Monthly Archives: August 2011

Contest: What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

(Update: Check out all the great advice in the comments section)

Getting the right kind of mentorship is a very important factor in the success of most successful people. Yet, unfortunately, we often see youngsters not getting the right kind of advice, either because they’re too shy to approach potential mentors, or don’t know whom to approach, or think they know everything. To highlight the importance of getting mentors, we’re asking our readers to give examples of great mentorship – by telling us what was the best piece of career advice you’ve ever gotten. And, if possible, mention the name of the mentor too. Post it as a comment to this article, and we will highlight the best ones in an upcoming article on PuneTech and elsewhere.

The contest ends on Monday, 5th September 2011 at 6pm.

Update: Amit Naik and Lokesh Parakh are the winners of the contest. They get a MentorEdge T-shirt, and a free ticket to a MentorEdge Pune session if they’re interested. Actually Anil Paranjape’s entry was the number 1 choice of the judges, but he does not win anything since he is already a mentor at MentorEdge.

Note: The contest (described below) is over, but you can continue adding advice, because good advice is forever…

To encourage you to help with this cause, MentorEdge, a program for connecting startups to successful mentors, will be giving away 2 T-Shirts to the best entries and free mentoring as part of the next event.

MentorEdge is an initiative of the Center for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at IIM-Ahmedabad, and is an event that happens every few months in many cities in India, including Pune. The basic idea is that senior, experienced people from the industry, especially those with experience relevant to startups, are invited to be mentors, and startups apply to get face-to-face, one-on-one slots with the mentors, so they can get advice, feedback, or schedule further follow-up meetings with specific mentors. The event usually lasts half a day and each startup ends up meeting at least 5 or 6 mentors.

The next event in Pune is on 10th September. If you are a founder of startup and been generating revenue for more than 6 months, you should definitely consider getting some mentorship through MentorEdge. For a list of mentors, see their website. To apply look here

Whether you’re interested in MentorEdge or not, and whether you’re interested in a T-shirt or not, please leave a comment with your advice on the best advice you’ve ever received.

What IT Services Project Managers can learn from Greek Mythology

(This article is a guest post by Rohit Gore, a Pune-based senior IT professional and novelist.)

“When you are a King, your options are very limited. But you have to do the best you can with them.” Odysseus, the great Greek King said to one of the greatest warriors of history, Achilles. It is a very revealing statement, and speaks a lot about Odysseus’ character and his grasp of what management is. Odysseus was one of the regional satraps of the mighty and egotistic King Agamemnon, and he had had to fight many brutal battles for the King’s glory. He was always challenged by the flagging morale of his troops, his personal sacrifice and dwindling resources of his country. However, he was aware of the wrath he and his little country would suffer if he tried to displease Agamemnon. Over the course of the history he achieved greatness as a shrewd king, who made sure his subjects were protected and larger goals were achieved, which was basically Agamemnon’s reign over most of the known world. Achilles, on the other hand, was a vain warrior who chased personal glory, and was brilliant at it.

Juxtaposing this in the world of IT Services, a project manager needs to be more of an Odysseus than an Achilles.

IT Services industry is fast approaching the plateau of maturity that other core industries like Steel, Cement and Energy achieved several decades ago. Naturally, gone are the days, when we had services organizations being run by individual visionaries and geniuses, and others in supporting acts. However, the situation of IT industry is rather unique because at its core it is still highly human intensive and knowledge centric. You cannot really replace a knowledge worker the way you would replace a worker who operates, say, a Lathe machine in a workshop. Due to this intrinsic human centric nature, the job of a project manager in IT Services is doubly challenging in a maturing landscape of the industry.

A manager could do worse than to develop these traits:

Odysseus’s view of the ‘big picture’

IT services project manager, in the torrent of daily tasks, ends up forgetting what she is actually achieving at the end of the project. No project is an individual silo and works towards a common organizational goal. It could range from as strategic as ‘better connect with the customer’ to as operational as ‘improving process efficiencies’. A project manager needs to be totally aware of what the client is achieving through the success of her project, and most importantly she has to be able to articulate it everywhere, in every forum she gets an opportunity to. Be it to her project team, client counterparts, product vendor teams or her senior management. Odysseus constantly told his troops that every battle was a way of protecting their motherland and ensuring the well being of their families back home. That message almost always made everyone realize what they were really fighting for – not for King Agamemnon, but for their families.

