Consulting, Technology Ecosystem and Setting Expectations

Question

8 years back when I started my consulting journey, there were 2 major technology ecosystems to deal with. Depending on the problem evaluated it against business, application, development and operational considerations, was able to provide a solution which worked for most of my customers.

4 years back, things started changing. I was putting together the technology road map for the SBU I was working for. There were more than 2 technology ecosystems to deal with. One of the major question I had to answer at that point was if I choose a technology today and start developing, Can this survive the test of time? Can we avoid rewrite at least for next 5 years?

Fast forward to 2016, technology is changing so fast, 5 years seems to be a very long time. If you are starting to develop a product/framework/platform, you need to be prepared at least one or more of your components may change as you start developing and your ecosystem should be ready for that. This requires a different mindset with the business teams, architecture groups, development teams and your ops teams. As an architecture consultant, it is very important to communicate and bring everyone to same page. Having the expectations set right and being ready will avoid the frustrations towards the later part of the journey!

Happy Learning!

AI, Deep Learning, Machine Learning and NLP

Watched this presentation by Frank Chen (Andreessen Horowitz – Tech Topics) today. An Excellent overview about AI, Deep Learning, Neural Networks and Machine Learning.

Frank talked about how one person has built a self driving car using the open source ecosystem available right now. Very inspiring.

Must Watch…

On a side note: May be it is time, we use these technologies to solve the traffic problems at Belandur and Agara, which can make atleast lives of 100 thousand people better and productive, save the $ spent in burning fuel!

Happy Learning!

Is it time to start looking out for a new job?

Career Decision - Next ExitI recently happened to read this post from the Spend Matters blog. Blog Post talks about three questions one should ask themselves regularly to decide whether it is time to look for a new job.

1. Do you feel you are personally learning and developing in your current role? Are you gaining new skills, developing your capability, becoming more expert – with the caveat that it really helps if these are in some sense transferable skills and knowledge.

2. Are you progressing in your career, moving forward from a seniority and / or financial point of view, with a trajectory that is heading in the right direction? (This assumes you have some ambition – not everyone does have, I realize).

3. Do you enjoy what you are doing – is it a good place to work, with decent “hygiene factors” and a bit more – which might be anything from pleasant colleagues and working environment, a commute that is manageable, technology that works, social events …

Excellent set of questions. You can find the original post here. 

This one is my favorite on this topic. Probably tied to all the 3 questions above.

To be happy and be fulfilled at work, people want to feel they are advancing, getting things done, and making an impact. But it’s not enough to simply to receive a pat on the back and a word of encouragement. Rather, we respond much more positively to feedback from the work itself. When we have achieved a goal like closing a sale, writing code that passes the test harness and is pushed to production, releasing a new feature that a million users touch every day, our happiness at work blooms.

Source: Managing for Progress

An Excellent book on this topic : The Progress Principle

Teresa Amabile’s talk at Google

In the end… it is not about the nice office buildings, additional perks etc. It is about the job itself. It is about the people you interact with on a daily basis and deal with.

The Successful demos at the end of every 2 weeks, Production Releases, a good solution to a complex problem, providing a solution using a new technology stack, number of first calls to potential prospects, a good sales pitch to a new prospect, a new customer win on a regular basis, hiring a good candidate, coming up with a new product offering… (A few items from my list). All of these contribute to the small wins part. If you dont have them as part of your day to day job or you dont see the number of small wins…. may be it is time!

Happy Learning!

Bye Bye 2015! HNY 2016!

Another year has passed. We are towards the end of the year and It is time to reflect on 2015. Every year, there will be always good and bad things. This year is no different in that way for me. May be the percentage of not so good was more in 2015 😦

Good things to remember in 2015

  • Towards the end of 2014, had an opportunity to work on creating a SaaS based Real time streaming solution for a large security company. 2015 started with the win of this project and what a way to kick start the year!
  • Got an wonderful opportunity to work on integrating data from various marketing and digital channels and create a data lake for the world’s leading postal company.
  • Got an opportunity to work with a team to implement in-memory (Hana based) business intelligence platform for the world’s largest ketchup manufacturer. Worked with their Enterprise Architecture team to create a security blueprint and IDM implementation roadmap.
  • Did a fair amount of work with DevOps in 2014. Got a great opportunity to present/demonstrate DevOps capabilities to a great set of technical folks. Helped in winning the deal.
  • Got opportunities to understand and work with teams to implement HOLAP and Stream analytics.
  • Got exposure to Customer Service in an Enterprise SaaS world.
  • Understood the difference between Reporting and Dashboards (in a hard way).
  • The way I looked at SaaS architecture changed dramatically. Now, I look at the Maturity models based on the business landscape.

