital manufacturing and 3D printing. Serialization and the unique CAD file for each custom-printed part can be stored in the blockchain for greater provenance, a boon for individual 3D-printed parts.
It also allows the installers and the maintenance and support people to quickly have access to a lot of information related to that specific part, including updates or recalls and all kinds of other things that might be of value to them.

Another experiment includes smart contracts on SAP Ariba platform, since blockchain technology enables triggers. If-then logic and notifications can be embedded in contracts added to a blockchain, creating more automated and dynamic contracting—as well as provenance and a history of the contract.

IBM Global Finance currently is using the blockchain for contracts, and the company has reduced the time spent resolving disputes by 75 percent since adopting the technology.

Microsoft and its partners are working to bridge enterprise gaps in blockchain technology, making it easier to get from pilot to production. With Blockchain on Azure, build apps that deliver the scalability and distributed governance enterprises need without sacrificing the security and immutability they expect. With a handful of user inputs and a simple single-click deployment through the Azure portal, you can provision a fully configured blockchain network topology in minutes, using Microsoft Azure compute, networking, and storage services across the globe. Rather than spending hours building out and configuring the infrastructure, we have automated these time-consuming pieces to allow you to focus on building out your scenarios and applications. You are only charged for the underlying infrastructure resources consumed, such as compute, storage, and networking. There are no incremental charges for the solution itself.


Where this all is going might be much bigger than provenance or smart contracts, however. Some predict that the peer-to-peer nature of the blockchain could transform ERP and businesses processes more fundamentally.

Currently, the ERP business model is centered around individual enterprises. Blockchain technology allows an ecosystem of companies to organize and share data where the primary metric is the performance of the ecosystem and not the individual enterprise, however.

Consequently, its believed that these blockchain-enabled ecosystems can be viewed as a new type of enterprise. Blockchain tech forces you to consider your role in the broader set of business processes that occur across the ecosystem of players in which you operate. It forces you to be able to justify your value add, otherwise you will be made redundant.

Enterprise resource planning might evolve and eventually include ecosystem resource planning, in other words.

While this may or may not be the direction of things for ERP systems, what is more clear is that blockchain technology within ERP is just around the corner.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Demon crown - book review

James Rollins does it again. A pulsating thriller that is a rushes at bullet speed to finish. I don’t know how he manages it, but every book of his is an adrenaline pumping thriller that starts with a “big bang” literally and the ripple effect of the issue spreads lightning fast,  taking the story, across the world, with so many plot lines happening in parallel, only to culminate in a cinematic finish of a climax. Be it his Map of Bones, Amazonia, Devil colony, Judas Strain, Last Oracle the situations that he choose are fantastic and the ease with which he creates a story out of it is extraordinary. He is probably a poor man’s Michael Crichton/Robin cook rolled in one.

The story begins with some of the well-known controversies surrounding Smithsonian museum. Its baffling that his tombstone has his birth year wrongly mentioned and for someone from old country (England) to make such a huge contribution to set a library on the other end of the world (America) without any traceable reason always stoked controversies and kept them warm. Add to it the mystery of Alexander Graham Bell (Yes. The guy who invented the phone) and his trip to collect the mortal remains of Smith from Italy and the mysterious fire which destroyed key documents of his estate all add up to a raging page turner. Sigma team suffers lot of battering and bruising as always and are attacked by erstwhile era’s extinct wasp species, evil Japanese trying to resurrect a terror agency, previously destroyed by sigma, more than anything the Wasps being the primary source of destruction and the detailing that goes with how they decimate their prey, makes it all irresistible. Add to this a sentimental mix for those who are following the series, in the form of a pregnant lady from sigma who is infected with the wasp, wonder how long it will take for this to be made into a movie. It has all the ingredients at right proportion – sentiment, tonnes of action, thrill of a weapon created by nature, evil side vs good side and unsolved controversies from real world. Basically, these set the premise for any novel by James rollins.

Gils verdict - A good lie is something, that is said to be woven around facts, which makes it undecipherable and almost believable. With his books, it’s difficult to figure out which is fact and which is fiction for they are so tightly interwoven. For those who have a few hours travel time to kill, this book would make a perfect companion. James Rollins is well and truly back at being his best.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Hello 2018

The rate at which days move past, even before you could say Merry and complete it with Christmas, you are facing New year’s eve and before you could contemplate switching over to writing 2018 instead of 2017, you are already into the first weekend of the next year. Travelling within such superfast time period wonder for how long the fixation on the first date of the first month will continue as against specific cultural celebrations of new year, be it Vishu, Utkal, Gudi padva, Tamil new year or the lunar cycle of the Chinese. With ever increasing commercialization, anything that doesn’t have its roots in the right place is bound to get displaced. That applies to rituals and festivals and customs as well.

