Interview

Interview with Ravi Shankar, Senior VP and CMO, Denodo

Denodo

Ravi Shankar, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer at Denodo explores different aspects of data management and how Machine Learning can enhance the data landscape.

1. Tell us about your role at Denodo. How much of your typical day is involved in innovating Data Virtualization for your customers?

As the senior vice president and chief marketing officer, I am responsible for Denodo’s global marketing efforts, including product marketing, demand generation, field marketing, communications, social marketing, customer advocacy, partner marketing, branding, and solutions marketing.

In a way, my entire workday is dedicated to innovating data virtualization and educating the market on its benefits. I am working on activities either directly with my customers such as conducting customer advisory boards, presenting with them in online and offline events, and moderating roundtable panel sessions, or with my team who interact with them through emails, website, and social media to make them aware of Denodo’s product capabilities, evangelizing about data virtualization, and helping answer questions about the market and technology differences.

2. What are the applications or rather opportunities you seek to have with your product?

The Denodo Platform is a real-time data integration and delivery technology that provides a unified view of the enterprise data without the need to replicate this integrated data into a yet another repository, thus saving significant cost, time, and effort. The biggest application of this middleware technology is data abstraction—the disintermediation of underlying data sources such as databases, data warehouses, data lakes, etc. from the data consumers such as line of business users, analysts, and executives. Such decoupling enables the IT teams responsible for the applications and systems to modernize their technology landscape with newer systems – such as the cloud . It also  secures the data from intentional or unintentional data access without impacting the business users, who can continue to securely access the data in a self-service manner irrespective of its location—on-premises or in the cloud; format—structured or unstructured; and latency—data in rest or motion.

3. How did you define the vision of Denodo? How did you approach your first 100 days at Denodo?

Six years back when I joined Denodo, it was already a recognized leader in the data virtualization segment. My vision then was to expand that position to become a leader in the broader data integration market.

In my first 100 days, I elevated the positioning of Denodo as a data integration vendor, evangelized data virtualization as a modern approach to data integration, debuted it in 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data integration Tools, enabled sales to sell the Denodo Platform for data integration, and established the first customer advisory board with strategic customers, whose voice I used for marketing efforts.

4. What are some of the industries that Denodo caters to?

Denodo’s horizontal technology appeals to over 30 industries including banking, insurance, manufacturing, high tech, retail, pharma and medical devices, healthcare, public sector, higher education, oil & gas, energy, telecommunications, and many others.

5. What are some of the unique lessons you have learnt from analyzing your customer behavior?

There are many unique lessons, but I’ll boil them down to the top three—the need for flexibility, speed, and self-service.

  • The technology landscape changes very fast; by the time a large enterprise completes adopting an avant-garde technology throughout the company, say like a data lake, the next one is already in the offing, like the cloud.
    IT teams look for products that futureproof adoption of newer technologies so that their current multi-million-dollar investment isn’t voided by the newest toy.
  • Second, the business conditions change rapidly as well. Take the COVID-19 pandemic for instance, which suddenly closed the economy. Revenue rapidly declined, and executives at various companies scrambled to react by cutting budgets and staff and refocusing the business in areas that won’t be affected by the shutdown. To take the appropriate decisions, they needed data fast.
  • Lastly, business users are on the frontline reacting to changing market conditions and competition. They want to move rapidly by using the data, reports, and applications by themselves without having to be hamstrung by IT to help them out at every step.

Technologies like data virtualization offer flexibility, speed, and self-service, which is why many of my large customers have adopted it for critical business processes within their organizations.

6. What are some of the distinctive features of Denodo Platform? And how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

The Denodo Platform’s differentiating features have placed it as the leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools, Forrester Wave for Enterprise Data Fabric, and GigaOm Radar for Data Virtualization reports. The following distinctive capabilities differentiate it from the competition:

  • Hyper performance—Denodo Platform maximizes query delegation and boosts performance to sub-second responses with AI-powered recommendations, and caching and smart query acceleration for frequent, expensive queries.
  • Hybrid cloud/multi-cloud integration—Whether it is initial migration to the cloud or further expansion to multiple clouds, Denodo enables organizations to accelerate data integration across different locations while lowering operational costs and leveraging PaaS-style infrastructure automation and autoscaling support.
  • Machine learning/data science automation—With Denodo’s machine learning-aided data catalog, data scientists can discover and prepare data for building complex data models and aid advanced analytics.
  • API/microservices enhancements—New support for execution of GraphQL on top of logical data models promotes a no-code approach to use REST APIs and accelerates adoption of advanced microservices architectures.

