Sri Annaswamy: Analytics Visionary, Vedic student, and meditator

Of course, our societies have transitioned from so-called ‘’developing’’ to advanced/developed societies, but the challenge posed by mental health issue continues to haunt our people. It has become the single-most important health-related challenge. And, predicting mental health and well-being of a person as early as possible in his/her life will not only enable early stage interventions but will help us create healthy societies, not just developed!

But what’s the gray part here you know? Even today in “developed” societies, the social stigma around mental health creates a paucity of reliable data to support analytics efforts thereby hampering most early detection and early intervention efforts. Analytics might be able to detect early signs of mental problems with patterns revealed from data. I think data will help us categorize some of these mental conditions in ways we couldn’t do before, and being a part of the analytics world, I can’t wait to witness this revolution!

Well, if you now ask me about my analytics journey. I would just call it as purely serendipitous! A little over 12 years ago, somewhere at a time when BPO, Offshoring, and Outsourcing were hitting the headlines in terms of “job losses”, I was approached by an arm of the Australian government called “Invest Australia” (now part of Austrade) to research and advise them on whether jobs could be created here in Australia to offset the projected job losses here due to all this Offshoring. Even then I was an ITO and BPO advisor especially at banks and insurers (that bore the brunt of Offshoring) and hence, it made sense for them to engage with me to see if there was a different angle to be explored. Whilst terms such as “Analytics Outsourcing” and “Knowledge Process Outsourcing” (KPO) were starting to be bandied about by a small group of industry executives at that time; there were very few organizations that actually had any worthwhile expertise. The hypothesis we tested was whether Australia and particularly Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane could become “global hubs” for the delivery of analytics services just as India and to some extent, Philippines was becoming a global BPO hub, at that time. Almost six months of detailed and painstaking research including field trips to major India-based financial services Analytics COEs at that time (third party and captive) as well a review of analytics talent pipelines at Australian universities helped us identify this major opportunity involving a “Global Analytics Hub” based out of Australia.

Unfortunately, within 12 months, Australia had another Federal Election, and the incumbent PM (the longest serving PM in Australian history) was defeated, and a new PM and new govt emerged, and to cut a long story short, nothing much happened after implementing the report. But I kept going. It was clear to me that Analytics COEs were going to be a HUGE global and Australian trend and slowly but steadily, I ended up advising the same sets of Australian institutions in creating and managing Analytics COEs and helped them with their evolution from BI and reporting to predictive statistical analytics to AI and machine learning today! And, it has been a great journey for me with lots of ups and downs.

I believe that at the end of the day it’s only the learnings that you take home! I have been collating all my experiences and making this journey more exciting. You know, on my first day in IIT, I learned a new phrase that I would use a million times in the next four years – Funda (short for “fundamentals”). That focus on fundamentals that I learned continues to be the most important driver of my life right to this day! And I keep emphasizing the same to our young analytics folks. It’s important for them to spend at least 20% of your time learning about and review newer developments be it in data engineering or machine learning or even simple data visualization. That’s what will keep them relevant and ensure that they don’t end up on the scrap heap very soon! And yes, at least once in your career (and hopefully, a few times), work for an analytics start up (preferably an early stage start up and not after 3 rounds of capital raisings:) The experience and learning you gain would be immense regardless of what you actually did in a start up!

Needless to say, time can take us to peaks of success, but ultimately and eventually one day it will be time to wave “good bye”, let go of the materialistic aspect of life and focus on the true purpose of life. So, my way of reminding myself constantly of this is to focus on the two aspects enjoined in our Scriptures, Swadhyaya (self-learning) and Adhyapana (teaching /disseminating) of spiritual knowledge. And, when I don’t have tight deadlines and business calls to take, my weekends are always about meditations, learnings, and disseminations!

Connect with me on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sriannaswamy1/

Meet Sri Annaswamy: Analytics Visionary, Vedic student, and meditator
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