Sunday, March 19, 2017

Deriving business value from the intersection of Edge IoT with Artificial Intelligence

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit IoT Business Index 2017 (Link), though 90% of business owners accept the evolving convergence of IoT in business, there are 2 major deterrents of wide-spread business implementation of IoT Technology:

1. High cost of required investment in IoT Infrastructure,
2. Security and privacy challenges

In order for a business to reap value from connected devices over internet, the crucial missing piece which needs to be harnessed is the right utilization of the humongous data from the ever increasing number of connected devices in terms of time sensitivity as well as bandwidth of the data being transferred. This is most likely to be possible when the following basic conditions, which reduces the cost and increases the return from an IoT implementation, are met:

  > Limited human intervention
  > Limited hardware

This is when the concept of Edge processing comes into picture. Edge processing (or Fog Computing, as Cisco originally coined the term) is the concept which in simple terms uses data from unlimited sources before it looses significance as it brings processing at the edge of the network or ‘on-the-device’. It is not a new idea as reducing the dependency over the cloud and internet has been understood since the importance of cloud infrastructure was understood in real scenarios and would be an important piece in commercializing the connected devices in the future. Example: India’s leading ride sharing operator Ola launched its Ola Offline App in the late 2016. With consistently increasing number of connected devices, one can only think of the ease edge processing can bring to an IoT solution both it terms of the RoI of an IoT investment as well as Security. This means devices to turn and act ‘intelligent’ on their own and hence the intersection of artificial intelligence.

USE CASES which see a huge amount of data generated by IoT / mobile devices can definitely use the high precision machine learning / deep learning (ML/DL) platform as it can tackle some of the major issues related to data like: Latency, Bandwidth, Security of the data, as well as the Cost incurred in transmitting it, apart from several others. Some of the use cases which can be thought of are:

1. Time sensitive decision making in connected devices — Decision making in autonomous vehicles where information processing needs to be done in micro/milli seconds and it can’t afford the transmission lag and latency issues

2. When enormous data should be processed before being transmitted like monitoring plants in a vast farmland, where only the information about withering or infected plants needs to be transmitted based on certain sensor parameters

3. Security is of concern in automated industrial plants or surveillance cameras where local processing and intelligence of huge amount of recorded data is of high priority

4. Smart Home applications which need reduced human intervention like (taking inspiration of Amazon Echo here) replenishing the empty food bottles and cans, or switching between devices might also use edge analytics use case

A CHALLENGE seen in the intersection IoT with AI can be the fact that high precision ML/DL platform usually require higher processing and costlier hardware. The use cases listed above and similar upcoming use cases might depend more on how the technology solves the the size and cost of processing in the edge devices.

RECENT EXAMPLES: NVIDIA’s Jetson TX2 launched in March 2017 claims to be the 1st supercomputer on a module, a processor to bring AI to the Edge. Another example being that of Qualcomm’s deep learning SDK for devices called Zeroth Machine Intelligence Engine SDK which enables running of independent OEM’s neural network models on its Snapdragon 820 devices such as smart phones, security cameras, automobiles and drones, without any dependency to the cloud.

This post is inspired from my quora answer which first appeared here

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Indian On-Demand Economy

In last 2 years, as an independent earning millennial with hardly any financial liabilities, there has been a major shift in my spending patterns. Having succumbed to what once started as discounts, and majorly to convenience, on-demand services occupy a major share of my wallet. It's not just me, ride-sharing apps have seen an enormous 290% growth in 2016 (mobile downloads) which is driven by the rapid rate this trend has been adapted by Indian millennials and reflects in their spending patterns. However, as this growth matures, and discounts start to slow down, now comes the real test for the shared service providers on the sustainability of their model.

Renting is not a new concept and at a local scale, it has always been there for students or the young working on-the-move population's convenience. However, to actually make it a habit which makes people spend which leads to 'money-making disruption' is a major challenge.

Logic seldom supports trends and this has been true for some time in a family-oriented culture of ours. This very fact can actually be a bad news for businesses in India trying to make moolah based on the instant gratification spending of this generation. The fixed asset ownership model still gets a preference over renting it out, even though the overall cost for the both comes to be the same, as per a recent UBS analysis. However, even keeping the costs same as the ownership model is a challenge of its own and needs to be tackled without the mere cash-burning model, as can be learnt from the e-commerce market in India

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What did you learn from failure?

I have shifted job since I last posted here, in the blog. Instead, I have been posting a lot on Instagram, tweeting a lot, retweeting a lot. I have even been writing on Medium now! I have been doing many things lately, instead of writing here :| This post is to put an end to this "jinx", though it was first published here.

Disclaimer: Theory ahead!

A teacher is of no use if you are not ready to inculcate the lessons being taught.

If taken in the right spirit, it is a blessing which lets you know “timely” that this is not for you and you should - move on. Channelize your efforts in the right direction. This applies to any kind of failure, be it in a career, in an exam, in a relationship, even in your own long worshiped thoughts or in whatever area you face the failure. For instance, a failure in an exam took me closer to a career more suitable to me. What looked like a disaster a few years back took me to something, which at present, I enjoy more at this moment. Something similar can be said for say, failure in a relationship which makes you realize your self-worth and takes you in a direction of what really suits you the best.

