Covid

Pandemic accelerating cloud-based services and AI: Julian Prower, DNB

In a networked world, the stronger your relationships are – and the more strategic your associations – the more value you’ll be able to deliver to buyers. Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) data and analytics bring distinct clarity to customers’ relationship-related decisions; whether these relationships involve buyers, prospects, suppliers or partners (potential or actual).

Julian Prower, MD at Dun & Bradstreet India, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:

Dun & BradstreetDQI Bureau | DATAQUEST

DQ: How did Covid-19 impact Dun & Bradstreet India’s business? What challenges did you face because of the situation?

Julian Prower: Businesses across the world have been impacted due to Covid-19. No one is immune to the effects of this pandemic. Like other businesses in India, our offices closed due to the lockdown. Although this was a challenging situation, we instigated our business continuity plan quickly to enable our employees to work from home. We seamlessly shifted to our “new norm’ of virtual meetings and online events instead of conferences, and digitized contract signatures.

As an organization that provides data and insights to drive business decisions, we have been working to help our clients navigate the challenging environment and have developed specific resources and insights in response to Covid-19 to help clients assess the impact on their operations.

DQ: Due to the lockdown, are you laying extra emphasis on digital transformation and automation? Which digital initiative are you planning to roll out (or have rolled out) recently?

Julian Prower: In recent years, the data and analytics industry has been undergoing a digital transformation, with continued focus on the automation of activities through the increased use of APIs to enable integration of third-party data into business workflows.

During the lockdown, we have introduced a number of new solutions as part of our planned product roadmap, including D&B Direct for Finance, which is an API-based offering and several other cloud-based products.

Many of our products and solutions are already available online, powered by the Dun & Bradstreet Data Cloud, and automation sits at the heart of how we run the business. At a more granular level, lockdown has required us to further automate tasks such as contracting processes. We are delivering demos and events via digital platforms in lieu of face-to-face interaction.

DQ: Which technology do you foresee emerging out to be a lifesaver in your industry?

Julian Prower: Technology continues to be an enabler for data and analytics and key to the ongoing evolution of our industry. We have already seen a convergence towards fully cloud-based services that enable access to real-time data, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning continue to increase the speed and efficiency at which data can be analyzed.

Rather than the emergence of new technologies, I see the pandemic accelerating the adoption of cloud-based services and the use of AI. Data-related technologies and methodology is being applied to support emergency planning and to track and trace the outbreak, and the data industry is working to support the wider recovery efforts, both from a health and an economic perspective.

DQ: Are you also upskilling IT workforce during the lockdown to make them future-ready?

Julian Prower: At Dun & Bradstreet India, developing our people is core to our strategy. We believe in continuously upgrading our skills and have a robust learning and development program in place for employees. Many of our teams already work with cutting-edge technology and are constantly learning new skills and techniques to improve the service we provide to clients.

We see an increase in online learning in the wake of the lockdown and social distancing requirements. The total number of Dun and Bradstreet India’s employees, as of now, it is 700 Plus.

DQ: Has the Covid-19 situation re-prioritized your digital projects?

Julian Prower: At Dun & Bradstreet, our core mission remains focused on helping our clients improve their business performance using data and analytics.  We have adapted the digital ecosystem to create end-to-end business flows by combining applications, and data integrations to the entire business network. This is more critical than ever in the current situation, as businesses are working to restart operations after the lockdown.

Our goals are not restricted to improving infrastructure, but more importantly, we are focused on creating the most advanced and seamless experience for our clients. Our IT strategy is an integral part of this objective. We continue to focus on delivering the best experience for our clients to meet their evolving requirements. Many of our clients are undergoing a digital transformation journey, which has been accelerated by the pandemic.

We are developing cloud-based and API-driven solutions to support them on this journey, and provide key digital capabilities to help navigate the rapidly changing business environment. In the last month, we have launched four new products: D&B Onboard for compliance, Global Financials and D&B Direct for Finance, and D&B Optimizer for data management, providing our clients with key digital capabilities.

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