Category Archives: Customer Experiences

Experiences with various customers

Entertainment is more amazing with Xbox

Since November 2011, I have been working in Entertainment Services team as part of Xbox Live. Last week was a huge milestone for us, millions of customers around the globe started getting updates to their Xbox 360 and hopefully millions more will be buying and installing Windows 8 especially Surface from Microsoft. Smile All these devices have a common and consistent entertainment experiences powered by services built by our team. Yes when you play a track on Xbox Music or watch a movie on Xbox Video that experience is powered by our team. It is amazing to be at the edge of a space that is changing so fast.

It was amazing experience to drive key discovery scenarios for the release including

  • Most Popular Music, Movies and TV
  • Top Purchased/Rented Music, Movies and TV
  • Top Rated content
  • Search Relevancy

Pictures are worth 1000 words:

Most Popular Movies on Xbox 360

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Windows 8 Music App: Top Music

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Windows 8 Music App: Top Songs

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Windows 8 Music App: Top Artists and Play Top songs

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Windows 8 Video App:Top Rented Movies

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Windows 8 Video App: Top Selling TV Series

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Working on more amazing stuff but more on that once we launch. Smile

Operations Contd…

This Sunday we were sitting in Barnes and Nobles and studying. I drifted away from my book and started thinking something when suddenly Swati asked “What are you dreaming? Get back to studying” (U know she is like that)… SO I started telling her what I was thinking, Actually I was thinking of all the manufacturing plants I have visited in my life for work, When I say Plant I mean Plant not IT office or Head quarters or corporate offices or anything else but actual Plants.. So here is the list I could come up with…

  1. Mercedes in Alabama. This is my favorite…
  2. Invensys Building Systems in Rockford. This is the plant I have spent most time in.
  3. Foxboro in Massachusetts
  4. Boeing in Salt Lake city
  5. Wacker Corp in Wisconsin
  6. Flexco in Chicago
  7. Yorozu in Mississippi
  8. Tioga Pipe in Philadelphia
  9. US Holdings in Florida
  10. International truck in Ohio
  11. Formed Fiber, All the plants in Auburn (Maine), Sumter (SC), sidney (Ohio)
  12. Nortel Networks in Raleigh
  13. TIC Gums in Pennsylvania
  14. Metso Paper in Finland
  15. Deckel Maho in Germany
  16. Otis in Germany
  17. Ferag in Switzerland

 

Hmm so it turned out to be pretty long list. But all of them have been unique and every unit/plant is different. U know Metso paper made Canon’s before first world war. After the war, they had to make something else and guess what is closest to canons, Paper manufacturing machines. SO that is what they started making. Isn’t that amazing. Ever visit has a story linked to it… But for now I guess this one is enough…

Operations

Today when I looked at my calendar I was surprised to see operations class on Monday. I was expecting Ethics. Anyway my prof wanted me to fill up a one page background info. One question in that was “List of Operations Management related activities I have been involved in”… Hmmm So I started thinking about it…Actually I have never held an operations related job. You know directly after coming out of college I started working for Baan. Baan made ERP software, I was trained in Distribution related functionality and later worked on OW the integration technology of Baan. Then after 3 years working for Baan I moved to US and worked on various projects where we implemented, integrated and automated ERP solutions. So did I manage operations no. But you know what I have seen to many things in operations, I have stood in front of management teams and recommended process reengineering based on inefficiencies.

Classic example was complete B2B strategy which was implemented for Flexco. Flexco had traditionally managed all of there order processing through phones. This was inefficient and error prone. We implemented a sophisticated B2B solutions which allows customers to upload orders either in Excel or XML format. Companies or distributors could directly post these XML documents over web, on receiving these orders the email was sent to sales reps and ordering company with order info. Once the order was shipped we sent another set of notification and users could download there invoices from the B2B site. It was not as simple as it sounds. There were issues related to production, shipping, billing we had to resolve before we could do anything. International customers had there own set of issues to be managed… Anyway but that was just one project… I have worked with more than 55 customers on various projects/issues..

