The 7 Questions Interview Series: Data and Supply Chain Data Integration
The 7 Questions Interview Series: Data and Supply Chain Data Integration “The 7 Question Series” is an investigative content series where we seek out key leaders in a specific industry and/or subject matter expertise area and ask them 7 key questions that “enquiring minds want to know”. There is a twist however to these questions. We provide the person being interviewed with a hypothesis for each question. This helps to frame and set context for their answer.
Data and Supply Chain Data Integration Series Objectives:
Data and Supply Chain Data Integration Series Objectives: The objective of this series is to establish direct connections with data experts across the globe and ask them the same set of 7 questions regarding data and data integration in the business. We want to derive insights from their direct experiences and expertise that will help companies, both B2B and B2C at all stages of their evolution. We are also curious to see if their answers are similar or different. These interviews will be featured on this website as a series.
The Interview with Vineet Vashishta, founder of V-Squared Consulting
Vineet Vashishta is the founder of V-Squared Consulting, The Data Science Company. He has spent the last 20 years in retail/eComm, gaming, hospitality, and finance building the teams, infrastructure and capabilities behind some of the most advanced analytics companies in the US.
Robin Smith: Has the term Big Data been over hyped? There a sense of “Big Data” fatigue, backlash even, that seems to be becoming more prevalent. Is Big Data relevant?
Vineet: Big data is a cosmos of massive ideas: narrow AI, machine learning, data science, predictive and prescriptive analytics, digital marketing and so many others. The people I work with are tired of the 50K foot view that the term “big data” represents. There’s a sense that it’s time to get to work. It’s time to build the amazing systems that we now have the tools to create and the people still talking “big data” aren’t a part of that.
Robin Smith: Do you really need data scientists as part of your big data strategy? What are the characteristics required of a data scientist? Does this have implications for our educational systems?
Vineet: How will the business build the capabilities to turn information into insights? That’s data strategy in a nutshell and it’s the same question smart businesses have been asking themselves since the beginning of business. Insights are a competitive advantage and a key differentiator. Knowledge really is power. A business needs the latest tools and skills to build the right capabilities for their business model. Once they’ve built a solid data strategy it becomes pretty obvious what personnel and tools they need to implement it.
Our current educational system must change. A high quality secondary education must be accessible to everyone. If we can figure out a way to make a Stanford or MIT level education available to everyone, you won’t recognize the world in 10 years.
Robin Smith: Is the relational database, the foundation of the data warehouse in the small data world, still relevant in a big data age?
Vineet: Yes and it will continue to be relevant for a long time to come. I’m a big advocate of a multi-polar model when it comes to data science. A relational DB is the right tool for a lot of jobs. NoSQL is the right tool when the limits of relational data structures become an impediment to performance or functionality. It’s not an all or nothing question.
Robin Smith: Given the reputation and organizational risks involved in poorly governed data (privacy, breach, quality), should data governance be a corporate governance imperative? Where should ownership of this risk reside, should company have Chief Data Officers?
Vineet: The Anthem breach. The Sony breach. The Target breach. The flurry of activity from the US government on data privacy and corporate accountability for data security. Europe’s hard line stance on data gathering and privacy. This is an ongoing discussion.
Each business needs to look at its brand and make decisions about data governance that align with their core values and public image. Google does that well and backs up their brand with the spending necessary to be the technical gold standard. Target is not a technology company. Their brand still took a huge hit because of their handling of the breach.
Data governance is another term like big data. It covers a lot of ground and is on course to suffer the same fatigue later this year and next as big data is now. As with big data, businesses are ready to get to work building the capabilities to properly gather, secure and manage their data. Companies are looking for results, not another buzzword.
Robin Smith: Is big data only for big companies with deep pockets?
Vineet: Not at all. Startups are one of the largest consumers of data science talent. They’re where the action is shifting to in data science. Large companies kicked off the move to advanced analytics by providing the proof of concepts. Now data science is moving from the highly structured business initiatives of big companies to the highly innovative products ideas of startups.
Open source is a major driver of that move. Data science tools like Weka are bringing machine learning tools to the masses. Even Microsoft has jumped in with their Azure ML platform’s free tier. Most NoSQL DBs have free versions. Cost isn’t a barrier to entry anymore and the skill needed to build apps that take advantage of data science concepts is dropping.
Robin Smith: How has data changed the way business should look at their systems?
Vineet: The real question for a CIO is what’s next in technology? Looking at the Internet of Things is like going from a garden hose of data, which is currently a massive challenge to businesses, to a fire hose. Narrow AI will be in every business application in the next 2 to 5 years. Quantum computing is coming in the next 5 to 10 years. There is no framework for an IT organization to handle change at this pace.
We’re building that framework now and the hybrid cloud is going to be a big part of that framework. NoSQL will be another huge piece of the puzzle. Security paradigms will change completely over the next 2 or 3 years. More and more experts are sounding the alarm that progress is moving from a linear model to an exponential one. A lot of us are working on models to help CIOs and the infrastructure they manage to adapt.
Robin Smith: Data ownership and value has become the latest discussion point in the data hype cycle. Has the accounting and legal paradigm changed enough for data to be defined as an asset on the balance sheet and has ownership been clearly delineated from a legal perspective?
Vineet: There’s precedence for putting data on the balance sheet as an asset. Customer lists are considered an asset in many markets. Casino gaming companies are a good example of this practice. There’s a very small casino in Nevada that shows their customer list as worth $5 million. The first time a Facebook or health care company lists data on their balance sheet with a multi-billion dollar figure next to it people are going to start paying attention. I know a few companies who have discussed doing this as soon as FY 2016. This has already moved from a theoretical discussion to a plan of action.
About V-Squared Strategy Consulting:
Our clients come to us with business problems. The best solution to many business problems is data. V-Squared teaches businesses how to use data, big and small, to solve their Marketing, Product Strategy, Process Efficiency, Business Strategy & Talent Management challenges.
FYI: Sign up to be notified when the next post in this series goes live. To do that fill in the subscribe box on the right side panel at the top of the page, or click the button below. Check out other interviews here.