Amidst these trying times, we got a chance to sit down for a chat with our Co-founder & Chief Analytics Officer Ms. Parvathy. She has taken the time to answer questions asked by Mr. Sridharan, our Talent management head and reflect on how her whole journey began, the inspiration behind creating FLASH, steps she and her team have taken to combat the current situation, the vision of geniSIGHTS, major challenges she faced while building FLASH among other things.
Sridharan – We would like to hear about you from yourself.
Parvathy – I hail from Thrissur, Kerala, and moved to Chennai to pursue my masters in Econometrics. Madras University was one of the few universities in India that was offering a course in Econometrics during that time. I was intrigued by the subject and this served as my entry point into the field of analytics. I joined Aaum Research and Analytics, the parent company of geniSIGHTS, as a Data Analyst and was among the company’s early employees. It’s been an overwhelming journey of 10 years now. With the support of our Founder Rajesh Kumar and a wonderful team, we have delivered some very challenging analytics assignments, built interesting AI products, spun off the platform initiative into a separate product company, and also broadened our horizons to the North American and Canadian markets in these past years.
Sridharan – So, let’s talk about the COVID situation, how have you and your team handled the situation? What are some of the major changes you made? Also, what are the major challenges you face every day?
Parvathy – We went into a remote working policy a week before the lockdown was announced in India. We have always believed in extending remote working and flexible working hours to our employees in the past and hence it was not a major transition for us. Having our servers running on the cloud and encouraging remote access for all our projects with customers from the beginning made the transition go smooth for us. Apart from those quick huddles to co-ordinate across teams or brainstorm over ideas and those interesting pieces of chai conversations that we miss terribly, work has taken its normal course otherwise.
Sridharan – We see technology like AI playing a major role directly or indirectly in the fight against COVID, have you come up or do you plan on building anything that’s relevant to these times?
Parvathy – Over the past few weeks, we have seen innumerable instances of AI playing a major role in areas like virus diagnosis, patient care, drug discovery, etc. When the outbreak happened, we saw an influx of dashboards reporting numbers on COVID statuses and hotspots across the country/state/district which was very useful. We wanted to however focus our efforts on understanding how the public was reacting to the pandemic. With the implementation of lockdown and most of the companies going for a temporary shutdown or remote working, mobile screen time of users has increased considerably. Most of them have also become more vocal about their thoughts and activities on social media. We wanted to make sense of this disruption and thus launched ‘Ordo Ab Chao’, an intuitive dashboard providing insights on how the nation is reacting to this pandemic. It is powered through our flagship product FLASH making it interactive over voice. This novel dashboard gives users data-driven insights on the pulse of the nation during these upheaval times as vocalized through social media.
Sridharan- When and how did the concept of FLASH come about? What was the inspiration? What’s the vision?
Parvathy – We have seen technology adapt over the three stages of click, touch, and voice over the past decade. With the integration of voice-based products and AI assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, etc. into everyday technology, there has been a paradigm shift for individuals to control a large part of their day to day technology needs over voice. This was where FLASH drew its inspiration from. FLASH is your data assistant and marks your essential BI transition from touch to voice.
Sridharan – What do you think makes FLASH unique? What’s different about it when compared to the other players in the market?
Parvathy – FLASH is a first of its kind AI-driven dashboard with voice support for decision-makers. It is meant for users who are hard-pressed for time and would want to get near-time updates on their business through a conversational tool. The fact that it marries AI and voice support to provide relevant data-driven insights through conversations driven by the speed of thought is what makes it unique over other BI tools available in the market. While there have been tools on Search and AI-driven technology, we have not come across anything like a true data assistant yet. This is FLASH’s USP and the product is also on a patent-pending state in this regard.
Sridharan – Could FLASH help businesses especially in situations like these? How could it add more value?
Parvathy – FLASH comes with an admin and business user suite that makes configuration and engagement with users easy. The admin suite is powered through features that enable users to add data elements to dashboards dynamically and self-build their own dashboards through voice/text. The business user suite is constantly listening and learning from the user’s interests, past queries, past behavior patterns to provide users with personalized recommendations, and relevant insights. Such features help businesses to scale their deployments quickly and support users to make proactive decisions based on data-driven insights.
Sridharan – What do you think the roadmap would be for AI-driven products like FLASH?
Parvathy – There is no doubt that AI is soon going to become the de facto standard for all organizations to thrive irrespective of the nature of their businesses. Amidst the ongoing crisis, organizations will need to adopt innovative means to keep their operations running. We, at geniSIGHTS, is committed to make AI an affordable platform for all businesses. While the first set of FLASH deployments was on-prem based and for large corporates, we are soon rolling out a cloud and subscription-based offering of FLASH targeting the small and mid-sized companies. With the technology available at a near and easy reach, the AI adoption drive amongst businesses will scale up and help them in their daily challenges.
Sridharan – What are some of the other initiatives your team is currently engaged in?
Parvathy – The team has also been focusing on Conversational AI oriented deployments outside the scope of FLASH otherwise. This is another emerging area of technology that will see widespread adoption. We have already seen a lot of traction for this in the North American markets. Big Data and IoT related offerings have always been a part of our kitty otherwise. The best thing about our standalone AI products is that they are exposed as Restful services making it easier for companies to integrate with their own platforms or products.