020: Carol Needs a Consult
At Carol's company, Support emails are sorted, labeled, and processed using a manual - and very expensive - workflow that won't be able to scale with the increasing demand. As such, Carol is looking to build a robust auto-reply system on Amazon Web Services (AWS) using machine learning (ML). At least, that's the long-term goal. In the near-term, she'd be thrilled just to get more users to log into the existing web-portal instead of using email as their primary means of communicating with Support.
But, where to begin? This week, the crew meets to commiserate with Carol on the complexity of email management; and, to help her brainstorm on ways that she might use AWS - and other service providers - to increase Support efficiency while also providing more customer value.
Pro-tip from Carol: Did you know that GMail ignores dots in the email username? That means that
email@example.com are the same address. Carol uses this to her advantage by signing-up for services using different email variations which she can then use for filtering in the future.
This week's sponsored shout-out is TechGirlz, whose mission it is to inspire middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers through the creation of free, fun, interactive TechShopz led by industry professionals, leaders, and students.
And finally, don't forget that we are going to have our first book club episode on May 12th for Clean Code by Robert Martin (aka, "Uncle Bob"). Feel free to read-up and follow along!
Triumphs & Failures
Adam's Triumph - He just transfered ownership of an old open-source project to fellow ColdFusion enthusiast, Dan Switzer. This project hasn't been touched in about 5-years; and, Adam is thrilled to have the project continue to live-on and remain useful under Dan's watchful eye.
Ben's Triumph - In an attempt to be more agile and bias towards action, he had an idea on Tuesday, implemented it on Wednesday, and then deployed it on Thursday. He cut out all of the "analysis paralysis", over-engineering, and hand-wringing that often accompanies product design. And gosh-darn-it, people are already using it and getting value out of it! It feels like a victory.
Carol's Triumph - After using a Windows computer for most of her career, she recently switched over to using a Mac for development. The Mac is nice; but, when she has to switch back to her Windows computer briefly, the key-combinations feel all janky. To remedy this, she remapped her Windows' modifier keys to work like her Mac's modifier keys. She now has a seamless experience no matter which operating system she's on.
Tim's Triumph - After deploying a brand new product, he half expected a lot of bug reports to start rolling in. But, nope! It's been surprisingly smooth sailing. As such, he finds himself just watching the analytics and seeing those sweet, sweet payments get processed appropriately. He was even able to leverage those analytics to drive a 10% increase in conversions through targeted improvements for certain cohorts.
Notes & Links
- AWS Lambda - Serverless compute resources that scale automatically.
- AWS SNS - Simple Notification Service, a fully-managed messaging service.
- AWS SQS - Simple Queue Service, a fully-managed message queue service.
- AWS Polly - A robust text-to-speech service that offers realistic, life-like sound.
- Postmark - An industry leading email delivery and inbound processing service.
say- A text-to-speech synthesis program that ships with MacOS.
- Seth Bling: Machine Learning for Video Games - An example of a computer that learns to play Super Mario.
- Google: Natural Language - A service helps you derive insights from unstructured text.
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