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Successful Digital Transformation Puts People First

Bhavin Patel, Director of Analytics and Innovation at Johnson & Johnson, discusses how to drive success with digital and data transformation and more.

Apr 2022

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Bhavin Patel

Bhavin Patel (he/him) is the Director of Analytics & Innovation at J&J, where he manages an organization poised to drive digital transformation in Supply Chain to be a competitive advantage. He’s curious to unlock data science, intelligent automation, and process & task mining to advance the way we work. Through J&J, Bhavin has acquired experiences in CPG, Med Devices, & Pharmaceutical industries. 

Photo of Adel Nehme
Adel Nehme

Adel is a Data Science educator, speaker, and Evangelist at DataCamp where he has released various courses and live training on data analysis, machine learning, and data engineering. He is passionate about spreading data skills and data literacy throughout organizations and the intersection of technology and society. He has an MSc in Data Science and Business Analytics. In his free time, you can find him hanging out with his cat Louis.

Key Quotes

Digital transformation is not an end state.

When organizations leverage data at scale, they are able to provide value to customers in ways they didn't think before. Think about Domino's pizza — you know, they don't just sell pizza, they're also selling you that service of information of knowing where they tell you "hey, here's the real time tracking of your pizza" because they know their customers wants the visibility, that information of what is being made, what is being delivered, when will they have it. Using data ultimately creates an empowered end-consumer. One that grew up in the age where they have the ability to have a device like a smartphone, that allows them to get access to all the information they need, wherever they are.

Digital transformation is not an end state. I think people think digital transformation is, “hey, once I get here and create this new digital experience, I have achieved the state,” it doesn’t work the way you think. It's also continuously creating a culture where people use digital tools and technologies and adapt to new skills continuously.


Adel Nehme: Hello, everyone. This is Adel. Data science educator and evangelist at DataCamp. A few episodes back, we had Mai AlOwaish, Chief Data Officer at Gulf Bank, and we discussed the intersection of data and digital transformation. During that chat, it was very evident that to succeed in any form of digital or data transformation, you need to put people first. I wanted to learn more about the intersection of people, digital transformation and data and this is why I'm super excited to be speaking today with Bhavin Patel. Bhavin is the Director of Analytics and Innovation at Johnson & Johnson, where he manages an organization driving digital transformation and supply chain. His main focus is to unlock the value of data science, intelligence automation, and process and task mining to advance the way Johnson & Johnson works.

Adel Nehme: Throughout our conversation, we touched upon his experience, the link between digital transformation in data science and culture, what it means to be a digital first organization, the tools and skills in the organization needs to have today, common misconceptions organizations have when engaging in digital transformation projects, data science projects he's excited about at Johnson & Johnson, and much, much more. Now, let's dive right in. Bhavin, it's great to have you on the show.

Bhavin Patel: You as well. Thanks for having me here. I'm excited to be here on DataCamp's podcast.

Adel Nehme: I'm really excited to be chatting with you today. Without giving too much away, you're someone who sits at the int... See more

ersection of analytics, strategy and innovation, and you're a key player in driving the digital transformation of Johnson & Johnson. Do you mind briefly walking us through your background and how you would describe your current role at J&J?

Bhavin Patel: Yeah. Absolutely. So I've been with J&J for about 10 years across our three industries, med tech, pharmaceuticals, and our consumer products. And through that journey, I've been involved with a number of different functions starting in supply chain as one of my core competencies, working and building and scaling and analytics and today, a much more focused digital team. And along that journey, we had worked through a number of different capabilities and as it is today, my role, we focus on how do we implement digital logistics for supply chain business and deliver. So a lot of that focuses on our distribution, our transportation, and our customer service organizations.

Adel Nehme: That's awesome. And there's definitely a lot of data at the heart of that. So I'd love to first kick off our conversation by understanding what makes a digital first organization. I think there's oftentimes a lot of misleading messaging within our space around digital transformation, becoming data driven, building data cultures, and all these kind of end states organizations need to arrive at. Can you describe how interlinked data science, data culture, becoming data driven and digital transformation are?

