Land of Digital Opportunities The Land of Digital Opportunities is a podcast series for business leaders driven by innovation and productivity, and keen on growing an idea, team, or a company! Every week, MediaAgility sits down with someone with strong innovation acumen and who has achieved a remarkable business presence in the digital industry, and together we unfold ‘Why’. Wed, 20 Nov 2019 06:47:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Land of Digital Opportunities 32 32 Land of Digital Opportunities is a podcast series for business leaders driven by innovation and productivity, and keen on growing an idea, team, or a company! Every week, MediaAgility sits down with someone with strong innovation acumen and who has achieved a remarkable business presence in the digital industry, and together we unfold ‘Why’. MediaAgility Inc. clean MediaAgility Inc. (MediaAgility Inc.) © 2016 MediaAgility Inc Land of Digital Opportunities Land of Digital Opportunities The Land of Digital Opportunities is a podcast series for business leaders driven by innovation and productivity, and keen on growing an idea, team, or a company! Every week, MediaAgility sits down with someone with strong innovation acumen and who has achieved a remarkable business presence in the digital industry, and together we unfold ‘Why’. EP006 Science of Managing Field Assets Mon, 26 Sep 2016 05:25:55 +0000 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">EP006 Science of Managing Field Assets</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">MediaAgility</a>.</p>

[Podcast Transcript] Science of Managing Field Assets

Many of you spend hours on commute everyday, or there are times when you listen to music or radio. With all the great possibilities to innovate bubbling around, why not listen to something that is entertaining while being insightful, and something that provides an opportunity to grow in the digital economy? Land of Digital Opportunities is a podcast series that mirrors the purpose of inspiring digital innovations that can potentially revive businesses making them more productive, engaging, and meaningful.

If you are a business leader driven by innovation and productivity, and keen on growing an idea, team, or a company, you’ll probably love our podcast!

Transcript to “Land of Digital Opportunities – Science of Managing Field Assets, released September 24, 2016 (Click here to listen):

Shivani: Welcome to the sixth episode of Land of Digital Opportunities Podcast by MediaAgility, a global digital consulting company.

A survey revealed that US companies that have poor customer service are losing a staggering $41 billion a year. No surprise… that 44 percent of US customers are taking their business elsewhere.

With the Field Service Management market size estimated to grow by approximately $6 Billion by 2020, it becomes extremely crucial for organizations to increase customer satisfaction, reduce operational costs —without cutting corners on safety and quality of their product or service.

I’m Shivani, and today we will be talking about the ‘Science of managing Field assets’ and let me tell you all, it’s not rocket science anymore.

If you are a Sales and Operations head with a product or service based company and manage a team that mostly operates on field, then this podcast is just for you.

In this episode we will understand what are the roadblocks in the process of field asset management that take away the soul of a business, that is, customer satisfaction. We will also try to take a deep dive into how businesses can increase productivity by tracking field force for dynamic work allocation and collaboration on the fly!

We have with us Deepak Garg, Director Digital Innovation at MediaAgility. Welcome to Land of digital opportunities Podcast, great to have you here!   

Deepak: Thanks Shivani. It’s my pleasure to be here today.

Shivani: Deepak…We spoke with a leading pizza delivery company about their long-terms business goals…and they answered that they wanted to focus on continual field service improvement. According to them, at an average, each delivery driver delivers 2 orders per hour, they wanted to increase it to 3-4 orders per hour to address the challenge of increasing delivery costs. Increasing hourly wages of delivery staff has come up as a prominent factor that’s contributing to  increased delivery costs. Plus, their concerns largely focused on increasing  profitability, enhancing customer experience with clear visibility for operations team.

Now….with that Deepak….it seems like effectively tracking your field force to ensure that they use their time most productively while on the field.. at times gets tricky….but is that all? You have worked with so many companies and helped them solve a lot of their field asset issues, what do they say? What exactly are the problem areas identified?

Deepak: Sure thanks Shivani. So, let me take a couple examples, I’ll take an example of service field force management area and I’ll take another example from sales field force management area. By no means this covers the whole universe but these are the most prominent use cases in their particular fields. So let me start with service field force management, we were in talks with a renowned internet service provider this company provided fibre optics to customers, so typically they had a customer service bench, customers redressal, requests, complaints, and they had field force which visited customer and solved customer problems.

In this scenario, let me take actor by actor. So when I spoke with those people, first was the problem from a customer perspective. I’m a customer, I have  raised a customer service request, by no means they can tell me when the customer service exec will visit me? There are vague slots, but if the customer service executive is running late or if his previous service requests are running late, I have no visibility in that data, so typically my feeling is that person will not come on time, the person might not come today itself, he/she might come tomorrow. I’m completely in the dark, completely dissatisfied, I don’t know what’s happening.

Now let’s take up the field service representative perspective. I’m on the road, I get complaint after complaint. I get a list of complaint in the morning, I try to sequence them, I go one after the other. If any of the complaints are running late there’s no way the system can manage it. Then customers complain that things don’t work well, the service requests are not serviced on time. I’m lost, there’s no way I can update my headoffice during the day about how my day is going,  for example, if I’m running late and other service request have to be re-assigned, I cannot do anything. If I keep calling the head office, I waste my time , so there’s a productivity loss.

If I look from operations team perspective. Suppose I am an Operations Head, I am again lost. I really have no idea about what is the overall productivity of the system, I don’t understand how to improve month on month, and how do I better this?  We took example of increasing wages of Pizza delivery boys. Same thing happens here I cannot throw hundred personnel at this. I have to understand what is the optimum number where I can have satisfied customers, as well as I am not spending too much on service personnel.  As an Operations Head, I have no visibility, I am completely lost. So when we look at these, everywhere in the ecosystem exists similar problem. There is no dynamic allocation…there is no dynamic tracking. There is no consideration for real time traffic routing…and visibility for everyone in the system is missing

Let’s take another example, suppose I am a FMCG giant. I have lot of salespeople on the floor. They go from distributor to distributor, collect feedback, collect next set of orders.As a sales head, I am worried, are my people really doing enough on the field? are they visiting my customers? are they doing most optimal work they can? are they starting the day on time? are they spending enough time with the customers I need to track and understand what they are doing?

Shivani: Yeah I totally agree with you..! Deepak I was surprised how many customer surveys I stumbled upon online, came up with comments such as “your service is great, you got back to me right away….” “Wow how quickly you responded to my inquiry and it made all the difference…” Customer’s experience matters a lot….Deepak it’s time for a quick break, and right after the break we will talk about how Operations Managers can easily address these issues with an efficient field force management system in place. Right after the break! Stay tuned!
Shivani: Welcome back to Land of digital opportunities podcast by MediaAgility and now back in  conversation with Deepak Garg about the ‘Science of managing Field assets’.

Deepak we discussed before the break that how.. In today’s world of digital relationship management, response time is one of the only ways we can communicate our sense of commitment for our customers and their experience. You cannot afford to disappoint your customer…Because bad experiences don’t stay between the customer and the service organization. We live in the times when social media is like a little brother who is fearless and watching everything and who gives every customer a platform to publicly share bad customer service experiences in painful detail.

How can the problems such as loss of productivity, infuriated customer, increased operational costs be addressed?

