As the world grows smarter, data becomes the key to competitive advantage, meaning that the ability of a business to succeed in the market will ultimately be guided by how effectively it can manage data, apply analytics and introduce new technology. Founded by Mr. Gaurav Shinh in February 2015, DAAS Labs is a hybrid company that takes advantage of the disruptive convergence of Data and Analytics Services and Platform, A company that is Servware (Services and Software) in the true sense.

Read on to find out what a day in the life of CEO & Founder of an Analytics/ML company looks like, what experience and qualifications are required, as well as a piece of advice from Mr. Gaurav Shinh to those who aspire to work in that role.

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1. Please share a brief introduction about your role as a Founder and CEO   

Mr. Gaurav: I started DAAS LABS during the best part of my professional life. Unlike today, where data analytics, data science, Artificial Intelligence have become buzzwords, the scenario was a lot different when DAAS Labs was in its nascent stage. Now everyone and every organization are using some form of Artificial Intelligence technology. Every big firm uses analytics to help streamline the data and even the government is opening up and investing in modern-day technologies.       

2. What does a day in your work life look like?

Mr. Gaurav: Being a technology company focussed on Data & Analytics my day is mostly packed with product reviews with internal teams, evaluating new technologies, and spending time with customers. A pandemic year has however changed the way we interact and all my meetings are now scheduled remotely over various collaboration tools. I do miss the warm interaction and meeting with people over coffee and luncheon.  Since we are a tech-based company, working remotely was not much of a challenge thanks to cloud computing solutions.

As we moved from in-person to virtual mode It was tough to strike a work-life balance in the initial days however once settled it was fun to have morning tea and critical client calls in Australia at the same time comfortably from your home’s comfort and practically wearing a nightdress. To bring discipline, I started by scheduling my days and priorities in order of priority and then working on them one by one.

I take normal breaks, spend time with family and also meditate to bring that much-required harmony and peace to myself. 

3. Please shed some light on your career path, and how you started your career in the field and elevated from an Information Technology Consultant to Chief Operating Officer?

Mr. Gaurav: Like most techies, I started my journey with engineering and soon developed a knack for data science and analytics which back then were in an exceedingly early stage. I had wished to become an entrepreneur and to gain an understanding of Business Management, I did an MBA (investment banking & corporate strategy) from the University of Toronto – Rotman School of Management. After working as a techno-commercial professional for more than 22 years, I started DAAS Labs in 2014 as a data consultancy firm. We provide data solutions that solve complex business problems & leverage the power of AI and ML to create commercially viable solutions for our clients.

4. Tell us about some lessons that you have learned to excel in this field.

Mr. Gaurav: During the start of my journey, it was like any other entrepreneurial venture, trying to find the right product fit, logistical challenges, etc. Though there was a big roadblock that Data Science was a niche for a select few and was just gaining momentum. It is also the best part about data analytics and AI that they are ever-evolving.  When we were in the nascent stage, only a few were aware and were talking about the field and scope of Big Data and Data science, even as recently as five years back. It is a niche sector of Information Technology and is in a rapid developing phase.

This experience helped me understand how important it is to have a clear understanding of what you want to work upon and have faith in your product or service that you are offering. It is also necessary to be not afraid of failures and to instead treat them as lessons to move forward. Figuring out what makes you unique and using it to stand out in the crowd.

This recent pandemic has catapulted its relevance in today’s world and now everyone and every organization are using some form of AI-based technology. Every big firm uses analytics to help streamline the data and even the government is opening up and investing in modern-day technologies.

 5. With 22+ years of industry experience, according to you, what skills or characteristics make someone a Data & Analytics expert or techno-commercial professional?

Mr. Gaurav: We stop growing the day we stop learning and gaining new experiences. Life lessons are learned over the period and some sure sought ways to improve yourself are:-

Effective communication: A good storytelling ability helps in the clear presentation of ideas in a manner that even a non-technical audience would understand. This comes in handy while persuading the decision-makers.

Critical thinking abilities: Being open-minded while looking at the data will help in finding patterns and solutions that others may not find. Critical thinking helps in exploring different angles for a situation and assists you in answering your queries and assessing whether to pursue things further.

Problem Solving Abilities and Good Business Intuition: A good business acumen coupled with problem-solving ability helps in identifying early warning signs in the company’s data and solving them using logical thinking, predictive analysis, and statistics.

Keep learning and un-learning: Data Science and analytics is an ever-evolving field, so it is important to keep updating your skillset with the need of the hour. Not only will it help you stand apart from your competitors but also help you increase your performance efficiency.

