Blog

April 5, 2017
Engineering Spotlight: Comlinkdata

Ever wonder how companies find metrics in their market or industry? It all comes from gathering data.

Peter Wolfe, co-founder and Chief Data Architect at Comlinkdata

Supplying market data can be a daunting task, as it involves a lot of number-crunching and keen observations. Because of what the job entails, companies may outsource it to another company specializing in obtaining, and giving insights with, market data. Comlinkdata in Boston is one such company.

Comlinkdata supplies telecommunications market data for a variety of clients, and utilizes an assortment of complex software to get the job done.

We spoke with the company’s co-founder and Chief Data Architect, Peter Wolfe, about Comlinkdata’s engineering team. Wolfe also gave us a look into the team's culture, including the collaborative process and their extensive experience in this particular field.

Also, Comlinkdata is hiring! Take a look at their BIZZpage for openings!


Quick Hit Details

  • Year Founded: 2010

  • Number of employees: 44

  • Number of engineers: 5

  • Industry: Telecommunications + Market Intelligence


What does Comlinkdata do?

Comlinkdata provides telecom market data and insights to our clients. Since 2010, we’ve used multiple independent data sources to create our unique, near real-time data set that gives clients a glimpse, or if they prefer, a deep understanding, of what is happening in the telecom market. Clients have the option to log into our web-based platform to interpret data, or they can work closely with our Client Services team to uncover unforeseen trends.

For example, using our data and other third party data sets, we’re able to uncover consumer behavior trends (how did people react to a new iPhone launch? Unlimited data? New ad promotions?), strategic network investment options, or an understanding of competitive pricing. Our clients can then use our data and insights as benchmarks or strategic guidance as they navigate their operational business decisions.

Can you share some of the different technologies that the engineering team gets to work with?

We do most of our work in SQL, using SSMS, PostgreSQL and SQL Workbench.  We use Tableau for some visualizations.  We also work with Amazon RedShift and use Pig for EMR jobs.  Some people use Python, Ruby and Bash for various things.

What are some of the interesting projects that the engineering team is tackling?

One of the interesting things the team is working on now is automating some data cleanup processes that are currently done manually.  Given the scale of our data, we always want to automate as much as we can.  However, this particular type of cleanup is more like detective work - trying to figure out what is happening behind the scenes.  If we can design some processes to think like the engineers do, it will free up some valuable time and resources.

Can you describe the type of background or experience that you generally look for with the Data Engineer position?

First and foremost, we are looking for someone with a history of failure.  Because you will fail in this job.  Frequently.  But that’s OK.  The key is to not get discouraged, to learn from your/our failures and to use that knowledge to eventually succeed.  We are doing things that nobody has done before, and we often start a project not knowing how to do it, or even if it is possible to do.  The people who succeed here are creative problem-solvers who aren’t afraid to try new things.  Also, you need to be a SQL rock star and used to working with very large data sets. ​

How would you best describe the culture and working environment on your team at Comlinkdata?

It is very collaborative and open.  Everyone has a different facet of the work that they focus on, but it is all intertwined and the team sits and works together to solve problems. Ideas are encouraged, and we are always open to trying new approaches, software, technologies, etc.  Much of what we are doing has never been done before, so everyone contributes to developing and implementing best practices.  Also, the members of the team have a wide variety of backgrounds, so there are always lots of different ways to approach the work.

What does your team do for fun outside of work?

At Comlinkdata, we have fun inside and outside of work. While we’re very dedicated to the company and working hard - we also like to joke around when we can throughout the day. We like to have pot luck lunches, lunch and learns, and bagel Fridays. Back in January we had a round of Jeopardy based on employee facts - who knew so many people practiced martial arts?

Outside of the office, we get together at least once a month to go out for drinks and appetizers. Some people like getting together for game nights, yoga, concerts, workshops or running. In the Summer and Winter we have a big gathering for everyone in the company. Last summer, we went to the Boston Harbor Islands for the day to play lawn games and enjoy a clambake/cookout. We also have our first company ski trip coming up in March.

Can you share some of the background of the people on your team?
 

Stephen Denham manages the DevOps team and Operations. The ‘accidental sysadmin’ comes from a background in statistics and predictive analytics, working for companies in telecom, insurance and gaming.

 


Remy Huberdeau is a member of the backend development operations team. Prior to Comlinkdata, Remy worked at Capgemini as a software engineer. He holds an Associate Degree in software development and a Master’s degree from the University of Nantes (Polytech Nantes) in software engineering with an emphasis on business intelligence (ETL, data processing/analysis, machine learning) and a thesis on geolocated data anonymization.



Mo al Deiri is a Lead software engineer for the Dev Ops team. He started his development career in web development with Amazon and IBM and later specialized in big data and parallel processing during his MSc at the university of Edinburgh. Mo’s main interests in the field of SE is code efficiency and readability... clean code.




Alex - cirlce with ppt.png

Alexandre Maciel is a DevOps engineer supporting our cloud and in-premises systems. Alexandre worked for companies such as EMC, helping customers from different sectors like retail, manufacturing, financial and technology make their systems play nice together. He has a MSc in Computer Engineering from the University of São Paulo, with emphasis on artificial intelligence for control systems.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.​  

Images courtesy of Comlinkdata.