Sep 12, 2016

Tips from Top: Business Intelligence and Analytics, Mr Manish Menon (Manager, Business Technology, ZS Associates)

Mr. Manish Menon, Business Technology Manager at ZS Associates, visited IIT Kanpur campus on 11th September. The topic of the seminar was Business Intelligence and Analytics.
The seminar began with how analytics affects every walk of our life: from taxi aggregating service Ola, e-commerce giant Amazon, superstores like Walmart, to healthcare services such as Apple Health Kit. Mr. Menon elaborated on the shifting focus of analytics over the years from “what to do with data and where to get the data from?” to “how impactful can we make it?”
Mr. Menon talked about the evolution of analytics from centralised passive reporting, periodic monitoring and data warehouse to decentralization, active experimentation, advanced use cases and data lakes.
He also emphasized on a pragmatic saying – “fail fast so as to recover quickly, learn the lesson, and move on to other projects”.
Mr. Menon discussed how the growing trend of cloud computing and storage of huge quantities of data on remote locations might not be as much of a fail-safe and fool-proof idea as the general perception was turning to be because of varied concerns like security.
He also briefed us about what stages or steps advanced analytics entails to arrive at a solution. These include- descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analysis. Descriptive analysis deals with “what has happened” and thus includes business intelligence and dashboards, Diagnostic answers “why it has happened” using model fitting and data mining, Predictive helps us to formulate “Will it happen” through forecasting and statistical prediction and last is Prescriptive which mentions the future course of action or “what should we do” using optimization models.  Mr. Menon emphasised on the role of analyst’s intellect and intelligence on each and every stage of analytics, using certain pragmatic examples. The icing on the cake was a case study task for the students, which invoked active participation from the enthusiastic audience. It gave hands-on experience on using appropriate analytic analysis’ stages while approaching the problem.
There was also a brief introduction about the various analytics tools available that are also being used in corporate. He emphasised on how the key to a successful analytics project is to ask the right question! Furthermore he gave guidance on approaching an analytics problem. He also recommended certain books that he reckoned would help in streamlining the thought process. 
Mr Menon ended the enlightening session with-
“If you don’t pursue your passion as your work, you will end up in a job and not a career!” 

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