Odysseus’s ability to manage the ‘stars’

Let’s face it, star performers are important, in fact, crucial for the success of any team. Many a times, the estimations of work packets in a project are way off the mark and it is a constant battle to meet the quality targets and deadlines. In these situations, the people who make the difference are the ‘stars’. An IT project manager needs to make sure these ‘game-breakers’ are always motivated and focused, because they can be notoriously fickle and can lose interest very fast. Most importantly, the manager has to make sure that their egos are managed well. After all, there never was a great performer without the ego! There is a subtle difference between managing your stars and your average team members. The biggest challenge for the manager is to determine who the real stars are. The manager needs to quickly ensure that they share her view of the ‘big picture’ and can articulate it as well. Many times, the lesser performers in the team follow the stars, and if you have your best performers as the spokespersons of your vision in the team, half the job is done! Achilles was the greatest warrior of his generation and to Odysseus’s great consternation, Achilles hated Agamemnon. However, it was Odysseus who convinced Achilles to fight for the mighty king and also managed to reign in his ego and relentless thirst for glory at all expense. The result was several seemingly lost battles were won by the individual brilliance of Achilles.

Odysseus’s streak of ‘selflessness’

This trait, the selflessness, is the trickiest to master. After all, we are working towards corporate goals, which generally result in some kind of profit for the clients. In such a situation, it is always easy to be a bit cynical and protect the narrow self-interest. However, the importance of this trait is like the little pinch of salt in a dish. The dish can never be complete without it. A project manager can achieve a lot if she sets the personal ego aside. It’s manifestation can be as simple as the manager taking that little step to stay back in the office till the major activities of the day are over or as striking as the manager taking the lead in important client calls rather than delegating it. Many times, a manager ends up thinking, what she believes is paying a ‘price’ for this selflessness. The biggest price is that of preparation for every call a manager decides to lead and every hour she spends in the office after usual time of closure. However, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is nothing more inspirational for a team member than a simple selfless act of manager. Odysseus never stayed in the background during the battles. He drew his sword first and always charged headlong. It was fraught with great risk, but Odysseus what it would mean to his soldiers, and even to mighty warriors like Achilles and Ajax. It won over his troops and gained him great respect, even greater than Agamemnon. As a result, Odysseus won all his battles.

Odysseus’s flair to appreciate every facet of his trade

It is important for the project manager to appreciate what every individual brings to the table in his team. Be it coding, analysis or testing. The manager need not be an expert but she needs to know what it takes to code or test or analyze. She has to have the traits of a generalist and not get too attached to just a few aspects of the project. Several projects fail because the project manager’s refusal to having a perspective of all the facets, or even glorifying some aspects and neglecting others. Many times, this attachment comes from the manager’s background and the comfort she derives from wrapping herself in her strengths. Odysseus, an expert swordsman, never failed to appreciate the contribution and skill of his archers. He knew they were equally important to winning the battle and always told them so, although they were often derided by the swordsmen as being cowards for shooting the enemy from a distance. This resulted in archers having a sense of belonging and they never failed to flatten rows of enemy troops for swordsmen to charge and finish the job.

History can be very revealing. Odysseus was a great hero, and most importantly, he was the only one who lived to tell the tale! All the other great warriors, including the invincible Achilles, met their end. It was Odysseus who documented their heroics and passed on their greatness for the next generations. Knowledge management, anyone!!

About the Author – Rohit Gore

Rohit Gore is a Pune-based senior IT Professional and novelist. Rohit is a Lead Consultant at Fujitsu Consulting India, and has 10+ years of Industry experience including stints at Infosys and Sasken after an MBA from S P Jain Institute.

Rohit is also the author of ‘FOCUS, SAM’ a novel from Rupa Publications and the upcoming ‘A DARKER DAWN’. He grew up in a number of towns in India. At various times in his childhood, he wanted to be a theatre actor, an architect and a bookshop owner.

He loves sports, specifically the discussing and watching part of it, since the playing days are long gone. He has travelled a lot – a consequence of living in Mumbai and London. His greatest passion is reading and it inspired him to write. He is a frequent contributor to many online writing forums and wishes there were more writing groups.

