Microsoft Sri Lanka MVPs contribute to success of National Year of English and IT
In this the national Year of English and IT programmes that educate the younger generation on the opportunities available to them in the IT industry while equipping them with the necessary tools to face the challenges of the 21st century are of paramount value. One initiative that is proving extremely successful in this regard is the Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals programme.
Globally Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are exceptional technical community leaders who are awarded for voluntarily sharing their high quality, real world expertise in offline and online technical communities. Representing the myriad of Microsoft product users this group of experts from many different professions including accountancy, teaching, art, engineering and technology, share a deep commitment to community and a willingness to help others. Currently those awarded Microsoft MVP status hail from over 90 countries, represent 30 different languages and covering more than 90 Microsoft technologies.
MVPs tend to be early adopters of new technology and actively communicate their experiences to millions of other technology users. Through their extensive community activity, MVPs help others solve problems and discover new capabilities, helping people get the maximum value from their technology.
In the local context Microsoft felicitates these exceptional individuals for their contribution to technical communities in Sri Lanka as well around the world. Local MVPs are professionals who perform dual roles in popularizing the latest Microsoft technologies in the island, while encouraging and enhancing technical skills of IT enthusiasts in the country with the aim of developing the local technical community.
In Sri Lanka, apart from the buzz created in the professional community, the chance to win MVP status has generated a lot of enthusiasm amongst professionals. The monthly user group meetings also include rigorous beneficial training sessions. More importantly, MVPs create a buzz about new Microsoft product launches, such as, Windows 2008 last year, wherein some 70 people were invited to experience innovatively executed product demonstrations. Other such events have been mapped out for 2009 and are guaranteed to be extremely beneficial to the tech community across the island.
Other benefits to MVPs include conferences, user groups, code camps, the MVP Global Summit and other events. MVPs share their independent, real-world feedback with Microsoft, thereby enhancing the company’s understanding of user needs, improvements to current products and developing future technology. These MVPs have no obligation to Microsoft and freely share their expert opinions and experience, earning users' respect and trust.
Wellington Perera, Developer Evangelist, Microsoft Sri Lanka, explains: “The MVP award is special because it fosters free and objective exchange of knowledge, thereby creating a reliable source of independent, real world expertise that benefits everyone. More significantly, MVPs are not Microsoft employees. The MVP Award Programme does provide software and other benefits as part of its core offering, but MVPs do not receive any remuneration from Microsoft. At Microsoft, we believe that technical communities enhance people's lives and the Sri Lankan industry's success by providing users with the opportunity to have conversations about technology that catalyze change and innovation. In this context, the MVPs perform a crucial role for their communities. By sharing their knowledge and experiences and providing objective feedback, MVPs help people solve problems and discover new capabilities. Thus, particularly as this is the national Year of English and IT – local MVPs have a huge role to play and can generate a tremendous benefit for diverse groups including students, customers and more.”
Over 100 million people participate in technical communities but there are only about 3,500 MVPs worldwide. Outstanding technical community members are nominated by their peers, Microsoft employees and MVPs. Subsequently, a distinguished panel of Microsoft officials assesses the contributions of prospective candidates before awarding them with the treasured MVP status. Active MVPs receive the same level of scrutiny as other candidates each year. MVP Award recipients reflect Microsoft's global customer base and the breadth of Microsoft's technologies. In recent times MVPs have been awarded in new categories such as Windows Live, Xbox, VSTO, Microsoft Dynamics, and Visual Developer Team System. In Sri Lanka we have 9 MVPs in Exchange Server, SQL Server, ASP.NET and C# categories.
Nominees are chosen from traditional and emerging community venues, including public news groups, forums, third-party Web sites, user groups, book authors, event speakers, Web boards, blogs and wikis. All Microsoft MVPs are required to be 18 years or older. MVPGA@microsoft.com is the universal contact for the MVP Award Programme team.
MVP awardees are invited to attend the MVP Global Summit, at which MVPs receive access to exclusive technical content, participate in direct feedback sessions and meet with Microsoft executives, product teams, and their peers from around the world. This opportunity allows local youth to gain insights into the needs of the global workplace, valuable information they can share with their peers back home. The MVP Global Summit features more than 400 technical sessions, in which MVPs can connect with other MVPs, build relationships with Microsoft experts and provide real-world insights and feedback to Microsoft product teams.