The best time I have ever had on shop floor was at Invensys building systems in Rockford. I still do some consulting work for them. But when they went live with new ERP system. We had integrated there existing shipping software with BaanERP. On day of go live we reached the shipping dock at 6:30am and helped ship goods for whole day. That was fun. Can never forget that day.. If you really want to see America you have to go to places where things are made… “Made in America”….:)

Invensys Building Systems

Company: Invensys Building Systems
Time: Jan 2002-Oct-2002
Location: Rockford, IL.
Website: http://www.invensys.com

This is one of my favourite projects. This was the most challenging project I have ever done. IBS was planing to implement Baan ERP. We were responsible for integrating their 7 legacy systems with BaanERP. They used

  1. Clippership for shiping
  2. PSI-Nafta for nafta certifications
  3. Ultipro for payroll
  4. CCI for product literature
  5. Socc for project estimation
  6. Kab-Ban a bar coding application for procurement on shopfloor
  7. Union payroll used for calculating union payroll calculations.

From eET side Anil was Project Manager I was the solutions architect and we had Gaurav, Hitendra and Bhaskar. Other than them we did have more developer who helped us complete the project.

We did not want to write custom code for each of these interfaces and creat a maintanance nightmare. We we came us with EPM(Enterprise process manager). This was a business process management tool. We build the first version in 4 months. Then we completed all the interfaces using this new tool. It is completely written in java all the document formats used are XML based and all web interfaces are combination of XML and XSL. We convert everything on the fly to html.:) EPM is one of the best products I have ever built. Amazing stuff. You can really do wonders with it. Flexibility was the key.

We did complete all the interfaces in time and in budget. Best part is guess we ahve all these running for last 3 years now and we have hardly recieved 3-4 support calls since we went live. Isn’t that something. How many projects can claim that.:) That is an achievement…

I still have good relationship with everyone in IBS. I just love that site. Great customer, Good people… Ruth, Arlan, Jerry, Russ, and all the IT guys… Man… Was that a big team.

You know the day we went live I was shipping boxes on shipping dock from morning 7:00AM. That was fun… We were running with handheld devices collecting the KANBAN information. :):) Working on shopfloor is a different feeling. It is great feeling…

Any project can done successfully if you plan and design it correct. Never rush to deliver stuff. Do it right… We really did this one right..:) Enjoyed a lot.

Koelliker…

Company: Koelliker
Time: Dec 2001
Location: Milan, Italy.
Website: http://www.koelliker.it

I was asked to visit Koelliker as they were facing major issues with there interface which was built couple of years back for them by Baan. Mr Roner was my contact at Koelliker. I was just suppose to upgrade OW broker from 1.0 to 2.0 and was told all issues will be resolved. I did that and when I looked at the architecture of the interface I was shocked. It was one of the worst implementation of any integration solution I have ever seen. Here are the steps which were done to perform simple interface

1. Broker read the email message from web application.
2. Broker creates a file on local system using System.writeFile with all the necessary data coming form web application.
3. Broker then runs a batch file. Batchfile uses rsh and rcp to copy this file to the remote Baan server.
4. Then a customized session in Baan is used to read this file and create orders in Baan.
5. Then the session create a file on Baan server which is then transfered to Broker server using ftp.
6. Broker reads this and then sends the message via mail to Final application.

This was such a big mess. I suggested a new approach and repalced all this stuff with a direct application call using BOIs(integration objects of Baan) using OW technology. I got the budget approval for the project in 3 days I was there. If you know there is a better way of doing things and you can convince the customet about it and show ROI to them. I am sure you can get budget apporved for anything.

Metso Paper…

Company: Metso Paper
Time: Nov 2001
Location: Jyvaskyla, Finland.
Website: http://www.metsopaper.com

While I was in Germany I also visited Metso Paper in Finland. Some areas in Finland you don’t get sunlight for months…:) Ok on 27th Nov I flew to Helsinki there I met Kim Jarlas who was Baan account manager for Metso, we prepared for our meeting next day in Jyvaskyla. Next day morning I flew to Jyvaskyla. Metso wanted a feasibility study to integrate MQSeries-Websphere-eMatrix-5.0.c with Baan ERP system they use. I was suppose to present a proposal for doing the same. They really liked what I presented and finally Baan did get the project from Metso.

