The Infosys Labs research blog tracks trends in technology with a focus on applied research in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)


March 20, 2019

Future of Personalized Assistant

The adoption and usage of smart assistants is gaining popularity with more and more people using google, apple, or amazon assistants for navigation, searching, scheduling, doing mails etc. With advent of new age of communication and application based digital economy the usage smart assistants will be ubiquitous. Apart from helping people in their day to day repetitive tasks smart assistants will eventually integrate into our lives as our alter egos. But that might take couple of decades to become reality. 
Other take is how smart assistants can help us in learning new skills or moderate our actions to improve existing capability?  In today's world smart assistants can certainly act as information or knowledge provider; can they go beyond and play the role of personalized coach? Well, the answer is yes; with growing power of data processing and advancements in ML and AI techniques smart assistants are poised to take up such roles. By leveraging right sets of data we might be able to infuse capabilities human personas of champions of fields in the smart assistants. Imagine someone is working on a presentation note that needs to be rearticulated, and he takes the help of an assistant which is powered by Shahi Tharoor like grip in English language. Or a guy preparing a desert recipe gets culinary suggestions from Sanjeev Kapoor; or a young tennis player is getting backhand shot tips from Federer.

Continue reading "Future of Personalized Assistant" »

October 11, 2013

Can formal requirement methods work for agile?

By Shobha Rangasamy Somasundaram & Amol Sharma

Formal methods adapted and applied to agile, provide clear and complete requirement, which is fundamental to the successful build of any product. The product might be developed by following Methodology-A or Methodology-B, which changes very few things as far as knowing what to build goes. So we could safely state that the development methodology used by the project team could be any, but good requirements are absolutely necessary. The manner in which we go about eliciting and gathering requirements would differ, and needless to say, this holds true for agile development too.

Continue reading "Can formal requirement methods work for agile?" »

September 30, 2013

Ten Challenges of a Chief Innovation Officer

It is very easy to allocate funds and develop a strategy for innovation within an organization, however it is very difficult to make it successful and keep the interest of innovators. If innovation program is not managed well then it loses its importance in very short period of time. While implementing innovation program, there are many challenges such as operational, financial and resources, etc. However, ten main challenges for sustainable innovation management are discussed as following.    

1. Innovation Governance is the key for major decision making, such as acceptance of an idea for incubation, funding of an idea and marketing of finished product or service. Innovation governance should have decision makers from various functions of an organization as well as from outside of the organization. It should also have subject matter experts. This varied group helps to select the best ideas for incubation. They also decide the funding required and helps to calculate the risk associated with the innovation idea. The challenge for innovation officer is to define most effective governance structure and proactive members for various roles of governance.

2. Innovation Team is essential to execute the innovation program. This team must have entrepreneurial mindset. Thus, they have to be psychologically assessed on their entrepreneurial skills before they are selected for various roles of innovation office. These team members should have varied experience and skills. Identifying such team is a serious challenge for chief innovation office as entrepreneurial quality people are few.

3. Innovation Process has to be very simple and transparent. There should not be delay/gap between two connecting processes. For example, after submission of an idea by innovator, its result has to be declared in very short time. Otherwise, innovator usually loses interest and rarely pursues idea to the next level. Also, chances of innovator to participate again are rare. Thus, innovation processes should speed up the procedure and not to hurdle the innovation program. Also, numbers of processes have to be minimal. Innovation office has to work like a startup. Thus, has to be more informal in processes and quick in action. Therefore, innovation officer has to manage the balance between organizational formal set of processes and informal set up of innovation office. Automated innovation program management portal is very useful for managing innovation processes.

4. Innovation Tools are essential for training of innovators. Very first time, innovators mostly fail to realize the concept of innovative idea. Thus, their ideas are unrealistic or less valuable to the organization. Many participants are enthusiastic to contribute in innovation program but may not be able to understand how to participate because they face challenges in generating ideas. Thus, innovation tools come handy for innovators. These tools help them to make their idea more powerful and useful to the organization. There are many tools available. But, the real challenge for innovation officer is how to train innovators on these tools. It is very difficult to train every interested person in class room. Therefore, best way is to use online learning.   

5. Idea Selection for incubation is the process after idea submission by innovators. In this step, every idea is thoroughly investigated for its possible business potential and investment required. As investment is required in incubation and commercialization of an idea, every idea has to be analyzed on various risky parameters. Usually idea selection model is used to quantify the potential of an idea. Thus, innovation officer has to see that idea selection model is well defined and customized according to the need of domain and organizational business needs.

6. Innovation Portfolio has to be well balanced with combination of ideas having low (L) risk, medium (M) risk and high (H) risk. More the risk better is the rewards. However, more risk also leads to chances of investment loss. Thus, innovation officer has to define initial portfolio with lower risk and has to transform it to moderate risk portfolio over a period. Thus, first innovation portfolio should look like 10-20-70; it mean that 10% resources allocation for high risk projects, 20% for medium risk and 70% on low risk projects. After transformation, new portfolio should have more projects from both medium risk and high risk. Thus, new innovation portfolio should be 15-35-50 or 15-45-40 on H-M-L risk. The challenge for innovation office is to select the best proportion of projects of various risks, which suits the organization.

7. Rapid Prototype is the key in assessing the idea quickly and also reduces time required to take the idea to market. Agile methodology has to be adopted to develop the quick prototype of an idea. It reduces the investment required and gives better picture of an idea in a short period of time. It also reduces the risk because the idea can be judged before going into full-fledged production. Survey can be conducted on prototype to understand an acceptance of idea by customers. If the idea is well accepted by customers then prototype is transferred for production otherwise idea can be scrapped, thus it reduces further investment. The challenge for innovation officer is to select tool(s) and methodology for quick development of prototype with less investment.

8. Rewards and Recognitions is the integral part of innovation program. It attracts innovators for participation as well as it is the way to recognize their contribution. Though, the overall structure of rewards and recognition has to be in parallel with an organization policy, but considering the importance of innovation and psyche of participants, it has to be tweaked to match their interest. It is essential to give rewards or recognitions at each stage of innovation process. This keeps participants involvement very high. The challenge for innovation officer is to decide the rewards and the recognition given which will appeal the innovators. Officer also has to balance the organization's rewards and recognition policy and rewards given to innovators.

9. Innovator Engagement tactics keep innovator's participation high in the innovation program. Better engagement is possible only by transparent and automated processes. Innovators also have to be supported for idea elaboration and should be allowed to lead their ideas if selected for incubation. The innovation officer has to identify and implement all possible means to keep innovators engaged. Rewards and recognition also helps keep them engaged.

