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Connecting the dots…my journey of 20 years!
Hailing from an application programming background, Open Source was not an unheard term to me. I still remember the excitement in the techie world around me 20 years back, when Linux became available to download. Many project-mates downloaded it instantly and were running it on their systems enthusiastically. For a period of time, lunch discussions used to be only about experiments with Linux. I was always a usability and functionality fan than a technology buff. Business use cases fascinated me more than the technical nitty-gritties. So, I did not deep dive into it. I also did not keep track of the Open Source world afterwards. But I do remember being extremely impressed with the community spirit of open source back then.
My later stint as a freelance SME Inbound Marketing consultant over the last decade, was an organically born initiative. I was on my motherhood break and many friends who had ventured into entrepreneurship needed technology adoption help. I started it as a pro bono exercise and realised that there is a crying need in SME sector for someone who can double up as technology enabler as well as marketing consultant. As an SME, your budgets are tight, you are low on manpower and the competition is cut throat. Getting on to technology bandwagon is a catch 22 situation. You can’t do it as you don’t have cash. You can’t grow and create stronger cashflow as much of your effort is being wasted in doing these mundane manual jobs. One project led to another.
I realised that there are many SaaS products available out there which are either free or have an affordable outlay which SMEs can afford. It allows them to get out of the cash-flow Vs technology-aided-automation trap and start growing faster. Now that I look back, I realise that many products recommended and customised by me for my clients were Open Source. It was done quite unknowingly or let me say – not in a very purposeful way to follow the open source technology. But no lock-down and a deferred cash outlay made best sense to the cash-conscious SME clients. They first got on to their technology adoption ladders using community open source products. I saw them loving the technology advantage and then happily getting on to the enterprise versions of the same.
Parallel to my freelance stint, I worked extensively in community spaces. Being a techie, needless to say, my community contributions were also in terms of technology. Non-profit community organizations are a similar case as start-ups. They run on volunteer support and have a limited cash inflow. Their challenges are in fact more severe as voluntary skilled manpower is even scarce and the need to adopt technology to automate certain functions is much more critical. It fell into my sweet spot. I was excited about utilising my technical skills in an area other than enterprises and looked forward to the fulfilment I would derive out of community involvement.
I helped communities streamline their operations using technology; increase their outreach using digital-social platforms. It was possible to reduce their effort requirement and yet create an extremely professional communication framework using online services.
Working with social enterprises, I came to appreciate the power of community contribution. I gave, and saw people giving. I saw great initiatives run solely on high class voluntary effort by skilled professionals. I also saw great creativities coming to the fore by selfless efforts of many.
It was fulfilling to witness that ‘great things are created when you keep the commercials out and passions in’. But experience also taught me that ‘great products/initiatives cannot sustain unless they are run diligently’. And that takes ‘something more than creativity’. You need to bring in a ‘compensation model’ for the same.
Technology is revolutionising our world. Big changes in this world can happen in a quick manner through technology. It not only ticks bigger enterprises, it empowers the individuals with great ideas too. All great disrupting ideas we see around were started by a few passionate individuals who dared to think differently. Technology gave these innovators wings. It doesn’t just makes small communities self-reliant and efficient, it also helps bigger enterprises cut cost and pass on the benefit to end customers. It breaks the boundaries of geographies, currencies and the real-virtual world and makes all resources available to everyone in the world. Makes the world flat and resource efficient!
Now a Ashnik-ite
And here I am now. Working for Ashnik – an Open Source technology company, understanding the progress done by Open Source technology world, admiring the vast open source products landscape and appreciating the acumen of the enterprises who have made the open source adoption an easy breeze. Spent an inspiring first month teeming with a lot of wows. It is interesting equally humbling when you realise that the core of it is in community products which were developed selflessly by passionate contributors.
I see the various things I worked on in the last 2 decades culminating beautifully and bringing me to a world of technology built on community spirit, creativity and enterprise usability. The universe conspires, as Paulo Coelho may say. I look forward to an exciting time ahead with Ashnik!
– Nalini Thite, Key Accounts Manager at Ashnik