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Dell to expand Linux PC offerings, says partner

Posted by egovindia on November 8, 2007

Dell to expand Linux PC offerings, says partner

Posted online: Friday , July 27, 2007 at 1646 hrs IST

Boston, July 27: Dell Inc will soon offer more personal computers that use the Linux operating system instead of Microsoft Corp’s Windows, said the founder of a company that offers Linux support services.

Mark Shuttleworth, who created a version of Linux software named Ubuntu, said Dell is happy with the demand it has seen for Linux PCs that were introduced in May.

Dell, the world’s second-largest PC maker after Hewlett-Packard Co, now offers three consumer PCs that run Ubuntu Linux.

“What’s been announced to date is not the full extent of what we will see over the next couple of weeks and months,” Shuttleworth said an interview late on Wednesday.

“There are additional offerings in the pipeline,” he said. Shuttleworth founded Canonical Inc to provide support for Ubuntu Linux.

A Dell spokeswoman, Anne Camden, declined comment, saying the company does not discuss products in the pipeline.

She added that Dell was pleased with customer response to its Linux PCs. She said Dell believed the bulk of the machines were sold to open-source software enthusiasts, while some first-time Linux users have purchased them as well.

Open-source software refers to computer programs, generally available over the Internet at no cost, that users can download, modify and redistribute.

The Linux operating system is seen as the biggest threat to Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

Shuttleworth said sales of the three Dell Ubuntu PC models were on track to meet the sales projections of Dell and Canonical. He declined to elaborate.

Companies like his privately held Canonical Inc, Red Hat Inc and Novell Inc make money by selling standardized versions of Linux programs and support contracts to service them.

There are dozens of versions of Linux, available for all sorts of computers from PCs to mainframes and tiny mobile devices.

Shuttleworth said his company was not in discussions with Hewlett-Packard or the other top five PC makers to introduce machines equipped with Ubuntu.

The other three top PC makers are Lenovo Group Ltd, Acer Inc and Toshiba Corp.


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2 lakh Software testers require within ’10

Posted by egovindia on November 8, 2007

2 lakh Software testers require within ’10


The software-testing arena in India is estimated to require more than 25,000-30,000 professionals, says

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

BANGALORE, INDIA: Yet another milestone in Indian software testing market, the global testing market accounting $13 billion as well as the Indian Software Testing companies making their remarkable presence in global testing market and demand for testing professionals increasing year on year really waved the path to launch largest software testing job portal

The portal will serve both Fresher and Experienced professionals looking for the job opportunities in Software Testing space.

The software-testing arena in India is estimated to require more than 25,000-30,000 professionals within the year 2007 and grow to more than 2,00,000 lakh professionals within 2010. is a unique portal dedicated for Software testing requirements to provide User Interface to both jJobseeker and employer.

Since the software testing market foreseeing tremendous growth in future the need of exclusive software testing job portal will be a top-up for the industry, the release adds.

All the major Software Companies in India recruit testing professionals in large numbers through the job portals and portal exclusive for testing will really serve the demand. Today almost all the software products are passing the testcycle before the release where the company needs dedicated testers.

Virtual Jobfairs are also one of the biggest achievements from testingjobz where the employers can recruit the candidates in shorter timeframe.

TestingJobz offers free job posting for the Jobseekers and apparently guides the candidates applying for the jobs.

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Build an 8 PS3 supercomputer

Posted by egovindia on November 3, 2007

Build an 8 PS3 supercomputer

ElcomSoft Files Patent for Revolutionary Technique to Recover Lost Passwords Quickly
ElcomSoft Co.Ltd. has discovered and filed for a US patent on a breakthrough technology that will decrease the time that it takes to perform password recovery by a factor of up to 25. ElcomSoft has harnessed the combined power of a PC’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) and its video card’s Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). The resulting hardware/software powerhouse will allow cryptology professionals to build affordable PCs that will work like supercomputers when recovering lost passwords.
Moscow, Russia (PRWEB) October 22, 2007 — ElcomSoft Co.Ltd. has discovered and filed for a US patent on a breakthrough technology that will decrease the time that it takes to perform password recovery by a factor of up to 25. ElcomSoft has harnessed the combined power of a PC’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) and its video card’s Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). The resulting hardware/software powerhouse will allow cryptology professionals to build affordable PCs that will work like supercomputers when recovering lost passwords.
ElcomSoft, a leader in software cryptology and forensics, offers a wide range of password recovery solutions. Used by businesses, law enforcement agencies, and intelligence organizations worldwide, ElcomSoft has pioneered many software innovations that have made it easier for officials to recover lost passwords from the operating system, Microsoft Office products, and dozens of other popular software applications. Their latest discovery will enable organizations to recover passwords much more quickly, without expensive hardware or software.
Using the “brute force” technique of recovering passwords, it was possible, though time-consuming, to recover passwords from popular applications. For example, the logon password for Windows Vista might be an eight-character string composed of uppercase and lowercase alphabetic characters. There would about 55 trillion (52 to the eighth power) possible passwords. Windows Vista uses NTLM hashing by default, so using a modern dual-core PC you could test up to 10,000,000 passwords per second, and perform a complete analysis in about two months. With ElcomSoft’s new technology, the process would take only three to five days, depending upon the CPU and GPU.
Until recently, graphic cards’ GPUs couldn’t be used for applications such as password recovery. Older graphics chips could only perform floating-point calculations, and most cryptography algorithms require fixed-point mathematics. Today’s chips can process fixed-point calculations. And with as much as 1.5 Gb of onboard video memory and up to 128 processing units, these powerful GPU chips are much more effective than CPUs in performing many of these calculations.
In February 2007, NVIDIA, the worldwide leader in programmable graphics processor technologies, launched CUDA, a C-Compiler and developer’s kit that gives software developers access to the parallel processing power of the GPU through the standard language of C. NVIDIA GPUs (GeForce 8 and above) act as multiprocessors, with multiple registers and shared memory and cache. ElcomSoft has harnessed their computing power, and will be incorporating this patent-pending technology into their entire family of enterprise password recovery applications. Since high-end PC mother boards can work with four separate video cards, the future is bright for even faster password recovery applications.
Preliminary tests using Elcomsoft Distributed Password Recovery product to recover Windows NTLM logon passwords show that the recovery speed has increased by a factor of twenty, simply by hooking up with a $150 video card’s onboard GPU. ElcomSoft expects to find similar results as this new technology is incorporated into their password recovery products for Microsoft Office, PGP, and dozens of other popular applications.

