2018 Australian Advanced-analytics, AI and Machine Learning Leader-board (Corporates, Start ups and Consultants/ Service providers)

Dear all

 Disclaimer : Swamy and Associates has done business with or currently does business with or aims to do business with any and all individuals and entities named in this and all previous editions of Swamys Perspectives

 Important note: Swamy’s Perspectives’ definition of “Australian” includes those individuals and/or entities based offshore but work for Australian organizations, directly or indirectly.

Welcome back to our Australian summer (and usual year-end) edition of our 15-yr-old Swamys Perspectives where we review the big global trends that impacted Australia this year and far more importantly, publicly “name and fame” those organizations and individuals who have championed the adoption Analytics, AI and ML wave here in Australia in 2018 (at Corporates, Consulting firms and Service providers and Start ups)

If the big winners in 2017 were the AI and analytics conference organizers then 2018 belonged to the…………..Awards events’ managers 🙂

Indeed, there were an incredible array of awards handed out in 2018 and by last count, I had congratulated at least 800 deserving award recipients in the last 12 months on my Linkedin feed here in Australia alone (or roughly 4 every business day!). Perhaps it’s even worth creating an umbrella category entitled “Most Awarded Analytics and AI professional of the year”? 🙂

Seriously, if 2017 was the year when Australian organizations started exploring AI and Machine Learning, then 2018 was the year when they realized the importance of “Scaling AI and ML”. Indeed, 2018 was a year when only ONE thing mattered in the transformation agenda of Australian organizations and all else was just by-the-bye – Scaling Analytics, AI and Machine Learning

What stood out was two aspects:

1.  The sheer diversity of industries that started accelerating Advanced-analytics, AI and ML from banking and insurance through telcos, retail and utilities to engineering, health-care and (believe it or not) schools’ umbrella organizations

2.   Moving beyond 2017 customer and innovation labs into addressing actual business burning platforms

The across-the-board applications of AI and ML that were deployed this year were very significant – from “bread and butter” product, customer, marketing and risk analytics through image and video analytics to track “suspicious” behaviour to even, predicting potential musical hits utilizing deep learning models, 2018 had them all

So what did our 2018 stalwarts get right to make significant impact on their transformation agenda and equally importantly, what did they desist from doing?

 1.     Refused to be conned by “Fake AI” esp Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and focused significantly on the intersection of AI and Advanced-analytics

It’s almost 5 years to the date since “Fake AI” (Robotics Process Automation, RPA) announced itself in a significant manner as a “disruptive innovation” and was splashed across the front pages of poorly researched main-stream media all across the world (incl here in Sydney and Melbourne)

We at Swamys queried it and indeed, pointed out that most of these tools were really souped-up BPM tools by age-old BPM software vendors and pretty much did nothing more than a fancied form of “UI screen scraping”!

And then in September 2016, we were the first to publicly cautioned client-organizations esp financial institutions from falling for the consultant-driven con game that RPA was in our seminal Swamys Perspective entitled “Are the RPA Evangelicals conning your financial institution?” and called it the “Consulting scam of the millennium”


But seriously conflicted consulting firms (that had undisclosed alliances with RPA Platform providers often involving a share of 40% to 50% of technology licence fees) continued to peddle the “RPA is AI and scales brilliantly” theme to unsuspecting and in several cases, dumb client Boards including several Australian Boards that assumed that they were carrying out “AI innovation” by embracing RPA JJ

Cut now to 2018……….and what do we get?

Exhibit 1: RPA is NOT AI but……….could be a “Gateway to AI”


Exhibit 2: RPA is NOT AI and “true” AI could actually kill RPA (actually, any core system that can enable APIs can kill RPA but hey………whatever 🙂


Exhibit 3: “RPA Pioneer” and the largest publicly listed RPA platform provider, Blue Prism, sinks almost 60% in value and fires its Executive-chairman, the chap who must be given credit for kick-starting the RPA consulting scam


You see, to paraphrase the legendary Sir Winston, RPA was an Embellishment wrapped in an Exaggeration and shrouded in an Outright Lie

The Embellishment was that RPA was something new and innovative (a “disruptive innovation” if you will). It was actually a glorified version of the age-old art of “UI screen-scraping”, had nothing to do with “robotics” and never will. Just sounded “posh” that way and allowed RPA Platform vendors to charge their dumb client-base by the robot:-)

The Exaggeration was that RPA could scale significantly to enable operations teams esp GBS and shared-services teams to completely bypass IT and technology constraints and indeed, make them independent of the CIO’s technology road-map. As every failed RPA attempt to scale shows, this is utter garbage

If the IT team plans to replace the core platform say the core ERP platform, RPA will be useless and most of the “robots” will have to be re-done

The Outright Lie was that RPA had something to do with AI, this was the consultants’ “sales pitch” to get dumb client Boards hooked 🙂

AI is solely Machine Learning and Deep Learning and primarily the deployment of different varieties of artificial neural networks to address specific analytics related problems!

