AST Kicks Off 2018 with Annual Company Meeting and Celebration!

AST held its Annual Kick-off Meeting and Celebration on January 19 in Naperville, IL.  Team members from around the globe gathered to hear leadership discuss the present and future state of AST and acknowledge significant achievements from 2017.  The meeting also recognized outstanding team members during the past year and awarded them for their contributions.

The day’s events began with opening remarks from AST’s CEO, Mr. Pravin Kumar, regarding AST’s performance during the past year, as well as the mission and vision for 2018.  Mr. Kumar then gave the floor to our practice leadership, who discussed the performance of each of AST’s practice areas and outlook for growth in the coming years.  The all-hands morning session concluded with lunch, which then led to an afternoon of practice-specific break-out sessions to discuss strategy for 2018 in more detail.

AST team members from around the globe participated in the event, whether on-site in Naperville or via live, interactive broadcast from our offices in Pune, Australia, and Europe.  The day’s events concluded with dinner, dancing, and a lively celebration of AST’s achievements and exciting future!

Here’s to 2018, Team AST!IMG_20180125_125632

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2018 Begins with Visit from AST President

The President of AST, Mr. Shaji Zechariah, visited our team in Pune to kick off the New Year.

During his visit, Mr. Zechariah held meetings with each practice lead to discuss current and upcoming projects and to address any issues they may have had.  He also had productive discussions with the HR and administrative teams about our growth and company culture.

Mr. Zechariah addressed the entire Pune team in a town hall meeting, during which he shared AST’s roadmap for 2018 and other exciting updates about our organization.  The town hall meeting also served as an open forum, allowing the team to share feedback and get answers to their questions directly from top leadership.

It was a great visit for everyone and really energized our team heading into an exciting 2018!2 3 4-1

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2017 Ends with Fours and Sixes at AST’s Pune Office!


Our Pune office has experienced its third season of the AST Premier League (APL) – AST’s intramural cricket tournament.  Formerly known as SPL, the tournament started in 2015 with a phenomenal response from our employees.

This year we had five teams participating: the Rocking Techies, the Smashers, the Lions, the Avengers, and the Fusion Fighters. The tournament began on December 11 and the December 20 finale featured the Smashers and Lions!

Team Lions prevailed over the Smashers for the APL 3.0 Cup!





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Thanks, Las Vegas! See You Next Time!

shutterstock_596651234What a quick three days it’s been here in Las Vegas! We sure had fun, didn’t you? But now it’s almost time to pack everything up and return home.

So far this week, we’ve reconnected with many of our colleagues, built new relationships with new faces, and stopped at countless networking events!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by the kiosk and support our presence here at Modern CX World! We’re so excited to return next year!

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Huge April Birthday Celebrations at the Pune Branch!

At our Pune, India branch, we celebrated April birthdays on the 25th! A total of 9 birthdays were celebrated, with a turnout so large we had to use the panoramic setting on the camera!

Also, it just so happens that Shyam, Vice President of our Middleware Practice, was in town for business. He was able to witness and join in on the festivities!

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Team Serene-AST at CX World!

It’s day 2 of CX World and, as always, Serene-AST is having a blast meeting and reconnecting with people from the industry!

The days here are flying by–CX World is almost over! Since time is running out, come and stop by our kiosk! We are at MSL-17 in the Sales section of the Exhibit Hall. We will be here today from 7:30 AM – 7:30 PM and tomorrow, from 7:45 AM – 5:00 PM.


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Kiosk Opening Tonight at CX World!

shutterstock_591103670Welcome, welcome to CX World 2017! We’re so excited to be here to connect with and meet new and old members of the community!

We will be here during opening night, so stop by any time from 5:00 – 6:30 PM during the Welcome Reception! In addition to tonight, we’ll be here Wednesday, from 7:30 AM – 7:30 PM and Thursday, from 7:45 AM – 5 PM.

Throughout the week, we’ll be discussing the most relevant topics in CX! See you soon, and have fun!

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We’re Presenting at CX World!

shutterstock_320566076Our team members are currently gearing up to travel to Vegas! And you should gear up too–for the presentation we’ll be giving at the conference!

One of our clients will be discussing our CPQ solution in the presentation, CPQ: Heatmaps Its Way to Greater Sales Efficiency.

The presentation will be on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 2PM in Theater 1. Don’t miss it!

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CX World is Just Around the Corner!

MCXTradeshow season is in full force as many Serene-AST team members gear up to head to Modern Customer Experience 2017 April 25-27 in Las Vegas, NV!

Modern Customer Experience is a conference where more than 3,000 attendees will meet to network with industry peers and thought leaders, receive hands-on training, and listen in on all the sessions.

