[April 26, 2021] | (Source)
AI is transforming businesses across industries and providing them with the tools for accurate decision-making. Uncovering the disruption in this dynamic industry, Analytics Insight interviews a leading consulting firm that provides analytics-driven enterprise transformation for over 45 Fortune-500 companies. Here’s our conversation with Manas Agrawal, Co-Founder and CEO of Affine.
Briefly describe Affine and its service offerings. What makes Affine different from other institutes in the industry?
Affine is a leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Engineering consulting and solutions firm. Affine offers capabilities across the analytical value chain from data engineering and cloud-based implementations to analytics, machine learning, and business intelligence, to tackle day-to-day & strategic business challenges across multiple verticals & business functions in Gaming, Manufacturing, Hi-Tech & CPG industries.
For over 45 Fortune 500 Global Corporations across the US, APAC, and India that benefit from their cutting-edge solutions, their proud workforce of 500+ data scientists, data engineers, cloud engineers, and analytical leaders empower customers to take proactive actions through impeccable technology-based development & business acumen.
Affine aims to bring about the evolution of business decision-making by adopting the ‘new’ in decision science and technology. Affine has believed in staying at the bleeding edge of decision science through a culture of celebrating excellence, continuous learning, and customer orientation.
With the hyper-convergence of AI, Data Engineering, and Cloud, Affine enables their customers to becomes game-changers to ‘Command the New’ in their respective market landscapes.
Tell us about your role as the CEO of Affine and your journey in this promising sector.
As a passionate AI practitioner and an astute business consultant, Manas and his team help design, develop and deliver cutting-edge AI in practice across a slew of enterprises ranging from the largest gaming companies to the most reputed luxury car makers and global tech giants.
In a career span of two decades, Manas has aided some of the largest enterprises to successfully traverse from concept to transformation. Having been through the journey as an analytics designer, developer, & strategist, he brings with him a unique understanding of applying AI for business transformation & innovation.
A true visionary, Manas, as the CEO of Affine, lays down strategic roadmaps and milestones that enable Affine to lead changes in the industry.
What was the objective behind this company? Walk us through some highlights and recognitions you’re proud of.
The idea behind the initiative was to create an analytics company that offered implementation-ready solutions based upon an in-depth understanding of analytics and high accuracy that held water beyond boardroom presentations.
Founded by Manas Agrawal, Vineet Kumar, and Abhishek Anand as Affine Analytics Pvt. Ltd. in 2011, the company’s decade-long journey has been a game-changer for clients around the globe. Back then, building the know-how and expertise in cutting-edge analytical tools was ambitious since no one was using ML models to do analytics implementation.
And the trio wanted to build a work environment where people were valued for the efforts they pool in with ample growth opportunities, personally and professionally. They converged on the idea of Affine, drawing its name from Euclidean geometry, where ‘affine transformations’ are known to transform geometric shapes while preserving lines and parallelism.
This defined their DNA: transforming and enhancing all components of client business through various analytical solutions without changing its nature. The company raised funding in 2012 and has never looked back since.
Today, Affine offers AI-driven enterprise transformation with capabilities across the continuum of the analytical value chain to over 45 Fortune-500 global enterprises across the USA, UK, Europe, Singapore, and India.
As champions and organizers of several hackathons and virtual tech events, Affine’s thought leadership spearheads the industry of innovative technology with their Centers of Excellence (COEs).
Affine has been featured by Gartner as part of a SMALL, SELECTIVE list in “Doing Machine Learning Without Hiring (more) Data Scientists, 2018,” in the “Market Guide for Data and Analytics Service Providers, 2018,” and “Hype Cycle for Back-Office Analytics Applications, 2018.”
How is AI evolving today? What are some key trends and technology transformations driving the growth of AI?
The AI field has three main aspects – Computation, Data & Algorithms. Each of these witness increasing investment from industry giants as a result of greater awareness among business leaders as to their catalytic role in improving operational efficiency. Conversely, these aspects are also fast evolving to meet the demands of hypergrowth.
Talking about computational advancements, back in the day, the Graphic Processing Unit (GPUs) for General Purposes was a game-changer for video game developers/players. Today, the movement from Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (called ASIC) to Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) brings the next-gen technology wave. The leap in functional improvements on multicore processors allow you to complete complex AI functions in a fraction of the time while consuming less power.
Data has also evolved over the years. Our methods of data collection, storage, and use today are much more advanced. Take, for example, sensors or IoT devices that generate digital dust. We now have systems that generate zettabytes of data to record chemical reactions and numerous ways to accurately collect data.
With respect to the way we store and use this data, today, there are enterprise-level data structures in the form of data lakes that ensure data accessibility across the enterprise. AI-ready data foundations are already making waves by becoming the interface between data engineering & AI.
Abstract data foundations like Feature Store will become the layer that AI systems need to interact with, reducing a significant amount of effort on the data processing side. This will make it easy to develop new AI systems and recalibrate existing ones.
And algorithm changes today are aimed at making machines smarter and faster. Take Few Shots Learning or Distributed Deep Learning as examples. Or even Reinforcement Learning that emphasizes inductive learning approaches like Model-Free Learning or a Parallel training framework that will lead to the creation of true Co-bots systems or Collaborative Robots.
With AI projected to be the next market, how is Affine helping customers deliver relevant business outcomes?
Affine has always aimed to catalyze business transformations by employing the ‘new’ in innovative technologies. As harbingers of disruptions in industries like Manufacturing, Gaming, Logistics, and CPG, Affine has amply demonstrated how their capabilities can deliver favorable business outcomes.
By employing the latest in AI, AE & Cloud, Affine has achieved 5x cost saving in vehicle route planning, enhanced gaming experience by assisting designers, built smarter Search & Recommendation engines by accurately tracking real-time changes in customer behavior, and implemented proactive & preventive equipment maintenance.
Our technology Centers of Excellence in AI, Engineering & Cloud are constantly researching, innovating, and institutionalizing the latest in their respective fields so that Affine is well-equipped to help our clients command the ‘new’ in market landscapes.
And finally, what does Manas have to say to the young aspiring AI & Data Engineering entrepreneurs?
As an upcoming aspirant in the field of analytics, you should always:
- Have an engineering approachwith a research-driven mindset.
- Manage Talent with the right balance of Generalists & Specialists.
- Never stop evolving:While you build your expertise in your area of interest, make sure you grow with time as the tech/analytics world changes fast.
In short, don’t take the risk of never trying out something new. And when you do, commit to it as if your life depends on it!