6. How does your organization create value for the clients?

Mr. Gaurav: Scikiq is our business data platform that extracts data complexity from business users and simplifies it to help transform performance and offers solutions through ‘Actionable Intelligence’ as a result of which they can achieve business growth with value. Unlike current competition which provides either point solutions or complex platforms that become organizational nightmares, Scikiq is a Unified, Full-Service business data platform that empowers businesses to grow faster with simplified, smarter decision making. Fulfilling all data needs enterprise under one roof, enhances efficiency and ease for users through a reduction in the DATA-TO-ACTION timeframe from years and months to days.

SciKiq helps capture data through pre-built data connectors, perform exploratory analysis, data profiling, and modeling, generate insights through data storytelling using NLP and NLG, and give predictive analysis using advanced AI and ML engines.

It is a data transformative platform that helps organizations revolutionize the way they are using their data in order to make smarter business decisions and achieve better results. Scikiq acts as a one-stop-shop for all data needs across the enterprise.

7. What are the five major AI trends for 2021?

Mr. Gaurav: In the past few years, Artificial Intelligence has developed rapidly and continues to do so. Though there are few things to look out for:

Conversational AI: Chatbots had helped increase efficiency in providing customer support to many organizations. Now, in 2021, Conversational AI is expected to allow chatbots to hold human-like back-and-forth communication with a customer. AI bots that are personalized, process more advanced problems, and have a greater understanding of customer sentiment. Arranging meetings, sending emails, being able to do deep searches at a fast pace will be key focus areas. Businesses too are expected to invest in company-specific conversational AI that will optimize their functioning.

AI-based Cloud Innovations: The pandemic accelerated the adoption of cloud computing among enterprises. Thus, the next step is the integration of the cloud with AI and ML which would help organizations to deliver functionality and value in new ways.

AI in healthcare: DeepMind Technologies helped in giving a 3-D shape to a protein using AI-based imagery. Problems that have been bothering scientists for decades were solved using new-age technology. Healthcare AI can act with ultra-accuracy and deliver cost-effective medical care at scale.  A Harvard Business Review predicts that the technology will become prevalent in 90% of hospitals in the next few years.

AI and Cybersecurity:  AI will improve threat detection and provide automated resolution of IT issues. It will also help security personnel to respond and analyze cyber threats better and more efficiently.

Internet of Behavior (IoB): It is among the topmost in AI trends in the near future. IoB is an extension of the Internet of Things (IoT) itself, the interconnection of multiple internet-enabled connected devices resulting in a vast array of new data sources. It combines pre-existing technologies that focus on the individual directly (e.g., facial recognition, location tracking, and big data) and connects the resulting data to other indirectly identifiable information (e.g., cash purchases, automotive telemetry, vacuum bot layout data, and device usage data). The behavioral Data collected from these sources can be used to predict and influence people’s actions.

8. What expert advice will you give to mid-level managers to move on to leadership roles?

Mr. Gaurav: Stay relevant by keeping yourself up to date on the domain you’re working on. It is important to be proactive while dealing with conflicts and have strong decision-making skills. Having an open mind and listening to peers and making an informed choice sets a leader apart. It is also essential to know your strength and weakness so that you can strive for improvement. Time management and knowing how to delegate your work among your teammates increases efficiency and also builds teamwork.

9. Which certifications do you hold, how these certificates have helped you in career growth? (Mention the name of the certificates and brief learning).

Mr. Gaurav: I am an engineer by Undergrad and did my Masters in Business Administration from the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management.

My engineering degree has not only helped me to dissect the problem into small chunks that can be solved easily but also has helped in building an understanding of “What goes under the hood”. This gives me the power to question and uncover patterns that are usually hidden.

My MBA degree has helped in understanding the business landscape beyond functional silos. It provided me with the necessary toolkit which helped in understanding the complexities of the linked ecosystems and explaining some of the interdependencies.

My Project Management Certification i.e. PMP has helped me in establishing the right balance between scope, time, and budget. This helped in managing stakeholder expectations better.

10. Which certification courses, skill development paths, books, or channels do you recommend to aspiring Data & Analytics professionals for upskilling? Also, please suggest any course for those who are planning for Data & Analytics roles?

Mr. Gaurav: The field of Data Analytics is continuously evolving so it is necessary to keep upskilling oneself. With e-learning facilities provided by edtech companies such as Coursera, Udemy, and even top Indian and International Institutions such as IITs and Columbia University, skill development has never been easier.

11. Last words – Do you have any expert advice for our readers?

Mr. Gaurav: If I have to give some advice, then I would say that do not focus on how many hours you have put in but instead look at the results. Find your rhythm of work that gives you maximum productivity and rest will follow. I had read a quote once that said even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat. So, work at your pace, and do not be afraid to stand out.

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