Fast emerging IT leader
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Jan 22 - 28, 2001
The KalSoft (Pvt.) Limited, which has earned a respectable name in the field of Information Technology within a very short span of time, is about to be certified by ISO-9001 sometimes next month, aims at listing its shares on the board of stock exchange during the current year. Beside ISO 9001 certification, KalSoft is also in the process of CMM-I, II and III levels during the year. It may be mentioned that there are only 41 IT companies all over the world which have acquired CMM-V certification and out of the total 24 CMM certified companies exist in India. KalSoft will have the honour to be the first in Pakistan.
This was disclosed by Abdul Ghaffar Memon and Khurram H. Kalia, the Chief Executive and the Director of KalSoft respectively, while talking to Pakistan & Gulf Economist regarding current developments taking place in the IT sector in general and in their organization in particular.
They also disclosed that KalSoft has entered into a joint venture agreement with "Providence Holding Inc. a US based IT firm which will look after our marketing interests in the United States, Middle East as well as in Africa."
Reviewing the situation, he appreciated the dynamic efforts by Dr.Atta-ur-Rehman, the Minister for Science and Technology for promotion of IT sector in Pakistan yet there is still a great room for improvement. He regretted that our bureaucracy is again proving the great impediment against the growth of the IT sector which offers tremendous opportunities to bail out the country from current economic crisis. He said that KalSoft, is a software house, which in collaboration with a US company is striving for rapid growth of exports of softwares from Pakistan. He regretted over what he called the ruthless attitude of the bureaucracy, which creates problems on petty issues. He said that problems were created in granting the status of software export house to KalSoft only on the ground that it is not involved in the business of Internet Service Provider while no such bindings have been set in the policy. Though the status was granted later on yet it is only to mention how the bureaucracy is still behaving arrogantly. Referring to Khawaja Amjad Saeed, a well-known financial expert and economist, Abdul Ghaffar Memon quoted him as saying that if Pakistan has to develop a strong IT sector the role of bureaucracy would have to be brought at zero level.
Abdul Ghaffar Memon, a reputed name in the field of IT feels that the developing countries like Pakistan are passing through the most crucial times of their economic history. He said that India has set a target of $6 billion export of software for next year while Pakistan is still on the starting point. The next 5 years are crucial for any country, which desire to be on board. God forbid, if we missed this opportunity of getting into the bus of Information Technology Age, we would have to wait for the next bus, which is not in sight in the near future. He said that business cooperation between Indian and Pakistani software houses has been reportedly unofficially which is a good development. The situation has reached to such a saturation point in India that they are offering sub-contracts to Pakistani counterparts. Such business cooperation on the private sector level is good and should be encouraged in the best interest of the country.
When asked to identify areas where improvement is needed in the IT sector, Khurram Kalia, a young IT graduate from FAST and created history by sweeping all the gold awards of his university, said that due to very limited number of It Institutes and universities, Pakistan is producing a very little number of quality graduates. There is a need of massive funding on education both on the part of government as well as the private sector to cater to the need both locally and abroad. Massive funding is required to set up more IT universities and spread of IT education which should be heavily subsidized by the government. He said that there is no dearth of talents in Pakistan, yet the low GNP rate keeps most of the youngsters away from the quality education. IT education be given first priority in human resource development programme of the country, Khurram suggested. He was of the view that our graduates are much better as compared with Indians both in quality and I.Q the only thing required is to provide them proper training and education.
KalSoft provides a number of services and products. Their brief reviews are mentioned below:
KalSoft specializes in Business Software Development and Web development (e-Commerce) for C2C and B2B portals. They have the expertise to develop website(s) for any kind of industry whether they be related to airlines, banks, hospitals, textiles etc. They provide Web presence for any company who wishes to bring their business on the World Wide Web and do global marketing for their products and services. They have acquired the specialties in developing highly attractive and optimized web sites at very competitive rates with some free additional services that are not offered by anyone else in the market. KalSoft assures highest quality standards and customer satisfaction, said Ghaffar Memon.
KalSoft also provides companies and individuals with web hosting facilities on very competitive prices. KalSoft's website and some of its web-based products are hosted on its state-of-the-art server located in United States of America. This server ranks as the number one Web Hosting Company in the Continent. This company is providing high-speed data connection (bandwidth) and a very sophisticated server for the company. KalSoft provides its clients with competent facilities and deals for their hosting requirements. Prices for Web hosting can be obtained on request. For companies without much of technical expertise, KalSoft has the provision of maintenance for them at very economical rate, he observed.
