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SpeckyFox is a bootstrapped startup that offers end-to-end development services, ranging from strategic consulting to design, development, QA/Testing, etc. It was founded in the year 2018, with its headquarters in Noida. SpeckyFox is empowering startups, SMBs, mid-size and large conglomerates by bridging the gap between ideas and reality through technology. Below is a detailed interaction between team IT-Voice and Avneesh Kumar Agarwal, Founder & CEO at SpeckyFox:
Prateek: What are the opportunities & challenges in the Software Development AI industry?
Avneesh Kumar Agarwal:
Opportunities for Artificial Intelligence in Business:
- Autonomous Vehicles:
Many companies are working on autonomous vehicles, people are also buying cars that are self driven. Like Tesla, they have AI into the car so efficiently that Car can drive itself for hours. Autonomous vehicles market will be huge by 2035 as per market research.
- Robotic Process Automation:
RPA, It is primarily based on automating business processes and repetitive tasks in the back office. Companies are enhancing the automation process with the use of AI to automate repetitive processes at scale, eliminating inefficiencies. And to reduce cost and time.
- Logistics & Delivery:
It has huge market potential, and has already implemented some solutions for warehouse management. Where small bots take the stuff from one place to another and manage the inventory without the help of humans. It is already a billion dollar market, but still lots of scope for automation.
Chatbots have been trained and automated for years. But now, we have AI chatbots that are programs to simulate human-like conversations using natural language processing (NLP). AI chatbots are becoming increasingly valuable to organizations for automating business processes such as customer service, sales, and human resources.
- Digital Marketing:
For digital marketing you need the right content, audience to be reached at. Today’s algorithms are advanced to write everything on their own. But it doesn’t mean it can’t help you in creating the content. AI can also be used for content curation and personalization for which tools are already available in the market. As companies have lots of data, on which they evolve their system and train them. So, now the system can shortlist the audience itself by their interest and history. Like Twitter, FB, and AdSense that's what they do.
Robotic manufacturing line, many have heard of it. Many companies are using it. Like SpaceX, they are trying to achieve 100% automation in building a rocket. So, they increase efficiency and speed as they plan to put lots of humans into space. In some of the industries, Covid-19 also accelerated the process of automation, which is helping AI industries to achieve better goals.
Challenges in AI Implementation:
- Computing Power not available :
Artificial Intelligence needs lots of calculations and it has to be done quickly (in milliseconds). To achieve this, it needs lots of computational resources. AI experts suggest there are lots of ideas and scope to implement AI like in HealthCare, Farming, Data Analysis. But again the hardware or computing power required doesn’t come cheap.
- Small Forum/Groups
AI implementation does not have a big market as of now. So, not many organizations want to invest the resources and time into it. Hence small groups of people have knowledge of it. There are a small number of groups/people, who have knowledge to train the machines to train which can learn by themselves. As a short term solution, people are utilizing the Data scientist. They analyze the big data solutions and give recommendations over it.
- Data Privacy and security
Most of the AI applications are based on massive volumes of data to learn and make intelligent decisions. Machine learning systems depend on the data which is often sensitive and personal in nature. These systems learn from the data and improve themselves. Due to this self learning, these systems can become prone to data breach and identity theft. The European Union has implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that ensures the complete protection of personal data. This step is taken after taking a look at increasing awareness in customers regarding an increasing number of machine-made decisions.
- Biased Algorithms:
A big problem with AI systems is that their level of goodness or badness depends on the amount of data they are trained on. Bad data is often associated with, ethnic, communal, gender or racial biases.In future, such biases will be more highlighted as many AI systems will continue to be trained to utilize bad data. Hence, the real change can be brought only by defining some algorithms that can efficiently track these problems.
- Trusting the system:
A big problem that should be taken into account is that most of the AI implementations are highly specialized. It is built just to perform a single task and keep learning to become better and better at it. The process that it follows is to look at the inputs given and results produced. It looks at the best result produced and notes down those input values. It is difficult to prove that the AI system’s decision-making process is fine. And it can be done by making AI explainable, provable and transparent.
