Alumni Speak: Mohit Kakkar – Winner of SAP Global IoT Prototype Competition

Mohit Kakkar, student of PGPM Energy (Batch 2014-16), is currently working with Deloitte Consulting India Pvt. Ltd. and has recently won the SAP Global IoT Prototype competition.

We got in touch with him to know more about his achievement.

What was the SAP Global IoT prototyping competition about?

The Prototype competition was meant to give you an end-to-end experience of designing and prototyping an Internet of Things app for people’s needs. The top 5 submissions each won a brand-new Intel NUC Mini PC and $25 gift card which can be used to fund an entrepreneur on Kiva. The top 200 runner ups were displayed on the SAP “best of” gallery with their outstanding prototypes.

What is your line of work? Why did you take part in SAP Global IoT Prototyping competition?

After completing my masters from Great Lakes, I started working as a SAP consultant at Deloitte Consulting Pvt. Ltd. I participated in this competition because I am an IoT enthusiast from my post-graduation days where I learnt the fundamentals of IoT like Sensors, Cloud and various other business technologies. Since the digital transformation roadmap strategy of SAP got changed and they announced SAP Leonardo which was put forward as an innovation portfolio focused on innovative solutions running seamlessly on the cloud, there was no better way to get myself acquainted with the platform other than by participating in this competition and working on it in real time.

In your own words, what specific problem does this prototype seeks to solve? How does IoT provide an ideal solution?

We are living in 2017 and power utility companies today do know where a power outage has occurred, but they do not know what triggered that outage. Additionally, utility companies still can’t predict an outage and hence, they can’t take any preventive measures to stop it. On the other hand, by the time a crew member gets to know that a power outage has occurred at some place, the impacted customers suffer approximately 20 minutes of power outage on an average. Lastly, today customers have no visibility of their electricity consumption pattern and neither the electricity tariff that power utility companies charge them on a particular hour of the day.

Hence, the problems were many and I came up with a solution i.e. an innovative app which connects assets, control room operations team, crew members and customers/people.

Leonardo IoT Bridge provides us with capabilities to cut across various aspects of a power utility business model. We can monitor the real time health of the transformers using IoT sensors, using cloud platform edge computing we can store and analyse huge volumes of data of all the real time parameters; and we can also predict the future outages using machine learning algorithms. Moreover, we can also help the customers stay aware of their electricity consumption behaviour patterns by using smart meter data. Hence, we achieve increased transformer utilization, lesser power outages, and maximized revenue generation by monitoring the operational status and customer satisfaction.

What inspired you in creating your prototype?

My passion for IoT and excitement to learn SAP Leonardo framework inspired me to create this prototype. But to think through the complete end-to-end solution my 3.5 years of experience in Power utility industry and my subject knowledge which I gained at Great Lakes Institute of Management gave a head start to start this idea. Once the first draft was ready, the feedback and motivation I received from my mentor were a huge inspiration for me to build this prototype in an agile model, wherein I did multiple iterations to touch up the inconsistencies.

Do you plan to do further work in developing your prototype?

We have actually started building this solution in Deloitte. But I am eagerly waiting for the SAP connected goods portal, wherein we can configure and use the pre build APIs.

What are your thoughts on being able to fund an entrepreneur via the Kiva crowd funding platform? How did you go about identifying an entrepreneur to fund? Were there certain criteria that you used?

It felt really great that our hard work helped someone start their business. We talk about connecting people in the SAP Leonardo framework, but for all the winners to be able to fund an entrepreneur has truly connected people together.

Initially, I tried to fund an entrepreneur in my country, but then I found a lady in Cambodia who needed a loan of $625 to purchase a motorbike for her daughter to run her goods delivery business. She had received $600 already and I thought I should give my $25 gift prize to her and close down her request. It truly felt like bliss to be able to help someone so far away.

Read more about the Competition, winners and their prototypes here!

Will Strategic Acquisition of Free charge revive Axis Bank from Declining Profits?

Will Strategic Acquisition of Free charge revive Axis Bank from Declining Profits?