Personally, the start-up bug started biting me towards the end of 2014. We were close to starting a Services business on our own. Explored couple of Product ideas as well. Took one of the product idea and detailed it to a great extent. Did a fair amount of Customer Discovery and Validation exercise.

What I initially thought as a vertical add-on, eventually became a mammoth horizontal platform idea. Realized that it would take at least 3 to 4 years before can do anything with it. Dropped it after living & breathing the idea for almost 3 months!

Learnt a lot in the whole process.  Though it was a failed attempt, at least learnt what it means to take a hypothesis, visualize, conceptualize and start something 🙂

If you don’t code on your own, better don’t get into the start-up thought  process.

Thanks to Neelam, Subhajit, Sudhakar, Ashish, Gayathri and Sendhil for their help in the validation exercise.

Made some not so good (crazy) decisions with my career this year! Though it was not a great decision, at least i don’t have the thought that I haven’t tried anything new anymore.

No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying ~ Tony Robbins

From a technology front, 2015 was an year full of Data related projects for me. My understanding on this space has become much better in 2015.

Overall, 2015 was a decent year! An year filled with career adventures, self-disruption, lots and lots of learning’s!

Hope 2016 will be a better year!

Happy New Year 2016!

Wishing you all a Very happy new year!

May the NEW YEAR bring you GOOD HEALTHPEACE and HAPPINESS.

Image Source: http://happynewyear2.com/tag/happy-new-year-2016-greeting-cards/

Quote : 7 Rules of Life

Quote

  1. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  2. What others think of you is none of your business.
  3. Time heals almost everything. Give it time.
  4. Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  5. Stop thinking too much, it’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it.
  6. No one is in charge of your happiness, except you.
  7. Smile. You don’t own all the problems in the world

via
http://emilysquotes.com/7-rules-of-life/

Management 101 : Bad job with a Good Boss is better than a Good Job with a Bad Boss!

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People management is probably the most difficult job in my opinion.  What I meant is for someone who is passionate about people management. What happens to someone who are not passionate about people management and when they are asked to suddenly manage a set of people who are experienced (May be 10+, 15+ years) and /or are a bunch of Alpha’s?

If you are tasked to manage a bunch of senior folks for the first time, following are a set of people management 101 that you could help you establish yourself.

  • Start with Communicating your Vision for the newly formed team/or the team you have taken over.
  • Meet with them on a regular basis and explain what are the steps the team would take to reach your vision.
  • Explain your team members why they are important to you.
  • Explain the team that how what they are doing is helping them, you, business unit and the company.
  • Setup a weekly cadence and repeat. People have short term memory. Bring them together (face to face) on a regular basis.
  • Have regular 1:1s and talk to them on a regular basis. Set Expectations, give feedback and take feedback. If you don’t know how to set expectations, then make it explicit. If you BS that they are senior members and they will self-manage and they don’t need direction etc.…

“Many people are unmotivated, not because they have a great reason to be, but rather because they have not been given a great reason to be motivated & engaged”Delegation

  • Be Honest and ask your team for advice/suggestions. When you get suggestions/advice, stop your normal BS and listen. You are asking for advice/suggestion, either because it’s not your specialization or may be the other person is better than you.

“People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left” ~ Simon Sinek

  • If you don’t know how their career will shape up, ask them on what they want to achieve, take help from other folks in the company who can help in defining their career roadmap. This is a very important step as most of the 15+ years guys would have hit the glass-ceiling at this point. Helping them with defining the career roadmap, you will earn their trust and respect .

