Sony: The unfortunate undoing – A retrospective

Leaving Sony after 8 years of service was a bittersweet departure. My story is probably similar to many who left Sony before me. I wanted to be part of a brand that produced products that changed many lives – the walkmans, the TVs, the Playstations. Sony seemed to be one of the best brands to work for. Being young and ambitious, I was selected to join. I was proud and happy to be part of this beloved company, a global entity, a premium brand.

Then reality set in. I saw the red tapes, the brick walls, the Office Space scenes, the politics. I met people whom I wondered how they got the job in the first place. I vowed not to be like them. And luckily there are many opportunities within Sony. I moved to other divisions that were growing and more innovative. I thrived and excelled in my positions. I progressed from an individual contributor to a people manager, expanded my influence from local to global. I built new teams from the ground up and worked with people who shared the same passion. I operated at a high level with quality, efficiency and excellence.

Then more reality set in. Sony’s years of losses forced the company to downsize. People became numbers on excel spreadsheets. And after all, Sony is a Japanese company and it is human nature to save their own. Groups of people outside of Japan were let go regardless of their talents. My group was no different. Numbers on spreadsheets would meet its fate – erased.

How did Sony come to this? Here is what I see from my point of view:

  1. Silos – Sony just doesn’t have a structure to support collaboration from all corners of the company. Every division is winning or losing on its own. Any collaboration is done formally – budgeted and planned. No spontaneity.
  2. Core values and culture – company’s core values are not engrained in employees. As a result, these values are interpreted differently from person to person, department to department. Culture is different in every department – making any collaboration hard.
  3. Lots of ideas, nowhere to go – There were many people with great ideas. However, there was no effective outlet for them to materialize. There were many failed attempts – online forms on Share Point, monthly emails. None of them was effective. And people were just too busy with their own jobs. They still needed to meet their department’s KPI and not really encouraged to contribute.
  4. Pride – “the worst sin is pride” I think also applies to a company. Sony thinks it is a “premium” brand and focuses too much on being “premium”. They rolled out overpriced products with closed platforms for many years.
    • Take the PlayStation for example. PlayStation 3 was a failure because of Sony taking the high road and introducing a ‘hard to develop for’ software platform. The recent turnaround of Playstation 4 success was built on them listening to what the game developers and gamers want.
    • Because of their past as a successful electronics manufacturer, they focused too much on excellent hardware manufacturing and neglected to build sophisticated software ecosystems.
  5. Slow to change – Being slow to change is probably one of the worst qualities a technology company can have. Sony simply did not have the desire to change its old ways of working. Their unit of change was counted in months, quarters and years. Other successful technology companies are counting them in days.

I started a new job for over a month and can finally comprehend how I feel about the company I spent almost a decade of my life working for. I miss it. I miss the structure, the strive for excellence. I miss the hours working to perfect the quality of the work I was putting out. I miss the perks of being a Sony employee – the company discounts, the benefits and that working for Sony was a conversation starter. But most of all, I miss the people I met in all walks of life and from all corners of the world. I’d work for this company again despite the problems it has. I hope Sony turns around. I hope to work for this once beloved company again.

Sony Japanese Headquarters in Shinagawa

Sony Japanese Headquarters in Shinagawa

[Site Launch] The new face of Sony – a responsive website

After years of hard work, I’m happy that our project has *finally* launched. Sony is the first electronics giant to launch a global multi-lingual fully responsive website. This launch covers all of Europe, Turkey and Russia/CIS. As the front-end lead for the project, I’m especially thrilled because a good front-end stack is the most important part of a responsive website. Thanks to 2 vendors and my kick-ass development team who worked tirelessly to perfect this brand new front end framework.

 

So, what’s really great about this website? Here are some important achievements from my perspective:

  1. Immersive customer experience
  2. Responsive design, responsive images, responsive everything…
  3. Separated presentation layer
  4. Modular front end framework
  5. Ability to develop on a single platform from ideation to integration
  6. Test-driven and agile

Check out the Sony UK site. Enjoy!

Adobe Max 2013 Afterthoughts

Adobe MAX this year has over 5000 attendees – the most attended MAX so far. I was hesitant because Adobe delayed this conference for 6 months making it 18 months since the last MAX. I thought Adobe would have scaled back but they instead brought so many good announcements and surprises instead.

Below are the highlights for me:

Edge Reflow
This is one of the most useful tools for a responsive design workflow. The ability to save comps in different break points is much needed. Adobe has an answer for it. Edge Reflow also comes with the ability to export to a responsive HTML prototype. With this tool, the designers can also learn that elements cannot magically appear or disappear between different breakpoints – one of the pain points working with traditional web designers.

Edge Inspect
Edge inspect is a cross operating system plugin for testing your website. It works like magic – able to control your browser on your desktop while seeing it synch up your with the other connected devices (iOS, Android..etc). To add a cherry on top, you can inspect the DOM tree of the connected device on your desktop. It is an excellent tool!

Creative Cloud Subscription
The new subscription model created a bit of a controversy like this:

All in all, people are still very much receptive. I welcome the change and think that the new charging model is a good deal. $50 a month for all of Adobe’s software versus $500 for only Photoshop is definitely no comparison. I think of it as like a “car payment” for your software. You use it everyday. You eventually forget about paying for it.

Sony @ Adobe Max

"Developing Web Experiences Inside SONY"

“Developing Web Experiences Inside SONY”

Sony was a platinum sponsor for the event because of their existing partnership with Adobe on the tablet and pen devices. Our team –  Global Web Office held a session on “Develop Web Experiences Inside Sony”.

PSN Store Redesign on PlayStation 3

Although I’m no longer working with SNEI in Sony anymore, I am proud to see the PSN store on Playstation 3 finally launched. It has been live since October 2012 and global rollout is still happening at the time of this blog post.

The new store provides drastically improved user interactions. Users are able to browse the store much easier with better groupings of media and add-ons, added information and trailers, and a much improved search functionality that was lifted from the Video Unlimited Preview Beta app.

I invite you to check it out on your PS3.

Video-All-Screen-2.jpg

Sony Entertainment Network Video Unlimited Preview on PS3

This app I’ve been working on is released. I can hear sighs of relief from everyone around this office. They’ve worked on this for a very long time. Check it out now if you have PS Plus. Otherwise it will be available for the general public on PSN after 2 weeks.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/09/27/sony-video-unlimited-preview-brings-gracenote-metadata-to-sen/

http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/09/sony-video-unlimited/

http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/27/tech/gaming-gadgets/ps3-video-unlimited/