Friday, November 23, 2012

Real-time face recognition experiment packages

In Autumn 2009, I have been lecturer at ETS for a Machine Learning introduction class. In order to ensure the class could get a real feeling about machine learning, I have repackaged the digipy demo used for my presentation "Machine Learning Empowered by Python" for their final project. The latest code is here:
The digiface package was their recommended starting point. It is a real-time face recognition package so they could focus on extracting the best features, train easily a single neural net and experiment live or on the dataset picture.
The idea was simple, they will compete on the best real-time live face recognitions of the student faces themselves. Every student had to sit in front of each other face recognition system. The best system had to be quite robust in order to consider light, background et hair changes.
We had to make a pictures sessions and build the dataset.
One team built their own package called digijava. Here is a snapshot.

It was quite an interesting teaching experiment. I am glad to see that some of my student have followed my path and join Yoshua Bengio lisa great lab.

If you are looking for a great talk about the latest state of the art in machine learning, look at that Hinton "Brains, Sex, and Machine Learning" youtube video and Yoshua Bengio slides "DeepLearning of Representations"(Google talk).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to conquer your customer segment? The beachhead framework

Want to conquer your customer segments once you reach your business market fit? The beachhead framework is for you. Unfortunately it is hard finding a template nor good examples online. Many sites explain the idea but how to apply it?
It's simple, once you have identify a customer segment, identify product and influential leverage strategies and prioritized them.
Product leverage is an action that leverage your product as oppose to customization (ex: a wordpress plugin).
Influence Leverage is an action that leverage a customer segment influencer (ex: gartner, forrester research, blogger etc.).

Don't forget:
  1. BMC: Busines Model Canvas (Business Model = Value + Monetization)
  2. Validation Board (lean startup)
  3. BMF: Business Market Fit -> Branding your company -> Setting the Industry agenda
  4. BF: Beachhead framework 

Friday, November 9, 2012

innovating: what's the difference between startups & enterprises

Before heading to NY, we have been invited by Mike Grandinetti to attend the Fall CXO forum on "Best Practices on Global Innovation How Companies Innovate across distributed centers & teams" in Boston. EMC, IBM, Intuit, P&G top executives were sharing their view on global innovation. 

During this forum, I enjoyed a lot how critical is was to distinguish exploitation and exploration. Enterprise are great at exploiting innovations and startups great at exploring. Mike has been an amazing moderator for this event. I have rarely seen someone asking thought questions and not putting the interlocutor in defense mode, its simply an art. 

Here are how those enterprises deal with this dilemma or been great at both:
  • IBM do partnerships with startups throw programs such as smart planet and leverage VC to better select them before acquiring them.
  • EMC try to stimulate internal innovation with contest and execution in distributed center collaboration. 
  • Intuit trains its employees with the lean startup approach, leverage the voice of customer paradigm and stimulate internal innovation with contest.
  • P&G acknowledge that innovation doesn't work in enterprise due to the lack of internal trust which is a management issue. P&G has spin inno360 to create trust and motivating culture to make everyone work together.
Exploiting and exploring required totally different mindsets. What works for one is a disaster for the other one. Why trying to make one fit in the other if its incompatible? It is funny seeing big companies wasting so much energy trying to be innovative. It is like trying to train a women to act as a man, it will always be inefficient.

Many startups can't survive without enterprise client channels and enterprise can't survive without innovation so it is like a man and women dilemma: they don't understand each other but have to work together.

As presented by Brad Feld of Foundry group, startups innovate way faster because they can leverage way better their network as oppose to enterprise who are stuck with their hierarchy constraints (check his book "startup communities").

I seriously think that IBM has the optimal solution, they don't wast time trying to fit a square into a circle. Unfortunately, the acquisition kill most of the time the innovation culture and innovative people leave after making the knowledge transfer. As pointed out by Mike, some Cisco's acquisitions went well due to high transparency. Also, a flat hierarchy will help retain innovation spirit.
Innovation need air (freedom) but execution need hard rules which is incompatible most of the time. 

For me, the best analogy to understand the difference between enterprise & startup is comparing a car and a bicycle. Even if cars can run fast, they are most of the time stuck in traffic but bicycle are free to ride. 

So, are you sitting on bike or in a car to innovate?