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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Naveen Sharma, Chief Innovation Officer, Retail, Xerox (Part 2)

Posted on Sunday, Jan 26th 2014

Sramana Mitra: Sounds like you have back office services. That’s one of the emerging direction or already in-swing direction for the company, since you are already generating a good $10 billion in revenue from that part of the business. What’s interesting about that business? Where are points of views emerging around the big trends in the industry like Big Data, Cloud Computing and so forth?

Naveen Sharma:  I could summarize in two points. I would say one is automation. When we talk about back-office services automation, the trend is that clients are looking for greater efficiency and save costs. This trend points to the use of the cloud to automate as well as convert capital cost into more of an operational cost. Customers want to invest in back office services only as much as they need it, buy by the pound, enabled by the cloud. There are a variety of Xerox innovations we are actively working on with our business groups, which are aligned with automation.

The second important trend is big data. Most, if not all, of the back office operations generate data as a side effect. The idea here is that you can instrument the process and collect interesting data. For example, one of the verticals we are applying this is in the area of technical support. We have large number of call centers that we run for different companies. In call centers, we not only generate data about the performance of a particular call agent but also, we can have the actual audio recording. You see these kinds of data which are multi-modal data. For example, we have a similar audio data in transportation. We run E-ZPass’ systems for multiple states. A lot of data that is generated with that is our video data.

My point here is that with all these processes that we talked about – technical support, running E-ZPass’ tolling, data center operations including  all the IT operations, and conducting  loan processing – these are examples of the type of back office work Xerox is doing that generate large amounts of multi-modal  data.

Xerox looks to our innovation to help customers use the  data they are already collecting to drive additional benefits and efficiency in the process. When I talk to clients, they’re looking for us to use that data to, for example, give them predictability. That’s another emerging trend. Clients are looking for predictability in the process, so they can actually, perhaps, budget and do a better job controlling their expenses at back office.

Sramana Mitra: Is this already happening or is this something that’s coming in the pipeline?

Naveen Sharma:  To some degree, it’s already happening. For some verticals, we already have the solutions at early stages. We are piloting predictability solutions.

Sramana Mitra: Basically, you’re doing back-office processing and you’re generating a certain amount of data in the back-office. This allows you to do a certain amount of predictive analysis to streamline processes and do things that are, potentially, interesting with that data that streamlines operations of your clients. That’s what you’re talking about?

Naveen Sharma:  That’s well said, yes. Some of the efficiencies could be optimization of the process or controlling of the products. But then, there are challenges. One of the things that I would highlight is the data that we generate is typically multi-modal and if you talk to multiple experts in Big Data, you must have already heard of this notion of three Vs – velocity, variety, and volume. When I look at those three dimensions and I look at our data, I see volume but this is not an internet-scale volume. The data that we’re dealing with as part of our back-office services is not like what GoogleYahoo, and Twitter are generating. Those data sets are, I would say, Internet-scale. Our data sets tend to be large, in multiple terabytes, but not in petabytes.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Naveen Sharma, Chief Innovation Officer, Retail, Xerox
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