7. Denodo recently recognized in 2020 Gartner Peer Insights “Voice of the Customer”: Data Integration Tools. Can you elaborate more on the same?

Gartner Peer Insights is a peer reviewed site where customers write reviews about the technologies they use. Their submissions are validated by Gartner to ensure that they are actual users of the technology. The “Voice of the Customer” is an annual report published by Gartner for each technology category with a compilation of all the reviews published in the last 12 months.

Denodo is reviewed in the “Data Integration Tools” category. In 2020, Denodo received 56 customer reviews with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5, which will be the highest score in 2020 among the leaders of the Data Integration Tools. This distinction will earn it the “Customer’s Choice 2020” badge. The Denodo reviewers provided top ratings for its advanced product capabilities, rapid integration and deployment, and excellent service and support. Given these acknowledgements, it is not a surprise that 91% of them say that they would recommend Denodo.

8. What are some of the common pain points that your customers commonly approach you with?

The most common challenge for which my customers seek our solution is the need to rapidly gain a unified view of all of the enterprise data assets without having to physically move the data. Over 90% of my customers are very large enterprises that generate billions of dollars in annual revenue, have 1,000s of employees, and operate across several different countries. Hence, they have complex businesses, and technology landscapes which contain data are spread across hundreds of disparate systems residing in the data centers and the cloud across the world, spanning multiple formats—structured and unstructured, and in different latencies—data at rest and in motion. Given the volume, variety, and velocity of the data, they do not have a viable option to “collect” all of these data into a physical central repository. As a result, they choose to leverage data virtualization to instead “connect” to the data wherever it resides and provide an integrated logical view of the data.

9. What advice would you like to give to the upcoming Data driven tech start-ups?

As the Economist correctly called out in its May 6, 2017 edition, “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.” Currently companies are using data for creating products, running business operations, and making decisions. And many software vendors are providing technologies that harness and use the data. But these technologies require immense manual work, resources, and time. The panacea for this malice is automation. And AI is promising to automate many of the manual functions to improve accuracy, accelerate delivery, and reduce resource requirements. An upcoming data driven tech start-up should provide technologies that use AI to deliver these augmented benefits.

10. Can you give us a sneak peek into some of the upcoming product upgrades that your customers can look forward to?

Having become a leader in the data integration and data management market, Denodo is moving beyond this important category to becoming a leader in the broader data fabric market. With its logical approach (meaning not physically replicating the data), Denodo is being used to knit together disparate data and is uniquely positioned to take on this challenge given its new, advanced capabilities in the cloud, for data science, and automation using AI and machine learning. Expected product enhancements will include:

  • The Denodo Platform, with its location-agnostic architecture, will provide an all-encompassing data fabric of all enterprise data across multi-cloud and hybrid cloud.
  • For data scientists, the Denodo Platform will deliver this fabric of all enterprise data. It will also allow organizations to rapidly build multiple data models of multiple dimensions to run statistics using R, combine queries, results, and notes into a data scientist notebook, and deliver the results in a self-contained module for business users to run their operations efficiently.
  • Denodo will use AI and machine learning to automate many of the manual functions. For example, automatically infer data changes in the sources and adjust its model and configurations accordingly and providing recommendations to the users to boost the efficiency of their operations, which might not be otherwise obvious.

11. Which is the one Data driven breakthrough you will be on the lookout for in the upcoming year?

The combination of “voice-enabled data insights” is, and will continue to be, a breakthrough in the future.
Currently, you can ask Alexa about the weather. But in future, you can ask, “which of the 100 products we sell was the most profitable one last year?” and receive an instantaneous response. To enable this marvel, AI, machine learning, voice-to-text conversion, natural language processing, SQL-ization of the textual query, and text-to-voice conversion will need to come together. Even though this fully enabled function will take a few years, many companies will lay the technology foundation in the upcoming year that take us one-step closer to the final outcome.

12. What is the one quote that has stayed with you throughout your professional life?

The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

For more such updates and perspectives around Digital Innovation, IoT, Data Infrastructure, AI & Cybsercurity, go to AI-Techpark.com.

Ravi Shankar

Senior VP and CMO, Denodo

Ravi Shankar is senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Denodo. He is responsible for Denodo’s global marketing efforts, including product marketing, demand generation, communications, and partner marketing. Ravi brings to his role more than 25 years of proven marketing leadership from enterprise software leaders such as Oracle and Informatica.Ravi holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

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