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BW Businessworld

Data Enables Future-Ready Businesses

Understanding that the most successful companies are data companies, leading IT and marketing executives, industry leaders and data enthusiasts, all came together for a roundtable discussion on 'Unlocking the Power of Data' last month in Mumbai.

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It is an exciting time to be alive because the availability of data is more at present than ever before. It is one of the most powerful forces of modern times. Translating massive amounts of all this new information presents an enormous opportunity for early movers in the space. While the creation and storage of data are experiencing an explosion, it is, however, still undervalued and under-utilized by many. Majority of businesses are collecting volumes of new types of data without solid planning on how to analyse and utilize it. On the other hand, a small number of companies are already experiencing success in translating massive amounts of data by finding its full potential to drive better business outcomes. 

Understanding that the most successful companies are data companies, leading IT and marketing executives, industry leaders and data enthusiasts, all came together for a roundtable discussion on 'Unlocking the Power of Data' last month in Mumbai. The roundtable discussion was co-organized by BW Businessworld, in association with Microsoft and Cloudera. 

The experts joined together at the roundtable brought forward their own individual practical experiences on the theme of data. The discussion included major key points such as data analytics and agile infrastructure to reap the benefits of data.  

The room was filled with passionate discussions about how implementing valuable data insights can make a positive impact on growing businesses. Via the interactive platform, delegates were able to cast their questions, votes, define priorities, brainstorm ideas and identify challenges in the fast-paced debate on the exponential growth of data and its usage. 

Daya Prakash, Consulting Editor, BW Businessworld opened up the discussion for the experts. “Today’s economy is purely a consumer’s economy resulting in a humungous amount of data which is getting generated every second. Organizations which are thriving today are the ones which are able to decipher these data sets to find out how to create new sets of services and products for the consumers for their better experience and surpassing their satisfaction levels.” 

Everyone on the table shared their practical experiences on how they are seeing data growing in their organizations and how they are deciphering that information to take meaningful actionable insights out of them. 

Nagesh Kumar Nalamati, VP & Head-IT Prime Focus, shared how Prime Focus is collating data and using the subset of it. “Our marketing team collects information from all the channels across the world. While America is on the first position of most number of channels, India is on the fifth, followed by others. In India itself there are 768 channels broadcasted on TV. With each channel, program, advertisement and subtitle, we are generating a humungous amount of data and the industry thrives on it. The amount of information generated by these channels and consumer trends is something that our marketing team already has access to and is extracting the benefits out of this precious data. This enables us to be future-ready.” 

Like every other industry, the pharmaceutical industry is also seeing a lot of data being generated. Atish Majumdar, VP & Cluster Head, Lupin Limited said, “With such huge data volumes, the integration and collaboration of such diverse information is one of the biggest challenges. Meaningful insight is also a function of input data and hygiene and in fact, the trustworthiness and credibility of the input data are one of the biggest challenges faced by marketers in the pharmaceutical/healthcare space especially because one cannot use patient data as the same is regulated. In the end, the challenge is compounded further as one has to integrate diverse information and convert the insights built therein, to meaningful action, and only then does it add value to the marketing proposition.” The healthcare industry is completely transforming. It is moving away from prescriptive to predictive diagnosis. 

Francis Rodrigues, Head, Data Labs, Business Insights and Innovation, HDFC Life cited that the variety of data is very large in the Life Insurance industry as well. “On the individual business side, the data is very diverse ranging from customers’ demographics, health and income declaration, to the kind of products that are bought. We also have customer interaction data from the number of times a customer communicates with us from various modes - calls, emails, web-chat etc. On the group business side, while the data is quite thin, numbers are fairly large with us writing on an average, more than 50,000 group policies a day.” 

“A lot of this is not very structured in India than it is in abroad. Also, Life Insurance is a very heavily regulated industry. We have started to think about devising our data acquisition strategy through which data points can help us in understanding mortality and morbidity risks better. It is necessary to build data as a differentiator,” he added. 

Bombay Stock Exchange collects a lot of data from a regulatory point of view as it has a quasi-regulatory role. Kersi Tavadia, CIO, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), shared the impressive utilization of data that is going on at BSE. “In the cash equity market, we get 400 million transactions on an average day. The volume of data and the speed at which it comes is of a different degree. We are witnessing a 100 per cent increase in data from what it was 3-4 years earlier. We use this data very actively for surveillance to see market manipulation and to study patterns with very extensive work through analytics.” 

