December 31, 2008

So What Happens Next?

So, my wife has a new job in India. We’re leaving Dublin to have a flavour of life in the sub-continent. It was a dilemma to figure out how to fit this in with my own career.

After much deliberation, we figured that it wouldn’t really be possible to continue my current role of CTO. As well as the traditional CTO-like activities (evangelism, slideshows, strategy, whiteboard death-match), I’ve also been leading the, now quite large, development team at dotMobi. Doing that properly needs someone nearby, and not offset by five-and-a-half hours. So the CTO (aka VP Technology) role is now in the hands of a very able replacement – there’s certainly a world-class team to continue the good work in Dublin.

But the good news is that I’ll still be involved with dotMobi, despite my geographic and temporal displacement. I’ll be consulting for the company as VP Emerging Technologies – which makes me a sort of a one-man research team. I’ll be slightly decoupled from the engineering activities of course – but, because there are still lots of innovative things that the company needs to do, I can make the most of my slightly remote perspective by pushing those inventions forward.

There are a couple of things I’ve got in mind. Firstly, I’d like to to help understand how dotMobi’s existing tools can be better used. I’ve got a DeviceAtlas WordPress plugin up my sleeve, for example – and I think there’s lots more we can do to make that platform easier to use in familiar runtime environments. We’d like to push DeviceAtlas further in the area of AJAX and CSS support. I expect I’ll rattle off a few posts for mobiForge. And I expect I’ll also be chipping in some ideas for Instant Mobilizer.

Although it will be a change not to be in the office every day, bouncing thoughts off everyone else, I think I’ll be very able to see these projects through without too much day-to-day distraction. Of course we’re a heavily connected team, so (Indian broadband permitting) I’ll still be able to stay in touch via Skype, email, Twitter and so on.

Co-incidentally, I’m pleased with the word ‘emerging’ in my role as I think will be wholly appropriate for my locale. We’ll be in a place called Nashik, a few hundred miles north-east of Mumbai. It’s small enough not to appear on most maps, but it’s got a population of 1.5 million or so. India of course, is emerging as both an economic and mobile phenomenon, both in the cities and rurally, and I think I’ll be well placed to watch these developments unfold.

What do I mean by by mobile phenomenon? Well I don’t know what that means on the ground yet – but I do know the country’s been gaining something like 10 million new subscribers a month. (That’s the population of Dublin every, um, working day). As well as the staggering numbers involved, I fully expect to discover that these millions of newly-connected mobile users are using the medium in exciting new ways. And surely many of them won’t already own a PC: so mobile web usage is undoubtedly going to feature heavily.

But I don’t really want to say too much about what I think I will see and experience – I know it’s going to be a huge adventure, but I also know that most of my assumptions (whether about the local mobile market or India in general) will be wrong. I’ve been a few times on holiday, but this is an altogether different kettle of fish, so I’m going with an entirely open mind. My Twitter account and blog are a blank canvas upon which I will try to describe what I see, smell and observe once I get there. (I’ll endeavor to keep a regular ‘mobile letter from India’ going).

Anyway, all in all, it’s daunting, but the situation looks like it will work out well. I’ll be spending more and more time researching some of the technical challenges that face the company – and the mobile industry as a whole – and hopefully coming up with some innovative solutions and neat technology. I’ll be able to see, first hand, a completely different side to the evolution of mobile communication, and I’m looking forward to blowing some of my Western preconceptions out of the water. Finally, of course, I’m hoping this will be a great experience for my children – who, after all, will consider India to be one of the major world economies when they are my age.

So, as of next week, good bye Europe (for a little while) and stay tuned!

Comments (3)

Leave a Reply