Indeed, all RPA deployment should carry the sign “No neural networks were impacted by our RPA deployment” 🙂

The stalwarts, organizations and individuals, in our leader-board saw through this con game, not entirely but for significant part and have avoided being sucked in by “Fake AI” to a large extent (though not entirely)

 2.     Judicious hiring of AI centre-of-excellence leaders with experience in Scaling Analytics and AI even if it meant, hiring outside Australia and NZ 

Our stalwart organizations in the leader-board accelerated the scaling of advanced-analytics, AI and machine learning by showing an openness to actively going out and recruiting global veterans, be it outside Aus and NZ and/or outside the industry

Promising examples were the recruitment of Bora Arslan (Chief Analytics and AI Officer, IAG), Arun Kumar (MD, GBS and Innovation, Telstra) and Alan Lowthorpe (GM, Advanced-analytics COE, Wesfarmers Ltd)

The key in each of these instances was their ability to run centres-of-excellence (COE) successfully to scale AI and ML to make a decisive impact

We expect more such significant examples in 2019!

3.     AI COE partnerships with focused AI service-providers (not generalist IT and BPM firms) and AI start ups

The BIG change from 2017 – client organizations and their Boards learnt an important transformation lesson the hard way, generalist IT and BPM firms have a very limited ability to deliver on the Advanced-analytics, AI and Machine Learning transformation agenda and therefore, AI COE partnerships have to be with specialist Analytics and AI firms as well as AI start-ups

QBE Group and its critical claims analytics strategy was perhaps the most significant example of this with the unsuccessful generalist BPM incumbent, WNS Global Services, which was the source of perennial concern to the QBE Group being replaced by the globally well-regarded Advanced-analytics and AI firm, Fractal Analytics

In addition, QBE also invested extensively in AI start ups across the board – Cytora and office automation start up, Hyperscience being examples

They were not alone, IAG continued to build its significant leadership in deploying AI by experimenting with its investment in the successful AI-driven services market-place, Air Tasker

Conversely, the message to generalist IT and BPM firms was very clear – simply re-branding yourself with ambiguous terms such as “Cognitive”, “AI-driven BPM” or “AI and Automation” or “AI First” won’t do, client Boards are a lot smarter now than they were 12 months ago!

So what does the Swamys 2018 Australian Advanced-analytics and AI Leader-board look like across Corporates, Start ups, Consulting firms and service providers?

 Corporates Leader-board

1.     IAG

·       maintains its 3-yr-old leadership position under Julie Batch and strengthens it with the appointment of Bora Arslan (Chief Analytics and AI Officer)

·       continued AI and analytics focused start up investments

2.     Telstra – significant re-structuring to focus on AI and Analytics with veteran Liz Moore and new appointment, Arun Kumar, proven leader in managing COEs

3.     QBE (on close watch )

·       critical departures this year of Gina Papush (Global CAO), Ram Kumar (CAO, APAC), Adrian McKnight (SVP, claims analytics) and Steve Raynor (COO, Aus and NZ)

·       appointment of Vivek Bhatia a BIG positive given Vivek’s strong understanding of Analytics and AI COEs

·       appointment of Fractal Analytics (along with Deloitte) as Analytics and AI partners gets a BIG tick

·       new appointment of Renee Roberts as COO, Aus and NZ is deemed neutral and to be closely watched given she has NO tangible experience running an Advanced-analytics, AI and ML COE at her previous role as Group Exec (ops and tech, NAB

4.     CBA (on watch)

·       overall industry and business environment under a cloud esp the RC fall out but appointment of Angus Sullivan (ex-McKinsey NY partner and former EGM, Strategy and Analytics) deemed a BIG positive

·       departure of Emil Matsakh (CAO), a significant move away from a centralized COE

·       uncertainties around analytics leadership and roles including veteran analytics leaders Amy Shi-Nash and Prakash Kuttikatt

·       new appointment of Andrew McMullan (CAO, Retail) is viewed as neutral given NO discernible prior experience in setting up, developing and scaling large AA, AI and ML COEs at his previous employer, RBS

5.     Suncorp (finally, movement in the right direction)

·       significantly more focus on deploying AI and Analytics in its customer market-place under veteran Pip Marlow deemed a significant positive