To learn more about ElcomSoft’s new technology, please visit http://gpu.elcomsof
http://www.prweb. com/releases/ NVIDIA/GeForce/ prweb562303. htm

Archis Gore <archisgore@yahoo. com> wrote: I was only a matter of time before someone picked up a cell processor for
high-perf computing (which was what they were meant to do). What really
impressed me was someone actually going out and picking up a PS3 and using it.

However, while the enthusiasm is great, I’d point out two things to consider
when building your own super-computer:

1. The definition of supercomputer will always keep upgrading. Today my
cellphone has a 400Mhz processor (4 times faster than my pentium from 1998). So
the minute someone builds 8 PS3s, IBM/Sun can go and put 150,000 cells on
ultra-thin super-efficient boards with customized network stacks of 0.000001
second latency, etc. and outbeat your home-made “supercomputer” . (Please note:
I’m not criticising – just saying that that’s how reality is)

2. To use all those GFlops is not trivial. The upside of AMD and Intel’s
multicore processors as opposed to the cell is that utilizing 10 cores is a lot
easier (just write a multithreaded program and you’re done). Today putting MPI
on your college labs and coding on it might give you a way simpler programming
model than one with 8 PS3s. In fact this is why while “technically superior”,
you don’t see a PS3 really showing the value-add on the gaming market and is at
a distant 3rd place behind Wii and XBox. At the end of the day, if you can’t
use all that power, it doesn’t exist.

This does seem to be a good step in the right direction though, and there’s
going to be a ton of money in whoever can provide a good programming model to
enable rapid app development on multicores – especially as multicores begin
entering mobiles soon.


— sudhanwa Jogalekar <> wrote:

> Great reading!! Make your own supercomputer! !
> Less than a 10th the cost per GFlop of the $2500 supercomputer
> Take 8 PS 3 consoles, Yellow Dog Linux, a Gigabit Ethernet switch and
> your favorite protein folding or gravitational wave modeling codes and
> you’re doing real science. On a Playstation!
> Read more here: http://blogs. storage/? p=220&tag= nl.e539
> — Sudhanwa
> !~!~!~!~!~!~ !~!~!~!~! ~!~!~!~!~ !~!~!~!~! ~!~!~!~!~ !~!~!~!~! ~!~!~!~!~ !~!~!~!~
> Have you tried the new “FREE” Marathi font “Aksharyogini” we have released?
> News!! Aksharyogini font will now be available in debian Indic fonts
> package!!
> Please get it from http://aksharyogini .sudhanwa. com
> ~!~!~!~!~!~! ~!~!~!~!~ !~!~!~!~! ~!~!~!~!~ !~!~!~!~! ~!~!~!~!~ !~!~!~!~! ~!~!~!~~
> http://www.sudhanwa. com

E-mail: archisgore@yahoo. com
Homepage: http://www.geocitie

“… one of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that, lacking zero, they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs.” — Robert Firth.

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Notebooks for all:with zero maintenance or moving parts, open source software.

Posted by egovindia on November 2, 2007

Notebooks for all
A Canadian company has yet another solution for bridging the world’s digital divide


A Canadian alternative to the much talked about “one hundred dollar laptop”
is making the rounds of the region in the hope of winning support from
governments by offering a different solution to bridge the digital divide.

Rather than one inexpensive laptop per child, the answer being presented is
a somewhat more powerful computer, with zero maintenance or moving parts,
which can be shared by a number of children running free and open source

Gerry Morgan, founder of Ink-Media and the man behind the Ink-Media Mobile
Personal Computer, explained how the original idea came out of his work in
architecting Schoolnet India. The key problem there was that a normal PC had
a typical life span of just six months due to power fluctuations, brownouts,
dust and software or operating system corruption. The answer to that
question was a rugged PC with no moving parts, and one which had no
rewritetable storage for the OS, which could be corrupted.

The idea was to cut maintenance costs, typically around 30 percent, down to
zero. Furthermore, by basing the system on free and open source software,
another significant running cost.