Bhavin Patel: Yeah. I really think it's about making sure that data is the core foundation. And I think what a lot of people may misinterpret or confuse that when they think about digital or not having the data foundation first, and even our organizations, even like my example of supply chain, it's about making sure all of the data behind your systems, all of the data that you may need for your end customers or consumers or products are all captured or harmonized and accessible in a common platform. And I think beyond that, what makes it truly digital is the capabilities you have on top of that, that allow you to improve your decision making ability. I think it can be confusing or complicated at times of what is digital, but it in its simplest form, it's reimproving the decisions we need to make for our business.

Bhavin Patel: And you think about that intersection or connectivity is if data is on the foundation, where are the capabilities stepping from, and data science just being an element of the analytics continuum, right? Of capabilities driving everything from the descriptive of what happened to my business, the diagnostic, why is it happening, to the predictive and prescriptive of what will happen or in light of what will happen, how can I respond to that? And so when I think about that integration, in my mind, it's so clear of data is the foundation, capabilities on top that, scale that analytics continuum of questions that allow us to optimize our business and move faster.

Adel Nehme: So to some extent, data is kind of like the fuel that powers effective processes in a digital environment, and that makes or breaks the digital transformation efforts. Is that correct?

Bhavin Patel: Absolutely. And I think that data literacy, I'm sure we'll talk about later, and that acumen of what is data today. You can have a lot of structured, unstructured data and that paradigm, that mindset shift of thinking about data in a new way and recognizing all the untapped and unleveraged amount that might already be accessible to optimize our businesses or better serve our customers.

Digital First Organization

Adel Nehme: That's great. So there's a lot to unpack when we talk about digital transformation or becoming a digital first company. I want to set the stage for today's conversation and get from you what it means to become a digital first organizations and what are the main levers to get there?

Bhavin Patel: When you think about organizations, then you think about some of the history of the industrial evolution to now Industry 4.0, organizations have evolved based off the ability of the technology to allow them to run their business. So an example I'd give when I think about the 1960s plus to the '80s and even early 2000s, European implementations were a big focus of organizations. Do I have the right technology that allow us to have the product visibility to let us know our customer demand, order fulfillment to the order delivery? And that became core as an identity and the foundation businesses ran and what's happening now is you're seeing technology that allows us to do things that, one, are we able to keep up the pace and speed of, but two, can we even think about all the applications of technologies now, like natural language processing or things that we're talking about with data science as an application or that ability?

Bhavin Patel: Because when I think about digital first, I think about redesigning the way that we think we can run our businesses. And that means from all of our internal operations of how we make decisions and redesigning those processes. That involves a huge focus on the people element and the technology element that's needed to run our business. But I also think about the products and services. And so a few examples I can give you that I think work really well, if you think about Domino's, they don't just sell pizza. They're also selling you that service of information of knowing, "Hey, here's a real time tracking of your pizza," because they know the end customer and consumer wants the visibility, that information of, "When is it being made? When is it being delivered? When will I have it?" And an empowered end consumer that grew up in the age of social media, that grew up in the age of that ability to have a device like a smartphone that allows them to get access to information.

Bhavin Patel: We need to engage with them differently, especially as you think about majority of the workforce and emerging population being Millennials and Gen Z that are digitally native. So when I think about digital, I think about how are we addressing the needs of our end consumers and what their expectations are, but also the way that we need to reinvent our businesses and our business models that meet that demand, whether it's product and service, whether it's the infrastructure and ways of working in organizations. But I think that's really what it means digital first. It's rethinking all of those paradigms and thinking about how we can show up in the marketplace to lead in that space. And the reality is, small organizations will take your market share if they know. Right? Those that are smaller, nimbler, agile that have that ability to really challenge and move at a different pace than large or enterprise organizations. They're really able to take that market share and move much faster, right? So it's vital for an organization's success.

Adel Nehme: That's wonderful. So I want to break down some of these levers you mentioned like people, process, technology and how you're able to scale your impact in digital transformation with them and provide personalized experience. As you mentioned with Domino's Pizza for example. Do you mind expanding on these levers and how they accelerate digital transformation and how you've used them at Johnson & Johnson?