KalSoft has also developed a software package for monitoring and tracking projects. The aim of this software is to reduce the amount of time and cost consumed during communication between clients and the company personnel. Most importantly, it provides more control for management by creating responsibility, accountability and better trace of project deliverables. This software can also be customized and deployed for any industry according to their requirements. Currently, this feature is provided to the clients to monitor and keep track of their current projects running at KalSoft.
This economy package offers following versions:
Single User version (Desk Top)
Multi User version (LAN Environment)
Web Enabled version (Internet version)
In the past few years, there has been a dramatic up tick in the number of public and private colleges and universities. These institutions are seeking ways to develop education delivery systems that combine the best of traditional classroom instruction with power of technology.
The induction of virtual university in delivering on-line education is of course the latest addition, which hopefully would bring a revolution for spreading quality education across the globe through the concept of distant learning. Some of the world's finest institutions already provide online learning. Stanford University has inaugurated a master's degree programme in electrical engineering that can be taken over the Internet using streaming video and audio.
Harvard University too went online when its extension school began offering one of its computer courses on the web with lectures digitally taped and archived. University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School has another approach, offering executive education courses via two-way interactive satellite through its partnership with Caliber Learning Network.
Duke University's Fuqua School of Business has one of the most praised programmes offering a global executive MBA degree almost entirely through on line technology.
Scope of Virtual Universities.
In response to the high demand for Online learning courses, many schools are working together, pooling resources, expertise and course offerings. Online learning is likely to be the educational method of choice for many students. One third of all college classes are using internet resources as part of the syllabus. Ghaffar was of the view that the growing presence of technology in the workplace, home and classroom is a key enabler to the adoption of distant learning. Taking lead from the worldwide trend in education, KalSoft has taken initiative in Pakistan and has successfully developed software of Virtual University for the first time in Pakistan. The concept of virtual university launched by Kalia Group has been given a warm welcome both by the public and private sector in Pakistan and the days are not too far when the concept of distant learning would be a household name in Pakistan also. According to Ghaffar Memon, the software of virtual university developed by KalSoft not only appreciated at home front but various universities in the United States as well as in the West have appreciated the efforts of Kalsoft and have described it at par with world standards. The efforts made by the KalSoft are likely to bring a wave of quality education in Pakistan in near future, said Khurram Kalia, Director of the project.
Highlighting the salient features of KalEd, Ghaffar Memon said it is yet another outstanding project of KalSoft. In fact KalEd is the software of Virtual University which provides all the faculties of physically scheduled classes where students and teachers can interact, take quizzes/ exams and receive online results. The teacher can keep track of the entire course and evaluate the performance of the students along with their respective attendance.
A revolutionary idea transformed in the shape of KalEd is sure to breakdown all conventional boundaries of the monotonous structure of the prevailing Educational Environment. It is like a savior for students living in the far-off areas of the World who go to the developed world like US, Canada, UK, Australia etc for quality education at the cost of leaving home and family to be exposed with unknown problems and situations. This is a story that has been repeated many times in the history and need not be elaborated due to its common occurrence. But now all these problems have been resolved with the help of the Internet, a medium linking everyone and everything together. Bringing education to this medium not only solves many of our conventional problems but most importantly it is leading to a completely new dimension of getting education. Softwares like KalEd remove all geographical boundaries and limitations in the way of learning and making an excess of the people to the treasure of knowledge.
KalEd is a completely web-based application, which is highly portable and need not be installed on any particular computer. It is completely a platform independent, making it appealing and easy to use. Not to mention its highly sophisticated performance and unmatched user interface. To use this software, the only requirement is a computer and an Internet connection.
KalEd is highly customizable software that can be tailored according to the need and requirements of an institute or organization. KalEd will allow the teacher and students to communicate with each other through both audio and video conferences. The notes of all lectures can be made available to the teacher and students of all the classes through database storage (repository) on the web.
Elaborating the working system of KalEd, Khurram Kalia, director of the project said that the system would allow visitors to browse the main areas of the site without obtaining any password or submitting to any other restriction. The visitors, once they become interested in a programme of study would acquire a guest password by supplying common information such as name, address, phone number and e-mail address.