Shaminda Illungathilaka, Senior Network and Systems Engineer, Prima Management Services, is a proud MVP has this to say to all those who aspire to MVP status “I undertook several courses in Microsoft technologies and then kept myself updated via the Internet. Soon I started getting involved with online and offline IT community work. The day I was informed that I will be awarded MVP status my happiness knew no bounds! I definitely recommend that Sri Lankan youth should get involved in technical communities as even if they do not work with IT firms, there are many other avenues that open up once you are armed with knowledge of Microsoft tools and software,” he adds.
In a bid to assist MVPs develop and expand their expertise, Microsoft provides them with access to several resources such as complimentary subscriptions to MSDN or TechNet, access to MVP private newsgroups, and technical support incidents. Microsoft supports MVPs further by providing them with dedicated MVP Leads who serve as the MVPs’ main point of contact inside Microsoft, as well as an exclusive MVP website that keeps MVPs informed of award benefits, updates, news about their peers and events that are occurring in their region and the world.
More significantly, the experience as MVPs has stood the participants in good stead in their professional lives. Dinesh Asanka, Database Architect, Exilesoft Pvt Ltd., talks about the key benefits of being awarded MVP status. “As an MVP, I have access to unlimited Microsoft software, tools and technical information that enhances my technical knowledge and helps me further share this with technical communities in which I am active. Moreover, as an MVP I am exposed to the best technology advancements worldwide bar none, which can only be a positive thing.” Asanka started off his involvement with IT by penning technical articles online and making presentations in forums. As he started sharing his knowledge, he realised the value of the contribution he was making to support technical communities. No small wonder then, that today Asanka works in a company that designs software for exclusive Scandinavian clients.
As a leading Microsoft Gold certified partner for Microsoft consulting services, IronOne considers MVPs a great strength to the phenomenal growth of the company’s Microsoft consulting business.
“The calibre of MVP’s such as Dinesh Priyankara (MVP SQL server) and Joy Pradeep (MVP C#) has been a multi faceted benefit to the company. Their role in the community and constant exposure to the latest technology beta versions and the opportunity to participate actively in Microsoft's global events such as the annual MVP summit, conducting technical sessions at TechEd SEA and EMEA amongst others brings in the bigger picture view to the whole team at IronOne. Joy being one of six globally selected MVP’s promoting the awareness of Microsoft certifications, providing questions to certification examinations and feedback on pre-launched Microsoft products is one of the many examples of special opportunities offered to them. These additional inputs contribute to expanding the innovative thinking of the total team at IronOne and also the Microsoft community. This expertise and exposure and the outstanding capabilities of the MVPs such as Joy and Dinesh translate to IronOne winning customer confidence which is an important factor to the success of the company. ” explained Lakmini Wijesundara, Director & Chief Technology Officer, IronOne Technologies.
This in turn translates into benefits for the customer as MVPs expertise coupled with the regular updates and insights they receive from Microsoft and their own experience help them ensure that customers receive further benefits and enhanced value additions.
Jinath Premaratne, Senior Software Engineer and Team Leader at Teamwork Technology, perceives multiple benefits for his organisation and himself for having been awarded an MVP status. “It is a wonderful recognition within the IT industry as your employers and peers realize the importance of having one of them awarded with the prestigious MVP status. I am extremely pleased to be in a privileged situation where as an MVP I can extend my knowledge and share information about Microsoft’s latest tools and software in the workplace. Moreover, being an MVP also empowers me to face newer technologies on a better footing and allows me to help colleagues who might find the going more difficult. After all, being an MVP is all about community sharing. The Microsoft online seminar and workshops I take part in also assist me in becoming proficient in cutting edge technologies at all times,” says Premaratne.
The support shown toward the governments’ Year of English and IT, through every one of Microsoft’s projects and the ongoing efforts to better the IT literacy standards within Sri Lanka as part of its efforts to bridge the digital divide are a constant success and a betterment of the lives touched through the enhancement of technology usage.