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Interviews

Leader Talk: In Conversation with Managing Principal and Country Head, Manish Mittal, at Axtria

Axtria

1. Data is taking centre stage today, how important has data-driven customer insights become in today’s world?

On a scale of 1–10, I’d say that the importance of using data-driven customer insights is a 10. To make better decisions about how, when, and what you market to your customers, you must have valuable customer insights, which come from analyzing your customer data.

In this age across the industries, tremendous opportunities exists, alongside an often-unmet need for critical insights. With the cloud’s computational capabilities and big data technologies, the ability to manage and consume data of volume and variety has increased phenomenally. There had never been such an opportunity to optimize commercial decision-making with data-driven insights at speed, sometimes even in real-time. Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), big data, and the cloud became the new buzzwords, but few people knew what to do with them. Despite the push these technologies provided, there was a real gap in delivering on the vision of these trends. The key to achieving this would be  to provide a combination of analytical people, process, and data science technology, with deep domain experience, technical skills, and most importantly, an understanding of the industry data itself.

Customer insight is essential for optimizing the customer journey. Therefore, it is imperative to have clean, pliable data that can be transformed into readable and accessible intelligence to make data-driven decisions. Axtria facilitates the rapid integration of all major structured and unstructured life sciences data sources securely, accurately, and with industry compliance.

2. Share some light on the skills sets for data scientists and what are the points you look out for while hiring such talent?

Being curious is one of the most essential traits of data scientists. They must show a keen interest in data science’s ongoing evolution and how it can be leveraged to extract business-focused insights.

Data scientists must possess a combination of skills from multiple disciplines, such as project and change management, a deep understanding of the business domain, and an analytical mindset with an eye for detail. They must be many things at once – curious, adaptable, detail-oriented, and in love with numbers. They must be equipped to deal with huge volumes, high velocity, and a variety of dynamic data from multiple sources.

They must also have the technological know-how and the ability to get things done, be adept in AI/ML and other computational technologies. Apart from this, we look for candidates who have the desire to continue learning. An added incentive would be intangible values such as humility, teamwork, trust, and outstanding thought leadership to drive the team’s success.

3. In context to the recent pandemic, as an organization how did Axtria leverage their core strengths to deal with the COVID situation and what were the new learnings?

Empathy contributes to positive relationships and organizational cultures while driving results. During the unprecedented times of COVID, empathy was Axtria’s antidote for our associates, which helped provide them with positive experiences. The pandemic placed tremendous pressure on leadership teams to be agile, decisive, and adaptable. However, many organizations found ways to cope with this pressure. Senior leadership displayed exemplary behavior in many ways, be it redefining business models, redesigning workplaces to suit the current needs, or ensuring the workforce’s well-being.

growth in the context of this crisis. From now on, we will implement our learnings with an action plan that looks beyond just creating a physically safer workplace. This plan will evaluate parameters constantly, such as general well-being, mental health, and other factors that can influence and impact our workforce.

4. What is the Importance of a connected product ecosystem for the Omni experience?

The life sciences and healthcare industries are undergoing a significant, accelerated data-driven digital transformation. There is a strong push to leverage software technology to scale global commercial operations effectively. An omnichannel strategy is essential for companies to orchestrate and deliver a seamless customer experience that is personalized using real-time insights and coordinated across physical and digital channels. The pandemic-induced crisis has further accelerated this need. More than ever, companies are looking to replace archaic and ad hoc systems with digital data enablement, analytics at scale, and omnichannel software to deliver improved customer experiences.

An integrated product ecosystem delivers clear visibility in terms of data and coordination between teams that no longer work in silos and require instant access to information and data critical to their operations. The modern commercial models are complex, with more roles requiring greater coordination. The need for various functions, such as sales and marketing teams that work in sync, exemplifies why this ecosystem is necessary. As the industry focuses more on customer experiences, people in key roles must be master orchestrators. This helps companies reach the right customer with the right message using the right channel at the right time to drive brand performance.

5. What should be the ideal approach to creating the omni-experience?

An ideal omnichannel approach to creating an omni-experience would be to begin with acknowledging the current and future needs. Bringing together all stakeholders of the ecosystem using the software and technology enablers to accelerate the change.