Bhavin Patel: Yeah. Absolutely. So let's start with people first. I think that is the foundation and you have to realize the people is everything from the existing tenure employees you have that are SMEs of systems or processes that really know all the pain points and challenges and can be huge enabler, and really find the application of these emerging digital technologies to redesign your business, all the way to the technical SMEs that know the technology, that understand data science or data engineering or thinking about process and task mine, these technologies that are emerging and the marriage of the two. Right? So how do you sort of blend the legacy, that historical business value knowledge with the emerging technical talent that you're seeing that's more digitally native and combine them together? And a lot of that requires some reskilling because you're challenging the way that they're going to be working with tools and technologies.

Bhavin Patel: If they were used to a manual report that was generated from a system that no longer is required to make decisions to more of a digital capability now, you need some reskilling in that space. So that ability to think about enablement and reskilling your workforce and thinking about people as paramount for that will unlock all the value. So I think there's a huge shift on the reskilling effort of those technical skills. As I think about process next, I think about the org redesign and ways you want to think about product based teams and the way you think about building applications and not having these matrix organization... I think about matrix organizations of what really is a team now around a capability that can make everything from the build of that capability to the decision making that can improve a process or output of an organization like supply chain.

Bhavin Patel: And then lastly, the technology, right? The technology, there are so many. There are process and task mining technologies that will look into your legacy systems and figure out the inefficient processes and show what the untapped value potential of changing those processes could be all the way to data visualization, which I think tends to be the gateway drug for a lot of people that get excited by analytics. "Whoa. I have this really cool dashboard." Well, it's not just a dashboard. It's your decision making system. And it's what frequency are you using this capability to run your decision at a daily, weekly, monthly level or the data science application, which I think is extremely hot topic in the industry, but one that can be easily misunderstood. When you think about data science, I think it's the experimentation of those problem statements you're looking for and thinking about how I redesigned this application, not necessarily over-engineer it, but what are those meaningful questions and problem statements that I yet haven't put the power of data science to go solve?

Bhavin Patel: And lastly, intelligent automation because that's absolutely happened.

Adel Nehme: Yep.

Bhavin Patel: What I love, how can I automate my repetitive tasks, which honestly is absolutely needed to free up the time required to go work on the technologies we just talked about before is you can automate some of that manual redundant work. Your labor force can be freed up to then put to power against these other areas as well. So it's absolutely exciting. You think about that convergence. I think about it as like this [inaudible 00:11:23] in Venn diagram, but I will say people are the other fundamental shift of that change.

Adel Nehme: Kind of harping on that last point, do you think then technology is a bridge between people and processes that kind of allows you to operationalize these processes that empower people? Is this how you visualize the relationship between all three of these levers?

Bhavin Patel: I absolutely do. And I think the process part is one that also can get underestimated because you have to invent new processes in some way. And in some way, what I'm seeing in industry, and even in our organization, is everyone is trying to figure out the right process to implement and so you come up with a lot of different formulas for solving the same problem, but standardizing on a methodology, whether you have things like agile, you have product management approaches, whatever that approach may be, a process of how you work, but recognizing how you work has to shift, the way you think about that and having a new design for that and implementing that, and that is the bridge and that glue and scaling the things that work well, right?

Bhavin Patel: Especially in organizations, you're always in these pockets where things are working extremely well, where somebody has innovated an idea or technology. That ability to have visibility to what is happening and how to scale the things that are most meaningful is how you can really drive leverage and value. And I think that's one thing that I'm excited to unlock more as I continue on my journey this year is how can I better enable my organization with that?

Adel Nehme: So following up here, what do you think is a common misconception organizations have when they launch these massive digital transformation initiatives?

Bhavin Patel: I continue to find the underinvestment in the people. And I don't think it's a lack of awareness. I think it's from a lack of acknowledgement of how difficult that journey is, and it is arduous. You're talking about change and I'm going to talk about change management at a later point, but you're asking for a big shift in the way that you think and the way that you do your job and the way that you behave. It's an arduous journey and it requires not just building technical skills and reskilling, but you're asking even levels of leadership to work very differently. So it's not just change in one small area of, "Hey. I've launched one new platform. I'm launching a new product." It's like, "No. We need to change all of those areas." And at scale, to do that, to make sure you have the right data literacy and acumen where you need the expertise of those that have been in your organizations for 20, 30 years, that didn't grow up in a digital technology environment or maybe looking to embrace that in the way that they work.