Deepak: Sure we have done this for quite a few customers. Let me share a broad perspective about it. The Problems  you mentioned are absolutely real. So let me create a solution scenario for the problems discussed few minutes ago. Let’s take the example of internet service provider. We spoke about the problems at length, so what the solution could do is we have enough technology backbone available to do things in a far better way. Let me start with Field Service agent perspective; Imagine my field service agent has an app created by the Internet service provider. The app is giving all the information field service agent needs. The field service agent logs in and when he starts the day he says I am available! That is the way the system knows he has started his day. His attendance is marked in. Similarly by tracking his location, the system will figure out where he is and will find out the closest job that he can do.

So with least amount of travel he can reach the first job. Also what the system builders along with giving the customers address, imagine the system can even tell you an optimized route that is jam-free or has lesser traffic that can help the agent reach customer’s location in a fastest manner possible and will give him navigation directions. So the person is already more productive and reaches the customer faster. As soon as the agent reaches the customer’s place they say they have started this job, and when they finish the job they say job complete. This way the central system knows when the job started and when it completed. Again the system dynamically looks what is the next job that is closest to the agent’s location.

The app shows all the jobs that are assigned on the basis of location proximity to the field service agent. The travel time is reduced drastically. The travel cost is reduced drastically. The productivity of the field service agent is increased by multifold. Again if this person feels sick in the afternoon he can go to the app and say I am not available. And system will again look up for the job  queued up for this person. And put it back into the system and give it to someone else. So the system is anytime real time! The field service agents knows next job at hand, for example I started a job at 12 noon and I finished it at 12:15 and someone raised a service request at 12:10 from the next building. That job will be given to the field service agent, and when in the next 20 minutes he finishes the job, the customer will be super happy!

From a customer’s perspective – because the field service agent status is updated in the central system, the customers will keep getting informed about what’s happening with his service request. When is it scheduled. The location of the customer service representatives can be tracked so the customer is completely informed. They will appreciate that even if there is a delay in the system they will appreciate for informing them. So the customer is happy.

Now from the operations team perspective, previously all the allocation that happened was pretty much manual. The operations team just took 5 requests for a day and gave it to the field service agent. The field service agents decided their own sequence based on knowledge they had of road topography and with no live knowledge of the traffic, and then they randomly went place to place. On the contrary, in this new system which is completely dynamic, the central system is actually allocating the job based on location. This system is calculating ETA of every job. Based on all the field service agents in the field, it will create a dynamic schedule to decide sequence of the job based on location. And if the new job is coming into the system it will again recalculate, for example the system receives 5 service requests.

The system has initiated and sequence of the job will give it to the field service agents. The system will also consider the road topography in terms of what is the best route Or what is the best sequence to do the job. Along with traffic conditions, the system in the back-end will take care of all of that. So everybody in the system gets real time information, the operations team get clear visibility on what is scheduled for a day. We have created a cockpit where the person can actually see the field service agent on a map in real-time where they are? where they have been? What they doing right now? What is the ETA? They are completely informed.This way we can alleviate the problem of everybody in the system. And there are multiple benefits : Let me cover the FMCG examples and we will get back to the benefits.

Suppose I am a FMCG giant I have people on the ground who are visiting my distributors. Again we can provide the sales automation app and can be given to the field sales agents who can check in and mark the attendance when they start their day. The system will give a list of customers to be presented and will provide navigation to reach the customer based on live traffic conditions and road topography. The salesperson will visit the customer, we can even track the amount of time they spent with the customer as part of the app, even live orders can be fed back in the central system. So everyone is informed about who all customers have been attended and what are the new orders coming in. This way sales forecast can be more real time.

Suppose he is visiting a customer X, before visiting the customer X the system will tell, what are the invoices due with the customer (or, please bring this topic up when you meet the customer), or this customer has not order a product for many days, why don’t you again talk to him about the product. All of these things can be pushed in real-time by the system. And the sales agents in the field can use the information – if we go back to the sales head, he is getting live information he can see where all my sales agents have travelled today? Which point they have spent how much time? They are convinced that the person has actually visited the customer. Whatever orders are there, are live punched back to the system via the app I can see live forecasts, and this works really well!

Now if you want to sum up the benefits coming out of this, first of all tracking is much better.  Information updating and dissemination is far better for all actors. The productivity of the system has gone up. Imagine problem of pizza delivery boy resolved to increasing number of pizza pizza deliveries from 2 to 3 – 3.5. This is very much possible with this system. There is enough productivity gain brought back by the system. The customer satisfaction is far better. The live dissemination of information is far better, because of the effective system like this. These are some of the few things we have done for our clients that have worked really really well for them. Back to you Shivani.

Shivani: Wow…So as an Operations leader you are no longer making decisions from old and inaccurate data. The real-time flow of information and visibility into job status’ mean your time is spent well working on strategic decisions rather than crunching static spreadsheets.


So.. a dynamic field force management system can provide:

Mobility to field service agents
…can ensure job assignment based on who is available nearby
Give Real time insights to operations teams at the HQ
and deliver the customer experience that takes precedence over everything else

It’s like a digital overhaul for how most companies in this industry operate today!!!

Let’s take a quick break Deepak and in the next segment let’s hear from you on how all of this can actually be put to work!

Shivani: Welcome back to Land of digital opportunities podcast by MediaAgility and now back in  conversation with Deepak Garg about the ‘Science of managing Field assets’

So Deepak, I know that you have worked with many customers to help them achieve all that we talked about in the previous segment. Tell us more about the actual solution that has worked for your customer partners but before that I’d like to know what are the common concerns they come up with to get started?

Deepak: So the typical concerns from the business side is – Will there be a productivity gain in the system? and second is what will be the productivity gain? So business whoever is funding them are always concerned as to what are the return on investment? On this particular thing it will come in what duration? What time and how much? This is a typical concern as there is always cost involved in maintaining the system. Someday it signed the concern where will this be hosted? What will be the infrastructure cost? Will there be any additional licensing involved? How do we take care of availability scalability of the system? The way we alleviate these concerns are as part of the workshop, where we try and gather the present data and figure out what is the present productivity? What are typical businesses like this? What are the productivity gains?….and we have helped them achieve that. By that we can come up with rough numbers about what they should be able to land at, and that actually give them a comfort feel. And with it we explain to them how their solution is running on a very very robust infrastructure, how secure it is, how did not do anything related to infrastructure licences. So that alleviates the typical problems and that works.

and with that I’d like to thank you for being our guest and I hope this podcast was valuable for our listeners in understanding the way operations managers can increase productivity and customer satisfaction with field service and field sales automation.

And.. for our listeners, If you want to know the secret of this science that eases your field force management problems then do get in touch with us, we’d love to assist you!

It was wonderful chatting with you Deepak.  Thank you.  

The post EP006 Science of Managing Field Assets appeared first on MediaAgility.

MediaAgility Inc. clean 19:55
EP005 – Transforming Food Delivery Industry With Technology Mon, 18 Jul 2016 10:55:37 +0000 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">EP005 – Transforming Food Delivery Industry With Technology</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">MediaAgility</a>.</p>

In this episode, with Shishir Gokhale, Partner – Digital Innovation at MediaAgility, we discuss how food delivery businesses can transform themselves with technology. Food delivery businesses have been relying on the quality and taste of their food to differentiate themselves which is a kind of very basic expectation from their customers but once you have mastered it and have been in business for sometime, what’s next? How can you build another differentiation layer with technology with your customers coming back to you not just you provide delicious food but you also provide delightful delivery experience. Tune in to know more! 

The post EP005 – Transforming Food Delivery Industry With Technology appeared first on MediaAgility.