“The problem when someone feels burned out, bored, unchallenged, or stifled by their work is not the job itself but rather the environment and playground rules given to them to do the job at hand” ~ Tony Hsieh

  • When you want someone to work on something, don’t just forward emails with FYI. Call your team members and give them the context. Explain them why you are expecting them to work on it. Emails may not communicate everything. At the end you don’t want your team members to call you as “Post Master“.
  • Show your confidence. When you see email exchanges, don’t keep silence. There are times where you need be assertive, authoritative etc. You might think you are helping your team by being silent, wherein they might think differently.
  • Lead from the front. If only your team members are expected to work and if you work only on managing your manger’s perception, I don’t think you will be successful.
  • Show that you really care. If you say to your team members that they are really very important, then they should also feel it that way. Stop providing only Lip service.

I am sure if you show people that you really care , people will listen and work for you.

At an Organization Level
Whenever there is a change at the leadership level, please handhold your leaders/managers. There are certain cultural aspects and reasons why certain things happen in a certain way. Understand how the new person is managing their team members. Some people are very good in managing perception. You don’t want your team to vanish in a flash.

Software development is based on People and if your best guys don’t perform, there is something more than what you see. Maybe, it is time for the senior guys to speak to your best people and understand. Ultimately, if people don’t perform, company will not be performing either.

Happy Learning!

Image Credit
Harvey Enrile | Unsplash.com
Ambro | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Digital Businesses and APIs

I first heard the term API during 1996-97, when I was programming in VB (Win32 APIs). Hence this is not a new term for sure. But you can hear this term quite frequently these days. What is happening? What has changed? Let us take couple of traditional businesses and see how they have operated.

Before 1990 During 1990-2010 Now
A bank used to transact only between certain business hours till some time back. Internet Banking Came into Picture. One needed a Desktop to operate. Center and Web as Channels. Internet and Mobile Banking All one need is some form of mobile device to operate. Operations are 24/7 and the channels are multiple.
The business model for an University to run courses on-premise between certain business hours. Universities started providing online courses. Online, Offline Courses available. Courses are provided via Web , Mobile and Tablet channels Newer models like MooC coming into picture
A Book store selling books in their stores/chain of stores between certain business hours Internet Shopping via Browsers Store still exist. Most of the shopping happens via Tablets, Mobile and Web. Price Comparison Sites/Applications. Sell via Blogs and other websites (Widgets). Retargeting

What is the underlying trend? Internet Explosion and growth of Smart Phones/Devices has forced companies to rethink the way they have done business. The disruption has made companies to rethink their business models. Newer Digital Business Models are evolving which is enabling companies to reach to newer markets, global customers and gain competitive advantage. Few examples You can pay utility bills via the popular chat application you are using http://www.innovativechina.com/2013/07/china-merchants-bank-launches-its-own-wechat-bank/ http://www.opptrends.com/2014/04/after-alibaba-tencent-now-baidu-inc-bidu-comes-with-mobile-wallet/ Internet companies are providing interest for your deposits. http://qz.com/160589/alibaba-yu-e-bao-money-market-account-serious-threat-to-chinese-banks/ It’s a great thing for a consumer and definitely a great opportunity for companies. To address this increasing number of channels and look at newer business opportunities and models, companies needed a way to expose and consume data. APIs have become the common way to expose, consume and communicate to the various channels and fuel innovation.

An API — Application Programming Interface — at its most basic level, allows your product or service to talk to other products or services. Via What is an API?

To see an API in action, check this https://developer.pearson.com/apis/topten-travel-guides/#!/travel/listCategories_get_0Portal shows all the APIs that are available. Good one. This is one of my favorite example. Is this happening in just one industry? No, the changes are across the industries (Banking, Retail, Healthcare, Energy, Transportation, Automotive) to name a few. Check this link to see the fastest growing API Categories http://www.slideshare.net/programmableweb/fastest-growing-web-api-categories-last-6-months/ Different types of APIs

  1. Open APIs (Public, Web APIs – Open to All)
  2. Partner APIs  (Protected, Open to Select Few)
  3. Enterprise APIs (Private, Your traditional SOA Based mostly, Open to Employees only)

In a nutshell, APIs are a must-have in any technology strategy today. APIs power the Digital Business and acts as the Glue in SMAC stack. References: http://apievangelist.com/index.html http://www.cutter.com/content-and-analysis/resource-centers/agile-project-management/sample-our-research/apmu1306.html Happy Learning!!!