Tag Archives: New York Times

The story behind India’s struggling Aakash IT project

By David Bicknell

The New York Times has carried a couple of excellent blog posts reporting on India’s struggling “Aakash” IT project.

The India Ink posts detail the story behind a plan to introduce a cheap computer built for Indian students. As the blog explains, last October, the Indian Ministry of Human Resources Development unveiled the new, $35 computer.

Now, more than six months later, with thousands of university students still waiting for the laptop, “the tale of the Aakash looks a bit like an Indian soap opera, complete with a convoluted storyline, multiple characters, and massive personality clashes.”

As India Ink says, the Aakash project, if successfully completed, could enable millions of students to connect with the larger digital world, and is being closely watched outside India as the national government tries to attract foreign investment in public-private partnerships for everything from infrastructure to vocational training.

“The original idea behind the Aakash seemed pleasantly simple. A cheap computer would benefit Indian university students by enabling them to watch lectures or get lecture notes and other class information online. In 2009, a team of government researchers developed the basic design for the low cost device.

“The job of putting the project out to bid fell to I.I.T. Rajasthan, which by spring of 2011 had received 477 million rupees — about $9.2 million — in government funds to pay for procuring and testing 100,000 low-cost tablets. In writing the tender, I.I.T. Rajasthan detailed the technical specifications for the tablet but did not specify the criteria for testing and approving the devices, according to a government source involved in the project. That omission was to prove disastrous.

Here is Part One of the tangled tale of the project, which involves issues with procurement, outsourcing, testing and governance.

And here is Part Two.

India’s $35 Aakash tablet comes apart
Aakash Tablet Problems: India’s $35 slate slammed by testers

M&A-led IT change project creates integration challenge for United Airlines

By David Bicknell

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) frequently create IT project and change management headaches when companies’ systems have to be integrated.

The latest example of a system migration creating a change headache appears to be United Airlines’ adoption of Continental Airlines’ reservations platform, as the New York Times recently reported.

The New York Times said that United Airlines suffered service problems including flight delays, faulty kiosks and jammed phone lines as it tried to work through technical problems in its efforts to combine the United and Continental reservation systems. The two companies first announced their merger in May 2010.

The United and Continental problems appear to mirror the problems that US Airways Group experienced when it tried to  combine the reservations systems of America West Airlines and US Airways following a merger in 2005.

Related Links

A Mergers & Acquisitions Playbook for CIOs, Part 1

A Mergers & Acquisitions Playbook for CIOs, Part 2

Fliers’ Alert: United, Continental merger comes Saturday

Bookmarked – a selection of recent articles that caught the eye

China Daily – SMEs given preferential policies in govt procurement

New York Times - The Ying and the Yang of Corporate Information

Stuff.co.nz – Gremlins’ delays add up to headaches

The Daily Telegraph – Apple iCloud: will the Cloud finally go mainstream?

Harvard Business Review – An Introvert’s Guide to Networking

ICMIF Blog -  Can Popular Capitalism go global?

The Lawyer - Never Knowingly Undersold: Employee Share Ownership

Ethos Journal – Common Purpose