Vikram Motiani – InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services https://infocus.dellemc.com DELL EMC Global Services Blog Thu, 13 Dec 2018 11:38:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 IT Upskilling in APAC: How Learning & Development Teams Can Become Strategic Partners to the Business https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/upskilling-apac-learning-development-teams-can-become-strategic-partners-business/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/upskilling-apac-learning-development-teams-can-become-strategic-partners-business/#respond Thu, 27 Oct 2016 12:00:23 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=29281 The much publicized global IT skills shortage is not just hype; it is a very real issue. According to recent research, 78% of managers and 80% of IT professionals acknowledge this gap in IT. Additionally, only a third believes their enterprise has the skills in-house to succeed. This gap may explain why I typically see IT […]

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The much publicized global IT skills shortage is not just hype; it is a very real issue. According to recent research, 78% of managers and 80% of IT professionals acknowledge this gap in IT. Additionally, only a third believes their enterprise has the skills in-house to succeed.

This gap may explain why I typically see IT purchasing decisions made in a certain way across most of the markets I cover in Asia Pacific. Most often, a technology platform is chosen and then investments are made in upskilling people in the specific technical skills required – presumably to ensure that the gap in the skills the business requires are filled.

On its surface, this approach makes sense given many IT budgets have been tight – the latest Gartner figures showing that IT spend is down globally by around 5%. However, I think much could be gained by investing in acquiring strategic skills around new technologies prior to making purchasing decisions, thus ensuring decisions that are better informed, look beyond short-term tactical requirements, and support the wider long-term strategy of the business. And with the pace of change and investment in this sector set to increase, it’s particularly vital.

There are some great global examples of companies doing this well. We can learn a lot from organizations like Progress Energy. The EMC Education Services team is working with them to develop and deliver a broad-based training program for their IT experts so they’re better equipped to develop and validate skills required to plan, deploy, manage, and leverage their information infrastructure. Tony Kempton, a capacity planner at Progress Energy explains that this upfront investment in upskilling helps the company “deploy new systems more quickly and develop more solid strategies for the future”.

To replicate these successes, there must be water-tight communication between Learning & Development (L&D) teams – who often take the lead on these training programs – and IT. Doing so ensures they’re maximizing the training investments and resources to close the appropriate gaps in the team’s knowledge, and to plan exactly in areas where the organization is focused.

Rather than using traditional Individual Development Plans, Organizational Development Plans should be favored to ensure everyone is moving in the right direction. Additionally, using a blended learning approach enables individuals to learn in ways that best works for them without compromising their day-to-day job.

In essence, it’s all about collaboration, conversation (with senior-IT decision makers and strategy setters), and consideration (of both the business’ and individual’s needs). When done right, it enables both L&D and IT teams to become trusted, innovative advisers to the business.

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How Organizations Can Capitalize on the Next Wave of Data-Driven Business https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/how-organizations-can-capitalize-on-next-wave-data-driven-business/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/how-organizations-can-capitalize-on-next-wave-data-driven-business/#respond Mon, 12 Sep 2016 12:00:28 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=28775 In an earlier post, ‘Why businesses need to stop passing around the Data Science hot potato, I discussed the importance of capitalizing on the benefits of Big Data. While there is still a fair way to go before the whole of Asia catches up in this particular area, we should already be thinking ahead about the next […]

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In an earlier post, ‘Why businesses need to stop passing around the Data Science hot potato, I discussed the importance of capitalizing on the benefits of Big Data.

While there is still a fair way to go before the whole of Asia catches up in this particular area, we should already be thinking ahead about the next wave of data-driven business. To remain competitive against our cousins in EMEA and the US, Asian businesses must keep pace and strive as a region to put plans in place that will support the region’s growth.

But before we talk future plans, it’s worth noting 3 emerging trends and what they can offer to Asia.

