April 26, 2005

Techies to managers: are they ready to shift gears


From workplace to news to matrimonials - the technology professionals are the talk of the town in more ways than one. They can solve the trickiest of problems with utmost ease. They have the skills and the world is ready to pay for it.

Going by these standards all the companies should have been ruled by the techies. All of us know that is not the case. Techies don't want to be managers. Programming and being in touch with technology is what gives them the most satisfaction.

But there's a flip side to it. What about Bill Gates, Nandan Nilekani and Azim Premji? These are the names people swear by when it comes to technology.

They have all the problem solving and trouble shooting skills needed to be an ace manager. But, do techies really want to be managers? Or being hands-on with technology the sole aim of their lives?

We have tried to deal with the problem objectively. Read on for both the perspectives...

Once a techie, always a techie

"I miss being a complete techie", this is what Ravi Rajav had to say when asked about his new profile as a senior manager in a tech company. Rajav has over eight years of experience, in which he had various roles within the tech arena.

Anu Chawla is yet another example of the geeky types, who would like to stick to her role as a senior software developer, despite being offered a larger role as a senior manager.

Like these two, most of the techies prefer to be close to technology and not switch to senior management levels. She was recently offered a job at a BPO to head the technology team which would involve people management. Despite an attractive salary she declined the job offer.

So do techies hate to be managers? Let's deal with the issue objectively like any techie will do!

Trained to be geeks

Techies come to this profession with a frame of mind. They are programmed to outdo even themselves when it comes to knowing or creating new technologies. So strong is the urge to stay close to technology that many from the new tech brigade get into freelance. The freedom to choose what they want to do is unbeatable.

Managerial controls

Management roles as the name suggests involve management from top to bottom. The goals and the roles flow from the top. Hierarchy at times is so tight that creativity is stifled in following the channels. Geeks want to be left on there own when it comes to decision or let a senior geek take the decisions for them and not a manager.

Job satisfaction

Many people can differ on this one. But don't we all know that technical jobs give more satisfaction. "The feeling of knowing something first, which will change the future for the world, gives you a great high", says Rakesh Luthra a senior software developer at a Gurgaon-based firm.

With all due respect, techies are more in demand as far as today's scenario is concerned. Because of the increasing demand, technically qualified people can move around more and work on different projects. You can move around and work on more interesting projects, suffer less on bad ones and make more money to boot. For a manager it's difficult to move to a new project or a firm for which they would really need to sell themselves.

"I wouldn't have been able to go back to my tech role if I had assumed the senior manager position in my company," Luthra adds. "One can assume a manager's role at any point of time. But after moving out of technology it's very difficult to go back to the techie role."

From the ace techies

"I think geeks should stick to more geeky roles. Even if you move to higher position one should make it a point to stay hands-on with technology. Technology is what will make all the difference at end of the day", says Rajul Garg, COO, Induslogic.

"In my 18-year long career I have moved in all the divisions of the organisation. I was trained in computer science and that is what I came back to. Creating a product according to your clients needs gives me a lots of satisfaction," says Radha Shelat, CTO, Veritas.

"I could have got the position of a project manager in my previous company. My parents got a shock when I left that well-established company to join this start up. My answer was simple - once a geek always a geek," says Alen Fernandes who left a Gurgaon-based software firm to join a start-up in Bangalore.

HR perspective

Though most of us will agree that a company needs both great managers and technical expertise, techies swear by the latter. "When we are looking at a candidate to head a technology company, we do expect some amount of technological skills," says Anuradha Chowdhary, a senior HR consultant.

To take strategic decisions for an organisation, where technology is both the end and the means, even a manager has to have some technological orientation. This is important to realise the scope and limitations of what technology can do for the company and the users at the end of the day.

Moreover, most of the companies in India need to communicate with foreign clients. A techie CEO will always be better placed to take the global perspective.

The bottom line is the world today needs unbeatable technical skills and is ready to pay for it too. And the tech brigade today is very well aware of this fact and is ready to make the most of it.

The flip side : They want and can be great managers

Do techies want to be managers? Tell us.

Tech, people, jobs: Geeks manage it all too well!

Problem solving comes easy to Shantanu Mitra. While the rest of his peers in office spend hours in a huddle trying to come up with solutions, this geek manager applies logical thinking to solve complex problems. And that is what sets apart Mitra and his ilk from the rest of the bunch.

"Since software pros are naturally blessed with a scientific bent of mind, it helps in looking at problems and arriving at solutions from a different angle," say Mitra, who works for a leading software company in Gurgaon.

