powerful simplicity : instant calculators

Very recently, I met an enterprising ex-Microsoft entrepreneur – Kalid Azad, through a common entrepreneurial friend – who has left Microsoft for entrepreneurship to join Paul Graham’s Y-Combinator.

Late last year, he had launched a deceptively simple, but powerful online application – InstaCalc, that enables users to design, use and share calculators on the web. I plan to design a few calculators for my other websites and in fact for Microsoft as well, using InstaCalc. This embodies entrepreneurial, design and technical genius..

Check out this sample calculator by typing sample numbers in the text-boxes below to see your salary converted into hourly wages, (simple app, just for illustration)..

Let’s create more of such beautiful products.


Technorati tags: instacalc , Kalid+Azad , Ycombinator , entrepreneur , design , calculator

India: stop renting IQ, start creating IP

I am not the first one to realize and state that the wage differentials between the workforce in India and the US will continue to shrink and reach an equilibrium in the next decade. It is become more and more certain that the primary advantage of outsourcing to India is the core expertise of the Indian workforce and not necessarily lower wages. Although I’ve dabbled here and there by outsourcing some projects to India and as well during my earlier startup days, I hadn’t grappled the actual gist of entrepreneurial opportunities in the much-cliched "business process outsourcing" (BPO) market.

It is common sense that there are lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities in the BPO space. I don’t want my grandchildren to read Thomas Friedman’s book (The World is Flat) after fifty years or so and ask me, "what was I doing, when there was so much action happening?"  So, I decided to dedicate a considerable portion (more than 90%) of my time during my last trip to India (January 2007) on learning about the BPO industry with an intent to start a company that can make a significant impact to the economy.

As with any new thing, after reading three books, multiple blogposts and several other magazine articles (espcecially in Business India/Business World), I met with 18 founders/CEOs, from leading and emerging BPO companies in India and get their perspective on the industry and consider potential partnership opportunities. I also visited the NASSCOM headquarters in Mumbai and met with their staff to understand the market dynamics.

It is not news that the market for software and services (official term for the BPO sector) has increased exponentially in the last five years in India. But, as a passive observer of these trends I had seen Indian firms as providing "intellectual" services to a product company in the US/UK. I believe firmly that the market semantics in India have been favorable (in fact ideal) in the last 18 months, to cultivate more "product" companies. Access to capital, experienced workforce and the overall entrepreneurial spirit have led to the growth of such favorable conditions.

We’ve seen that more and more entrepreneurs in India are seeing value in creating intellectual property, by developing core processes and products, as compared to renting their IQ/talent to provide outsourced services to companies in the west. This is also reflected in the type of work that is being done in the Indian operations of large corporations. For instance, Microsoft India develops several high impact projects/products, as opposed to serving as a test center/research center.

It is inspiring to see the sleuth of product startups by Sabeer Bhatia in India and upstarts like Tekriti by Ashish Kumar, who are focusing on creating intellectual property by developing products. I would love to see more product-based or core service-based (with IP) startups emerging in India.

I’m in the process of helping start a healthcare services company to provide key services to physicians, based on my previous experience in healthcare through Securamed (I’ll keep you posted, as the venture progresses, currently keeping it under covers until the official launch.)

Net-net, it is exciting to see more and more Indian start-ups focusing on creating IP.

Let’s create IP.


Technorati tags: business process outsourcing , bpo , India , Indian startup , entrepreneur

Thank you : 103 cities, 23 countries and 13 subcontinents

I’ve slacked at blogging, but Google Analytics show a consistent repeated readership from friends all over the world. Now that I’m trying to blog regularly, I want to take a moment to sincerely thank all my friends who subscribe to this blog and share their ideas. Here are some demographic details about you..

Besides Google Analytics, my favorite web-traffic analysis service is BreadCrumbs, developed by my entrepreneurial friend – Phil Crosby.

Thank you


Technorati tags: Google Analytics , breadcrumbs

Understanding life in a richer way : TED

One of my favorite conferences TED, recently announced the theme for their next conference TED 2008. TED focuses on looking at key subjects from a holistic perspective, involving people you would typically not associate with those subjects along with the usual suspects.