10. Success Measurement of innovation program is necessary as organizations are investing into program.  Hence, they are interested to know how innovation program is effective within the organization. Challenge for innovation officer is to define the best measurement method. While defining measurement method, innovation officer has to decide the combination of non-financial and financial parameters for measurement. The non-financial parameters are very important during the early stages of innovation program. Also, it is essential to note that success measurement has to be aligned with the purpose of innovation program. Linking success only with the return on investment is most likely to showcase as failure of innovation program, which is not always true because many in-tangible benefits can be realized through innovation program.

How should an Innovation Portfolio be?

Deciding an innovation portfolio is one of the big challenges for chief innovation office. It involves deciding about which innovation ideas have to be incubated, considering the investment required and risk involved in every idea.

Every potential idea may look like a gold mine which may change the fate of the company. However, it may not be always true because there is a risk of failure in every idea. Thus, before investing into an idea, it is required to assess an idea to manage the investment risk. Adoption of portfolio approach for incubating ideas is a better way to manage the investment risk.

Innovation portfolio should typically look like a combination of multiple ideas of low, medium and high risk. We can use the analogy of A-B-C rule where, A stands for bucket of projects of high risk, B stands for bucket of projects of medium risk and C stands bucket of projects of low risk.

Organizations should have their initial innovation portfolio based on A-B-C- or H-M-L Rule. Thus, initial innovation portfolio should look like:

  1. A or H Bucket of Projects: This is a bucket of high risk innovation projects. These projects are usually radical/transformational and mostly new to industry. These projects are focused on developing new generation products or services, and usually use emerging or very new technologies. Being high risky projects, the numbers of projects are limited to few so that sufficient attention can be provided to control the risk and maximize return. Return on investment on this bucket of projects can give up to 60%, while which resources allocation can be up to 10% of total resources/efforts used in innovation. 
  2. B or M Bucket of Projects: This is a bucket of medium risk projects. These innovation projects are mostly new to organization and focuses on development of products or services those are new to the organization but known to industry. These projects usually leverage existing technologies. Considerable return can be expected from this bucket which may rise up to 25% and resources allocation can be up to 20% of total resources/efforts used in innovation. 
  3. C or L Bucket of Projects: This is a bucket of low risk projects. Resources allocation can be 70% of total resources/efforts used in innovation. These projects are usually incremental changes in existing products or services of the organization. Thus, risk is very low; hence, return on investment is also not much and may be up to 15%. Many times benefits may be non-financial or in-tangible. The use of technologies is restricted to mature and well accepted technologies.

How to allocate the project into L, M or H bucket is a critical task. Organization can have their own model for allocation of the project into their respective buckets. While developing the model, following parameters and questions can be used:

  • Novelty: What is novelty of an idea?
  • Market: What is market size of an idea?
  • Customer: What is the benefit to a customer?
  • Growth: How is it supporting the growth of the organization?
  • Allocation of resources: What are the resources required?
  • Investment: How much is the investment required?
  • Return on investment: How much is expected return on investment? Is it tangible or intangible?
  • Competition pressure: Is there any pressure because the competitor has adopted it?
    Risk: How much risk is involved?
  • Technologies Used: What kind of technologies are required to develop an idea and, are those mature?

Aggregated reply to the above questions on certain measurement scale will help to allocate project to any one of the buckets H,M, or L.

During initial phase of innovation, typically innovation portfolio may have maximum number of projects of incremental changes or low risk. These types of projects will never generate expected growth from the innovation portfolio, thus portfolio has to be transformed over a period from low risk to medium risk.

As organization matures on innovation, it should systematically analyze innovation portfolios and manage risk to increase the proportion of innovation projects having more risk and more rewards. Thus, H-M-L portfolio should not look like 10-20-70 or low risk portfolio. The new portfolio should have more projects from medium risk and from high risk. Thus, new innovation portfolio should be 15-35-50 or 15-45-40 on H-M-L risk.

Periodically or every year organization should evaluate their innovation portfolio to see the ratio of H-M-L. It should neither be in low risk zone nor be in very high risk zone. Having low risk or very high risk in innovation portfolio may always lead to failure of innovation program.


  • Day, G. S., (2007). Is It Real? Can We Win? Is It Worth Doing? Managing Risk and Reward in an Innovation Portfolio. Harvard Business Review, December, pp. 110-120.
  • Nagji B., & Tuff G., (2012).Managing Your Innovation Portfolio. Harvard Business Review, May, pp. 68-74.

Disruption in TV industry

Ever since the first TV broadcast happened in late 1930s, the penetration, choice of content offered, and average viewing hours per day has gone up and so has the cable subscription fees. The turning point in the industry came in 1995 with the delivery of first ever TV program via internet. Nearly two decades after that, internet TV, VOD (video on demand), YouTube, Netflix, Hulu etc. have penetrated the market but the TV industry is still doing its business in the same manner. However, some recent developments in the market with the entry of players like Aereo suggest that it's time for the long impending change in business models.

Let's just briefly check who the players are and what the flow of money presently is-

Multi video programming distributors- MVPDs are cable companies and DTH (direct to home) satellite TV providers like Dish TV. They earn their monies through the subscription fees paid by the consumers and local advertising revenue. They buy programming content or channel bundles from the networks.

Networks- Networks like Viacom provide programming content in the form of channels with TV shows. Usually networks give a "bundle" of channels to MVPDs for which MVPD pays affiliate fees. So it's the networks which make channel bundles not the Pay TV companies.

Over the top services (OTT) - OTT is the term used for web based or broadband delivery of video and audio without a set top box. It includes Netflix, Hulu, Itunes, Amazon etc.

Then there are 3rd party OTTs which include the likes of Google and Apple TV. These are on demand boxes which enable delivery of content on your TV or computer, tablet, phone etc.  The OTTs either charge a subscription fee (e.g. Netflix) or pay per view (e.g. iTunes).

OTTs have been trying to cut licensing deals with networks in order to populate their libraries with desired content. The challenge here is that the networks want to charge retransmission fee and sell "bundles" rather than a-la-carte.

Networks have long been the most powerful players in TV industry. On the other hand the OTTs are struggling to come up with a business model that would generate revenues for them and provide customers more choice (a-la-carte) at lesser cost along with mobility to consume content anywhere, anytime.

The company that looks like the game changer here is Indian innovator Chaitanya Kanojia's Aereo backed by media baron Barry Diller. It provides tiny antennas on rent which can pick up broadcasters free over-the-air signal and transmit them to an Apple TV or Roku device for as low as $8 a month. Consumers can watch live or record on a cloud based DVR (digital video recorder). The channels can also be streamed on computer, Ipad or Iphone. It doesn't carry all channels, but only those that are broadcast over the air (does not carry "cable only" channels) and it does not pay any retransmission fees to networks like cable companies and other OTTs do.

