Meet A Minnesota CTO: Sudheer Prem, ID Insight

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screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-9-29-16-amThank you Andcor Companies for underwriting our Meet a Minnesota CTO series, where we get up close and personal with Minnesota’s chief techies.
 
The CTO: Sudheer Prem, ID Insight.

How long have you been working in technology for and what is your background?

I have Master’s Degree in Information Systems & Applications and more than 15 years of experience developing products and solutions for the financial services industry. Before coming to ID Insight, I worked for SAS R&D, India where I led a project to integrate the SAS BI platform with various enterprise search engines like Google Search Appliance—I presented the results of these efforts at the SAS Global Forum.

Prior to my time at SAS, I worked for Polaris, India where I helped develop a first-of- its-kind system to generate secure electronic communication for a multinational bank.  My background and passions include open source technology and solution integration, BI, enterprise search and structured and unstructured data analytics. I believe programming is more an art of creative problem solving than the stringing together of technological nuances.

What are you focused on right now?

As a technology architect at ID Insight, I am enhancing our existing identity fraud detection platform by integrating several more identity-related data sources, deriving new predictive attributes and installing new predictive models. The platform that we built allows our different products to access billions of data points quickly and apply advanced analytics primarily for the purpose of detecting identity theft and preventing fraud losses.

I’m also leading the research and development of a system to uncover organized fraud networks using graph theory, graph databases and text analytics. We have already developed a pretty advanced prototype, and the initial results are very exciting and interesting.

What are the some of the technologies within your company and IT environment?

We designed our platform with scalability in mind by using service-based and micro-services architecture. The server side technologies we use are Java EE, Spring, Hibernate, Groovy, Grails, Camel, CXF, GWT, etc. We follow data exchange standards to communicate between services using JSON and XML. High availability solutions built in to our production servers handle load balancing and fail over.

To store the data, we use traditional relational databases and also use NOSQL data stores such as inverted indexes and graph databases. Our company strives to be at the leading edge of solving identity related business problems, so we developed the Search Engine Encryption Kit (SEEK). Our patented technology combines a highly-secure encryption package with the latest advancements in inverted indexing technologies to provide instantaneous access to highly sensitive data to our customers.

How do you ensure that IT plans, projects and objectives are aligned with business outcomes?

We follow a planning process that ensures our technology and product roadmaps are aligned with our company’s overall growth strategy. Our product management and technology teams then work together on an ongoing basis to manage priorities and make sure our roadmaps remain in sync. I am personally involved in the strategic planning process as a member of the business leadership team.

Being a technology-centric company, we always focus on advancements in the technology that could come handy to achieve our goals.

What is the size of your department and how is it organized/managed?

We are true to the concept of the “Lean Team.” Our staff includes two developers and we pull in consultants as needed. An external third party hosting provider manages our production and staging servers.

ID Insight has a completely flat organizational structure that sits on top of a cultural foundation that encourages open and honest communication. We use agile development methodologies and use extreme programming techniques such as pair programming, test-driven development and continuous integration.

How does your company approach recruiting and retention for technical positions in an increasingly competitive market?

When recruiting, we highlight our technology, professional development and a fun and open work culture. We make a strong effort to ensure our candidates are the right fit for a growing company—we need people who have energy and a passion to innovate. Working at ID Insight is much different than becoming one developer out of several hundred in a large, established IT department.

Once onboard, we make sure that our team members are engaged with their work and that they clearly understand how their efforts contribute to achieving our growth goals. Our company has a designated “team coach” that helps us set and work towards our individual professional development objectives. Our approach has contributed to exceptional employee retention, with an attrition rate of zero for the past four years.

How do you personally keep up with the ever changing technology landscape?

The key for me is to keep pace with technology advancements on regular, proactive-basis rather than just on an as-needed basis. I am an active participant in discussion forums and professional networking groups; more importantly, I have a circle of technology friends across a variety of industries who help me stay current with tech trends and advancements.

What excites you about where technology is heading?

Social media and ecommerce interactions have created a need for more data analysis; this has opened up a world of big data and NoSQL data stores. The promise of data-driven decision-making by taking advantage of big data has caused a surge in the adoption of NoSQL in the enterprise information management space. I believe this exciting trend is going to continue to drive further innovation in our industry.

What concerns you about where technology is heading?

It is unfortunate that NoSQL data stores were not designed with same security features in mind that are already in place with traditional relational databases. While it is technically feasible and easy to access the structured and semi-structured information in the Data Lake, it is also easy to access highly sensitive data for nefarious purposes.

Without software controls in place to protect the data, enterprises rely on physical protection of the hardware and business processes for security; these controls limits who and where the data can be accessed. Another workaround for the security shortcomings is replicating the data, organizing it in a structured way, and placing it in relational databases—this approach is time consuming and expensive.

Clearly, the data security limitations of NoSQL data stores have created a bottleneck to the promise of Big Data dream.

What are you into outside of technology?

As a social and political animal, I am always interested in things happening around me and within our world. As an undergraduate, I studied political science and still love to engage myself in political discourses.

Recently, I have started playing around with my DSLR Camera, and I am slowly getting hooked up in that world. My favorite photography subjects are my wife and children, and I love to send photos of winter landscapes to my family and friends in India.

What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry?

Minnesota is the home of some of the Retail and Healthcare giants– technological advancements in these industries have propelled over the last decade. These companies and their innovations have brought in a considerable amount of technical talent.

Because I am not a native Minnesotan, I was initially shocked at the concentration of talent and the number of technology innovations that are being developed here in the Twin Cities.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for the opportunity to express myself. I wish all of you a happy Holidays and a great year ahead.

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