May 29th marked our end of milestone demo date for our new product, IBM IoT Building Insights (coming soon, but for now, you can read more about cognitive buildings with IBM Watson IoT). All of our team was looking forward to this date for five months. My mind kept relating our five-month experience to my personal journey of climbing a hot hill. Let me tell you about climbing this hot hill.

It was a hot summer. My family and I were on a summer vacation in our native place Thiruvannamalai, the place known for fire, one of the five natural elements. RamanaMaharshi meditated in a cave for 17 years on the way to the top of that hill. We were all excited to see the place where he meditated. We started our journey on a fresh summer morning, around 10.00 AM. A granny who was sitting at the foot of the hill noticed that we were bare footed and suggested that we wear our slippers to climb. But given the mountain was a symbol of Lord Shiva himself we said, “Its OK grandma, God will take care of us.”

As we started, we found the mountain to be rocky, as time went by, our bare feet were feeling the heat of the rough rocks. We kept going, we held each other, we stopped at few places to have lemonade. We thanked the people who came before us who had carried water to the top earlier that summer. There were many places where we had to carry our children and climb. There were many places where we had to put down a cloth on hot rocks to step over it. There were options for us to climb down. But we kept going. We reached the cave, and it was truly beautiful, peaceful, and satisfying. We enjoyed the scenery and the peace of the place, and it was immensely satisfying to make it to the top with my family, despite all the hot rocks along the way.

Our product development experience was very similar to my family’s experience of climbing that hot hill. It was an exciting journey. IBM IoT Building Insights was a new product we were building from scratch using assets from our Dublin Research Labs. We choose not to wear sandals, which would’ve made it easier on ourselves. We made tough architectural decisions that were more work up front but had a bigger payoff for future releases. We had to pass the many hot rocks of architecture, design, integration, security, deployment, and implementation. We climbed as a team, and it was not easy. Many team members held each other, few did not worry about their own feet but put down cloths for others to step over so we could make it to the top of the hill together. Days and nights became one. Collaboration and trust became the key to perseverance. Our leaders stood by our side throughout. We huddled in a room together, drew our execution plan on whiteboards and debugged problems together.

As the target date approached, just when we were losing hope, each of the UI elements started coming alive. As we worked together, we discovered each other, we learnt from each other and everyone brought their best to push as a team up the hill. During the end of milestone demo, each team member presented their output in style. IBM IoT Building Insights and its persona, the “Energy Manager,” was who we now could provide energy insights based on the machine learning models that we brought to life. The smiling faces of the team on top of our own hill is something I will cherish for a lifetime. The journey together was unforgettable. It was as peaceful as the cave.

Thanks to the team Chandru, Sathish, Amit, Mansoor, Raghu, Kiran, Kalyani, Bhoodevi, Hrudhaya, Sattawati, Hari, and our interns Ashish, Rajat, Daivik and Aman, for making this happen. My thank you to Joern from the Dublin team and Arlindo from ICS team for all their support. Our leaders Shalini and Lisa, you were our support and motivation throughout our hot climb up the hill, and we all thank you.

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