Major broadcasters, including NBC and Fox, filed a case against Aereo in New York, alleging that Aereo's technology is copyright infringement, but court ruled in favor of Aereo, while in Los Angeles Aereo lost a similar case. There are chances that the litigation might end up in Supreme Court or the congress in which case the broadcasting laws will have to be changed. As of now Aereo's services are available in New York and Aereo is planning to reach 20 cities in the first expansion phase.

Aereo's future is not clear but its entry sure has disrupted the status quo. While the big broadcasters like CBS are considering pulling their signals off the air and go cable only, cable companies like Time Warner who were paying retransmission fees to the networks till now are considering using similar technology as Aereo. All this can lead to huge revenue losses for broadcasters.

Customers want mobility in consuming content and to pay only for content they actually consume, Aereo gives them this choice. Early adopters have already picked it up and seems like the industry is on the verge of the next big change which will make the broadcasters rethink on new ways to distribute content.


July 23, 2013

Planning Future Strategies with the aid of History

"Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past" wrote Niccolò Machiavelli, the renaissance era Italian strategist. What does that mean for corporate strategists? Does this mean that one should conduct a historical study of the industry, of the company or of a particular strategic area where one wants to take a decision? There would be many who rubbish this. They would say what good is studying strategies that won yesterday's clients, markets and businesses worth in today's supersonic world of businesses. However, I would argue that for leaders and strategists to seize the zeitgeist, they need to take the effort to study the past. It is important to understand why certain strategies were adopted, actions taken and the business environment that prevailed when such decisions were taken. The glass for a crystal ball must come from the mirror that has seen the past.

Continue reading "Planning Future Strategies with the aid of History" »

March 29, 2013

Measuring Service Experience in IT Enabled Shared Services

1. Introduction

Service experience is the key for success of shared services. Rich service experience helps in achieving high Return on Investment (ROI). To calculate ROI, it is necessary to quantify an experience. Therefore, it is essential to understand the stages in service experience and its types.

In the first stage of experience, user gathers information about the service from the trusted sources and develops the first impression of service. Next stage is about operational interaction with the service or consumption of service. Afterwards, it is a stage of cognitive process to create memories which leads the user to generate positive or negative opinion about the service. 

2. Types of Experiences

There are mainly two types of experiences experienced by consumers: Operational Experience and Emotional Experience.

  • Operational or Tangible Experience is based on operational or consumption experience of service. Elements of operational experience are such as: Resources, Functionality, Quality, Usability, Flexibility, and Support.
  • Emotional or Intangible Experience is based on feelings gathered while using a service. Elements of emotional experience are: Satisfaction, Brand Promotion and Loyalty.

3. How to Measure Service Experience

In ideal situation, user request should be completed in a single attempt. However, ideal incidences are uncommon. User may have to do multiple attempts to complete a request. This hampers user experience. User experience can be enhanced by using multiple techniques. However, it is necessary to deliver an experience expected by a consumer. After providing required service experience, the next big challenge is to quantify the experience.

Collection and analysis of data is the first step in quantification of experience. Majority of data required for operational experience can be captured at system level, while psychological data can be collected through survey. Next step is to develop metrics, which are required to convert data into quantifiable experience.

Benchmarking or base-lining has to be done before modifying user experience. The metric results obtained during base-lining will be compared with the metrics obtained after implementation of modified experience. The changes in before-after metric suggest level of changes in experience.

4. Operational Experience

4.1 Resources

  • IT Resources: Optimized and automated services reduces the requirements of IT infrastructure, such as servers and bandwidth. Increase in number of requests per server and reduced use of internet bandwidth can be used to derive metrics for IT resources. 
  • Human resources: It is about measuring increase in number of requests supported by an individual support staff.

4.2 Functionality

  • Completeness: A service has to fulfill user needs. It is essential to understand the extent up to which service is serving the desired purpose. Completeness of service is a metric to match between user needs and service offerings. 
  • Easiness: Request is a consumption of service by a user. User should be able to raise a request very easily (without any hurdle) i.e. request generation should be completed in first attempt. If user faces problems while generating a request, then it may be difficult for user to raise the request in first attempt. Easiness is a metric of raising a request quickly and successfully.
  • Integrity: An optimized service leads to reduced number of interactions with service by user. Integrity metric calculates effect on experience because of services integration and automation of workflow. 
  • Automation: Some of the stages and activities in service delivery can be automated to reduce time of service. Automation is a metric to count automated activities and stages in service delivery.

4.3 Quality

  • Completion Time: It is a time required to complete a request. Completion time metric measures time required from raising a request till completion of the request.
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA): SLA is mandatory every request. Any operational issue failing to comply with SLA leads to frustration of a user hence it reduces experience. SLA metric measures compliance of SLA.

4.4 Usability

  • Navigation: How quickly user is able to identify required information and easiness in shifting from one part of service to another part helps to determine metric. 
  • Learnability: It measure quickness of learning while using a service. Better usability increases learnability, therefore reduces cognitive efforts. Learnability metric can be derived taking ratings on various parameters of learnability.
  • Memorability: While using a service, user memorizes some things. These memorized stuffs reduce efforts of future interaction with the service. Therefore, memorability is a metric to quantity easiness in memorizing things.

4.5 Flexibility

  • Convenience:  It is a metric to measure round the clock availability of service at fingertip.
  • State Management: While using a service via internet, user should be able to switch between devices (laptop, smartphone and tablet) very smoothly without affecting service experience. State management metric measures the smooth transition between devices.

4.6 Support

  • Support Requests: While consuming a service user may face some problems and may take help from support staff. This traditional way wastes lot of time and money. More requests indicate poor understanding of service. Increase in number of support request quantifies the deprived experience. Thus, metric is number of support request registered.
  • Self-help: Better and lucid self-help tempts user to use it rather than asking help of support staff. Self-help metric quantify effective use of service.

5. Emotional Experience

  • Satisfaction: Fulfillment of expectations at the end of consumption of service is indicator of satisfaction. It is overall view gathered during the process of service usage. Satisfaction metric is a rating given by users.
  • Brand Promotion: If user is satisfied with a service, then user may recommend it to others. This is better channel of brand promotion of service. Brand communication metric is willingness of user to recommend others.
  • Loyalty: It measures the readiness of user to use same service again and again.

6. Conclusion

Quantification of user experience is a function of Emotional and Operational experience. It can be calculated on various parameters such as Resources, Functionality, Quality, Usability, Flexibility, Support, and Emotional Proportions.

User Specific Shared Services: Need of Present-day

Shared services are seen as the consolidation of services into a unit known as Shared Services Centre (SSC). SSC has to deliver services to the various users such as employees, Government agencies, vendors and customers.

