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#ModernDataMasters: Eduard Yanchevsky, Director Services & Solutions, Keyrus

Kate Tickner, Reltio

Eduard Yanchevsky is a business leader with more than 15 years of experience in consultancy and performance management processes, combining strong analytical, problem-solving and project management skills. He specialises in mapping client business strategies to complex Business Intelligence and Information Management based technical solutions to successfully define and execute enterprise analytics strategies and programs.

What was your route into technology, BI and Information Management?

I always liked problem-solving. Back home at school in Russia, we have a three-tier system and it is at the third level where you start to major. I had several options and was not sure what to choose. My parents didn’t really mind what I studied, as long as it would make me a happy and successful person and they suggested that I went for an assessment to get an independent opinion of my strengths and capabilities. What came out of that was that I scored most for technical skills and engineering.
So, engineering it was and then I worked as a developer in C++ for a couple of years after leaving university with my degree.

“I then did my MBA and was looking for opportunities in consultancy as I continued to be inspired by learning and problem solving – how things can be improved, what could be done better.”

I wanted to stay within the technical and technological space while working in multiple domains applying solutions across different industries, different organizations and different functions. Finally, I was looking out for something that was going to grow and be innovative long term, which leads me to data management.

“I certainly don’t regret my decision so far, the school assessment proved to be correct in the end.”

How would you define “modern” data management and what does it /should it mean for organisations that adopt it?

For me, the first factor is digitalisation that triggered exponential growth of data volumes and data variety. Secondly, we now have the storage to keep data and the processing power to process and analyse it.

“The science behind AI/ML is not new – it’s all about pattern recognition something that already our parents studied at university – it’s the data itself, the storage and processing power that was missing to apply theory in practice.”

Now all of these components are there, and we are moving from traditional decision support systems to what, in Keyrus, we refer to as augmented enterprise. Key decisions will remain with humans, but data management and analytics will be increasingly integrated into operations, something that Reltio refers to as “analytical is the new operational”.

New generation technologies like Reltio are key enablers of this ongoing transformation, providing a foundation of competitive advantage in this future world. It addresses key trends and requirements such as cloud and multi-cloud enterprise strategies, platform as a service, scalability, flexibility, high-performance expectations, ability to effectively manage large volumes of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data and automated data management and governance via AI and ML.

What are your top 3 tips or resources to share for aspiring modern data masters?

1. Ensure that you always start with an agreed purpose. Understand what you intend to achieve with your initiative in terms of business strategy and objectives, how you intend to do that sustainably, and finally how you intend to measure it.

2. Envision the overall journey, but plan and execute in a fast, agile and incremental approach.

“Never go for the ‘big bang’ and always think about the benefits for the business.”

Promote iteratively delivered benefits within an organization and realize early ROI. Focus on user adoption- the people who are going to use the system – because you cannot force people to use something if they don’t want to. You need their involvement to ensure the quality and performance of analytical solutions and then help them with managing the change.

3. Invest in the right technologies and overall solution architecture, but also assess organizational maturity level. Then you can build in the right processes and organizational changes to help them reach the necessary maturity.

“This will ensure successful delivery, deployment and adoption of analytical solutions and maximize your ROI.”

You have a number of higher-level education and qualifications eg an MBA. What do you think these help you to bring to the projects you are involved in and how have they helped you develop personally?

Indeed, I have an undergraduate university engineering degree and an MBA as a postgraduate degree. I go back to my business school every two or three years to study an additional professional qualification. I really believe it’s one of the best possible combinations you can get.

“Studying engineering helped me to develop problem-solving skills and gave me a necessary technical base. The MBA helped me to learn how business works and also gave me a great opportunity to build a network.”

The combination of both helps me a lot to work successfully within many industry sectors. I am still in touch with many of my fellow students from business school, giving me an opportunity to meet people who work in many different roles, functions and organizations. This helps you in your professional life but it’s also fun!

Could you please share an example of where things have not gone so well on a project and what you learned from the experience?

There were two almost parallel tracks that we were delivering at the same client, one related to commercial analytics, another to product costing. Same client, same time, same geographies, same technology, same delivery team, same systems, but different client business teams. One project went quite smoothly, but we struggled a lot with the other one.

The main difference was motivation and the level of involvement of key business stakeholders, which is always something that makes or breaks the project. I was lucky to lead a project that had stronger engagement from the client, and my colleague, who was just as good as me, was running the other one.

“We really struggled with it – we did what we had to do to make it happen, but it was much longer and more expensive than it should have been because there was no real ownership on the client-side.”

What trends or changes do you predict to the data management arena in the next few years?

Hyper-connectivity and growing interdependence between individuals, organizations and objects. I.e. IoT will remain as one of the key trends.

Data governance will remain another key trend. As data continues to become more central to business models and sources of competitive advantage, it needs to be managed within regulatory boundaries.
As discussed earlier, the trend towards augmented enterprise is significant, with data management and analytics being more and more integrated into companies’ operations.

“For me they are all related, but I am really fascinated with embedded analytics and looking forward to seeing what this new path will look like for business models.”

What do you like to do outside of work?

Travel is definitely the big thing for me. My big passion is Africa and I have done several safaris in the saddle across South Africa and Botswana, Mozambique – I’m currently planning a Namibia trip. Not only do you experience lifetime adventures and scenery, it’s also an opportunity to meet amazing people from different backgrounds that share a common passion.

“So far I loved Botswana – it’s very safe, the people are friendly and they really invest in sustainable farming and their national parks.”

I also love reading books – one of my favourite books is “Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It’s about the things that cannot be predicted with statistical models and these are what he calls “Black Swans” – they come from nowhere and have a huge impact. It’s key to understand this – especially as an investor – or you cannot understand the risks no matter how good your maths or statistical models are.

Which 3 people – living or dead, real or fictional – would you invite to a dinner party and why?

Professionally Steve Jobs, I am (as are probably many other people) absolutely fascinated by his managerial talent to deliver innovation. What’s the secret?

“I’m not sure he’d be happy to be there though because I’ve heard he hated being approached by strangers!”

More personally in fact not one, but two, great explorers of the African continent: David Livingstone & Sir Henry Morton Stanley,

Finally, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Black Swan, because I love his books and I think he’d be very talkative.

What are you cooking?

“Well I can cook when I have time, but I have realised that if you buy good ingredients then cooking is easy – for example, good steak!”

So apart from that and some red wine, I think I’d start with something with a Russian flavour such as bliny pancakes with caviar as a starter, steak as main course, and some good French cheese for dessert.