Modern Gaming Industry – Challenges and Strategies

(This article is a guest post by Rohit Gore, a Pune-based senior IT professional and novelist.)

Social scientists have forever been the chief antagonists of the gaming industry that has generated $25 Billion revenues in US alone and has employed more than 120,000 people. The reasons are several and some of them quite compelling. However, the industry has shrugged off all the fears and grown at a rate that few other industries have managed. From the humble beginnings in the early ’60s, when a few bored developers just wanted to kill time by creating something to amuse themselves to a time when we have a video game ‘CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2’ being declared the highest revenue generating entertainment product ($3 Billion and counting), the gaming industry has come a long way in its technology adoption and engaging its consumers.

The most modern trend in the industry is that of ‘Social Gaming’. This is closely tied with the wider, more pervasive ‘social media’ or ‘social internet’ phenomena. Platforms like Facebook have a plethora of applications that are essentially games pitting its users against one another.

The Gaming Industry Value Chain

The gaming industry has six components in its value chain

[Image of Game Industry Value Chain]

  1. The Publishers: Entities that are engaged in commissioning the developers for development of the games. They are the ones who pick the tab of the wizardry that the developers create and the consumers enjoy. Electronic Arts, Microsoft Game Studios, Activision and Ubisoft are some of the world’s largest publishers
  2. Developers (Talent layer): These are the prima donnas of the industry. The people who ideate and develop. They could be working on contracts or are on the rolls of the publishers.
  3. Tools providers: Entities that provide the necessary tools, software development frameworks, middlewares and game engines to the developers. Gamebryo and Renderware are biggest of the middleware providers
  4. Distribution: People who are responsible for generating and marketing catalogues for games
  5. Hardware: The platform on which the game runs. It could be an arcade, a PC or a gaming console. Xbox and Playstation are the two most ubiquitous consoles.
  6. Consumer: The people who play the video games

Let’s look at the top challenges that the industry is currently facing:

No more Consoles?

The console market in the recent years has seen a flat trajectory and there is a distinct possibility that it will go down. Although there is a surge in the number of variants launched by the likes of Sony and Microsoft, the problem lies more with the market than with the product. Consoles are primarily value products and are targeted at value markets viz, US, parts of Europe and Japan. We can add parts of South Korea to this mix. The population of these countries is stable and the users aren’t growing. The console makers would need the support of the publishers to create newer markets in these geographies. In some cases it has been successful. For example, the game Diner Dash that was targeted at primarily women audience sold close to 200 million copies and created a hitherto untapped market of women gamers.

The strategy being adopted by the console makers is to partner with a Publisher right at the console development stage. This ensures a) a sustained interest from the gaming community for the launch of the product, b) higher market penetration immediately after the launch as the gamers want to experience the game in the way the perception has been created – on the ‘new and most suitable’ console, c) ties the future of the game from the publisher with the console resulting in the loyalty from the gaming community.

A recent example of this is the tie-up of Ubisoft with Nintendo’s Wii U launch.

Another significant challenge that the console makers are faced with is that of ‘Gaming Clouds’. Cloud gaming solutions are particularly attractive for the industry as a whole because the key drawbacks of cloud computing like security and data integrity are relatively less intensive in the industry. What gaming clouds would ensure, though, is the redundancy of the advanced consoles. All the processing power will reside on the cloud and the users would be essentially using a dumb terminal. This even eradicates the need of cyclical upgrades, which is the key revenue generating factor for the console makers.

Do you Multi-platform?

The gaming industry, although young compared to several entertainment industries, is fast becoming extremely competitive. As a result there has been more than 100% year on year growth in the number of publishers, most of them independent, who pose significant challenges to the established publishers like Electronics Arts and Capcom. This has led to several game titles flooding the market and in turn, this has led to shorter attention span of the gamers. The challenge for the publishers is to engage the consumers on multiple platforms to ensure higher mindshare. Single platform games, and especially a segment of games called ‘casual games’ that are single platform have faced shorter shelf lives. The key is to multi-platform. From PC and consoles to several handheld devices, social media platforms like Facebook and Myspace. Publishers are investing in the future of ‘casual games’ that are truly portable to multiple platforms. The challenges for the developers are manifold, as they have to develop games that are technology agnostic and can have APIs for as diverse platforms as a Playstation to Facebook. The emphasis is to create a truly ‘social game’.