[– Image: http://www.bangkokp /311007_data01. jpg
Caption: Gerry Morgan shows off his Ink Media budget notebook that he hopes
will help bridge the digital divide. Rather than one laptop per child, it is
designed so that one laptop can serve many children. — DON SAMBANDARAKSA –]

Years later, Morgan came up with the idea that became the Ink-Media Personal
Mobile Computer. Perhaps the oddest technical feature of the tablet-style PC
is the fact that it runs an ARM-based RISC CPU, the Freescale i.mx31. The
key reason for choosing this RISC CPU over a conventional x86 Intel or AMD
was battery life. Morgan explained that this CPU’s power envelope
of just 3.5 watts made an 8-hour use possible. The other key reason was that
this particular chip had strong video and graphics capabilities, which would
be needed to show videos and animations in a classroom environment.

The downside is that it does not run the vast amount of x86 software out

The operating system is a cut down version of Debian Linux, recompiled for
the ARM architecture, complete with most of the office and communications
software expected in a GNU/Linux system. The OS and applications are locked
away in semi-permanent flash memory that under normal circumstances cannot
be written to by the system.

“It can’t get a virus, it can’t slow down. The system has no hard drive, no
fan. Nothing can break and it is completely maintenance free,”
he explained.

Morgan said that he does not believe in the one-laptop-per- child (OLPC)
philosophy. Rather, he believes that computing should be as ubiquitous as
pencils and that one laptop could be made to serve many children.

The architecture is different in that rather than storing data in the
machine, all user data, preferences and language settings are stored in the
user’s SD card or USB drive. Plugging in your drive in any of these machines
would then bring up a Thai language desktop with your files the way the user
left it. This separation of machine and data is important to help one
machine serve many people.

Morgan said that the idea of a pencil lab today would be utter absurdity, so
why then do we persist with the concept of a computer lab? In his worldview,
the PC should be a tool that humans use to express our thoughfulness,
resourcefulness and insightfulness rather than an end in itself.

Already, Morgan is talking about extending the concept beyond education and
to healthcare, homes and even small businesses in the developing world that
have yet to use a computer.

“Four fifths of the world’s population has yet to touch a computer. I was
trying to build something to fit their needs,” he said.

The open source movement features a lot in his talks. Morgan said he was
touched by these people who created all this great software and gave it away
for free, offering an alternative economic model to the one that has become
entrenched in our collective psyche.

The PC design has many similarities with the OLPC and many differences. For
instance, the screen is a conventional screen rather than the special OLPC
design that works in bright light. Morgan said that two years ago, he
conducted a survey right here in Thailand and everyone preferred a
conventional screen with good colour rendition to one that had poor colour
but was more readable in bright daylight. The Debian-based Linux OS also
looks and feels more conventional and can easily be used by anyone
accustomed to Windows – unlike the OLPC’s altogether different human
computer interface.

The wireless LAN component is a standard 802.11G unit from Marvel. “Meshing
was a very interesting idea, but when you put it in a classroom, it’s the
equivalent of passing paper notes to all your friends. As a former teacher,
would I want that? I don’t think so,” he said. As for the question of
providing connectivity across areas that the OLPC’s mesh WiFi promises,
Morgan thinks that soon enough we will have WiMax that will address that
need with more standard equipment.

Profits from the endeavour are channelled back into the Gerry Morgan
foundation, which invests in poor regions sometimes for computers, sometimes
for other basic infrastructure. The first project is a school in Uganda for
around 200 AIDS orphans. The entire project is designed to be self
sustaining, which means that each system is sold at a small profit in order
to make the ecosystem viable and scalable.

Ink Media is ready to scale up production with its partners in China as
early as January but before that can happen, Morgan is travelling the world
meeting governments trying to convince them of his vision and gain their

“The idea of low cost computers is a very important economic strategy and it
has to become a national priority in every country. Up until now, the entire
computing revolution has touched less than 20 percent of the world’s
population. We are about to have the second revolution, and yes, I believe
the end goal can be achieved within my lifetime,” he said.

Today, the Ink-Media Personal Mobile Notebook can be ordered in bulk for
US$250 per unit and a desktop version – which has the same processor and
internals but is to expected to be hooked up to a second hand monitor,
keyboard and mouse – can be had for as little as $160.

The Bangkok Post
http://www.bangkokp /31Oct2007_ data01.php

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National policy on e-governance required

Posted by egovindia on April 22, 2007

National policy on e-governance required
i-flex CEO India Operations and chairman of NASSCOM Product Forum thumps his support for a comprehensive policy on e-governance
Saturday, April 21, 2007

Shashwat Chaturvedi

MUMBAI: India, by many, has been described as a graveyard of e-governance pilots. While we keep hearing about new and grander pilot launches each year by a whole hosts of states in India, not much is known about the success of these projects. One of the chief reason behind it has been, there has been no comprehensive policy on e-governance.

Every state government so as to speak keeps re-inventing the wheel, starting from scratch and going all the way up.

Now, Deepak Ghaisas, CEO India Operations and CFO, i-flex Solutions (also the chairman of NASSCOM Product Forum) is mooting the creation of a ‘national policy on e-governance’. “Recently, I was having a word with Sam Pitroda (chairman, Knowledge Commission) and we discussed the feasibility of a national policy on e-governance projects. I am a strong votary of the same and feel that we should be really working on it,” he says.