In some of the cases, SSC is developed as a back office to merge the secondary functions of an organization so that it can be developed as a separate organization or can be outsourced. The major motivation for adoption of SSC is to control the cost by reducing resources. This solo motivation leads to unproductive implementation of shared services. Therefore, decision makers have to think about the real need of shared services and how to minimize expenditure for longer duration.

Over two decades (from 80's), the types of services provided by SSC have changed a lot. Now, it is combination of transactional services and knowledge based services. It can be easily observed that shared services have been always looked as business strategy from the organization perspective to cut spending of organization. It is never seen as center of service to users and not implemented to provide best services to consumers.

Consider a case of an employee who needs services from an organization such as income tax deducted, salary credited, bus service, company provided laptop, leaves and many more. These services are provided by various SSC. Therefore, to get these services employee has to visit many units and meet several people. This is unproductive work and incurs losses for the organization. To overcome this situation, better solution is to provide a user specific SSC. It can be a single window to provide all services required to employee. It can be physical solo SSC only for employees or a single IT based online system which bundles only employee specific services. In this solution, employee doesn't have to visit many places. This reduces operational cost SSC and for employee there is no waste of time and energy. Some of the examples of user specific SSC are given in Figure 1.

It is always advisable to develop IT based SSC for delivering services to users rather than developing physical centers. Because of IT based SSC, it is possible to create multiple user specific SSC with lesser investment. It also promotes self-help hence dependencies on human executives get reduced significantly during operations.

While developing user specific SSC, first step is to identify all user categories. Each user category is treated as a separate SSC. After this, it necessary to identify and consolidate the services required for each category of user.

In the current state, user specific SSC aren't adopted very much by the organizations. However, it is essential for all organization to use it for controlling operational cost and delivery best service to users.


Figure 1: User Specific Shared Services


Employee Shared Services: Not realized yet?

Shared Service is very well proven notion and many organizations have implemented it centrally to service their employees. However, it hasn't yet realized its true value because organizations have failed to adopt in the right spirit as well as implement it correctly.

Shared service (SS) has three aspects: (a) the service provider's perspective; (b) the end user's perspective; and (c) the mode of delivery. If these three aspects converge to form a central idea only then SS can be successful. This central concept has to be focused around the following questions: (a) Who are the users? (b) What do the users want? (c) Is organization ready to implement SS from the user's point of view? (d) Is the end user happy while using the SS? (e) Is the end user willing to come back to use SS again? Among all these questions (d) & (e) are very critical for the success of SS. If we seek answers for these questions from the end users then around 90 percent of respondents would tend to have negative opinions. Still this is a reality and it is time for organizations to wake up to the reality of unsatisfied end users. If SS is already being implemented in the organization, then it is time to take a few corrective measures. If organization is in the phase of implementation, then it is essential to implement it in the right way. When organization fails to do so, it should be ready for sour taste of disgruntled end users.

Initially, SS provides linear benefits in terms of the cost savings because of the efficient usage of resources. However, after 1 to 2 years, its benefits become stagnant. This is because the adoption strategy is implemented wrongly. Using SS only for reducing cost isn't beneficial in the long run as it has to be well jelled with what the consumer wants.   

Till today, organizations have failed to see the real success of SS because these services aren't designed and implemented from a consumer centric view, and instead implemented in the way the organization finds it comfortable for them. The strategy, design and implementation of SS take shape in a manner in which the organization wants it to be. But are these being done in the correct manner is a much more serious question that organizations should ask? Implementers' are deciding the fate of SS and in turn organization's future. Are they offering SS from the organization's perspective or from the user point of view? Are they involving consumers during the process of adoption? Usually, in SS adoption focus is from the organization's point of view and not the consumer. This is another reason for failure of SS. Strategy needs to be corrected by focusing on what consumers want. It is possible by using agile methodology throughout the SS implementation.

Consumer encounters certain stages while using a service, such as the starting of service, consumption of service, and ending of service. While passing through these stages, a journey with the SS, the consumer gathers a certain experience about the service. The positive perception of the experience creates a long term impact on the consumer, and makes them loyal to the service. This loyalty drives the success of service. Therefore, it is necessary to create a whole ecosystem of service experience for the SS. This ecosystem must have tolerable level of service delivery and should meet the service goals. It should be able to meet the expectations of consumer.

Work place is changing fast. Technology is becoming the integral part of the workplace. Working timings are becoming flexible. For instance, some of the employees are working on the office workspace while others may be at home or some other place. Work places are shifting from office to home. Most of the organizations are allowing their employees to work from home. Hence, providing physical service at particular location is becoming next to impossible. Therefore, it is becoming very much necessary for the organizations to use technology on a large scale to provide SS required to employees. Technology also helps in the scalability of SS and it is possible to service anyone in the world.

While it comes to delivery of the SS, technology has a lot to offer. In last decade, shared service delivery has shifted from a very physical delivery mechanism to an information technology driven mode. Especially, when techno-users - gen - 'Y' and techno-savvy gen - 'Z' has entered the organizations the mode of delivery has moved from desktop to mobiles and tablets. Organizations that still embrace paper-pencil based SS are going to fail if they don't move fast towards technology adoption. The new generation wants everything through the technology. They are attached to the systems 24×7. However, in such a technology driven delivery mode human touch is missing. Therefore there is a necessity to provide smarter shared services (SSS) based on intelligent technologies such as machine learning and analytics. The SSS should be capable to identify the every move of user and provide them what they want.

Adoption of social media in SS is also important. It makes SS smarter and fulfills needs of Gen-Z and reduces dependency on employer for most of the supports.  Similarly, consumer doesn't want to depend upon the opinion of employer rather they are relying more on the opinions of others, wanted to see what others are doing, wanted to share their views hence adoption of social techniques is becoming a de-facto to strengthen offerings of SS.

Organizations are becoming global, and have offices across the various locations, be in the developed or developing economies. There are employees at these locations those come with various cultural beliefs and are become an integral part of the global work force. Hence, integrity of the organization is the greatest challenge. Serving them with the same type of ethics and transparency is becoming the need of the organization. Real challenge is round the clock service at all corners of the world. It is becoming more complex when consumer, provider and decision makers are sitting at different corners of the world. To connect them and serve the employee is unmanageable without the right service strategy and technology. In such a situation, when there is more reliance on technology, service experience is becoming a key challenge for the organization. Without right expertise if such a situation is managed then it may lead to worse implementation of SS.

Complexity of shared services is increasing as most of the offerings to consumers are moving on the shared platform. Consumers are flooded with many systems and complex processes of SS. The waiting time for moving from one process to another is increasing as there is manual intervention of decision makers. Organization should really look for automated decision making and work flows to avoid delays. Current technologies, based on decision science principles, have the capabilities to do so.