Strategic Acquisitions have become the order of the day in the recent corporate world. Corporate Players who estimate their future survival in the market through current earnings, investor’s confidence and changing customer base are becoming prudent enough to strategize their investments in highly probable winning deals.

Axis Bank which is reputed as India’s third largest private lender is no exception to this. The bank has been choking to sustain its profit margins with increasing bad loan provisions which had resulted in a steep decline of its asset value. As a cascading impact, the bank had ended up reporting 16.06% decline in net earnings in the first quarter of the year despite a marginal increase in the top line revenue by 1.45% during the same quarter of last year. The lender’s asset quality has also worsened by a steep increase in Gross Non Performing Assets (NPA) to 5.03% during FY17 Q1 compared to 2.54% for the same quarter of previous year. The market has instantly reacted to this discouraging trend of financial performance by 3% fall in stock prices on the same day which reflects the loss of investor’s trust.

However, the Board has now come with a new strategy of venturing and broadening their presence into the digital space by acquiring Snapdeal’s ‘Free Charge’. The Bank was desperate to close this deal as they have offered an attractive price compared to ‘PayTm’ which was also competing to acquire this asset. This deal also gives a big sigh of relief to Free Charge’s parent, ‘Snapdeal’, which is already in talks for selling itself to its rival ‘Flipkart’ due to its declining fortune since the beginning of this year and struggling for independent survival. Free Charge was acquired by Snapdeal in early 2015 for $ 400 million. However, it has now been sold to Axis Bank at a massively discounted valuation of 85% at $ 59 million (384 Crores INR).

This clearly indicates a strategic acquisition with great anticipated outcomes. Axis Bank would get a popular digital payment brand backed up by a high-quality technology platform, which can be leveraged towards tapping into current market opportunities that are booming in the digital space. The benefits of this acquisition will begin to bear fruit in the next couple of years. Another big competitive advantage which the bank would gain on this acquisition is access to small value transactions and Utility Bill Payments which are the key customer service segments of Free Charge.

It is also quite rational to think that the Bank already has a significant presence in the Digital Space through ‘Axis Pay’ and there was no need for the acquisition. However, the digital market of India is in its boom days buoyanced by the ‘Demonetization’ Move of the Government last year. Telecom Giants like ‘Reliance Jio’ have further intensified this growth by their rapid penetration into the Digital markets by making Internet Connectivity as the common man’s amenity in India. A recent survey published in ‘The Economic Times’ on 27th May’17 says that the Debit Card transactions have surged to 1 billion at Point of Sales of merchant locations in January 2017 compared to 817 million during the same time last year against the ATM transactions which was almost static at 700 million. This clearly substantiates the fact that the Indian Economy is rapidly shifting towards ‘Digital Cashless Mode’ and people prefer to make more cashless payments compared to cash transactions. It has also been evidenced by the annual report (2016-17) of Axis bank that the bank had reported 66% share of digital transactions in India in FY17 Q4 compared to 51% during last year. Also, the spends on Credit/Debit Cards of Axis Bank have increased to 47% in 2016-17.

Image Source – Annual Report of 2016-17 (Axis Bank)

The above facts and figures substantiate that this acquisition is a focused strategy of Axis Bank towards an inorganic expansion into the Digital Payment Space without duplicity of efforts on the customer acquisition and emerging as a ‘Key Contributor’ to the ‘Digital India’ drive amongst the BFSI Sector. The appetite of the market is so large that the bank cannot afford to spend time and resources on building a new platform from scratch, rather it is wise to leverage the market opportunities as a forerunner amidst other competitive market players. The integration of Free charge with Axis Pay would further increase the ease of the payment by the customers as Axis Bank already has a mobile wallet ‘LIME’ which has been interfaced for UPI Payments with Axis Pay.

The bank also needs to focus on retaining the acquired customers by offering them loyalty programs and cross selling products by understanding their needs. As per one of the updates that was given by Free charge late last year, the number of registered users on its platform has peaked at 30 million and 20% of them for utility bill payments. Also, the market leader ‘PayTm’ claims to have 122 million active users and hosts 90 million transactions per month on its platform. The other rival ‘Mobikwik’ has reported 35 million users and 45 million monthly transactions during the same period last year. Also, a market research throws light on the fact that India’s Digital Payment Segment has handled almost 600 million transactions in the year 2015-16 whose mean economic value rising to 400-450 INR.

