TechCentral’s CxO Insights is a fresh look at the roles and careers that define the technology industry today. In this series, we’ll interview some of South Africa’s most successful, interesting and prominent individuals to find out how their roles evolved, the skills they need to succeed in these roles, and what has influenced or shaped their careers. These interviews provide an in-depth look into how technology is redefining the boundaries of career, skills and growth within the digitally transformed organisation.
In the sixth profile in the series, TechCentral speaks to Jacky Mampana, head of analytics and insights at Hollard Partner Solutions. His role focuses on developing a clearly defined data strategy that recognises the needs of the business alongside the priorities of industry and customer. His focus is firmly on the future – according to Mampana, the future is a constantly changing entity that demands attentiveness to ensure relevance.
Mampana, who started his career as a student assistant doing economic modelling at the Bureau of Food and Agric Policy, says that IT is the place to be for anyone who wants to be in a dynamic and interesting career. He was recently named as a Truata Global Top 100 Data Visionaries.
It’s all about the data
The coronavirus crisis has shifted the world on its axis. This new normal is likely to define business and customer behaviour for the next few months and its impact is expected to last for several years.
In this morass of change, organisations are trying to find a foothold that will allow them to adapt and pivot as needed, without losing sight of their strategy and their customers.
This is, according to Jacky Mampana, the head of data, analytics and insights at Hollard Partner Solutions, why data is going to become even more important.
“When the pandemic first made itself known in the shape of a national and global lockdown, executives were sat in virtual boardrooms on platforms such as Microsoft Teams, looking at what needed to be done to take their companies forward,” he explains. “The downward trend that was already in play in South Africa before the lockdown is only being exacerbated. It has become extremely important for companies to access and leverage data so that they can find ways of managing in the recession.”
For Mampana, the next two years will be defined by tough decisions and complicated economic twists and turns. Analytics may not be able to fix the economy, but the intelligence that analytics can pull from the data will change how companies approach decision making and customers.
It’s simple – the old technology sales pitch that promised a glimpse inside the customer mind is the key to survival. Customers are tight on cash and smart on spend and organisations have to adapt to that, have to adapt what they offer, or they won’t be relevant.
“The work done around customer analytics is extremely important,” says Mampana. “We need to know what makes the customer tick more than ever before. We have to take advantage of the customer data that is stored within the company and really tease out the strands of insight because it cannot be business as usual anymore.”
CxO: Jacky Mampana
Title: Head: data, analytics and insights at Hollard Partner Solutions
Role: Responsible for defining a clear data strategy that’s relevant to the business
Windows or Mac: Mac
Android or iPhone: iPhone
Best tech purchase: iPhone
Customer data allows for organisations to not only refine their own engagements with partners and customers, but to explore new revenue streams and opportunities. It can be the insurance company that not only offers business-to-business solutions but that uses the insights pulled from partnerships and customer engagements to create its own business-to-consumer solutions. Or the company that sells non-essential items adapting its selling proposition to deliver what customers want right now.
“It is an important trend globally and allows for organisations to think outside the box,” says Mampana. “Why can’t the insurance company become a bank? Why can’t the retail outlet sell hand sanitiser instead of yoga pants? Thanks to data and this pandemic, companies may become something completely different over the next two years thanks to how they adapted to customer demands.”
Jacky Mampana’s recommended reads:
Gartner’s Magic Quadrant
(I know it isn’t a book, but this is essential reading in this field)
The DAMA Guide to the Data Management Body of Knowledge
By DAMA International
The Data Warehouse Toolkit: The Complete Guide to Dimensional Modelling
By Ralph Kimball
The important thing right now is for companies to move fast and be first to market when they launch new products and solutions. This type of decision making is driven by data and the four Vs: volume, velocity, variety and veracity.
“Cloud is going to remain the leading force of analytics and insights with technology and tools like Hadoop and PowerBI helping organisations to transform their approaches to Big Data,” says Mampana. “From open source to vendor specific, there is powerful technology available to the business right now — technology that will help reshape the business and align it to what the markets need, whatever that may be.”
Q&A with Jacky Mampana
TechCentral: What’s the most important part of your job?
“I need to understand my business and who we are in business with.”
I think that the most critical part of my role is to create a clear data strategy that takes the overarching enterprise strategy into account. It is important to understand the business you’re working in if you want your data strategy to deliver results. It is crucial that I understand the business I am in and who we are in business with. At Hollard, we are all about partnerships, so I have a deep understanding of Hollard and of each and every one of our partners.
What’s your top tip for staying ahead in your field?
“What you knew yesterday and today won’t be relevant tomorrow.”
You have to constantly update your skills and knowledge. This is absolutely critical in this industry because what you knew yesterday won’t be relevant tomorrow – there’s no way you can be idle in terms of what you know. You need to be aware of the trends, the new technologies and the changing landscape all the time so that you are relevant in your role and to your business.
What’s the biggest trend impacting on your field in the decade ahead?
“Artificial intelligence and robotics are only going to get bigger.”
Artificial intelligence and robotics are going to become increasingly important as we cut back on operating expenses and repetitive tasks and look to ways of saving money and time. Big Data is also going to become even more critical in South Africa – we are lagging the rest of the world, but Big Data is currency in this digital future.
What was your first job?
“My title was nowhere near as exciting as the actual role.”
My first job was as a student assistant at the Bureau of Food Security but that was just the official title. What I actually did was economic modelling for the company, which was incredibly interesting and helped shaped my career and introduced me to data analytics back in 2005.
What advice would you give to young people interested in pursuing a career in IT management?
“IT is the place to be.”
If you’re looking for a career that’s going to be relevant in the future, then IT and data is where you need to be. I also recommend that you don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you need a BSc in computer science to get into this business – anyone with an any analytical background can do this job.
How do you cope with stress?
“Recalibrate and come back.”
I believe in taking walks through the office. I switch off my phone and don’t do anything except walk and listen to my thoughts. This helps me to recalibrate so that when I get back to my desk, I have a better perspective.” — (c) 2020 NewsCentral Media