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Sunday, December 19, 2010

"THE SEARCH"

Before I get to the actual topic of this post , I HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO SAY - CHENNAI ROCKS!!!!! :) I was returning home this morning after the 11th day rituals, and on the car, I was switching between radio channels. I noticed that, AT EVERY POINT, AT LEAST ONE OF THE 6 RADIO CHANNELS IS PLAYING A HARRIS JAYARAJ CHARTBUSTER!!!! :) :) :) As soon as we got into the car, the song playing was "Mudhal Mazhai", then I switched over to another channel - "Engeyum Kadhal".
"Nenjukkul Peidhidum".
"Ragasiya Kanavugal".

WHAT MORE DO I NEED IN LIFE? :D ...I can while away my entire life just sitting in front of a radio listening to Harris Jayaraj songs non-stop!!!

AND YES !! Finally, after 11 years, for the first time ever, Bruno finally visited a beach :) - Marina beach :)

Anyways, coming to the main topic of the post -

Before you get various ideas about what "search" I'm talking about - well, my job search has ended :P and I am LEAST INTERESTED in a girl search now OR ANYTIME in the near future :P :P That's the last thing I want right now :P :P...Why unnecessarily invite trouble to my life? ;) I'm most happy to remain single and without any worries :P :P

I'm talking about an AWESOME book, by John Battelle, which I just finished reading yesterday. It's called, quite aptly, "The Search". To cut the long story short, it's about the evolution of the search engine industry and Google's meteoric rise to the numero uno position.

The last month has got me a little drifted towards the world of business - much more specifically, software business :) ...The kick-start for this drift was the AMAZING movie "The Social Network". My views on the movie are in this post. The 2nd propellant is this very book which talks about the enormity of the search industry & the rise of Google. Well, getting to know about the stories of the 2 BIGGEST SUPER-POWERS OF THE IT INDUSTRY TODAY - GOOGLE & FACEBOOK give you some wisdom :)..

Let me admit that I had earlier thought of management as something lowly. What do managers do, after all, apart from leaving some "reel"/"blade"/"piteel", torture their employees and laugh sadistically, sitting on a chair all day, enjoying life and earning truckloads? I also admit that I earlier thought a little a low of MBA students. How can one learn the art of management, after all? If everyone learned the same stuff - the same techniques of management, wouldn't every company be doing equally well? How can management be "taught" to someone? Isn't it supposed to be a SKILL which some people have and some people clearly do not possess? In fact, all of my undergraduate classmates were SURPRISED at my decision of pursuing an MS, while they thought CLEARLY that MBA was THE THING for me, given my awesome "piteeling" skills :P :P (my best undergraduate results were in the subjects of Management Information Systems, Software Engineering, Engineering & Technology Management) - I've written some of my friends' SOPs, LORs, emails ..what not! I'm sure you can infer from my blog post itself (my LONG posts do live up to the title of my blog, don't they? :P), what a "piteelist" I am!!

Now, having completed my MS from Ohio State, I really know technically challenging it is! It is REALLY NOT EASY :). One really has to have some NERVE at least, if not technical competence to rise to the occasion and sustain himself there, for 2 years! "Piteel" does not work ALWAYS, while doing an MS. I was also, by God's grace, a graduate research assistant and I know, for sure that research is NOT easy :). It really involves a LOT of concentration, dedication and focus. MBA, to me, seemed like it was all about leaving piteel and writing convincing stuff!

ALL OF THESE THOUGHTS were put to rest in the last one month. Watching that movie and reading this book has taught me that BUSINESS IS NOT EASY, AFTER ALL!! ALSO, BUSINESS IS NOT JUST ABOUT WRITING "PITEEL". IT IS A WHOLE LOT OF SKILL, STRATEGY, EXPERIENCE, WISDOM AND OF COURSE, KNOWLEDGE AND GRABBING OPPORTUNITIES AND FINALLY, THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR AMONG ALL - LUCK!
All my opinions about MBA, MBA students and business have changed. I've developed a respect for them and the field itself :). It DOES take A LOT to be a good businessman.

Coming to the book itself, it starts off with the database of intentions - the MOST SIGNIFICANT factor which drives the search industry. It then goes on to show how search engines came into effect - a transformation from an application which helps users find stuff on their computers TO one which helps users find stuff on the world wide web. It describes all of the earlier search engines like AltaVista and also explains reasons for their non-sustenance. FINALLY, it describes the birth of Yahoo ..and then Google. Both of these were born at Stanford University, with 2 Phd students experiencing a "Eureka" moment within their dorm rooms. Yahoo was more like an online directory at first, whereas Google CLEARLY started off as a search engine.