Stay tuned for more information about the Serene-AST kiosk, presentations, as well as general updates while our team is there!

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Understanding Enterprise Data Governance: Part 4

MDM and Big Data Make Each Other Better

So far, we have discussed Enterprise Data Governance topics. This is the third blog post in a series exploring Enterprise Data Governance.  In the first one, we briefly defined transaction data, metadata, master data, reference data, and dimensional data. In the second part, we further explored reference data and its role in data governance solutions. In the third part, we discussed data governance needs within Financial Services, a highly-regulated industry, and how other industries can benefit from these capabilities.

In this installment, we bring Big Data into the discussion.

Big Data allows companies to process data sets that are too large to handle by traditional means.  These data sets can originate from within the company; for example, a large airline may produce massive volumes of diagnostic data every hour, which is far beyond what is cost effective to store long-term.   Many companies are focused on data originating from sources outside the enterprise, such as social media, financial instrument performance, or weather monitoring.  With so many varied sources of Big Data available, can big data be governed?  If so, is it worth the effort?

Before answer those questions, it’s important to point out that Big Data vendors may be pushing features of their software solutions instead of discussing big data governance.  Product vendors tend to discuss Big Data use cases from the factory perspective; in other words, the types of data sought or the processes being built.

Vendors will typically cover information such as:

  • Social Media Exploration
  • Internet of Things
  • Data Warehouse Modernization

However, it is essential for Big Data Strategy to include the ability to drive value from Big Data insights across relevant use cases, since use cases drive the investment. That’s where Master Data Management (MDM) comes into play.

The following should be considered:

  • Customer Analytics
  • Product Marketing Effectiveness
  • Operational Efficiencies
  • Merger and Acquisition Impacts
  • Market Opportunity Analysis

The key is understanding what value propositions are sought when investing in Big Data solutions; this will allow companies to gain a competitive advantage. Rather than attempting to govern what may be “ungovernable,” MDM seeks to bring clarity to the key aspects of the business that drive performance. This, in turn, lends clarity to key business drivers that can be improved through Big Data analysis. In other words, MDM facilitates an increase in ROI from Big Data investment by focusing on driving analysis from well-governed enterprise data.

One of the fundamental Big Data principles is that greater insights can be attained from aggregations and statistics than can be gleaned from any individual record.  For example, in order to analyze consumer sentiments regarding a product, the company may mine social media for data. However, this produces some challenges: brand sentiment is often easier to analyze than sentiment towards specific products. To solve this, MDM is fundamental, and mines Big Data based on a cleansed and consolidated list of products.

All companies need to address similar challenges just to obtain the right subset of Big Data to analyze.  Once companies have assembled the proper datasets, what separates their effectiveness in the analysis stage is the ability to leverage master data to create meaningful aggregations.  A company that can analyze customer sentiment across geographic, business region, and operational cost dimensions will be able to make more rapid and meaningful business process adjustments than a competitor that only considers geography.  Only enterprises with well-managed MDM programs can make adjustments to business practices based on this analysis with confidence.

After the initial implementation, an effective Big Data strategy will plan for growth along the capability-maturity learning curve.  A useful analogy is how master reference data is used to manage acquisitions in a phased approach.  When a business is acquired, its chart of accounts is mapped onto the parent company’s chart to produce consolidated financial results.  Sometimes the parent company’s chart of accounts must be extended to accommodate the new business.  These data sets and mappings then make their way into the data warehouse.  For conglomerates, that may be as far as it goes, but in many cases the acquired business ultimately moves to the parent company’s chart of accounts and systems, where MDM then supports a full-blown financial transformation process within the acquired business.

Big Data follows a similar progression, where master and reference data provide the mappings for external, unstructured data sources to align with internal data sources for analytics.  As the Big Data processes mature, they influence governance processes, which extends the validated code sets and mappings to accommodate the high-value, unstructured data sources.  This establishes an ongoing feedback loop between MDM and Big Data that increases the effectiveness of both.

Process alignment between MDM & Big Data is critical to maximizing these synergies.  There are a multitude of valid technical options, which are of secondary importance to the business and data governance use cases.  For example, many data architects have a preconceived notion that MDM should push master data into the data lake to better support the Big Data best practice of “Transform in Place”.  While this is certainly an option, solutions like Oracle’s Big Data Appliance include highly scalable technologies that allow Hadoop file storage to be directly accessed by SQL and integration technologies (bypassing batch MapReduce processing entirely), making mapping and transforming unstructured data in Middleware an extensible approach.

In summary, Big Data analytics resemble traditional Data Warehouse analytics in that the better the data is governed, the better the insights from analysis will be.  This will always be true, regardless of the technologies utilized.

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