Offering capabilities across the continuum of the analytical value chain, is Affine Analytics Pvt. Ltd., a leading Consulting Firm that delivers Analytics-driven enterprise transformation. Under the able supervision of Manas Agrawal, CEO, & Co-Founder, the Company assists over 45 Fortune-500 global enterprises across USA, Europe, Singapore, and India.
Founded in February 2011, Affine currently has over 400 analytics practitioners across the globe in locations including New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Singapore, with headquarters in Bangalore, India. The Company holds end to end capabilities from data to insights and transformation with AI & Deep Learning based solutions, Modern Data Platforms, Cloud and Big Data Powered Advanced Analytics Solutions, Deployment Consulting and Architecture Design with specialization in industries like Gaming/Online Entertainment, Manufacturing 4.0, CPG, and Hi-Tech.
More about Manas Agrawal
Manas is a passionate AI practitioner, an astute business consultant, and an entrepreneur at heart. He 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 developer, designer & transformer, he brings with him a unique understanding of how to make AI work.
The challenges faced
According to Manas, one of the biggest challenges the Company had to overcome was the mindset. For years, Indian services firms have been equated with low-cost manpower providers, and to a great extent, even analytics firms that started in the first decade of this millennium blatantly furthered that pitch.
“We were very clear right from our inception that Affine would always stand for “Analytics done the right way”, says Manas. “Globally, we bring the best talent and approach, be it from Bangalore, Singapore or Seattle. Scaling up while always maintaining the highest possible quality and proficiency levels remain another challenge; so does staying on top of a continuously evolving technology landscape in analytics. But we are a bunch that continues to thrive in chaos”, Manas added heartily.
The paradigm shift
The hindsight is always twenty-twenty and for Manas, there is no looking back as the future has only the best to offer. “Excellence through perseverance” has always been his style - a trait that Affine continues to invest in as a core philosophy. This is also reflected within every aspect of the organization including AI/ML methods, achieving excellence with every technology they touch, and delivering transformation at scale. He is a firm believer of revolution. For him, it is a quantum change from the status quo – in society, culture, or business environment. It’s a positive change that usually emerges from a well-timed confluence of multiple factors resulting in a permanent shift of paradigms.
A consultant’s ropewalk
While the modern consultant strives to stay ahead of the curve by regularly updating with modern technologies, he must also balance the ropewalk between his own view of how to do things while empathizing with the customer.
The advent of AI and Cloud on the scene, along with new technologies like Python, containerization, etc. has made the creation and consumption of analytics at scale highly cost-effective. This has led to a more pervasive application of analytics compared to a decade ago.
With new technology and methodologies coming up on the horizon at breakneck speed, an analytics consultant needs to remain on top of her/his up-skilling game. Ironically, while working on technology continuously, one must also ensure to build the fundamentals of data science, AI, engineering, and design, whichever analytics trade they are in at that time.
Speaking of Affine’s ability to remain on the cutting edge through its perseverance on skill building, Manas emphasizes that, “Our customers deserve nothing but the best in terms of knowledge and approach. And as the analytics consulting partner, we uphold that promise by investing heavily in training & development. We encourage our consultants and principles to continue investing in the skills of their choice. This has allowed us to win the trust of Global Fortune 500 brands while adding to our experience in creating some of the most complex and successful analytics powered enterprise solutions.”
The Leadership Role
The position of a CEO comes with a fair amount of its own challenges.
On a directional level, Manas works as a facilitator of ideation for what direction the firm should take. He and his team then design the roadmap to achieve appropriate milestones in the decided direction.
On the tradeoff level, he leads the organization in deciding among options like picking the domains or practices to specialize in, and business models offered with changing times that build thought leadership in the industry.
Apart from overseeing day-to-day activities driven by the Company’s vision, Manas plays a larger role as the founder in defining Affine’s value proposition as well as ensuring its relevance in the modern day.
Manas shares, “To my board, my co-founders, and my leadership team, I fundamentally act as the facilitator of their thinking and execution. The biggest risks that I avoided taking are the ones that I am most thankful for in my life. Some of which are choosing to go the cloud way, specializing in AI before it became the buzzword, choosing Python over other older tech, right on day one in 2011. We keep taking risks on a regular workday at Affine.”
Inspiring creativity in a sector of exploration
Creativity is paramount in this trade as analytics is fundamentally exploratory. One gets to decide the next step, especially in core AI/Data Science, based on what the previous analysis revealed. You can nurture and celebrate creativity by first allowing people to think without constraints, and then apply the spoilers of practicality.
Manas believes that sometimes the best ideas are the ones that conventional wisdom tags as stupid. Allowing his people to fail and use learnings to improve is another important cornerstone of Manas and the Affine culture that encourages creativity.
On asking if he could share his wisdom, he lists his top three suggestions for industry aspirants:
- Focus on problem-solving. Even if you do not know the domain, try to figure out how your work plays a part in the solution. whether it is core Data Science algorithms, engineering platforms, visual interface - everything forms part of the overall solution.
- Build expertise in your area of interest. Become the go-to person in that domain, and your clients & colleagues will respect and allow you to lead them.
- Never stop evolving. While you build your expertise in your area of interest, make sure you evolve with time as the tech/analytics world is changing faster than the blink of an eye.
Don’t take the risk of never trying out something new, but when you do, commit to it as if your life depends on it. Even ‘Sachin’ did not become the demigod he is with just the talent he possessed – his hard-work on and off the field remained intact till his last ball”, wraps Manas.
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