MediaAgility Inc. clean 24:47
EP004 – Bots for Brands Thu, 23 Jun 2016 09:46:27 +0000 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">EP004 – Bots for Brands</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">MediaAgility</a>.</p>

[Podcast Transcript] Bots for Brands?

Land of Digital Opportunities is a podcast series for business leaders driven by innovation and productivity, and keen on growing an idea, team, or a company! Every week, MediaAgility sits down with someone with strong innovation acumen and who has achieved a remarkable business presence in the digital industry, and together we unfold ‘Why’.

Goldy Arora: Welcome to the 4th episode of Land of Digital Opportunities podcasts by MediaAgility, a global digital consulting company. Every week we invite an industry experts to explore the land of digital opportunities and see how new technologies can help businesses become ready for the coming years and gain competitive edge. So today, we are going to speak with Kamal about Bots for Brands, Kamal is a partner at MediaAgility and has been working with CIO’s of some of the innovative companies and in this podcasts we are going to hear from him about what Bots exactly are and more specifically how businesses can benefit from these new technologies? We will also ask from him his recommendations on how to really narrow down and to decide which business function to start with, when you are ready to take your first step towards getting advantages of these Bot platforms for your business and at last we will ask him about what are some of the innovative things, he or MediaAgility is doing with Bots. With that, let’s talk to Kamal about Bots for Brands.

Kamal, Welcome to the Land of Digital Opportunities podcasts.

Kamal: Thanks Goldy! Thanks for inviting me.

Goldy Arora: You’re welcome, we are glad to have you here today. Kamal, I have attended developer conferences of Facebook and Google I/O, Microsoft majorly online, I have been seeing this snippet of Bots but still I have limited understanding of what these Bots are and most importantly how businesses can be benefit from these new technologies? So, being an expert in having working in this area for sometime now, why don’t you talk to us a bit about what Bots exactly are and specifically how business can be benefit from these Bots?

Kamal Puri: I think Bots are really powerful in connecting brands to consumers. It is a answer to the question that businesses always have, Should I have a mobile app or a web app. Most of the time brands have a mobile app because they like stickiness from the users, they like loyalty, they want to deliver a wonderful user experience to their customers which is a challenge on mobile if it is a web app today and I believe Bots solve that problem and is kind of a middle way that provides all the brands a platform where all the users of mobile are spending majority of their time. So, Facebook last year revealed almost 900 million active Facebook users spending 1 hour every day on Facebook and same are the stats with other messaging apps either Skype, IMessage, hangouts which will be converting to Allo sometime this year from Google. So all these are answers to the questions how to deliver a really powerful user experience on Mobile where people are spending majority of their time and Bots is the answer to that question where it gives you a platform where every users online is spending 1 hour every day and that is the biggest platform where brands can deliver a wonderful experience through these different messaging apps either it is Facebook messenger app or Skype or Imessage or Allo, all these are trying to deliver a beautiful user experience through the messaging app to the users, that’s what Bots are all about. So when I talk about Bot, it really consists of 3 major elements- 1st one is the reach which is provided by all these platforms where people are spending majority of their online time. 2nd is the natural language processing which has become really simple and powerful over last few years through various Machine Learning Algorithm and data that all these platforms allow us to consume today, So Natural Language Processing is a solved problem for majority of the platforms and 3rd is Machine Learning where you can actually learn and know a lot more about customer when they are online on these apps then when they come to a standalone app which is yours. So if you take an example if I am a small consumer brand and I am trying to sell my clothes and people come to my site and open my mobile app to buy something on the site, they are really looking for what their need of the day is and do not much about the app but once I am in Facebook, I am connected to the social graph, I know what their IMessage friends are, I know a lot more about the user and I can deliver a very powerful user experience through these apps once they are connected to the platform. So, I believe combining these 3 really delivers the promise of Bots, what they really stand for.

Goldy Arora: That’s the good summary of what Bots are? So, if a s business user I get it right what you are saying is that these Bots are kind of artificial human being which can understand the context of what I say, what I type with the help of Natural Language Processing and it can interact like human being, is that the right small summary for Bots.

Kamal Puri: Yes, lot of Bots are pretty smart these days  and they understands small transactional messages and not long ones so far but as long as those messages are directly questions, queries which Bot can answer to, that really powerful experience.

Goldy Arora: Welcome back! You are listening to Land of Digital Opportunities podcasts by MediaAgility, back to the conversation with Kamal about Bots for Brands.

So Kamal, if we take that as Bots description and as a business user if I understand what these Bots are and may be some direction on how they can help my business in may be getting comparative advantage and becoming ready for coming years but there are still you know loads of vendors like Facebook, Microsoft, Google and bunch of others plus there are multiple business functions that I have to run as a business owner or the business leader, what would you recommend the listeners where they should actually take this initiative of getting Bots advantage.

Kamal Puri: I think what I have been experiencing is working with multiple customers, you need to think about what your goals are, are you trying to increase your sales? Are you trying to improve your customer experience? Are you trying to grow your audience? Are you trying to increase your reach? Once you know what is the most important thing in the business for you based on that you can really think about use cases and scenarios where Bots can play a pretty active part. The most popular I have seen are playing an ecommerce role where applications like 1800flowers are really taking advantage of Bot platform where I can go to the Bot of 1800flowers where I can say I want to order flowers for my mom for the mother’s day and it will recommend me 3 options to chose from and I will pick one and give to me my address with just a single click of sharing the location and that’s it. My order is placed and flowers will be delivered to me on the next day. Things like that are really powerful when we talk about e commerce and biggest advantage of using these platforms and building your own ecommerce app is you know a lot more about user who are in those platforms through the social graph of the user, through the profile, persona of the user once they logged in through their Apple, Google ID, it’s really simple and customer gets a really personalized experience because you are giving them offers based on what they really need than doing a bundle demographic style marketing where you say, okay you want to do marketing that say 15% off on all electronics or let’s do a 20% off on goods which is a traditional way of doing marketing. Now you can do a more personalized one on one marketing to each of the customers that is going to talk to you on your Bot platform.

The second important function where we are seeing lot of traction is in support and customer service area, I am sure you must have experienced long IVR queues you call up a bank or insurance company or to place an order to the pizza hut near to you, so all these IVR’s can be actually replaced with Bots. If I want to get a pizza deliver to my home, I will just say Hey, Pizza hut, can you deliver me a pizza and one click share my location, it will give me 3 options- which pizza’s to choose from or it will also remember what was my last order and just repeat that and that’s it, I don’t have to install a pizza hut application on my mobile phone, I don’t have to go to browser open the website, it is that simple and that’s what really the promise of Bots are to bring a great user experience from user’s point of view and for brands it is a big customer base where they can target to where people spend majority of their online time. These are the 2 major functions where I have been seeing taking the most advantage of Bots.

Goldy Arora: Kamal, it reminds me of the podcasts that we did where Rajesh said on the similar lines- When it comes to digital transformation, it starts with saying “NO” first and then take a deep  breath and go back to your team and try to see what are your strengths and what are your core objectives and your unique value proposition and then try to figure out which is that function where you should take this initiatives. I do agree with the recommendations that these are the business functions but every time when there is a new technology coming in and everyone gets excited to adopt these technologies and it have been the kind of number one in the market to offer that and be competitive so same case is with Bots gonna be, so based on your experience have you seen some of the industries which are like prominent in adopting Bots and taking benefits from these Bots like some industries are picking up really well  and some are not.

