Data has become one of the most critical assets of an organization. Hence the role of Big Data & Analytics has become more significant than ever. As a data science research institute, embracing agility and adapting to new challenges becomes imperative. To address these changes, create new opportunities, and prepare organizations for the future, IIDS hosted the ISB's Data Science Summit 2021. The Centre organized its second day-long Data Science Summit on Artificial Intelligence and Data Science Applications on Supply Chain models focussing on Retail Analytics on the 4th of December, 2021.

 

The Summit was organized under Professor Manish Gangwar, Associate Professor and Executive Director of ISB Institute of Data Science. The day-long event (conducted in a hybrid model for the first time) brought together 180 researchers, data scientists, and developers from academia and Industry to discuss state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, data science, applied machine learning, and predictive applications in the Retail and Supply-Chain domains. The Summit featured six-speaker sessions and two-panel discussions of leading experts from Academia and Industry in these fields. 

Professor Madan Pillutla, Dean-ISB, inaugurated the Summit. In his inaugural address, Prof. Madan spoke about the inevitability of organizations moving from traditional business methods to that based on data. In this era of increased automation and digitization, he emphasized the need for organizations to make insightful data-based decisions. He also commended the IIDS faculty on the collaborative Industry and research projects they are working on in the domain of AI & Analytics.

 

Dr. Shailesh Kumar, (Chief Data Scientist at the Centre of Excellence for AI/ML at Reliance Jio), delivered the day's keynote session. He captivated the audience by speaking on the Ashtang AI- Eight Layers in an AI-Stack for Complex Ecosystems across industries. The Ashtang stack, the pillar of an organisation's digitization process, consists of Interpretation, Causality, Prediction, Explanation, Controllability, Simulation, Optimisation, and Adaptation. Emphasizing the rising criticality of Data Science, Dr. Shailesh reiterated that, soon, organizations would become 'AI-first.' He also talked about establishing synergy between academia and industry so that the evolving skill sets required in Industry are complemented by academia.

 

"Technology is junk if it does not impact human lives" is the motto Sauvik Banerjjee (Founding CTO, Tata Digital & Tata Neu) lives by. He spoke on 'Demand Analytics - Product and Customer Analytics.' Sauvik held the audience captive by taking a deep dive into the Data Science Hierarchy of needs, progressing from Data Collection at the bottom of the pyramid to Data Storage to Data Exploration/ Transformation to aggregating/ labeling the data, and finally optimizing to derive insights from it. He said it is crucial to harmonize customer behavior across various touchpoints in retail for effective customer targeting. He maintained in his talk that Brick-and-Mortar retail outlets and online shopping as Business Models will continue to co-exist. He inundated by examples of how faster technology adoption by corporates impacted human life during Covid for good.

Prof. Madhu Viswanathan, Senior Assistant Professor and Research Director at ISB's Institute of Data Science, spoke about opportunities for research and collaboration with Industry that IIDS offers. He mentioned that IIDS strives to establish a relationship with the Industry by encouraging it toward data-driven problem-solving. He apprised the audience that other than Experiential Learning, the Industry can engage with IIDS for building prototypes, model validation, and developing Case Studies. Industry can benefit in the long run by commissioning with the center for Impact Assessment and Benchmarking for a deeper entrenchment of Data Science.

The audience witnessed an engaging panel discussion on 'Unlocking the Future of Retail Analytics Post Covid 19," moderated by Prof. Sudhir Voleti, Associate Professor of Marketing at ISB, Associate Dean for Faculty Alignment, and is the Academic Director at IIDS-ISB. The panel comprising Mamata Rajnayak, Vinod Kumar Ramchandran, K Venkat Raghavan, and Jatinder Kautish enlightened the audience about various emerging touchpoints across the value chain that will determine the future of Retail. Speakers unanimously agreed that building an end-to-end data pipeline that gets better with each feedback loop is critical to Retail. Knowing the customer well sets apart a good retailer from a great retailer. Given the thin margins in the retail sector, the panelists spoke about how internal data monetization can be an added revenue stream to an organisation. They talked about how consumer behaviour has changed in Pandemic times- FOGO (Fear of Going Out) has shifted from traditional brick-and-mortar shopping to more App-based. Customers are looking at instant gratification, and commerce has become 'Quick Commerce.' The young customer is less loyal and forgiving. They are more need-driven than behaviour-driven. Also, with the Pandemic, the demographics of Tier-2 towns have changed. Customers en-masse have moved to their hometowns, sparking an e-commerce boom there. All speakers concurred that the answerability and accountability of retailers have also increased. During each speaker session, the question & answer segment offered an opportunity for eager participants to interact with subject experts.

Transparency and Accountability are critical areas of the functional Supply-chain, and real-time tracking allows for both. In his talk on 'Managing Supply Chains in a digital World,' Prof. Milind Sohoni – Professor, Operations Management, emphasized integrating the Internet of Things (IoT) to create smarter, more efficient Supply-chains. Cloud Computing and IoTs, he said, have enabled the potential for 'Servitization of products.' Citing an example from the Airline Industry, Prof Milind said Capital Intensive Industries would experiment with other revenue streams like selling contracts and deviate from owning assets. Digitization, he said, has enabled the designing and service of such contracts. With the need for real-time analysis and delivery increasing, Data-driven Optimization has become critical. Prof. Sohoni said, 'Anticipatory Shipping Orders' and 'Additive Manufacturing' might be revolutionary in how Supply-Chain will work in the future. Rapid Prototyping will bring this change. Firms repurpose capacities by changing from 'just-in-time' to 'just-in-case.' Applauding advances in information security like Blockchain, Prof. Sohoni said technologies such as these are changing how information is shared.

The participants heard with rapt attention when Mr. Vijoe Matthew – (Global Director of Analytics, Supply Chain & Operations Analytics, Anheuser-Busch InBev) spoke about 'Operation and Supply Chain Analytics' in the world's biggest brewer company. Interestingly, all 260 ABInBev breweries across the 50 countries it operates in are 'smart' breweries. Since consistency is paramount in beer, the brewers have been using intelligence in fermentation to ensure aroma & flavour are uniformly maintained. It was interesting to know how Procurement Analytics, Predictive Analytics, Stock Deployment Optimization, Space Optimization, and Territory Planner & Route optimizers can bring operational efficiency to the beverage industry.

Prof. Sripad Devalkar, Associate Professor of Operations Management at ISB, moderated the discussion on "Re-inventing and Re-Imagining the Supply Chain." The panel comprising Aditya Maru, Gopalan Oppiliappan, Nilanjan Chatterjee and Vijay Nair deliberated on concepts & technologies that are being implemented within Supply-chain analytics to maximize efficiencies while minimizing business disruptions. On the three dimensions of supply-chain-Delivery, Quality, and Cost- the speakers concurred that optimizing all and keeping them in balance is vital. A 'concept to life' framework that maps a product-based supply chain with capabilities that integrates quality, delivery, and cost will be helpful. Speakers spoke about having 'Geofencing' to track VIS-Visibility, Integrity, and Security to collate data. Doing so will improve the efficacy of a CLP-Connected Logistics Program. The panel unanimously agreed that organisations should map a strategy from ‘run-a-business’ to ‘differentiate-a-business’ to ‘innovate businesses for greater Digital Transformation. Mulling over barriers to data transformation in Supply-chain, speakers observed that lack of data, capabilities that can be scaled with the available data, and having an organisational mindset to use the data effectively are pertinent. For that, it is relevant that organisations invest in IT Transformation.

 

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.

Tide, a UK financial technology company, supported the event as its sponsor.