Talking about the duplication that takes place in innumerable pilot projects, Ghaisas said, “Literally, every state government is re-inventing the wheel. Imagine if we could freeze on certain standards, it would save a whole lot of time and effort and not to mention money. It would also improve speed and transparency in the way the projects are implemented.”

“It would also boost a lot of innovations, once things have been standardized and key learnings between different states exchanged, e-governance would really go to the next level. Take for instance, the local language interface; in India there are so many languages and dialects, in fact more than that of the whole of European Union. Thus it is very important that we share knowledge on different e-governance projects,” he added.

But, it is not only because of transparency and speed that Ghaisas is mooting such a policy, according to him the use of technology by different state governments would give an immense boost to the domestic IT industry.

“According to estimates, 23 per cent of government spending goes on defense, while 46 per cent of it on governance. Now, even if a small fraction is spent on technology, namely to streamline the processes. It will really boost the domestic tech industry. For that to happen we need to have a vision and a robust policy on how to go about things,”Ghaisas added.

© CyberMedia News

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$100 laptop could sell to public

Posted by egovindia on January 14, 2007

$100 laptop could sell to public

By Darren Waters
Technology editor, BBC News website, Las Vegas

http://news. 2/hi/technology/ 6246989.stm

The backers of the One Laptop Per Child project are looking at the possibility of selling the machine to the public.

One idea would be for customers to have to buy two laptops at once – with the second going to the developing world.

Five million of the laptops will be delivered to developing nations this summer, in one of the most ambitious educational exercises ever undertaken.

Michalis Bletsas, chief connectivity officer for the project, said eBay could be a partner to sell the laptop.

“If we started selling the laptop now, we would do very good business,” Mr Bletsas, speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show, told BBC News.


I was told that the executive had mis-spoke

Darren Waters,
BBC News website tech editor

Read Darren’s entry in full

“But our focus right now is on the launch in the developing world.”

Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of the OLPC group, emphasised that the launch to the poorest parts of the world was the organisation’s main task.

Of plans to sell the machine, he said: “Many commercial schemes have been considered and proposed that may surface in 2008 or beyond, one of which is ‘buy 2 and get 1’.”

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Google/AP Deal Will Spawn New Product

Posted by egovindia on August 5, 2006

WebProNews – Google/AP Deal Will Spawn New Product
August 5, 2006

Google/AP Deal Will Spawn New Product
Jason Lee Miller | Staff Writer

For many publishers and news providers, being included in the Google
News index is a good thing. It’s a traffic driver. For the Associated
Press, it’s another matter because AP content is syndicated in
publications worldwide. Google has agreed to a licensing agreement
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The future, says AP Business writer Michael Liedtke, is "in the
coming months." Google has been at the center of several riffs over
the limitations of Fair Use, the guiding principles on use of content
snippets and thumbnail images. Google has maintained that indexing
and directing consumers to content is covered under those principles.

The Agence France Presse, Perfect 10 Magazine, and numerous
publishers have disagreed. Google has been able to sidestep a few of
these concerns in court, but is still facing legal action from the
“,1] ); //–>with the not-for-profit organization to avoid further legal

Google and the AP disclosed yesterday that the search company would
provide compensation for articles and photographs. But according
to company spokespersons, the arrangement is not necessarily meant
for Google News in its current incarnation.

“The license in this agreement provides for new uses of original AP
content for features and products we will introduce in the future,”
said Google spokesperson Sonya Boralv in a statement. “We are very
excited about the innovative new products we will build with full
access to this content.”


The future, says AP Business writer Michael Liedtke, is “in the
coming months.” Google has been at the center of several riffs over
the limitations of Fair Use, the guiding principles on use of content
snippets and thumbnail images. Google has maintained that indexing
and directing consumers to content is covered under those principles.

The Agence France Presse, Perfect 10 Magazine, and numerous
publishers have disagreed. Google has been able to sidestep a few of
these concerns in court, but is still facing legal action from the
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UC Libraries May Join Google Project
David A. Utter | Staff Writer

The University of California (UC) system could take part in Google\’s
book-scanning project, and would make 34 million volumes available
to the search engine.

UC associate vice provost for scholarly affairs Daniel Greenstein
“,1] ); //–>AFP, the Authors’ Guild, and the Association of American Publishers,
among an international collection of others.

Aside from Google’s (and often the court’s) belief that indexing
content is acceptable, the company has been brokering deals with
publishers for other services, like AdSense and the Google Print for
Publishers project.

“Google has always believed that content providers and publishers
should be fairly compensated for their work so they can continue
producing high quality information,” continued Boralv. “We are
always working on new ways to help users find the information they
are looking for, and our business agreement with the Associated Press
is one example of that.”

Google would not elaborate on the financial details on the
arrangement, nor would the company comment as to whether there are
other syndication deals on the horizon.

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UC Libraries May Join Google Project
David A. Utter | Staff Writer

The University of California (UC) system could take part in Google’s
book-scanning project, and would make 34 million volumes available
to the search engine.

UC associate vice provost for scholarly affairs Daniel Greenstein
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While public domain works published before 1923 may be scanned without
threat of litigation, works published after that period are covered by
copyright laws. This has proven to be a contentious issue for Google,
which regularly indexes online content for its search engine.
“,1] ); //–>apparently has a vision of universal access to scholarly works that
parallels Google’s. The Los Angeles Times cited as favoring the Google
Books Library Project as a way to make their libraries available to

Greenstein said Google would “create access like we’ve never had
before to our cultural heritage and scholarly memory. It’s a whole
new paradigm.” Six other library systems, including five universities
and the New York Public Library, have already signed on with Google’s
ambitious scanning project.

