Co-founder & Chief Decision Scientist @Gramener
Ganes Kesari is the Co-founder and Chief Decision Scientist at Gramener, a data science company that helps organizations present data insights as stories. He advises executives on data-driven leadership and helps organizations adopt a culture of data for decision-making.
Ganes runs corporate workshops on business transformation using data and analytics. He is a TEDx speaker and Forbes Contributor. He is on a mission to simplify data science and help everyone understand its true potential. He enjoys hiking and playing board games.
Please complete the following questions. We ask that you provide informative and succinct answers, and we reserve the right to edit responses for clarity and brevity.
What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?
Over 10 years ago, we founded Gramener with a focus on energy analytics. While the energy offering failed to take off, we noticed great interest in analytics.
Organizations had large volumes of data but were not able to leverage it for their decisions. To tap into this opportunity, we pivoted to help organizations make better decisions through analytical insights and data stories. This resonated in the market and today we have 130+ clients globally served by a 250+ member team.
I am passionate about solving organizational problems with data. I lead our advisory and innovation practice. I help business and technology leaders craft their data strategy, chart out a roadmap, and get ROI from data.
What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?
While I’ve led initiatives to help improve enterprise top-line and bottom-line, I take pride in the data science work we’ve done in the ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) space. We’ve applied AI to save endangered species, to help fight the impacts of climate change, and to save human lives from natural disasters or health hazards.
What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?
While working with CIOs and CDOs across our client organizations, the top two challenges we often see them face are:
- Build user trust in data and analytics: It’s easy to build data science solutions, but tough to convince people to use them for their day-to-day decisions. This leads to failure of projects and poor ROI.
- Ground executive expectations from data: Some organizations have unrealistic expectations from their data investments – timing and magnitude of payoffs. This leads to disillusionment with data.
The above two are opposite extremes – non-belief vs excessive expectations. To address this, technology/data leaders must educate their stakeholders on the promise of data, what it takes to deliver them, and work to secure the support needed from across the organization.
How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?
While the role of CDO has been rising in prominence over the past decade, organizations are fast realizing that just hiring a CDO won’t unlock value from data. This role must be enabled with strategic clarity, authority, and budget.
There are three things that successful organizations are doing which we will see across the industry in the coming years:
a) clarity on the direct and indirect responsibilities,
b) authority and influence at the organizational level,
c) budget and operational support for their strategic initiatives
Do you have any planned next steps for your career?
I’ve been sharing my learnings as a practitioner in the data science space for the past 10 years. I have written 100+ articles and posts demystifying data in magazines such as Forbes and Entrepreneur. I’ve spoken at events like TEDx on the promise of AI and run guest lectures at schools such as Princeton University and Penn State. I publish a newsletter that has over 3000 followers.
In the coming years, I am working to get the message farther on how data and analytics can be the greatest enabler for organizational success. I am partnering with organizations, educational institutions, and media. I would be thrilled if I can help more people understand the potential of data science and make better decisions.
What is the single best piece of advice you have received in your data management / IT career so far? Why has it been so important to you?
Expand your network, not just with your peers, but also with your target audience. Practitioners tend to discuss and debate with others playing a similar role in the industry. While this is essential, it must be complemented by engaging actively with people you’re building the products and solutions for. This helps avoid echo chambers, understand the ground-level challenges your users might be facing, and help identify areas where you need to improve.
This keeps me grounded and focuses my attention on solving problems for my target audience.
Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?
Data drives not just my work, but my personal life as well. I’ve been maintaining a 24-hour time log for the past 4.5 years. By analyzing insights from these 150,000+ data points, I’ve been improving my productivity and building new habits. For example, this has helped me read more, channelize work away from non-strategic areas, and ensure consistent playtime with my kids!
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