APEX Behind the Scenes #3 — Guest Post by VP Product, Robert Xu
Hello everybody, Robert here!
Jimmy and Richard started the Behind the Scenes series, and we’ve been pleased to see that it’s been received well by you guys in the community. Aimed at providing transparency as to what’s actually happening and how we work here at APEX, I’m pleased to be going next! In this post I will aim to provide you with some insights into who I am and what I do here at APEX, as well as touch base on a couple of topics that have been part of community discussions.
Which piece am I in the APEX puzzle?
As VP of Product of APEX Technologies and APEX Network, I am responsible for managing all of our product teams — these include teams focused on data and blockchain application, blockchain project management, enterprise data analysis and customer data utilisation and analysis. We highly value a good communication flow within our organization, and to facilitate this I spend most of my mornings in successive meetings with the different product teams, at least three each day.
In the afternoon I seek out and explore new projects and ideas in the application of data and blockchain technology. I feel that if you want to stay on top of the game you must remain open to new ideas and constantly seek to improve. While data analysis is certainly not something new, the technological advances I’ve witnessed throughout my years in the field have changed the way we approach it almost completely, with blockchain and machine learning being the latest and maybe most interesting advances so far. Machine learning was the focus of my studies in college, and I’m glad to say that we over at APEX make great use of it for customer data analysis and grouping, helping enterprises realize the full potential of the data the customers provide.
Another thing that I feel is important is setting aside time to work hands-on to improve the service we provide our customers. In line with this, the rest of my afternoon is usually reserved for our sales and project managers, working together to address project-specific questions and issues with our enterprise customers, ensuring both are dealt with in the best way possible. As Jimmy has mentioned earlier we’re constantly on the lookout for talented additions to our team, so I often end my day interviewing a prospective candidate.
If there should happen to be some spare time available in the evenings or weekends I usually pursue one of my favourite pastimes, which include running, swimming, climbing or simply enjoying a good book.
Teamwork and leadership
I find working at APEX quite enjoyable, due in no small part to the fact that our employees and fellow core team members are all very smart and professional individuals. Each of us is ambitious and driven, and we pride ourselves in pulling in the same direction towards developing and ensuring the success of APEX Network as a core part of what APEX Technologies can offer our enterprise customers
Our CEO Jimmy is APEX’s product visionary, and as I hope you all know APEX Network’s product vision is to enable consumers to truly master their own data and maximize quality and efficiency in the interaction between brands and consumers.
In order to realize such an ambitious goal we need to possess an outstanding team of product managers and designers. I personally spend a lot of time on recruiting the right set of people. A minimum requirement is that they have a good amount of experience from working on blockchain technology or data products. For example; one of our product managers has a deep understanding and strong researching capabilities in blockchain technology, another worked as a product manager at a blockchain exchange while a third worked as a product manager for a Chinese airline reward blockchain. After recruiting new talent I follow them up while they settle in, providing guidance and ensuring they understand the work we do and fit in with their team.
Overall I have a simple rule set to empower and motivate the people I am working with on a daily basis to ensure we pursue continuous innovation and learning within the company;
- Choose the right people to do the things they are good at. They should be willing to learn and have a genuine interest in new technology.
- Give ambitious but attainable goals to every employee focused on innovation.
- Promoting employee autonomy to increase ownership and create a culture where the team shares in the success of reaching developmental milestones as well as growing our customer base, while also allowing for individual innovation and talent to shine.
Within our company we attach a lot of importance to communicating clearly and effectively at all levels. We have adopted a no-nonsense approach and a culture of openness in information sharing.
On APEX Tech and machine learning in relation to APEX Network
Those familiar with APEX Technologies, APEX Network and the field we work in already know that we are a data and blockchain focused enterprise aimed at assisting enterprises and consumers in attaining more efficient interaction. On the one hand, enterprises need user growth analysis services to add consumers as well as increase customer life cycle value. On the other hand the consumers need incentives and a more user friendly interface to ease interaction with the enterprises.
