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Summer with Anant

This summer I was fortunate enough to be able to join Anant. Coming from primarily a research background, I had little experience of how companies run. This was a great experience for me in learning about the development cycle, how companies streamline workflow, and much, much more about day-to-day operations. And of course, meeting the team at Anant was incredible and I met some fantastic people who taught me a lot, from getting ready to go to college to general life advice.

 

While here, I specifically worked on the Mindy project. Mindy aims to aggregate different types of listings, such as jobs, skills, or companies, and categorize them to automatically generate connections. This summer, we focused on stage 1, which involves scraping job listings from as many sites as possible and then extracting information. This extracted information, such as social media tags and the type of the listing can be used for the pairing portion when combined with algorithms that do similar tasks for other types of data.

 

While I had done data science and machine learning before, I had never created a front-end display or a pipeline for the whole process like I had to do for Mindy. As a result, I got to explore some very cool technologies like elasticsearch and React to create a complete product. I also was able to go much more into depth in natural language processing, as I wrote about in a previous blog post.

 

At the end, I was able to help create a system that can automatically scrape information from multiple websites, process it, extract additional information from descriptions, and categorize it. This was all placed into a slick front-end, allowing for easy searching of jobs. And then came docker. Perhaps one of the more daunting and involved things I’ve done, learning to dockerize and deploy was quite a challenge. However, at the end, we were able to do it all successfully, giving easy pushing to servers and letting anyone, anywhere, use our platform in a handful of minutes.

 

Beyond Mindy, I learned a lot about how a business operates. Seeing how agile works, with sprints and trello integration, was a really new process to me and I was amazed at how effectively it was able to aid communication. It was also very interesting to work in a professional environment and the Anant weekly co-works were very cool.

 

This last summer was an experience I will never forget. From freezing with a broken AC to eating lunch by the canal to getting eaten alive from mosquitos, I wouldn’t miss a single moment of it. Anant taught me how to run a business, and how to run it well.

A Summer of Learning and Collaborating

As a returning Summer Apprentice, I do not see my last two summers as two separate experiences. Instead, I see them as one journey, split into two parts – one of which could not be as valuable without the other. Last summer, I was introduced to the very foundations of a business to answer the basic questions “what is a company?” or “what makes a company successful?” From a learning standpoint, working at a startup was the best way to answer these questions. In a single meeting, I could have a sales / marketing employee sit next to me, a business analyst two chairs away, and the CEO right across my face. Learning the ins-and-outs of a company couldn’t have been more informative and effective than working side-by-side with such a variety of roles within the company.

 

This summer, I took what I learned about project management, business analysis, and the Agile framework and applied those areas of expertise to both internal and external projects at Anant. As Project Manager of Mindy, an internal machine learning-based project, I took on a role I had never experienced before. How did I start? Well, I went back to last summer and used my knowledge of communication and business tools to serve as an efficient and effective leader.

 

I started off my standardizing the way our team – a team of student apprentices just like me – would function. The Agile Framework served to be the best way to fulfill the needs of the Mindy project. It provided us a way to release small chunks of the project on a weekly basis while always having opportunities to learn from previous weeks.

 

However, being a project manager requires more than merely dictating a path for the team members to follow. I have to act on what I say. This is Image result for boss vs leaderwhere the line between a “boss” and a “leader” is drawn. A boss orders. A leader acts on his/her orders with the team. For example, because Mindy is a data engineering process enhanced by machine learning, manual labor is required to “teach” the categorizing of data. The program must “learn” how to categorize the various jobs, but this requires hand annotations completed by a human. To learn more about how Mindy requires machine learning click here. In this situation, a boss would have ordered the team to annotate the data. Instead, I sat in front of the computer and went through all 273 data and labeled each one appropriately. After all, I was the most familiar with the category meanings. I knew that my manual labor would get the job done fast and effectively.

