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Ajit Nema
Ajit Nema

Ajit Nema

Director

Deloitte

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The Journey: Early days to how I got here
I stared my career as a developer, working with client server
technologies. For a brief period, I dabbled with client-server on the
User Interface (UI) side, and for some time worked as a data programmer.
I started with Deloitte in 1994 and realized that the most important
thing in our business is to understand what the client wants and to help
clients solve complex business challenges involving technology.  This
was the time when I got closer to Business Intelligence (BI) and data
warehousing. It gave me a wholesome perspective about what the client
really wants to achieve.
Decisions that mattered
First, was  to understand  that technology and  business come hand  in
hand, and  that they cant  be  dealt  in silos. Therefore, I decided to
focus on the business  aspect of technology. Second, after  I  moved 
back to India from the  U.S seven years  ago, I  decided  to  focus  to
grow the BI capabilities and  learn about  how  to best serve clients 
remotely, and  more  importantly, I  decided  to  learn all the ropes 
about  how  BI can be delivered in the distributed delivery model
Work and Role: Then and now
When I started with BI, it used to be more reactive. BI used to be an
afterthought – "Can we get some reporting out of it? Can we get some
data into a separate database?" It was never about thinking holistically
like – "what can I do for you in entirety?" Now, I am more into an
operational and leadership role, where I focus on building the practice
and help build capabilities of our people in order to serve clients in
the best manner. I am also looking ahead, more on the analytics side,
where I can help business by using information to make decisions. So,
while earlier it used to be more about operational reporting, now it is
more decision-making and foresight to grow the business.
What I learnt along the way
An important lesson that I have learnt in my career journey -: Firstly,
there is no right or wrong answers. Answers need to be sorted,
discovered, repurposed according to that particular situation. Secondly,
technology is truly an enabler and not the driver of business.
Technology is all about enabling the business to solve the problem. They
are not two separate entities anymore, they go hand in hand. Thirdly,
we have to be forward-sighted when solving business problems, especially
in the present environment which is all about tectonic changes. What we
invest today will reap benefits for the next couple of years because it
is so costly to change technology every year.
Two years down the line
I align my goals with that of the firm (Deloitte) so that I can shape my
career in a more directed manner.  I am a Director at Deloitte, heading
a service line in Technology.  According to me , in the next two years I
will  be more into business analytics - shaping it up in terms of 
clients problems, not only dwelling upon what my current business is
doing, but also on how we can leap forward  by, using the power of
business analytics in a more integrated way.
Trends to watch out for
Some of the trends that I am watching out for are - visualization which I
am very passionate about, and which I believe will take off in a big
way. Other trends are In-memory database like SAP HANA and Mobility. So,
they are exciting avenues to look out for.
My advice if you are starting out

Get
your fundamentals and concepts right. If you have your content, you
will be able to handle any client issue in a more holistic manner - both
from a technology and a business lens. One way to be on the top of
things is to have an in-depth knowledge about the Industry which you are
serving. As a BI professional, your cornerstone is the fundamentals. It
may come in different shapes or forms, but fundamentals are for keeps! 
Whether it is data management, enterprise data management, master data
management (MDM), professionals should have a depth and breadth of
knowledge in that area.
Must focus areas for the future
The traditional way of doing data warehousing is soon going to change.
In-memory database will become popular – so traditional tools and
techniques will definitely change and obviously newer technologies and
newer methods of delivering information are on the way. Finally, we need
to get ready for Advanced Analytics – that is the next big wave.
Do we need certifications?
I have done few project management certifications. If you are a
professional with considerable years of work experience, then getting a
tool certification is not really going to help. But if you are an
upcoming BI professional, certain certifications will help you a long
way to gain credibility and knowledge in a structured way. Also, if you
are an experienced hand in a particular domain but want to get into a
new reporting tool, a certification can come handy to impress
credibility. Though, I must admit, that I have not seen too many clients
asking for a certified professional.
Books I recommend
The book I suggest is The Data Warehouse Toolkit by Ralph Kimball and to
get your fundamentals right. I would recommend you to read books on
Advanced Analytics.
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