What we think | Practitioners Perspectives

How is data changing the world of business?

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Practitioner:

Rajan Sethuraman

CEO, LatentView Analytics
An alertness of mind, swift responses, agility in action, deep domain knowledge and an overall business astuteness characterizes this CEO – who is at the helm of one of the fastest growing data analytics firms globally. There emanates from him traits of leadership which are unique to him and those that are universal as well. But he demonstrates them in a class of his own. And do you know that when he chops vegetables, he ensures the pieces are the same size, so that there is no over/ under cooking? And it looks like the way he conducts business is equally precise and perfect.
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You have both business development and sales experience so how do leaders look at this and what can they absorb?

That’s right, my experience is fairly broad spectrum. Accenture and KPMG have taken up large chunks of my career and provided me multiple opportunities. I was lucky to be part of Accenture at a time when the company experienced phenomenal growth, and provided me opportunities to play multiple roles.

From Management Consulting, to technology delivery, to talent supply and people development, I have had a 360-degree view of the business. So, from problem solving, decision making, identifying talent, hiring, getting down to the trenches and working with the team, I have been at the front end, helping our teams forge ahead.

Nothing beats a diverse experience, I should say. And you get opportunities because of your proven capabilities and your equity with the network.

Don’t think too much about your readiness for roles, for, not always can you be fully ready for a role. Instead, be bold and raise your hand, you can always learn as you progress. That’s what I would encourage leaders to do.

What does excellence mean to you? And how do you ensure that within your team?

Excellence to me is a way of life, and not something that I choose to pursue selectively on a project or during client visits and interactions. It’s part of the cultural fabric of the organization and leaders must demonstrate it in their every action. From a simple deck review which can go through multiple iterations until it reaches that desired quality standard, you have got to practice it day in and day out. Employees must see it in action rather than just hearing it from you. And everyone should well understand that it’s a value that the organization cannot compromise. Frankly no number of frameworks and techniques can help here, it is only actions that does all the talking.

Excellence has moving parts to it. Each function needs to come to the centre stage to show what excellence means for the organization. Let’s say during a client visit, among other things you need a squeaky-clean washroom, then the janitor needs to play the key role. This is how I view excellence and believe that employees will naturally imbibe it as they see it resonating across the organization.

What should be the key attributes to watch out for while hiring talent?

Primarily we look out for three aspects, assuming that some of the basic and must have skills like communication and similar skills have been addressed.

  1. Intellectual Curiosity: Having a problem-solving mindset and curiosity to learn new aspects.
  2. Business Skills: Deep domain expertise where they know the industry and/ or functional landscape.
  3. Technology & Math Skills: An in-depth knowledge of technology and how to leverage it to address customer problems using the right mathematical techniques

Having a fair bit of sales exposure, what do you think is an ideal sales process?

Sales is a meeting point, a point where the need meets the right solution. Only when both parties walk away with a win-win takeaway will there be a sales success.

A smart sales professional is one who is able to unearth the need of the client and match their offering to it and educate them on what happens if the need is unmet. They must work on trust and relationship building, and what I would ask in this context is: Do you have the courage to say no, when you don’t have the right solution? You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole.

Do you have the courage to say no, when you don’t have the right solutions? You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole.

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How is data changing the world of business? Can you simplify it for us?

I am excited always to talk about data and how it is impacting our lives. Let me explain, information is at the core of all life. Call it knowledge, insights, wisdom, processed data, evidence, or whatever, the fact remains that this is the under lying truth of our lives: that everything revolves around data and information.

And let me tell you, that we have only started scratching the surface, the future lies in how data is going to power up our lives. Other richer sources of data will come into existence that will give us even better insights into the manifested behaviour as well as the underlying drivers of behaviour and decision making by customers, patients and employees.

For example, let’s say you walk into a Singles’ Bar and find another person there with whom you would like to strike a conversation. At that hesitating moment what if your watch beeps and signals you to say that he or he/ she is like minded and is looking for a partner as well?

The Healthcare industry is a good example here, with patients opening and sharing information they get high end personalized reports that can help them manage specific illnesses and conditions. This is the power of data.

What are the future predictions in the data space?

This Data Analytics industry is booming and with the right domain skills working professionals can look at this as a thriving career.

It is at a threshold of scaling up several times over and successful businesses of the future are yet to be founded. The future will see the emergence of even more interesting business models for gathering, processing and monetising data delivering timely, cost effective and personalised products and service to consumers.

How is artificial intelligence shaping the digital era? Where are we heading?

Artificial Intelligence is part of the ecosystem for sure. It leverages data and programming to come up with relevant predictions. It is a boon when it comes to handling large volumes of data for making predictions. Specially in the field of medicine it can sieve through millions of records in minutes and come up with highly accurate predictions in areas such as radiology. Humans are fallible and can make mistakes, so AI is ready to make larger strides as we go into the future into several other areas as well. From neural networks, to machine learning and deep learning all of them are going to play a significant part under the AI umbrella.

An advice that you cannot afford to forget?

Surround yourself with smarter people, don’t aspire to be the boss who has all the right answers. It is impossible to have all the answers, stop to look around and see the spectrum of capabilities that people around you bring to the table and learn from anyone who has a better idea than you. It’s as simple as that.

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What is your favourite book/author?

A book that has intrigued me is Yuval Noah Harari’s trilogy series: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

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