Mobile City

Bhuvan Khanna
Bhuvan Khanna
The Journey: Early Days to How I Got Here

I started early in my college days, with summer internships at places like UKTI where I learned a lot about professional communication and market research. I had realized that being just an engineer would not be enough. So, during my third year of college me and my friends decided to start on our own, we used to save up on the college time and work on small web development projects. Our model was simple, there is enough work out there, and we were close to the freelancer community so it was easy for us to organize and get the work done. In effect we were the rug-rats of the IT industry. Like everyone in my generation I was also intrigued by the mobile devices, and knew for sure that the future of technology and computing lies in the handheld devices.

In those days java was the only language in which mobile apps were being made, and very soon Android started coming up in the developer community. The world saw its potential and the platform lived up to it. I joined a Pune based startup where I worked on a few projects and then started attending events and conferences. There I realized the mobile domain is growing at a breathless pace and its time to capitalize on it.

So I moved to Webonise Lab, who were back then working on a product called Appbazar, it was the first and only India specific Android appstore. We worked day in day out to build and market the product and got a massive response from the developer community around the country. Before I knew it, I was the Tech Lead on Mobile and the Business Head of Mobile Operations in Webonise. We never looked back from there. Currently, we are involved in various outsourced product development projects across domains and cross platforms. The journey I believe has just begun, these are interesting times and everyday throws up a new challenge, climbing up the ladder is just happening by the way.

Decisions That Mattered

There were 3 major decisions that I had to take, the first one was to join a startup while starting my career. That decision defined the way I look at my work and gave me the freedom to outgrow my peers in a very short span of time. The amount of learning you get from a startup is immense.
The second big decision came when I decided to join Webonise over the other lucrative offers I had at that time. That was a risk I took knowing that the road ahead will be tough but rewarding. As it turned out the journey has been more fun and the challenges more real. It’s important to realize what you really want to do when you are standing at the crossroads of your career.
The third decision was what transformed my role in the company, when I took the responsibility of being the Business Head mobile operations at 23. It was tough to let go of the safe havens of the familiar technology and coding world and actually enter an alien world of business and sales. The transition from a machine in the corner of the office to the conference room was something that required courage, to let go of comfort again and strive for creating more value and a bigger impact.

The Turning Points

Deciding to move over to mobile technology when the rest of the world around me was trying to become enterprise. Leaving a higher paying job to work with a startup that had a crazy product idea. There were ups and downs in the way, the first 2 products that I worked on didnt take off much after the initial buzz. The industry today is a great leveler, and can humble you with accolades and then bring you back to your feet. What is important is to learn equally from both your successes and failures.

Work and Role: Then and Now

Previously I was responsible for development and team building, which involved bringing in new technologies and expertise in the team and have the team grow and improve every day. Now, I am more responsible for the client communication, problem solving for the team, requirement analysis and scope management, plus design and usability consulting at a higher level. Outsourced product development is a lot more than just development hours by a developer, it’s about understanding and consulting at a very strategic level where the insider inputs that we can provide, define the success and failure of a product.

Two Years down the Line

Couple of years is a long time in our industry. Webonise is expanding at a rapid pace with clients in 3 different continents across 7 countries. But there is still a long way to go before we webonise the world. I see myself personally working on new challenges while growing with the organization.    

What I Learnt Along the Way

The only lesson that keeps me on the track and helps me create value for the clients and the company is to be fair and honest with what I do. Be it consulting a new feature or interviewing a new joinee I make sure I am fair and honest with everyone and with myself.

Changing Days: Lessons Learnt

The best part today is that you dont have to wait for 10 years to become a project manager. Things are moving really fast and age and experience have been replaced by talent and hard work. The IT industry in India has matured enough to realize the young energy that can drive creation. It’s a great time to work in.

Trends to Watch Out For

From the browser and PC wars in the late nineties to the Mobile platform battle of the late 2010s the domain has seen a trend repeat itself. And the industry leaders have realized that technology especially computing will keep evolving at a tremendous pace and change will be the only constant thing.
Being a technology person you have to keep up with the latest of bleeding edge technology and not pull back from venturing into uncharted domains. For me the fun has just started, with the online retail and lifestyle boom we see mobile technology becoming an integral part of the overall economy. With the reach it has, I wouldnt be surprised to see three digit growths in terms of revenue and numbers for the next couple of years.

My Advice If You are Starting Out

Start early, and think ahead. If you are in IT then getting a job is not difficult, but if you really want to be successful than you have to have a key differentiator. It could be your constructive and positive attitude or an understanding of an upcoming technology.  

Must Focus Areas for the Future

NFC and cloud integration will be the most sought after things in the coming year. The mobile devices will start becoming seamless with the PC. And we will see m-commerce becoming a tangible reality.

Do We Need Certifications?

I am not a big believer of certifications, they are helpful to build credibility when you are starting out. For me the certifications were a way to learn a given platform thoroughly and completely. To prosper professionally in IT you need to be a Jack of all trades but a master of at least one.

Books/ Websites I Recommend

follow the active tech people on twitter and blogs. Read, Read and read. There is enough information online to fill yourself up with. For young developers, I would really suggest reading the Head First series of books. I am also a big fan of Devdutt Pattanaik if you want to understand and work with people. Stackoverflow is a heaven for any developer these days be it any technology. In the mobile domain superficially the platform documentation for Android is a good place to start with.

Last But Not Least

There are a lot of alternative platforms in the mobile space that are fast catching up like HTML5, JavaScript, Titanium and Sencha Touch. I would advise the young developers to look at mobile development with a more 360 degree approach. This is still a very young domain and is itself evolving, thus there is a huge scope for learning and creating new things.

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