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Piyanka Jain

Piyanka Jain

Enterprise Data Literacy | SWAT Data Science Consulting | Analytics Training | International Bestseller Author & Speaker

What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?

I have always loved maths and numbers. While I hated statistics earlier, statistical modeling and simulation helped me during my Master’s degree in computer engineering.

Later, when I started working, I realised that there was significant failure happening with companies having uncurated, unclean data. At PayPal, I spent about the first few months creating a customer 360 view, which was the starting of what is now PayPal’s Enterprise Data Warehouse.

That was my first data management role. I was hired as an analyst but forced into data management. And, I realized at that moment, how fundamental is data management to be able to use data, to drive decisions.

In terms of choosing this as a career path, it was because I had seen the power of data to drive decisions. That was what got me to data science.

What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?

I started my own data analytics company, Aryng, in 2011 and developed a data-to-decision framework to guide us through our work. I think my first big accomplishment happened after I was working with a gaming company. It was phenomenal to see that our work was driving impact for the company. As a direct result of our work, we improved the average revenue per user, the upgrade rate and other aspects.

What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?

Since the last three-four years, digital transformation has accelerated for most organizations. Data is everywhere and available to all. However, it is too much.

The whole aspect of a single source of truth remains a big challenge for a CDO. For example – there are various applications on my phone, recording data. Every action that I do is noted – from me travelling, dining or simply using the internet. There is too much data but not all of it is relevant.

The problem for a CDO remains the same. Previously, it was data silos – ‘how do I build a single source of truth?’. Previously, it did not even exist. Now, the problem is there is too much data – ‘How do I bring in the focus to a single source of truth?

The problem is creating consistent definition and metric that is aligned with everyone that everyone believes in, everyone can make a decision using it. That single source of truth is the number one issue for CDOs.

Besides that, there is a significant gap that exists between possessing data and actually knowing how to use data to solve a business problem.

The CDOs need to change their mindset and think about monetization of data. They need to think about how they can create a common vernacular that employees can communicate with each other with a framework for decision making using data. Just having data alone will not drive them to start making such informed decisions.

Externally, the CDOs need to be revenue managers. They need to understand that the data they make available for the other teams can be monetized. For CDOs, their jobs should not stop at providing dash boards, but they should consider how data can move up the value chain and become a product itself.

How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?

For the last five years, the focus was on digital transformation – to make data available and have all the silos of data feed in one place. Now, the next two to three, or maybe five, the focus would be to monetize data and make it usable towards actionable decisions.

Thus, I believe the CEOs would hold the CDOs accountable for everything from the data that they are producing to the value the data is producing. It is just not about the quantity, it’s about the quality.

Do you have any planned next steps for your career?

I started my journey with being an analyst and now I am the CEO of Aryng. I have been able to go from zero to one, and now want to go from one to 100. We have a unique approach of strategic partnership with our clients, mostly head of data/CDO and accelerate their deliverables of high value strategic projects very rapidly using our unique Data-to-Decision framework called BADIR. I want to scale Aryng so that every professional can make decisions based on data using BADIR.

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?

This happened when I was working at Adobe. There was a huge amount of data, but nobody had ever touched it. And, I found it. It was like a treasure trove for me. I started playing with it and using it in my work.

One day, someone asked me: ‘oh, that’s great. So what? You have been playing with this treasure of day data. So what? What’s the end goal?’ And that’s when I realised that ‘so what’ was very important.

Things like: ‘So what if I have access to the data, so what if you build this model? So what if you have now created this dashboard? So what if you now have a single source of truth?

Why we do what we do matters. So what matters.

This actually had a very interesting follow up incident that happened at Adobe. After this unintended piece of advice that came as a form of a question, I became quite impact driven. One day, in an elevator, an unknown person, who was going to the executive floor, asked about me in a friendly chatter. “Hi, I haven’t seen you before. What do you do?”

This ‘so what’ had inspired me a lot then. So, I replied: “I am a senior analyst and currently working on a project that will make Adobe Acrobat’s revenue 4X.”

He then asked me my name, shook my hand and said it was a pleasure meeting you. I kept wondering who he was. As it turned out, he was Bruce, the CEO of Adobe.

This piece of advice has been a part of Aryng. And I ask the same of all my team members – so what?

Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?

I’m a sunrise and sunset chaser. I love them. The transition, the colors, the movement, the clouds really inspire me. I love a beautiful sunset or a sunrise at beautiful locations. And, I try to see at least one in a month.

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