While offering SS, it is necessary to develop a feel good factor among the consumers so that they can rely on SS for their most of the services required from employer. Consumer should sense that they are served better and personally attended, and this feeling has to be developed in the technology driven environment. Consumer should be able to get a unique and memorable experience every time they consume the service. Therefore, blindly using the SS isn't going to solve all these issues. What's really required is a comprehensive smart shared services platform which is built on employee centric approach using modern technologies to create a whole service experience. This will fulfill the employees' needs and extend cost benefits to the organization in longer run.


(Authors: Dr. Manish Godse & Dr. Indranil Roy Chowdhury)

Using Smarter Shared Services to Connect with Employees

Employees are the core strength of any organization for building and making it profitable and successful. Therefore, having more competitive and productive employees is the central need for doing any business. Their productivity and loyalty towards the work and organization is mainly affected by their confidence in the firm. To develop the confidence of employees, organizations take all efforts to reach and connect with the employees from not only work standpoint but also emotionally. While developing connects between employee and employer, concern of conversation is what employees want and what is provided by the organizations. Organizations follow many channels or mechanism to develop a goodwill relation with the employees. One of the channels for developing favor relation is skill enhancement of employees. It is usually done through training in which both parties have many benefits.  

Organizations continuously make efforts to enhance the skill, knowledge and productivity of their employees. They invest enormous sums of money to maintain dedicated HR teams to achieve this goal. For an organization to maintain growth it needs employees who are always updated and skilled to handle any situation, be it adverse or favorable. Therefore, regular training of employees becomes pertinent as it is essential for the growth of the firm. There are a lot of activities centered on building the skills of its employees as organizations believe it's not just beneficial to them but also for the long term betterment of employees.  However, in this whole process firms are forgetting to ask themselves whether employees think on the same line. In case the views of the employees are divergent from that of the organization all the efforts become wasteful.

One of the major motivations for any organizational effort towards the employees is the longevity of employees with the organization. However, it has been observed that connect at the cognition level is missing between both the employee and the employer because of the one way relationship from employer to employee. There are many ways to enhance the bond, and better way is to adopt employee shared service for providing better services to employees by employer. These employee services by employer are need of any employee. If organizations succeed in providing these services in the way the employees want then employees are happier at work place and their productivity is more. This leads better employee engagement.

We managers always talk about employee engagement. What one needs to ask is, whether employee engagement has become just another additional management jargon or is it practiced in reality? If employees are engaged well then they may be energetic and more productive. Better engaged employees are willing and have the ability to contribute in the success of the organization. Highly engaged employees are well connected to organization. They always go one mile ahead to fulfill organizational needs, and delight customers cleverly with prompt and personalized services. We always look for these employees in the employee pool. However, are we getting enough highly engaged employees? Majority of the times answer is in the negative. Organizations also look for training current employees or recruiting new employees. Another question that we might want to ask is if we are really hitting the root cause of this problem of disengaged employees? The answer once again remains negative. The problem of employee engagement remains persistent because most of us see only one side of the employee engagement which we managers feel is important for company. We cautiously or unknowingly avoid having a perspective of the other side which is about - What employees wants from the organization?

Employees have other story to express. They expect the organization to solve their problems which they face at the workplace. These problems are actually small but they occupy employees mind like a ghost hence, they fail to concentrate on their work which instead affects their productivity. Most of the problems that employees face are related to HR, accounting or finance. However, many times they may have to go through multiple hurdles because these services aren't well designed and developed. These services offered by HR, accounting etc. many times don't have proper processes and work flows, and most of the times aren't managed very well as well. This hampers the overall experience of employees which in-turn is reflected by their negative inclination towards the organization, further creating a psychological disconnect with it. This process is very fast in case of gen - X and gen - Y employees. When the negativity crosses a certain threshold employees tend to leave the organization.

To tackle employees' problems a simpler solution is adoption of shared services. While using shared services across the business geography it is necessary for the organization to change its mindset where-in employees are treated as customers of the organization. With this small change the whole meaning of providing employee services goes through a change. If services are designed and delivered from customer centric view then net effect will be an increase in employee loyalty and productivity.

In order to deliver services as per the expectations of employees, only shared services aren't sufficient. It is necessary to have smarter shared services which will understand the employees better and act smartly. To make shared service smarter, it is obvious to use technologies extensively while delivering the services. Technology has enabled delivery across the globe on a 24*7*365 basis. Another good example of technology is mobile computing. It has made it possible to push the employees' services on mobiles hence they know that when there is a query, they have solution are on their mobile. This has helped employer to impact positivity on employer. Therefore, technology enables firms to create stronger connections between employer and employee. Employees get the feeling that they are cared and pampered by the company.  

Smarter shared services (SSS) are technology enabled platforms that help fulfill the needs of employees. This service platform uses predictive analytics so that it is able to recognize proactively the next likely expectations of an employee. Considering the unique service experience required for each employee, the personalization is another key ingredient in SSS platform. It enables automation of decisions and workflow that helps in creating memorable experiences for the employee. Each unforgettable experience of an employee makes psychological connect with the firm greater. 

Organizations can become smarter by proactively acting towards the issues of employees. Firms can treat them as customers. In other words, employees are also customers of the business house. By bringing a change in their status, they are treated well and served better, and their issues are sorted out at priority. Although, this is small change in the business strategy its impact are visible in the long term, and helps in creation of faith in employees towards the organization and furthers their loyalty.


(Authors: Dr. Manish Godse & Dr. Indranil Roy Chowdhury)

March 28, 2013

Building tomorrow's Asset-intensive enterprise

Assets are the heart of an asset-intensive enterprise... which means the overall performance of these companies is completely driven by the performance of their critical assets, and the impact of poor performance can be significant.

At the same time, asset-intensive industries by their very intrinsic nature are faced with a distinct set of challenges- which need to be efficiently managed to achieve long-term success.

Continue reading "Building tomorrow's Asset-intensive enterprise" »

March 25, 2013

Key Challenges in Shared Services

Shared services business model is based on the concept of consolidation of common services across an organization under a shared services center to reduce cost by optimizing resources and increasing productivity. Though, it isn't a new concept it has been accepted well only recently for its cost benefits.

Implementation of shared services has become very tempting for organizations as economies have been shrinking in last few years. However, there are certain key challenges which organizations should keep in mind for successful implementation of shared services.  In the following paragraphs, we have provided major challenges and the possible solutions to overcome those.