Bhavin Patel: So you're sort of dual pathing of how do I deliver the business of today while I'm reinventing myself for the business of tomorrow? And I think that is underestimated of trying to run in two modes and I'm sure organizations are sort of through that. I think part of that is the value of organizations like DataCamp. You can really help enable individuals to learn the skillsets they need, but also think about the way they can focus on that as well. So I think the overreliance on technology and thinking about the people first and what do I need to change and the partnership in organizations like HR with digital talent strategy and workforce planning are going to be critical. A lot of that require redesign of jobs and functions. An example back to the ERP is when you had large scale system technology transformation, just like the invention of a new ERP, you create the roles that were needed to support that function, that level of investment.

Adel Nehme: Exactly.

Bhavin Patel: And now you're having to do that at a much faster cycle and rapid level. If you look at the amount of jobs I see that have the word digital in it is kind of mind-numbing right now. But the thing you realize is everyone's trying to figure out what is that role, how do I define it and what do I need for my business and how do I do that at scale and then how do I keep up with this skillset training, performance management of those roles to know if it's delivering the ROI that I intended to? So I think as much as people talk about a digital transformation, you're in a people transformation business right now, five generation workforce, have a lot of pressure on businesses to reinvent themselves, and understand the changes at once. And it can be very daunting quite honestly, right?

Bhavin Patel: So I think we have to show some leadership and resilience of where do we think about the optimism and double down in areas that work well, and how do we have some grace and some patience in areas that we want to focus on to get better for tomorrow and recognize we need to be honest with where we have those pain points as well.

Adel Nehme: I couldn't agree more on the culture and people component. And part of what you're hinting at here is that a lot of this hesitance in engaging in these people transformation projects comes from the recognition that it's a long, arduous, iterative process, whereas, technology driven digital transformation projects tend to have like an end state where a project is delivered. What are your thoughts on this?

Bhavin Patel: It's not an end state, right? I think people think digital transformation is, "Hey. Once I get here, I have achieved the state." No. It's the work, the way you think, and we're going to that Industry 4.0, that revolution, just like I'm sure when the car was invented for the horse. I think one of the famous example, the Mercedes, when they came out, wasn't so good for the horse that was displaced from a mechanism of jobs and working. Right? So I think there was a lot of anxiety and fear in the marketplace today of, "Hey. We're going through digital transformation. What does it mean for me?" And I would say the organizations that are really... I'm inspired by peers and customers in the industry like Walmart Academy, and the way they're thinking about reskilling in the retail industry.

Bhavin Patel: When you have a robot that's scanning shelves to figure out inventory, it's not like they're not leveraging as an opportunity to think about their workforce differently and how do I want about the retail workforce? And I remember, maybe you think about COVID, there was a lot of fear of, is it the death of the mall experience gone? Are those no longer coming around? And I would argue, no, even Starbucks, I'm sure of, right? The third place environment, it's that there needs to be a shift to how you think about that and seize the opportunity of redesign. You focus on customer value and experience, you'll absolutely win. And that's what you're seeing in a lot of those areas is that shift of work that you do, and that transformation to free up that time that then gets focused on value, at services like the customer experience that then drives the right level of engagement.

Bhavin Patel: And I think that's the big piece of technology is we should embrace that ability to automate things. Quite honesty, jobs that can be repetitive, tasks that may not have that critical thinking component, now you can replace that towards, "Hey. How can I improve this problem or to solve this problem that I wasn't thinking about?" And I think organizations, you think about that human capital strategy, that shift, because that will be that net business value for organizations and for consumers, right? I'm very inspired by that, because I really do see a brighter future for tomorrow based off all of that as well.