In previous Swamys Perspectives, we have pointed out specifically why the customer market-place is perhaps THE most critical component of Suncorp’s strategy and the most difficult to execute

·     however, still impacted by its historic “Fake AI” RPA and automation focus over the last 3 years

 Corporates Leader-board (emerging, showing significant potential)

1.     Wesfarmers – establishment of a formal Advanced-analytics COE under veteran, Alan Lowthorpe and senior data scientist, Hosein Alizadeh

2.     Australian Unity – veteran Jacek Kowalski continues to move it strongly up the AI curve

3.     Credit Union Australia – Aus financial services CEO-of-the-year, Rob Goudswaard, has signalled strong adoption of AI and ML esp across the customer-facing digital business

4.     Origin Energy – appointment of veteran Sandra Hogan, a significant positive

5.     Bendigo and Adelaide Bank – Group CEO, Marnie Baker’s, vision to create a modern customer-focused digital organization has potential for a re-rating by deploying AI and ML. Recent work around customer analytics by KPMG should help move up the chain

AI and ML Start ups Leader-board

1.     Air Tasker

2.     Faethm AI

3.     Noodle.ai

4.     H20.ai

5.     C3Iot

6.     Ingenious AI

7.     Daisee

8.     Pascal

9.     Verge Labs

 Consulting firms and Service providers

1.     Quantium

2.     Fractal Analytics

3.     EY Data Analytics (formerly EY C3)

4.     Wipro AI

5.     PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC)

6.     Tata Consultancy Services

Individual leaders (corporates)

1.     Julie Batch (IAG)

2.     Liz Moore (Telstra)

3.     Gina Papush (ex-QBE and movement to Cigna, during the year)

4.     Ashok (Ash) Nair (QBE)

5.     Jacek Kowalski (Australian Unity)

6.     Sandra Hogan (Origin Energy)

7.     Kathryn (Butler) Gulifa (CDAO, Worksafe Vic and NAB, during the year)

8.     Amy Shi-Nash (CBA)

9.     Ratneesh Suri (IAG NZ)

10.  Alan Lowthorpe (Wesfarmers)

11.  Prakash Kuttikat (CBA)

12. Hosein Alizadeh (Wesfarmers)

13. Rachna Dhand (Rio Tinto)

Individual leaders (consultants and service providers)

1.     Fang Chen (University of Technology, Sydney and Data61, CSIRO)

2.     Matt Kuperholz (PWC)

3.     Rahul Desai (Fractal Analytics)

4.     Gavin Seewoorattan (EY DnA)

5.     Ram Kumar (Quantium, ex-QBE APAC CAO

6.     Rohan Raghavan (EY DnA)

7.     Adrian Letchford (Airtasker)

8.     Guangdong Xu (UTS)

9.     Richard Xu (UTS)

10.  Richard George (Faethm)

11.  Jeff Cook (Daisee)

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Educated at India's world-beating institutions (the IIT and the IIM with 1% to 2% acceptance rates), Sri is a seasoned financial services Strategy, Advanced-analytics and ML advisor with work experience in Mumbai, London, Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley) and Sydney Sri started his career as an "old style" banker in the shipping-finance area of a large Indian institution (ICICI/SCICI) in Bombay and has subsequently worked with PWC (Coopers & Lybrand), the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Elance before founding Swamy and Associates (www.swamyandassociates.com.au) to advise financial institutions and global service providers on Advanced-analytics, AI, ML and BPM strategies He was an early mover in respect of his pioneering research of the Advanced-analytics sector and its impact on the global financial services sector (see sample research below) In the immediate 5-year-period to 2017, he has directly advised 6 out of the top 15 financial institutions in Australia on their Advanced-analytics journeys including 2 institutions at their Group CEO levels In Sep 2018 and August 2017, he has been named Chairman of the Australian AI and Machine Learning Summit https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6403109694533144576 In Sep 2017 he was one of the 7 Australian financial services Digital Leaders to be invited to present at the Morgan Stanley "Innovation in Financials Forum 2017" https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6311486297345269760 In March 2017, he was the sole advisor invited by Goldman Sachs Australian Research group to present the impact of Advanced-analytics, AI and Machine Learning on banks and insurers Sri, an orthodox South-Indian Smartha-Brahmin ("Iyer") from Kallidaikurichi, Tirunelveli (near Chennai), is also a student of Veda-anta (Vedic philosophy), Samskrita Bhasha (Sanskrit), Veda-anga-Astrology (Jyothisha, Jaimini and Parasara), Vedic practices including the chanting of mantras and Yogic-meditation practices


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