  1. Cognitive computing refers to systems that use data mining, pattern recognition, and natural language processing to mimic how the human brain works and “learn” from their experience. The applications for this are numerous, particularly in healthcare, financial, security, and retail sectors, where rapid decision-making and customer experience is everything. Imagine being able to run your customer service help desk, which could learn the best ways to support and interact with your customers and provide progressively better service – with less human intervention. This would allow your businesses to streamline operations, reduce human errors, increase customer satisfaction, and redeploy your best and brightest employees to revenue-generating areas of the business. According to IDC, global spending on cognitive systems will reach nearly $31.3 billion in 2019, and Asia-Pacific is expected to be part of this trend. 
  2. Data monetization looks for ways in which businesses can turn their data into a revenue stream. In its simplest form this means generating revenue from available data. Other forms take a more indirect method and create new information products or services that use this data. For example, a mobile operator might sell location data to advertisers to allow for a more personalized marketing experience. For organizations looking to grow fast, direct data monetization holds obvious benefits; namely, selling customer data will certainly generate quick capital. It’s a trend that is escalating rapidly; while only 10% of enterprises took their data to market in 2014, 30% reported data commercialization efforts in 2015, a 200% increase. And, in 2016, an increasing number of firms will look to drive value and revenue from their “exhaust data” – data produced almost as a by-product of their normal operations.
  3. Actionable information is when an insight from big data directly drives an outcome. For example, if social media analysis indicates there will be greater demand for a product in one region than another (when cross referenced with weather forecasts, for example), production and distribution can dynamically and in real time be advised to switch things around. If you’re thinking this sounds like a pipe-dream for your organization, don’t think you’re alone. Many organizations are only at the start of the journey to making this a reality. Research we conducted last year suggests that business leaders are still limited in this area, with less than a third of businesses (30%) able to act upon their information in real time and almost half admitting to not knowing how to get value from their data.

In a world almost exclusively driven by data thanks to Information Generation, staying ahead of the curve is crucial to survive, let alone, thrive in the digital world. IDC cites 2016 as the year when “digital transformation scales up”. With markets being disrupted more frequently than ever before, and barriers to entry being lowered, there is certainly no time like the present to learn how these three emerging trends can significantly impact operations in organizations throughout Asia.

While every organization is on a different curve of the Big Data Maturity Index, EMC works with customers large and small to ensure they are able to maximize the opportunity data can provide to them. Enablement continues to remain the key to success in this journey, and many Asian organizations are stepping up to this challenge.

Want to learn more, or have questions on how your organization can capitalize on the next wave of data-driven business? Leave comments in the box below or message me directly!

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Three Reasons APAC Organizations Need to Nurture Data Scientists https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/three-reasons-apac-organizations-need-to-nurture-data-scientists/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/three-reasons-apac-organizations-need-to-nurture-data-scientists/#respond Thu, 18 Aug 2016 12:36:31 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=28606 I think we’re all in agreement that data science is crucial to business success. Unfortunately, as raised in my previous post, it is often passed around inside organizations like a hot potato as businesses struggle to find the data analysts and data scientists needed to manage it. These comments spurred some interesting conversations with customers and partners that […]

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I think we’re all in agreement that data science is crucial to business success. Unfortunately, as raised in my previous post, it is often passed around inside organizations like a hot potato as businesses struggle to find the data analysts and data scientists needed to manage it.

These comments spurred some interesting conversations with customers and partners that made me want to stress again the urgency of acquiring these skills, especially in organizations across the Asia-Pacific region.