Kamal Puri: So talking about industries, one of the biggest industry I see where the opportunity lies is in Publication industry and we all know publishing has been going through tough time today where revenue models are primarily based on advertising or subscriptions. I have been really working with some of the publishers where they are seeing a lot of struggle in terms of increasing their audience, how to keep people engaged with their content, have them actively return to their sites or app, Bots really solve that problem for them. It is the best platform where majority of users spend their time online and this is the easiest way to consume content . I have seen CNN Bot and the experience have been really fantastic so far, every morning I get top news about the day, I can ask about whatever interesting topic I can talk about, I can ask it latest news about Olympics and it will deliver me that. So it’s really powerful interesting way to deliver content, have a feeling where you’re more in a discussion mode with an assistant who deliver a content to you then rather than just searching about a content on Google, it is a different experience altogether.  

Goldy Arora: Welcome back, you are listening to a Land of Digital Opportunities podcasts by MediaAgility and now back to the conversation with Kamal about Bots for Brands.

Kamal Puri: So I will start with talking about how do you built a Bot? To built a Bot, you really need to think about 3 components :

A- Which platforms do you want the Bot to integrate with like to integrate with Facebook, iMessage, Allo from Google, Amazon Echo and there are many more platforms opening up with so many messenger app opening their platforms.

B- You need to built the Bot app which talks to the user, do the Natural Language Processing and then give the people what they are looking for, to built those apps there are platform like, a company which Facebook acquired last year, Microsoft has a Bot platform which allows you to built application in node.js, telegram also has a platform to built those apps or you can also even built a custom app in any language you want as long as it is supporting the protocols of Bots and it can talk in JSON request response, it pretty much what you need to built.

C- Third is the machine learning component where you learn over a period of time what kind of things customers are asking for, what kind of orders they are placing, what kind of content they are reading, what kind of support they are looking for and then personalise the experience based on that.

Combining these three really gives a very powerful customer experience in a really simple and clean way and that’s what I believe we should be really focussing on.

Goldy Arora: Kamal, you know something just happened when I started this podcasts I had limited understanding of Bots are though I have some understanding after seeing these developer conferences but as we spoke a bit now I am trying to relate things around me and yesterday I was at bank nearby to get the cashier cheque done and I was in a queue for 10 minutes but now I am just trying to relate all this with what we just discuss because when you go at a bank for example what you do exactly, you do the same kind of interaction every time either you are going to deposit some money or get the cashier cheque so I guess if you look at the Bot perspective, it can fit anywhere, where the human interaction is happening and specifically where human interaction is kind of repetitive.

Kamal: Yes, imagine a Bank of America where you want to deposit a cheque, it will ask you sure, click a picture, you click a picture of cheque and that’s it, everything else is done electronically, you don’t have to visit the branch and do anything else. It was a really powerful experience.

Goldy Arora: Around the other hand, what I am thinking is somehow it is like replacing the human side, will we be missing those human interaction elements that we deal with now, when we start doing things with Bots all the time, what do you think about this?

Kamal Puri: i don’t think Bots will replace humans, they will definitely make it simple and easy to do all the rudimentary things and even going beyond just the rudimentary things, delivering a experience which is really personalised to you.

Goldy Arora: Welcome back, you are listening to the Land of Digital Opportunities podcasts by MediaAgility and now back to the conversation with Kamal about Bots for Brands

Kamal, as MediaAgility as a company I understand has been helping the businesses in exploring the possibilities with Bots and you are actively engaged in couple of these projects, so tell us a bit about some of the interesting things you have been doing about with these Bots.

Kamal Puri:  So things that we are helping our customers with majorily fall in 3 buckets – 1st one is e commerce where customers really want to have direct conversation with the large customers they spend majority of their time and make it really simple for them to buy things online, Amazon echo falls in that category and Bots really integrate well with Amazon echo, they really integrate well on the backend with Salesforce, ERP, order management  and that’s really where we are coming into picture and helping companies integrate all system together and delivering powerful experience to user to buy product online, The 2nd area is  for publishers to deliver content and we are helping them integrating Bots platform with their CMS, so that they do not have to go and do an overhead of content and it’s really simple and easy for publishers and editors to publish content on their CMS platform which is automatically pushed to all their users based on their persona, based on their learning style, reading habit in the past and also based on their social graph, the kind of things they are sharing on their social profiles, we can deliver really powerful experience to all these customers and not only that doing a push versus pull where you actually push content to your users everyday based on what their interest categories are. The 3rd major area where we are working with their customers is in support where brands did really like to deliver good customer experience, if let’s say my washing machine has some problem, I should be able to go to the Bot and say hey, my washing machine has a problem, this was my order number and it will automatically understand which model I am talking about, it will ask me rudimentary troubleshooting questions, things like- is the power on? Is the spinner is running? Trying to figure out what the root cause of the problem is and based on whatever I tell in troubleshooting, then give me the next step and if required raise a ticket in zendesk and have a visit to my home to fix my device , So these are some of the major areas where we are working with our customers and we are seeing a lot of traction this year where brand really want to integrate with all these platforms and deliver a wonderful customer experience to the user.

Goldy Arora: Kamal, I am sure today’s podcasts would be helpful to our listeners not only in understanding what Bots are and how coming 5 years will look like but also in figuring out where and how to take their Bot initiatives, once they are ready to go with these. So with that I appreciate your time and thank you for being with us on the Land of Opportunities podcasts.

Kamal Puri: Thank you for having me!    

The post EP004 – Bots for Brands appeared first on MediaAgility.

MediaAgility Inc. clean 22:01
EP003 – Is Genomical replacing Astronomical Tue, 14 Jun 2016 03:05:07 +0000 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">EP003 – Is Genomical replacing Astronomical</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">MediaAgility</a>.</p>

[Podcast Transcript] Is Genomic replacing Astronomical?

Land of Digital Opportunities is a podcast series for business leaders driven by innovation and productivity, and keen on growing an idea, team, or a company! Every week, MediaAgility sits down with someone with strong innovation acumen and who has achieved a remarkable business presence in the digital industry, and together we unfold ‘Why’.

Goldy Arora: Welcome to the 3rd episode of Land of Digital Opportunities podcast by MediaAgility, a global digital consulting company. My perception has always been that the data that social media generates is astronomical where just YouTube alone acquires 300 hours of media content every minute but recently when I was reading a journal which expects that by 2025 Genomics will need 20 times more storage than Twitter or YouTube which I guess is more than astronomical, so today you are going to speak with Rajesh, Co-founder and CEO of MediaAgility about – Is Genomical replacing Astronomical?

So Rajesh, welcome to the Land of Digital Opportunities podcast, why don’t you tell us a bit about what is Genomics?

Rajesh Abhyankar: Sure, Goldy! A very interesting topic you have picked for this episode and very timely as well. Right from childhood we know that the DNA molecule is a twisted pair of strands, double helix as we see it in many places which has the ATGC chemical units that make that long helix molecule and again without going into all the chemical details of it, an organism’s completes sets of a DNA is called it’s ‘Geno’ so it’s a complete map of close to 3 billion DNA base pairs as they are called or letters that make up the human Genomics. Genomics is that area within the broader field of genetics that concerns with the with how we sequence this entire geno and the ability to analyze it and we look at it as ideally 4 different stages that are involved. We need to first sequence it and then there is a primary, secondary, and tertiary level of processing it before we start doing some of the what-if analysis and some of the clinical impact of that understanding and by definition if you are trying to sequence the 3 billion base pairs you can imagine how big these data sets can grow and why Genomics has now become an IT problem and that’s why we are in it.

