Many companies consider AI as an enabler of reinvention for their businesses. Juan José López Murphy shares his vision, discusses the critical challenges around developing a data strategy, and explains how Globant helps its clients thrive with data and AI.
Juan, tell us a little about yourself, and what do you think the benefits of data and artificial intelligence are to business transformation?
I’d say that while I’ve always enjoyed the possibility of modeling a process or situation with maths, the first time I saw a linear regression, I felt a sudden ‘click’ in me – it made sense. I saw a way to get a level of insight out of facts that you can’t get from anywhere else. It sparked this idea about data as the source of hidden insights and understanding and the capacity to act on dimensions that have the most impact potential.
Ever since I found my calling, it became clear that I would need to act as an evangelist or analytical translator to make these capabilities accessible and connect to the business world to make these projects successful.
I joined Globant in 2014 as a data scientist and grew into my current role today. Eight years later, I am leading the team from our London office. Besides working on exciting projects and clients, I’ve been a speaker at many events and even published two books, “Embracing the Power of AI” and “Big Data Engineering” (in Spanish).
Through these experiences, I came to see data and AI through a lens that grounds our decisions while paying attention to subtle trends, exploring possibilities, and assessing their impact that allows us to make smarter decisions to reshape our industry.
Nowadays, I understand that AI is a strategic and operational capability that deals with data, uncertainty, and a constantly evolving market. At the same time, data is also a primary resource and, when treated intelligently, can be capitalized into a valuable asset.
Data and AI are about knowing and making decisions at an unprecedented scale and sophistication, freeing up and leveraging our creativity, agency, and vision for the future.
During your time in Globant, the Data & AI Studio grew in offering products and services based on data strategies to create solutions for various industries. What was it like to witness the growth?
It’s an ever-evolving landscape, and it is always so exciting! Technology moves at such a record-breaking pace, and data has grown exponentially. Companies are becoming more sophisticated in their understanding and needs. Over the years, our team has grown 40 times in size. We have also evolved our value offering to our clients and their businesses. We constantly ask ourselves what we want to bring forth through data and AI to improve our decision-making process. We need to adapt to stay relevant and be at the forefront of the reinventive drive.
No one gets left behind in Globant, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this team that takes a step further to nurture new skills to ensure the growth of each Glober.
Globant’s approach is multidisciplinary, combining engineering, innovation, and design to promote the reinvention of companies. What value will you bring to our customers in Europe from your new role?
Currently, I am focused on strengthening our capabilities locally and regionally, tapping into local talent while retaining our Globant culture. It is essential to build a solid presence while nurturing a closer relationship with our clients and prospects. It’s all about profoundly understanding them to provide the best value in reinventing their businesses. We must continue identifying new opportunities and collaborating with different institutions to build fantastic data products to accomplish this.
We need to be active thought leaders in the industry to help bridge the gap between assisting companies in understanding the potential of data and AI while fostering new talents and providing guidance in the subject matter. I enjoy thinking in depth about the world of data and how that relates to different industries.
The commitment to launch projects based on data and AI is more significant than ever in Europe. What are the main challenges in the region?
Europe is very advanced in the requirements and expectations of data usage and privacy. It is also a very mature market where companies are very refined in their uses which makes them very sophisticated, and they expect frictionless customized digital experiences.
Companies are constantly on the lookout to value add. They look to AI as an enabler to create new business models and generate new revenue streams. There is a high volume of investments towards AI, filling the market with platforms and products to leverage. There needs to be a perfect case on building their own customized AI according to their needs versus using something off the shelf. They are all vying for highly sought-after talent – keeping them engaged and committed is no small feat, so seeking external help while retaining ownership is a sweet spot.
Since the pandemic, companies have reevaluated their business models, prioritizing digital transformation. Why is data strategy an important aspect for companies to embrace more than ever?
Attempting to be digital without good data support is impossible. You might get part of the user experience or a specific target, but you might lose everything that binds everything together to make it stronger. Today, data is both a driver and a consequence of digital transformation. It enables a host of digital experiences such as hyper-personalization, predictions, interconnections with other services, and more.
Leveraging data is an operational necessity to provide best-in-class experiences. The next step is mining data. There is much more value to be uncovered, and most businesses are still trying to reach this stage.
Success is when data becomes a capital asset, and your ability to deal with data and AI is strategic. At this point, data can be composed, enriched, and consumed to generate new value. It is not a straightforward journey, but it is necessary to develop these capabilities to innovate into the future.
Even if it is a 5-year implementation program, you can still see value throughout the journey. A sensible, well-thought data strategy involves a value road map at each stage. Companies need to be agile and adaptable to market movements, consumers, and organizational changes at today’s pace. Data is fluid; therefore, its strategy has to be as well.
What is the Studio’s approach to a company that wants to start its digital transformation journey with data? What are the challenges they have to overcome to succeed?
The approach needs to be tailored according to its needs to ensure that they make the most of their resources, data, and people capabilities. They would need to understand what they are willing to do and the steps to utilize data to build their scope.
We start looking for suitable use cases and define the requirements to get results. During this time, we look into developing talent to ensure that they are evolving together – to develop practical data literacy at the company.
Every company is unique, and there are many possibilities. Data strategy, data platform, data products, and supporting structures will need to be aligned. Cultural change is also an essential factor in learning to use data to improve our expertise. People need support in adopting those data products tailored to their use cases to become advocates themselves. When it becomes a self-sustaining effort, only then, a company has successfully transformed.
What are your professional aspirations, and why do you think Globant is the ideal place to continue your career?
Globant is a place that constantly innovates and encourages reinvention. There are no rigid structures or bureaucratic chains of command ripe for constant disruption. In my role, I learn from different people and their visions daily. We value effective learning more than not making mistakes, and I feel inspired to do more!
As a data and AI professional, I have been very interested in how the Chief Data and Analytics Officer (CDAO) role evolves at top companies. The vision required and nuances it takes to be a true disruptor in an empowering manner motivates me. My ultimate goal is to become a thought (and pragmatic) leader in the world of data and AI.