Another ray of hope is that the digital payments industry in India is expected to grow by 10 times to $500 billion by the year 2020 as per the recent study by Google and Boston Consulting Group. It also predicts that more than 50% of India’s Internet users are likely to use digital payments by 2020, and the top 100 million users are likely to drive 70% of digital payments by value. If the above mentioned promising predictions turn into reality, Axis Bank can significantly tap this humungous market opportunity with its unique ‘FinTech’ flavor and competencies.  This would eventually pour in into its revenue bucket and would help the bank with some breathing air to compensate for its massive bad debt provisions eating into their bottom line, while RBI figures out a sustaining solution for increasing menace of NPAs. Though this was primarily aimed at market penetration, the bank can think of stepping into other niche products in digital space apart from payment service based on the customers’ expectations and demands. This acquisition would be the first step for building a better brand equity for the bank and an opportunity to explore and serve more customers as a ‘Digital Player’.

 

Author: Yogesh Sundararajan

PGDM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

Celebrating the 80 Years of Dr Bala V. Balachandran

It was the day of Guru Purnima when we were to meet the founder of our prestigious institute, Dr Bala V. Balachandran and it was an honour to be with him to celebrate his 80th Birthday on this auspicious day. All 270 students on campus were extremely excited to be the first ones to welcome him here in India. The campus was bussing with hyperactivity, students were preparing for the cultural event in every corner of the campus with never seen before passion, and kaleidoscopic colours of ethnic dresses could be seen everywhere. The entire aura of the campus was exuding enthusiasm as we were looking forward to celebrating our Guru’s birthday on the eve of Guru Purnima.

The amphitheatre had massive arrangements to make the upcoming evening etched in our hearts forever. A great stage was setup with a potpourri of decorations, lights and cameras, and each one of us was instilled with delight to welcome our founder with sparkling energy and zest.

Everyone was spellbound when he finally arrived. The energy that he has even at the age of 80 is something you’ll have to see to believe.

The evening started with birthday greetings given by great dignitaries and our dear faculty members. The heart touching poem on the journey of Dr. Bala written and recited by our very own professor, Dr. V.P. Singh awestruck everyone present in the amphitheatre. This poem was all about struggle and challenges faced by Uncle Bala and how he managed to overcome all the challenges to shine bright like a star. In the words of Uncle Bala, “A great aptitude with a good attitude takes us to a higher altitude” and he has gone way beyond the extra mile to prove it.

Next, it was time for students to showcase their talents for which they had put in a lot of effort, taking out time from their busy schedules and practising rigorously to greet Uncle Bala. There were some fabulously mesmerising performances comprising of dance, drama, singing and the stage was completely on fire. The energy of the Great Lakers didn’t end here, we had a spectacular flash mob where all the students joined and performed an amazing random act.  We also had an electrifying power-packed dance performance which was a mix of Bollywood, Bhangra and Fusion. I really enjoyed being part of the flash mob and the group dance performance. Not only did we had relentless practise sessions (helped me lose some weight as well :P), but also learnt so much from peers, made great friends and had the most memorable time of our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Uncle Bala was fascinated and spell bound by the amount of energy and creative young talent we have at our institute. He gave us his blessings and sang a beautiful song for all of us. It was an unforgettable moment for everyone in attendance. All his teachings and inspirational words have motivated us to move ahead and achieve great heights with a positive attitude. The heart-felt memories of this day would be cherished by us forever.

Last but not the least, we all wish that you keep on climbing the ladder of success and keep on inspiring us for many more years to come. Wish you an amazing year ahead, Uncle Bala.