Goldy Arora: You are listening to the Land of Digital Opportunities podcasts by MediaAgility, a global digital consulting company and now back to the conversation with Rajesh about Is Genomical replacing Astronomical?

So Rajesh, whenever we talk about Genomics we usually talk about processing, analyzing huge data sets, talk to us about the data sizes and Genomics and is it really replacing the word Astronomical to define something which is really big?

Rajesh Abhyankar: It does look like in the next 10 years the rate at which the data storage and the need for analysis for the Genomics domain is increasing, it certainly looks like ‘Genomical’ might be the right name for describing something big.

The journal that you mentioned did some analysis and compared, they did some projection of what some of the data sizes might be for, I think they compare astronomy, Twitter, YouTube and Genomics and it was pretty interesting study and projection there is that in the next 10 years around by 2025, we would have a billion whole genome sequences produced and if each of the sequence approximated at about 100 gigabytes that you can calculate what a billion whole genome sequences might look like, it runs into exabytes and around more aggressive estimate that put it at may be there are 2 billions  if the 3rd generation technologies is coming up like nanopore sequencing and so on, if the costs really becomes affordable it’s quite possible that the estimate of having a billion whole genome sequences might actually be conservative and it may be the double of that, so you are looking at anywhere between 2-40 exabytes of data being produced per year that’s way we are higher than anything else we have done in the history. ‘Genomical’, I will not be surprised if that is the word that catches up soon.

Goldy Arora: We are a digital consulting company helping organization understand the digital revolution and then respond to that and we do it with an integrated approach of strategy, design thinking, technology expertise and agile implementation, so with that let’s go back to the conversation with Rajesh about – Is Genomical replacing Astronomical?

Thank you Rajesh, it was a good overview of what Genomics is and how it’s impacting our lives. Now let’s change gears a bit, few years ago genome analysis was costing us a lot of time and money which now I guess is possible within a day and may be under thousand dollars. It seems you are really witnessing the Genomics revolution as you said, so what are the technological advancements or some of the plans which are causing this revolution.

Rajesh Abhyankar: The first time when they sequence the human genome it costs I think 3 billion dollars and 15 years to do it and there was point in 15 years where it was thought that it was almost impossible to do it but human curiosity and there are inherent ability to explore, we are species of explorer and we have  always thrived on adventuring into an area and understanding the outer space and understand what’s within, thrived down to understanding the single molecule and within that what makes up our genome , so that spirit of exploration kept us going and those early days of human genome sequencing, when could have not been predicted that something that could take 15 years to do can be done within a day. One of our very interesting engagement we are doing with a very large pharma company in the US is to help them bring some of these cloud technologies in their efforts to build next generation nanopore sequencing technology that’s aiming and bringing the costs to under $100 and do it within hours rather than the whole day. So, we are looking at a very exponential  trajectory speed with which you can now not only do the sequencing but get it to the point where it is affordable and then the challenge here is that if you can start producing the whole human genome at that rate and with 100’s of gigabytes and soon petabytes and exabytes, how do you store all that data, how do you process it, how do you analyze it and how do you share it, whole scientific community thrives on sharing each other’s work, verifying each other’s work and that’s how scientific progress happens but when you are trying to deal with just take the cancelled genome data that’s in petabytes, so even when the National Cancer Institute  wanted to open it up where does it group even download that kind of data, where do you store it, how do you even prepare it for processing and analysis the vast amount of compute required on premise is just ridiculous and this is only going to get worse as more and more data gets generated so the reason why we think this is the right time for cloud and some of the advancements in computing to be applied to this field of Genomics is because it’s the ecosystem seems to be ready all the way from sequencing technology which requires the research in chemistry , in semiconductors, in cloud computing, in innovation and software  and bringing that cost down to a below $100 level and then being able to process that kind of data at scale.

There arealso these anchor organizations like the broad  institute or the institutes for system biology and then there are many government funded or semi- government funded agencies even research hospitals and there are so many organization in this ecosystem that are trying to work together, share the data together obviously for qualified research, just a casual browser may not have access to all the data but if you are doing qualified research there is never been a great time when you have access to petabytes of data from TCGA, which is the cancer genomic data, another data set which is just getting started is from the autism speak from the Google cloud which with the aim is to get 10,000 people around the autism condition and even today there is subset of that available and there are so many more public data sets available so the reason why all of these things are coming together in the ecosystem is why the cloud computing vendors like Google and Amazon everyone also is making an extra efforts to built something specific to understand their cloud compute infrastructure to make it more suitable for solving this Genomic problem.

Goldy Arora: You are listening to Land of Digital Opportunities podcasts by MediaAgility, a global digital consulting company and now back to the conversation with Rajesh about – Is Genomical replacing Astronomical?

I completely agree with you Rajesh, it’s great to see how technology is solving massive computational challenges and helping us answer complex biological questions. So as a researcher or bio- informatician or technology professional what are some of the things I can do today and more important where and how should we start?

Rajesh Abhyankar: That’s a great question, since we are a Google Cloud Partner, I would like to start there and give our listeners a good idea on why we partnered with Google and why we are doubling down on creating custom solutions that are specific to improving the productivity of scientists in lab which we called LabAgility and then we are working specifically on how do we pace that last mile gap where rather than bringing the data to your applications, it’s more appropriate now to bring your applications to the data because the data is so huge and is sitting in the cloud  but in terms of where do you start let’s just talk a bit about why we think Google is well placed to handle a problem like this?  You mention earlier 300 hours of video gets uploaded every minute on YouTube, the entire Google search index  as I understand is about 100 petabytes and  when you search that huge index of 100 petabytes, you get results in milliseconds, so company who understands processing 300 hours worth of video per minute in just that volume of data, processing it for the obvious checks and then making it available and distributing it to a global network. When you apply some of these technologies and try to see what do these number means in terms of whole genome sequence, the YouTube example is very close to equal to six whole genome sequences per minute, at that scale Google infrastructure is able to handle today and the search index, I would say is close to million whole genome sequences can be searched in index and answer given in milliseconds. So company that can already do compute and storage at that scale, I think is well suited to handle the huge challenges that lie ahead of us and the community that is trying to make the most of Genomics and to me the exciting part is what’s called the tip of this period which is real patients will start seeing the impact of all this in their real life and that matters to us and that’s why we got interested in it.

Coming from the compute background, we thought why don’t we work with some of the experts in the industry and we started working with a startup called YouGenomics and we recently published a case study in partnership with Google on what we did for them, working with customers like those or the other one that I mention, what we clearly see is a place to start is if you run a bunch of servers in your own data centres or in your own lab, a good place to start with is to see what are the cost benefits of moving all that infrastructure to the cloud, just the basic compute engine, VM, storage and it all really starts from there running some of your clusters on your own premise those clusters can be run on the cloud. So we have helped some of your customers in just helping them with assessment of their basic infrastructure, how can their pipeline and workflows can be optimised or do some custom workflow development for them and built some custom applications out of it can help them with their analysis and exploring the data.

