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Companies Should Build An R&D-First Culture: Ramprakash Ramamoorthy, ManageEngine

Companies Should Build An R&D-First Culture: Ramprakash Ramamoorthy, ManageEngine

  • Our blockchain team is currently working on deeper cryptographic principles.

By 2023, 40% Indian firms in regulated sectors are expected to deploy AI in their decision-making process. To help customers tap the true potential of AI across organisational verticals, ManageEngine has been leveraging AI to address challenges and ensure that sensitive information of customers stays within the system.

Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Ramprakash Ramamoorthy, Director of Research at ManageEngine (Zoho Corp.), to understand more about the company.

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AIM: Tell us about your role at ManageEngine 

Ramamoorthy: I lead the AI and blockchain teams at ManageEngine Labs. We set up ManageEngine Labs sometime in 2014 to work on emerging tech and solve common problems across our multi-product IT management portfolio. We have teams working on deep research and development (R&D) problems on databases, hardware acceleration, AI, and blockchain. Our goal is to show the results of our R&D through our products rather than pursue R&D solely for academic purposes.

AIM: How does ManageEngine leverage AI and Blockchain technology?

Ramamoorthy: We have three AI groups (statistical machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing) and nearly 100 engineers working across these divisions. Our most exciting AI projects include user and entity behaviour analytics (UEBA), outage prediction, electronic know your customer (E-KYC), and root cause analysis. We’re continuously investing in techniques like explanation-ready AI, transfer learning, causal AI, and privacy-first AI; some of these are patent pending too.

The blockchain team is currently working on deeper cryptographic principles. Apart from use cases that are already distributed, like audits and e-signing, most enterprise software use cases are intracompany ones, which don’t demand a full-fledged distributed blockchain. This is why we pivoted to borrowing cryptographic concepts from blockchain to ensure proof of existence for a given asset at a given point in time.

AIM: What are the cutting-edge capabilities ManageEngine offers to customers? 

Ramamoorthy: Building deep technical know-how has been the primary focus at ManageEngine ever since its inception. We have built our tech stack from the ground up: everything from our data centres to our AI features are built in-house. This gives us an edge over competitors and lets us pass the value on to our customers.

We have powerful UEBA capabilities in our security information and event management stack. We’ve built powerful forecasting and anomaly techniques in our monitoring stack to help IT managers forecast events and look back to spot anomalous root causes of issues. We’ve also launched a plethora of natural language processing features in our service delivery stack, including chatbots, smart agent assignment, and ticket topic detection, to ensure maximum agent productivity. The best part is that we never stop working to improve these features, meaning our customers get the best of AI tech delivered at great value.

AIM: How is AI helping organisations address cybersecurity concerns?

Ramamoorthy: Security mitigation has traditionally been rule-driven. When a parameter you’re monitoring exceeds a certain threshold, some sort of alert should notify the IT team. But with AI, security can be more proactive and isn’t based on rigid rules. Things like trend and seasonality kick in, and a baseline for every given point in time can be established. For example, the behaviour of a system on a Monday morning at 9 am and on Saturday morning at 3 am cannot be monitored with the same static threshold. AI makes these thresholds dynamic by identifying what’s normal and abnormal at any given point in time just by looking at the past behaviour.

AIM: What are the important tools and techniques a software developer must know?

Ramamoorthy: Sticking to the basics helps. An in-depth understanding of how a basic programming paradigm works is essential in visualising and building advanced concepts. Techniques to perform computations in limited space and time form the crux of building good computer software. 

AIM: What is your advice for tech startups dealing with the aftereffects of pandemic?

Ramamoorthy: I recommend companies build an R&D-first culture. Developing deep technical know-how can be very rewarding in the long run and it effectively shields your organisation against unexpected events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Building a culture where your employees respect the vision and share the same ethos as your organisation’s founders is essential in getting through tough times like these.

On top of this, employee retention is essential. Long-time employees can have a much bigger impact on the company and its culture with what they bring to the table. Tech prowess and fostering a culture built on people are two big things that can make or break start-ups!

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