Author: Sakshi Khurana

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

The Great Lakes Approach to Learning Microeconomics

The Great Lakes Approach to Learning Microeconomics

The concepts of microeconomics are the driving force behind the key personal and business financial decisions that we make in our daily lives. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the core fundamentals of microeconomics via experimentation rather than through mere theoretical observation. Coming from a technical background, my concepts of economics were, let’s just say, a bit blurry. But, I and many of my classmates who share the same academic and industry background learnt the entire concept of Microeconomics in a matter of days through experimentation.

The Micro-Economics project of Term-I at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon was very different. As part of this project, the batch of 120 students was divided into groups of six and every group had to start a business inside the college campus. The business could be anything from product manufacturing and home & personal care to food delivery and miscellaneous services. Our investment cap for the business was established at INR 500 and initially it seemed impossible to start a business under that amount. But all the groups then started analyzing the market, needs and demand of their target customers. Everyone did extensive market research before starting the businesses to understand the requirements and needs of their target market. Market research was done through questionnaires, by conducting interviews, taking suggestions etc. Every group collected the primary data about their prospective customers before starting the business. After the research was over, it was time to put it to use and execute the business idea. There were twenty groups and hence, twenty businesses. Some of these were SantaKaBanta (a soda point corner), Fortune Coffee (a small scale coffee house and coffee delivery service), IceExpress, DeliverIt, a Bhelpuri corner etc.

Our group started a business named “Need2Home.” It was a delivery business in which we delivered anything and everything that is required by the students on a daily basis and could be bought from the nearby areas. On day 1 we designed our team’s pamphlet and distributed those among the students and staff members. We then started taking orders. Initially, we didn’t get many orders and most of the orders that we did get were from immediate friends. But, slowly our business started picking pace and after 2-3 days of providing impeccable services, we became quite famous among the students. We enjoyed managing all the important aspects of running a business like marketing, operations and maintaining balance sheets. Although it was a project of Microeconomics, we applied the knowledge of all the subjects that we had learnt in Term-1 of our course.

We had quite a free hand when it came to experimenting with our business. We (i) fluctuated the price of the services depending upon the market conditions (ii) reduced the profit margin (iii) made demand forecasts etc. Initially, we had kept a higher profit margin but due to severe competition from another team, we had to lower our margins. However, due to this, we managed to secure a large number of orders and as a result also managed to increase our sales figures substantially. And yes, we had a competitor in this small business space. We also felt threat from Amazon, Flipkart and other e-commerce entities because, as a small scale business, we did not plan on entering the online marketplace.

The Happy Customers!

Altogether, it felt like having a real business. By the time the project got over we earned more than INR 5000 in revenue. Considering the fact that we invested about 100 bucks in the venture, it was a tremendous achievement.

Finally, we had to prepare a report based on the data collected from our business. We used all the basic concepts such as demand equations, curve, cost function, profit maximization, regression analysis and demand forecasting techniques to prepare the business report.

This project helped us in the following ways: (i) It broadened our vision towards the various business dimensions, (ii) It helped us understand the concepts of Microeconomics, and, (iii) it gave us the ability to realize and overcome the challenges in business world.

It was truly an extensive and amazing learning experience and we enjoyed every bit of it. I believe such projects help a lot in practical understanding of the theoretical concepts and we are extremely grateful to our faculty, Dr V.P Singh Sir, and the college for providing us such wonderful opportunities to learn in a practical manner.

Authors: Akhilesh Tripathi & Shubham Singh

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

The Pilot Episode: ‘The one with the Sweet Beginning’

Even as we were in the first week of our stay inside our lush green campus in Gurgaon, thoughts like – getting ourselves accustomed to the hostel scenario,  interacting and knowing our peers, a probable change in our biological and sleep cycles and the hunch of going back to books(that still feels intimidating) were on our minds. A plethora of similar emotions was playing a strange medley in and around us. Then, Great Lakes came up with the outbound trip to Rishikesh, the most fitting pilot episode to our newest series in life- The B school experience.

Our trip began on 19 May as we boarded our buses and started our long and fun filled night. Antakshari, Dumb charades, singing and dancing were the norm for the night… This was just the beginning!