I see three key reasons for this:

‘Tiger’ economies are slowing – While the Asia-Pacific region remains one of the main growth drivers of the world economy, accounting for about two-fifths of global economic growth, our pace has slowed significantly. China’s foreign trade fell dramatically in the first two months of 2016, and while showing small signs of improvement, it still faces downward pressure. The outlook for Australia looks similarly soft. Manufacturing has been the driving force behind our success to date but we need to find new sources of innovation as we move into a post-industrial era. And data is at the heart of this. McKinsey estimates that those who make use of it generate productivity and profit gains that are 5-6% higher than the competition

Currently, skills are lacking – to get the job done properly without external support. According to Malaysia’s national ICT agency Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), there are only 80 data scientists in the country, with a need for at least 1,500 by 2020. This skills gap is indicative of the whole APAC region. Demand dramatically outstrips supply. So much so that salaries for data scientists and analytics professionals in Australia surged by 14% in 2014. Cost rises like these aren’t sustainable, particularly for slowing economies. We need to invest in developing more talent.

Data scientists are at their most valuable when they are deeply embedded within the business – as they already have an incomparable understanding of strategy, culture, practices and processes. As I’ve previously mentioned, data offers huge tactical and strategic value to pretty much every single department within an organization. So arguably there’s a place for a data specialist within each of these; someone in the marketing and customer service team who can use it to analyze niche customer trends and habits, another in finance to dig deep for productivity and efficiencies, and so on. The nuanced knowledge of a company required to do this effectively can take months, or even years, to ascertain. For this reason, retraining or enhancing the skills of existing employees to fill the data science skills gap is more likely to drive immediate value than bringing in new data science graduates. 

As such, I urge divisional leaders, CIOs, IT managers, and Learning & Development teams to collaborate to develop this kind of talent internally, either in the form of running organizational development plans and training programs internally or getting external support from third-party data experts. The positive potential of big data is huge, but only if organizations in APAC are able to implement it.

I’d love to get your view of the challenges of recruiting big data scientists across APAC. Please leave your thoughts in the Comments.

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Businesses Should Stop Passing the Data Science Hot Potato https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/businesses-stop-passing-data-science-hot-potato/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/businesses-stop-passing-data-science-hot-potato/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2016 12:00:26 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=28523 Data science continues to be a hot topic for two reasons: Businesses universally agree that they should be making better use of data to help them grow revenue by addressing the needs of new markets and audiences (namely the Information Generation), and to improve operational effectiveness and efficiency. IDC predict a 34% growth annually until 2019 […]

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Data science continues to be a hot topic for two reasons:

  1. Businesses universally agree that they should be making better use of data to help them grow revenue by addressing the needs of new markets and audiences (namely the Information Generation), and to improve operational effectiveness and efficiency. IDC predict a 34% growth annually until 2019 around investments in big data. This isn’t a trend; it’s here to stay.
  2. Businesses are struggling to find data analysts and data scientists needed to manage Big Data.

This talent void means that data science is often passed around inside organizations like a hot potato. Data does after all offer huge tactical and strategic value to pretty much every department within an organization, with several key lines of business seeming like a natural “home” for it. More specifically, marketing and customer service teams are driving it so they can analyze customer trends and habits, while finance is where the analytical brains of a business are often situated. And, of course, IT teams control many of the technical tools and systems needed for advanced analytics.

Unfortunately, passing around the “hot potato” is unlikely to drive substantial success. Instead, organizations need to appoint a senior C-level executive to oversee and champion the data science program. Whoever is chosen must approach data science from a holistic and strategic point of view, taking the needs of all stakeholders into account. They should understand its strategic potential and have the jurisdiction to shape a team and wider-organizational culture to drive the Big Data agenda.

They also need to push for development of in-house data science expertise for line of business leaders across the entire organization. It’s only by ensuring that all senior decision makers have the strategic, business transformation, and technical skills to glean its value that it will have the desired overall impact. This is particularly important for SMEs who may not have the resources to win the expensive data science recruitment battle.

How is your organization approaching Big Data? Let me know in the comments section below. If you’d like to connect with me directly, I’d be happy to share with you some recent examples of how other organizations are approaching, and gaining valuable insights, from Big Data initiatives.