Very interestingly, Kersi added how BSE has also started capturing video graphics for surveillance. “By subscribing news channels and analyzing an interview of a Minister being broadcasted live gives us insights on any moment in the market. Many times such interviews or speeches impact the stocks.” 

There is a lot of data that every organization is dealing with at present. Here, the challenge is finding out how to store the relevant data. Only collecting all the data and dumping it is the first mistake that many organizations make. Finally, it is realized that there is nothing viable to extract out of such volumes of data. Only after long learning and relearning experiences does one understand the true meaning of data assimilation and the benefits connected to it.  

“Indiabulls is a digital-first organisation. As we further digitise all our offerings, in this year itself, we are witnessing data-growth of over 200 times. With just Indiabulls Dhani, our personal loan app which accounts for half a million loans disbursed each month, we are already sitting on tons of data. Our current focus is to use this data to make the customer experience smoother, and business generation greater. Major efforts, therefore, have been taken by the Indiabulls Group to judiciously manage this data, and leverage it to its full potential. From reducing redundancies and workload to building richer insights and models, data is proving to be one of the primary decision-makers within each function of the company,” said Ankit Banga, AGM - Digital Marketing, Indiabulls. 

Sheena Kapoor, Head, Corporate Marketing at Edelweiss Group said that most marketers will echo with the same sentiment that there’s a plethora of data overload and information sources. “Edelweiss is a large financial services conglomerate and for us data management is integral. In our continued digital transformation journey, we invest very heavily in AI, ML and scalable platform approach to be able to assimilate, analyse and mine the data to gain sharper insights across prospects, existing customers and channel partner ecosystem. We focus on seamless data flow to get a single customer view with analytics across a multitude of parameters including demographic - psychographic profiling, drivers for consideration, social media listening, and monitoring the competitive landscape. Thereby, improving efficiencies, bringing forth innovative products and being able to customize our offerings to customer needs”, she added. 

Arun Murthy, Co-Founder, Chief Product Officer, Cloudera spoke about how organizations are addressing challenges in terms of harmonizing a variety of data integration. “People are now moving from batch-oriented data types to real-time data. We have helped a lot of customers in bypassing some of the data integration challenges by asking them to leapfrog, get into a world where you do more real-time data ingestion and integration. While data ingestion and integration are two separate and expensive steps, we help customers understand is then eventually they have to get on a real-time world so they should invest in technologies such as open-source which help in performing real-time data ingestion and integration as one step. There is a huge pool of open source software available as well.” 

Arun continued on the security and governance side of the coin for ingestion and integration by saying, “It is very important to make sure that you have the right policies, metadata and tagging when you are doing ingestion and integration at the very initial stage. We now have the tooling to make sure that tags are automatically inherited when data is tagged in as the first step when it comes into the platform.” 

“The security and governance industry in moving towards Attribute-based Access Control (ABAC) rather than Role-based Access Control (RBAC).  With ABAC, the security policy is put on the tag which is a significantly modern way to deal with a variety of data while harmonizing it but also securing it. At times when the customer has not tagged terabytes of data this way in the past, therein we bring Machine Learning to the fore. Rather than manual input, machine learning can be used automatically suggest tagging.” he added 

Binda Dey, Head of Marketing, Red Chillies Entertainment, explained how social media is a key platform to connect with the audience at different points in the purchase cycle. “We work with talents who have a huge fan base in the social media space. Also, the key assets for a movie promotion like the trailer, songs, behind the scene content etc. has massive organic pull. It is critical to gather data judiciously and segment the audience by their interest areas and retarget them with relevant content at various stages of the customer journey.” 

Unlike any other product or service, the window for movie marketing is very small. “The content space is extremely cluttered; with constant new content getting released across platforms in different formats. The window of movie promotion has been shrinking and is typically on a high burst for 30 to 45 days period before a film release. The volumes of data are mind-boggling so analysing it in real-time is essential as it not only helps in optimising media spends but can lead to change in strategies”, said Dey. 

Just like the huge amount of intervention of social media today, there are many such other different sources such as forums, communities and agencies. There is a huge amount of data influx due to the presence of all these options and through these, organizations are able to reach out to many potential customers. 

Also mentioning how storage has become so much cheaper, Arun added, “Thanks to open source and other technologies, you can now store gigabytes in millicents. Previously, a terabyte would cost about $15,000. Today, its cost has come down to $10 or less." 


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