Top 10 Technologies that paved the way to Neal’s success
Over the past decade, Neal has had the fortune to work on cutting-edge AI projects like helping Cheetos improve their quality control, Bloomingdale’s predict customer lifetime value and churn, and Arca Continental identify sales drivers. The projects were successful in large part due to the efforts of Neal’s data science and AI experts, but none of them would have been possible without multiple modern, cloud-enabled technologies.
Today, let’s take a look at the top 10 technologies that have paved the path to Neal’s success (list in alphabetical order).
Azure Cognitive Services
A technology commonly used by Neal to build apps like chatbots and plagiarism checker tools, Cognitive Services makes it easy to add AI capabilities to apps. All it takes is an API call to embed the ability to see, hear, speak, search, understand, and accelerate decision-making into apps. This ease of use has made it an invaluable part of Neal’s tech arsenal over the years.
Azure Data Factory
A true data workhorse, Azure Data Factory has been a crucial part of Neal’s success over the years. Leveraged in most of Neal’s projects requiring data migration, Azure Data Factory provides a fully managed, serverless data integration service capable of performing both ETL (extract, transform, load) and ELT (extract, load, transform) processes.
Azure Machine Learning (Azure ML)
If AI and ML are in Neal’s DNA, then Azure ML is a component of the nucleotides. Azure ML is a machine learning service designed to help organizations build and deploy models faster by enabling MLOps, responsible machine learning, and supporting open-source frameworks and languages including MLflow, Kubeflow, ONNX, PyTorch, TensorFlow, Python, and R.
Neal has leverage Azure ML in a wide variety of use cases. A few notable examples include helping a major wholesaler forecast demand for hot food sales, sports organizations develop a content recommendation engine, and an insurance agency’s underwriters create quotes more efficiently.
Live video analytics is a growing subcategory of AI, and Azure Percept represents an evolution in the realm of Vision AI. While Azure Percept is still in preview, it promises to enable millions of vision-based scenarios at the Edge.
Wondering how a preview technology like Percept has helped pave Neal’s path to success? Well, that part is simple: we helped build it.
Azure Stack Edge
Azure Stack Edge is a cloud-managed, hardware-as-a-service solution shipped by Microsoft. It brings the Azure cloud’s power to a local and ruggedized server that customers can deploy virtually anywhere.
Azure Stack Edge is especially valuable in AI-based solutions and other solutions that can benefit from local, containerized services that allow for faster processing times via lower latency and may not have constant access to the cloud or internet.
Azure Stack Edge has been a critical enabling technology for several of Neal’s favorite solutions, including StockView for Retail gap detection and FHIR server for Azure Stack Edge.
Azure Synapse Analytics (formerly Azure Data Warehouse)
Azure Synapse Analytics is an analytics service that brings together data integration, enterprise data warehousing, and big data analytics.
Powerful capabilities, including integrated AI and BI features, have made Azure Synapse a favorite for projects built on Microsoft Azure. Neal has taken advantage of its flexibility in a wide range of use cases over the years. A few examples include helping a video game publisher build a unified data platform, an aerospace manufacturer better track their supply chain, and a major chain store eliminate their tech debt.
Databricks is a powerful Lakehouse platform that combines the best of data warehousing and data lakes while enabling organizations to unify their data and analytics. It also provides baked-in AI and ML capabilities.
The speed and wide-ranging capabilities of Databricks, and especially Azure Databricks, has made it the backbone of many of Neal’s largest and most successful projects over the years. Neal has used Azure Databricks machine learning capabilities to enable use cases like product lifecycle optimization for a computer manufacturer, predicting customer churn for a paint company, and identifying the optimal SKU assortment for a CPG firm.
Dynamics 365 Customer Insights
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights represents a cross-section of Neal’s expertise: data and AI. Dynamics Customer Insights takes the basic functionality of a CDP and augments it with advanced features and integrations, including AI and Machine Learning models.
Dynamics Customer Insights has been a significant part of Neal’s success since its launch, including notable projects like improving Campari’s digital marketing capabilities. Working with Customer Insights over the years has led to Neal adding additional value to Customer Insights implementations via a library of custom data connectors and AI/ML models. Additionally, Neal has built CustomerIQ, a proprietary solution designed to run on top of Customer Insights to provide even greater personalization capabilities at scale.
Out of everything on this list, Microsoft Power Platform might be the most ubiquitous technology used in Neal Analytics projects. Any project requiring BI or data visualization almost certainly leverages Power BI. At the same time, web apps and chat bot-related projects are likely to leverage Power Apps and Power Virtual Agents, respectively. And to tie things together and automate workflows? Neal loves Power Automate for that.
Another technology currently in preview, Microsoft Project Bonsai, is a low-code AI solution designed to enable autonomous systems for industrial purposes, such as manufacturing.
While the technology is still in preview, Neal has already leveraged it to deliver successful high-profile projects like helping PepsiCo fine-tune quality control for Cheetos and building a robotic arm to carry heavy coin bags for Sberbank.
With the potential to unlock several new use cases, especially in the manufacturing, CPG, and energy industries, Project Bonsai is likely to quickly become an even more vital part of Neal’s success in the near future.
Celebrate 10 years with Neal!
Neal Analytics is celebrating our 10 year anniversary in 2021. Check out our celebration page to learn more about our history and iconic projects over the years.