November 19, 2014
The theme – ‘Tech for Good’ was truly justified at the on-site finals of the GHC India 2014 Hackathon when teams, who began ideating, designing and building Apps across various domains over a period of two months, presented their Apps (assortment of web Apps and mobile Apps) to a panel of experts. In the first phase of the event, regional Hackathons were held across the cities of Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. During the second phase, the teams were asked to submit their code for online evaluation founded on conventional testing rubrics. In the last phase, the qualified teams were then given the task of implementing a surprise element tailored to their particular App. The event began with the leaders of Morgan Stanley (the Hackathon sponsor) championed for a blend of ideation and innovation for ‘Tech for Good’. The women (both students and professionals) were brimming with energy, excitement and enthusiasm while discussing among their team members about code and design. The winning team, ‘Kaam Hai’, developed a referral based job network App to help blue collar workers meet their full potential. The first runner up, ‘Expert Care’, presented an App to monitor medication intake by pregnant women in rural areas. The second runner up, ‘Play for Good’, showcased an App that can donate currency while you play your favorite games on your smartphone.
November 20, 2014
Analytical Footprints Getting Bigger By The Day
The panel consisted of five members with rich experience in Analytics debating on the topic – Nalini Guhesh (Online Advertising), Arati Deo (Amazon Machine Learning practice, co-owner of several Machine Learning patents), Pramod Singh (Head, Digial & Big Data Analytics), Pritam Kanti (Co-founder of a startup), Aneesh Chaudhry (Head, Global Marketing Analytics) and Pallavi Bhowmick moderating the discussion. Aneesh opened the discussion distinguishing Reporting & Analytics – while Reporting tells you ‘What happened’ in your business; Analytics offers ‘What would happen.’ Pramod substantiated with real time examples – a report provides ‘number of laptops sold’ whereas analytics reveals ‘how to listen to the voice of the customer to make contextual recommendations.’ Arati highlighted on the components of analytics – Machine Learning, Big Data & Data Mining, and their application to optimization and decision making. She portrayed two of Amazon’s innovative applications, the Recommendation Engine and the Fraud detection process. Nalini brought in the perspective of generating customer personas to serve them better. Pritam outlined the technologies employed in Analytics. Analytics dates back to the 17th century as indicated by Arati and it extends the life cycle of data – birth, death and beyond. Solve the right problem with the right data!
Finding Your Voice And The Power Of ‘You’
The session started with the panelists sharing their views on finding their inner voice. It was about discovering her life purpose and following it with passion for Dr.Chhavi G Mehra that made her move from the US to India. For Rohan, who champions for Peace with Pakistan player Aisem, it was taking a conscious decision to play Tennis Doubles. For Shalini, who supports women’s rights it is about not to let other’s opinions drown you. For Rachna, it was about what made her happy at the end of the day– that was writing books. Critical competencies for women to find the Power of You were outlined- build relationships at work, negotiate, be courageous enough to see things through, be curious, take one step at a time, be open and have the hunger for learning. Suggestions were proposed to handle the tough situations at work -always believe in yourselves, always overestimate your capabilities and work with beta males who are willing to collaborate and help you reach the next level. The session concluded with the thought that one should find your inner voice and the power of ‘You’. Then communicating it becomes a lot easier.
Tapping Into My Inner Prada
Track: Think Different, Make A Diifference
The session had a very unique and wonderful kick start with a ramp walk by our distinguished panelists as they were being introduced. The session essentially aimed to bring the different facets of how our appearances and persona impacts our career growth. The visual evaluation is not specific to gender or to the functional domain that you work in. There is no doubt in the fact that we all are beautiful in our very own way, but how we tap into this beauty and express ourselves through creativity is what is essential and is something that is generally neglected by most of us. We might have the credibility to take up a particular job role, but we are never approached just because we are misjudged by are appearances, for example: The discussion highlighted the subtle unconscious bias that we have towards choosing women who are dressed in western attire over traditional Indian attire for onsite visits around the globe. The key takeaways of the session are:
1. We all want to be seen, and it is completely in our hands as to how we present ourselves to the people around us.
2. Build a powerful and confident personal framework by working on the following four aspects: clothing, grooming, communication and body language.
3. Express your authority through your clothing,
4. Simple mantra to feel good about ourselves by a very confident GenZ girl – be “modest and comfortable” in what you wear, that imbibes a sense of confidence in you.
