In the second interview with an External Guest we meet with Aanand Davé, who is an MD at DSE Consulting, a company Decision Lab have historical close relationships with.
In our Chat, Aanand talks about simulation, the AnyLogic simulation development platform, simulation linked to AI, and more simulation. He is clearly passionate about the subject and thinks that modern technologies, such as simulation, can help to understand and predict the future for various diverse business processes and challenges. And, he is most definitely right!
Tell us a few key things about yourself and DSE Consulting?
I am the MD at simulation specialists, DSE Consulting.
DSE helps organisations, teams and business leaders to tackle the data analytics challenges that they face today with AnyLogic simulation products and services. We offer a range of model support, one-to-one mentoring and officially certified training services, as well as exclusive access to next-generation and AI tools like Bonsai and Pathmind to augment the simulation results.
Tell us a few key things about AnyLogic. What do users and customers like about it?
AnyLogic is a ‘multi-method’ modelling tool used across a wide variety of industries from defence to manufacturing. Its modelling environment allows to solve real-world problems efficiently and effectively.
The reason people who use it seem to like it (in my opinion) is because it provides a novel method for building and simulating a model, be it a factory, a distributor or even a whole product supply chain, for instance.
The product is very well established, having been around for over twenty years, so it pretty much speaks for itself. I would recommend checking out our website www.dseconsulting.co.uk for more information.
Tell us about the most exciting client or project you ever worked with while at DSE?
We’ve recently been involved with a subsidiary of EY US , supporting their team in the design and build of post-covid models for a well-known hotelier group. This work involved understanding how the functionality of hotels in this chain could switch between their business as usual mode of operations, to becoming a composite senior living and hotel guest facility with an appropriate segmentation of assets and services, based on new physical distancing rules. These were built into a concept demonstrator to help show the executive board how these interventions would help them sustain their business.
What are the challenges of being in your field of work?
There are many challenges in helping our clients (even well-versed ones in technology) understand the benefits of a simulation approach to problem solving. Many data scientists, modellers and analysts are competent users of tried and tested methods in standard analytical tools like Excel, but very few are informed on how simulation has a vital role to play both in the diagnostic and also predictive modelling of processes and assets. This is really where DSE comes in, we try our best to guide people in a direction that is most useful for them by balancing ‘the art and the science’ of modelling.
What interesting trends or challenges do you observe in the industry across the board?
Over the last two years I’ve seen a huge uptake of AI-based applications that claim to support better ‘data-driven’ decision making. However, there are many existing systems and processes that don’t provide lots of data as well as just concepts, and as it stands these can’t use many ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions. We’re currently working in this space, to try and build our partners competency with simulation as a tool for developing appropriate data sets to feed into AI, and also as a tool that removes some of the ‘black boxed’ nature of these technologies. We’re showing how AI impacts the logic and metrics of a model through data visualisation.
How have you benefited from this relationship?
Having spent a decade working in close collaboration with Ian Griffiths and his team at Decision Lab, DSE has been very lucky to have benefited from relationship with our UK Sister company in many ways. The first is through mutual skill-sharing around the technologies, the second is around mutual clients, who have an interest not just in simulation but the wider data science and AI side of things. It’s always nice to know that ‘the hands’ you are placing your clients into are not just trustworthy but also thoroughly capable and agile in how they deliver their service.
It’s worth noting that as a small team of simulation specialists DSE offers its products and services in collaboration with Decision Lab and Engineering Informatica. As our respective UK and Italian partners, both companies can provide an array of industrial consultancy services, including end-to-end digital twin and artificial intelligence solutions for your business applications.
What is it like to run a company?
Running DSE has honestly been one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in my professional life. I’m really lucky to have a small group of like-minded experts all of whom have slightly different academic and industrial backgrounds (Aerospace, Logistics, Healthcare etc.), but have all respectively made their way to modelling through their own professional pursuits.
Are there any positives resulting from the current situation created by COVID?
Actually, we ended up in a rather unusual (but good) place at the end of the last year. Because part of AnyLogic’s core is agent-based modelling, there was a huge initial uptick in enquires from people wanted to model COVID related stuff. Everything from the more obvious disease spread models to how companies would be able to strategically and tactically manage their operations during this period of greater uncertainty. It probably sounds like a crude thing to say, but actually our capabilities in supporting clients with these kinds of models and delivering services like our official training virtually hopefully helped them become more resilient, and us even more versatile.
What are your aspirations for this year?
Apart from the usual year-on-year improvements in efficiency of our internal systems, team know-how etc. we have a few ‘big hitters’ we are aspiring towards. The first is around the quality of our communications within the simulation and wider AI communities. To help us here, we’re speaking to professionally accredited bodies like the OR society and Informs to understand how we can best support their efforts in showing the cutting-edge in these technologies.
We’re also planning to grow the team and hopefully take on some younger people, who have an appetite for learning about simulation, and help in making the business even more effective than it is now.