We reached our pristine and beautiful campsite ‘Life missions’ in the morning and got ourselves ready for a day filled with unforgettable adventures. We split into two groups. One group geared up for a thrilling tryst with Rappelling as another started for an electrifying Rafting experience on the river Ganges.

As I braced myself for my rendezvous with rappelling, I could not help but wonder what it would feel like. The thought of hanging from a tall bridge with just a rope to our rescue felt awesome! I am obviously talking for myself. I am sure the same was not the case for people with Acrophobia. 😀

Cut to the actual experience, it did feel awesome! It was amazing to let go and hang almost perpendicular to the bridge and slowly descend systematically. It also gives a sense of trusting the guide who was giving all the instructions. Trust is what drives all businesses! In retrospect, it seems there was so much of sub-conscious learning happening.

Next, we had a team exercise of building a bridge with straws. Working in teams and collaborating amongst each other was a fun learning experience, to say the least.

As the day approached noon, we returned to our campsite, had lunch and eagerly prepared ourselves for Rafting. The review provided by the other group that returned added on to the excitement. We started off and reached a location called ‘Marine drive’, strapped ourselves with life jackets and helmets, and made sure we took proper instructions given by the Rafting coordinator. I can vouch for the entire batch by saying that this experience was, without any argument, the highlight of the trip.

As we started rowing our rafts in unison, we came across quite a few surprises. For a person who is new to the rafting world, the idea of encountering ‘rapids’ was massively thrilling. Our coordinator gave us direct and lucid instructions before each of the four rapids we challenged. These were:

  1. Good evening
  2. Sweet 16
  3. Roller coaster
  4. The three blind mice

Each of these rapids has a special memory with all of us. Experiences like standing inside the raft with the probability of falling over, taking a toss in the river, witnessing an ever-beautiful landscape across the river and getting ourselves lost in a myriad of senses and thrills as we witnessed the beautiful sunset are a few souvenirs we took back home from this experience.

As the Rafting escapade ended, we had one more learning experience in the form of a raft building exercise that was veritably fun filled and utterly enriching.

Coming back to our campsite, an evening with the bonfire and music awaited us. With our batch having a talent spectrum ranging from professional violin players, drummers and guitarists to melodious singers and dancers, this evening was exactly what we needed to feel refreshed.  As we dispersed to our tents after such a happening day, we all had a sense of belonging amongst each other.

We struggled to wake up the next day, but Palhan Sir’s meditation session filled us with reinvigorated energy as we headed off to a trek. Returning from a short hike, we had one final meet up focusing on the assessment for the two group activities. It was fun witnessing all the teams doing interesting introductions and victory dances.

None of us was in a mood to leave Rishikesh and the trip back to Gurgaon did seem long. Nevertheless, the end of this eventful trip marked the start of our ‘B-School’ journey.’ A journey that will surely be filled with ups and downs just like the rapids that we faced in Rishikesh. But if we work together then I’m positive that we’ll all get a chance to perform our victory dances at the end of this year.

 

‘IN THE MIDST OF MOUNTAINS’

A trip to a beautiful place,

Uttarakhand, you blessed us with your grace.

Driving through your mountains’ maze,

Mesmerised by your rain’s presence.

Drifting down the bridge like a pro,

Amidst the mountains’ meadow.

To get rid of phobia of heights,

Rappelling was an amazing exercise.

Ganga, the mightiest of the rivers

Embraced us with all her ardour.

Feeling the quivers in her waters,

Rafting, an experience gifted to us.

An evening with a Bonfire,

Music, you are the sire.

Guitar, Violin and Drums singing to its melody,

Musicians tuning to all its glory.

Staring at the sky of twinkling stars,

Sleeping in the mother nature’s arms.

Opening eyes to the beautiful misty morning,

Waking up to the sun between the mountains, rising.

Meditating early in the morning,

Trekking through the hills in the surrounding.

Relaxing by the river that’s flowing,

Folks playing water volleyball, enjoying.

An end to a beautiful journey,

A lovely opening to a new Odyssey,

Cheers to a lot of memories,

As a fan of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, It is

‘The One with a Sweet Beginning’.

