The ISB Institute of Data Science (IIDS) organized its flagship day-long Summit on 2nd December 2022. The well-attended event witnessed participation by Industry experts, academicians, researchers, thought leaders, and data science enthusiasts. It featured multiple speaker sessions and panel discussions of leading experts from Academia and Industry on various topics of Retail Analytics and Fintech and Leadership paths in Data Science. The platform enabled participants to learn how organizations leverage data to engage and connect with potential collaborators. 

The widespread digital acceleration and transformation across industries have increased inter-connectedness between Fintech and Retail. The pandemic has facilitated bridging the gap. As per the industry estimates, India's retail market was estimated to be about $900 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach over $1.5 trillion in the next five years.

Prof. Deepa Mani, Deputy Dean, Executive Education, and Digital Learning; Professor of Information Systems at the Indian School of Business (ISB) inaugurated the event and spoke of the importance of data science in this rapidly adopting digital world. 

Speaking about the event, Prof. Manish Gangwar, Executive Director, IIDS said," I am very pleased to see enthusiastic participation from the Data Science fraternity. With the government's aim to achieve a USD 1 trillion economy by 2025, AI and digital technology must be embraced and adopted not only by the industry and the government but also at the grassroots level. ONDC, Digital currency, and Data Privacy Bill are all enablers in the right direction."

The one-day Summit witnessed leading industry experts from the domain of retail and fintech like Flipkart, Tesco, Tata Digital, Microsoft, Broadridge, Tide, Allied Digital Services, Deloitte, Swiss Re, Hero Enterprises, Reliance Jio, etc.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Shourya Roy, Senior Director, Flipkart highlighted innovations that are taking place in the E-Commerce space, such as Customer Onboarding, Inventory Planning & Forecasting, Product Search, and Pricing, the business context of these innovations, the Data Science opportunities and the challenges therein. An emerging trend, he said, is that the large E-Commerce platforms have become 'Everything Store.' It is the starting point of product purchase intent. Today's shopper shops in myriad ways - Influencer-led, Video, and Quick commerce shopping. Spearheading this is data, software, and communication technology. E-Commerce is only 5% of Retail today, but there is room for significant growth since the future customer is already in the digital funnel. 

Briefing on 'Growth Analytics: From a cost center to a profit center,' a speaker from a retail giant spoke on the delivery value that an organization can accrue by adopting, implementing, and embedding data & analytics and aligning it in supporting all business functions. Covid- induced lockdowns and subsequent FOGO factor among customers have propelled companies to offer omnichannel options like kerbside pick-up, Scan & Go, Ship-from-Club, etc. 

Predictive analytics, he said, can ensure smoother store check-outs, manage supply chain stages, optimize product assortment, and aid a more personalized shopping experience. He emphasized that retailers should use and share data business-wide to effectively address the 'middle-mile problem' and avoid broken customer experiences. Demand Forecasting and Seamless data sharing between all verticals, functions, and domains within an organization can better customer experience. 

A panel discussion on ‘Innovative Loyalty: Identify the data that creates obsessed customers’ was moderated by Prof. Sudhir Voleti (Associate Professor, Marketing; Associate Dean- LRC & Faulty Alignment & Academic Director- ISB’S Institute of Data Sciences). The esteemed panelists were industry experts from the retail industry Bidisha Paul, Director, Data and Applied Sciences, Microsoft; Pankaj Mishra, Head of Enterprise Analytics, Tesco; Shuvajit Basu, VP & Head of Data Science, Tata Digital, and Syed Atif Umar, Senior Director, Analytics, Flipkart.

The panellists brainstormed extensively on the parameters that can create loyal customers. On the retail front, they concurred analytics on Usage, Experience, Engagement, and Vocation of customers can indicate customer commitment to the retailer.

The digital revolution is here; brands are increasing, as there’s a low entry barrier for brands. With the power of data & analytics, this is an excellent opportunity for brands to recognize the latent demand and be prepared for the future. Small innovations can enable a frictionless customer journey and result in customer loyalty. The speakers suggested that companies must learn & adopt methods quickly. ‘Fail fast and recover faster’ is a mantra, organizations will follow as they should not expect to tell a stale story of yesterday and expect the customer to buy in. 

Speaking on Emerging Trends, the panelists said the scale of data monetization will increase and drive up revenue for most retailers. Another trend that is emerging is the consolidation of apps. Currently, apps are very vertically aligned. SuperApps will emerge soon. 