A big bad bubble?

There are worries in the industry that much like the ‘social internet’, the ‘social gaming’ is fast becoming a big bubble. The recent valuation of PopCap, a social gaming company, of $1 Billion is the most glaring of all such examples. The recent M&A trends in the industry point to significantly high valuations of independent publishers. Japanese mobile gaming giant DeNA paid out up to $400 million for iOS game developer ngmoco. Electronic Arts paid $300 million for PlayFish last year, while Disney paid $760 million for Playdom, and has been aggressively restructuring its entire games business around the social gaming model. The challenge is the correct valuation of the independent publishers. Like several other mature industries, Gaming industry is going through a large scale consolidation and players like EA, Disney and Capcom are emerging as the consolidated global entities. The question that needs to be answered is whether good money of these large publishers is being spent on bad assets.

Our impressions:

  • Innovation is going to be the key in this industry. Both process as well as product innovations. In this respect, it is a unique industry as several other industries offer innovation opportunities either in process or product
  • New market development is the key for the long term success. Markets like US, Europe, Japan and South Korea are fast approaching saturation. However markets like India, China and Brazil are the markets to tap into. Especially for publishers who have a long term focus areas in Social/Casual Gaming. Every publisher needs to have an entry strategy for these markets and the early entrants would enjoy significant loyalty
  • Newer distribution channels need to be developed. The traditional channels are putting a lot of pressure on the margins, even for large players like EA and Microsoft. Cloud Gaming solutions are the way to go, even for new markets. Companies like Gaikai and InLive are investing heavily in cloud solutions
  • Gaming industry can play a significant role in socially impacting areas like education. Newer markets like India and China are especially receptive to finding innovative means of learning and therein lies the opportunity for the industry

Concluding, we believe the gaming industry is poised for a significant churn in the near future propelled partly by the rush to be the ‘first’ to exploit the burgeoning and untapped social gaming market.

To discuss this perspective in more detail you can contact Rohit at

About the Author – Rohit Gore

Rohit Gore is a Pune-based senior IT Professional and novelist. Rohit is a Lead Consultant at Fujitsu Consulting India, and has 10+ years of Industry experience including stints at Infosys and Sasken after an MBA from S P Jain Institute.

Rohit is also the author of ‘FOCUS, SAM’ a novel from Rupa Publications and the upcoming ‘A DARKER DAWN’. He grew up in a number of towns in India. At various times in his childhood, he wanted to be a theatre actor, an architect and a bookshop owner.

He loves sports, specifically the discussing and watching part of it, since the playing days are long gone. He has travelled a lot – a consequence of living in Mumbai and London. His greatest passion is reading and it inspired him to write. He is a frequent contributor to many online writing forums and wishes there were more writing groups.

Pune-based Druva get $12M in Series B from Nexus/Sequoia – This time its official

Pune-based Druva software, which makes enterprise backup software, has just cosed a $12 million round of funding from Nexus Venture Partners and existing investory Sequoia. In April 2010, they had raised $5 million from Sequoia and the Indian Angel Investors.

This funding is going to be used by Druva to make a strong push into cloud-based backup. Cloud infrastructure for a bandwidth and storage intensive like backup can be a significant expense, and of course, sales and marketing too.

A few weeks back a partially inaccurate version of this story had been leaked by Economic Times and was reported by PuneTech, but we “withdrew” the story after Druva called us up and let us know that it was premature to talk about it. Talking about a company’s funding round before everything is finalized and the money is in the bank is dangerous for a number of reasons including:

  • Funding is a tricky thing and there are no guarantees until the money is in the bank. Many things can, and do go wrong. One bad day on the stock market can cause VCs to reconsider any deals that are not final.
  • From the time the startup received a term-sheet from the VC until the deal is finalized, there is usually a no shopping clause which prevents the startup from talking about the details of the deal with anybody else. This is to ensure that the startup does not use this offer to try and create a bidding war between VCs. Hence, if the details leak out the VCs might feel that the startup is trying to violate the no shopping clause
  • Most importantly, if word leaks out that a VC is funding a company for amount X, then in next few days is is possible that the VC’s contacts in the industry (probably other VCs) keep saying “Why are you paying X? I don’t think it is worth more than Y?” and this can cause the VC to reconsider the deal. This is very dangerous for the startup.

