DA Services, EXL Service
Sumit Dhar is a member of:
The Journey So Far
I started my career with Wipro InfoTech right after graduation and after couple of years took a break to go aboard for higher studies. I joined MicroStrategy right after that and delved into the world of BI. After several years with multiple BI consulting companies in the US I returned to India and started working for GE Consumer Finance in India. I left GE as a VP of BI & Analytics Technologies. Since GE Consumer Finance I am with EXL Decision Analytics, where I work as a Head of the emerging analytics vertical practice. I have scaled from a consultant to a Practice Head in about 12+ years while straddling diverse areas in DW, BI and predictive analytics across technology and business. I have enjoyed working across different cultures, in US, Europe and in India [I assure you work environments in Bangalore and Gurgaon are not the same !!]
The Turning Points
When I look back the decision points that clearly lead to career inflections are as follows:
1. My decision to move into BI
2. My decision to return to India with GE
3. My decision to move from technology intensive BI solutioning to Business driven analytics
Work & Role: Then and Now
I guess being a Practice Head has asks across the entire gamut of operational responsibilities that a P&L head must be accountable for. My previous role was more of a analytics SME or a methodology expert, hence there is a shift.
Few Years Down the Line
Keeping in view of the wide breadth of experience I have, I see myself as a Chief Analytics Officer who would be responsible for people, infrastructure and initiatives across functions to make a organization more analytically competitive.
What I Learnt Along the Way
Customer is always correct.
Has BI Evolved?
When I embarked on my journey of BI and analytics, the field was not as commoditized as it is today. Onshore client expectation was that the developer would understand the business need, the data and the BI report that had to be delivered. As demand increased and infrastructure support off shoring, the development process started looking like standard application development lifecycle and project roles started becoming more silo-ed and cost sensitive. Hence analytics got split from BI, wherein the later became a IT imperative with business having little skin in the game.
Another thing- we didn’t have access to google and wiki, which definitely helps a individual find pertinent information quickly and use it even more easily.
Trends to Watch Out For
Big Data!!! If not the utilization of all the data in social media for business needs, I am very keen on seeing how the associated technologies such as Hadoop, HDinsight, Cloudera, Storm, Kafka, other Big Query tools are used in harvesting more information from all manners of unstructured data. If it all works out right and performance of Map reduce type jobs can be managed well, this will change the way we do analytics and BI technology today. This whole mash up will change the means and ways of service delivery.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
Be hands down as long as you can. Learn different technologies in different client environment. Especially in India, it is common to see people try and be more people manager sort when in fact the competency of a individual lies in technology. It is also common to see people get misguided by trends without remembering their own strengths. Give up tendency of following the flock and create your own functional and technical competency niche. Growth will follow on its own….
Must Focus Areas in the BI Domain
Open source technologies- Pentaho, Jasper soft, different types of SQL/ non SQL database, Hadoop
Do We Need Certifications?
Personally haven’t done any certifications expect the ones mandated by my employers but PMP, DAMA, Analytics certifications are all good ideas
Books/ Websites I Recommend
Any material from the following authors- Ralph Kimball, Bill Inmon and Steve Hoberman are good ideas. Read information week, information management, IT advisor web sites often to keep yourself abreast of the most recent trends.
Last But Not Least
Yes, the basics of Database design the 5 normal forms- If you want to be in the DB/ BI business you should have practical understanding of these. If you do, any ETL/ mart design will become much easier to understand.