Speaker Spotlight Column: Thiag Loganathan on Analytics

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edw2013-speaker-spotlightby Charles Roe

DATAVERSITY™ recently interviewed Thiag Loganathan, the President of the Big Data Insights Division at DMI. Thiag will be giving a session at the Enterprise Data World 2014 Conference in Austin, Texas from April 27 – May 1, 2014. His session is titled “Using Visualization & Mobility for Actionable Analytics” and will be co-presented with Marty Dunham, the Vice President of IT at Thrivent Financial.

The Speaker Spotlight Column (and its parallel venture the Sponsor Spotlight Column) is an ongoing project that focuses on highlighting several of the central issues represented at the many Data Management conferences produced by DATAVERSITY.

The primary emphasis of the interview was to question Thiag Loganathan on his work and history within the industry, with particular importance on his presentation at the upcoming conference:

DATAVERSITY (DV): What are you going to discuss during your session at EDW14, and what will the audience gain from attending your talk? (Please be specific about one or two issues you’ll be addressing and the benefits the audience will obtain).

Thiag Loganathan (TL): We are going to discuss about Actionable Analytics. A “Package of Analysis”, information presented in a way, with summary, trends and relevant supporting details are needed for it to be trusted, used and acted upon.

Visualization and Mobility are at the forefront of making information easy to use and available when needed. We partnered with Thrivent in delivering “package of analysis” for a few initiatives, with high rate of adoption. Others can apply this methodology to improve user adoption of BI/Data.

DV: What is really important about such a topic in terms of the current state of Data Management and / or how the industry going to transform moving into the future?

TL: The days of 100+ page reports are gone. C-Suite users are looking to make decisions based on data and analytics. But, have a very short attention span and demand consumer grade experience… Information has to be easy to understand, actionable and available when needed… Anything less, will decrease the adoption and reduce the value of the effort spent putting the data together.

Results of analysis in the form of actionable insights are no longer an optional component of Big Data analytics. Visualization and Mobility are key tools in making the information easy to consume and available when needed. The trend is here to stay – if you’re not on board, you’re already behind.

DV: Please tell us a little about yourself and your history in the industry, past work experience, and how you got started in the data profession?

TL: I’m the President of DMI’s Big Data Insights Division, which provides strategic guidance for customers to tame Big Data, make decisions using Business Intelligence & Predictive Analytics.

Before that, I founded Kalvin Consulting in 2007 and grew it into a successful Business Intelligence and Analytics solution provider. In 2013, DMI acquired Kalvin to form DMI’s Big Data Insights Division.

I’m naturally curious towards patterns and driving efficiencies using the observed patterns… Introduction into usage related statistics and the underlying patterns which drove usage during my days at LexisNexis in late 90s, led to what is now a fun and exciting career around data and analytics.

Today, along with the rest of the team, I focus on helping our customers to make information easy and relevant to use.

DV: What is the biggest challenge happening in your particular area of Data Management at this time?

TL: Predictive analytics is one of the biggest challenges – and opportunities – in Big Data Analytics. As our end users shift from data-focused teams to business decision makers, it’s critically important that we synthesize the data in the right way – it must be useful and relevant. Predictive analytics is enabling us to do this with a fascinating twist. Not only are we able to report on past actions and deliver information about what’s already happened and why…but now we’re able to use that information to predict future events. And we’re able to do that with increasing accuracy. That’s a huge opportunity for us, and for the decision makers who are coming to us requesting predictive analytics.

DV: How is such a change influencing your job?

TL: The changes in Big Data analytics are making it more important for me to continue to build a smart, dedicated team with varying skill sets. I have to have folks on my team who are able to think critically about data through the whole lifecycle – from data collection, cleansing, analysis to visualization for easy consumption.

I’ve always loved to be able to interact with people having different skills and personalities. Putting together and guiding the teams, with various skills and personalities needed to deliver business outcomes for our customers have never been more challenging and rewarding.

DV: How have your job, and / or the work you are doing at your organization, altered in the past 12 months? How do you expect it will change in the next 1-2 years?

TL: Our focus is changing to speed of delivery rather than completeness of analysis – let me explain that. In the past world of Data Warehousing – was that only last year? – Enormous chunks of data were gathered and fully analyzed. Reporting on your data could easily take months to get to you. We no longer have the luxury of time, and the technologies we work with have drastically increased the speed at which we’re able to deliver analyses. Increasing the speed of delivery has made Big Data analytics even more attractive to senior executives, who are now able to use data to make decisions with greater accuracy. We’re delivering the ability to make decisions faster, with greater accuracy, and enable faster action. In the next 1-2 years, I expect to see continued attention from senior executives as we continue to roll out tools that inject useful data into decision making processes that have traditionally relied more heavily on guesswork. I predict we’ll see more and more decisions made based on data and insights.

DV: Are there any other emerging technologies you predict will affect your job function in the future?

TL: Mobility is changing everything, and we’re already seeing the results of this disruptive technology in the world of Big Data. A few years ago, we weren’t thinking about delivering reports and analysis on mobile devices, and now, we’ve got to be doing it because it’s where the industry is going. The business world is demanding that data be analyzed, synthesized, and delivered in very short spans of time to enable quick decision making. The retail sector in particular is pushing for near-immediate delivery of data. They’re interested in knowing what a customer wants to buy before the customer places an order. We see brick and mortar retailers testing mobile devices that remind customers of frequently purchased items and offer discounts based on the customer’s location in the store and past buying history. We’re also seeing customer service personnel equipped with mobile devices that will deliver updates on what a customer is probably most interested in purchasing – down to the size, color, and fit of an article of clothing.

DV: What’s your favorite “Data” or “Data Management” quote?

TL: If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. Albert Einstein, Physicist

DV: How do you explain what you do for work, at a cocktail party, or to your grandparents?

TL: I’m a navigator. I help my customers to navigate through challenges and reach their business goals, learning from the past and looking forward, beyond the horizon.

 

If you are interested in attending Thiag Loganathan’s session at EDW2014, please see the conference schedule at: http://edw2014.dataversity.net/agenda.cfm?confid=79&scheduleDay=PRINT

His session is on Tuesday, April 29th at 1.15pm.

About Enterprise Data World:
Enterprise Data World is the business world’s most comprehensive educational event about data and information management. Over five days, EDW presents a diverse schedule of programming that addresses every level of proficiency, including keynotes, workshops, tutorials, case studies, and discussions.

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