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Venkat Iyer
Venkat Iyer

Venkat Iyer

Practice Head - Business Information Management

Capgemini

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Venkat Iyer is a member of:

- Expert
My Journey: How I stepped into BI
I
am an Electrical Engineer by education. At that time people started
using computers a lot. With great fascination, I did an IT course and
moved into the IT sector. Then, I got an opportunity to work with
Wal-Mart as part of the Business Intelligence team in the US. So I began
BI in the retail domain. My BI career started with Teradata from a
technology perspective.
Decisions That Mattered
The
most important decision was to first understand any business
requirements that was important for the business. It’s not always about
what you want to do; it’s all about what exactly the customers are
looking for and how you can help them.

One important thing that I
learnt was not to get tied up to any particular technology.
Technologies are easy to learn so one need not worry about them. What is
most important is how you help in solving business problems using BI;
be it in retail, telco or any other domain. My initial days were more
programming. Then I realized the value of the BI solutions we were
providing. It is more important to understand the domain, the business
and how BI can help in making critical business decisions. IT
professionals usually make technology their main focus. But, I think it
needs to be the business as their main focus and technology more as an
enabler.
Turning Points:
There were two turning points:

One
important inflection point was joining Wal-Mart. That is when I really
understood the value of information and how businesses can actually use
information for effective decision making. In the fast moving, high
paced, retail environment, decision making had to be very quick and I
had to use the IT system that could support this. The mantra was we have
to get things done very quickly and no matter what technology we used,
the business had to gain value very quickly. I learnt a lot from a
business perspective.

Next turning point was when I came back to
India and joined IT Services Industry. I was working on the Service
provider side and there were quite a few challenges, but we had to
ensure that the focus should not go away from the customer. If you are
helping 60 different customers, you have to treat every customer on an
individual basis-there is no one size fits all. You have to make sure
that the customers get the attention and priority they deserve. Every
business problem is unique and the solution also has to be different.
From an IT Services stand point, I learnt how to handle multiple
problems simultaneously for different customers in different industries
and never lose sight of the end goal; how is my solution going to enable
their business. As your career matures, you learn more.
Evolution of BI
In
the last 2 years BI has changed more than it did in the previous ten
years. Customers really use predictive analytics, know how to deal with
Big Data and access the Social media Space. So the integration of
structured and unstructured data that people were talking about ten
years ago, is actually happening now. That brings in a different
challenge both in technology and business perspectives. Now businesses
have so many more opportunities. They can not just access information
about their customers, they can access potential customers, they can
observe how their present customers can influence their future
customers, how to come up with new products based on customer
feedback.This is a new set of opportunities.

Work- Then and Now:
When
I started my career it was a very different environment where there was
a single, linear focus. Today we are working under a lot of economic
pressures. Reaction time to any change in the business scenario is very
less, you have to react immediately. There is no need to rely on the
internal information as you can find other sources to find data and use
it to your advantage. It is not just about the enterprise anymore; it is
about the whole ecosystem- your partners, your potential customers and
the market. To tap into that information and use it, it is very
exciting.
Two years down the line:
I
started off my career 18 years ago working for the customer and today I
am still working for the customer. Maybe my career has changed from a
ladder perspective but the focus is still the same. I would like to
bring new innovations, the best of technology and solutions to the
customers. I dont think this core focus will ever change.
Lessons Learnt
Technology
changes every now and then. Every year there is a new version or there
is a new product.  The very important thing is to adapt to the new
technologies with an open mind and never restrict yourself to one
particular technology. You need to know what that technology will help
you to achieve. If you are able to articulate that, you can improve
customer service or increase your profitability.
Trends to Watch Out for
There
are Multiple Technology Trends besides of course Big Data. Mobility is
another: With the advent of Smartphones, iPad and Tablets- information
does not have to be restricted to a laptop or desktop anymore; it is
available when you need it and on the device of your choice. This is an
important technology improvisation.

Cloud has tremendous
potential for organizations and will change the way people invest in
technology or software. It can bring a lot of  savings and improve
scalability options.

If you look at social media and the way the
current generation uses it, you can see the need for businesses that
sell to consumers is going away as you have consumers that sell to
consumers. People can consult their friends and acquaintances before
buying a product. It is very important for organizations to realize that
and have a social media strategy in place. It will help in identifying
what are the key influencers, how to improve customer satisfaction and
what customers are talking about. This is an important tool that a lot
of organizations are still to use effectively.

BI isnt about
reporting anymore. Using predictive analytics, we can look at past data
and understand how we can make better decisions in the future. It is
especially important in the area of risk management. For example, if I
work for a credit card company and I can identify who my fraudulent
customers are going to be, I gain an enormous advantage and I can take
preemptive measures.
My Advice if You are Starting out:
Business
Intelligence has the word Business in it, and not technology. That
needs to be remembered always. Business Analytics and Business
Intelligence is a very business oriented role. One has to bridge the gap
between the business & IT.
Areas of Specialization:
Predictive
Analytics and also understanding the Big Data Technologies. Big Data
has proven that if you have commodity hardware and open source software,
you can tackle large problems. Social Media and Mobility are good
fields to be in as IT professionals.
Do we need certifications?
I
have not gone for any certifications. I think many management
institutes are looking into providing such courses but it will take time
to come around. There are enough sources available on Internet with
online training. There are places, for example Capgemini, where there is
a lab like environment and people can gain hands-on experience with
technology. Such places can help people in keeping themselves updated
about technology.
Websites/Books:
There are many technology vendors like IBM, Oracle or SAP that provide lots of information on their products.

There are many Websites that help in understanding what is going on in the industry like TDWI, CloudComputing, Bigdata.com
Last but not the least:
Many technologies come and go but BI and analytics area has been consistently growing through the years.

There
will always be a need for information and quantity of data will be
increasing as we move forward. BI and analytics as a career option
cannot be wrong. There will always be a need for professionals in this
particular domain.
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