Intelligent, sharp and having a tremendous alacrity to soak in knowledge - God's own army of geeks have successfully combined effective management skills and tech knowledge to emerge as good managers.

Coupled with an ability to rationalise and hunt for simple and logical solutions to complex problems, tech CEOs like Naryana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, Azim Premji, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, (to name only a few), have helped obliterate the stereotype that techies are better off coding and decoding in their technology hub.

Instead, moving away from their wired domain, tech professionals have proved that they make good managers. Thanks to their inherent ability to connect better with processes at the technological and logistical level, geeks make good trouble-shooters.

Add to that an ability to pre-empt difficult situations and take preventive action in time, and geek managers are heavily recommended to lend an iota of sanity in Scott Adams' Dilbertish office space!

Don't let trouble trouble you...

"Most geeks are able to save a huge effort that would go into troubleshooting issues because they could foresee them at the beginning of the project and plan resolutions well in advance," Yogesh Jagal, associate project leader, Perot Systems, says.

"What sets apart a tech manager from the rest is the fact that he works from a solution perspective. German scientists had spent thousands of dollars to discover a writing instrument that astronauts could use in space, since a pen does not work there. The US scientists simply went ahead and gave pencils to their astronauts! Similarly, tech professionals also function with the solution approach in mind, and this is what helps them score over regular B-school managers," Sujit Singh, country manager, Dax Networks, says.

Solutions approach is not the only quality that makes our geek gods perfect manager material. The ability to stick to deadlines (burning the midnight modem in this case!) comes naturally to tech professionals and it is this innate goodness that helps them score over others.

However, sticking to deadlines does not mean any compromise on quality. And innovative and out-of-the-box thinking ensures that geek managers are ahead of their non-geeky counterparts.

As competition gets tighter, it is the survival of the fittest. And for most geeks, aspiring to be in the manager's seat is a natural extension of their mindset and skill set.

"In order to survive in the rat race, techies, who usually aspire to head the technology division in a given organisation, are learning to club tech and administrative skills. It is this lethal combo that makes them good managers," Singh, who has been in the IT industry for the last 17 years, says.

Being in control

Delhi-based Jeevan S Bisht, location manager, Wipro Infotech feels that techies have a natural penchant for being in charge of situations and devising solutions.

"Techies like to be in control and that is what makes them good managers. Although a tech professional's first love is his line of action, adapting administrative skills is not an issue for them," he adds.

Although Mitra feels that making the transition from technical skills and focussing on outcomes and interpersonal skills become difficult when techies crossover to becoming managers, Jagal, of Perot Systems, feels that "geeks make excellent managers as they have a better understanding of their work, people (subordinate techies) involved and their needs and demands".

"Geeks are better at troubleshooting than regular managers, whether it's a technical project problem or a people problem within the team," Jagal says.

Like any other creative souls, our geek gods are also a sensitive lot, especially towards their work. And it is this sensitivity that makes them better managers, as they strike a perfect balance between working 24/7 in shifts, trouble shooting problems and maintaining deadlines.


What is the entrepreneur Sabeer Bhatia's new Venture-NavinMail

Courtesy : EconomicTimes, 16 August 2002

Bangalore: BPL Mobile, a leading mobile service provider, and Navinmail set up by
Sabeer Bhatia, co-founder of Hotmail, have joined hands to introduce two new products in India using the voice-messaging platform.

The products, miVoice and MPAS (mobile answer phone service), on mots (BPL Mobile prepaid card service) will be introduced soon. The new products incorporate
technologies of Telivoice and Telipower, belonging to Navinmail, a creation of Bhatia.

Navinmail Service (India) Pvt Ltd is a 100-per cent subsidiary of Navin Communications based in California and founded by a team of Indian-American entrepreneurs.

miVoice allows BPL mobile subscribers to send and receive voice messages to the ISD destinations such as the US and Canada and to all subscribers in networks in major
metros of India at a very low rate of Rs 3.95 and Rs 1.95, respectively. MAPS allows

BPL subscribers to be reachable even when their handsets are switched off, busy or
when no answer comes from the handset.

BPL Mobile president and CEO F B Cardoso says: “Customer feedback has shown that SMS service has a language barrier and is impersonal. With miVoice, we have removed these barriers by allowing the subscribers to send a message in their own voice at almost the cost of the SMS.”

Navinmail co-chairman Bhatia says: “Having a dynamic voicemail facility on the
cellular network is as powerful as having an e-mail facility on the Internet.”


