Tag Archives: mobile video technologies

The architecture of a techie paradise

mindfire solutions techie paradise

“Do you really like working at Mindfire Solutions? “ I asked and saw my friend give me an as-if-you-don’t-know-it-already look. He said, “Whoever would want to leave this techie paradise?”
You may begin to think that I was merely doing a survey. No, I was not! It was a candid coffee table conversation between the two of us. Little did I know that this conversation would reveal the reasons why Mindfire Solutions’ attrition rate is way too much lower than the industry average? Here’s the gist which explains why my friend has been hanging around the Mindfire premises for almost a decade.

You work because you choose to!
Mindfire offers salubrious working conditions that encourage techies and geeks to blossom to their true potential. A flat organization structure ensures that people are free to speak their mind and “work because they choose to”. The wet blanket of bureaucracy hardly gets a chance to snuff out the embers of innovation at the workplace. If you look at the people working here, you will realize that they are a bunch of spirited guys and gals doing good tech work and always asking for more work. In fact one of the employees wrote a Glassdoor review saying “a year in Mindfire is equivalent to three years of experience. Thanks to the vast exposure that techies get at Mindfire with regards to technology areas and client interaction they have a steeper learning curve and a greater opportunity to grow in expertise and reputation (salary also comes under this purview) as compared to their peers elsewhere. A recent recruit who worked for one of the Big 4 companies opined that “We (Mindfire) are just the Right size for recognition of skills/contributions as opposed to getting absorbed in a big company where positions/awards are pre-determined”.

Cooperation, Collaboration and Innovation is the culture here:
There is a culture of collaboration at Mindfire. Most employees feel Mindfire is like a family where there are always people to help out. This camaraderie among employees makes the organization a healthy place of work. There are no walls at Mindfire. We have open workplaces and it should not come as a surprise to find the CEO himself sitting next to you and coding. Even the company financials are made known to each and every employee at the end of every month to ensure transparency. Innovation is the lifeblood at Mindfire Solutions. The way we make extensive use of technology to ensure quality in the work that we do ascertains the fact. We have homegrown systems and tools in place that check for bugs in the code that we write for our customers, keep our client updated using 2MV (2 minute videos), address requests, needs and problems at work, help make better and universally accepted decisions, catalyze day-to-day work, increase the speed of learning and be aware about the happenings in the organization. Stupefied? Aren’t you?

An organization of Knowledge seekers:
That Mindfire wishes to foster a culture of learning and has a knowledge driven culture is evident in the manner it wants its employees to get themselves certified. It has sponsored over 300 certifications with 95% certified software engineers holding Industry recognized certifications from the Industry leaders like Oracle , Microsoft, FileMaker, Zend etc. So it should come as a surprise to know that each Mindfirean has an average of two certifications per head. Not only that, it has sponsored ACM membership for all its employees. There is a great emphasis on dissemination of knowledge. After all, the more you share your knowledge the more you get to learn. Mindfireans have conducted over 170 seminars with a cumulative total of 4000 attendees across teams and centres. They zealously participate in technical forums and have earned brownie points for themselves and the organization. In our endeavor to provide quality software services to our customers, over 2000 code reviews from across various tech areas have been done and there is a dedicated team of 50+ QA specialists testing approximately 250 projects every week. There are 100+ subject matter experts to solve the developers’ queries anywhere and anytime. When it comes to IT spending Mindfire leaves no stone unturned. More than 500 people work on licensed software tools and this fiscal around 25 paid tools have been added in the extensive tools library. Mindfire Solutions is also the proud organizer of the DDM (Debasish Das Memorial) IT Quiz, a national level annual quiz fest for management and engineering students. This event is organized in the memory of one of our most talented employees whom we lost to a fatal road accident in 2010.

Oh and there’s a cherry on the cake too. In order to encourage its employees’ spirit of learning, Mindfire in a maverick move, distributed about 700 iPads and android devices to all its employees last December. Did you just let out a small sigh?

