Your team is really important for the success of the company and the product. You really need people with a lot of passion — ones that share the same vision. They see the path and the things that are important to move things in the right direction.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Harish Doddi.
Harish Doddi graduated with Masters in Computer Science degree from Stanford. He specialized in Systems and Databases field. He started his career in Oracle. Then, he moved to Twitter to work on open source technologies. He managed the Snapchat stories product from scratch. He also managed the pricing team at Lyft. He has finished his undergrad in Computer Science from International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT-Hyderabad).
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I began my career with a heavy knowledge of software engineering and data science. As I worked more closely with AI and machine learning, I started to clearly see how development differs so greatly from production. Production is what moves the needle for business, specifically the machine learning models.
I like to compare development to production like still water to sparkling water. One is more stagnant and stationary and one is more effervescent and irritative. Having an understanding of the full picture from the software, to the data, to the production is what led me to where I am today.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
AI is no longer a futuristic technology that only engineers and scientists experience. It’s embedded in our everyday lives, impacting our businesses, relationships, the way we shop, eat, live, etc. However, the democratization of AI to non-technical groups does come with its challenges. Presenting business minded people with hundreds of metrics is not digestible, so putting these results into common terms is important.
A solution we created for this problem is something we call a “trust score”. This takes the metrics from the AI model and presents them as consumable pieces of information.
Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people? How do you think this might change the world?
AI is changing how companies collect data. Data driven machine learning, MLOps and AIOps companies are able to aggregate data from various sources and give insights into the behavior of customers, employees or suppliers.
Companies can now monitor their systems for anomalies in real time with AI-driven operations management. This eliminates downtime that comes at a high cost because it interrupts production lines and leads to customer churning. Automating these processes allows businesses to scale much quicker than before and provides valuable insight for decision makers.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
The way AI is used commercially via Google or Facebook has made consumers feel like they have zero privacy. You mention needing a new coffee pot and the next time you open Instagram, there’s an ad for coffeemakers. While this is disturbing, it’s not the same for important data, such as banking information. The policies set into place won’t allow it. Risk vs. reward plays a major part, and setting and keeping boundaries collectively is key.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story? What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
We need maturity in the market. Hesitancy in adopting AI is still very common. Once there are more ‘best practices’ in place, I think we will see the markets expand and the adoption of facilitation tools, like Datatron, will take off.
Another factor is a knowledge gap in this space. The more people understand the technology and its benefits, the more embraced it will become. Third, is reliability. Models are no longer pushed to production and forgotten about. Now, they need to be maintained and constantly updated to adapt to our ever-changing needs.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There have been many people who helped me along the way, but my college professors definitely taught me vital skills that led me to be more thorough in my work. They taught me to look beyond the surface and dig deeper. My former employers taught me a lot as well. Learning from failure and being able to pivot when things don’t go according to plan are life experiences I will always value.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Entrepreneurship is very different from working in a job inside a company. It’s pretty much like building an airplane in the air with no parachute.
- Your vision of your product, compared to what the customer wants, can be very different. What might work for an audience in Silicon Valley won’t necessarily mean it will work as an enterprise. The way an enterprise operates is very different — they have security standards, security protocols, authentication protocols, encryption protocols, processes for integrations… Enterprises are very watchful when it comes to your products. It’s not just the product you’re selling, but how your product can integrate with an enterprise. This is one of the biggest lessons I learned.
- It can be difficult to build features that are applicable to a large audience. Understanding the customer problem to actually showing a product that solves it is a big step.
- Your team is really important for the success of the company and the product. You really need people with a lot of passion — ones that share the same vision. They see the path and the things that are important to move things in the right direction.
- It is very easy to get distracted or to do multiple things at once. Getting on track and focusing requires a lot of effort.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A lot of times I see that people don’t enjoy learning. They end up scrambling for something else. I think when you start to enjoy learning, then it won’t feel like a chore. People tend to lose sight of that. Whatever you are learning and whatever you are doing, just make sure that you’re enjoying that moment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s okay to fail, but you have to move fast. I use this motto with Datatron. We move fast, make mistakes, learn from the mistakes, fix those mistakes and then don’t make those mistakes again. I always tell my staff that failures will happen, but you have to recover quickly and learn quickly. A startup is either a success or a learning moment, never a failure.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.