2017 ended with Rajini announcing his arrival into political scene. Nothing could’ve been more sensational and confusingly stupid as that declaration. He claims his arrival was due to the imminent nature of the present situation in TN. But its crystal clear that he finally relented to the pressure from his legions of fans, who wanted to have their share of what they felt was long overdue – a chance to cash in on the political mileage that, they believed, came with his image ala MGR and J. Many of them where vocal few years back, when he constantly baulked on entering the political fray that its high time he “did something” back for his fans, who have stood behind him. Nowhere in India or rest of the world you can witness such a scenario where an actor is propped up, his image cultivated and incubated with careful PR and pushed into political setup by his fans. All this for whose benefit? If the hapless public are lead to believe that, this guy, whose family is notorious for their misdeeds, even when he is restricted within his cinema industry, is the magic bullet for all their issues, there is nothing more gullible and idiotic. Just as the rise, the fall of Rajini would also be accredited to his fans for sure. For a person, who seldom project himself as perfect, it’s the way people go over the top to paint him as a saint that makes one wonder their true intentions. Public service have long gone extinct alongside dinosaurs and looting money has quick become the only reason and motivation for entering politics.

There has been so many scandals involving god men and perceived good men, fights and killings within same sects as to whose way of worshipping is correct, that people are getting disillusioned with the concept of faith and belief. If at all 2018 and coming years can grant a wish for people, it would be to resurrect that opiate of “hope” with a caveat that it shouldn’t just be in the form of a single person or messiah. We’ve forever been looking at the skies and mountains, awaiting for some wise man (why is that never a women?!!) to lead us. With artificial intelligence and robotics filling up spaces where humans once jostled, Asimov’s zeroth commandment for robots could never fit for humans as ever before – A human may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. Now that would be a goal everyone can aspire to uphold and achieve, not just in 2018 but in coming decades as well, right?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Mandatory year end post

This year has been pretty good on the reading space with few really good books that I had a chance to read, courtesy Brags and other nalla ullams who share their loot. Keigo Higashino tops my list of thriller genre authors and have almost read all his translated books. Was super impressed with “Devotion of suspect X” and “Malice” and Peter Swanson conquers all with his masterly depiction of suspense genre. “Her every fear” still resonates with its effect even while reading the review and would await his next realase in 2018 with bated breath. The year was quite good on the movie front as well with quite lot of interesting movies in tamil.

2017 started off with Jallikattu protests, which tuned all of TN in same frequency, with the emotional outpour flooding the sands of Marina. I had firsthand witness to some really senti scenes on MRTS stations that would put any mass scene on movies to shame, even without the BGM. Politically, it was a watershed year for TN with so much of chaos and considering the recent by-election looks like 2018 is all set for a tumultuous beginning as well.

With junior turning two, everything in our house, that used to be at ground level, have been shifted to over 4 feet high as a safe distance. He has an interesting way of expressing his displeasure or anger by cussing out numerals. On normal recite mode he would say from one to ten in sequence. When irritated he would mutter “one, Shevan (seven), nine, ten”. The entire apartment knows about this and always make it a point to tease him for a show. 2018 may well be the beginning of his school year and not a day passes for me without dreading the d-day. The coming year also ensures several major changes all within the first quarter which would set the wheels of my life turning another corner. As much I try to detach myself, the eventuality of the situation does creep in at times. At least a few of those major decisions should’ve been taken care in 2017 itself which didn’t materialize , courtesy the one up above. Hopefully, in few months’ time, things should take care of itself.

So long folks. Hope to catch you all again on the other side of the year. Wish you all a year full of happiness, joyous memories to cherish and good health.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Maayavan and velaikaran review