Technology Trends – Hardware & Software
This session consisted of two distinct talks. In the first talk, Deepti Sharma from IBM presented on the topic – “Future of Semiconductors”. Deepti began with the scaling problem of silicon and later walked the audience through three major emerging trends: 3D Stacking, III-V semiconductors and carbon nanotubes (CNT). 3D stacking has advantages like smaller packaging size, 50% less power and 8x bandwidth consumption. Deepti talked about the advantages and future needs of III- V semiconductors. Finally, she talked about the various methods how CNTs are made and their properties and applications. In the next part of the talk, Priya Sehgal from NetApp and Gayathri Kaliyamoorthy from Aerospike talked about the Implications of Flash on Systems software development. Priya began by giving a brief overview of Flash properties and motivated system software redesign for Flash. Finally, she provided important dimensions for systems software design keeping Flash media properties in mind. Gayathri talked about how Aerospike database that has been redesigned keeping Flash media characteristics in mind. She talked about various optimizations like using “log-structured” way to write data to avoid write amplification, all indexes maintained in RAM, etc. Finally, she closed with showing results of few SSDs using Aerospike’s Certification Tool.
Think Different, Make A Difference Social Entrepreneurship
Track: Think Different; Make A Difference
This was a refreshing perspective on social entrepreneurship. The speakers were from diverse spaces like microfinance, e-waste recycle management, organic farming and consulting services for social enterprises. Each speaker started with ‘how it all began’ and touched upon various aspects like the motivation behind the respective venture, challenges faced and the solution each is providing. While each one spoke of his unique venture, what came out as the common thread is the attempt by each to solve a specific issue for the betterment of mankind and society including the environment, via a sustainable business model. And the key takeaway for the audience, mostly from the corporate world, is the inspiration that these individuals provided for thinking on the lines of
Running a business not to make a fortune, but enough to make it financially sustainable, giving the ‘midas touch’ to those at the bottom of the pyramid.
The Cultural Revolution- How I Built My Team, Ground Up
Shalini Kamat, Director Flipkart spoke about corporate culture through several experimental examples like that of the 5 monkeys in a cage with a stair leading to some bananas and a cold shower on the first set that led to preventing any monkey from climbing the stairs even after all the set of 5 monkeys were replaced one by one. She spoke of the example of salivation in dogs based on sound of food coming and how it reduced over a period, a similar thing happens with rewards and recognition in an organization. Amit Phadnis, Cisco India Site Leader& VP Engineering spoke about his own interesting journey from being a team player to a 1st line Manager , a 2nd line Manager and then a Senior Leader. Some things he highlighted on were:
1) Have a role model, he spoke of his own “mother as a role model” theory
2) He said the easiest way to test the model is to see if you get an answer in a crisis
3) The culture of any organization comes out during its worst crisis period
4) A leader’s basic objective is to build a strong team
5) Every organization has its own DNA
Think Different See Abilities
Track: Think Different; Make A Difference
Shylaja Sabbani and Krithika G
‘The only disability in life is a bad attitude’ – Scott Hamilton. The leading ladies, Deepa Narasimhan (EMC Diversity & Inclusion Lead & President DERG India Network) and Sushmeetha B. Bubna (Director of ASCENT NETWORKS PVT. LTD & Voice Vision) shared their inspiring story of how you can discover abilities in disability. Deepa stressed on the importance of infrastructural accessibility and in a step to make Bangalore disabled-friendly, she became a partner of KickStart and Wheels of Change, an accessible cab service in Bangalore. Sushmeetha spoke about how, being visually impaired herself, she could actually make a difference to the lives of other blind persons by making them independent. One of the key takeaways was how technology actually made a difference in both their lives. In spite of extreme physical limitations, both Deepa and Sushmeetha kept their face to the sun so that they never saw the shadows. They made a choice to fill not only their lives, but also the lives of others with a joy and purpose. They made us understand that the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, but must be felt with the heart.
Tech Connect – Noral Denzel
Nora started the session with her journey in the industry way back in 1984 when she joined after graduation in IBM, then becoming a VP at the age of 34 and then a Board member at a young age of 42. She touched upon an important topic of what it takes to be selected as a Board member and what is their role in an organization. She answered the queries on what is the selection process and how in India the government has mandated at least one woman to be present on the Board. Her advice to the folks was that it is important to know “Who knows what about you” as there needs to be a sponsor for everybody to grow higher in the career ladder. Another important piece of advice that she gave was that as women we believe in telling the truth which is important but don’t tell it all. She added that feedbacks are important for your career and if that is not given to you then probably you are not important for the organization, so question your feedback and take it constructively. And as she mentioned failure is not the opposite of success, rather a part as it teaches you what not to do.
