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Technology: A Boundless Trendsetter
By Jason Hunter, Chief Technology Officer, Parrot Analytics
Parrot analytics, headquartered in Los Angeles, USA is an organization capturing an unprecedented spectrum of actual TV audience behavior including video streaming consumption, social media, blogging platforms and more across 249 countries worldwide.
Understanding technology advancements is essential to ensuring that your technology landscape still maps effectively to your business objectives. This doesn’t mean a constant migration cycle to the next “best” thing, but simply to understand what technology solutions are now available and what possibilities they could afford your organization in achieving greater operational efficiencies across the board. My recommendation, to all leaders in this space, is to stay close to the trends, evaluate and assess the business needs and how these technology advancements can help you to keep innovating. Depending on your risk profile, hang back before adoption, run parallel streams of testing to validate before jumping in, just do what you can to ensure alignment with your overall objectives.
One point, which is a given, - is that change is constant so ensure you keep ahead of your competitors, to ensure you are able to fight and stay relevant in the evolving dynamics of the industry you are in, knowing the possibilities that exist is a key to survival.
No matter how hard you try, requirements can, and do, change at any stage of a project lifecycle. Typically, when this occurs, you are faced with challenges around cost, duration and quality, as you are now tasked with a new deliverable that was not previously considered. This can be catastrophic, however, in more agile environments this is handled by being nimble and by building in change to the overall design of your solution architectures. There is always going to be an impact, but the best way to handle this is to expect change, to embrace it and to expect it. If this is considered in the planning process, then you should be in a position to allow for a minimal radius blast of disruption. There will always be points of contention and areas that were just outright, unexpected, however with adequate planning in place, you ensure that you are in the best position to overcome such challenges as quickly as possible.
At Parrot Analytics, we utilize a range of current and next gen technologies to feed data at scale into our machine learning algorithms. We use enormous amounts of compute and storage to feed our data pipelines to ensure real time measurement, and availability, of the topics we cover. There are numerous challenges at this scale,however, we are able to meet them by being able to focus on the business objectives instead of what some would normally expect, operational infrastructure burden. We utilize a range of cloud providers to help us in this space while also empowering our team members to run their own experiments and test out their own ideas. Our Data Platform team for instance is tasked with making sure that our Data Science team members have quick and ready access to our cleaned datasets. This removes any technology barriers that may have existed in the past, which allows the company to try, fail (fast) and move on to our next experiment, which is focused on the company’s goals.
The applications of IT are limitless. It should not be seen as a way of reducing headcount, but making way of machine capable tasks to free up staffing to do bigger and better things. In today’s competitive environment, it’s not only about cost out discussions, or workflow efficiencies, but also about job satisfaction. To get the best staff onboard, and to ensure internal staff satisfaction, giving your employees the tools to be productive and to solve challenging tasks within your organization can be an overwhelming positive event. By empowering your workforce, you are creating a collection of change agents within your organization (and who else knows your business better than your team right?) of which each and everyone is capable of the next breakthrough idea. Yes, this is a radical change from how many organizations exist today but wouldn’t it be nice to see it more widespread.
Communication and interpersonal skills are incredibly important to being a leader in this field. To be a leader,comes from a natural progression of one’s behavior. Typically, a leader is there to help others and ensure continuity of the business and employees goals. This could be from removing barriers of frustrations, helping solve and share immediate problems and being seen as someone that others want to follow and feel proud of.In other words, they could be the external voice of their own internal achievements of the company.
Throughout my career, the most inspirational leaders I have worked with were strong characters; they carried confidence in their messaging, and shielded their teams from the underpinning chaos, which happens behind the scenes. They had empathy and were always approachable and made a working environment that was comfortable and nourishing for their staff. Initially, one of the hardest transitions to this status is putting others before yourself, but once you do, it will be one of the most rewarding aspects of your role.
What does the future hold? Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Wear able and autonomous gadgets (IoT) are some of the future trends I’m looking forward to. If you look over the last decade, there has been an enormous amount of advancement in the areas of communications (mobility), data processing, compute,storage, and AI advancements which all lead to the cross roads of being able to deliver some serious human aware smart device technology. Putting these all together, there is tremendous opportunity to deliver high impact outputs to society to improve our day-to-day aspects of life. It would be nice to see such advancements across communications (Virtual and Augmented reality being taken to the next level) and also advancements in health, community wellbeing and Support services to name a few. I strongly believe the next decade will be positively disruptive to our lifestyles. All of the above topics will be delivered in some form or another, from self-aware home automation services, smart health services and never before seen immersive virtual communication services, I for one cannot wait. As long as my home-helper is not an AI being called Ava!