We need to decide what channels we want to focus our efforts on and which to avoid. Omnichannel doesn’t mean using every channel available to you, just integrating those well that you use.

To get a highly optimized omnichannel experience you need to commit to it fully, have strong planning and execution then be prepared to execute major changes rapidly.

6. From a people perspective, what changes have the organization brought-in to keep the employees motivated and encouraged during these unprecedented times

We are a people-first, global organization that genuinely cares about each other. Axtria values its employees and invests in them with resources and incentives to promote their well-being and their families. We organize various health and wellness programs and fun activities for our associates and their families and imbibe a culture of work-life balance.

Throughout the pandemic, the emotional well-being of Axtrians was of utmost importance. Therefore, Axtria established a “Blue Skies” program to support employees who were dealing with the psychological impact of the crisis. Additionally, Axtria established a 24/7 helpline to verify information on available medical supplies and extended additional paid leaves to employees who needed time to recover or be with their loved ones.

Beyond helping its employees, Axtria also extended its aid to the India community by organizing and championing a fundraiser to help organizations provide relief on the ground.

7. When talking about products and services – what are the product offerings by Axtria to customers at same time keeping in sync with sustainability goals?

Using our cloud platforms, Axtria is redefining commercial operations and enabling new possibilities by standardizing the complete journey from data to analytics to operations. Axtria built these platforms for the life sciences industry with deep process knowledge of life sciences commercial data, analytics, and operations. The result is a future-ready outlook with improvement in sales and marketing effectiveness via data-driven decision-making, increases in efficiency, and organization agility.  Our integrated platform ecosystem includes Axtria DataMAx™, Axtria SalesIQ™, Axtria CustomerIQ™, and Axtria InsightsMAx.

Together, these four platforms deploy AI/ML and embedded analytics to automate processes and drive intelligent commercial operations with real-time decision-making at every step. We continue to scale these platforms with advanced capabilities and integrated workflows to improve speed, efficiency, and performance.

All our products and services are closely linked to and in-sync with our sustainability goals and targets.

8. What is your vision for the future of Axtria in the coming years?

When we started Axtria, global delivery was our vision. We have been growing rapidly and now operate in multiple markets across the globe. In our next phase, our vision is to become the partner of choice in the analytics space, and we will continue to leverage our industry experience to grow both horizontally and vertically.

We are investing heavily in the next generation of products to aid companies through the complete cycle from data to insights to operations. To do so, we employ embedded AI/ML technology advancements for our clients with AI/ML applications for each area of their business, as well as industrialization, and automation of advanced analytics using next-generation analytics workbenches.

To achieve our vision, we will recruit more than 1,000 people and expand into more geographies, such as Canada. Moreover, to support our large global customer base, we will eventually expand into the Asia-Pacific region.

Axtria has recently received funding that accelerates our investments in enterprise software products, with close to $100 million planned to build four category-leading products in the next five years. Additionally, this investment will help us expand rapidly into new accounts and scale our top customers. With this new investment, Axtria will further solidify its leadership position of enterprise products that help customers drive better patient outcomes globally.

9. What motivates you and any mantra that worked in the crisis to keep everyone together and getting the GPTW recognition

What motivates me is the work that we do for the patients – enabling better patient outcomes with cutting-edge data analytics, which is one of the most noble causes. Also, life sciences is one of the most innovative industries. I take pride in having the opportunity to work with the brightest and smartest people in the industry, who are our biggest asset. To deliver the industry’s objectives alongside people that I enjoy working with and can be friends with that has helped me through the COVID crisis.

Receiving the GPTW recognition is a great honor. GPTW is another milestone in our journey of pursuing continued excellence and is indeed a testimony that we are on the right path! Maintaining a thriving, adaptive workplace culture that places people as its central focus is key. Our actions and behavior define our culture. The pandemic has been challenging for everyone, although we were isolated but stayed united and acted as one unit. I cannot be more grateful to each one of our employees for helping us achieve this recognition in these difficult times. We have remained true to our values and have come together as one family to support each other. This award is for the whole Axtria family because it wouldn’t be possible without them.

This interview was first published on: https://community.nasscom.in/communities/leader-talk/leader-talk-conversation-managing-principal-and-country-head-manish-mittal

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