Google’s been working with the broad institute, now if you use GATK, now you can run it on scale at Google cloud, Google’s part of the GA for GH which is the Global Alliance for Genome and Health, it’s standard way of ensuring interoperability  because you can imagine when you have a very  heterogeneous ecosystem, you need some open standard so that the genome data can be shared and exchanged in a fairly easily so GA for GH there is an implementation of that API called the Google Genomics API so that’s available and I would say if you depending on what stage you are in, one way to look at it is the problem of storage, you can start there if you want to start storing in the cloud, then there is actual processing of your pipelines, some of the things that are readymade available, if you have a custom pipeline, you can build those things on the cloud, exploring these data sets on technology like big query and lastly sharing it in a secure way, So depending on where you are currently on your genomic  problem, there you can start  with as simple as running your own virtual machine and running your own open source stack on the Google cloud and as you get more advanced in your adoption, you can start using some of these genome specific features of the Google cloud.

Goldy Arora: Rajesh, I guess our guest will find this advice valuable, as you suggested to start small, may be to start with making their labs more organized by moving to cloud computing and also to take advantage of the public data sets which are already available and matching them up with their own data for faster researches.

I hope today’s  podcasts was helpful for listeners and not just understanding Genomic revolution, also to see how it’s helping them the mankind.  With that Rajesh, I appreciate your time and thank you so much for being on Land of digital opportunities podcasts.

Rajesh Abhyankar: Thank you, this is a very exciting field and we are super excited to keep working with some of the initial customers that we have, learn more about this domain and as the compute infrastructure and technology improves, work more on creating our own creative solution because we think our goal is pretty clear here that platform providers like Google and Amazon and IBM are going to come up with advancements in their core technologies and platform and there is always that gap in between making all of that platform and technology work for solving real world problems, that’s where our expertise lie in and providing them the implementation of all of that working with our customers  and we are super excited about being in this field, these are really early days  and we can only imagine what this means to the impact that it can have on real people with autism, with cancer and just imagine that the promise this technology holds in transforming the way we think about healthcare and I am really excited about what the next decade brings, it’s going to be a roller coaster ride to be on a fast exponentially growing trajectory with exabytes of data being produced, need to analyze it, need to process explore and make sense of it, help all the way from the sequencing technology all the way to the clinical applications of it, we are committed to this discipline and this is just a beginning for us as well and I hope at some point we can say our Genomics practice is truly Genomical now in terms of the people and this kind of impact that we are having.              

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EP002 – Digital Transformation starts with NO! Mon, 13 Jun 2016 12:57:28 +0000 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">EP002 – Digital Transformation starts with NO!</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">MediaAgility</a>.</p>

[Podcast Transcript] Digital Transformation Starts with ‘No’

Land of Digital Opportunities is a podcast series for business leaders driven by innovation and productivity, and keen on growing an idea, team, or a company! Every week, MediaAgility sits down with someone with strong innovation acumen and who has achieved a remarkable business presence in the digital industry, and together we unfold ‘Why’.

Goldy Arora: Welcome to the second episode of land of digital opportunities podcast by MediaAgility – a global digital consulting company. In this episode we are going to speak with Rajesh, co-founder and CEO of MediaAgility about ‘Digital Transformation Starts with No’.

Hi Rajesh, welcome to the land of digital opportunities podcast. In my role here to build an innovation practice when I speak with many business leaders our conversations are usually geared not about whether or not to go to digital path and help your business take competitive advantage but rather where and how to start?.. And especially in case of large corporates, so what is your advice on where and how to start?

Rajesh Abhyankar: I have had similar conversation with many leaders in large businesses in US, Asia, and Europe, and this is a common theme. It can be overwhelming when every other day there’s an announcement and every major vendor pitch it as a next paradigm and the fear is if I don’t do it and if my competitor does it, then what does it mean for me? That’s exactly how the digital disruption stories play out right now. Every time there’s an announcement, that’s where thinking begins – whole conversation canvas style of connecting with customers or what do we do with virtual and augmented reality is now coming up. How does it affect my business there is so much of data that businesses are generating, how do I analyze it? What insights do I generate from it? There are days when these leaders tell me that it can be truly overwhelming!

There’s a pressure to, as they say, keep trains running on time, and then there’s pressure to keep upgrading your tracks without disrupting the timetable. So my advice is- Start with a deep breath.. Don’t be overwhelmed. Yes, we live in times when things are changing so fast…so rapidly, that the fear is genuine – that there might be group of people in a garage somewhere trying to create a company that can potentially disrupt a hundred years old business model. That fear is real. I’m not trying to underestimate or undermine that. What is important though is the advice that I heard twenty years ago, internet was just getting started, before the rise of smartphones and AI and cloud that was from none other than Steve Jobs in I guess it was world wide developer conference in 1997 when he started coming back to apple and it was an open mic session, what really stayed with me since then, is his answer to one of the question, which was strikingly in simple, that is focussing is about saying no, focussing is not about saying yes to everything that comes along the way, it’s other way round, while there are days when you when you are overwhelmed,  it’s important to go back, go back to your team go back to your business model and look at what are we really good at? Where are we focused at right now and then take an informed decision which is more of an action rather than reaction to that just happened, somebody just announced something, there are probably 15 20 diff innovation projects that are on list of any CIO that has pressure to bring about digital transformation right now, but the key is to look back at what your true strengths are as an organization, and many times that may be perceived as weakness that can be turned around as your strength and just heed to the advice that was given 20 yrs ago – That focus is about saying no.

When we start the conversation this way we are in the land of opportunity rather than land of fear, rather than being driven by a defensive posture that tends more about how do we lean out, can we be the one who invent that future? It’s truly rewarding from that point to really help our customers. As a digital consulting company our role is to be there to help our customers see things more clearly, and be their thought partner and provide those innovative solution and be there all along and develop, implement those ideas and be there as they take those ideas to market and transform themselves from within.

Goldy Arora: We are a digital consulting company helping organizations understand the digital revolution and then respond to that and we do this with an integrated approach of strategy, design thinking, technology expertise and agile implementation, so with that let us speak with Rajesh….

I really like the way you said focus on saying no and I agree that first step should be to narrow down on multiple things and pick only those which are really going to strengthen our value proposition what would be your advice on how to start from there?

Rajesh Abhyankar: I’m sure you’ve heard about this, that every company in future is going to be a software company no matter what you do. Hotel industry transformed by airbnb, and uber – what it has done for car sharing, and self driving cars- that’s again forcing  the tradition auto companies to be software company and there are numerous projects to bring fully automated self driving cars, and making that the reality you pick any industry apply software to it and see how it can be transformed. Start formulating strategy – lean out into future – what does it mean to live in a world.. 5…10…20 yrs from now when software has transformed your industry?

We had a recent engagement with a large automobile manufacturer in Asia where the Chief Strategy Officer was tasked with the job of thinking through what does a world look like beyond car ownership, where car has become a service rather than something that you own, and what does surface transportation look like? and the Strategy Office had been looking at research companies and pouring reports. They leaned out and looked at what can be done now? Why sit back and be in reactive mode, when you know your company will be software company eventually?

Lean out and look at what does future look like and ask what’s stopping you to be the company that invents the future? Why not regardless of your size, small or large, or you may be just one department in large company…everything starts with that idea and the intrapreneurial skills if you are inside the large company or entrepreneurial spirit if you are a startup – that’s where everything starts, so I would say lean out , focus on what you are good at, and imagine what your industry would look like when it has been transformed and can you be the one that brings about that future?  Can you be the one that invents that future? And going back to that example, working with the auto manufacturer we created a strategy working with them and implemented it as a marketplace for Moving Cargo pretty much like Uber helps moving people around. To address the problem of moving cargo in a short distance of 10-20 miles can a market place be created? it was an experiment, we built it from the ground up within less than 3 months, it is now up and running, and tons of data is being generated that is helping them understand whether they should go down that path and how do they adopt it across the board.