- Data inadequacy :
As of now organizations like google,amazon, facebook have access to a large amount of data. However, datasets that are applicable to AI applications to learn are really rare And countries like India and Europian they are putting stringent laws that data can not go outside of country or can not be used to biasness.
Prateek: India is emerging as the new startup destination. How SpeckyFox is helping the startups in bridging the innovative ideas and solutions?
Avneesh Kumar Agarwal: We already know, India is becoming the preferred country for manufacturing and outsourcing for a lot of reasons. Already a lot of MNCs are ramping up their business in India. Corona brings in a lot of changes in the whole world and every country is experiencing new opportunities and challenges. Similarly, India has a lot of opportunities in hand. Each individual and company has to give their best to make the most out of it.
When it comes to SpeckyFox, which has a combination of young and experienced entrepreneurs and a great team, the company doesn’t shy away from making bold decisions, learning new things, and implementing new ideas.
At SpeckyFox, we do continuous improvements in our Business Processes, Technical Skills, Domain Knowledge, and Team Culture. As a result of which we are able to deliver high-quality deliverables to our clients.
If you ask how SpeckyFox is helping startups in bridging the innovative ideas and solutions, then we at SpeckyFox:
- Enable the team to create useful utilities that help small businesses or startups with a great cost advantage. One example of this is bootstrapping the common modules like authentication. Almost every application that is developed needs some kind of authentication mechanism. Building this authentication service/module from scratch every time is a waste of time and resources. As we are in the era of raising microservices usage, we have developed an authentication microservice that is easy to be plugged in with any new application for any new client. Not only this, we are enabling this authentication microservice to be used by any other organization to save time by avoiding repeating their efforts.
- Ensuring effective communication between teams. We enable business processes to establish clear communication between the client team and the SpeckyFox team. We don’t believe in stringent processes but to keep it agile. Adopt the way which works best for both the teams.
- Maturing the usage of the existing toolset and improving the development process. When it comes to development processes and toolsets our core principles are to
- Test as soon as the API/Functionality is developed, meaning more emphasis at the unit level. Finding and fixing issues takes less time, dependency on the testing team reduces for unit-level checks, increases the product quality
- Ensure the usage of Continuous testing and Continuous Delivery from day one to deliver stories faster and with quality
- Building Performance Testing utility. We are moving in the direction of a shift-left approach, not with just a functional check but also a check on the performance (non-functional) aspect of the application/API. This utility helps the team to check the API performance before submitting it to the performance engineer. This reduces the back and forth and also ensures each API is developed optimally which reduces the chance of system slowness in production and not to mention it has a direct impact on the server running cost as the application needs less resources to run.
Meaning, we are not just limited to giving the best services to our clients but also building useful processes and utilities to make the overall journey for startups efficient and mature.
Prateek: Do you offer customized solutions to SMEs? How will the digitization process in the post covid era change the way business is done?
Avneesh Kumar Agarwal: Everyone responded in some way or the other in Corona. While there was havoc in the market for the employees, at SpeckyFox we took a bold decision to take a hit at the company level and NOT ask employees to leave the company. While the business opportunity was not much in the initial phase of the covid, around March 2020. We asked the team not to worry and build something useful for the people that could help small businesses. As a result of which we started to build some internal utilities and mature our processes.
Covid times push everyone to be socially distant which pushes a need for digitalization. The growth in OTT platforms like Netflix, online services like Zomato, and online education, etc already witnessed a huge growth during Covid.
The need for digitalization is not going to go down as people understand the need to go digital and related benefits. Digitalization will follow the upward trend. IT companies will be pushed in a positive direction and generate more growth with time.
It is not wrong to say that Covid brings in a cultural change for companies in all the sectors and regions.
It’s important to think about how we can make digital adoption easy for SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises) as SMEs contribute largely to the Asian economy.