Google unveils mobile local search

REUTERS[ TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2005 05:40:33 PM]

SAN FRANCISCO: Internet search leader Google Inc. late has announced a test service for finding local restaurants, stores and other businesses via Web-enabled cellphones and other mobile devices.

Google's local search service for mobile will be available in the United States and Canada at http://mobile.google.com/local, or from the main Google search page on mobile devices starting Tuesday morning.

Yahoo Inc. in October rolled out its mobile search service, which included local search, amid a fierce rivalry. Google Local for mobile will enable users to see 10 local search results. The service, which integrates the location of the businesses in search results on a map, also provides addresses, phone numbers and driving directions.

Google's mobile local search service does not currently carry ads. Web search companies have been keen to break into the local advertising market, which the Kelsey Group expects to reach $5.1 billion in the United States by 2009. The market research firm sees local search advertising accounting for about two-thirds of that total.

Local search ad spending hit $162 million in 2004, the Kelsey Group said.


April 19, 2005

Some Management Fundas

Check some of the Management Fundas:
(This can happen at any moment in anyone's life...)

A young executive was leaving the office at 6 pm when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand. "Listen," said the CEO, "this is a very sensitive and important document and my secretary has left. Can you make this thing work?" "Certainly, Sir" said the young executive. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button. "Excellent, excellent!" said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. "I just need one copy."

Moral of the story:
Never, never assume that your boss knows everything.

There were 4 guys John, Franky, Manav and Ashley who found a small bottle. When they rubbed the bottle, a genie appeared. Thankful that they had released him , the genie said, "Next to you all are 4 swimming pools, I will give each of you a wish. When you run towards the pool and jump, you shout what you want the pool of water to become, and then your wish will come true." John ran towards the pool, jumped and shouted "Wine". The pool immediately changed into a pool of wine. John was ecstatic. Next came Franky. He did the same and shouted, "Vodka" and immersed himself into a pool of vodka. Manav jumped and shouted, "Beer". The last of them was Ashley. He was running towards the pool when suddenly he stepped on a banana peel. He slipped towards the pool and shouted, "Shit!!!!!!!........."

Moral of the story:
Mind your language; you never know what it will land you in.


April 18, 2005

A sneak preview of LongHorn

Source : www.business-standard.com

ZDNet India April 15, 2005

What the next version of Windows will offer when it hits the market next year.

After months of keeping its prized cow in the barn, Microsoft is beginning to let Longhorn out of the corral for public viewing.

Beginning with brief demonstrations to reporters this week, the software maker is starting to shed light on just what the next version of Windows will offer when it hits the market next year. High on the list of features are security enhancements, improved desktop searching and organizing, and better methods for laptops to roam from one network to another.

"This is going to be a big deal," Jim Allchin, Microsoft group vice president, said. While he acknowledged that Microsoft is unlikely to get throngs of people to show up outside retail stores on launch day as happened with Windows 95, he did say the company expects Longhorn to drive PC sales. "This product has something for everybody."

In a brief demonstration, Allchin showed off several key features that make the new OS stand out from prior versions. A "quick search pane," for example, allows users to type queries and instantly see matching files.

In both look and form, the search mechanism is similar to the Spotlight feature in Apple Computer's Mac OS X Tiger, which goes on sale later this month.

Search results can be saved as virtual folders that are automatically updated to include all items that fit a particular query, such as "authored by Mary" or "containing the word 'Cleveland.'" Documents, pictures, music and even applications can also be given a rating or keywords to add further criteria for searching.

But while the OS bears plenty of similarities to Tiger, Allchin stressed that Microsoft has broken new ground in Longhorn. For example, document icons are no longer a hint of the type of file, but rather a small picture of the file itself. The icon for a Word document, for example, is a tiny iteration of the first page of the file. Folders, too, show glimpses of what's inside. Such images can be rather small, but they offer a visual cue that aids in the searching process, Allchin said.

Allchin said that Longhorn also goes further than Tiger when it comes to what one can do with search results, saying it offers new ways to organize and view the information. While the look of the OS hasn't been finalized, the translucent windows and other graphics tricks are expected to find their way into the finished software.

Microsoft clearly has a lot of work to do with Longhorn. Although the company has added Tablet and Media Center versions, as well as the Service Pack 2 security enhancements, a lot has changed since XP debuted five years ago.

What's in a name?

As for timing, Allchin said development is basically on track for the schedule outlined by the company last fall. An updated developer preview version will be given out at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, or WinHEC, set to take place at month's end in Seattle.

