18.1.05

Global Thoughts - Technology makes it simple



Today the term Technology is mainly identified with Information Technology and now a day Information Technology is no more a service sector to other Industries, but has become part of every household.

Radio was replaced by Televisions and Computers are likely to replace Televisions. There is news about invention of called ‘Digital Wall’ with one can watch televisions; check mails, use telephones, operate other home appliances etc

Every one in Information Technology will understand the complexity of IT. Interfaces are our favorite word in IT J

Let us quickly go through some statistics of the earlier technologies which has simplified the human life.

Clocks were invented in 1820 and were considered the first complex consumer technology. User manuals were given to operate clocks. Will we not laugh at a user manual for clocks today? Why because, operating clocks have been made so simple and has become more user friendly

When Sewing Machines appeared in 1840s it came with 40 page user manuals until 1880s. Imagine going through 40 pages manual for a sewing machine today!

In 1877 Thomas Alva Edison invented Gramophones. If you have seen the old gramophones may wonder how it functions. Imagine how complex it would have been considered in those days.

One more important technology with bigger impact was Car. In early 1900s Cars were more burdens and a challenge. Driving a car required lubricating various moving parts, sending oil manually to the transmission, adjusting the spark plugs, opening the throttle, wielding the crank and knowing what to do when the car broke down. By 1930s Car had become more users friendly and ready for mass market.

Another instructive technology is electricity. In its early days, those firms and households that could afford it had their own generators. In early 20th century most companies had a senior management position called “Vice President – Electricity” a rough equivalent of today’s “Chief Information Officer (CIO). Vice Presidents disappeared when electricity became available through grids, leaving the users to deal with the simplest of interfaces, the power socket.

The evolution of the above technologies tells us some lessons for Information Technology. If you look at electricity, will find the more complexity in generation, distribution and make it available at home with a simple click of switch. The back end processes are complex and the front end process to the user is made so simple.

You will observe that any technology development becomes successful when it reaches the common man with simple interface to use it. “Make it Simple to Use” - This basic concept drives most of the inventions around the world.

An appeal to our Information Technology friends: You must be doing complex assignments at work every day and completing the same successfully. What most of us do is leave that experience at office only. i.e we don’t use it further for any innovations. The learning at work can be further enriched for some innovative purposes.

If you observe America’s inventions, everything is based on their needs. It is such a vast country, transportation thru carts were not viable and needed an alternatives. Result: Cars and automobiles were invented.

People try to utilise the available technology for their inventions. Today is Information Technology era and no invention will be possible with out the same. So, obviously Information Technology people have more roles in any new invention.

What we do? Definitely we should not disclose our office work outside. It is against the contractual obligation. But no one can stop you using your knowledge. Addition to the work schedule let us have some passions for doing something new.

Passions for something: What is the something? I guess this will be the question. Just look around you and will find inspiration for the ‘something’. Just try to list the difficulties in your day to day life; you will get that ‘something’. Keep the eyes and ears open, you will feel the ‘something’. I see people working in embedded technology having more options than those who work in business applications.

Also your findings may be just helping your personal career development. To me, any invention starts with meeting one’s own needs.

I see the NEED as the driving force for any innovation. Sharing one of my work experiences may help you to understand ‘how the need turns to a solution’. Way back, during my early days of career, I was in a MNC, primarily looking after accounts functions. Those were the days IT was evolving around with Financials Application software.

In addition to my regular works, I was given a task of reconciling travel expense statements of employees (approx 200), which was pending for a year. I was given three months time frame to complete this task. I could understand that, once it is done, I will be given the task to handle the same on a regular basis. That’s how companies use the expertise and employees also grow in an organization by taking up additional roles.

During the three months process I found kind of errors leading to the reconciliation issues. To mention few, the errors were as simple like totaling the statements, not including the advances from other offices, wrong claim than the eligible amount etc. It was too difficult to go thru hundreds of sheets of papers and using calculator to calculate almost every line of claims. I felt a need for a tool where one can enter the statements on day to day basis, to help in checking the totals and eligibility. Once you can manage things on daily basis, possibilities of errors will be minimized.

Pursued this thoughts further, looked for value addition like, automatic accounting, tax audit statements reports etc. When I put all my needs in a word document I was almost done with ‘Requirement Analysis’ (I did not know the Software Development Terminologies those daysJ ). Shared these details with my boss. His only question was how many man days this will save in each quarter. Did a rough study and told him tentative saving of man day efforts. He was convinced, the next day we had a meeting with our IT Manager. With in two months the application was developed for testing. A name was given TIS (Travel Information Systems) It turned out to be big success and later this software application was implemented in our other offices.

Today I am doing Consulting for a popular E-Business suite. But I don’t forget my first experience in development of the above customized software application. Infact, this experience along with few other subsequent ones gave me the confidence of moving from Functional domain to IT.

So what am I telling about my experience? I saw a NEED around me in my work to make my work simple. Pursued the thoughts, looked for options and finally came up with a very successful solution which also got me appreciation from my seniors.

My requests to all our technology friends: Identify a NEED and work towards the solution for the same. Solutions to your work related NEEDs will definitely get you to the heights in career.

To contribute back to our society, look at the Needs around you. To quote a simple thing around us, look at a Government School next door. As a technology savvy, you may find a need there for software application for managing the school operations, student management etc. This may be done by yourself or under your guidance by the school students. At the end, you will have a satisfaction of social contribution, the students will have a sense of achievements and the school has the benefits of automation. I am sure this will be a great contribution back to the society.

On the other hand, you may think as big as ‘finding alternative fuel to petroleum products’. There is a continuous revolution in fuel systems since the Coal days. Steam engines, with coal as fuel, were replaced by Diesel / Petrol engines. Later Electric engines were invented and natural Gas is becoming popular source of fuel. There is already news about using Nitrogen as fuel for cars. Shell has done R& D along with Ford Motors and they are in the process of manufacturing cars setting a commercial nitrogen pumps. Imagine, how good it will be if the cars can run with just natural air as fuel.J

There is very recent encouraging news from our neighborhood Bangalore. Two 12th standard students from Bhishop Cotton School have developed their own Rocket Ebender and have got the green signal by the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) R K and Air Traffic Control (ATC) authorities for launching it on Dec 12 and must have been launched by the time this page is published in our website.

I would like conclude with a quote by Dale Carnegie. If you have ever read a book called ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ you must have known about him.

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."- Dale Carnegie

DALE CARNEGIE (1888-1955), was a pioneer in public speaking and personality development. He became famous by showing others how to become successful. More about him and his books you can find in the web page http://www.westegg.com/unmaintained/carnegie/carnegie.html

Let every one of us give our thoughts to make the technology simple to the common man, which will be very big pay back to our society.

வளமான, அமைதியான பாரதம் காண்போம்!

- Thinakar (thinakarr@yahoo.com)

2 comments:

rajeev said...

Thalaivar mathiri innoruthan porakilae tamilnattula

No one can match rajinikanth in Tamil cinema.

He is evergreen star of tamilnadu

rajeev said...

Thalaivar mathiri innoruthan porakilae tamilnattula

No one can match rajinikanth in Tamil cinema.

He is evergreen star of tamilnadu