Next year’s theme is intriguingly ambitious. TED will attempt to answer bigger questions of life:

(from TED’s website)

  • Who are We? (the extraordinary tale of homo sapiens… Answers provided by a paleontologist, a historian, an evolutionary psychologist and a story-teller.)
  • What is our place in the Universe? (answers from a theoretical physicist, an astronomer searching for extra-terrestrial life, a religious mystic and a humorist)
  • What is Art? — is beauty just a human invention? (an anthropologist, a painter, a sculptor, and a museum curator)
  • What is Love — and why are we so bad at it? (a neurologist, a musician, a novelist, and a sex therapist)
  • What is Evil? — and how do we fight it? (a moral philosopher, a war-correspondent, a terrorism expert, and a human rights campaigner.)
  • What are the most Gorgeous New Things being created in our world? (an architect, a boat builder, a windmill designer, a photographer, and a marine biologist)
  • Are we inadvertently creating New Forms of Life? (an AI researcher, a Web 2.0 pundit, a biochemist, a meme-theorist, a nano-technologist, and a transhumanist)
  • What are today’s most significant Cultural Trends? (a fashion designer, a technology writer, a foreign correspondent, a video-game creator and an epidemiologist)
  • What will the Future be like? (a scenario planner, an inventor, an economist, and a science fiction author)
  • What are the Problems I should be most worried about? (an asteroid hunter, a climatologist, a psychiatrist, and a statistician).
  • Who will be the next President? (Yes, it’s 2008. We’ll invite the leading candidates)
  • What will be my Legacy? (a global business leader, an environmental designer, a billionaire philanthropist, a social entrepreneur and a mother)

Let’s think and extrapolate!


Technorati tags: TED

Searching for Jim Gray?

There are very few people who have changed the world as profoundly as Jim Gray has. Last week, he vanished while on a day trip in his sail boat, to scatter his mother’s ashes by the Farallon islands in the San Francisco area.

Please join Werner Vogel’s mammothy efforts to search for Jim Gray. More information

Hope we can say [I’m feeling lucky] on Jim Gray in some search engine.

Technorati tags: Jim Gray

IBM validates enterprise social computing

IBM recently announced the introduction of the first suite of social networking applications for the enterprise, thus validating the usefulness and applicability of social applications. When, I had first blogged about the implications of social networking and a set of Web 2.0 trends including blogs, wikis, tags, activity tracking, social directories, etc. in February 2006, the "social networking for enterprise" space was marked by a few emerging enterprises like Zimbra, SocialText and JotSpot. 

We had read about Microsoft’s Knowledge Network and IBM’s forray into enterprise social networking through Dogear. Today at Lotusphere, IBM’s VP of Social Software Business Unit, Jeff Schick announced an enterprise suite of social software that will include the following five applications:

  1. Profiles: A list of profiles of all employees within an enterprise, which will be entered by the employees themselves. The profiles will include tags that indicate subject matter expertise and interests of every employee and empower employees to easily search and network with other employees.
  2. Communities: IBM claims to have designed some concepts of community 2.0, with appropriate tagging and social aspects embedded in the user interface.
  3. Blogs: Corporate blogs and basic blog templates will be included by default in Lotus Connections. This is in addition to the basic blog templates that are/will be available with Lotus Notes 8.
  4. Bookmarks: This is the product version of the popular "Dogear" project from IBM research, which developed an enterprise version of del.icio.us and enabled corporate employees to create and share bookmarks in a social fasion.
  5. Activities: IBM’s notion of activity-centered computing is fueled by adding tags to a knowledge worker’s tasks and sharing them.

The compelling aspect of Lotus Connections is the "suite" aspect, which enables end to end productivity scenarios by using all five aspects in an integrated manner. Tags or user-generated meta data is the glue that connects every application, leading to easier information sharing.

Although the above description is the "messaging" from IBM and I haven’t personally validated their usability, the notion of delivering personal value to the knowledge worker by enabling end to end scenarios and thereby creating self-evolving social networks is a believable notion.

I see the following risks for applying social software in the enterprise space:

  1. Architecture for participation:

An enterprise user or a knowledge worker may not contribute to the applications, for the same reasons that motivate consumers to contribute to personal social networks like MySpace, Orkut or Facebook. The architecture of participation in the enterprise social networks need to be fueled with appropriate incentives for participation.

