Align Technology’s Chief Digital Officer Sreelakshmi Kolli is using machine learning and DevOps tactics to power the company’s digital transformation.
Kolli led the cross-functional team that developed the latest version of the company’s My Invisalign app. The app combines several technologies into one product including virtual reality, facial recognition, and machine learning. Kolli said that using a DevOps approach helped to keep this complex work on track.
“The feasibility and proof of concept phase gives us an understanding of how the technology drives revenue and/or customer experience,” she said. “Modular architecture and microservices allows incremental feature delivery that reduces risk and allows for continuous delivery of innovation.”
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The customer-facing app accomplishes several goals at once, the company said:
- Offers a preview of life after braces via SmileView
- Sends weekly treatment reminders
- Keeps patients in touch with their doctors during treatment
More than 7.5 million people have used the clear plastic molds to straighten their teeth, the company said. Align Technology has used data from these patients to train a machine learning algorithm that powers the visualization feature in the mobile app. The SmileView feature uses machine learning to predict what a person’s smile will look like when the braces come off.
Kolli started with Align Technology as a software engineer in 2003. Now she leads an integrated software engineering group focused on product technology strategy and development of global consumer, customer and enterprise applications and infrastructure. This includes end user and cloud computing, voice and data networks and storage. She also led the company’s global business transformation initiative to deliver platforms to support customer experience and to simplify business processes.
Kolli used the development process of the My Invisalign app as an opportunity to move the dev team to DevSecOps practices. Kolli said that this shift represents a cultural change, and making the transition requires a common understanding among all teams on what the approach means to the engineering lifecycle.
“Teams can make small incremental changes to get on the DevSecOps journey (instead of a large transformation initiative),” she said. “Investing in automation is also a must for continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous code analysis and vulnerability scans.”
To build the machine learning expertise required to improve and support the My Invisalign app, she has hired team members with that skill set and built up expertise internally.
“We continue to integrate data science to all applications to deliver great visualization experiences and quality outcomes,” she said.
Align Technology uses Amazon Web Services to run its workloads.
Aligning business and IT goals to power transformation
The My Invisalign app accomplished several goals for the company: connecting patients with doctors, creating a new marketing tool with the SmileView feature, and evolving the software development process.
Kolli said that IT leaders should work closely with business leaders to make sure initiatives support business goals such as revenue growth, improved customer experience, or operational efficiencies, and modernize the IT operation as well.
“Making the line of connection between the technology tasks and agility to go to market helps build shared accountability to keep technical debt in control,” she said.
Align Technology released the revamped app in late 2019. In May of this year, the company released a digital version tool for doctors that combines a photo of the patient’s face with their 3D Invisalign treatment plan.
This ClinCheck “In-Face” Visualization is designed to help doctors manage patient treatment plans.
The visualization workflow combines three components of Align’s digital treatment platform: Invisalign Photo Uploader for patient photos, the iTero intraoral scanner to capture data needed for the 3D model of the patient’s teeth, and ClinCheck Pro 6.0. ClinCheck Pro 6.0 allows doctors to modify treatment plans through 3D controls.
These new product releases are the first in a series of innovations to reimagine the digital treatment planning process for doctors, Raj Pudipeddi, Align’s chief innovation, product, and marketing officer and senior vice president, said in a press release about the product.