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Three Ways National Governments Can And Should Improve IT Skills https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/three-ways-national-governments-can-improve-skills/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/three-ways-national-governments-can-improve-skills/#respond Mon, 18 Jul 2016 12:00:00 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=28390 Around the globe, commitment to IT skills development is gaining recognition as a key ingredient necessary to compete in world markets. Economic powerhouses such as Germany and Switzerland can attribute much of their success to their heavy investment in human capital, and early identification of the key skills that will produce tomorrow’s workforce. As well, […]

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Around the globe, commitment to IT skills development is gaining recognition as a key ingredient necessary to compete in world markets. Economic powerhouses such as Germany and Switzerland can attribute much of their success to their heavy investment in human capital, and early identification of the key skills that will produce tomorrow’s workforce. As well, a number of other countries across EMEA and the Americas are making progress with innovative government-supported educational initiatives and programs designed to develop skilled IT professionals.

Contrast this with the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region, which remains one of the main growth drivers of the world economy, accounting for about two-fifths of global economic growth. However, with China’s economy gradually slowing, APJ’s boom growth years are arguably waning. With this in mind, the need for further investment in IT has never been more apparent, yet across APJ, investment in developing skilled workers across IT and technology is looking increasingly bleak when compared to the commitment other regions are making.

In the UK for example, the government announced it would be scrapping the IT curriculum. In its place, they will introduce new computer science courses. The education minister blamed the previous government for dumbing down IT, suggesting that children are not learning technology skills in schools; they are merely learning how to operate a computer. The same government has unveiled £3.5m of funding aimed at developing the ‘Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science’, with 400 master teachers to pass on their skills and subject knowledge.

In Portugal, the creation of the ‘Plano Tecnológico’ plan has the overarching goal of building a knowledge-based society. As part of that plan, the government worked with public and private partners to develop an innovative educational technology program built on a unique, sustainable economic model that has generated €2.3 billion in economic activity, and features products and services now being exported to trading partners. All of these programs were a direct result of the government raising €460 million from a spectrum auction.

At a regional level, the EU’s Digital Agenda is underpinned by national digital agendas that have been in place for several years. As with other EU single market initiatives, the aim is to help all IT industry participants achieve the benefit of scale to compete in world markets, while also fostering innovation at the grassroots level and encouraging investment in developing skills for tomorrow’s workforce.

All of these examples illustrate what governments and councils can do to improve and encourage learning and development in IT. Clearly more needs to be done in APJ if we are to capitalize on the data science opportunity in the name of individual success and national economic stability. Here are my top three steps that governments across the region need to implement now:

  1. Develop strategic partnerships – with vendors and universities to ensure that the learning curriculum is in place to deliver a steady stream of job-ready IT skilled staff to local industry who can help organizations visualize and realize their potential. This can be done through awareness-building, for example, as well as by building a talent pool through scholarship endowments and incentives. Dell, for example, is partnering with local universities in Brazil to train professionals in analytics.
  2. Invest in upskilling business leaders – For IT skills to deliver strategic business value across an organization, senior leaders need to get up-to-speed. However, tearing C-level executives away from their core focus can be challenging. Thus, to encourage investment, governments should offer to fund or subsidize training to encourage organizations to build the appropriate leadership mind-set and skills to capitalize on these transformational initiatives for long-term business gain. Additionally, governments should create partnered programs or workshops for business leaders to learn and share in these forums.
  3. Invest in developing a local talent pool – There is certainly local appetite for technical education. As I wrote in my ‘How Asian universities can help build job-ready graduates with additional IT skills’ post, APJ is renowned for generating a high level of high quality STEM graduates. But many of these young people choose to study abroad, and a good proportion then choose to live outside APJ. Local governments need to do more to encourage our burgeoning young talent to remain closer to home to ensure we don’t lose them to the international job market. One way to do so is to provide grants and loans for students to take courses in key IT fields, including data science, at local educational institutions, as well as practical courses to acquire the job-ready skills in key technology platforms.

