Eastbanc Technologies is a services company that has spun off a number of product companies based on their services business. More recently, their focus has been on AI and Big Data.
Sramana Mitra: If you would please set some context about Eastbanc Technologies to start off this interview, that would be ideal.
Wolf Ruzicka: I’m the Chairman of Eastbanc Technologies. Eastbanc Technologies is a software product development company. We have about 200 software engineers, software architects, system architects, and even enterprise architects.
We also have an extremely experienced data science and big data, if you will, team. I don’t really like the term. It’s under the leadership of Polina who’s also here with me today. We build software products for other people, sometimes, also for ourselves as we push the boundaries in big data projects in cloud platform development.
We always have to innovate and if we hit on some intellectual property, we package that up in the form of a repeatable solution. We don’t want to recreate the wheel over and over again.
If over time they harden enough, customizations go down and configurations are really the way for our potential customers to interact with this intellectual property. They then become software products that we spin into separate legal entities.
The most notable in recent history is a company called Apiphany that got acquired by Microsoft. It’s now Microsoft Azure’s API management. That’s what we do for a living for extremely large companies and also for startups where we pass on the learnings from big organizations on enterprise readiness. We pass on information on how to deal with massive amounts of data that has been accumulated over the years.
We pass on the nimbleness and the agility onto our big customers. We describe ourselves as a company that provides Innovation-as-a-Service if you will. As a part of that, we have created this mantra that even if you may not think about it at first, you have to start these types of engagements under the concept of AI first.
It resembles the thinking from not too long ago when everyone said you had to think mobile-first. In our opinion, that mantra has to become AI first even if you don’t think about it in the beginnings of these types of engagements.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s do a few examples of where you have done AI-first projects that have morphed into products.
Wolf Ruzicka: We don’t yet have a product story to tell for ourselves on an AI-first engagement that would lead to a brand-new product. That is probably in the future. We can tell that story on behalf of some of our customers.
I’ll start first with an unlikely area of innovation where you would not expect this type of technology, processes, methodology, and thinking to emerge. But it did. It is the Department of For-Hire Vehicles in Washington DC. They’ve received several innovation awards nationwide for the type of efforts that we help them undertake.
Most notable in the context of our conversation, we engaged with them in analyzing the data that they get across all the different for-hire vehicle silos that have to be regulated. For example in some areas in Washington DC, you have lower-income families. At the same time, the department wants to make sure that there’s a level playing field and that all these service providers also cover and service these types of less desirable areas from a revenue perspective, and being able to influence the driving habits and activities of the drivers themselves is mandatory. We engage in iterative development on looking at the data.