Flexibility in work life= great personal life:
One may begin to wonder that with so much work and learning going on at Mindfire Solutions the personal lives of its employees would be hitting rock bottom. But the situation is quite the opposite. We have fixed time for clients and that gives us more time for ourselves, family and friends. There are no strict rules/policies etched on stone and flexibility is given a lot of importance. Unlike larger companies where number of hours clocked is strictly monitored, people at Mindfire enjoy flexibility in working hours (no time sheets/registers/swipe machines) as long as the work gets done. New mothers/mothers-to-be can avail unlimited maternity leave, those who are ill can convalesce without worrying about losing their job and there is also the work-from-home option for those who cannot afford to come to office owing to certain urgencies at home. Also one does not have to haggle for leaves. Have you ever heard of a company that has a holiday calendar consisting of 365 holidays (366 in case of a leap year)? Well Mindfireans would know this better coz everyday is a holiday at Mindfire Solutions. Nobody forces you to work here. To reiterate a point already mentioned earlier, you work because you choose to. And last but not the least, in this world where “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL)” this organization offers free lunch for all its employees across the three centres. Surprised? Don’t be!

Here’s a company which offers tremendous work options in 60+ technology areas, a great learning opportunity and a flexible and laissez faire culture. Not to forget the handsome spot bonuses in lieu of good work done. I am sure now you understand what my friend meant when he said, “Whoever would want to leave this techie paradise?”

Thoughts on mobile technologies and tele-repair

Innovation doesn’t always mean creating new things. Using existing things in new ways is also innovation. Innovation does not have to be big-bang, it can also be soft and silent steps which make an impact. Innovative application of current, boring and existing technologies could itself make the most trivial jobs better! A small example follows.

I noticed a service-person last week working on the water filter in our office. He was speaking on the phone and explaining something animatedly to the person at other end of the connection. The water filter was open showing its innards and he was fiddling with wires of many colors. Some eavesdropping revealed that he was explaining something about the wires – presumably to a person with more expertise – their layout, condition, color and so on. There was some heat and argument as our man was getting impatient with the expert – because the expert couldn’t get the exact status as he was explaining it.

He was on a mobile, they spent 15 minutes trying to get each other to understand the physical status as it was and should be – using mobile phones. Tele-repair? Yes. Could this be improved? You bet – a picture is worth a thousand words 😉

The visual aspect was the biggest missing piece. Without getting into 3G and live-video-enabled phones, a still-photo mechanism using the ancient MMS would also do the job while being economically viable. The guy at the other end just needed to see the damn pieces once!

Ideally, I would visualize a flex-cord (one of those twisty things that retain shape after you twist them) connected camera mounted on the mobile phone, which you can twist and point at areas of interest. With a speakerphone and the camera streaming visuals of the situation, field service personnel can “show and tell”, and effectively carry out instructions relayed by the expert at the other end.

This wouldn’t be big to do nor would it cost much. However, what is also important is the linkage among these. You may have the tools individually but not the mind unless someone has told you. You may have a mobile, a camera in it, MMS capability in it or GPRS/3G email capability in it, even dedicated software and flex-cord dedicated camera hardware – but can every service mechanic put these pieces together?

So what we are looking at for field service using mobile phones as enablers is a combination of equipment (hardware/software) and training to achieve the end result. And bang! – you have the ability to distribute deep knowledge and abilities of a limited number of experts over a large number of field service personnel and customer incidents – the ability to scale up your service abilities without corresponding rise in expert manpower. And it is not restricted to something as mundane as economics – having experts help on more repair incidents thereby reducing cost-per-repair. It is simply that you can create only so many experts in so much time.

This ability to distribute expertise over distance and scale up efficiency is the premise of tele-medicine, and can be equally well translated to tele-repair. Tele-repair of high-end and delicate equipment would still justify bringing in the experts, but for equipment like household goods or white goods repair, sundry electronics repair such as on TV sets, on-site repair can be tremendously enhanced using new technology. Happier people, faster and more accurate repair activities, happier customers – it is happiness all around.

Much of above is possible with existing technologies today. Making a customized system might make it more usable and beneficial, but the core pieces already exist!

How much would it cost to set up a mobile phone with dedicated flex-cord camera and a software application that integrates streaming videos into an “environment” that is easy to use? Perhaps the next thing to chew on for our embedded and mobile-computing guys 😉

Author – Chinmoy Panda