Protection of knowledge from loss and destruction would be one benefit
of digitizing books and storing them electronically. Greenstein noted
how much could be lost in the aftermath of another hurricane like
Katrina; California is vulnerable to earthquakes, and fires resulting
from a major quake could remove thousands of pages from the world

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While public domain works published before 1923 may be scanned without
threat of litigation, works published after that period are covered by
copyright laws. This has proven to be a contentious issue for Google,
which regularly indexes online content for its search engine.

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       —  WebProNews is an publication  —

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Google sees its book scanning as an extension of what it does online.
Lawsuits against Google claim this is copyright violation on a massive
scale. Those suits brought by the Author’s Guild and the American
Association of Publishers are still in process; the plaintiffs do not
want books scanned at all unless Google specifically asks for
permission to do so.

The UC system would not be paid by Google, according to the Times.
Instead it would benefit from the cost savings associated with sending
students to electronic versions of books and journals instead of having
to buy more printed copies.

UC would still have to front $1 million to $5 million to pay for
electronic storage, and about $700,000 per year in ongoing costs
during the book scanning phase of the project.


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Evaluating Soft Skills

Posted by egovindia on August 5, 2006

Evaluating Soft Skills

The mere presence of technical abilities does not guarantee success. Soft skills are essential for winning the race. As Indian pharma advances on the growth radar, Sonal Shukla tries to ascertain if the industry is truly prepared to identify, accept and utilise the benefits of soft skills.

Survival of the fittest, seems to be the mantra that is guiding the fast paced Indian pharmaceutical industry. Gone are the days of sluggish processes and sloppy standards. Today’s new and improved pharmacos are looking at scaling the dizzying heights of success, not just through their strategic moves, but also through the support of their capable employees.

As a result, they are looking for people, who can adapt very quickly to the changing corporate scenario and meet the demands of varied situations. Hence, the focus is on the criticality of soft skills.

Leadership, listening, negotiation, conflict management—all these are soft skills by nature that underline both individualistic career aspirations of an employee, as well as, offers business advantage to the companies at large. “There is so much of competition apart from technical skills that one needs to show that he owns something extra to take the cutting edge over the others,” says Sudha Mohan, Senior Manager-HR, LifeCell.

India was once a sheltered economy and various organisations had developed their own insular styles. Now, with a global mindset driving organisation structures, processes, strategy and competencies, it is being proven that the so-called soft skills are actually the main components that define sustainable success for all types of organisations.

According to Arnab Ray, Associate Director HR, TCG Life Sciences, the problem in the pharma industry these days is that the work in pharma is highly pressurising. Time constraint is an issue. In such situation employees, who are good at soft skills are able to manage and take the pressure of work and deadlines and are also able to boost the moral of other fellow employees.

What we look for

Depending on the style and the operations of the organisation, the role and utility of soft skills may vary. Still the business advantage from the softer skill set emphasises their growing demand across the pharma vertical. “Since we need to deal with our international partners on a regular basis, improved soft skills help in better communication and team work across various work centres around the globe,” opines Raman Akella, General Manager, Administration, Nektar Therapeutics India. The main thrust in Nektar Therapeutics is on communication, team work, team building, language training, effective decision making, developing assertiveness, emotional intelligence at the work place, corporate etiquette and so on.

Whereas, for an organisation like LifeCell, which is heavily into the revolutionised concept of cord blood banking, the idea of concept selling translates into a particular need for soft skills. “This is not just simple communication that we have to do, we are selling the concept and at the same time are portraying the positive image of the organisation,” explains Mohan.

Today’s organisations focus on quick growth and quick marketing, which results in acquiring employees with growing goal orientation and critical thinking skills. Organisations that focus on steady growth, may give more importance to customer service abilities than others. In such a way, the selection of attributes that match the given roles in the organisation, definitely tie into the style and culture of the organisation.

Defining soft skills

Recruiting right

And since, soft skills are very much a part of the quality of an employee hired, HR departments are focusing a great deal on measuring the attributes of talent that it proposes to hire. Over the years, pharma companies in India have been subject to greater competition due to deregulation of the economy. In order to compete with the world’s best, companies have found that they need to increase efficiencies in all areas, even in the hitherto ignored area of attribute-based selection. “A technically sound candidate with low rating on the soft skills will never be a preferred choice for the recruitment panel. If a candidate is well trained in soft skills, he is sure to present himself with grace and confidence, which will definitely have a positive impression on the panel,” opines Akella.

Organisations are developing methods to identify people with the required attributes in the screening and selection processes of recruitment. Some of the more common methods of identifying such attributes would be behavioural assessments structured interviews, group activities and focused questioning methods. These methods are derived and implemented by those trained in the respective area.

Myriad of skills

If people do not possess them, companies can also help acquire them. But can these skills be learnt? Yes they can be. According to Pallavi Jha of Dale Carnegie Training India, there are three clear areas of soft skill development that are considered critical for success. At a senior level, the ability and the attitude to inspire and drive change and communicate the same across influential communities becomes important. For the middle level, sharp management and leadership skills to attract, retain, motivate and develop high performing teams are vital. “At the junior levels, transition to the emerging requirements for consultative selling and client relationship management, in an environment which is moving away from the classical product detailing format holds significance,” she states.

