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Dinanath Kholkar, vice-president and global head, analytics and insights, Tata Consultancy Services

Dinanath Kholkar

Path to power

Having graduated as an electrical engineer from VJTI, in Mumbai, I joined Tata Consultancy Services as a database technology specialist over 30 years ago. During this time, I have worked on numerous client engagements across India, France, and the US as a systems engineer and IT analyst.

 

I have also worked with Tata’s Innovation Lab, focusing on research in VLDB, and was instrumental in setting up Tata’s data warehousing and data mining group, which subsequently evolved into the business intelligence practice.

 

In 1999, I became chief architect of the Reserve Bank of India, driving its debt market transformation programme and I shaped and developed the relationship with a large global investment bank, as a client partner.

 

In 2010, I was appointed as CEO of Tata Consultancy Services’ eServe division, following its acquisition from Citi and also successfully managed $1 billion BFSI BPS unit. Within three years, I was promoted to global head of TCS BPS and managed the unit to achieve $2 billion in revenues.

 

I took on my current role in May 2017.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

In 2010, I was appointed the CEO of TCS eServe, which we had acquired from Citi Group. It was one of the largest acquisitions in the history of the Indian IT industry. We had a huge challenge of seamlessly integrating a large workforce of over twelve thousand employees into TCS.

 

These employees who came into TCS through acquisition had a completely different lineage, background and culture. Moreover, as it happens in any acquisition, there was an obvious sense of insecurity arising out of it.

 

We preferred to work towards gaining mindshare of these associates rather than use of structural authority which could potentially lead to hostility and resentment. Towards this objective, and under my leadership, we launched a major harmonisation programme, which was not only highly inclusive but also ensured culture alignment and seamless integration of this newly inducted workforce.

 

Who is your role model or the person you look to for inspiration?

The list of people who inspired or encouraged me to achieve many milestones in my life is many. They include greats such as Mahatma Gandhi, Bharat Ratna, JRD Tata, Dr Raghunath Mashelkar and my several senior leaders in Tata. However, I would like to specifically call out Dr FC Kohli – father of India’s software industry, as the person I look up to. His inspiration reinforced my resolution to be a significant contributor towards nation building. That inspired me to link digital technology with farming and help to improve the economic wellbeing of the marginalised farmers of rural India.

 

Did 2019 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

Last year was a year of transformation for our business. In its third year since inception, the unit warranted a roadmap that was in line with changing market conditions and a strong business orientation to data analytics that helps us deliver powerful and actionable insights, resulting in impactful and accelerated business outcomes for our customers.

 

Further, as I expected, the rise of AI and immersive analytics - including big data, cloud and advanced analytics – has had an impact on all major industry verticals. Hence, our solutions were designed to be instantaneous, interactive and intuitive.

 

To celebrate 150th year of Tata Group and 50th year of TCS, I released ‘pArIvartana’ – a coffee table book that focuses on the role of data and analytics in social transformation. The book covered major aspects such as health and wellness, green agriculture, policy and administration and science andtechnology. Further, as IEEE Pune Section’s Chair, I initiated the “Special Interest Group for Affordable Agriculture” to improve produce of small farmers in rural India.

 

What do you expect 2020 to be like for the data and analytics industry?

We are at the cusp of the decade and this year we need to define the balancing point among profits, people and climate. Data is the foundation towards digital transformation and central to all these aspects. At the same time, AI will also play a crucial role in accelerating the transformation journey.

 

Organisations are leaving a world of constraints and entering an age of abundance: of digital data and the technology tools to create innovations from that data. As a service provider, my success depends on how I enable enterprises today to shift their business paradigm, from optimising scarce resources to harnessing abundance, democratising data and magnifying the power of ecosystem.

 

While there is some good progress in business and economy, there is some awareness and push towards social and wellness state of the employees and stakeholders. Data and analytics can drive a positive change, but it largely depends on sustainable action.

 

Data and technology are changing business, the economy and society – what do you see as the biggest opportunity emerging from this?

A service provider’s approach to data centricity must be holistic and cover the entire data value chain with an objective of business effectiveness. This includes simplifying the data and analytics landscape, bringing in the synergy across the knowns and the unknowns in the business eco-system, and enabling the deployment of solutions at scale. Focused on delivering “accelerated outcomes” with business solutions powered by advanced analytics and AI; applying contextual knowledge of customer business could help a service provider get to the ‘apt data’ for generating insights.

 

What is the biggest tech challenge your clients face in ensuring data is at the heart of their digital transformation strategy?

Digital-first companies with embedded business 4.0 technologies, such as AI, big data and analytics, cloud and the IoT, have the upper hand but legacy businesses can also benefit by democratising data. Taking advantage of this data will help them to thrive through faster decision-making, enterprise agility, improved customer experience, operational efficiencies, and new products.

 

As data is growing exponentially, the success of an organisation depends on its ability to collate, synthesise, analyse and glean insights from data. They also need to put the data in context of the business to derive accelerated business outcome.

 

However, the success can only be limited if businesses with immature analytics capabilities operate in “data fiefdoms”, where pockets of insight-generating analytics benefit only one part of the organisation. They need to have a high data literacy index across the organisation, and leverage both structured and unstructured data that is being generated both from within the organisation and its eco-system, of partners and suppliers, to glean actionable insights.

 

We need to play a crucial role in evangelising the need and importance of data-centricity in a wide range of industry stakeholders, including policy makers, corporations and government bodies. To enable this, it is important to contribute to multiple industry forums and industry lobbies such as the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers and the International Conference on Data Management, Analytics & Innovation. Academia, researchers, and industry experts in these relevant bodies are an important source for us to tap and build connections with. In today’s digital world, everything is connected and has potential from either a knowledge, innovation or commercial perspective. These forums also provide a relatively informal, yet knowledge-based platform to interact with decision makers and help define the policies.

 

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