1. Strategy

Developing the right strategy is the key challenge for using shared services within the organization. Central belief for using shared services is to save cost. Decision maker mostly fails to see what user wants from the services and how much is the cost required to provide the services. There is high probability that strategy focused only on cost may lead to ineffective usage of shared services.

Strategy focused only on cost saving might not lead to an entirely successful implementation of shared services. In this approach the usefulness of shared services to the consumers is neglected leading to them remaining unsatisfied. It makes difficult to achieve the long term benefits through extensive use of shared services. Thus, shared services strategy has to be consumer centric rather than an organizational one. When strategy is to provide what consumer wants then the whole direction of implementation changes. Strategy shouldn't only appreciate tangible benefits of reduced cost and resource usage but should also take into account the intangible befits such as user satisfaction and its impact on controlling cost.

2. Transformation

This is very important issue while implementing shared services. Lots of resistance can be observed from the people who might directly or indirectly get affected as their roles may change, to the extent of their jobs becoming redundant. Also, while redesigning the processes the people who control them may show too much resistance because their importance in the 'value chain of processes' gets reduced. As the roles and importance of people in the value chain changes, there is certain amount of unlearning and learning required for the end users. Therefore, it is necessary to take enough precautions so that the changes in the organization are communicated well and accepted by everyone. Transformation towards shared services organization has to be well planned and implemented such that it should be welcomed rather than rejected.

Employees, users and stakeholders need to be well informed about the reasons and benefits of shared services. Transparency needs to be adopted at every step and they need to be involved when it is related to them. 

3. Resources, Systems and Processes

Fundamentally, shared services model is focused on the optimization of organizational resources, systems and processes. Thus, it is necessary to find out all possible ways to do it without affecting the user needs from shared services. It's essential to eliminate the redundant and duplicate resources, systems and processes.

Integration of heterogeneous systems and processes is necessary so that data can flow smoothly across systems. This helps in avoiding duplication of data and efforts required to update or provide same data for multiple systems.

It's necessary to understand that the optimization of resources isn't a onetime activity rather it's a continuous action, thus the organization has to be innovative always. Organizations must always look for cost effective solutions in shared services, and improvements in management and operation processes.

4. Technology

Shared services wouldn't be cost-effective without maximizing the use of technologies. It's imperative to use the popular technologies such as cloud, social networking, mobile computing and analytics. Current technologies offer lots of features and facilities to make shared services self-reliant so that dependence on human support can be reduced. However, it's important to understand that selection of right technology is important and their usage should justify control on the cost.  Technology should be capable enough to integrate the systems. It should be able to manage the business processes and work flows. It should support the implementation of rich user experience across multiple devices.

It's essential to understand that the ERP solutions form the backbone of shared services for managing the processes and data across the organization. However, it doesn't mean that ERP is the replacement for shared services. 

5. Service Experience

User loyalty is critical for the success of shared services and is derived from the service experience. Users always judge the services while consuming. Their judgment derives their satisfaction and loyalty towards the service. Therefore, services have to de designed scientifically to create rich service experience. We advise reader to read our white paper on "service experience." In this paper, we've explained our framework on generating service experience.

Controlling the impact of service touch points is very important as they may otherwise dim the experience. Service level agreement (SLA) extensively affects experience. Hence, SLA metrics should be within acceptable level for users.  It's necessary to conduct periodic audit of SLA and if required metrics have to be tweaked to meet user expectations.

Experience is also affected by shadow processes as it delays service delivery. Thus, those have to be eliminated. Workflows have to be well planned such that it shouldn't require intervention by user or support executive. This helps to create positive impact on experience for consumer.

User should have single access points to the shared service centre and should able to service themselves through a single window or platform. It reduces their cognitive load, thus their sentiment always remains positive towards the service. 

6. Automation

Every interruption in the process for the decision making delays the delivery of service. Thus, human interventions have to be reduced. When there is a human intervention it reduces the quality of service. Shadow processes cause major disruptions in smooth delivery of service. Unmanaged work flows also postpone delivery of service. Therefore, wherever possible automation has to be done.


There are many concerns while implementing the shared service. Rather than discussing each issue, we have presented only those challenges which highly affect the shared services. If those problems aren't tackled well they may lead to failure of shared services. While, all issues discussed here are equally important, we believe that priority should be laid on managing service experience. 


(Authors: Dr. Manish Godse & Dr. Indranil Roy Chowdhury)

Influence of Service Experience on Long-tail of Shared Services


Shared Services

Shared services are about the consolidation of common services from various units in an organization and offering those to legitimate users. Commonly used services are pooled from their respective units and consolidated under a shared services center. These services are attached with service level agreements and then provided within or outside of the organization.  

Though, shared service isn't a new concept it wasn't accepted till a few years back. However, when economies stared slowing down, suddenly it became important for decision makers. Many organizations including governments have initiated the implementation of shared services. The main motivation for adoption of shared services is to control the cost because of consolidation of resources and avoiding duplicate efforts.

Practically, shared services can be implemented in any business including government organizations when decision makers think of consolidating services under a single umbrella.

Adoption Stages of Shared Services

The stages in shared services project are: (1) Strategy, (2) Design, (3) Implementation, (4) Transformation, and (5) Maintenance.

Strategy has to be decided for successful implementation and use of shared services. The adopted strategy has to be incorporated in design and needs to be implemented by modifying processes and systems. One of the key points of strategy has to be maximizing the use of new technologies. Along with the implementation, it is necessary to do an organization wide transformation so that shared services can be embraced by users and desired success can be achieved. Transformation stage is very crucial as it is requires changing the attitude of users towards the effective use of shared services. Maintenance stage is about modification in offerings of services as per requirements.

Service Experience

Service experience is an event during consumption of a service. It also includes a mental stage before and after usage of service. Experience is usually intangible and is the perception of a user. It depends on the presentation and the way it is delivered by the service provider.

Unlike products service can't be manufactured hence, they are always exposed to variability which is dependent upon the skills of the service provider. Therefore, service should have a certain zone of acceptance. If service is offered within this zone then user receives it positively otherwise negative sentiment is created in the user's mind. Positive sentiment creates loyalty in the user whereas negative sentiment removes the user from further usage of the service. Therefore, creating a good service experience is very essential for effective usage of a service.

Long-tail of Shared Services

Shared service is a long-tail commercial model of cost savings where maximum savings comes from long-tail because of regular usage of shared services.

Huge savings can be achieved in very short span of implementation phase of shared services (Figure 1) because of reduced usage of resources, systems, and processes. However, during operations stage rate of savings will reduce or become stagnant (Figure 1-B). But, it is most likely that after certain period, operations cost of shared services will start increasing (Figure 1-A). This stage shows that shared services are unsuccessful. It is essential to understand the reasons of failure.

