Monday, December 3, 2012

Consulting: Is it the right career path for you?

In order to begin answering this question, we must first discuss what a consultant's job is. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of consulting is: "providing professional or expert advice". This is basically what the job boils down to, giving advice. You must now be wondering, well what kind of advice would companies or governments need? This is where the diversity of the consulting career comes into play, certain companies have certain goals they try achieve; and consultants are hired to help figure out a way to achieve those goals. If you want to see what kind of goals companies are trying to achieve, all it takes is a simple visit to a consulting firm. If you go on Accenture's website, some of the goals they have helped companies achieve range from helping the fashion brand UNIQLO grow by 350% to helping Unilever save a billion euros to helping Marriott get $7 billion worth of online sales. These are some of the accomplishments of just one of the big five consulting companies. Looking at this alone confirms that the possibilities of what you will end up doing as a consultant is limitless.

Long Hours, Lots of Travel, New Offices, New People and New Places; Are you up to the Challenge?

One of the most challenging aspects of being a consultant is the work schedule. Unlike regular employees who work 9-5 jobs, consultants often have to put in longer hours. Furthermore people who like a sense of community will not like consulting as you change companies every few months. Furthermore this means that travelling will become very frequent, and you may change cities every few months. Lastly longer hours are sometimes a part of the job as consultants comes from meeting deadlines, and unlike normal jobs where deadlines can be extended, consultants are paid top dollar so extending projects is a big no for the company. Those who enjoy a fast paced work environment and like travelling will most likely love consulting, especially considering how a lot of companies will pay for your travel expenses. It also is a great job for those who want to work for different companies and hate being stuck in the same job for years on end . I spoke with a College Park student to get him to share his views on consulting and he liked the idea of travelling and changing companies every few months.)

How People Skills Can Help You Land A Job In Consulting

The questions I asked my experts revolved around being able to land a job as a consultant right out of college. Professor Bailey, who is a research associate professor and executive director of Quest says that "very good communication skills" are necessary because "consultants have to move from consulting job to consulting job". However, just having good communication skills is not enough. Professor Basu, an accounting professor at College Park says the two most important skills of a consultant are analytic skills and communication skills. He says that after analyzing the problem one must be able to communicate what the problem is and how to fix the problem. From both interview what sticks out is the ability to communicate, that however should not undermine the fact that you have to be good at problem solving. 

Accenture, Deloitte, PWC, Ernst and Young, and KPMG look forward to hiring students that graduate from College Park

It is worth noting that you can walk out with a plethora of degrees and still get a job as a consultant. Furthermore consultants are being hired left and right by companies so the chances of getting a job in consulting are excellent.Unlike other jobs which require you to walk out of a university with a specific degree, consulting requires that you just be of a specific major such as business or engineering. Both the professor I interviewed said that the companies listed above hire at College Park, so no surprise there. Your opportunities as a consultant are not limited to the companies that hire you, one must keep in mind that someone can be a free lance consultant. The difference between working for a company such as Accenture and being a free lance consultant is that consulting companies already have clients. This means that if you are  free lance consultant you are on your own and may have periods where you make no money. Another downside to being a free lance client is that unlike consulting companies that place you with their clients, you have to basically deal with companies directly instead of a middleman. This means there are a plethora of industries you may end up being placed in. Having said that the upside to free lance consulting is that you keep all the money you make. Lets say you work for Accenture for $30 an hr, in this case Accenture is most likely charging their client around $80 for your services. Being a free lance consultant eliminates the middle man. Lastly due to technical issues this video is a little over a minute long. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

How usable is an iPad?

The Nielson Norman Group decided to do a study where they looked at how usable an iPad is on different websites. The study's goal is to see whether an iPad could one day possibly be a complete replacement for desktops and laptops. It also compared the iPad to the iPhone, in terms of web browsing experience among other things. At the end of the day the research above all, was trying to determine the usability of an iPad.

First Studies

The first studies for this research was conducted a few weeks after the release of the iPad. This already raises problems with me, because I do not believe that is enough time for a learning curve but I digress. The other issue would be who is it that they surveyed? If it is a younger demographic, they will be able to adjust to the iPad easier than an older demographic. The study says it used a grand total of seven people for its research which is way too little for a real study. Surveying one person above 50 is no way to get an idea of how an entire demographic would react to a product. I also found their methodology interesting, because they had people who have possibly never used an iPad before mess around on one. While I understand the appeal of asking people who have never used a product before, I think it is unfair to base decisions of user friendliness based on first time usage. I say this because every product no matter how customer friendly has some sort of learning curve. Having said that the intention of the study is noble, but I do not think it was executed properly to say the least.

Inconsistencies of App Usage

The research found that what people disliked most about the iPad was switching from app to app and from app to website. This is quite easy once you learn how to navigate an iPad but my guess is not everyone knows that pressing the home key twice allows you to multitask. Now I think the issue with multitasking revolves around screen size, in laptops and desktop there is enough screen estate to show everything that you have open in the bottom. I think this may be one of the bigger challenges that iPads and all other tables alike will face. With smaller screens a lot of the functionality of bigger screens is lost, and I really do not see any way around the issues that arise from a smaller screen.