The company is still shooting for an initial beta around midyear, though it could be July, as the new official schedule is "early summer." A second beta is planned, though no final date has been given, with the goal of having the OS broadly available on PCs by next year's holiday season. Longhorn will come in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, Allchin said.

While many details about Longhorn have been nailed down, others, including its name, are still up in the air. The company is close to deciding which different versions will be available, but it's not ready to announce that yet.

It is too soon to say, for example, whether there will be separate Media Center or Tablet PC editions, Allchin said. "We are moving features around," he said.

Microsoft talked fairly early about Longhorn, with company Chairman Bill Gates first demonstrating it at a developer in October 2003. At the time, the company focused largely on the "under the hood" features of the OS--in particular, a new file system, Web services architecture and the presentation system.

Since then, Microsoft has significantly reshaped the OS. Last year, the company announced that it would pull out the new file system and that the Web services and presentation pieces would also be made available for Windows XP.

Got to know when to hold 'em

Allchin said his priority is making sure Longhorn meets quality standards, followed by getting the product out on schedule.

Packing it full of features is a third priority, and the one most likely to give. As a result, Microsoft would delay Longhorn over quality concerns, but is unlikely to let individual features hold up its release. That could mean some further trimming around the edges if things fall behind.

As with Windows XP Service Pack 2, security remains at the forefront of Microsoft's development efforts. With Longhorn, Microsoft isn't focusing as much on building in antivirus software as it is changing the behaviors that leave computer systems vulnerable to attack. For example, most computers today are run in administrator mode, making it easy to add new programs and make other changes, but also allowing major fundamental changes to a computer to be made by malicious software.

With Longhorn, Microsoft is trying to change that so a computer runs with the least possible permission level. Only those programs that truly need administrator privileges would run at that level. Microsoft plans a similar change to Internet Explorer that would reduce the level of access given to external Web sites in an attempt to lessen the possibility of malicious attacks.

Microsoft also has focused on improving the experience when using a laptop computer. A fast-start option, combined with support for external displays, will make it easier to create computers that can display calendar information or play music without having to start up the whole PC, including the OS.

Another change will make it easier for a person's PC to join a network at work or at home, while remaining invisible to other machines when getting Wi-Fi at a coffee shop.

In the category of making sure things "just work," Allchin cited enhancements such as making sure that a laptop that connects to a projector displays correctly without having to press any keys. In addition, he said, are settings tailored for specific tasks, such as watching a DVD. The computer will just assume that the user doesn't want the movie muted and probably wants to watch it full-screen.

Getting down to business

If there is more than one PC in a home network, Allchin said, it will be easy to allow sharing of files and easy to get at those files. For example, a PC with Longhorn might show all the music files together, whether they are on the local PC or another machine on the network.

There are also features designed to make it easier on businesses that use large numbers of Longhorn machines. Microsoft has created a new way for companies to put their custom installation of the OS onto a group of new machines.

Allchin said those enhancements - along with a reduction in the number of times customers have to reboot their machines and other features - will mean that companies that move to Longhorn will be able to cut their operating costs. Of course, he added, "that's up to us to prove."

Microsoft is also crafting its preliminary list of which capabilities a computer will need to run Longhorn. Allchin said the company is recommending that systems have 512MB of memory, as well as "today's level" of processor.

There will be different levels of display quality depending on how much graphics horsepower a computer has.

The richest view, code-named Aero Glass, sports the fanciest bells and whistles, such as translucent windows that come to life when opened or maximized. That's where the heftiest graphics requirements come in, but Allchin said recent tests show it might not require as much horsepower as originally thought.

Another view, Aero, will have slightly lower requirements and offer many, but not all, of the features. Finally, a minimal user interface will look fairly similar to current versions of Windows.

Allchin said the company is continuing to tinker with different interfaces and their requirements, "but clearly we want as many machines as possible to have Aero Glass because there is a lot more we can do in that."


April 8, 2005

Rules from How to win Friends and Influence People

This is an excrept from the book "How to enjoy your life and your job" by Dale Carnegie.

Don't Critize, condemn or complain.

Give honest and sincere appreciation.

Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Become genuinely interested in other people.

Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.

Show respect for the other person's opinions.Never say "YOU'RE WRONG"

Begin in a very friendly way

Get the other person saying "Yes,yes" immediately.

Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers

Appeal to the nobler motives

Call the attention to people's mistakes indirectly.

Talk about your own mistakes before critizing the other person.

Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

Let the other person save face.

"I am trying to implement all these points and advice every professional,infact every person should try to practice it."