Mind you, I am not talking about giving up here, which is an easier option. This is when you give your heart and soul to your aim but all you get back in return is a door slammed in your face. It is then, that this failure redirects you to a path more suited to you. It reinforces the law of averages. In a way, it gives you time to re-evaluate and reboot yourself. Kind of, the market correction in the stock markets :) Looks bad at first but if the fundamentals are correct it helps you in the long run. The difficult part here, of course, is to take the lesson from this difficult teacher in the right spirit.

Keynes quotes that “In the long run we are all dead”. Similarly, history has proved time and again that on a time scale, failure is a very relative term. If Soichiro Honda wasn’t turned down for a job at Toyota, there wouldn’t have been the Honda we know. From J K Rowling to Charlie Chaplin. More google search can add to this list.

Life’s too short and there are too many beautiful things around, which you can ever know / visit / do in your life. Let the failure re-direct you to a better path awaiting you :)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

How happy are you?

Newspapers, WhatsApp Groups, FB Newsfeed had all been flashing Anant Ambani last week. The third generation of India's richest family had turned heads around as he lost a whopping 70 kgs in 18 months! While we sit and wonder how the kids of the richest families in India have everything in their life and nothing to worry on, little did we know that he was putting in efforts in terms of - walking 21 kms each day, doing yoga, weight training, functional training and high-intensity cardio exercises to reach his goal; not to forget along with his zero-sugar, low-carb diet. He worked hard for the choice he made of being healthier because he had an option! And boy, the whole nation congratulated him (even if in terms of trolls) when he trended on twitter for this.

This brings me to what I really want to convey in this post - Being Happy.  We all work towards being happy in life. Like how getting into a premiere B School made me very happy, because that meant I could plan and lead my life the way I wanted to, which I then believed would make me happy. Was my formula correct? Is that all I needed? Yes and No. As Will Smith's character, Chris, clearly points out in his masterpiece, we are always chasing it and hence it's called "The PURSUIT of Happiness." Chris places emphasis on "pursuit." Jefferson, when he penned the Declaration of Independence, did not promise Americans happiness, but only the right to pursue it. Chris says, at one point in the movie, paraphrase, "I am happy right now. It is a fleeting moment." We experience happiness in eyeblinks. The rest of the time we, like Chris, are chasing it." That's what a good opportunity gives you. The right to pursue it and not happiness itself. If you are paying taxes (post March effect!), you are very lucky to be among the top 3% of Indians who are paying it right now. It makes you very lucky to be at this position, and it started right from the time you were born to your parents, who provided for your education and raised you to pursue opportunities which brought you where you are at this moment. 

What I mean is that a domino’s pizza delivery guy might be better than me in inherent skills, like a better IQ/EQ but he didn't have the opportunities I came across just because I was born at the right place and time to my parents. That's what Prof. Deepak Malhotra in his famous Tragedy and Genius speech (or Quit Early, Quit Often Speech as I like to call it) brings on to the table:
 (At least, the 1st 15 minutes are worth the listen for the topic)

In short, he conveys that it really is a tragedy if even after being given all the opportunities you are not Happy, because tragedy is the difference (delta) between how happy you could be (Circumstances) and how happy you are (Choices), that's how you quantify it. If you don't have many opportunities, the circumstances were not right and the how-happy-you-could-be itself has lower bars and that's a real situation. However, if the Circumstances bar is high enough and you are still not happy, it is mainly the choices you have to blame because sitting in your comfortable home, without worrying about your basic needs, educated enough to be among the top 3% of people around you who pay taxes, you just can't blame the circumstances. It has to be the Choices. That's what Anant Ambani made and worked on in last 18 months! Prof. Malhotra, termed that as opposite of Tragedy, called Genius - not the essential of something but essence of.

I have interacted with many MBAs around me for both professional and personal purposes. I found many of them to be complaining about their work. Trolls being exchanged in WhatsApp groups about how a person finishes his engineering, does his IT job, gets into MBA and after that he realizes he doesn't like even his post MBA job eitther. I could relate to it, we all can because after all we are pursuing happiness. One of the most profound indication of that would be to waste 71.4% of our lives (Weekdays) just waiting for the Weekends to get away from work. That would be hardly the pursuing I am talking about here. However, once you understand the missing gap and where exactly you are going wrong, you can definitely reduce the delta which takes you towards being the happy genius.

The opportunities which you have around should be leveraged upon to make the right choices and to convert the tragedy to genius. That's when he talks about (@10:20 in video) cultivating the habit of 'quitting' - quit early, quit often - something usually associated with a negative reference. And that's where you leverage your opportunities (like your MBA, in the example i take) to quit, experiment and get early to a field where you are actually adding value as an MBA or whatever field you are into. Spending years to justify, why you are doing it makes no sense as the Prof. says. We don't have a ready reference script in our hands as Will Smith had but we need to have that strength to pursue what really makes sense of our abilities and skills, if not what we really want to do. And that I believe is the perfect recipe of being the genius, pursuing happiness and reducing the delta, the way you want it to, in your own customizable way.