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SEI Atlanta Consultant Dennis Barger on Cloud Innovations and Common D&A Challenges

By: SEI Team

For the past 30 years, Dennis Barger has helped enterprises in various industries build data-related solutions. This includes creating strategies for modernizing legacy platforms, which helps organizations gain more business insight and create new revenue opportunities. Dennis has also led successful cloud migrations, designed custom data platforms for customer identifications, and helped numerous clients overcome data and analytics roadblocks.

There have been rapid developments in data and analytics. But as Dennis explains, “the D&A problems of today are not totally different from the problems companies have faced for years.” Challenges such as managing data silos and technological investments, handling poor governance and data quality, addressing scalability issues, and delivering innovative solutions at speed, are just as relevant now as they have always been. However, the sheer size and complexity of modern-day data amplifies these challenges.

As a consultant at SEI, Dennis works with his colleagues to help clients build fast, scalable, and iterative solutions using D&A strategies. SEI’s D&A approach aims to bridge the gaps between data science, data engineering, and software engineering in order to ensure speedy developments of new solutions. Dennis puts it this way: “We help clients strengthen the alignment of data science and engineering through iterative development best practices, and by improving data literacy, adopting effective technologies, and creating change management initiatives.”

D&A Strategies with SEI

SEI provides D&A consulting services in five areas: data strategy, data modernization, data governance, data analytics, and data visualization. Balancing these five areas covers the majority of challenges companies face when trying to leverage data to create value. With SEI’s help, they can build and tailor solutions to address complex, data-oriented challenges.

The first area, data strategy, is often the most challenging aspect to D&A consulting. According to Dennis, “the creation of a data strategy results in a clear vision for the future, as well as a roadmap for delivering on that vision.” Many enterprises want these problems solved quickly, but struggle to get started. By identifying quick wins that align with the overall roadmap, the enterprise can quickly build momentum. No matter the stage of an organization’s journey, SEI can help create a comprehensive D&A strategy.

What makes SEI special is that the consultants who delivered the strategy also have the experience to implement the roadmap themselves. “Whether it’s a question of modernizing legacy data platforms, or creating new analytics solutions — SEI-ers can be flexible when a client needs change,” Dennis explains. This could involve anything from building a more scalable and elastic platform, to improving a data platform’s machine learning capabilities, and much more.

Creating Cloud-hosted Customer Experiences

“The big trend across our clients now is cloud migration,” Dennis observes. “This involves delivering advanced analytics and aligning data engineers and data scientists with DevOps processes.” Typically, innovations in cloud services can be divided into three categories: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Data as a Service (DaaS). Unlike other firms, SEI is tool agnostic. Instead of approaching problems with vendor-specific solutionsin mind, Dennis and his team help clients focus on the value new technologies can create and where they might benefit.

On a recent project for SEI, Dennis helped a leading automotive digital marketer migrate their machine learning capabilities into the cloud. Initially, he and his team aimed to accelerate development of new solutions by using AWS to build models, integrate data, and jump-start solutions. Eventually, the platform evolved to support real-time recommendation engines as part of the client’s online capabilities.

In another project, SEI partnered with a nationwide real estate leader to build an AWS customer data platform in order to support personalization. “By building the platform, we wanted to leverage cloud services in order to centralize customer identification, manage critical master data, and provide API integration for upstream solutions,” Dennis explains.

“Our work really highlights the advancements in D&A technologies that many companies are keen to adopt,” he observes. These features — streaming data integration, replacing traditional database queries with APIs, and advanced capabilities for inferring customer identity on the cloud — are a key part of D&A engagements across diverse industries.

SEI leverages “Broad and Deep D&A Expertise”

Dennis has been at SEI for nearly eight years in total. He originally joined SEI in 2006 to expand his D&A skills, and was engaged in different projects as an architect and developer. He left SEI three years later, but in 2016, he found himself thinking back on his tenure at SEI. “Working in a collaborative environment with people I respect was even more important to me than before,” he explains. “I had always hoped I would have the opportunity to rejoin SEI, and thankfully I was given that chance.”

Dennis enjoys his work in data and analytics, but his favorite thing about SEI is the people itself. “I have the privilege to work with some incredibly smart consultants, who I respect both professionally and personally,” He says. Both in the past and present, SEI has given Dennis the opportunity to learn and collaborate with great peers who have broad and deep expertise in critical D&A areas.

Next to his fellow SEI-ers, Dennis also appreciates the importance of SEI’s company model and shared values. Being employee-owned drives what he calls “the right incentives” — excellent client delivery, respect for clients and colleagues, and collaboration for professional and personal growth. “Our business model encourages us to be entrepreneurs instead of employees,” Dennis tells us. “At SEI, we have the ability to drive real change through innovative solutions.”