 

Another large portion of my summer at Anant was spent on an external client project with US Food Imports (USFI). My main job as the Internet Architecture Apprentice was to maximize the efficiency of the API Grabbers, which collects all data from a designated API. These scripts were written in NodeJS – a language I had never used before. Before the summer, I was well-versed in Java and Python. While the syntax of NodeJS was similar, its functionality was nothing like what I had dealt with before. Initially, I had to get used to the asynchronous nature of the language, which meant dealing with simultaneously running code within the same program. Working around callbacks and continuously reading / writing to files were my most significant challenges. However, I had always believed that once a programming language is learned, it isn’t too difficult to learn others. After all, the basic knowledge of variables, functions, and data storage stay fairly consistent across programming languages.

 

Nevertheless, even working with a brand new piece of technology for USFI compelled me to go back to my previous summer as a Business Operations Apprentice and utilize those skills once again. Throughout my experience working for USFI, I kept a customer focus – one of Anant’s core values – to ensure my work is benefitting the client. Whether it was finding the most effective Node modules or refactoring the code, every decision I made was for the benefit of the client so they were satisfied with the work I did.

 

The past two summers have been my most insightful and enriching experiences yet. Not only has it helped me to narrow down what I want to do later on in college and beyond, but it has taught me how to be a better worker. The three main lifelong lessons I have learned from my summer apprenticeships at Anant are interpersonal and communication skills, the power of google, and the importance of always prioritizing the customer.

The Swarm of Sources

Reactive Manifesto, The Next VisiCalc, and Future of Business Technology

Thanks to some of our great partnerships, our firm has recently consulted at University of Michigan, Cisco, Intuit, and Kroger and at several government agencies on business information and enterprise technology. Even though we don’t directly create consumer technology or applications, eventually all consumer technologies have a backend enterprise technology that makes it work because a consumer technology company backed by crappy technology for the enterprise is bad for business.

I’ve been sensing a shift in business information for a while. Business information, the frequency it’s created at, the number of sources it comes from is only increasing, exponentially if not logarithmically. This means, that businesses, and subsequently end-users need to rely on real-time data processing and analysis of this information. The businesses that embrace the “reactive manifesto” of how to build software and technology are going to succeed in the new world where data is coming from millions of people through their mobile devices, processes through applications and software processes, information through global data sources and APIs, and systems in the form of servers and things all over the globe. The “swarm” of sources is mind-boggling.
The Swarm of Sources

The Swarm of Sources

The first business response to all this business information is: let’s bring it all together to analyze it and visualize it. That’s horseshit. Even with the big data technologies out there today, it is wasteful to try to process all of it at the same time. That’s like trying to understand how the universe works at every second. The better response is to understand what’s happening and react to it at the moment in the context that it is important.

This reactive methodology of building large infrastructure can help businesses react to new IoT initiatives, integrating with numerous business software to run the modern enterprise, and partnering with other modern enterprises. Whatever you see out there in apps, devices, sites, and APIs has to be managed in the back. The reason for silicon brains is stronger when you just can’t do it with carbon brains. Technology has to get better faster through iterative machine learning in order keep up with the amount of data that’s being created.

Commercial organizations are being thrown sledgehammers to solve things by vendors such as Oracle, Cloudera, MapR, DataBricks, etc. Although these products are great, they are more like Personal Computers .. but without the real “Killer App.” They aren’t solving industry-specific / vertical problems. Consulting companies waste inordinate time & materials costs to get it “right.” What people need are “lego block” software so that non-technical folks can self-service their information needs without hiring a team of data analyst, data engineer, data architect, data scientist, data visualizer, and of course a project manager. (If you do need a team today, Anant provides an elastic team with all of those skills for the same investment per month as a part-time or full-time employee. Message me or my team.)

I believe the major breakthrough that will change the experience for business technology users is going to be system design tools that help them get what they want without knowing how to program. I don’t know what it will look like, but we need a VisiCalc for the new age, and no it’s not Google Spreadsheets. It’s something else altogether. It’s something that will fix the yearning for a tool that helps people mashup and leverage various gradients between structured and unstructured data in dynamic knowledge pages that always keeps us up to date on what we care about. A machine that learns what we need to know and summarizes it for us, but also allows us to manipulate the knowledge even if it is being created in 10 different systems.