The way "search" has transitioned from being a simple application to probably THE WORLD'S BIGGEST BUSINESS is SIMPLY OUTSTANDING, MARVELOUS, INCREDIBLE AND EXTRAORDINARY, to say the least! Google flourished on a single idea - that of back-links. Ranking a web page based on how many pages link to it is what kick-started Google and with some BRILLIANT business decisions and technical workforce and expansion faster than light, Google is literally spinning the world on its index finger. Monetizing every single click, companies buying "search terms", advertising through search results - who would've even thought of all these with just a single application helping a man to find what he wants?

The book CLEARLY highlights all aspects of a company - ups, downs, resurrection, dominance etc. It has clearly shown Google's struggles, lifeboats, capitalizing on the slightest of grabbed opportunities and HOW CRITICAL each of these small things put together were, for the company's thunderous success.

The IMPORTANT lesson to be learned here is - PLAIN RESEARCH isn't EVERYTHING. If you have an idea which can change the face of the world, that just ain't enough!! How well you polish and tailor the idea to specific purposes, how well you GO ABOUT implementing it, how well you PLAN its growth, how well you plan its improvement, how well you plan its SUSTENANCE, how well you are prepared in case it booms, how well you plan to POPULARIZE it...There's just a WHOLE LOT which has to be done, apart from blindly executing it - THIS IS WHAT separates managers from technicians.

This has been SO CLEARLY highlighted in this book. That just having the world's best technical workforce solely CANNOT keep a company floating at the top and how crucial managerial expertise is to exploit the full potential of the workforce & see to it that the company goes steady at the #1 position, has been EPITOMIZED, to say the least. It is like an ABSOLUTE business guide and an AWESOME one at it. The value of literally EVERYTHING has been described - signing the right deals with the right partners, making the right and most profitable acquisitions, eye-ing the right markets, ALL AT THE RIGHT TIME & how much a "business model" matters to the company's success....EVERYTHING! Google's meteoric rise to the world's most enormous company may be described in this book, but between every line of it, can be read a business lesson. The lines have Google's story, but between the lines lie wisdom - lessons which'll SURELY help any business.

The last chapter is THE BEST ONE in the book - it CLEARLY says that...Search has been used just up to 5% of its potential. There's still SO MUCH to explore, SO MUCH to discover, SO MANY avenues to invest in, SO MANY unopened fortresses to invade and capture.
Like Rajnikanth says in Baba, "KNOWN IS A DROP, UNKNOWN IS AN OCEAN". It ends by describing WHAT AN EFFECT Data Mining has on ALL COMPANIES.

Fine! Google, Amazon, Yahoo etc create search engines - the user types something, the engine does a mechanical execution and returns the results it is programmed to return. How ABOUT converting these engines into INTELLIGENT ones? That is, engines keeping track of clickstreams. Clickstreams show the the path of the user's clicks - this helps GREATLY in UNDERSTANDING what EXACTLY the user wants. Most companies have realized this much later - all this while, they had been giving importance to themselves, than to the user. NOW, the focus is on the user - by using his clickstreams and processing them, the results are personalized and TAILORED for him, to give him maximum satisfaction. Processing such things is nothing but data mining - it is indeed the future! :)

The author finally ends with a projected "perfect search engine" - one that KNOWS who you are, based on your past interactions with it...and gives you EXACTLY what you want!
A day will not be far when I type "Sura movie download" on Google and it returns "What's wrong with you!!?? You're kidding, right? Please tell me you are!" :P :D ..

Such a LOVELY book it indeed is. Well, it does get boring in between - it fails to keep your attention at quite a few places - IT IS NOT LIKE A STORY. However, in parts, the incidents, reports and the outcomes wrack your nerves!!! JUST TOO AWESOME!

I'm SIMPLY AMAZED AND BLOWN AWAY by this book...Thanks to Mr.Ramaswamy for lending it to me. I'm gonna purchase my copy VERY SOON! This can well be my official guide to business! :) Well, quite like my inclination towards astrology, the movie and this book have successfully drifted me towards the SEA of business. However, obviously, I'm a little too inexperienced to set sail right away. Come January, I'll begin my first sea voyage, sailing on a TITANIC :) for a few years, learn the art of sailing and then ..God-willing, IF I get a good ship, I MIGHT be the Captain (not Vijayakanth :P :P) & set sail someday too :)...But then, what happens to my music & cinema dreams? :P ...Well, let's see :)...Like I said, life is full of twists :P....We plan something ..WHAT HAPPENS USUALLY IS SOMETHING RADICALLY DIFFERENT :) That's life :)....Well, I will become what I'm destined to become :)....Let's see :)

But at least for now, I guess I'm destined to bug you all with all the mokkai on my blog :P :P I'll continue doing that :D hehehe :)
Cheers,
Ashwin.




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