Did you steal my idea ?

In this article Wil Schroter destroys the myth around secrecy of ideas when it comes to startups. Often this has been the first thing I have heard ‘startup enthusiasts’ talking about – how can we disclose the idea to others – including VCs !

Will they not steal it and ‘execute’ it themselves. I try hard not to laugh at them and tell them that VCs have better things in life to do than going on a ‘idea stealing’ spree and ‘executing’ everything under the sun. To my amazement I have come across even senior folks who are paranoid about ‘protecting ideas’ and insisting upon signing NDAs etc. I hope people realise that almost all successful businesses are built on simple ideas and amazing execution. 

Startup is NOT just about an idea! It is almost entirely about execution.

Here is the link to the article – https://www.startups.com/library/expert-advice/getting-your-idea-going-share-your-idea-with-everyone

Command and control leadership

12 years back Deborah Ancona, Thomas Malone, Wanda Orlikowski and Peter Senge authored this article, which remains relevant even today. This one sentence itself makes clear the role of leaders in today’s world:

“In today’s world, the executive’s job is no longer to command and control but to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization.”

In praise of the incomplete leader

The article mentioned four key capabilities and the balance between them – sensemaking, relating, visioning, and inventing – and it clearly establishes the relevance for organisations across all sizes.

Gone are the days already when one could stake its claim to a leadership role simply because of background, pedigree or seniority in terms of number of years of experience. With so many young and brilliant minds joining the workforce, equipped with the power of latest technologies and tools, the successful organisations will be the ones which are able to:

  • Encourage free exchange of ideas
  • Discard unnecessary paper work and bureaucracy in favor of using web based tools
  • Facilitate employees in learning more and finding better solutions

I believe the command and control type of leadership emerged because of the generations which grew up in the post world war era because they were in awe of the military might, rightly so maybe. And hence it may have resonated with the generations wherein one was expected to follow orders in an era of rapid industrial growth, post 1950s.

Now, especially post 1990s when we look at the world, it got a lot knowledge driven and now probably more data driven. It means not just the demography but people’s behaviour as well has changed – being knowledge driven means you encourage people to ask questions which is starkly different than a command and control style where you are supposed to follow instructions without asking.

Importance of R&D for Digital companies

At Innoplexus, being an AI and data first company, we have been investing heavily in R&D and there has been an ongoing debate on how much is enough. I keep reading on the the topic and today I came across this excellent article in HBR which makes the case clear for higher R&D investment for Digital companies. Here is the link – https://hbr.org/2019/01/its-time-to-stop-treating-rd-as-a-discretionary-expenditure

Here are the key insights:

  1. R&D is an economically significant expense for digital companies, much larger than for physical product companies.
  2. A large component of R&D costs for digital companies consists of employee costs for engineering, product management, and information technology personnel.
  3. Digital companies consider product development as a necessary activity to survive. Digital companies must invest in product development to keep pace with the technological progress, competitive offerings, and ever-increasing customer expectations, or fear becoming obsolete in no time.
  4. Digital companies routinely rely on third-party software, algorithms, development tools, cloud services, security and data integrity systems, client monitoring, customer databases, and cross-selling platforms for their day-to-day operations.
  5. Digital companies continuously scout for acquisition targets to obtain readymade R&D and talent teams.

Thanks alot to the authors – Vijay Govindarajan, Shivaram Rajgopal, Anup Srivastava, Luminita Enache – for conducting this investigation and sharing the insights.

 

 

My talk at National Level Workshop on Artificial Intelligence at IISER Pune

Meet me at National Workshop on Artificial Intelligence in Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune – happening on 12th Jan 2019. 

This National Workshop on Artificial Intelligence is organized by Srijan.

“SRIJAN” is a non- government organization (NGO) working in the field of entrepreneurship development, industry-institute interaction and technology transfer. Srijan aims at providing motivation, guidance and mentoring for the aspiring entrepreneurs with a specific focus on the students of engineering. Srijan was established in 1996.

Mr.Abhay Jere  Chief innovation officer, Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India will inaugurate the workshop.

I will be talking about “Building the Foundations of AI” covering what one needs to build such systems, what kind of challenges one must prepare to face and how to combine different pieces of technologies like Deep Learning, Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing, Ontologies, Big Data to get Artificial Intelligence into action.