- technology constraints
- may not have a lavish budget for a big team
- would prefer to use ready to use components to save cost which reduces the flexibility to customize
However, SMEs face challenges from limited access to finance, lack of databases, low R&D expenditures, undeveloped sales channels, and low levels of financial inclusion, which are some of the reasons behind the slow growth of SMEs. This paper focuses on four major reasons that slowed the SME growth in Asia including i) lack of finance, ii) lack of comprehensive databases, iii) low level of R&D expenditures, and iv) insufficient use of information technology and providing remedies for mitigating them.
To cater to this need SpeckyFox is
- Learning Agility – The core component for continuous innovative idea generation is to be agile in learning. With Agile Learning, we bring innovative ideas to the table for our customers.
- Work Culture –
- Culture to learn and impart knowledge to others
- Culture to be humble with each other
- Culture to find ways to be efficient at what we do
- Building freshers with one on one rule – with each new junior team member we engage one senior who can mentor the new hire
- Hiring –
- Preferred good attitude over technical skills
- Technology – Building the capabilities in the new technology areas and collaborating with clients across the globe
Prateek: Please explain the paradigm shift from software testing to digital quality assurance.
Avneesh Kumar Agarwal: Software testing is one of the critical most tasks in the software development process. With the emergence of new technologies and digital transformations, the shape and strategy of the software testing process are shifting from the traditional approach to digital quality assurance. The paradigm is shifting to domain-specific testing continues to gain popularity. Testing is no more done in silos, instead, it’s becoming integral, a requirement at every step not just post the development of a software product. Automation tools usage is on the rise particularly the Codeless test automation tools that can help to mitigate test automation challenges. The software companies are increasingly adopting a mix of both – open source and licensed tools. However, adoption of open source tools is on the rise. Global test automation market valued at approximately USD 24 Billion in 2018, expected to reach approximately USD 55 Billion by FY2022
The test engineers also need to adapt themselves as per the growing demands and changes. They have to learn the coding skills and have to understand more about how an application that they’re testing is built. They have to correlate their test activities according to the user views instead of only testing the application as per the written requirements. Now the focus is to achieve the business objectives rather than the testing objectives. The software Testing strategy needs to be formed as a part of the Digital strategy in an organization leading to Digital Quality Assurance.
As Quality Assurance becomes a cross-functional area and the role of traditional QA teams expands, test engineers will need to work in new environments and employ new skills to stay relevant. Adaptability, including willingness to embrace change and an eagerness to learn about new areas of the software delivery process, will continue to move up the ranks of top skills for test engineers.
Prateek: How to create an innovative work culture in your company? Can the role of millennials be replaced by the Gen Y or Gen Z executives?
Avneesh Kumar Agarwal: There is an old saying that “Nobody is boss and everybody is boss”. This is one of the foremost aspects that are very important for a firm to bring innovation. Gone are the days when the management used to mis=cromanage their workers. Now the time is suitable for an output-driven approach. Organizations need to inculcate an environment of research, security, work-life balance, and decent emoluments for the employees.
As far as the role of Millenials is concerned, definitely they can’t be replaced. This generation is full of practical experiences, has seen IT booming from scratch, has run and accomplished complex projects with a lot of hurdles and challenges. They know how to combat the problems and challenges. But we also need to understand that the show must go on and the younger generations like Gen Y and Gen Z have to take over. Gen Y and Z generations have seen their parents struggling for money and security during their childhood. So they are definitely looking for a place and environment that can provide them security, money, and a better life after work. They are more competitive and individuals rather than focussing only on teamwork. They want to be rewarded for their good work. These people tend to become multi-skilled people as they don’t want to be dependent on others. They are more entrepreneurial. So with these traits, we definitely need to build them, mentor them, provide them the space and opportunities they are looking for. Due to their entrepreneurial approach, I am sure, they can build small silos giving tremendous output. But as I also added, Millenials are very important and they need to be available as advisors for them.