How he’d describe his job to a 10-year-old: “I build artificial intelligence and data science solutions that help our customers learn things from their data that help them improve their business.”
Selling AI still takes human effort: Melvin’s role in the sales and marketing group means he coordinates work across Intel’s artificial intelligence, data center and internet of things businesses. He works with sales teams to serve a relatively new kind of customer, the chief data officer or scientist. While being a data scientist is an in-demand profession, Melvin says, “It’s a hard job. Eighty percent of the job is cleaning and tagging data, and the rest is analytics.” When it comes to putting that hard-won data to good use, the data scientist has a large and rapidly expanding set of tools available, which is where Melvin comes in. “With our partners and OEM suppliers, I develop reference architectures, use cases, algorithms and models,” he explains, “and then blend all the capabilities from the Intel business units working on data and AI into a cohesive end-to-end solution.”
Minding both the bucket and the water: Imagine, he says, a bucket of water. The bucket is your IT infrastructure, and the water is your data. The traditional chief technology or information technology officer, Melvin says, “is responsible for the bucket – sizing it, moving it to the right place and stopping any holes.” These customers were Intel’s primary focus in the past and will continue to be important customers. The new customers – the chief data officers or chief data scientists – are responsible for the water. “Is the data the right quality, sourced from and going to the right place?” My job, he adds, “is to understand the water and the bucket – they are two different sales.”
Using AI to help people: While Melvin works primarily with government customers whose applications run the gamut, a few stand out for him. “I’m extremely excited about healthcare and life sciences,” he says. “Our work is leading to advances in neuroscience, to better diagnoses and prognoses for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and helping our nation’s veterans get better healthcare outcomes.” He’s also focused on how AI can improve lives by making smarter cities. He notes, for example, that when cities rebuild following a natural disaster, “they’re leapfrogging to brand new technologies like smart water, transportation and education,” which can greatly benefit underserved communities. “I love harnessing the power of Intel to help people,” he says.
AI and the next generation: “My mother and father worked very hard to ensure I had opportunities that I’m able to take advantage of,” Melvin says, and now he’s doing his part for the next generation. Melvin not only teaches machine learning and AI at universities, but he’s also an advocate for STEM for K-12 students. “According to the Department of Labor, there will be 3 million data science jobs,” he notes. “We won’t be able to reap the benefits unless we have the people that can do the work.” To that end, Melvin helped bring five historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) into Intel’s AI university program. “I’m determined to help a diverse set of talent get into the data science and AI pipeline.”