Once the enrollment form is submitted an administrator will evaluate it and subsequently the application would be approved or rejected. The administrator, at the time of evaluation, may request for an interview or to acquire more information from the applicant by contacting on phone or e-mail. If the enrollment application were to be approved, the administrator would enroll the applicant as a student and inform the student of his status. In case, if the application is rejected the applicant would be informed accordingly with the reasons assigned for rejection.
Once a student is enrolled in a chosen programme of study, the student can select the scheduled offerings for the enrolled courses and join one or more sessions of the offered courses. The student would then need to pay for the selected courses. Once the fees have been paid the administrator will acknowledge the payment through e-mail. After getting receipt of payment the student can join classes of the selected courses. The administrator, apart from the above mentioned functions of enrollment and payment approvals would also be able to maintain the courses offered which include addition, deletion and changing of course information. The administrator would schedule the available courses and offer them for subsequent enrollment. He will also assign selected teachers to the course schedule and monitor student's progress and send any warnings or notice to the student whenever the need arises.
When the student intends to join the enrolled class during an on-going session, he or she would need to pass request to the teacher. The teacher may in turn either approve or reject the request. If at the time of request, the student, the teacher is not present in the virtual class, the student may wait or chat with other students present in the class before the teacher rejoins the session. On the other hand, if a student desires to leave an on-going class session he or she would have to request the teacher. A teacher in a virtual class would be able to administer work assignments, notes or presentations to the students. The teacher would be able to upload assignments, notes, lectures and students results to a repository. Moreover, the teacher would also be able to download the due assignments completed and submitted by the students along with notes prepared and stored in the repository. The teacher would also be able to administer quizzes, score them and give remarks accordingly. These scores would be part of the final course of particular students. Moreover, at anytime a student may ask questions to the teacher and the teacher may in turn choose to reply the corresponding student. The teacher may, in his discretion, mute a particular student so that the student is unable to send any messages to the teacher. However, the student would be able to observe the on-going class discussions and lectures for the remainder of the class session. The teacher may during the session remove any restrictions imposed on the student. The teacher is allowed the authority to drop a student from an on-going course based on the student's behaviour or attentiveness. Apart from a teacher's role in a class, students in an on-going class session would be able to deliver presentation to the whole virtual class. Students would be able to participate in group discussions with other students of the class with the consent of the teacher. The systems would provide the facility to download assignments and notes prepared by the teacher or other students for the enrolled course. They will also be able to upload completed assignments and notes.
A virtual class in KalEd is just like a normal class but without geographical boundaries in which teacher and students can be sitting all over the globe but in the class they will feel like in the same room. The online class module enables the teacher to communicate synchronously and deliver online lecture to the students. During a class session, a teacher may conduct online quizzes, set the class topic, pass lecture slides to the students, allow students to have group discussions on a particular assigned topic, send students outside the class, allow a student to give presentation etc. Main features of the physical class Environment have been incorporated to give these virtual class a more lively touch such as students can raise hands: to ask question, to seek teacher's permission to leave the class or to make a presentation in the class.
ABDUL GHAFFAR MEMON
A Professional, who has a vast experience in the field of Information
Technology, is leading the company. He has been associated with the largest Private Bank of Pakistan as the head of the IT Department. There are many achievements on his account like implementation of largest network of Automated Teller Machines, Introduction of Debit Cards in Pakistan and Online & Automated Banking, etc. He was also instrumental in introducing Automatic Voice Response System and Network Management System.
He is well known in the field of IT for his association with Computer Society of Pakistan He has read many papers and represented Pakistan in many seminars and conferences.
He was recently bestowed NCR IT Excellence Award for being an IT Pioneer in Pakistan for the period 1987-1995 and 1997-2000.
KHURRAM H. KALIA
A dedicated young professional and energetic member of KALIA GROUP, a multiple gold medalist from FAST National University of Computers & Emerging Sciences, directs the software development of KalSoft (Pvt.) Ltd.
With his deep understanding of the subject and high technical knowledge, he is one of the best assets of Kalsoft (Pvt.) Ltd.
He was also awarded the title of GENIUS OF THE YEAR 2000 by The Karachi Club — a well-known club of Pakistan for his achievements in the field of computer science.