Advising organizations to introduce Data Leadership programs and have deeper AI-related conversations, Dr. Shailesh Kumar, Chief Data Scientist, Jio, spoke on ‘Reasoning-based speaker Systems’. He observed significant paradigm shifts from document-centric to knowledge-centric and information-centric to action-centric, app-centric to assist-centric, and touch-centric to speech/vision-centric in AI conversations of the future. 

The next generation of AI conversations will heavily rely on reasoning, not NLP, which will be critical to AI. The conversation systems of tomorrow will not work in a linear pattern. They’ll have to be dynamic, personalized to the user, and aware of the context of the query raised. There’ll be a surge in unstructured search conversations. Hence, it’ll be critical to build models on the available data. 

Organizations will have to think of ‘systems.’ Leaders will have to look top-down and Build. Integrate. Implement. Improve. Innovate.

The Fintech sessions at the Summit were on the use of blockchain in the fintech industry, and reasoning-based conversation systems along with a panel discussion on customer loyalty, and data science in fintech.

Prof. Vijay Marisetty, Co-Founder Inclusive Growth Chain, spoke on ‘Fintech, Blockchain, and Banking for Inclusive Growth.’ He defined inclusive growth as not redistributing the wealth but increasing the pie available to share democratically. He observed, In India, a significant labor force is engaged in farming. Farmers face the axe from both Low productivity and low bargaining power and hence there’s a need for Banks to engage with customers with scarce assets.

Vijay emphasized the need to make a blockchain network for farmers pan India and derive insights from it. However, since agriculture is mainly an unorganized sector, it offers a data-poor ecosystem. Farmers should be provided solutions that address issues like low asset monitoring costs, better estimates of future cash flows, and more certain demand and supply schedules. He urged developing technology to engage farmers in their vernacular language hence, a need for innovations in voice technologies.

Rajesh Duddu, SVP & Global Business Head - Blockchain & Metaverse, Tech Mahindra spoke on Analytics in Fintech’. Emphasizing that Blockchain is built on a combination of Math, Game Theory and Economics and can prove to be a game-changing technology for small businesses. It started as Distributed Messaging and moved onto Distributed Database to what we have today- Distributed Ledger.

In another engaging session on ‘Path to leadership in Data Science,’ moderator Dibyendu Bikash Bose, Sr Director, Admissions & Financial Aid and Alumni Engagement at Indian School of Business (ISB), fielded pertinent questions to the panel. Speaking on the difference in leadership requirements for a Data Science leader as opposed to a leader in any other field, an industry expert mentioned that leaders in Data Science should be specialists rather than generalists as the reaction time of a specialist is often quicker than a generalist. While the leader needs to address issues ‘here & now,’ which also change quickly in the rapidly evolving Data Science field, she must plan and have a vision for the next 3-4 quarters.

Speakers: (i) Mr. Aditya Shiralkar, Managing Director, Deloitte (ii) Ms. Apurva Madiraju, Vice-President, Swiss Re (iii) Mr. Nirupam Srivastava, Vice-President, Strategy and AI, Hero Enterprise (iv) Mr. Sandeep Alur, Director - Microsoft Technology Centre, Microsoft

Deliberating on essentials to build a robust Data Science team, panelists agreed that a strong data foundation, understanding new risk pools, bespoke products, engaging customers, enabling growth, optimizing portfolios, untapped profit pockets, and data protection are all critical.

Cliched as it sounds, it was observed, a team should get involved with the stakeholders, iteratively keep meeting to see what adds more value, org strategy, and have a process and framework. Diverse teams with diversity in thoughts deliver the best outcomes. For Workforce retention, it is critical to upskill and then plan up, crystallizing the skill sets, complementary skills, and diversity of skill & thought for varied solutions.

A rapidly emerging trend in the field is Data Monetisation, so the new set of leaders will have to connect with various stakeholders. The leader's organizational foresight will bring trust to the board with his vision for business stakeholders.

Ethics assume significance in this day of digitization. So, there is a need for Regulation and Control. However, increased regulation might curb Innovation. To address this, speakers suggested that a Digital twin - with slightly modified data be used without compromising the essence. Responsible AI has to be well understood. It's crucial to have an Ethics committee- that looks at design principles, iterates, and checks at every level for authenticity.

Presently, there's a lot of data, and it is noisy data. In the Future, there'll be a lot of direct data. Data will erupt but cleaner and sharper data. 

The Summit concluded with a networking dinner where participants got an opportunity to mingle with academicians, industry stalwarts, and more from the Data Science fraternity in an engaging way.

SCIKIQ, was the Event sponsor and ET supported as Media Partners.