All training required for employees in a company is necessarily linked to their roles and the performance outcomes that the employee is accountable for. B S Ahluwalia, HR Head, Anglo-French Drugs & Industries opines that particularly for their field force who are at grassroot level, communication skills, interpersonal skills, CRM skills are needed to improve prescription sales. For field managers, interpersonal and leadership skills (for supervisory function) are important. Whereas, for second line managers, business planning skills and decision making abilities are to be incorporated.

There are many options available as both stand-alone products and also parts of solutions that can be customised to the needs of an organisation. It is possible to develop and deploy a learning matrix across the entire company that can lead to significant growth in soft skills level and tangible business results. “Dale Carnegie Training India works across the entire range of soft skills to enable employees at all levels to develop and sharpen their competencies and ensure enhanced performance levels both at a tactical individual level as well as, strategic business benefits for the company”, says Jha. “We had an outbound learning programme combined with adventure course at Snow Leport Adventure camp near Rishikesh. Team building, leadership and problem solving were elaborately covered in this programme,” says Ahluwalia.

How TCG does it
At Chembiotek, a subsidiary of TCG Lifesciences, which is primarily a service-based organisation, demonstration and application of soft skills play a vital role in representing and enhancing the core competence of the scientific people in client interactions, adaptability within the organisation, efficiency in teams and increasing ones individual and therefore organisational productivity. Soft skills vary across different levels, becoming more specialised at higher levels. However, the essential ones are basic communication skills to express thoughts clearly, listening skills, feedback-receiving skills, attitudinal skills of mutual respect and skills to adapt to different environments. “We try to assess these skills by observing and framing questions in a particular style and taking decisions accordingly. The assessment feedback is recorded. The pool of systemic skills like socio-cultural adaptability skills, interpersonal skills, attitudinal skills such as openness and flexibility that are required are adjusted on joining, during induction and the first few months of employees’ tenure before we consider them ready for projects,” he says. Other soft skills will be developed and enhanced during the course of their tenure with us, he adds.

Many firms, today, conduct training for soft skills internally through their own set of trainers. But the trend is more and more moving towards outsourcing this activity. “We are in touch with various agencies that are experienced to impart soft skills to the employees,” states Akella. Nektar Therapeutics designs modules to improve their employees’ soft skills. “In the coming months, we also plan to get international experts to brush up the soft skill of employees here in India so that they are on par with colleagues in various countries,” explains Akella.

LifeCell on the other hand is planning to outsource the training exclusively to consultants. “In LifeCell, we have an internal trainer. As soon as the employee is hired, the trainer spends a lot of time with him identifying the kind of training he needs,” reveals Mohan. Training sessions are organised and feedback is taken from the employees. This provides the person an opportunity to present one’s skills. At the same time, his or her weak points can be figured out as well. Later on, the employers concentrate on those particular areas so that they can perform better.

Today, companies have evolved fairly robust performance development and employee development processes, where they have defined the managerial and soft skills that employees must demonstrate at different levels of growth in the company. In these times, it is absolutely mandatory in progressive companies that employees seeking growth meet these requirements apart from the functional results prescribed.

(With inputs from Sushmi Dey)


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Managing spending and e-sourcing

Posted by egovindia on August 5, 2006

Managing spending and e-sourcing


With Corporate Governance being considered a key issue by organisations, Spend Management and e-sourcing are on top of their lists, finds Faiz Askari.

Corporate Governance looks at the institutional and policy framework for corporations—from their inception, formulation of governance structures, company law, privatisation, to market exit and insolvency. However, the concept of Corporate Governance is poorly defined because it potentially covers a large number of distinct economic phenomena. As a result different people have come up with different definitions that basically reflect their own interests in the field.

“By enabling businesses to automate key steps of the Spend Management process in a single, closed-loop system, an
SM solution provides
operational control to manage the spend”

– T Sivakumar
Group Director, Asia-South Ariba

According to T Sivakumar, Group Director, Asia-South, Ariba, “With the passing of guidelines such as Sarbanes-Oxley in the US and the elevation of Corporate Governance as a key business issue across the globe (post-Enron and Worldcom), it has acquired the public spotlight raising fundamental questions on the existing corporate systems and processes, and good governance.”

“As the awareness
on HR rights and practices has increased, there has been pressure
on organisations to inculcate good Corporate Governance practices”

– Prasad Rajappan

Prasad Rajappan, MD, Cnergies believes that there are domestic factors driving Corporate Governance in various industry segments. He elaborates, “As the awareness on HR rights and practices has increased there has been pressure on organisations to inculcate good Corporate Governance practices. Cases like employees who have resigned not getting their dues in time, or delays in getting the retiral benefit accounts of former employees transferred are now escalated right up to the top management. Going to the media and even the police for such cases, which was earlier seen by the corporates as trivial, has become a serious issue now.”

He adds, “A CFO of a large bank approached us for a solution that could handle grievances of ex-employees. Another large customer wanted a help-desk to be set up to handle such cases. For all these organisations, help from third-party service providers is sought to ensure better adherence.”