Business Applications Demo with DC Enterprise Tech Meetup

Towards the end of April we hosted the DC Tech Enterprise Meetup where we had various people from  the business world come and demo applications that they believe can be useful for the Modern Enterprise. We had presenters from Uniplus Consultants, DivvyCloud, and Anant showcasing a total of four different business applications.

 

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Nagesh Kakarlamudi, Software Architect at Uniplus Consultants, Inc., presented a business application platform intended from small and medium size businesses. His software highlighted the importance of being able to get small but powerful applications up and running in a short-time span.

 

Jeremy Snyder, VP of Business Development at DivvyCloud, presented a large scale autonomous policy enforcement platform. This application is meant for organizations that are dealinjeremyg with soaring infrastructure needs while at the same time having to ensure security policies are being met across all systems. His demo showcased the importance of keeping all instances of your virtualized infrastructure compliant with your enterprise policies.

 

Rahul Singh, CEO of Anant, presented Docker, a business application that has revolutionized the way many technology firms now deploy code. Docker is a tool that can be used to contain, store, and transport software applications. It helps programmers focus on programming by making environment setup and testing as easy as possible.

 

Arturs Oganesyan-Peel, Business Aartursnalyst at Anant, presented Metabase, an open-source business intelligence tool that supports multiple database types. Metabase is an intuitive analytics application that is very easy for the non-technical user to become familiar with while also having capabilities that a database expert could find useful. It’s ability to manipulate and display data in a variety of ways, as well as its integration / sharing functionalities make it useful for any enterprise that believes it’s ready to use data as a major driver of business decisions. See his slide below:

 

 

We’d like to thank all the presenters for participating and we are looking forward to our next Meetup!

 

Anant is the sponsor of DC Enterprise Tech Meetup, we are a group of entrepreneurs embracing new tech trends, modern enterprise and web technologies. Check out our next event here!

 

Mastering Services in the Service of Others

You’re headed to New York and you see a yard sale. Do you stop or not?

To achieve success and accomplish a significant objective it is critical to exercise discipline and define a purpose. Today, when many of us have not defined a goal or outlined a path to reach it, the importance of this necessary focus can not be emphasized enough with the myriad distractions surrounding us.

10,000 hours. It is widely circulated that it takes this long to obtain mastery in a given field. This equates to roughly five years of focused work to master your craft.

It is rare and pleasant opportunity to meet a true expert in their field. At Anant, we believe this boils down to a breakdown in orientation, decision, and action.

Orientation is the disciplined thought that goes into molding a purpose and mission for oneself. The purpose answers the question of why you are; whereas, the mission answers what you are doing. An engine’s purpose is to power movement ; however, the mission of the engine on the Apollo 11 is vastly different from the mission of the engine on your weekend Uber.

Decision is where you choose to invest your time in order to get the best bang for your buck and this choice is informed by the output of the orientation phase.

Action is the most important aspect of this concept. Without action, all ideas are but dreams. However, you must be wary to not be busy for the sake of busyness. You need to cultivate discipline and channel it into your daily actions by making sure to address  your priorities consistently.

Having a strong road map will help you to stay on track. Segmenting your life into different categories can be of tremendous help.

Our CEO, Rahul Singh, uses the following table in order to align his professional and personal priorities.

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The following slides are from Rahul’s speech at the Washington DC chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis. Learn how to align your professional goals with your personal goals, and find some recommended reading. 

Check out Anant’s upcoming events here and we hope to see you in New York (or at our office in DC…just not at that yard sale)!

Anant is the sponsor of DC Enterprise Tech Meetup group, we are a group of entrepreneurs embracing new tech trends, modern enterprise and web technologies. 

Event Sponsor: IIBADC Washington Business Analysts Meetup Group

This group is an outreach of the IIBADC, the Chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis for the Washington DC Metro area. The group is an informal way for BAs to get together to discuss our craft and spread the good news about how Business Analysis can help save the world.