  1. Scale:

Restricted social networks that are limited to a particular enterprise may not deliver "real" value to their users, as seen in the consumer world. While MySpace may boast hundreds of thousands of users, very few enterprises will have more than fifty thousand users. It will be interesting to see the impact of social networks when a ceiling is placed on its size.

Technorati tags: enterprise web2.0 , Lotus Connections ,enterprise Social Software ,Lotusphere

Scoble launches ScobleShow

My friend – Robert Scoble launched the ScobleShow recently. I checked out the video interview of Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun, Shai Agassi of SAP and the demo of JotSpot 2.0.

It currently has just a few video interviews, but know Robert and his circle of influence, I am certain that we are all in treat for a gamut of supremely interesting, informative and raw videos of techocrats.

Let’s watch the ScobleShow…


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On Channel 9 with Scoble

Robert Scoble and Channel 9 decided to shoot a video on my team’s products, specifically about Microsoft Office Live Communication Server.  So here are a few of my friends (or shall I say colleagues) and me in the video talking about working at Microsoft and demo’ing some cool products. The video is now live at: http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=183636

I am back to blogging after a short hiatus (forced due to other impending priorities). So, expect more sizzle coming to your RSS reader from Kintya.

Let’s communicate…


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Why Web 2.0 in the enterprise makes sense?

Historically, we’ve seen that the applicaions that have been popular/successful in the consumer world have been usually successful in the enterprise space. Instant messaging is a great example. What started out as ICQ, has been so immensly valuable and impactful that it made its obvious entry within the enterprise. Microsoft has products like Live Communication Server and Office Communicator, IBM has SameTime and then we have Jabber. On the other hand, successful enterprise concepts have made their way into the consumer space. Take email for instance.

Besides historic trends, there are several semantics that play a role in determining the success of a software within the enterprise. I have been thinking lately about the value that an enterprise setting adds to the successful deployment and use of a particular software. Jeff Clavier made a valid point about the obvious tension between the legacy IT department, which runs on a command/control structure and the open/participation oriented nature of social software.  I want to focus on the positive side of an enterprise setting.

What does an enterprise setting offer:

1. Authentication and accountability: Since a user  can be traced through Active Directory (good bye annonymous comments and spam!), it can add measurable value to the social aspect of the enterprise. Various aspects of social software can be applied with respect to group policies and Access Control Lists.

2. Accountable uptime. No downtime (see Salesforce.com’s recent experience.)

3. Better integration with existing meaningful application. Enterprises already have a rich set of ERP applications. The social software can add a new layer of UI metaphors that will dramatically increase the value of existing ERP applications.

Some of the thoughts bouncing in my mind include:

How long does it take for a successful consumer application to be adopted within the enterprise? (my guess is two years, from when it became prevalent in the consumer space. Would it be faster/slower with Web 2.0?

Which Web 2.0 concepts make the most sense in the enterprise? (I know Jeff Nolan and Ross Mayfield (SocialText) are very optimistic about Wikis and I totally agree. What is beyond that?) I liked Charlene Li’s report on social computing.

If Jeff (Clavier or Nolan) stumble upon this, I would like to hear your take on this.

Zoli Erdos, has very detailed notes of TiE’s panel discussion on Web 2.0 in the enterprise. I found it extremely useful.

I also enjoyed Rod Boothby’s and Tim Leberecht’s take on it.

Anshu Sharma, has a list of open questions on the topic on his Wise Zen blog.

Loose control!

Technorati tags: , , , , , , ,

web 2.0 in the enterprise

In the technology section of this blog,  I will solely focus on the implications of Web 2.0 in the enterprise. The successful concepts of Web 2.0 (social software, participation, richly simple user interfaces, tagging, RSS, attention.xml) – all have significant potential benefits, if implemented within the enterprise. A whole gamut of potential issues, including authentication and identity can be potentially prevented through tight integration with Active Directory.

I had an opportunity to meet Charlene Li from Forrester and discuss the implications of Web 2.0 concepts within the enterprise. She reviews corporate blogging solutions in a recent post.

TiE Silicon Valley has a panel discussion with celebrity panelists about Web 2.0 in the enterprise, on Thursday – 2.15

Let’s take Web 2.0 to the enterprise!!


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