Interview – Amit Khanna, Partner at KPMG


Amit Khanna-1Last month, KPMG appointed Amit Khanna as head – data analytics practice in India. He joins the company from Accenture Consulting, where he was partner and lead for advance analytics delivery & solution centre for their Indian and global operations.

Amit Khanna speaks with Analytics India Magazine on his charter at KPMG and how he plans to achieve the same.


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[dropcap size=”2″]AIM[/dropcap]Analytics India Magazine: What is your charter with KPMG?

[dropcap size=”2″]AK[/dropcap]Amit Khanna: KPMG advices clients on various issues which are faced by Business leaders there. Recently, there has been a huge data proliferation from the data that organizations are capturing. My charter is very simple – how can we use that data to improve the decision making of these businesses. That’s predominantly the charter and it can include getting insights from data, do predictive analytics from data, give a view of how future is going to look or just helping them create an infrastructure to store and use the data.

The Indian market is on the verge of a major data and analytics explosion. It’s growing very rapidly and chances are that it will go much faster than the recent past. Two reasons – One, the technology which was earlier not common with Indian businesses, is much better today. In the last few years, lot of Indian businesses has setup technology centers and they have upgraded their technology, so they have lot more data to look into. Second is the maturity aspect where organizations have realized that if they really have to compete, they have to do so on factual decision making.

From KPMG perspective it’s a fairly interesting space for us to grow and increase our market presence. In next 1 to 2 years we would like to become the most preferred partners for our corporate friends in terms of giving them insights from data they generate. We aspire to be the dominant players in business analytics space in India in next 1-2 years.

AIM: How do you plan to achieve this?

[pullquote]We are trying to get best talent, best partners and work with the best corporates in the market to make analytics a part of the culture in Indian marketplace.[/pullquote]AK: We are setting up the full practice. I joined a month back and we have a plan for next year that is ready. We are working on 3 areas – First, we are working with our partners to create the infrastructure where we can provide them the insights. We are working with various tools/ technology providers to make sure we have right tools/ technology to analyze the data and give them the insights. Second, we are working to get the best of talent in the market. We are building a small but perhaps the most powerful team in Indian market that has the best talent.

Third and more important, we are working with lot of functional experts and corporates to give our insights a touch of practicality. The reason that people have not found good use of analytics is that most of the times it is treated as part of report and not as part of business. Our intention is to make analytics insights more business specific and ideally it should come at a lower capital cost investment than it used to be. The analytics should sit beside the business manager and he should have ability to take decisions based on analytics quickly.

AIM: KPMG is relatively a late entrant in the market than most of your competitors. How do you see that?

AK:  KPMG made the concentrated move now in business analytics space. Quite a lot of our advisory work used data analytics. We are trying to consolidate all of that, leverage it better and do it in a more structured way.

Second, we are trying to position this is very different. We are trying to be closer to the business, rather what earlier folks did i.e. to be closer to the tools. Here we have an advantage i.e. in this new space where people are trying to position analytics closer to the business, we have a head start.

Third, globally KPMG is making a big splash into analytics space with initiatives like KPMG capital. So this would give us a lot of energy and motivation to get ahead here in India.

AIM: What would be the key differentiator of your offerings from your competitors?

AK: We are trying to work with our clients to improve their business by giving them right analytical insights. The way we are going to work would more be like “Lets understand your business”, “Lets figure out the kind of insights you need for better decision making around your business” and we will go back and figure out the right data whether its inside or outside client’s business, compile the data and analyze that data and provide the insights.

The idea is to help client improve their business performance rather than just sell some licenses.

AIM: What are the specific clients/ industries that you would target in short term?

AK: We are going to target most of the sectors but it is going to be predominantly functions that have higher impact on balance sheet and P/L, so it would be high impact sectors. We would have lot of work on Risk, Transactional/ Restructuring, Sales, Marketing and Operations horizontals. We would remain predominantly in these horizontals across verticals which predominantly are financial services, media/ telecom, manufacturing and consumer markets.

AIM: What do you think about the analytics industry in India?

AK: If you look at analytics industry in India 3-4 years back it was more driven by tools/ technologies. It used to be BI, information/ data management, reports and dashboards. In the last 1-2 years, there’s lot of analytical insights that have started to play in. There are some sectors that are slightly more mature like financial services, banking, and insurance. But other sectors are catching up. There has been a decent increase in the adoption of analytics in decision making process. My personal sense is that it is going to increase. I personally believe that analytics in India is on the verge of explosion, whether it happens in next 6 months or next 1 year is anyone’s guess.

amit khannaAIM: What are the key challenges you see in the industry?

AK: Three big challenges – First, integrity of data. The quality and integrity of data coming out of Indian businesses is not very good. Enterprises had systems but they have never utilized these systems in the best possible way to capture the right data at the right level of quality.

Second, a short supply of talent in this space. We do not have the best talent in the marketplace. People are still far more theoretical than business minded in terms of using the analytical insights.

Third is much more subjective where Indian CXO’s have not started to make fact based decisions. People are still making decision on what their gut feel says. Now that’s changing very rapidly because numbers are playing a larger role in business management.

So, I think once we get good quality data and get talent to crunch that data, the decision making process would start to get influenced automatically by analytics.

AIM: Anything else you would like to add?

AK:  Analytics is a good and rapidly moving industry. For a young professional who want to make his career, this is the industry to be in. The industry is going to change the way we have been doing businesses since last few centuries. Analytics is a new paradigm to do business which all of us would adopt sooner or later, where decision would be made on more fact/ number based. Analytics would become the new management science and competitive advantage for corporation.


[spoiler title=”Biography of Amit Khanna” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]

Amit joined KPMG India last month after 18 years of experience. Prior to joining KPMG, he was a Partner and Managing Director with Accenture Management Consulting where he led the global consulting practice for Business Analytics, Customer insights, Sales and Marketing transformation. He started the Accenture Analytics consulting practice in India in 2008 serving both Indian & Global clients and grew the team size to 500+ resources in a span of 5 years. Amit has extensive experience in running analytics driven transformation/ programs for the clients. He was one of the founder members in building advance analytics capability for Accenture Management Consulting and was part of Accenture advance analytics global leadership team.

Amit has also done lot of work in areas of analytics capability development & analytics adaption in Organizations. He has worked extensively with various universities to develop Analytics & Data scientist curriculum. He personally own 2 analytics patents, he has also worked with large global clients to help them design their analytics organization & adapt a fact based culture.

Before Accenture, Amit was service delivery lead for customer and marketing analytics team in GECIS (now Genpact). He has helped developing GE analytics team for NA, Europe & APAC.

He has held senior positions in sales and marketing leadership in consumer goods industry before moving to consulting about 10 years back.[/spoiler]

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