Aditya Birla Group (ABG) bets on a data-driven future

In the data economy, organizations are racing against time to transform into data-driven businesses. But to succeed, there’s a need to first foster a strong, data-driven culture within the company. Once employees develop a data-first mindset, it’ll be easier to unlock more business value from data across the board. This means, the right employees need access to the right data at the right time to be truly empowered. On the other hand, given data has become the new currency, organizations need to have the right security posture to ensure data security and anonymization.

The Aditya Birla Group, a Fortune 500 company, and a global conglomerate, has recognized the true value of a data driven strategy, and is taking a series of initiatives that is helping the conglomerate put data to better business use and extract optimal value from data for better, faster decision making. But in a world that is seeing an explosion of data, extracting the right insights is not an easy task.

Deep Thomas, Group Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Aditya Birla Group, highlights the key challenges for organizations, “Over the last few years, while investments in Big data and AI have been continually on the rise, the percentage of companies that identify as being ‘data-driven’ has been steadily decreasing. There are multi-fold challenges for organizations that are looking to pivot from using data merely as a rear-view mirror tool to making data a strategic imperative for their businesses. These challenges include: Enabling adoption of digital and AI, overcoming cultural resistance to change, managing issues related to people and processes and organization misalignment around data goals. To succeed, organizations must truly re-invent themselves and their internal processes to truly imbibe a data-driven culture. It is the only way organizations will stay relevant in the future.”

Deep Thomas highlights how his group is trying to extract more value from data. He says, “We envisage creating both value and valuation for ABG by building cutting edge digital solutions and AI assets. We leverage the ICE framework to deliver business outcomes across the supply and customer value chain for the group businesses. ‘I’ stands for Identify (define the business problem and outline the approach), ‘C’ stands for Create (build a custom solution and implement it for a specific business) and ‘E’ stands for Expand (productionize & scale the solution across Group businesses). We are spearheading around 70+ Digital projects across the Group in the areas of Logistics, Energy, Procurement & Pricing, Sales & Marketing and Safety & Sustenance. We are doing this through best in class Digital and AI solutions for improved cost optimization, unlocking operational efficiencies, enhanced productivity and first-of-its-kind AI platforms to harness the power of video, text, speech and image data for numerous applications.”

With a focused objective of taking out more insights from data, the Aditya Birla Group, has taken a series of initiatives. These include building the first of its kind AI/ML based Digital Twin in India for energy optimization; a state-of-the-art AI platform to unlock operational efficiencies and optimize supply chain costs; a cutting-edge AI platform based on advanced computer vision techniques to ensure round the clock safety and quality compliance; a digital platform to enable safe resumption to work post COVID lock-down and a digital solution leveraging ML models to reduce process variability for improved energy efficiency.

The group has also understood the critical need for empowering employees with data-backed insights. “We believe access to the right insights at the right time can truly empower employees to become more productive and satisfied. We provide these insights through self-service kiosk for reports, dashboards, and analytics. We also provide leading and lagging indicators so that they get to see different scenarios and outcomes well in advance,” states Mani Mohan Sitaraman, VP-Analytics, Aditya Birla Group.

From an analytics perspective, the Aditya Birla Group has benefited from adopting a hybrid and multi cloud strategy. At the group, group businesses and group functions have workloads running on the on-premise servers and across multiple cloud providers, including Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). “We use the hybrid approach to train the compute intensive deep learning models on-premise and leverage the cloud as well as on-premise infra for the inference layers. From a multi cloud standpoint, analytics workloads, fuelled by the data lake created from multiple on-prem data sources, run across different cloud service providers,” highlights Mani Mohan Sitaraman.

The group has built an employee care app, which has been used to enable the employees’ safe return to work using new strategies of workforce optimization and safety precautions through scientific and responsible algorithms. OCI is extensively used to host the web, application, and database servers adhering to the best practices and compliances recommended by industry experts and ABG internal standards. The group is also using multiple environments for UAT and Production. The ABG Care application has been deployed on OCI with the auto-scaling configuration. This will enable quick scale up or scale down based on the user traffic. With new features being added on the CARE app and more users getting on-boarded, the OCI platform will truly enable on-demand scalability to ensure there is no dip in user experience.

With the current challenges of ensuring safety norms, the employee care app has proved to be extremely useful. Says an elated Deep Thomas, “The platform has been successfully deployed for multiple ABG business units with 10,000+ employees already on-boarded and more getting added regularly. There have been continued enhancements with features like hot-desking and common area booking added in the recent releases to keep the platform future-ready in the ever-changing work environment.”

Aditya Birla GroupanalyticsDeep Thomas
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