Date: 12th January 2019

Time: 09:00 AM – 06:00 PM

Venue: Lecture Hall Complex, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Dr. Homi Bhabha Road, Ward No. 8, NCL Colony, Pashan, Pune, Maharashtra 411008 ( Google maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/DQ5YNtGibPm ) 

Here is a short video on the same.

Data breach at Quora!

Earlier today an email from Quora landed in my inbox informing about a data breach.

The mail says:

The following information of yours may have been compromised:

  • Account and user information, e.g. name, email, IP, user ID, encrypted password, user account settings, personalization data
  • Public actions and content including drafts, e.g. questions, answers, comments, blog posts, upvotes
  • Data imported from linked networks when authorized by you, e.g. contacts, demographic information, interests, access tokens (now invalidated)
  • Non-public actions, e.g. answer requests, downvotes, thanks
  • Non-public content, e.g. direct messages, suggested edits
  • Account and user information, e.g. name, email, IP, user ID, encrypted password, user account settings, personalization dataPublic actions and content including drafts, e.g. questions, answers, comments, blog posts, upvotesData imported from linked networks when authorized by you, e.g. contacts, demographic information, interests, access tokens (now invalidated)Non-public actions, e.g. answer requests, downvotes, thanksNon-public content, e.g. direct messages, suggested edits

  • Public actions and content including drafts, e.g. questions, answers, comments, blog posts, upvotesData imported from linked networks when authorized by you, e.g. contacts, demographic information, interests, access tokens (now invalidated)Non-public actions, e.g. answer requests, downvotes, thanksNon-public content, e.g. direct messages, suggested edits

Had high expectations from Quora but this shows almost nobody is taking security seriously probably because there seems to be no real incentive. Security breaches now seem to be the new normal !

From “Data is Oil” to “AI is Electricity” : A decade of evolution

Data is Oil, AI is new electricity
A decade of evolution.

This one slide sums up a decade (2006-2016) of evolution in the areas of data processing, analysis, computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Clive Humby, UK Mathematician and architect of Tesco’s Clubcard, said in 2006 (widely credited as the first to coin the phrase): “Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analyzed for it to have value.”

Andrew Ng gave the phrase “AI is the new Electricity” in 2016. “Electricity changed how the world operated. It upended transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, health care. AI is poised to have a similar impact” he said. Information technology, web search, and advertising are already being powered by artificial intelligence. It decides whether we’re approved for a bank loan. It helps us order a pizza and estimate our wait time, and even tells the driver where to deliver it. Other areas ripe for AI impact: fintech, logistics, health care, security, and transportation.

“Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, today I actually have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think AI will transform in the next several years,” Ng says.

Capturing sunset

These pictures are from the terrace of our Innoplexus office building Midas Tower.

Doesn’t matter how many times I go there and look at the open sky and the amazing view, it always looks new to me. For quite some time I have been thinking about capturing the sun set – had to wait for the perfect day with clear visibility, without any fog or haze to get these shots.

Looking at the world’s best restaurants for Innovation

I came across this article on HBR today which looks at the world’s best restaurants to find out how they balance Innovation and Consistency.

Here’s the summary :

Despite being able to charge hundreds of dollars for a meal and being fully booked months in advance, top restaurants often still have a hard time turning a profit. And they face an added challenge of maintaining flawless consistency, while simultaneously being innovative and cutting-edge. This requires dedicated time and space for research and experimentation, as well as a thorough process for both iterating on and standardizing new inventions. Examples of restaurants that have made  both the Michelin Guide and 50 Best Restaurants of the World list show how they encourage creativity and learning beyond the leadership or lab teams, and generate, refine, and standardize ideas.

The original article is here – https://hbr.org/2018/01/how-the-best-restaurants-in-the-world-balance-innovation-and-consistency

All the projects follow a specific development process, alternating between collective ideation or feedback and focused work by a small team. For restaurant dishes, the development team will quickly prototype and iterate through numerous versions of the dish and its components, either in the lab or if a lab is not available, in the main kitchen during slow hours. The trials can go over for months as numerous variations are tested in a race against seasonal ingredients.

This just goes on to prove that Consistency and Creativity are not mutually exclusive – restaurants need to be both at the same time. Innovation which is not a result of a set process will  soon become unsustainable – one may be able to innovate even without process at times but no one can repeat the feat a number of times. That consistency is possible only with a process.