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Interview - Arvind Nagpal, Founder at TEG Analytics


Interview - Arvind Nagpal, Founder at TEG Analytics


DSC_8498Arvind has 20 years of management experience in building business units from ground up. After working with global companies through the e-Business boom/bust, ERP wave, and the global delivery phenomenon, one thing that stood out for Arvind was the vast data assets getting built in these organizations. Arvind started TEG with a vision to bring Analytics to the mainstream Arvind guided the team to build IP that allows a business user to engage in high end Analytics based decision making without getting bogged down by complex algorithms and techniques running in the background. Arvind is a published author, frequent speaker at industry conferences and has anchored high profile sessions with Chief Marketing Officers from some of the top retail and consumer goods companies. Mr. Nagpal earned his undergraduate degree in Engineering from REC Allahabad and Masters in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from North Carolina State University.

[su_dropcap style="flat" size="2"]AIM[/su_dropcap]Analytics India Magazine: What are some of the main tenets (philosophies, goals, attributes) of analytics approach and policies at your organization?



[su_dropcap style="flat" size="2"]AN[/su_dropcap]Arvind Nagpal: Over centuries of human existence, while pure science interpreted the human mind (logic); pure art tried to understand human emotion. Analytics is the "science" of understanding data and the "art" of interpreting what it has to say. Today Analytics is disruptive because:

  1. Since the past decade, with the proliferation of technology,  all businesses now have the potential to access valuable data about their business/consumer
  2. True Analytics, defined by advanced statistical principles, allows you to analyse this data at high computing speeds to discover patterns and insights
  3. These insights can be linked to both the human logic and human emotion driving behaviour, thus understanding the true drivers of business and the inevitable, repeatable cycles that they create

We exist; because we believe that data, and the insights hidden in it, is the next frontier for competitive advantage.

AIM: Please brief us about the size of your analytics division and what is hierarchal alignment, both depth and breadth.

AN: We have around 70 analysts across our India & US offices. The India office is our primary delivery centre and the US office is primarily a client management and sales office. We primarily have 2 teams, a services delivery team, which is about 70% of the organization and a small, but high-powered product development team. We are not organized by verticals, but by client groups. We have clients across CPG, Retail, BFSI, Pharmaceuticals & Auto and encourage movement of analysts across these verticals to maximize cross fertilization of ideas

AIM: Would you like to share any example of an Insight that generated a huge positive impact for your clients?

AN: There are few that come to mind immediately.

We did an acquisition scorecard for one of our credit card clients using logistic regression modeling. The results of the scorecards were used to screen applicants for chances of potential default. The client was a credit card & personal loans lender to sub prime borrowers and had a very high rate of charge offs. Since the tenure of their products were low, we could track the performance of the cohorts that were selected basis our scorecards over 6 months and compare charge offs with historical rates. We saw a drop of 8-10% in charge offs for various campaign cohorts. Which is a direct 8-10% impact on bottom line.

We did an in depth loyalty management analytics program for one of India’s leading department stores. Based on our analysis using cluster based segmentation, product adjacencies and ANCOVA based promotion effectiveness analysis, we made a series of recommendations on customers to target , products to bundle together and campaigns to continue / discontinue. Tracking the results from our recommendations via a systematic DOE framework, we estimated the bottom-line impact to be 1.8-2 % of revenue.

AIM: How did you start your career in analytics?

AN: I had worked extensively in the ERP space published a book on bringing data into SAP from internal as well as external sources. When I saw the masses of data being collected by organizations, it was clear to me that the next revolution in business applications would be in harnessing the power of this data to generate profitable insights. I was leading the SAP unit at Cognizant, when I decided to venture to the world of analytics and founded TEG.

AIM: What are the next steps/ road ahead for analytics at your organizations?

AN: If businesses knew all the questions they will ever need to answer, the IT department could build a "system" that meets their requirements. Unfortunately, most often IT and business teams do not share the same perspective!

TEG partnered with business users in different industries and conceived, designed and built our proprietary FUTUREWORKS platform. It is a hassle-free Hosted Analytics solution that caters to the needs of business users. It allows them to focus on deriving actionable insights from information without having to worry about the rest.

TEG is building industry specific products that leverage this platform, along with advanced 4th generation analytics, to help you outsmart your competition. We have already launched the product in Digital Marketing space and more are in the pipeline.

AIM: What are a few things that organizations should be doing with their analytics efforts that most don’t do today?

AN: TEG Analytics is not just a technology company.

But we invest heavily in technology to "enable" the insights discovery process…

TEG Analytics is not a market research company.

We have built partnerships with the biggest market research agencies to convert the data collected by them into actionable insights… 

TEG Analytics is not just a data warehouse company.

We have unique expertise in building/working with petabytes of content in data warehouses to discover kilobytes of insights…

Most organizations today operate in analytics at either an information or intelligence stage – the key is to move to the insights stage!

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AIM: What are the most significant challenges you face being in the forefront of analytics space?

AN: The biggest challenge we face is the traditional mindset that putting large volumes of data can automatically create insights and big positive changes in business – simply by putting more computing power or science behind it. The process of using data/analytics as a competitive advantage is as much of an art as a science. A clear business brief and well-structured hypothesis (based on business experience) are the essential starting points for effective analytics.

AIM: What do you suggest to new graduates aspiring to get into analytics space?

AN: Love numbers because they have gems of hidden insights in them. Believe that data can talk, but it needs a language to communicate. Think of analytics as a lifelong practice where you constantly master this new language, enabling your data to share its wisdom with you!

AIM: What kind of knowledge worker do you recruit and what is the selection methodology? What skill sets do you look at while recruiting in analytics?

AN: Our analytics profession requires us to create insights from data; and then craft a story based on those insights - a story that brings clients’ data to life! We recruit people who love numbers, have a flair for telling great insights, people who can simplify complex ideas to a language their grandmother can understand. We look for talent in people for capture information around them and put it in the right context, a filtering mind that can scan, store and prioritize all the information captured around their 5 senses.

We recruit people based on analytical tests, good GD communication skills to get to the meat of the matter quickly and real life business case studies they need to solve to showcase their problem solving approach.

AIM: How do you see Analytics evolving today in the industry as a whole? What are the most important contemporary trends that you see emerging in the Analytics space across the globe?

AN: TEG envisions a world where businesses can respond real-time to the needs of their business. And such responses require insights that are generated as fast as (or faster) the rate of change in your business environment. Businesses will soon do away with archaic methods of collecting, transforming and analysing data - because these take time - time that they do not have!

These will be replaced with sophisticated & automated data harmonizers, efficient big data systems (Big Data platforms), advanced statistical knowledge and intensive business domain experience to create Insights@Speed of Business!

 



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