Category Archives: Videos

It’s an exponential world

presented by Ashok Banerjee, VP of Engineering, at 5th Elephant, on July 27, 2012

Flipkart is India’s largest E-Commerce entity. It sells products in 14 verticals and counting, from books to perfumes, and lists a few million different products. And this number is growing every day. Each product has its demand forecasted, items procured into inventory and demand is localized to place items in the closest warehouse.

It is critical to forecast aggregate demand and plan inventory across current numbers, trends, seasonality and the gaussian noise. We have information on customer preferences, customer curiousity (browsing patterns and searches), buying habits, buying frequency, etc. These plans and forecasts seriously impact our buying decisions. Fundamentally Flipkart’s growth is based on word of mouth models, which are exponential in nature therefore the extreme relevance of this topic for Flipkart.

We often loosely talk about exponential growth, in this talk we will delve into the mathematical models of when a domain or market will undergo exponential growth. We often mistakenly believe the execution of one company is better than that of another, when in fact the domains and fundamental mathematical growth models of the two markets are different.

Exponential growth and exponential decay are often witnessed in many domains, not just business. These mathematical models have great fertility, from the growth of bacteria in your mouth every night, to the growth of population, to the spread of infections, to distribution of allergens, dust or mosquitos, to radioactive decay, to revolutions in the middle east and the decay of interest in topics on Twitter, to the decay of your sorrows, infatuation, etc.

This presentation will help users connect to the spaces/domains their current businesses, their lives via a fundamental mathematical model.

This understanding informs everything, from scaling of database, to scaling of message systems (the 2 have very different challenges), to demand forecasting, inventory planning to operations planning for (base, trend, seasonality and spike), and even staffing. Most often organizations undergoing these changes cannot comprehend the challenges that barrel at them but this structure enables deeper thinking.

We will also talk about when the exponential growth really ends and how the “epidemic” stabilizes.

The video is up at hasgeek‘s youtube channel

The presentation is up at slideshare.