Power Of Secure Clouds: How To Secure Notorious Clouds + Using Storm and Hadoop For Web Content Analysis At ScalePower of Secure Clouds
The session started with Pallavi from Yahoo giving a detailed explanation of Architecture of Large Scale Systems setup used in Yahoo . The presentation gave an insight into how data is collected, segregated, analyzed and stored at various levels. Topics included, Scalable system design patterns using JMS Queues , parallelizing operations , filtering using Apache storm. Map & Reduce using Hadoop and declarative language PIG. Caches using memcached. Use of Executive Orchestrator for stream & batch processing & Service Oriented Architecture for fetching, extracting, analysing text, image & video. Then we had Hemalatha from HP who spoke about various security aspects of Cloud namely, Data Breaches – leaks, loss, insecure API usage & Denial of Service. Need for segregation of data, schema of Tenants in cloud. Need for privilege in APIs and PaaS tenant segregation. Trusted compute pools to assign workloads based on security and commodity types & auditing. Tokenizing data to hide context and identity. Data encryption & Key management. Authentication & ID Management. Finally we had Vidya from IBM who spoke about an actual implementation of Role Based Access namely, RBAC. She discussed about an use case in hospital for instance Records which need access by only Doctors and Nurses and admins. Basically how each role needs access to only certain privileges for doing an certain actions and not all root/admin privileges.
Idea To Execution – An Idea Whose Time Has Come
Ideas generated have to be executed else it results in creative discontent/frustration. The following 4 points were elaborated during the workshop discussion.
- An elevator pitch must contain five Ws, customized for audience, with the right hook and passion and result in request for next step.
- To fail fast – create minimal viable product, get out of comfort zone, believe in your idea and partner with likeminded persons who can support you with other resources. Always get feedback from critics than ’yes’ men and think what differentiation you bring to the table.
- To create a compelling business case, identify and communicate to stakeholders what’s in it for them and highlight the risks in the plan and how to overcome them.
- To overcome resistance in the organization- have the ability to bounce back from disappointment, manage rejection by not taking it personally and learn from leaders. Finally, create a powerful network and do things for the network.
Tough Talk – Disarming Difficult Conversation at Work
Track: Think Different; Make A Difference
The session started with a small story – Jupiter, the Lord of Planets was getting married and invited all the animals for the celebration. Except the tortoise, all attended. The tortoise gave a blunt reply that he is fine at home when asked for the reason. Jupiter got angry and cursed him to carry his home wherever he goes. That’s how the tortoise got the shell! The above story shows that being blunt will not help anyone. When we are rude, it affects us emotionally by increasing frustration which can kill oneself. Some key points covered in this session are:
Handling Appreciation -Do not discount compliments and always accept with “Thank you”. Leverage opportunity to the next level and give due credit to deserving folks.
Handling Irate Customers – When dealing with customers we should be well prepared, firm but polite in conversation. Keep the relationship alive!
Tough Email Conversation – Take time to respond to a bad email and write a reply with a smile which will help you to settle your thoughts.
Advent Of The Apps Era
In the GHC India conference we had celebrities from the Apps world, sharing on what’s the buzz in the Apps industry. “There is an App for everything!”was the chime in the conference hall. Our celebrities Vaishali Neotia, Pragati Ogal Rai and Khushboo Taneja in their smart and savvy way best impressed us with their insight into the world of Apps. Vaishali of Merxius hit the go with her idea on Golconda fort using Augmented Reality to relive its ancient glory. She spoke on how success of an App can be measured in terms of social sharing, time-based or mobile analytics. Pragati from Paypal, unraveled the technical and business sides of Apps. She explained that in this heterogeneous world of devices, it’s all about convergence and connected experience is non-negotiable. She talked about the importance for an App to go social, global, local, and digital all at the same time. Pragati also shared that making money with Apps depended on its use case and intent. Khushboo, our celebrity from Microsoft shared the story behind building the MSN Health and Fitness App. She reiterated the importance of user experience in App designing. The session ended with jubilant winners of the rapid fire round taking away celebrity-autographed mugs.
Tech Connect – Rebecca Parsons
With an introduction to Evolutionary Architecture followed by an interaction with the audience, the Tech Connect with Rebecca Parsons – Chief Technology Officer, ThoughtWorks kept us completely engaged. It is important that software we produce is able to keep up with the pace of change. Evolvability is important and we need to architecture systems in a way that it is easier to change. One such way is by splitting the system into features, enable teams developing each feature to work in isolation, and integrating the features. The interaction was interesting with questions ranging from timebox for QA, to Agile to Rebecca’s position as CTO. Rebecca was of the opinion that the test suites are as important as any other artifact and that the core functionality of the system be given primary importance. It was good to know that she is a big fan of performance testing. As the CTO of ThoughtWorks, Rebecca shared that she harvests ideas that are coming from around the world and trying to shape that into a vision of what they are trying to achieve. She keeps communication channels open and also involves in knowledge swapping and listening.