 

Authors: Samuel Johnson & Prithvi Naadig

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

Sitting in the Hall of Fame

Even at the age of 80, Dr Bala V. Balachandran, is an inspiration to many and a motivation to many more. His energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and, most importantly, wit are the key traits that make him so loved and respected by all.

Having an opportunity to attend his class was truly a blessing. After interacting with this great gentleman, I often kept wondering what is it like to be successful at the age of 80? What keeps him going?

When asked the same, Uncle Bala said, it’s the enthusiastic students and their never ending thirst of knowledge. Seeing, interacting, teaching and always being surrounded by people in their twenties make him feel twenty at heart and the love and respect that he receives from then is what encourages him to achieve more and do more for them. Well, this is ‘attitude being gratitude’ at its finest and speaks volumes about the character of this phenomenal person. It is in my personal opinion, that it’s not just being successful but doing it the right way is what differentiates the men from the boys.

So, what was it like to attend his class? The aura of the class comprising of the enthusiasm of the students and the respect that he commanded were among the first oblivious things that can be observed. The constant humour, witty one-liners, the command and expertise over the subject (duh! he is the pioneer of the subject) and his constant real-time illustrations are the composition of his class.

The key take away for a student from Uncle Bala’s class are the real life experiences shared, industry specific problems defined and the strategic methods implemented to solve the same which are in correlation with your academic subjects helping you bridge the gap and connect the dots.

In his short stay of 3 days and 10 hours of classes, he has given us much to cherish and the impression that he has left on us students will be everlasting.

Author: Ashwin AN

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

The Great Lakes Bike Squad – Roadtrip #1 – AGRA

It was the Sunday of the penultimate week of term 1 when the examination schedule arrived and noticing that we have a 2 day holiday post exams, was enough to lift our spirits after the 7 weeks of rigorous classes, assignments, quizzes and projects. Being the kind of travel enthusiast and an adventure junkie that I am, I immediately started planning a road trip.

Post extensive deliberations and discussions, “The Squad” decided that Agra was the best place to visit in this limited span of time.

Introducing the squad:

 

 

With the exams done and dusted, we nut heads, Chinmay, Rishi and I (Ashwin) were super pumped up for this trip. We got our bikes washed and fueled them up for the ride.

The Kickstart: Day 1: Saturday

We started our journey early in the morning at 6 AM and were greeted by foggy clouds, slight drizzle and curvy roads. As we cruised through the countryside with cool breeze caressing our bodies and ruffling our hair, a kind of indescribable euphoria took over.

The benefit of starting at 6 in the morning is that we covered good ground in no time and by the time we reached the National Highway, we were starving. After devouring a few parathas, we were on our way to our first major stop, Mathura, the birth place of ‘Lord Krishna’. We explored the town for a while and then made our way to Vrindavan to seek the Lord’s blessings. Following which, it was now time to head towards Agra and the gorgeous Yamuna Expressway, with its scenic beauty, embraced us with open arms.

 

Yamuna Expressway was a full-throttle adrenaline rush!!! Cruising at 120 KMPH and pushing our vehicles to their limits, it was an amazing feeling altogether. Post all that adventure, we stopped for our mandatory photo shoot and reached Agra at 2PM. Later in the evening, we explored the former capital of India gazed at the beauty of the TAJ in awe.

Day 2: Sunday – TAJ, definitely worth every superlative description out there

Being the early birds that we are, we visited Taj at 6AM and it was truly a feast for the eyes. After gazing endlessly upon the monument of love in a peaceful environment devoid of any noisy tourists, we started our journey to Fatehpur Sikri and reached there by 11 AM, visited all the historic monuments and by 3 PM we were back on the road.

Within a span of 48 hours, we covered a distance of 500 KMS and reached our campus safe and sound by 7 PM.

With this adventurous trip behind us, we realised that this was first official Bike Squad of Great Lakes. The three of us mutually agreed to carry forward this tradition of road trip whenever the opportunity presents itself and keep on adding more members to The Squad in the future.

 

Author: Ashwin AN

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon