All posts by Arvind Palanisamy

Report Bee named as one of the fastest growing Edtech companies!

Each year Deloitte recognizes the fastest growing companies in the tech ecosystem. This year, we are proud to be recognized as one of the fastest growing  (33rd to be precise) tech companies. We’re even more proud to carry the Edtech baton at the event.

Five years of hard grind and persistence from the entire team fueled us to this place. The journey undoubtedly is hard, but as starry eyed entrepreneurs, we look forward to that – We have learnt to cherish the uphill climb. We wouldn’t be here, were it not for the people who believed in our vision and gave their unconditional love and support – The Bees who work very hard at Report Bee every day, our Investors, Partners and most importantly the School leaders and Teachers who use our product every  day.

img-20161114-wa0035-1RB team at Deloitte Technology Fast50 event.

These awards are essential milestones in the long entrepreneurial marathon. They give you the much needed energy boost. The last 5 years have brought us to where we are – serving more than 600 schools, a little over half a million children and 10,000 teachers. The possibilities from here are endless…

I end this post, borrowing Robert Frost’s lines, ones that keep floating at Report Bee often,

“  The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

    But I have promises to keep,

    And miles to go before I sleep. ”

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility!

Of late, there is a lot of buzz around these words: data analytics, data intelligence, visualizations, data science and data driven decision making. Data Visualization is a very useful field of Data Science.  We could perhaps conduct fantastic data study but what use is the findings if an end-user is unable to understand it? This is where visualizations help to put things in perspective.

There are numerous articles on how data can help us.  Let me take a contrarian view in this article, to talk about how visualizations could prove counter-productive if not used the right way. I am just quoting a few instances from Fox News to drive the point where some news presenters at Fox News took the liberty of manipulating the visuals to suit their story lines. I have used Fox News Headlines to highlight three areas that could mislead the audience and they are related to data representation, perception and presentation.

Headline (on erroneous representation): Unemployment Rate has been High Throughout 2011 Under Obama’s Reign (as seen in the graph).

Data Representation
Data Representation

On a closer look, I’m made to think, “isn’t it going down?” Glancing at the graph, the reader is led to believe that the unemployment rate was the lowest at the beginning of the year and then rose steadily post that. What I see is that the graph ends on a considerably low unemployment rate at 8.6% in the month of November. Moreover, had the graph been accurate, the unemployment rate of November would have appeared to be low by a comfortable margin. The news crew was probably ready with the story before the November numbers came in!
Headline (on creating false perception):  If the Tax Cuts Expire, the Rates Could Increase Five-fold (as seen in the graph).

Data Perception
Data Perception

Having a quick look at the graph makes one believe that the tax rates would increase dramatically once the tax cuts expire. If you look closely, it’s actually a 4.6% rise on a base of 35%. Even a perfect data depiction, in a case like this, could lead to misconceptions if the other supporting channels, for example, conspire to do so.

Often times, it’s not only the accuracy of the data depiction that matters, but it’s also the backing story that goes along with the visualizations that influences how a reader infers the infographics.

Headline (on false presentation): Poll Results of 2012 Presidential Election (as seen in the graph).

Data Presentation
Data Presentation

In this case, somebody at the graphics department wanted a pie chart and they decided to represent an opinion poll in the same format! In all the fanfare surrounding aesthetics of visualisation, the ultimate objective of using the infographic is revealing the truth behind the data in simple, digestible, technically-sound and legible manner.

At Report Bee, whenever we sit with a visualization, there are three things that we keep in mind, not necessarily in the same order,

  1. Sharp focus on the purpose
  2. Readable and intelligible
  3. Aesthetics of the visualization

(P.S.: I have nothing personal against Fox News.  It just so happened that I could find anomalies easily with their media articles.)

 

Another New year: A Wonderful Team and Awesome Teachers

Source: http://mrg.bz/6vqoL4
Source: http://mrg.bz/6vqoL4

Report Bee has come a long way, thanks to the wonderful people behind the scenes who work infinitely hard to make it happen. Each one of them inspires me in their own way, and it’s always a genuine pleasure to work with such a group of self-motivated, high performing team.

Often times, I wonder and think about the root cause of motivation among us and why we do what we do. Most often, it’s not just money or power, as it used to be. There is something more to it; something very subtle that science is yet to fully grasp. Some conveniently term it as passion, some define it as ambition and a few others choose to be even more ambiguous and say it’s an answer to the question ‘Why?’

I’m not writing this article to answer this question; this is an attempt to break the question down into simpler elements. I thought of putting myself out there and looking objectively at my high points and low points. There have been quite a few instances where I have felt a surge of adrenaline that would get me all pumped about Report Bee doing much, much more. When I look back, these instances don’t just include the times we won a new school or a big Government contract came through but more importantly much smaller yet very significant instances.

One such incident was when a principal called me at 9 at night and asked me a detailed comparative analysis of her students. She is an amazing person, a true teacher who pays such attention to details and looks at the performance of each of her approximately 1000 students in the school personally. Looking at her energy and enthusiasm pushes us to create an even better Report Bee platform.

I shouldn’t forget another incident where a teacher logged in at 5:15 AM in the morning to identify the students who needed assistance in her subject and prepare a suitable lesson plan for them. These seemingly trivial instances that take us closer to the tangible, positive impact we have on the lives of children gives us the energy and reason to jump out of our beds each morning.