15 June 2021

Powering Data Democratisation with Modern Decision Platforms

Najat Messaoud
Pramod Muralidharan
Cognizant
Bob Markese
Will Smith
6 min
Company:
Cognizant
Delivering decisions at scale to the business through Data & Intelligence from Cognizant, Microsoft & Informatica

The trifecta of Cognizant, Microsoft and Informatica allows customers to make better use of data as they modernise their businesses to stay relevant and drive business value. One way of accomplishing this is simply about changing perspectives, as Pramod Muralidharan, Practice Head - Global Growth Markets - Data Modernisation Pre-Sales, Solution & Offering Development, explains: “Traditionally, organisations have been building a data estate that is fit for purpose and expecting that to drive business outcomes. What we believe is critical for companies to make intelligent decisions is to put the business outcomes first, instead.” 

Doing that requires foregrounding a number of different data signals. “We truly believe in the concept of the digital feedback loop,” says Microsoft’s Najat Messaoud, Senior Director – Azure Business Lead. “At the centre of that digital feedback loop are the employees, the customers, the operations and the products. The challenge is synthesising the data that flows through all these different areas to improve all the business outcomes and experiences.”

It’s not just the approach that leads to improved outcomes and optimised experiences; the modernisation of legacy systems is another crucial factor. “Modernisation brings in modern data architecture that enables improved decision-making, and breaks the barriers of data silos,” says Muralidharan. Then there’s the fact that AI and data are two sides of the same coin. “I don't think one exists without the other. The topic of data modernisation is critical for AI, which helps you to drive intelligence and become the true differentiator for our customers.”

In short, data modernisation is powering the data revolution, and real-world examples of its benefits are everywhere. “Our customers are doing everything from making scientific discoveries, making decisions about how to roll out healthcare policy, or improving the supply chain cycle in an enterprise setting,” explains Informatica’s Bob Markese,  SVP, Cloud Modernisation. The acceleration that data brings has only become more apparent due to the ongoing pandemic. 

“During the crisis, the customers that are more resilient to the disruption are the ones that have adopted a data-driven strategy for their company,” says Muralidharan. “In two weeks, Cognizant built a solution for a global convenience store chain that accurately forecasts purchasing and supply chain planning. We integrated new data sources including COVID-19 data, historic product performance data, competitor data and weather data. We built a digital command centre to monitor real-time store performance based on credit card transactions, resulting in a 20% increase in forecasting accuracy and savings of over US$10m in product shipments.

“With that in place, customers are, for instance, able to see every interaction with their customers, every moving part of their supply chain and every financial transaction, anywhere in the world in real-time. That allows these customers to react more quickly, mitigate threats and ultimately become more resilient.”

Quotables
Quote
Technology & Modern Decision platform alone cannot solve all business problems. Data Culture and Talent are critical cogs in driving outcomes
Author name
Pramod Muralidharan
Job Title, Company
Practice Head - Global Growth Markets - Data Modernisation Pre-Sales , Solution & Offering Development, Cognizant
Quotables
Quote
Every enterprise is striving to become a data-driven organisation that makes better and faster decisions
Author name
Pramod Muralidharan
Job Title, Company
Practice Head - Global Growth Markets - Data Modernisation Pre-Sales , Solution & Offering Development, Cognizant
Quotables
Quote
During the crisis, the customers that are more resilient to the disruption are the ones that have adopted a data-driven strategy
Author name
Najat Messaoud
Job Title, Company
Senior Director – Azure Business Lead, Microsoft

Succeeding in that kind of data transformation requires a keen focus on a number of factors. For Informatica’s Markese, the number-one focus should be on having a modern platform. “It has got to be cloud native, today. Too many companies are trying to lift and shift all legacy to the cloud and having nothing but challenges doing that. While it's a quick and dirty solution, it doesn't get you the benefits of a modern platform such as AI-powered intelligence. A modern platform is also scalable, secure and governed.” 

Aside from the technology, having in place a data culture is another critical success factor. “The organisation’s change management is the bridge between success and failure of the investment in a data initiative. Technology & Modern Decision platform alone cannot solve all business problems. Data Culture and Talent are critical cogs in driving outcomes,” says Muralidharan. 

Of course, solving business problems is also the preserve of Cognizant, Microsoft and Informatica, and the three come together to offer customers a holistic solution. “I call the Cognizant, Informatica, Microsoft partnership a golden triangle, which helps solve data democratisation initiatives and partners with our customers for the entire journey and beyond,” says Muralidharan. 

“In terms of Cognizant, Informatica and Microsoft, we are able to cover end-to-end the data ecosystem to successfully orchestrate modern decisions.” Microsoft’s Messaoud emphasises the importance of its partner ecosystem to unlocking value for its customers. “We bring trusted expertise to the table, but it's actually our partners that understand the customer’s business needs and can address the challenges that customers have that can be sold with technologies coming from us and also from the broad ecosystem long-standing relationships that we have, for example, with Informatica and Cognizant.”

Taken together, the expertise of the three companies can allow CxOs to respond to pressure for modernisation stemming from boards, as Markese explains. “Sometimes they'll come to us and ask us, ‘What should be our data modernisation strategy?’ And we say, ‘We'll give you the platform and the tools, but you have to go to Cognizant to identify your business outcomes, develop your strategy, implement quickly while future protecting your technology decisions and continue to unlock business value and innovation along the way.’ And then they'll ask, ‘Well, what cloud platform should I be on? How do I put in the infrastructure?’ And for that we tell them to go to Microsoft. When you put all that in place with our intelligent data management cloud platform, the pieces coming from those two other trusted partners all fall into place.”

In the current business landscape, digital data transformation is set to become a must, if it hasn’t already. “That can be very daunting and very challenging to enterprises, small and large,” says Markese. “We see it across enterprises, small and large. That's because there is such explosive growth of data out there that they have to manage and make split-second decisions about their business, and they know they need a new way to do it.” 

Democratising access and sharing data is to the benefit of all, and increased sharing and collaboration around data could lead to a more inclusive economy and aid the economic recovery.

Naturally, challenges remain in the way of reaching this future. “There’s an inability to respond to customers or business events in a very timely manner,” says Muralidharan. “Another aspect is cost. Many clients have significant legacy investments. It is also about governance and bringing people, practices and technology together.”

While customers want to move forward with a modern data platform, often they don't want to be the first one to do so. They might ask who has already done it as they want to mitigate the risk. That's often the biggest hurdle.

Despite these challenges, the future is bright for organisations seeking to make the most of data. “Every enterprise is striving to become a data-driven organisation that makes better and faster decisions to optimise experiences and drive business value,” says Muralidharan. “And that's not just the multi-billion dollar companies, that goes across the board. It’s not a fad and it's going to be here for quite a period of time.” 

No one is pretending the journey is easy, but it’s certainly one that’s worth making – as Markese explains. “Data modernisation is not easy. It's a multi-year journey and for most enterprises, it's hard. So you better pick the right partners who put clients first, have experienced the potholes of digital transformation and deliver strategies that ensure short-term success and long-term value. That’s why Cognizant, Microsoft and Informatica can jointly get you to your data destination faster.

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