We all know that AI is about to change the world, and machine learning is among the most effective and valuable technologies we employ at APEX Technologies. We use machine learning and deep learning to analyze consumer data and group the consumers to enable more efficient customer service and interaction. In short it is an essential technology for us, as machine learning enables us to extract deeper insights from consumer data which in turn increases the value of the data. Natural language processing can further increase our system’s understanding of consumer data, further increasing quality and insights being derived from it. NLP also enables us to automatically label data, sorting it into different categories, and can drastically reduce the amount of work done by employees on post processing information handling. Being able to employ this technology on the higher quality data that APEX Network will provide will serve to further increase this value and set us aside from our competitors in the industry. Interestingly, our partnership with the Shanghai Data Exchange can provide us data that will be processed through our AI technologies to help us predict a consumer’s interests, and we expect that mining this data will further augment the quality of our service to APEX Network’s enterprise customers.
Why we are so confident about adoption of our ecosystem
When an enterprise is looking into adopting blockchain technology, several key factors are considered such as flexibility, performance, security, and the structure of the blockchain’s smart contracts. APEX Network has been designed with the needs of the enterprises in mind, and is ahead of the industry when it comes to these features. Some would argue that private blockchains being employed is a more likely scenario for enterprise adoption of blockchain tech, but this is where our decentralized asset exchange comes into play as a game changer. As a public blockchain with interoperability between enterprise assets, APEX Network provides a significant advantage for enterprises that private blockchain solutions cannot deliver.
APEX Technologies already has our well known consumer data product NEXUS, which is widely used by Starbucks, MK, Maserati, Spring Airlines, Eleme, Didi taxi, Lenovo, Sephora and Haagen-Dazs, just to name a few. We will integrate APEX Network into the NEXUS enterprise data suite, allowing enterprises to build their own blockchain services through our main network and side chains, and to quickly release dApps on the market. We have already pitched our blockchain solution to current customers of APEX Technologies who are using our data solutions. After successful pilot programs we aim to onboard additional enterprises — currently, we are working on an automobile enterprise and an enterprise in the travel vertical.
By using NEXUS’s APEX Network module, brands can not only access blockchain based data, but also use the power of NEXUS to analyze, manage, and activate that data. This allows companies to easily maximize the benefits of the data acquired from APEX Network, significantly increasing their ability to better attract and serve customers.
Some notes on GDPR
Initially I would note that most of APEX’ current customers are located in China, where GDPR does not apply. Local current and expected regulations are of course being observed, and our project design conforms with these. However we naturally aim to expand and serve customers in other regions including the EU, which makes GDPR relevant for APEX Network.
In my view, there is no project or company that has completely solved GDPR — every company plans to, but the end result can only be evaluated when it has been delivered. Encryption is a part of the solution, but does not solve the entire problem as you have the issue of pseudonymisation in the current GDPR regulations. The two most popular encryption algorithms in the industry are sha256 and MD5. At APEX Network we plan to use our data transform function to divide the data into different parts in addition to employing the sha256 encryption algorithm — the end result would make it appear as if the data was not being stored at all.
Specifically related to GDPR, APEX will obtain consent through allowing the user to determine which brands can use his or her data, and according to our current line of thinking the data would be stored in encrypted form on the user’s device instead of on the blockchain. When this data is requested by an enterprise, checks will be in place to validate that the user allows access for this particular enterprise. If the request is validated, the data would be encrypted with the user’s ID and the enterprises private key before being transferred to the enterprise. The data would then be processed within Nexus. In the case where a consumer wants to delete his or her data, they would log into the APEX wallet to initiate this command. This would issue a contract request to the enterprise’s Nexus software, automatically triggering a deletion of the data and return confirmation to the consumer’s client application. The contract will be similar to proof of deletion (POD), and we are additionally considering deletion logs stored on different nodes like the DHT nodes (not on the mainnet).
It’s been my pleasure to have the opportunity to share some thoughts with all of you in the community. I hope this has provided some additional details about what goes on in-house while we continue full steam ahead towards our mainnet launch and the future growth of APEX Network. I would also like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude for your support since our project was originally presented to the public, despite the significant amount of time it takes to construct something so complex in a manner that ensures success. It truly does mean a lot to us, and we aim to deliver results that will make you proud to have been part of the journey with us!
Until next time,