Maayavan – Sci-Fi movies in tamil is a rarity and that too one with good script/screenplay is even more of a rare case. A sci-fi movie in tamil with a good script/screenplay and solid performances is probably the rarest of rare cases. The last such movie was “Indru netru naalai” which was impressive right from the title. “Maayavan” is from the stables of the same house with the story department helmed by the producer himself. C.V Kumar and Thirukumaran entertainment have become synonymous with good movies with excellent storyline. He doesn’t disappoint in his maiden venture as a director as well. The storyline is pretty original (with no Korean/foreign movie yet to be identified from where it was lifted) with a police official investigating a series of murders following similar pattern. Right from the opening scene the story picks up tempo and it continues till the end with no lag anywhere. There are lot of activities happening within the first fifteen minutes of the movie that are neatly streamlined into the bigger picture. The way immortality is explained and the ease with which its implemented may be too much for science buffs but I am pretty sure it would hit bulls eye with those who does have penchant to follow such movies without the science portions becoming overdose. Sudeep, who plays the hero/inspector, has done a fairly neat job. The romantic portions involving the heroine, who plays a shrink, are neatly embedded into the storyline without compromising on the seriousness of the plot. There is hardly any comic portion but that doesn’t feel needed at all. The gruesomeness of the murders are somewhat diluted in the ingenuity of the motive and the killer. The end twist was more of a given considering the opening scene.

Gils verdict- Very rarely you get to enjoy a movie which not just thrills but also feels original. Maayavan is a member of that rare breed. May the tribe of CV kumar grow and prosper.

Velaikkaran – After Remo, I didn’t really had high hopes on Siva for he had tasted success with his tried and tested formula of portraying wastrels on screen, wooing heroines, buoyed with foot tapping numbers by Anirudh and with his penchant for punchy comedies. With Velaikkaran, he breaks all those comfort zones around him and sets himself up for the next level of stardom. Any Kollywood superstar, worth his salt, would’ve done few themes mandatorily on their way up in their career. By default, they should’ve played a lady character, a dyed in blood commie up against the evil capitalist management, an all-powerful cop, son of the soil village character and ultra hep city bred modern youth. Siva had ticked all these and with velaikaran fulfills the lot as commie comrade. It’s been a long while since factory, workers themed movies made way in tamil as against the halcyon days of vijaykanth and Rajini. Probably it helps to bring novelty to the story on screen. One thing that strikes you right away from the first scene is the volume of dialogue. Not the sound but the reams and reams and reams of lines written for the characters with Siva and Fasil (villain) shouldering the bulk of the lot. It’s not conversation but literal seminar like speeches that happen every alternate minute and is really straining. Probably the director could’ve used the visual medium of cinema a bit more and toned down on explaining everything?

Kuppam FM is as catchy as it sounds and those scenes with Robo Shankar where Siva gives running commentary on gang fight are a hoot. Considering the serious tone of the story, the director goes very strict into preaching mode after every possible emotional scene, be it funny or sentimental. Is it just me or Fasil reminds of “Thani oruvan” not just in looks but also in his voice modulation (or whoever dubbed for him). In the pretext of showing the evils of capitalism and greed the director has trashed marketing as a concept and sales rep’s as a career choice. The latter at least has some poignant scenes for justification, but the supermarket scene felt a bit over the top for it didn’t sound wrong, but just another marketing gimmick. If that’s the case, every toiletry that uses “new” as the keyword to renew itself should be booked. The second half is all too easy for the hero to establish is success while the first half is way too digressive to bring home the point. With so much of running time dedicated for dialogues, the portions of Sneha and Vijay Vasanth alongside possibly lot more comic portions involving RJ Balaji Satish and co have been mercilessly chopped down I guess. To prove the carcinogenic nature of the food items, the way Sneha does a big boss on herself is pretty unique. Any more detailing on the packaged food, the food industry would’ve been up in arms against the movie. Anirudh reserves his best for Siva and the final song is pretty uplifting and ensures the viewers leave the movie with an upbeat feel.

Gils verdict – considering “Sakka podu podu raja” by Santhanam, who is often spoken as Siva’s competitor, as both are from similar backgrounds, this movie is leaps and bounds better than any other contemporary fare and cements Siva’s position in the league of bankable stars.  One more blockbuster would make him minimum guarantee star for sure.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Salvation of a saint - book review

This would probably the last book in the Keigo Higashino I may get to read this year. Another intriguing tale of murder investigation where the suspense around “Who” and more importantly the “how” gets prolonged almost till the last chapter, unlike his other novels where it’s mostly open book case of who is the killer with only the investigation procedure taking everyone on a thrill rider. Here again, the police investigation and the detailing around it makes it a compelling read.

There is a death pretty much at the very beginning of the novel with more than sufficient hint as to who is going to kill the victim and even on the “how” part. But as the investigation progresses, there are so many view points and details that crop up which makes one wonder where the initial apprehensions as simple as they seemed. Whatever could be the point of view of the reader, there is a character that voices out and thinks on the same line and thereby the author makes a big win. There are immediate connects to each of the character and after a while, it feels as if the dialogues are being voiced out in your head with each character speaking for itself!!

