To kick off our new Inside Analytics series, we caught up with our Head of Analytics, Sudeepta Chaudhuri, to talk about The Smart Cube’s analytics offerings today – and what the future will hold.
Sudeepta Chaudhuri has been the Head of Analytics at The Smart Cube for just over two years, helping to shape the company’s offerings in a challenging and fast-changing space. We caught up with him for a quick discussion about the past, present and future of analytics at the company.
Hi Sudeepta, can you tell us a little bit about your role and what you’ve been brought in to help achieve at The Smart Cube?
The Smart Cube has been in the analytics space for a number of years now, but the company was often seen in the market primarily as a research organisation. It’s part of my role to change this perception and build our reputation as an analytics and research organisation. To make that happen, we are scaling up in terms of the number of clients we are serving and the breadth and depth of problems we’re solving, and continuing to strengthen our solutions in the analytics space.
What was your background coming into this role?
I bring more than two decades of analytics experience to The Smart Cube. In my early career, I forecasted macroeconomic variables, forecasted demand for luxury hotels and auto manufacturers, helped strategise product placement in retail stores, and supported geographic expansion of insurance and retail businesses.
I then joined Idea Cellular, which became a merged entity, Vodafone-Idea, India’s biggest telecom carrier at the time, to lead their BI & Analytics transformation project, where I stayed for almost a decade. This role covered the establishment of a data warehouse ecosystem from scratch, and progressed to solving various business problems using advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms. The best part of the journey was to see the analytical models running in a fully automated manner and the outputs integrated with downstream decision support systems.
What really attracted you to The Smart Cube as a company?
After spending two decades in analytics I had two choices: I could have continued on the same trajectory and joined another organisation that already had well-established analytics teams and processes. Or I could start that journey from the ground-up, the same way I did when I was starting out, which was a lot more challenging and exciting for me – leading to my decision to join The Smart Cube.
As Head of Analytics I have the opportunity to build a growing team, while also serving multiple client organisations, solving a variety of business problems and interacting with stakeholders across the globe. I wanted the challenge of developing an ecosystem that would help The Smart Cube grow into a really strong player in this space, and I think that’s what we are on our way to achieving.
I also really appreciated the transparency with which the senior management team spoke about the company’s vision and where they stood then. That’s important to me – I’m committed to my role in part because of that honesty and vision in our initial conversations.
“We are planning to double our data analytics capabilities and resources over the next 12 months and we are aggressively recruiting and developing our solutions for enhanced client satisfaction.”
What kind of changes have you seen in the wider analytics space and how is The Smart Cube positioning itself to adapt to these changes?
Analytics is incredibly fast moving. The technologies and approaches you were using yesterday may not be relevant tomorrow. So, it’s essential to keep up with the times, but there has to be a planned approach to manage this. Organisations need to be guided through this journey, otherwise the ROI from any analytics investment is likely to be low.
We have worked hard to identify the priority areas for us as a business, and constantly improve and evolve in those areas rather than spreading ourselves too thin. As a technology-agnostic analytics service provider, we are very well placed to understand the client’s problem statements in an unbiased manner and provide efficient analytical solutions to address them.
What are your personal standout successes at The Smart Cube?
There’s a lot I could talk about. Above all else I’d say we’ve become incredibly strong when it comes to particular techniques and problem areas in the analytics space. If I take marketing mix modelling as a means to optimise client investments as an example, we’ve delivered projects across multiple geographies, multiple product lines, multiple organisations and over different time periods, so we’re now an expert in that particular space. And what we deliver is always deployable, usable, scalable and interpretable. We have similar expertise in demand forecasting, pricing and promotion management, and assortment planning – all of which are critical for our CPG and retail clients at the moment.
We’re also doing some really exciting niche projects in the AI space that illustrate our abilities and allow us to experiment with new tools and techniques, and could eventually see us branch out into new areas. Things like managing the predictive maintenance of windmills based on drone-captured images. Or using external sources like COVID data and satellite imagery to improve the accuracy of our demand forecasting models.
We have put a lot of focus on building Data Engineering, Digital Analytics and AI capabilities, and with each passing day they are strengthening our analytics offerings for our clients.
And what have been the biggest surprises and challenges you’ve faced?
Perhaps the biggest surprise, and it’s a positive one, has been the really strong appetite for analytics within the company. It takes an entire organisation to drive a growing business area, and after joining, I immediately felt I had the backing of everyone, from marketing to HR and finance to IT. That makes my job a whole lot easier – but at the same time challenging too, as we have to meet the high expectations!
Finally, a look forward. What are your goals and ambitions for the next two years?
Internally, I would like to create an employer brand that’s even stronger than the one we have now. We’ve already been featured as one of the top 50 data science companies to work for in India, but I’d like to continue to improve on that – in particular making sure our employees have the right opportunities to learn and progress their careers, alongside adding great value to our clients.
On the client side, I’d like us to become a single-window custom solution provider for the business problems that our clients want to address through data and analytics. That’s the biggest challenge for me. I don’t want to just build models and stop there. I want us to be a go-to analytical consultant that can understand and evaluate the business problem, define the analytical problem statement, identify the various data components that are required to solve the problem, create the optimised analytical solution that is needed, and implement it in the client’s environment so they can realise value in a time bound manner.
Again, we do a lot of this already, but our plan is to continue to strengthen our offering with multiple techniques and focus areas, from data engineering to data science and AI. In fact, we plan to double our data analytics capabilities and resources in a year’s time.
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