Sivakumar has a different view, “Corporate Governance is not solely about regulatory or structural remedies. Fundamentally it’s about work culture and practices that provide a common understanding of the roles of management and the board in adopting best practices. With 60 to 90 percent of revenues contributing to the cost of goods purchased, it has become critical for organisations to adopt efficient Spend Management (SM) techniques or procurement to ensure compliance standards in purchasing.”

Spend Management

Dynamic global and local economic conditions continuously challenge and shape business priorities. Though businesses cannot control the economic conditions in which they operate, they can control their spending. As all the money saved goes to the bottom-line, managing spending allows companies to remain competitive in all economic cycles. Effective management of spend—what am I spending on, with whom, and at what price— enables companies to ensure that expenses fall faster than revenue in a weak economy and increase at a slower rate than revenue in a strong economy. This is what SM is all about.

“Most companies today understand the need to manage their spend, but face challenges in terms of reducing costs, increasing savings and bringing efficiency with transparency within the system. This has resulted in lot of pressure on the CXOs across the world. The key is to identify the areas, develop strategy to reduce costs and then systematically manage all key purchasing interactions across the enterprise to deliver the targeted spend reductions,” says Sivakumar.

However, there hasn’t been a single system that addressed the full cycle of procurement, until the evolution of Spend Management. For companies to achieve the desired results, it is critical to recognise SM as a single, focussed process that must be implemented consistently across the enterprise. When spend is treated in a fragmented manner, organisations find it difficult or impossible to streamline procurement and fully manage it.

Explains Sivakumar, “By enabling businesses to automate key steps of the SM process in a single, closed-loop system, an SM solution provides enterprise-wide visibility and operational control required to fully manage and leverage the spend. As a result, financial, sourcing, and procurement professionals can deliver and sustain significant spend reductions that improve the bottom line.”

Rajappan opines: “In today’s knowledge economy human spend has become not only critical but a driver for growth and success.” However traditionally SM was associated with procurement of goods and sometimes services. With the advent of skills-based and service-oriented organisations wherein the major spend is on human resources, SM is referred to as the human capital cycle.

A critical role

SM is all about a new category of solutions that is designed to enhance a company’s sourcing and procurement strategy. By allowing companies to combine their analysis, sourcing, contracting, procuring, and reconciling processes into a single and cohesive system, this solution can provide closer visibility over the spend. SM helps companies to efficiently manage purchasing functions, thereby gain a competitive advantage and bolster the bottom line.

“Spend Management is the only integrated set of solutions that allows companies to manage their full spend lifecycle from planning to payment. The solutions comprise analysis, sourcing and procurement. With the help of this solution companies can identify where and how they can keep saving money and ensure maximum profit,” says Sivakumar.

Rajappan gives a specific example, “If one analyses the total Spend Management in the HR process; recruitment, screening, selection, induction, training, compensation and benefits management, appraisal and reward, parting ways, career planning and so on, managing costs at each of these nodes is a challenge.”

“Spend Management has a high importance level due to the increasing complexity that we have in managing these processes. Let us consider recruitment. On the surface, it appears that recruitment has become easy because of the number of recruitment companies, job portals and technological advances. But if one goes beneath, it will be surprising how the manpower churn is impacting the total spend. Many a times these are a staggering 3X times than what is apparent.” says Rajappan.


As the demand for paper-less offices and business transactions is growing, companies are continuing their advancements in Corporate Governance. Apart from Spend Management, e-sourcing is another area which is attracting corporate houses and businesses.

Rajappan says, “e-sourcing in the area of HR has already been exploited. After online recruitment, the trend will be towards having an HR Exchange wherein a human talent pool will be available for scouting and fitting into appropriate roles. It will be not long when all of us in the job market will have our online human valuation across multiple perspectives. We will have large agencies getting into the act of valuing human capabilities looking at the market needs. There will be enough work but regular jobs will be less. Human value will get more returns and in turn organisations will get value for money.”

The advantages of e-sourcing are as follows:

Process efficiencies: It reduces the tendering and contract management time and effort for both buyers and suppliers.

Improved public sector savings: It helps public sector procurement professionals to focus on core, value-added procurement activity rather than administration.

Policy: It helps users to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Efficiency Review and the National Procurement Strategy for Local Government.

Best practices: It encourages users to adopt best practice in procurement, and enable a consistent approach to sourcing.

Collaboration and aggregation: It makes it easier for public sector procurement professionals to work collaboratively on common sourcing projects across geographically dispersed units and different departments.

Direct costs for buyers and suppliers: It reduces the direct costs of preparing and issuing the Invitation To Tender (ITT) and responding with tenders. Direct costs include paper, printing and distribution costs. Collaborative working reduces the need for teams to travel for face to face meetings.

e-sourcing can be further defined as a suite of collaborative Web-based tools that enable procurement professionals and suppliers to conduct strategic activities within the procurement lifecycle over the Internet. These strategic activities including requirements and specification definition, tendering and supplier selection, and contract award and management are designed to deliver value-for-money procurement solutions to the public sector.

The Indian connection

Sivakumar says, “Indian enterprises have been successful in the adoption of e-sourcing that enabled them reduce costs, improve bottom-line, and bring transparency and efficiency in their purchasing functions. In recent times, the Indian market has witnessed a total sourcing volume worth Rs 25,000 crore across various sectors. Ariba has been at the forefront with a contribution of sourcing transactions worth Rs 15,000 crore. Some of the companies who have benefitted by the adoption of e-sourcing initiatives in India are Tata Motors, Dabur, Crompton Greaves, Indo Rama, Ranbaxy and TVS.”