It can be easily observed that in the shared service, implementation stage is mostly one-time activity. Savings achieved in this stage are tangible and only one time. Whereas operations of shared services are the regular activities and savings are on regular basis. These savings are mainly intangible, and in form of improved productivity or reduced service delivery time. Thus, a delivery of service during regular operation state plays a vital role is controlling the cost on regular basis.

When users are unhappy with the shared services then they will turn away from services or may become reluctant to use it. This will reduce the productivity of user. Users will find other means to get their work done by bypassing shared services. Thus, it will strain other resources to provide services to users which otherwise shared services should have provided. The key reason for unhappiness of users is the experience of shared services.  

If user experience is rich then the acceptance of shared services is easier otherwise rejection happens. How service is delivered matters a lot to develop loyalty of consumer. Therefore, more savings don't come by simply implementing shared services rather they will be achieved by providing better consumer experience of service during regular delivery.

Longtail_of_Shared_Services.pngFigure 1: Long-tail of Shared Services


First time implementation of shared services will show immediate effect on the reduction of cost within very short time. However, cost advantage may become stagnant or may reduce after certain days of implementation if it isn't implemented well. It is quite possible that cost may increase after some time this is the point of failure of shared services. To achieve cost benefits of shared services for longer term or to get long-tail of savings in shared services, service experience is the key as it increases loyalty of the user.


(Authors: Dr. Manish Godse & Dr. Indranil Roy Chowdhury)

January 31, 2013

Trends impacting future of supply chains

Supply chains of today can be characterized as being global and widespread with multiple partners or vendors involved across the globe. Supply chains have evolved from companies that manufacture most of the components in-house to one concentrating on core competencies and sourcing rest. This transition from in-house manufacturing to outsourcing happened over a period of time, predominantly enabled by changes in economic environment, evolution of technology and production methodologies. For example improvement in Information Technology enabled teams at multiple locations to collaborate on new product development, reduction in trade barriers enabled easier access to foreign markets. A massive shift in supply chains occurred due to labor intensive manufacturing moving from developed countries (with relatively higher labor costs) to countries having comparative advantage of cheap labor.

Continue reading "Trends impacting future of supply chains" »

January 21, 2013

Automotive/ Mobility/ Social

Couple of weeks ago my car started having problems with its steering wheel, on inspection by the un-friendly service manager, I was told that the software needs an update. I was also informed that there has been a recall of fuel pumps for my batch of cars, information that the car company failed to convey in time. This got me wondering, why can't there be an option where the software gets a direct download into the car as and when an update is available. Why can't there be an option where if there is a parts recall, the message gets flashed directly in the car, based on the make, year and batch of the car.   

A quick search for such options reveled multiple products available in the market (Europe/ US), take for example, the Delphi Car Connectivity Service. This basically provides for remote access through a cloud system that connects your vehicle to your smartphone by which you can remotely monitor your vehicle's overall health, performance issues and track driving behavior at any given point in time. Imagine this, based on your vehicle's performance, you can practically predict when you are likely to need a part replacement or an engine oil top-up. You can set various performance alerts for your vehicle and have access to the nearest service center all on your smartphone. At a concept level, what Delphi has done is - combined context (vehicle), remote access (location based) and mobile (anytime access) to come up with a diagnostic service, that may well be the answer to vehicles becoming smarter (on their own).

To extend the above logic, lets for a moment, assume that a vehicle could talk to another vehicle or to a physical space or even a person. Essentially paving the way for a platform meant to undertake multiple activities performed by your vehicle, without your interference. For example, can your friend get alerts the minute you are closer to where you were supposed to meet him/her. Can your vehicle alert the restaurants that you intend to visit, even before you approach the place, who in turn may end up making you offers/ deals. Well, all this is already possible given that products like Garmin Streetpilot, with Foursquare and Glympse integration are already available in the market, essentially bringing in location services, loyalty management and social media on one platform anchored to a vehicle. Looking at the concept of smart mobility in the automotive landscape, one can be assured of some very interesting concepts to be introduced in the near future and some that we can expect to become industry standard.  

January 3, 2013

The Retail Shrink Problem

The next time you are in a retail store and you hear a loud beep at the exit, only to see somebody being stopped and their bags/ bills being checked, you can be sure that the retail outlet is relying on some form of 'anti shrink' solution. You would be surprised to know that retailers in the US, lost about $41 Billion (source: Global Retail Theft Barometer 2011) last year to some form of shrinkage or the other. So what is this shrinkage problem all about? Simply put, it's the discrepancy between physical inventory and the recorded inventory through its movement in the supply chain (from the manufacturer through Point of Sale). Shrink can be attributed to multiple reasons, major reason being theft by employees and shoppers (shoplifting), and in a majority of instances, theft is committed in connivance with each other. According to the 'Global Retail Theft Barometer 2011', the main causes for 'shrinkage' was Shoplifting (35.8%), Employee Theft (44.1%), Suppliers/ vendors (4.2%) and internal error (15.9%).

Almost all the retailers have been focusing on 'theft management', using multiple solutions, these include - Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) systems, RFID tagging, Point of Sale (POS) exceptions tracking solutions , video surveillance etc. Other solutions include - hiring people and training them on theft prevention, routine audits to track exceptions between various points of entry and exit in the sales process, physical security of high value SKUs, pre-employment checks etc. Despite these measures the shrink rate is still a cause of concern, mainly because these reasons

      - Solutions are designed to address symptoms (theft prevention) and are not comprehensive solutions focused on integrity of the inventory

- Reactive and event based solutions - shrinkage is recognized post the 'shrink event', and not in real-time or as a pre-emptive measure

- Data of Physical inventory is based on non-periodic physical counts, which are not helpful in any real-time visibility of inventory, thereby making any predictive analysis impossible

- Key decisions for loss prevention are based on analysis of historic data and there are no data points available to analyze the effect of any remedial measures implemented

- Shrink management is largely dependent on the people stationed on the retail shopfloor to spot potential shrink events

- Unclear ROI matrix for investment in new technologies for managing 'shrink'

I believe we need to address the problem of shrink with an integrated approach, which looks at bringing integrity to the physical inventory cycle, rather than focusing only on theft. This is possible by increasing the number of data points within this cycle to analyze, especially between the entry and exit of inventory from the retail shopfloor. A potential solution is envisaged as below,

- Comprehensive solution which gathers data at multiple points in real-time

- Avanced Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS)/ RFID tags at an SKU level

- Smart shelf and Smart cart (Infosys products) solutions which tracks inventory on retail shelf and its movement thereafter in real-time

-  Image recognition/ video analytics at POS terminal, to address potential employee/ shopper connivance, matched with POS data

- EAS/ RFID sensors at exit matched with POS data

-  An analytics engine which uses the above data to provide exception management in real-time

- Predictive/ Preventive analysis based on patterns/ trends that will enable management to 'heat map' incidence of shrink events, which could be at a SKU level, store level, geography, time of the year and other significant metrics 


Continue reading "The Retail Shrink Problem" »

November 9, 2012

The Last Mile Paradigm


Recently I met with a very interesting start-up, which has attempted to re-define the last mile connectivity in the financial services space. The interesting part about the model is that it uses certain elements of the e-commerce models present in India, in particular the cash on delivery (COD) model, the exception being, the product delivered is a financial product. You may ask what is so novel in this idea, the answer is that the model per se may not be so, but the context and the application makes this an unique attempt to solve 'the last mile' problem. The phenomenal success of the Cash on delivery (COD) model in the Indian e-commerce market, has meant it has become a subject of multiple case studies, but what most of them miss out in pointing, is the uniqueness of the 'last mile' context.

