We talked to Bob Levy about how Immersion Analytics enables everyday business people to both comprehend data at a level that formerly required expert use of AI or machine learning, and to deliver compelling data storytelling to share breakthrough insight with others and he had the following to say about it:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Bob Levy: COVID-19 has brought us closer as a family and increased our involvement in our daughter’s education. Fortunately, we’ve been healthy and productive during this time. And yours?
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Immersion Analytics.
Bob Levy: Sure, I began my career as a software developer, then managing software teams. Following this, I led various products/product lines in a variety of product management roles with IBM, Rational Software, Mathworks, and others.
I’ve always been fascinated by ways to expand the limits of human potential. Customary ways of visualizing data limit one to comparing an “x axis” against a “y axis,” it’s extremely narrow compared with the scope & scale of modern datasets. Through a series of iterative prototypes user-tested at data analytics conferences, I landed on our now patented technology for enabling people to intuitively see well beyond assumed limits. After various user testing demos on early concepts, we landed on a design data analyst group, and we were very excited about it. This clarified for me the once in a career opportunity to affect the foundation of how people experience data. In addition to unlocking human capacity for new insight, these novel visualizations enable communicating otherwise complex topics with ease. This expanded perspective on data is impactful across a wide variety of markets, including business intelligence, financial markets, cybersecurity, AI governance, and data science.
How does Immersion Analytics innovate?
Bob Levy: I’ve always found that the most valuable innovation is a byproduct of doing, learning from doing, and reflection on problems observed either in the marketplace or by some assumed limit on efficacy imposed by current practice. My team and I often find new ideas occur in the very late evening or early morning hours. One must nurture the most valuable ideas brought forward in the context of customer/marketplace problems and needs. For me, this is the heart of innovation.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Bob Levy: We no longer demonstrate our product on virtual and augmented reality headsets at clients’ workplaces. We have adapted our patented technology and software to give similar immersion in data with novel touchscreen interactions for common tablets, PCs, and smart screens. This enables a remote selling model that had eluded us prior to the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Bob Levy: Yes, we recognized early on the need for deep cost-cutting and tight operational execution. The main lesson learned is to raise more capital when times are good because it’s impossible to foresee challenges around the corner and the opportunities they may present.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Bob Levy: Meditation and an occasional video game have proven effective for keeping stress and anxiety at bay.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Bob Levy: Our competitors are all indirect, and our approach has been to form partnerships where they benefit from including our patented technology to improve their products.
Your final thoughts?
Bob Levy: Obviously, 2020 has been extremely challenging for the global community. The only way I’ve found around the challenge is through perseverance is the key. Your competitors who lack this quality will disappear; this is always the way of challenging times. Your future success is defined by the grit you demonstrate now. Keep with it!
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