This time however, the news is official (and is actually better than the deal reported by Indian Express).

As for what Druva does exactly, and why it is one of our favorite Pune companies, just read the previous article, which had a bunch of links. Here are some other interesting tidbits about Druva:

  • “Druva’s disruptive innovation reduces the storage footprint and bandwidth requirement for backup by orders of magnitude compared to other industry solutions” -Jishnu Bhattacharjee, Nexus
  • Druva, founded in 2007, has amassed more than 750 customers and protects more than 300,000 endpoints (i.e. servers, laptops, PCs) worldwide
  • InSync’s global, source-based deduplication reduces bandwidth and storage by 90 percent while providing 100 percent accuracy for Microsoft Outlook and Office applications

Here’s the full press release regarding this news

Call for Speakers / Demos – NASSCOM Game Developer Conference, Pune

The NASSCOM Game Developer Conference started as an experiment in 2009 to address the game developer community in India which grew into an independent 2 day conference in its 2nd year attended by more than 350 + delegates and fabulous talks, post mortems and panel discussions.

Now the 3rd edition is here; Scheduled on 11th – 12th November, 2011 in Pune due to high demand.

The call for speakers / presenters is open. You can give a talk, or you can pitch your game. Proposals are invited for the following tracks:

  • Game Programming
  • Art
  • Game Design
  • Production
  • Gaming Business
  • General

Games on all platforms are welcom: mobile, handheld, consoles, PC, web.

Apply to be a speaker by sending this form to Shruti Verma.

More details about the event are here

“Collaboration Retreat” for CIOs/CFOs/others in Pune – Sept 24

(Re-published from’s website)

2nd Collaboration Retreat 2011

Mithi is organising the 2nd Collaboration Retreat at Pune, an invitation-only event for select CIOs, CFOs and delegates on Saturday, 24th September 2011. The Collaboration Retreat 2011 would offer a first-of-its-kind interactive platform for sharing CIO and CFO perspectives on Collaboration Infrastructure Strategies for Cutting Costs and Managing Risks.

The 1st Collaboration Retreat 2010 organised by Mithi last year was a success. 12 CIOs and over 50 delegates from diverse organisations took time out to be with us and participated whole-heartedly in the Golf Clinic, CIO Speak session, panel discussion and Dr. D.B. Phatak’s concluding address. A majority of the CIOs and delegates found the event very interactive and informative, and the right forum to address issues & concerns related to collaboration strategies. Click here for highlights of CR 2010.

Bigger And Better

This year the event will be much bigger and wider in scope with over 30 CIOs & CFOs and 200 delegates expected to attend the full-day conference. We are happy to extend a special invite to you as a delegate for the Collaboration Retreat on Saturday 24th September 2010. You’ll have a wonderful opportunity to hear and interact with over 30 CIOs from leading companies in India.


  • Open Source options
  • Co-existence and other cost cutting strategies
  • Managing Risk
  • Cloud and New Devices
  • Social Networking

Who Should Attend

You can benefit from attending the Collaboration Retreat 2011, if you are a:

  • Chief Information Officer (CIO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Senior IT and Finance decision maker
  • IT Manager
  • Finance Manager
  • System Integration Partner
  • Enterprise/ System Administrator
  • Collaboration Technology Professional

Why you should attend

The Collaboration Retreat 2011 would offer a first-of-its-kind interactive platform for sharing CIO and CFO perspectives on Collaboration Infrastructure Strategies for Cutting Costs and Managing Risks.

The participants will have a wonderful opportunity to interact and network with over 30 CIOs & CFOs and over 200 delegates from leading organizations in India.

Registration details

The event is in MCCIA Trade Towers, ICC, SB Road, Pune, on 24th September 2011.

This is a free, invitation-only event with limited seats. If you are keen to participate, please hurry up and submit your details in this form. The organizers will confirm your participation through email.