The funniest part was I asked the executive from Metso before the meeting what the line of business was for Metso. I thought it was manufacturing paper. But he really surprised me, he explained to me.. If you ever want to start a manufacturing paper anywhere in the world Metso can built a factory and provide all the machinery for the same..:) Also he told me before World war II Metso manufactured Canons for war. After the war they started manufacturing paper manufacturing machinery as the process is same…:)

Here is a photograph of the office we visited…

6 Hectic Weeks in Germany…

Company: Baan Germany, Baumer Electric,Gildermeister-Deckel Maho, Government of lower Saxony,Huber-Suhner, Otis
Time: Nov/Dec 2001
Location: Hannover, Germany
Project: Presales, Requirements gathering and resolving issues.
Website: http://www.baan.com

I was in Germany for 6 weeks. This was a hectic and very interesting phase as I got a chance to work with lot of customers in Germany. Language is a big issue in Germany. I could not understand German and some of our customers did not understand English and even if they did they prefer interacting in German. Mario Trapa was my key contact in Germany he was the one who co-ordinated all the visits. We traveled to various customers some for pre-sales and some to resolve OW related issues.

One of the major customers we met regarding pre-sales of OW was Deckel Maho. They are subsidiary of Gieldermeister. They wanted to integrate there Workflow systems from HP, product management software and Baan. We visited them atleast couple of times. I did present a solution to them. The most critical problem we faced was they had Baan 4c2 and OW is not officially supported on this version. We had to provide a workaround for this…:)

Along with this I also visited Otis for presenting a proposal. They wanted to integrate Baan with there mobile application… They wanted there service engineers to carry mobile devices and they will update service related information from customer sites..:) OW was idea for this. I had already built a m-commerce applicaiton for IBAYA so this was piece of cake for us.

Other than this I also helped Baan Germany team in resolving integration related issues for various customers like Baumer electric, Huber-Shuner and Government of lower saxony… Government of Lower saxony was a big account and the issue Baan Germany was facing was to transfer binary files from Baan to the web application. There was a new enhancement in OW made recently to suppor this using binary datatype. I got help from Kailash who was in NL and resolved this problem.

The most important skill in problem solving is knowing right people at right places and asking right questions to them…:)

Here is a photograph of Deckel Maho office. This was a great place. Office is located on border of Germany and Austria just next to the mountains…Beautiful Place..I think name of place was Pfronten.

Training in India and NL…

Company: Baan Hyd/NL
Time: Nov 2001
Location:Hyd India and NL
Project: Training on OpenWorld(Integration Technology of Baan)
Website: http://www.baan.com

I was asked to give training to a team in Baan Hyderabad on OW. I was and am the expert on the subject so Baan requested me to go and give the training. I had previously given this training(when I worked for baan) to various teams with Baan. I was gave training to even the OW team in NL. That was because the original team of Theodoor left Baan so I was asked to travel to NL to give the training.

I also travelled to NL and gave training to few customers. One of them guys in the trainign was from South Africa. He was so funny. He kept telling us all stories about SA. I had one more student who met me at Snecma after couple of years. I had forgotten him totally…:) Of Course I don’t remember their names but I should have them in my emails..:)

Visit to Mercedes Plant at Alabama

Company: Mercedes
Time: 23rd Oct 2001
Location:Alabama USA
Project: Integrations
Website: http://www.mbusa.com

We had a meeting with Merc team about there integration issues. This meeting was arranged by the strategic account manager of Baan company for Merc David Allison. He was a great guy. We met Chuck Morris and team. Chuck Morris and his team had written a software component inside Baan called FastMRP. This allowed customer to change the Merc options just 7 days before delivery. Amazing stuff for such a complex machine(M class). Merc Corporate in Germany decided to move every plant to SAP. So now the plant in Alabama which was on Baan had to move to SAP but they still wanted to use FastMRP written in Baan. How can this be achieved??? This is where SAP adapter built at Foxboro fit in. I was suppose to demostrate the solution and convince them on the path to using SAP connector. The meeting went really well. Chuck was really impressed.

David did send me a email thanking me for my excellent presentation. I still have that email.:) It was a great feeling to visit the plant, look at new M class vehicles built in front of me and talk to great guys like Chuck and his team. You can access his solution on fast MRP at http://www.fastmrp.com.

Pre Sales at Solectron

Company: Solectron
Time: Sept 2001
Location:San Jose,CA USA
Project: Integrations
Website: http://www.solectron.com

I arrived at San Jose after staying in Salt lake city for few days. Milind also joined me from Japan. We both went to meet Solectron management. I don’t remember the names now it has been long time. I should have the names in my email history. Anyway, Solectron uses Baan ERP and they had problems with integrations and we wanted to sell them OpenWorld, which is integration technology for Baan. We did a good job. Milind is great in selling OW and I am good at demonstrating the technology. Solectron was impressed by the solution. Later they did implement OW in there environment…