Picture this - for e-commerce in India today, the medium of customer engagement is the internet, but the mode of completing the transaction (payment) is mostly offline (cash on delivery, in this case). COD is fundamentally an Indian innovation which has re-defined the growth trajectory of the e-commerce industry. For example, India's largest e-commerce player transacts about 70% of its sales through COD, having set-up their own delivery and collection workforce. The dichotomy is the apparent mis-match between a customer having access to internet and the same customer not using the online medium (through credit/ debit card payments) to complete the transaction. Given the growing number of such consumers, one can safely assume that people are more than happy to shop online, but either don't have access to electronic payment mechanism or they are not comfortable with the usage of the same over the internet. Whichever angle one may choose to look at unique phenomenon, what is apparent is that the last mile connectivity for completing a transaction is fairly contextual on at least two fronts - access and preference of the customer to use cash for transaction.

While I might have just stated the obvious analysis, what is interesting is how this dichotomy has led to new delivery models coming up in different product/ service categories. The key here is that the context will lead to several innovations in bridging the 'last mile', be it for customer engagement or for enabling transactions. The challenges and opportunities for product and services companies would be to scale delivery to keep pace with the raising demand of today's consumer, especially for products/ services which need to be delivered off-line. The question therefore is, who will take a lead on this, will it be your fast growth ecommerce companies, your traditional retailer or the manufacturer who would like to access the consumer directly, redefining the traditional delivery channel as we know it.  

Changing Trends in the Consumer Ecosystem

A recent study by the global consulting firm Mckinsey&Co suggests that, of the mega trends that will affect the Consumer Packaged Goods(CPG) Industry over the next decade, a change in profile of the consumer is ranked as one of the most significant of all trends. The changes in consumer profile is the result of demographic shifts in certain parts of the world, changes in consumer buying preferences (value products as opposed to 'branded products') and the all-pervasive 'rise of the digital consumer'. To address these changes, the CPG industry will grapple with multiple issues, related to consumer engagement, given the new paradigm of changing consumer preferences for products/ services. Significantly how these products/ services are delivered with the most relevant (and best) consumer experience on platforms which are innovative and accomplishing tasks in the most efficient and effective way

While it seems a tall order to change the traditional mode of engaging the consumers for a mature Industry, these challenges are being addressed by some of the leading CPG companies in innovative ways, where the key aspects of engagement  - Consumer, product and engagement context are brought together. Let's look at the example of a leading food and beverages company, which launched a unique contest to bring crowd-sourced ideas for new flavours for their popular brand of crisps. The result was that about 8 million ideas were generated covering multiple countries, with about 20 of these flavours being launched commercially. The significant outcome of this was that large number of consumers were brought on a platform where they actively participated in creating new products (consumer+product+engagement contex) for consumption by its own community. Take for instance the case of a leading footwear manufacturer who has innovated a kiosk which uses about 2000 sensors to enable orthotics solutions for its consumers, redefining the traditional mode of engaging the consumer, not just to provide more effective and relevant products but also customize the user experience.

There are multiple instances of innovation in the 'consumer engagement' space, especially given the growing pervasiveness of digital media, now being experimented and adopted by the CPG industry. The understanding is that digital media, changing mode of consumer engagement and the given mega trends that the Industry needs to address, more such innovations will become imperative.


October 25, 2012

What will you do about a Data Virus?

Data Virus - data that has been purposefully manipulated to render operations on an entire data set flawed, and it perpetuates its induced error

Large Scale Information pollution will become a massive problem in 5 years and, as practitioners in the space, we must provide tools and capabilities to not only know when our data is polluted or infected, but how to roll it back out.  Data quality certifications are great, but certifications don't fix the insitu data that your enterprise has ingested, they just provide a level of confidence about the integrity of the data when you get it.

Information exchange and usage, thanks in part to the budgets allocated to Big Data initiatives, will become easier.  This lower barrier of entry will promote promiscuous data exchange, opening up an organization to the risky proposition of Information Pollution.  Business users will be especially susceptible to this risky behavior as they want to play around with data, endangering their enterprise in the process.

Scenarios wherein there is an explicit attempt to corrupt the quality of data (e.g. a data virus), especially by minute adjustments, will be especially damaging.  These small adjustments may slip through standard statistical techniques that we can us to help guard our systems integrity.

Imagine a scenario wherein a supply chain is being fed synthetic data.  This synthetic data happens to be composed of weather information, part failure rates, and weather biased structural integrity models.  At some point, in this scenario, it is learned that the weather information has errors in it.  How does one go about containing the information and data?  How does one go to the downstream MRP-II systems and work force management systems that have consumed the synthetic data and undo them? How do all the revenue forecasting models get adjusted?

Techniques for detecting a data virus and techniques for data containment shall be explored in subsequent blogs.  This is an exciting and important topic for all enterprises in this Big Data world.

October 27, 2010

BI Top Trend Analysis - Part 1

Close to the year end for 2010 and time to re-look, analyze the trends in Business Intelligence space. This is a series of blogs to try & analyze the trends which are more influenced by changes in world outside the organization, and see how the solutions are shaping out the future of Information Management.

Continue reading "BI Top Trend Analysis - Part 1" »

August 26, 2010

Business Analytics - Gut Feeling to Competitive Advantage

Every organization has some decision capability and engine running internally that works for their specific context. One may call that engine as "Gut Feeling or the individual heroics", whereas few organizations try balancing "Gut Feeling" with some fact based inputs. However, the smarter organizations which stand apart and outpace their competitors eliminate the "Gut Feeling" culture and entirely transform themselves into Analytical organizations where every decision is backed by real facts and numbers, and every strategic decision gets challanged with an optmizing solution.

Continue reading "Business Analytics - Gut Feeling to Competitive Advantage" »