Sridhar Solur: Evolving the Next Generation Connected Home
Q: Where are we in the evolution of the Internet of Things and the Connected Home?
A: It’s still in the very early days. We’ve done some incredible work as a global technology community, but I think the best is still very much yet to come, and that’s exciting. The challenge for digital home engineers is to develop solutions that truly make peoples’ lives better. It’s all well and good to build fun connected home toys, but the real breakthrough will come when we tackle real issues, such as security and peace of mind.
Q: What does the next step in that evolution look like?
A: My team is very focused on evolving the digital home experience from one where things are done by you (the customer) to one where things are done for you.
Leveraging machine intelligence – artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning – we want to create technologies that, with your permission, anticipate your needs and deliver the experiences you want. As connected homes become more complex from a technical standpoint, one of our foremost responsibilities is to make managing them simpler and more elegant for users.
Q: What emerging technologies are you most excited about?
A: Machine intelligence is critical. It has the potential to deliver an unprecedented level of responsiveness and personalization to our customers. I’m also really focused on the connection between physical and digital security. If we can protect your physical possessions with Xfinity Home, we should also be able to give you peace of mind that your kids aren’t going someplace online where they shouldn’t. It’s an exciting time to be working on these technologies, and I’m honored to be a part of it.
Q: What kind of workforce do you need to deliver these advances? How do you put together teams?
A: Everything we do begins and ends with our team. A huge part of my job is just finding amazing technologists to work with us and making sure that members of my team are happy and excited to come to work every day. The good news is that we get to work on big, meaningful challenges here. When you build a piece of technology here, you might be deploying it to more than 20 million customers the next day, so the work really matters. It’s also important to create an environment where failure is encouraged. “Fail fast” is our mantra, and we make it a point to honor the ideas that never made it out of the lab, because we know that all of those failures make our final products better. Finally, you need to foster an environment where creativity and entrepreneurial spirit can flourish. All of the engineers on my team work in the “DevOps” model, where small teams take ownership of a key product or service and work on it from the whiteboard all the way to the living room. This encourages a strong sense of ownership and a commitment to continuous improvement.