MCUG Event: Understanding all the technology underlying a hyperlink click

The MIT Computer Users Group presents a talk by Anirudh Tomer and Toshish Jawale on what happens under the covers when you do something simple like clicking a hyperlink. The talk is at 1:30pm on Saturday, 20th August, in room A203, E&TC Dept. MIT, Kothrud.

About the Seminar:

To see this post you must have clicked a hyperlink, and it would have hardly took seconds to open that. So easy man!!!, but what you didn’t saw was how did the computer made this possible for you.

It all started at your Brain, here is the simple flow of all events that took place in LAYMAN’s TERMS

  1. Brain sends signals to your muscles to move the mouse on link and click on Mouse, your eyes help in that movement and tell brain to click at right place.
  2. Mouse sends interrupt via USB or PS2 to Host Controller.
  3. Host controller forwarded the interrupt to Processor.
  4. Processors sent interrupt to device driver.
  5. Device driver gave control to X server (i.e display server for Linux)
  6. X server gave control to browser
  7. browsers parses that link.
  8. browser contact network card via system calls and sent the request to FB server
  9. Routers take the packet from your network card and gave it to FB server.
  10. FB server processes the request and sends the reply back
  11. Browser gets the reply back and processes the HTML code to display the new contents.
  12. X server updates the video memory buffer with new contents
  13. Monitor reads the new content from that buffer and shows new content at screen, at 60HZ (say)
  14. Eyes get the same signal at 16HZ and send it to brain
  15. Brain processes the information and validates the information, if its the right one.

and all this happened in 1 second parallely, so A MOUSE CLICK IS SO COMPLEX. In this session we are going to cover all this in detail. Since this all started at brain and ends up at brain, we call it Brain to Brain

Who Can Attend

Anyone from this universe and its a free event. Goodies waiting for you as well. So if you are one of those who keeps the passion for understanding HOW STUFF WORKS, then this is a must attend session for you. Suggestions are most welcome

About MCUG – MIT Computer Users Group

MCUG (The MIT Computer Users Group) is a student group started by students and alumni of MIT College Pune, but has now grown to include 500+ members (students as well as industry professionals) from all over India. MCUG conducts various tech activities targeting students of computer science engineering.

IPMA Pune Event Report: Experiences in Product Management by Amit Paranjape

Product management means many different things to many different people, and is in fact quite different depending upon whether the product is new or mature, whether the company is small, medium or large, whether it is an enterprise product or consumer product, and a host of other things. A lot of issues that product managers need to keep in mind, and skills that they need to develop was covered in Vivek Tuljapurkar’s IPMA Pune Talk covered by PuneTech earlier.

Here are Amit’s Experiences in Product Management:

