This is Manish from Udaipur

This is about life and life in Udaipur. About me and about me in Udaipur.

English and C (Again)

In a post, a few months ago, I drew a few parallels between programming skills and language communication abilities.

That these two are different is very obvious. But what strikes me is apparent lack of appreciation of the fact that programming is not about syntax, its about encapsulating complex concepts in an intelligible depiction. (Thats exactly what language — as in English language — is all about.) Also, language skills are vital not just for communication but for thinking also.

Bad communicators can be good programmers — I know and respect a lot of such people — and many good communicators would be scared of programming. What’s important to realize is that these skills are complimentary: one can reinforce other.

Professionalism@Advaiya

‘Professionalism’ is an oft-heard word here. This is mostly used as a catch-all term describing whatever is expected from any team member. But we do have a definition, a description of our culture.

We have identified three important tenets. We believe that these three aspects cover, at a high level, what our customers can expect from us, what Advaiya expects from its team members and the values that guide our day-to-day conduct.

The first is: being result oriented. Our efforts must lead to a tangible output. An honest failure after best efforts is a tangible output. We normally call this as a ‘deliverable’. We realize that for a deliverable to be produced, we need to go through the process of defining it, creating the same, validating it and presenting it in a usable manner. This simple process applies to every granule of output we work for. Commonsense, yes. But this explicit exposition helps us to deliver results.

Second: excellence. This means not just putting in best of our capabilities but also being aware of the quality in what we do. It requires us to be appreciative of whats good around us and understand the importance of standards and best practices. This also means that we have to strive for continual improvement and, at an individual level, learn continuously.

The third aspect is effective communication. We have learnt that success in what we do depends a lot on consistent and relevant communication with all concerned. We understand that honesty and integrity are key to effective communication. We also realize that for communication to be effective, it has to simultaneously inform and influence. In our daily practices, this means that we manage expectations, are open to feedback and maintain a trail.

Obviously, its this very professionalism that gives us the confidence to perform.

At Microsoft

Past few days, I have been at Microsoft. I attended the Office Developers’ Conference and have been co-ordinating work for certain O12 (MS Office system 2007) related assignments that our team is currently working on.

This is my first time at Redmond. I have worked with Microsoft India but ‘MS Corporate’ is, well, different. One learns a bit or two about capitalism here. The nature of our involvement here has also allowed me to gain some insight about Microsoft’s (famed) marketing. Its amazing to see a very large corporation with numerous independent teams and hudreds of often overlapping (and sometimes contradicting) products actually present a convincing unified personality (which one might choose to hate). That Microsoft is not a traditional command and control corporation, probably makes it even more admirable.

The highlight has been the new Office ’12’. It is exciting in its scope and possibilities. O12 does provide most of the missing pieces in the knowledge worker empowerment story that Advaiya has been standing for all along. I see times of great fun at Advaiya!

Udaipur and Bangalore

I worked in Bangalore a few years ago. I used to think of Bangalore as a sweet combination of Bombay and Udaipur. Udaipur’s quaint beauty and nice weather with Bombay’s cosmopolitanism and opportunities. Bangalore was a much better place then. I keep visting Bangalore for business and cannot help notice the steady rise in pollution, traffic and headaches.

In a recent visit, I had the opportunity to dwell over city’s booming IT business and the cultural changes it has brought. Bangalore is IT. I guess even paanwalla there stocks a USB storage device! Udaipur has history, palaces and lakes; not wi-fi hotspots.

Advaiya should rather be at Bangalore. Whats Advaiya doing in Udaipur? But then I may not reach home, if it were in Bangalore, in less than five minutes. In Udaipur, Advaiya is talk of the town; at Bangaore, Advaiya would be one of — a rather large — bunch. We focus on doing great things for our clients here and we have lots of time to do that. If a customer calls, our guys would get out of their quilts and be at office in 10 minutes. And, Udaipur is much less expensive than Bangalore in almost every way.

Udaipur might not have huge malls and multiplexes; Udaipur has Advaiya. Advaiya is proud to be in Udaipur.

English and C

Somebody I know gave an interesting hypothesis. Good English language (or, maybe, any language) skills go hand-in-hand with good programming skills. Though I have not put this to rigorous test, I have reasons to believe that this is true.

Programming is nothing but communicating to the computer. Language is a way to communicate to people. Every good programmer knows that its not syntax but capability to design the, well, communique which makes her program a success; Shakespeare would vouch.

So, maybe, a programmer would be greatly helped by reading literature. And a good programmer should be able to communicate to people as well.

Maybe some of us just find computers to be better company!

What’s Advaiya

Advaiya is a solutions company. It has the capability to add value to business processes and to build valuable business processes via its technology and business skills.

Advaiya is not a large company. Advaiya does not see itself restricted to particular domain, vertical or technology framework. The central value is belief in ‘Advaiya’: the core, the oneness in businesses, technologies, people and processes. The core which manifests itself into a rich, vibrant and complex tapestry of modern businesses.

Advaiya does not ignore differences, it would rather accentuate them — for Advaiya has no fear of variety — to manage them by thinking beyond them, beneath them.

Advaiya has chosen to build platforms, solutions, applications and programs with Microsoft technologies. Advaiya has expertise in various enterprise technologies. The choice of expertise and technology flows from the judgment that this is a good way to end the duality of technology and business.

What’s in a name

I and the team (just a bunch of half a dozen enthusiasts) had been working to build solutions, applications and programs for around a year when we got serious about organizing ourselves. We had been working under the aegis of a company that my father founded (which he proudly finds true to its name: a bundle of initiatives) but then we needed another identity. We were looking for a good name for this new company. We wanted our name to say something about what we have in our minds about what we do. Its an interesting loop: you define yourself, the definition leads to a name, and then the name defines you. This leads to the realization that finding a name can be a very effective intervention.

Then, came up ‘Advaiya’ — and it sounded good — which according to the suggester meant ‘unique’. But then Advaiya is a Sanskrit word and is the root of ‘Advaita’. Advaita or non-dualism is a profound philosophy expounded by Shankaracharya. So Advaiya would be the non-dual entity.

It could not have been more apt. I have been fascinated by the concept that all knowledge and all skill are manifestations of the ‘core’ and the core is not segmented into disciplines, functions, fields, subjects or domains. Now I had a name for that: Advaiya. It described us neatly. While we worked on a very small set of technologies, we never could define ourselves by that. For us, technology was just a tool though an interesting, fascinating tool which was in itself an extension to our world-view. Technology, for us, is a natural ingredient in the rational scheme of things which we felt all around us. This rationality has been our window to the core, to Advaiya.

It is so common and so frustrating to see people and companies go about thinking that theory and practice are different, that means and goals are different, that dreams and reality are different, that business and technology are different. We find this narrow. We feel that this inhibits experiencing Advaiya. And, so, we define ourselves: we would help people and companies by building solutions which cut across technologies, functions, departments and teams: which bring them together, which help them experience the Advaiya — the oneness — that, we believe, would lead everyone to their objectives better and faster.

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