He adds that the move towards SM begins with the adoption of e-sourcing solutions. Most Indian enterprises are today sourcing materials and services with the help of these solutions. The next step for these enterprises would be to implement upgraded e-procurement solutions that bring in a higher level of efficiency through cost reduction and transparency. Sourcing and procurement together help enterprises to complete the full cycle of SM whereby sourcing (upstream) provides an automated platform and procurement (downstream) ensures compliance of purchasing functions across departments and business functions.

Sivakumar adds, “Most enterprises across industries such as textiles, retail, manufacturing, FMCG, pharmaceuticals and automobiles have seen huge potential in e-sourcing and are now likely to move up the value chain with SM. Dabur and Crompton Greaves are among the companies that are seriously looking at Spend Management. They are considering adopting Ariba’s Spend Visibility solution to manage their procurement functions.”

Rajappan says, “Corporate Governance till recently was restricted to large corporate houses. With the changing business environment and stakeholder awareness, more organisations are trying to get into these initiatives.”

He adds, “The concept of Corporate Governance has gained importance in many areas of business. Earlier, outsourcing was considered improper specifically because of data confidentiality apprehensions. But this trend is now reversing as organisations see this as a reason for outsourcing. Third party service providers seem to be a better bet to ensure data confidentiality.”

In addition, the expanding canvas of e-governance in India is a major factor that is pushing the growth of Corporate Governance. “The growing number of e-governance projects in India are good signs of Corporate Governance. After all, e-gov is the big picture of Corporate Governance,” says Sivakumar.

Industry viewpoint
  • Managing and monitoring spending
    is considered a major challenge for companies
  • To withstand global competition, Indian companies are following international standards. A well laid-out Corporate Governance policy can help them

Target segments

Enterprises globally have realised the need to upgrade their legacy systems that fail to provide a solution that is uniform. As companies seek to automate and optimise new business processes, a common view is that an existing solution such as ERP and CRM should be extended to meet these new challenges.

Rajappan says, “As it is getting difficult to attract the talent pool, it is becoming imperative for organisations to adopt Corporate Governance solutions. Especially in the aftermath of a few BPO cases in which customer-sensitive information was misused by some employees for their personal gains, organisations dealing with foreign clients or partners are eager to get Corporate Governance solutions implemented.”

The list of target segments includes BPO, government, manufacturing, IT and retail.

Even mid-sized companies are adopting Corporate Governance. Rajappan says, “There has been an increasing trend among mid-sized companies for Corporate Governance. Adopting a Sarbanes-Oxley compliant system and processes is the new trend. Financial fraud reporting tools are gaining importance.”

Sivakumar comments, “To compete with global companies, we have to fulfil global requirements. For these standardised requirements small-and mid-sized businesses are showing interest in implementing Corporate Governance practices.”

However according to industry estimates, enterprises globally are realising that Spend Management will allow companies to integrate a process and collaboration that goes across departments and companies. One financial services organisation is using a Spend Management deployment to enable frontline employees to better manage and schedule transportation services within specific geographic regions. This deployment has helped curb unauthorised spending while improving compliance through Web-based tools accessible to the procurement organisation, frontline users, and suppliers.

“As procurement teams begin to take category-specific approaches to track and manage spending across an organisation, they often find a wealth of information and knowledge that was previously scattered across the company’s systems and operating units if it was tracked at all. For one organisation, this analysis showed that different operating units of a company were purchasing the same type of IT consulting services from the same vendor at hourly rates that differed by 40 percent.” Sivakumar says.

He adds, “With large Fortune 500 corporations and governments across the globe wanting to stay ahead of their competitors, SM is expected to witness huge adoption in the coming years. Some of the global companies which have already adopted SM include the BMW Group, Fedex Corporation, Hewlett Packard and Volkswagen.”

With all the opportunities in the Indian corporate sector, globalisation and expanding reach of e-governance, Corporate Governance solutions seem to have a great future in India. Rajappan concludes, “With the digital divide between nations and organisations narrowing, Corporate Governance is getting prominence.”


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Nigeria orders first million OLPC laptops

Posted by egovindia on July 28, 2006

Nigeria orders first million OLPC laptops

$100 laptop project receives first official order

Tom Sanders in California, 26 Jul 2006


Nigeria has officially ordered and paid for one million of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) devices, according to the Nigerian Vanguard newspaper.

The deal is the first actual order for the project that aims to provide Linux-powered laptops to children in developing economies.

Production of the devices will start once five to 10 million have been ordered and paid for, according to the OLPC website.

OLPC deals directly with governments in China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria and Thailand. Other nations are said to be close to placing orders.

The computer is commonly referred to as the $100 laptop, but the first units are likely to cost around $140.

The laptops are designed for children and are ‘ruggedised’ to allow them to operate in dusty environments.

Using a central server and internet connection in a school, children will be able to go online from home through a mesh network. The laptops include a hand crank to charge the battery when away from a power connection.

The laptop is powered by an AMD processor and runs the Linux operating system.

Intel launched a competing $400 Eduwise laptop earlier this year. Both Intel and Microsoft have criticised the OLPC project.

Intel chairman Craig Barrett dismissed the project as a “$100 gadget “, and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates criticised the small screen and hand crank.

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