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Avoid fall and decline from position of great heights

Sachin Dabir | Founder & Director, Ashnik
USA, 8 Dec 2016

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“We knew what was happening: where we failed was in applying our knowledge effectively…”Before I tell who said this and in what context, let us reflect on this quote some more time.

We find many organisations in a similar situation or similar mindset i.e. not taking (enough) action even when they know they have to. Especially when we talk about Cloud and Big Data technologies to organisations, we find that they are ready to talk, engage but are not ready to take the step towards adoption/application. At times, we feel that organisations are discussing just for the sake of it, knowing fully well that they have no intentions of taking further steps. At times organisations find it very difficult to bring about change or introduce new technology, just for the fear of unknown – But in all these cases they are aware of what is happening around – uncanny similarity with the above quote.

Now let me share with you name of the author of the above quote. Jorma Ollila was the CEO of Nokia from 1992 till 2006 and then the Chairman of the board till 2012. As you can see, he led Nokia from near collapse in 1992 to stratospheric heights with global market share of more than 40%. Then came Apple’s iPhone in 2007 and Nokia lost the plot. By 2011 it adopted Microsoft Windows as platform for its phone and in 2013 agreed to be acquired by Microsoft.

In his biographical book “Against All Odds”, Jorma Ollila has outlined his journey since 2004 in one of the chapters. Towards the end of 2004 and mid of 2005, Nokia was at its heights. The above quote is about the developments taking place since 2005 and journey towards Nokia’s fall from market leader to oblivion.

Most technology managers show great understanding of technical developments taking place in the industry. Many of them have access to research being done by Gartner, IDC et al and know about impending trends. But when we talk to them, we find that either they are not ready to accept the reality or they feel that ‘my market is different’, ‘my situation is different’ or they simply dismiss these developments as passing waves.

Taking a concrete example of a key trend – Big Data, while we find there is a lot of talk happening around Big Data, but organisations are very slow in leveraging new technologies. While experiments are going on in many organisations, the pace of adoption is very slow.

When I read this book and particularly developments in 2004, I could connect the current state of many organisations regarding the adoption of Big Data related technologies. As the example of Nokia shows, just knowing what is happening is not enough, we got to take action too. In the current atmosphere speed of execution is additional dimension. Gone are those days when organisations could afford to ‘wait and watch’ if a particular technology trend is right for them or not. Today, you got to at least try it out in one corner of your organization, have first-hand knowledge about it and be ready to adopt it if you find it is suitable, you simply can not be sitting on the fence. In case of Big Data technologies, there are many pieces to it, there are multiple dimensions to it but they all are intertwined. Secondly it is not just adoption of technology to support business operations. Big Data gives you insight that you can apply to your business. You can leverage it to bolster your business.

So you got to be taking the bull by horn, if you don’t want to be in the same situation as Nokia. You could be a great organization today, but if you are not applying what you know, you could end up being at the bottom.

This end-of-the-year message is not meant to ruin your holiday mood and holidays. You can use the holiday time to plan for the new year projects.

Wish you a very joyful festive season and a very prosperous new year!


  • Sachin is veteran in IT industry and brings over 25 years of experience in setting up new businesses, leading high performance sales teams and executing growth strategies. He is passionate about open source and is an acknowledged leader in open source in Asia. As a founder of Ashnik he is leading the growth initiatives and taking Ashnik global. His stints in Asia, UK and USA enables him to bring unique perspective to entrepreneurship and life. His interests in writing, reading and mentoring makes him an excellent networker. Currently he is learning to be a patient father to teenage sons and striving to be a good husband.

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