Goldy Arora: Our customers tell us that we are their thought partners during these times of digital disruption, where innovation today is the key to success. Unlocking the potential from the tremendous data that your business generates can connect you to your customers and help you improve your operations, and your employees expect similar technologies at work that they use in personal lives, and with our partnership with innovative companies like Google and Amazon we can meet you wherever you are and accelerate your journey into the land of digital opportunities, and now back to the conversation with Rajesh about ‘Digital Transformation Starts with No’.

It is critical today not to just keep the trains on tracks but upgrade the tracks without disrupting timetables. Transformation is leaning out, and somehow I feel it’s not just vision or mission, you should feel the transformation from within yourself before being on this transformation journey. What do you think, how important is it to transform from within before beginning on this transformation path?

Rajesh Abhyankar: That’s a good segue, what we were just talking about earlier that you can’t isolate transformation to a small group and hope that it will bring about the transformation. It is important to start thinking big and broad across the board , start thinking about the legal implications of innovations, how to bring about the change across all departments of the company. More importantly, only way in which you can be authoritative in transforming your customer’s business is to first look at how you are running your own business, for us, for eg, a digital consulting company, we can’t be running on desktop software, on tools that were created with last architecture of computing so we had to transform ourselves from within, we now have so many different offices in different countries…and we live that lifestyle, we use Google apps that helps us to collaborate using any device at any place. We run our entire business on cloud, in fact we wrote an article, whitepaper about how we were able to run our business by spending less than $1 per employee per day. You need to start looking at transformation from inside out. It reminds me of one conference I was in, the discussion was around an automotive company trying to think how can to bring android into the cars, and one of the Google executive I remember said, “Your employees first need to start using android themselves”. The people who are going to build it need to first live it themselves, understand the pros and cons of living that way, rather than just going with the flow. We strongly believe in simplicity of the advice – just build the great product or service that you can, saying no to things that are not in your focus area, operating out of opportunities and abundance mindset rather than fear, leaning out and asking yourself why not us? why are we not the one meant to transform future in our industry?

The mindset of 10X thinking- going back to drawing board trying to design things that are 10 times better is surprisingly simpler and cheaper rather than the incremental 10% improvement. Tesla is one of the classic example – Rather than operating out of fear and trying to put a traditional gasoline engine in the car just in case you run out of battery, as opposed to taking the bold step and saying we are going to build an electric only car , yes we don’t have network of charging station as we have for gas stations, someone has to take that view that this can be the future of clean energy of automobile, why can we be the one who bring about the change?

10X thinking over incremental improvement is again easier said than done, there are genuine concerns about disrupting your own line of business – this topic has been already well researched and documented as innovator’s dilemma.

We have fantastic teams of people who understand these technologies, who can build all these things for you in record time, but our approach has always been not to jump into an engagement and start building stuff, but encourage customer to take a step back and see if this is a bold enough move , can this be looked at in a different way. Use some of our offerings that we have created around innovation workshop called Braintrust, or risk-free sure start program where you can start playing around with these ideas and our efforts in doing all of this is to genuinely live the vision that we painted for ourselves which is to bring productivity, creativity to everyone’s jobs, where it stops being just a job and people find meaning in their work, we want to create that environment and those opportunities where everyone finds meaning in their work and we have done that for ourselves and we continue to find ways in which we can come up with more solutions and where we can work with our customers where we can show our value.

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EP001 – Is the Cloud Serverless? Mon, 13 Jun 2016 08:56:09 +0000 0 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">EP001 – Is the Cloud Serverless?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">MediaAgility</a>.</p>

[Podcast Transcript] Is Cloud Serverless?

Land of Digital Opportunities is a podcast series for business leaders driven by innovation and productivity, and keen on growing an idea, team, or a company! Every week, MediaAgility sits down with someone with strong innovation acumen and who has achieved a remarkable business presence in the digital industry, and together we unfold ‘Why’.

Goldy Arora: Welcome to the first episode of Land of digital opportunities podcast by MediaAgility, a global digital consulting company. When it comes to businesses to move to cloud or the cloud computing the question is not if but whether when and how. Cloud has evolved so much where we really don’t know if there’s a startup somewhere in the basement working to disrupt 100 yrs old business model. So today in studio we have rajesh co-founder and CEO of MediaAgility from our Princeton office and Nilesh, cloud expert from our London office. And we are going to talk about – Is cloud serverless?

Nilesh and Rajesh, welcome to the land of digital opportunities podcast, great to have you here. Sometimes we are really curious to see the way cloud has evolved. So why don’t you talk to us a bit about evolution of this cloud.

Rajesh Abhyankar: When we talk about evolution it takes me back 15 yrs…or may be 20 yrs. When we started thinking about building scalable applications. Back then I still remember I was working with a company where we had a bunch of servers running inside our office in Manhattan, we ran our own rack we had our own servers we had DMZ architecture that was pretty popular then, web server / app server the database, and we ran our own networking, cooling, backup, power and then came the co-location where we took all those physical servers and went into one of the colocation services that we had and put those servers in a car and we took them and put them in a rack .. locked the cage and pretty much what that company gave us was a secure cage in which we ran our servers and air conditioning, power and internet and that was the next step and if we fast forward it to another few years and whole concept of virtualized environment came in . It was pretty much similar concept – you still had to worry about your servers, upgrading them, managing them, worrying about load balancers and backups and all that. so Nilesh, what do you think have you experienced any similar evolution in your line of work?

Nilesh Chavda: Yes. Going back to the server days when applications were built in that paradigm, it was great for that age!. Things have moved on and right now business is all shifting to the cloud and journey for each and every business is very individual specific. The way that web services have evolved, the way that cloud as a service has evolved, it’s really groundbreaking and It’s going to future of businesses all around.

Rajesh Abhyankar: That’s true in a sense, it’s a big leap but at some levels isn’t it just shift from writing a purchase order to buying a new server back then in a colocated environment to now an API call to get the same servers – this isn’t really a big paradigm shift to me other than moving from PO to API.

Nilesh Chavda: Yeah.. I see what you mean. It’s on the evolutionary path and I think that’s the most interesting aspect of it.

Rajesh Abhyankar: Yes, and Goldy we have come a long way since those days where we had to manage our own servers and worry about all aspects of running that infrastructure in our premise or a co-located environment, and now in today’s age with virtualized machines, where there’s more flexibility on ramping up and down pretty fast. It has been a slow, incremental evolution over the last 10 -15 years and I think time has come to take the leap of faith into the next level of architecture.

Goldy Arora: Welcome back to Land of digital opportunities podcast by MediaAgility and now back to the conversation with Rajesh and Nilesh about – Is cloud serverless?

Well, that’s a good way to summarize it, that brings me to the question what did you do with rack of servers do you have still those server lying somewhere in your basement where you show it your kids sometime?

Rajesh Abhyankar: It’s funny, well I did keep one of the servers. It was a very heavy Dell servers.. I kept it as souvenir of those days in my basement, but eventually had to recycle it.

Goldy Arora: I can see days when museums should be the right place to bring those racks.

Rajesh Abhyankar: In fact I was at the computer history museum in San Francisco, where they have still preserved the original rack that ran the first version of Google search engine and the way they have evolved their own infrastructure and now making it available to all of us.

