Atlanta Consultant Nilesh Gala on Data Processing and the Importance of Aligning Business and IT

Jun 17, 2021   |   By SEI Team

Atlanta consultant Nilesh Gala has been at SEI for over five years. Before transitioning to consulting, Nilesh pursued a career in accounting — first in auditing, then in general ledger, and finally in financial reporting. As he grew professionally, Nilesh realized that data processing plays a crucial role in making sense of disparate data. He saw it as the essential groundwork for accurate reporting and ad-hoc analysis for research. As his interest in data grew, he sought opportunities to work with data and moved away from accounting functions.   

Nilesh’s business and technology background helped build a strong foundation for his work at SEI. He draws on his knowledge of data and analytics to tackle unique challenges he sees in different industries. “It’s exciting to see how D&A capabilities have evolved over time, and it’s fun to apply this knowledge for my clients at SEI,” Nilesh explains.

Data Problem-Solving at SEI

One of Nilesh’s most rewarding projects at SEI was helping a business group access and improve a massive, slow-loading data store. To ensure they could operate at fast speeds while maintaining control and standards over operations, the group needed to bridge the gap between their business teams and IT. Nilesh explains that by making critical data easily available to a wide scope of users, SEI’s engagement “expanded usage of the dataset across the organization.”

Jumping off a parallel project, he and his colleagues were able to connect directly to the data warehouse and curate the data using a sanctioned dataset. Using data visualization, Nilesh and his team created models that analyze current business events, optimize prices and discounts, and promote better conversations between clients and the sales team.

Together, the team also helped raise the dataset from quarterly updates to daily updates. “We really accelerated the organization through this project,” he says. “We changed how they engage with IT.” This is just one example of the ways SEI empowers organizations to use self-service technologies for problem-solving.

Additional considerations such as ensuring that multiple applications can communicate with each other, overseeing security, and controlling access on/off the corporate network also play crucial roles when building D&A solutions. Technical integrations are often a pain point. “Security, network, and application teams need to be involved early in the project,” Nilesh explains. “Otherwise, it can hinder access or expose risks to external threats.”

Throughout his tenure at SEI Atlanta, Nilesh has helped clients deal with challenges stemming from disparate sources of data, poor data quality, and lack of data support. These issues typically reflect a disconnect between the IT teams maintaining the data systems and the business users they support. While no dataset will ever be perfect, it is mainly inaccuracies and lack of context that inhibit the impact of data processing.

No-Code and Low-Code Innovations

One D&A trend Nilesh has seen grow is the rise in no-code and low-code solutions. Low-code and no-code platforms enable users with little or no programming knowledge to develop solutions rapidly, blending different types of data from disparate sources in a simplified workflow. Nilesh has introduced these solutions in several of his projects. “It’s amazing to see how they take on a life of their own,” Nilesh remarks. “They enable business users to build more complex models and analytics, which are automated and repeatable.”

As the business teams get more involved with data processing, Nilesh predicts that tools that enable quick, succinct communication and platform-building will proliferate. “I believe low-code and no-code tools will continue to grow in use,” he asserts. Along with these programs, cloud-hosted apps are increasing in popularity and overtaking desktop applications.

But even with new tools, aligning business projects with IT projects will continue to be a challenge, Nilesh reveals. “Organizations that can bridge this gap between language and timelines see greater successes,” he further explains. SEI is this conduit that helps business and tech teams combine forces and overcome pressing challenges. “We’re only in the early innings of what’s possible in D&A,” Nilesh says.

What Makes SEI Atlanta Special

“The Atlanta SEI office has always had a focus on the D&A space,” Nilesh explains. Although SEI-ers may be technologists at heart, they always keep the business perspective in mind — consultants at SEI Atlanta know there must be clear value and ROI present in a project.

“We don’t do things for the sake of being cool,” he says. “Our approach is to listen to the client’s needs, not present a pre-made solution.” As tool-agnostic consultants, SEI-ers can approach issues holistically and find the best solutions.

Because SEI consultants develop an in-depth understanding of the problems at hand, they’re also experts at the solutions they implement. Along with leveraging this knowledge themselves, SEI-ers are dedicated to making sure their clients also have thorough knowledge of new implementations. “It’s important for us to provide a solution that the client can own and maintain long after we roll off,” Nilesh says. Helping clients fully grasp these technologies help ensure a solution’s longevity and long-term success.

Finally, SEI’s employee ownership model makes every SEI-er a co-owner, elevating SEI’s sense of community and teamwork. When Nilesh first transitioned from accounting to consulting, he was drawn to SEI because of this concept. Now, Nilesh cherishes this aspect of SEI. “I can do things that are entrepreneurial at SEI,” he explains. “I think like an owner and act like an owner, because I am an owner!” This is unique to SEI, and fosters a supportive environment where everyone is a leader. “True employee ownership,” Nilesh says, “along with exciting and interesting projects, make SEI an incredible place to work.”

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