I welcome your thoughts as to what national Governments in APJ can, and should be doing to address the need for data science skills. Are there initiatives that you believe will support innovation and economic growth? Let me know in the Comments box below.

 

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How Universities Can Help Build Job-Ready Graduates That Possess IT Transformational Skills https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/universities-can-help-build-job-ready-graduates-possess-transformational-skills/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/vmotiani/universities-can-help-build-job-ready-graduates-possess-transformational-skills/#respond Mon, 04 Jul 2016 11:00:29 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=28241 In recent years we have seen a heightened appreciation of investment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines as a vehicle that can boost innovation. There has been a noticeable uptick in STEM graduates in many areas of the world, particularly in the Asia Pacific and Japan region which generate a consistently high volume […]

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In recent years we have seen a heightened appreciation of investment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines as a vehicle that can boost innovation. There has been a noticeable uptick in STEM graduates in many areas of the world, particularly in the Asia Pacific and Japan region which generate a consistently high volume of quality STEM graduates year in, year out.

This is an encouraging development to help bridge the apparent “skills gap” of the next generation. However, with fewer certainties about what career a degree will lead to, employers understandably want graduates to be better prepared for the workplace and thus seek those who are job-ready.

In a world where business IT skills are in short supply, investing in helping to equip students with technical and transformational skills, on top of theoretical skills should be high on the agenda. Increasingly, organizations are looking for IT professionals with core business knowledge to cope with managing lifecycles, relationship management, and project management.

With Forrester suggesting that analytics, loyalty programs, and agility (among other things) will be crucial for business success in 2016, practical upskilling in these areas, on top of general IT skills, should be prioritized. Yet the responsibility for filling this gap in skills and knowledge must be shared between businesses and universities, with awareness on both sides of the complexities of the other.

The role between business and university

Universities that schedule additional courses must not conflict or detract from a student’s core studies. By providing optional add-on career strengthening courses, or by hosting courses online, teachers are able to conduct lectures and assignments out of “usual” hours, meaning core classes can continue as usual, and students can pick and choose additional certification courses at a pace that works best for them. This provides competitive advantage to both universities and students.

Employers, understandably, want educators to pay more attention to research showing which skills are needed by different sectors, and to respond quickly to it. Working with key technology vendors to set up online courses is a cost- and time-efficient way to ensure students gain the appropriate skills.

EMC, for example, collaborates with colleges and universities worldwide to help prepare students for successful careers in a transforming IT industry. The EMC Academic Alliance program offers unique ‘open’ curriculum-based education on technology topics such as cloud computing, Big Data analytics, information storage and management, and backup recovery systems and architecture. The courses focus on technology concepts and principles applicable to any vendor environment, enabling students to develop highly marketable knowledge and skills required in today’s evolving IT industry. EMC takes a comprehensive approach and also works with Institutes and Universities to create a specialization track for some of the above transformational programs.

Doing so enables graduates to not only finish their education with a world-class degree, but also possess reputable vendor certifications, where knowledge can be applied almost immediately. Consequently, these graduates become attractive candidates for jobs building the digital infrastructure needed by the fast-approaching information generation.

Measurement of university no longer just about academia

With the next generation of increasingly tech-savvy students coming through education systems, traditional models of teaching are becoming more and more disrupted. The next generation will be far more used to self-paced e-Learning than preceding generations.

With this in mind, a strong case can be made for assessing how universities measure success. While academia provides a solid framework, the graduates of tomorrow need to leave university ready to add their skills to the workplace almost immediately. Thus, more emphasis must be placed on creating graduates who are more agile, have a solid understanding of how the workplace operates, and can see how their skills fit into it.

What’s your experience of graduates coming into your business sector? Are they ‘business ready’ or do they need a bit more grounding in the practical reality of the technologies and tools your team uses? I’d be interested to read your thoughts in the comments section.

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