Goldy Arora: Rajesh and Nilesh, now since we have so much computing power with economies of scale how does it impact innovation at work places?

Nilesh Chavda: If we look at the way cloud technology and cloud computing has an impact on business. Businesses need data to work.. thrive..and to grow..  Historically the cost for storing data, processing data and running analytics on data, that has been on top of mind of businesses. The cloud paradigm now allows businesses to do much more at significantly lower costs. This is where benefits really come into action.

Rajesh Abhyankar: That’s right. Storage is one cent for one GB per month that’s almost free. VMs now…if you still are in that paradigm today of what cloud means to you, about a thousand VMs can be brought up in 5 mins, and that’s crazy fast – Like 43 seconds per VM! So if you’re still thinking in terms of servers and storage , I still think that’s an old architecture and there’s a new architecture that’s emerging. And Goldy to your question – that goes hand in hand with the question of innovation. You cannot innovate and your mind cannot be clear in terms of thinking about next business model or idea, when half of your mind is occupied with thinking about servers and scale.. And VMs and storage and so on…that’s why I think it is so important to let go of that paradigm. It’s not going to be easy to take that leap of faith we really need to start thinking in no operations model, no operations to think about or worry about. The next stage is going forward serverless. What I mean by serverless is – If you are not ready to take whole platform as a service approach yet, the things like Google App engine or it was recently announced at Google I/O that there were significant new enhancements done to Firebase, which is yet another example of serverless. If you still want to be little close to the infrastructure layer, then whole concept of containers is the next step, rather than taking a whole leap into platform as a service paradigm. Think of containers as a self contained unit of your application with all dependencies packaged into container, same container runs on your laptop, premises, on one cloud provider and another. Kubernetes is that open standard that all the vendors are collaborating on. I’m super excited about where the container movement is going  and how fast companies are adopting it and the Google container engine which is an implementation of Kubernetes that Google did as a service, that’s another step that one can take, I really see that as a whole spectrum, it’s not binary that you have servers, then you don’t. It depends on your comfort level, what’s important though is to start getting away from thinking about servers. It’s pretty much like…I don’t know if you guys are old enough to remember the cars that had manual choke. It used to be all about worrying about carburetor and choke, and starting the car and that to me is what VM world is today. If you want to start your journey, container is next step . Think about how you can containerize your application that can run on any cloud and how can that step take you away from the server. This is very much like a zen moment to me where the abundance of compute power, access to machine learning, almost unlimited storage, when you are in that mode you are not worried about anything else. Then you can start thinking that what is that next business model, what is that next idea that I can convert and build on top of it. To me it is so closely tied up with innovation, it’s where new ideas come to life, that’s where you bring more value to customers, if that’s your top priority than you shouldn’t be worried about servers. New architecture is what you have to embrace if you are serious about innovation.

Nilesh Chavda: It seems like a trip down memory lane. I remember writing my first program and storing it in 5 1/4 inch floppy disk. That seems not so long ago and we are discussing business models driven by innovative new paradigm shifting technologies.

Rajesh Abhyankar: Google photos is a prime example of what I call a planet-scale app. It has unlimited storage for everyone. Just keep clicking and shooting pictures and videos to your heart’s content and it’s all being backed up. You can just search for what is inside your picture and the machine vision technology that application uses pretty much knows what’s in it and it’s getting pretty remarkable! Application like Google photos to me is a great example of what can be possible with unlimited storage, machine learning with crowdsourcing. It pretty much reminds me one of the keynotes that I was in earlier this year, Eric Schmidt was predicting what the next wave of IPO success kind of companies come from, what he predicted was – there’s going to be companies that understand this whole agile and rapid evaluation model – trying something, testing it out and improving it followed by using serverless architecture of the cloud, machine learning and more importantly human aspect of cloud sourcing, and that’s where next level of innovation is going to come from.   

Goldy Arora: We’re a digital consulting company helping organizations understand the digital revolution and then respond to that and we do this with an integrated approach of strategy, design thinking, technology expertise, and agile implementation, so with that let’s go back to Rajesh and Nilesh and talk about is cloud serverless?    

Now let’s change the gears a bit and talk about something practical so that our listeners will have some valuable takeaways from today’s podcast. Rajesh, Nilesh, when we started four years ago, we had this vision in mind, and we have been running like a serverless company where we have everything living on the cloud, where we can work from anywhere, anytime, which is really helping the whole organization in becoming so much productive. That’d be great if you put some light on this journey, on this vision, and moreover as company, what role are we playing in bridging this gap in helping other businesses in becoming serverless and taking advantage of the cloud.

Nilesh Chavda: Sure. It’s a really interesting area because we’ve been able to demonstrate how we can make work more productive and engaging and meaningful to our own staff using some of the technologies that are just at hand! And we choose the total dollar footprint per employee across the entire organization.  

Rajesh Abhyankar: We had to prove ourselves, live that lifestyle ourselves before we start recommending it to our customers and we’re doing it at an incredible price point where everything is anchored in Google apps and all the other applications. Although, at our size and scale of the company we’ve been able to rely a lot on SaaS based applications to power some of our functions. But let’s take story of a mid tier or large organization, if you are designing something from scratch, it just doesn’t make sense to think about the old paradigm and start building something in serverless mindset and one of the recent engagement was for an automobile manufacturing company in Asia where we were working with their chief strategy officer and they were looking at what does surface transportation look like in era when car has become a service and from strategy perspective it was an important innovative project for them and we were able to get it up and running in three months.

Then the question is about hundreds or in some cases thousands of application that exist today in the enterprise, we have come up with a methodology to go about that, we will not go into details in this podcast but yes it’s a two pronged approach. If you are starting something new, it’s a pretty straightforward architecture now if you starting with migrating something you have and it will be the on-premise or cloud, or hybrid , it’s here to stay. We work with customers that still runs mainframes, it’s always going to be hybrid, heterogeneous environment but what’s clear is the serverless architecture is here. If we take example of BigQuery as an example, there is no non-cloud alternative to a technology like that! How do you store billions of rows of data and be able to query it in seconds and pay only for the columns of data that you accessed there is no non-cloud alternative for that. So, it’s not really a binary choice, there’s a whole spectrum that one can choose from, depends on where you are, and we can work with where you are. If you want to go the notch up and start doing some of the managed VM or even better with containers or then go into the backend or platform as a service and start using some of the technologies like cloud only which is big query and machine learning, etc….There’s a whole spectrum, it may sound daunting when we start with but that we think is our role in this ecosystem, is the platform vendor continue to innovate at a rapid scale. Our role is to make sure that all those technologies can be used in right way to solve real world problems working with our customers and help them understand this revolution and help them respond to it, help them with the strategy and take it all the way through to implementation. We are trying to do that in a very solution oriented approach by running workshops such as innovation, analytics followed by picking the right solutions  and its time now to move to the next level of abstraction and industry has always moved in that direction. We started with writing something close to the CPU, the machine language then moved a step up by getting into object oriented programming, the client server world, the web development, now is the time to think of the serverless environment where I really need to focus on my business problem that I’m trying to solve and… yeah… seriously look at the example of Google photos as a prime example of what’s possible and the planet scale application that we could produce.

Goldy Arora: With that I’d like to thank you and I guess this podcast was valuable for our listeners  not just in understanding the way cloud has evolved but also to see impact on the pace of innovation that you could bring at your workplace with cloud.

Thank you.

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