Websites and the iPad

One of the biggest advantages of the iPad over the iPhone is the screen real estate. With a much bigger screen navigating websites is not only easier but it also is easier to navigate the browser website rather than the mobile version of the website. These are clear advantages of an iPad over an iPhone but still compared to a browser on a laptop or desktop it doesn't live up to the mark. I personally think that the article goes too in depth in to every little aspect that could make an iPad troublesome. In some sense the article is more trouble to read through when compared to the issues it discusses. One of the issues mentioned is inconsistencies with pinch to zoom, as sites that load things such as maps may pose an issue on an iPad. The research also mentions differences between apps, websites and possibly iPad specific websites. While apps seem to be the best option as they are built specifically for the iPhone/iPad, but that is pretty obvious and self-explanatory. It is interesting to see companies adapt to the needs of customers rather than the other way around, mainly because these technologies are very easy to adapt to.

Is This Study Worth It?

As I stated earlier, this study is much ado about nothing, I do not think pinch and zoom is a deal breaker for most people buying an iPad, and neither is the difference between desktop browsing and iPad browsing. I am pretty sure that most people buying an iPad realize that. I think this study needs to be reproduced with more people and the researchers should consider doing a study where they see how much users are able to adapt to the iPad in a month. Despite my criticism towards the research, I do believe it was a good effort, they clearly put a lot of thought behind the research and I find their efforts noble but wasted.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bollywood's Future In Action Movies

To me one of the most interesting film industries to observe is Bollywood, as it churns out more movies than any other industry. There are several misconceptions about Bollywood, the most famous one being that it encompasses all Indian movies made. Movies made in the language of Hindi are the only movies that truly fall under the Bollywood category. 

Music in Bollywood Movies

Aside from the misconception that every Indian movie is part of Bollywood, there are a also stereotypes that have been subscribed to Bollywood movies, such as that every movie is really a musical. Another common stereotype is that Bollywood movies on average are around three hours long. Both these stereotypes are mainly true but over the recent years there have been several movies that have abandoned the combination of songs and movie. Another trend is a decrease in the number of songs per movie. Movies filmed during the 1980-2000 contained anywhere between five to seven songs, and these songs greatly contributed to the running time of most Bollywood movies. At the turn of the century, more and more movies ascribed lessening the running time of movies, and this was mainly done by cutting songs out of the movie. The average currently is anywhere between three to five songs per movie. Such changes are fundamentally changing Bollywood, and one of the most notable aspects of the decrease in the number in songs lies in the fact that the song is tied in to the plot, so the story continues as the song occurs. A great example of this is from the movie Don, where a character's assassination takes place as a song goes on. The link to the song is above . The question now becomes, what influenced this change?

Hollywood's effect on Bollywood

While there is not one clear answer, I personally think a lot of it has to do with Hollywood's effect on Bollywood. In many ways Bollywood has moved towards a more western approach regarding movies. Apart from several movies that drew inspiration directly from Hollywood movies, Bollywood has been trying to step up its game in the action movie department for quite some time. While Hollywood currently holds the crown as the most slickly and best produced action movies, Bollywood has been working to catch up to the standard, if not set a new one. Focusing just on action movies alone, Indian action movies are for the most part lackluster especially when compared to Hollywood movies. This all began to change in 2004 when Dhoom came out. The movie took India by storm and rightfully so, it was Bollywood's first attempt at making an action that was able to compete with Hollywood movies. Sadly the movie's impact was limited and Bollywood's action movies continued to be very few and far in between. Other notable action movies that can be thrown in to the mix include: Dhoom 2 and Don. Both those movies released in 2006 and after that Bollywood saw a couple mildly successful action movies but nothing incredible. One thing worth keeping in mind is that Bollywood movies budgets are way lesser than that of Hollywood. While the most expensive Hollywood movie cost near 500 million dollars to make, the highest budgeted Bollywood movie was produced for around 25 million dollars. This gives the directors a lot less to work with in terms of money to spend towards special effects and action sequences. This is one the reasons why Bollywood action movies cannot perform at the mark of Hollywood movies. The most recent attempt at a superhero movie by Bollywood was Ra.One. The link to the trailer is above.

Don 2 - The only action movie worth sharing

The only Indian action movie I would share with my friends would be Don 2, and there is a very simple reason for this. It is one of the few movies that combines excellent action alongside a good plot line. Of course to understand this movie you would have to watch its predecessor, Don, which was a mediocre action movie. The strides made by the sequel are monumental, and it is one of the few sequels that outdoes its predecessor in every single way. This movie raises the bar for Bollywood action movies and with only two songs in the mix, it is relatively modern in its approach. The trailer for the movie is below.