  • Early days of a company
    • Product Management is not a well-defined role or a group or even a person in a small company. Focus is only on sales and development, and product roadmap is decided in an ad hoc fashion.
    • As number of customers, and breadth of solution increases, the ad hoc processes start to break down.
    • Must create a Product Management as a layer between developers and customers. And everybody views this as bureaucracy and added overhead. This can only be done if there is strong backing from someone for the PM role. For example, the development team might get hassled by all the ad hoc requests that come from the sales organization, and will insist that a PM group be created and that all requests are channeled through PM. This is internal change management and it takes time to settle down.
  • Roles of PM in early days
    • Create a process for written specs, well defined test cases and support for QA
    • Be a friend of the development/delivery organization and the sales organization
    • In general, build relationships will all the stakeholders
    • Take over program management of all custom development projects
    • Recruiting product managers – biggest challenge.
  • As the company gets bigger
    • As the company gets bigger, the challenges change
    • Need to start worrying about requirements of individual products vs. the product suite, and solutions
    • Worry about difference between product and solution and module
    • Most of the time, you don’t really know what you’re doing – you’re just trying to do a good job in the face of uncertainties and ambiguity.
  • Products vs. Solutions – the perennial debate in Enterprise product companies
    • A solution is something that solves a business problem of a customer. This is what sales sells to the customer. Solutions can be based on customer industries (e.g. consumer goods, automotive, finance), or it could be based on business processes (e.g. Procurement, Demand Management)
    • A product is a specific piece of technology that engineering can build and which solves some particular problem. A combination of products that work together seamlessly is a solution
    • The reason for separating out products and solutions is to ensure that a small set of products can be used to build many different solutions for various customers
  • Overall Learnings
    • A PM must be paranoid. You need to worry about everybody and everything, because whenever anything goes wrong because of anybody, it ultimately comes back to you. So keep track of what various development teams are doing, what potential problems are. You need to keep track of sales teams, and what they’re promising customers, and how they’re positioning the product.
    • You need to work by influence. The people who can make your life miserable (sales, dev, etc.) don’t report to you, but still you need to make sure that they listen to you.
    • All PMs need to be entrepreneurial in their thinking – jugaad is needed at all times. Because things are always broken or breaking as far as a PM is concerned, problems to be solved, fires to be put out.
    • Blaming others is not the answer. Ultimately the buck stops with PM, so PM needs to solve the problem, irrespective of who or what caused the problem.
    • Relationship management is the key. If you maintain good relationships with various stakeholders, your life will be easy.
    • You are constantly in “sell” mode. You need to convince sales people to do some things, and consultants to do some things, and development to do some things.
    • In a fast growing company, where there isn’t lots of structure, be ready to temporarily take on the roles of development manager, or customer project manager as and when required
    • Make sure you do competitive research
    • Make sure you keep track of customer satisfaction levels
    • Recruiting product management people is a challenge
    • Skills required for PM in small companies are different from those required for larger companies. Small companies are ad hoc, with tactical goals, with a narrow focus, and a consultant/developer mindset. Large company PMs are process driven, worry more about long-term strategic goals, have a broader focus, and think more like sales people than developers.
    • Do not make the mistake of hiring “experienced” PMs from large companies for doing a small company PM job. This usually does not work well.

Event Report: IndicThreads Conference on Mobile Application Development

(This is a live-blog of the IndicThreads conference on mobile application development that is currently happening in Pune. Since this is a live blog, so please excuse the greater-than-normal number of errors and lack of coherence sometimes.)

NFC in mobile devices – Ashutosh Tripathy, Talentica

Ashutosh Tripathy talked about NFC in mobile devices and why it is important. NFC is “Near Field Communication”, which is a very short range wireless communication between devices. The range is very low – just a few centimeters, and the bandwidth is also low – just 424kbps max. But the important thing is the ease of use it gives in a large number of use cases – e.g. event tickets, sharing business cards, ID cards, easy printing, file sharing, mobile payments etc.

The important thing about NFC is that it does not work at a distance (and it can be configured so that it does not work when the screen is off). This means that NFC communication can only happen with the knowledge of the user of the device. Thus, for many applications you can get rid of complex security procedures and passcodes that are needed to prevent malicious users from getting access to your device without your knowledge.

For example:

  • Bluetooth + NFC gives instant Bluetooth pairing – without requiring passcodes and other complex mechanisms. So if you want to transfer a file between two devices, you bring them close together and NFC is used to set up the Bluetooth pairing. After this, the actual file transfer happens over Bluetooth, so that it will continue to work even when distance between the devices is increased.
  • Wi-Fi + NFC can similarly give very easy to use wi-fi configurations

NFC Enabled Phones in the market already:

  • Google Nexus S (Android)
  • Samsung Galaxy SII (Android)
  • Nokia C7
  • Blackberry Bold 9900 and 9930
  • Nokia 6131

Upcoming and rumored:

  • iPhone 5
  • Nokia N9, N5
  • Lots of Android 2.3.3 phones
  • LG Optimuz NET
  • Various Samsung BADA OS based phones

It is expected that most new smartphones will be NFC enabled soon.

Ashutosh followed it up with a demo of how to build an NFC app on Android.

Developing mobile enterprise applications – Yateen Shaha, SAS

More and more enterprise apps are now mobile enabled. The primary business drivers behind this trend is increased productivity, faster/better decisions, and thus competitive advantage.

