Carlos M. Meléndez, COO & Co-Founder, Wovenware

Carlos M. Meléndez is the COO and co-founder of Wovenware, a Puerto Rico-based design-driven company that delivers customized AI and other digital transformation solutions that create measurable value for government and private business customers across the U.S. and the world. Carlos leads Wovenware’s operations and establishes long-lasting partner relationships with our new and existing customers.  Carlos is an Electrical Engineering graduate from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus and holds a graduate degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. In a recent interview with Digital First Magazine, Mr. Carlos discussed current trends in AI industry, challenges faced as the COO of the company, personal inspiration, and future goals. Here are excerpts from the interview.

Tell us about the formative years of your life. How did you develop an interest in technology and decide to pursue it professionally?

At a very young age, I started programming my Commodore 64 as a hobby.  I’ve always been interested in the underpinnings of technology and using it to solve problems 

Throw some light on your expertise as a software developer that you bring to the table.

As an Electrical Engineering student in college, I was able to take computer engineering and a broad array of other courses. This diversity across a lot of subject matters is important for software developers since it’s not only about understanding code, but also about how things work, how people like to work, and how technology can be applied to solve real-world business problems.

With expertise in business strategy and software engineering, how would you describe the latest technology trends and innovation in the global software industry

It’s an exciting time for the global software industry, given the level of automation that is helping businesses become more efficient, as well as strategic. The cloud has really democratised technology—everyone has access to technology, along with unprecedented computer processing capabilities. And, we’re actually only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its possibilities.

How has artificial intelligence and software practices changed in the last decade?

I think people have come to understand the practical limitations of AI and what it can and cannot do. While AI enables repetitive tasks to be automated, helping to make important decisions about patient health or who qualifies for a loan, it still requires humans in the loop. Humans must always be a part of the decision-making process. People will increasingly recognise this dynamic between humans and machines and learn to work together.

How do you foresee software technology trends impacting the global business landscape going forward?

Software will continue to impact global business. As the saying goes, every company is a software company, even if they don’t see it that way. In order to remain relevant, operate more efficiently and boost productivity regardless of economic developments, companies understand that technology is the key to reducing costs and growing businesses.

What are some of the most challenging aspects you face in your current role, and how do you mitigate them?

A key challenge is helping customers who come to us saying they want to deploy a chatbot, for example, take a step back and first explain their business problem. Often, companies want to start with the technology and think it’s the silver bullet to solve all of their problems, but they need to first start with a clear understanding of the problem and then carefully work toward the right solution.

Tell us about the network of professionals and partners that you have created so far. Can you shed some light on a few initiatives or techniques you are incorporating?

I work with a number of organisations on and off of Puerto Rico, such as ConPRMetidos, which works to boost economic development on the island; and the EO Network, an organisation committed to entrepreneurs across the world. I’m also a member of the Forbes Technology Council, where I’m a regular blogger.  As an organization, Wovenware is extremely committed to giving back to the community and helping to educate the next generation of software and AI talent, so we’re actively involved in mentoring and training programs with the leading universities in Puerto Rico.

How do you stay abreast of the periodic technological and industry changes in a world that is constantly evolving?

It’s important to be a constant learner, ask questions, and challenge existing assumptions in order to continue to innovate. We place a big emphasis at Wovenware on ensuring that our software engineers, programmers, data scientists, and design experts stay up-to-date on new developments in the industry, certifications, and training. The fact that the world of technology is constantly evolving is what makes it so exciting.

As a successful business leader, what would your advice be to youngsters aspiring to become business leaders and entrepreneurs in the future?

I would tell them to follow their passion and not be afraid to take a risk. All success comes with some level of risk. And, even though some mistakes may happen, there are always valuable lessons that can be learned. 

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