Interview of the week | Rupinder Goel, Global CIO at Tata Communications

With over 25 years of experience in IT and Telecommunications, Rupinder Goel is a global technology leader and presently serves as the Global CIO for Tata Communications Ltd across all lines of business, encompassing Voice, Network, Growth Ventures and other allied lines. He works towards evolving company’s Information Technology and assets into a more flexible and creative digital platform that would greatly accelerate how we use IT as a competitive differentiator, going forward. Leading digital transformation at Tata Communications, he has driven the adoption of cloud, mobility, big data, social and automation using IoT & M2M.

Prior to joining Tata Communications, he has served as CTIO of Lebara based in UK, CIO for Bharti Airtel, Transformation and International business in India and Africa; and United Technologies in Canada, UK, Singapore and USA.


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Holding three Masters degrees- one in Science, one in Philosphy from Delhi University in India and an Executive MBA from Purdue University, USA, he loves to study nature and travel in his spare time.

In a candid chat with AIM, he talks about his role at Tata Communications, about the analytics & IoT industry in general, challenges in the industry and much more. Read the complete interview as below:

[dropcap size=”2″]AIM[/dropcap]Analytics India Magazine: In today’s era where analytics, cloud computing and connected devices have taken a centre stage, how has Tata Communications taken a front foot in ensuring a robust digital ecosystem with these technologies at the forefront?

[dropcap size=”2″]RG[/dropcap] Rupinder Goel: In today’s demanding economic environment, companies that can develop and deploy analytics faster have a significant competitive edge. They can use analytics to detect patterns and changes in markets, learn customer preferences, be alert to fraudulent activity, and more. With the advent of cloud computing, users quickly gain access to new data sources and analytic techniques, enabling companies to finally unleash their analytics – they are no longer constrained by the limits of their on-premises computing, database platform, data warehouse, and data storage capacity. However, to avoid even more data siloes, data governance issues, and more, organizations should consider a hybrid analytics architecture that brings together on premises and cloud, enabling a more controlled journey to the cloud, while enjoying the flexibility, power, and speed they need to handle a range of analytics demands.

AIM: How has been the adoption of analytics in the telecommunications industry? Would you like to shed some light on the specific use cases at your organization?

RG: Business intelligence (BI) delivers critical performance analytics and insights to workers, empowering them to make faster and better business decisions. However, enterprise-wide penetration of BI is still surprisingly low – in fact, statistics in The BI Survey 13, recently published by BARC, show that an average of just 15% of employees use BI in locations in which solutions are installed. This is partially due to the misperceptions that business intelligence is costly, difficult to use and deploy, and slow to deliver real business value.

“Self-service BI” is shattering these perceptions. It delivers low-cost, rapidly deployed decision-support, enabling any worker, regardless of job role, geographic location or department, to work from a reliable and up-to-date set of data, presented in a context and detail level relevant to job role and appropriate to data access privileges.

Once you empower workers with the data and tools to perform their own analyses, they will do it, and will generally do it well. Self-service BI eliminates the need to contact IT to run special reports or to manually assemble data from different sources into spreadsheets. Everyone in your organization – from the CEO to the VP of marketing to each individual sales rep, accountant, shipping clerk and machine operator – can gain rich, role-based analytical capabilities. Employees gain access to timely, accurate information and the ability to analyze it from any angle.

AIM: Would you like to throw some light on how Tata Communications is contributing in the space of Internet of Things? How evolved is this sector in India?

RG: The Internet of Things (IoT) will add significant value across the global economy, thanks to its ability to optimize business processes, create new services and generate business opportunities.  

Following assessment of the IoT technology options available Tata Communications has deployed a low power wide area network (LP-WAN) in India, using LoRa (Long Range Radio) technology. LoRa was chosen because it is a highly secure, wireless technology, developed to support low power, wide-area network requirements for efficient Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.   

AIM: How Tata Communications can help you deploy IoT services successfully:

RG: Network solution and provisioning: Our LoRA network provides you with the foundation that connects your devices to your applications

Device integration and deployment: We help you identify the right partner to manufacturer and configure your LoRA enabled devices

Solution design: Architect your IoT solution on a node-to-application basis, ensuring optimal performance

Management and support: Monitor, administer and support your solution on an end-to-end basis

We not only deploy a nationwide LoRa network, but also create an end-to-end technology infrastructure supported by an eco-system of developers and technology partners – to deliver a complete IoT management service capability

AIM: What is the roadmap for Tata Communication? Does any of your upcoming projects include analytics or big data driven technology?

RG: Tata Communications is in the middle of transition to a completely data driven analytical organization. We are closer to our first goal of providing complete self service enablement for everyone across the organization. Having single source of truth in every decision made. This will be followed by next step of having predictive and prescriptive capabilities.

AIM: Would you like to talk about the cloud offerings by Tata Communications?

RG: For enterprises looking to deliver seamless user experience across their networks and infrastructures, Tata Communications offers IZO: a flexible, one-stop cloud enablement platform that helps you navigate complexity for more agile business performance. Scale seamlessly, expand rapidly and stay flexible without compromising security.

The IZO™ Cloud Enablement Platform takes the complexity out of cloud computing with products designed to give your enterprise greater predictability, productivity and agility.

Our open ecosystem consolidates disparate elements of your IT architecture, allowing you to transform your enterprise, scaling up or down seamlessly without compromising security.

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

RG: With data locked away in disparate systems, when businesses require rolled-up reporting, workers must often manually copy and paste data into spreadsheets, merge and transform it with crosstabs and spreadsheet formulas, and then present the reports to business decision-makers. What often ensues is an argument over the veracity of the numbers.

Organizations mired in this “spreadsheet morass” can spend more time arguing over the accuracy of the data than they spend making the required decisions. With self-service BI, data from source systems is automatically extracted, transformed and loaded into a data model that resolves conflicts. Data is regularly updated. The result is a “single version of the truth.” Users can then set aside the debate over the veracity of the numbers and instead focus on collaboration, analyzing promising opportunities, identifying root causes of waste and optimizing existing products and processes. Once departmental data silos and “spreadmarts” are eliminated, workers find that data transparency, consistency and trustworthiness help them work smarter and more effectively.

AIM: How have the trends evolved over time in the analytics space? What are the most recent trends that shape the landscape?

RG: Predictive analytics will be a key differentiator for modern apps: Embedded predictive analytics—whether embedded in existing applications and workflows, on devices, in memory or in real-time analytics systems—will become the key differentiator for modern apps. Consumers will expect their software to anticipate their needs, driving requirements for predictive capabilities in all apps. Spatially aware apps will become more intelligent and more common – the “who is near me” functionality of apps like Waze and Tinder will become more intelligent and prevalent in other use cases. App creators looking to embed will be faced with the key question: build, buy or partner? Leading innovators will integrate existing technology to get to market the fastest.

Data Science tools become a commodity: First, the reigning king was SAS. Second, was the disruptive open source R. Now, Python will likely take over as the most popular data science language. But here’s the thing: it’s not about the tool. It’s whether or not what you create with the tool delivers value to the organization. As the wonder and mystery of data science begins to wear off…so will the hype (and high prices!) around the data science tools. The tools vendors left standing will be the ones who properly equipped their customers to solve major business problems leveraging predictive analytics.

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Srishti Deoras
Srishti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.

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