Important Things to worry about when building enterprise mobile apps:

  • Delivering the right functionality – not all functionality can be supported in the mobile device. So choosing what is in and what is not included is important
  • Access Everywhere – User should be able to access the app from inside the company intranet, but also from outside over public networks.
  • Offline Access – Should be allowed
  • Protecting data – Security is very important to enterprise customers, so you need to take great pains to keep them happy.
    • Authentication could be device based, or user based, or ideally both.
    • Data Encryption:
      • Over the Air: The data being sent over the public internet should be encrypted
      • At Rest: The data stored on the device should also be encrypted, so that if the device gets lost, the data is still protected
  • Storage/Bandwidth limitations – Since storage and network bandwidth on the mobile device is going to be limited, you need to carefully design the architecture of the app (and the backend services supporting the app) in such a way that it does not require lots of data to be downloaded and stored locally.
    • Some of the decisions could be based on what kind of network connection the device is currently using. Thus, use network liberally when on wi-fi but be more careful when using 2G or 3G.
  • Code Reuse – having to maintain two different code bases, one for desktop apps, and another for mobile apps is a pain. Design the overall app (e.g. by using model-view-presenter patterns) so that maximum code is reused.

Tips and tricks:

  • Cache whenever you can, to improve performance
  • A good user experience is very critical – much more so than for desktop apps
  • Must take advantage of device features
  • Performance and Response time is critical for user acceptance

Other Talks

There was a panel discussion on “Mobile is the next Desktop.” I was one of the panelists, so unfortunately, I could not live-blog this. Topics discussed were why mobiles are going to take over the world, how developing for mobiles is different from developing for PCs, how the fragmentation in mobile (devices and platforms) is a huge pain (with no solution in sight), how html5 might or might not replace native apps, and other topics.

Mayur Tendulkar gave a presentation on Windows Phone 7. Most of what he said was similar to the talk he gave a few months back at TechWeekend 7, so I’m not repeating it here.

Abhay Aggarwal, from Xebia India talked about building an app that needs to target multiple screens. These are the various sizes available: 240×320, 240×400, 320×480, 360×640, 480×800, 540×960, this doesn’t even count the tablets. He talked about a process & architecture that would minimize the pain of doing this.

(At this point I had to leave even though there where two more talks later in the day, and a full day of talks the next day that I could not attend. However, the presentations are online at if you’re interested.)

TechWeekend – Web Security – August 20

TechWeekend Pune and Microsoft present a technical session web security on Saturday 20th August, 10am, at Sumant Moolgaokar Auditorium, MCCIA Trade Tower, ICC. This session will feature Rohit Srivastwa (of ClubHack) talking about some of the top web vulnerabilities, how they work, and how to prevent them, and Aditee Rele (of Microsoft) talking about the new security features in IE9.

Top Web Vulnerabilities – Rohit Srivastwa

This talk will cover 6 of the top 10 most exploited vulnerabilities on the web as reported by OWASP. Specifically:

  • Cross-Site Scripting
  • Information Leakage
  • SQL Injection
  • Local/Remote File Inclusion
  • Unrestricted uploads
  • Shell Injections

and best coding practices whereever possible.

The speaker Rohit Srivastwa is one of Pune’s most well know security evangelists. He has an expertise in cyber crime investigation and IT infrastructure management. Rohit is actively involved advising several military agencies, law enforcement personnel, media, corporate and Government bodies in these fields.

Rohit Srivastwa is also the founder of ClubHack, a member driven community to spread the security awareness. ClubHack organizes an international hacker convention in Pune every December.

For more see Rohit’s website

Security Features in IE9 – Aditee Rele

The latest version of Microsoft’s browser contains a lot of technologies focused on making the browser very safe from malware and phising attacks on the internet. It uses a new mechanism called layered protection against malware and a bunch of memory and exception handler protections to ensure that the most common ways of exploiting security holes are automatically plugged. To prevent phishing, it uses a SmartScreen filter to block bad URLs, and an application reputation mechanism to detect untrustworthy executables, providing what they claim is 100% social engineering blocking.

The speaker Aditee Rele works in the Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) Group at Microsoft Corporation, India. She focuses on addressing architectural challenges in the enterprise and web space and has first-hand exposure to large implementations on various platforms across Microsoft Technology Suite.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. No registration required

The event starts at 10am, in the Sumant Moolgaonkar Auditorium, Ground Floor, Wing A, ICC Trade Center, SB Road. Please come 10 minutes early since security at the venue takes a little time, and we are planning on starting the event on time.