Like each of his mystery novels, there is a strong undercurrent of love and relationship as the central plot and each of the novels have a very strong heroine/villi, around whom the entire story revolves. The translation of this particular novel is almost on the lines of “Devotion X” and never gives a feeling of an imitation. But one thing that was a big letdown was the very thing which is the strong point of the story – a water tight investigative procedure. Would they been so callous as to not check the plants from the very beginning when they are searching for the source everywhere? And the reason why the victim hides details about his personal life, especially his girlfriends, doesn’t quite add up and felt as if its forced to bring the story to a conclusion. When you expect mega serial like fighting scenes between the wife and the “other lady” in her husband’s life, it never happens and the reason, when revealed in the end, elevates the poignancy behind the act. The fact that the crime is touted as the perfect crime falls flat on these aspects but other than that, the premise and the way the murder is self-inflicted on the victim are brilliant. To wrap it all, the motive being such a sensitive one, considering that Japanese do suffer from such demography related issues and to make a crime story out of it is sheer brilliance.

Gils verdict – the story doesn’t offer the thrills and twists of the other novels. But it deals with a very important situation in a country where the population growth rate is always in the news for its abysmally low levels. It may not be the best of the lot, but it sure does have its heart in the right place. But wonder why such an odd title though? To cash in on the “Devotion” success probably, to make it sound like a sequel?

Aruvi and Last Jedi - movie review

Aruvi – Ever since release, there has been so many reviews and feedbacks and appreciations and accolades around this movie that, it was really surprising to see such an unanimously positive comment. And surprisingly, not a single one of the review carried any link about the story and the comments were also an exact replica of each other. Felt as if, someone typed a review and circulated it to all newspapers and social media to “touch upon” and circulate. Every single one of them had praised on the finer aspect of the casting, be it the heroine, the soothing bgm or the wonderful supporting cast. The words were a repeat across all media. Usually, such kind of reviews are reserved for Karan johar, SRK movies, which are often “sponsored” content. But for this movie, everyone went out of their way to promote word of mouth publicity.

When I saw the movie, I felt, all those adulation were more out of guilt rather than anything else. Guilt that as a society we have failed to take care of the needy. Guilt that we, knowingly, ill-treat transgender people and diseased, especially the HIV infected. Of all the cursed diseases, people with AIDS would be the most lambasted lot, for it not just questions their immunity but their character as well. No one would wontedly get afflicted with any disease, especially this dreaded one with varying reasons the source for spread and for infection. The storyline is more of a sentimental slap on the ignorance of the public and the collective lack of empathy which people have towards the victim. There are lot of sentimental scenes which are interspersed with dark and gallows humor that would make it an interesting watch on theaters. Since the subject is emotion heavy, any comic relief is well received. But it still doesn’t justify the reason for the hostage scenario. May be its full of metaphors which are total bouncers  for my little brain. I loved the first half hour into the first half, which are so full of life and traverses a normal life of any girl maturing into a lady.

Gils verdict – There are some movies about which you cannot say bad. Aruvi is one such movie, for at its heart, it’s an honest attempt to hold mirror to our inner selves as to how we are at our baddest. It takes guts and lot of preparation to present such characters on screen. Kudos to the heroine and the director for venturing into such a bold subject. Wonder if she would have such meaningful roles or any roles ever in tamil movie industry. She will be slotted as “performer” and considering that the industry churns out mostly masala stuff, antha cute smiling heroine mega serials pakkam pack paniduvanga nenakren.

Last Jedi – Be the previous installment “Force awakens” or this one, the Star wars franchise are adept at the art of packaging old stuff in new bottle. The rise of the franchise co-incided with video games and with predominantly most of the scenes in current generation video games resembling more real life action, wonder for how long the series would get mileage. Story wise, even the original series was nothing new and with the rehashed version, its yet another done and dusted plot, heavily borrowed from its illustrious previous episodes. The heroine, who is the hero in this version of the series, looks and acts her part. Han Solo’s equivalent hardly has the screen presence of Harrison Ford’s dimple. The villain or the anti-hero looks like younger version of Snape and is as confused as the character. But from a mob mentality feel good perspective that you are also part of the bigger crowd of “naanum star wars fan da”, it makes a passable watch. Spread almost over three hours, by the time help comes in, it almost felt, was the previous scene from pre-interval or from previous episode!!!

Gils verdict – Deepavaliku ganga snanam aacha pola, Rajini padam release aana paathacha kekara pola, Star warskum antha dialogue porunthum. Wish they have an abridged version for TV. Ilaati Christmasku start aagi Newyearku thaan mudiyum with all its ad breaks.