Adel Nehme: I definitely agree with that sentiment. If you look at the organizations that are winning in reskilling and upskilling today, what they really nail is ingraining a culture of learning. And they're able to double down on learning in a way to not only improve equity and diversity, but to also create opportunities for people to fulfill their potential. So definitely, a culture of learning provides a high ROI for organizations over the long run.

Bhavin Patel: And that accountability of saying on demand and on job learning is a requirement which is also a shift, right? We're no longer in this piece of, "Hey. You've achieved a certification to do this job and that's all you're going to do from now on." It's, "No. You're going to have to have that ability to learn on the new skills and new ways of working and your role will not be the same every single year. The role will keep shifting." But that's the world we live in now and that's what corporations are looking for, those creative, strategic thinkers with strong learning agility that are able to solve problems and keep inventing that future, right? That innovation piece.

How do you kind of prioritize your audience and determine which skills they need to acquire?

Adel Nehme: So let's focus on this even more. When focusing on improving the people component, I imagine there are populations within Johnson & Johnson that need to be enabled more than others. As such, how do you kind of prioritize your audience and determine which skills they need to acquire?

Bhavin Patel: I think you have to break it down by levels in the organization. There are different decisions that have to be made and different work activities that happen at an analyst level, management level, senior leadership level. And you're trying to understand what are their decision making responsibilities and what are their biggest pain points and platform priorities here, right? So I think there's an element of recognizing how you have to target that user persona and think about their need and what they may need to do. I think part of that is a skillset assessment, what skills are recognizable. And I'm sure many organizations, you have this top-down approach of a leader may want to report this way. They want it on this day. They want this. So recognizing it's not just upskilling the individuals at the level generating those reports or those capabilities, but also those leaders that are having to rethink the way they want to make decisions for their business.

Bhavin Patel: And have to say, "I don't have to ask this person for this report anymore because I have a capability on my phone that'll ask me to answer this question." So that's that fact that learning agility and that reskilling piece is at all levels of the organization, thinking about the decisions they're responsible for, thinking about their current pain points and that continue to redesign. Right? And I think what you'll hear is you capture that pain points. In the organizational industry, you're trying to cultivate, what does my roadmap look like, right? What is the set of capabilities I need to keep on inventing and implementing for my business, will be a huge part of that. I think getting a baseline of skillset is important. So that's possible of what is your human capital? What's that aspirational skillset? How do you want to target population? And are you using multiple formats, right?

Bhavin Patel: That whole concept of read, watch, listen. Trying to implement one way of learning may not work for your large population. You need to try different formats and provide different avenues that create that pull effect versus the push and then engage that curiosity. And I'm sure there are things, you think about things like office hours or different ways that people can feel supported, can feel engaged to ask their questions or concerns. So you understand what the demand of that population is and what they're looking for and really prioritizing that backlog of opportunities. That could even be collaborative brainstorming sessions with your different audiences to say, "What is it that you need? What are you struggling with? And then, let me help you paint a picture of how you might be able to unlock this with a solution or capability." So I think that those are the exciting ways you think about engaging with the people part in organizations.

Adel Nehme: And what's really exciting about this is that not only are you empowering people to work with data in their day to day, but you're also increasing the organization's overall data IQ and that kind of supplements the data team's work by providing the automation opportunities, direction on where data science can be applied and it can guide in large scale strategic projects.

Bhavin Patel: You can't improve which you can't measure. And whenever you think about being able to look at a baseline number and whether you call it a digital quotient, a data literacy, give it a score, however you want to measure it, but find ways to measure progress and show results will inspire leaders, will inspire organizations, highlight, endorse, and champion those that are learning, that are making our business and improving it using these technologies, those become those evangelists, right? The ones that can really show the art of the possible in this space and highlighting those as a standard, is sort of what you're driving cultural shift of, how do you start modeling what personas should be and recognize those individuals.

Adel Nehme: So given these personas, what are the primary competencies you're looking to foster most within your team?

Bhavin Patel: There's so many ways to think about it, right? When we think about a product management team, you have this product manager, product owner, right? Maybe they're accountable for a function in their business. Maybe they're accountable for a roadmap that work one in business, one in technology. And then they're looking at the skillsets they may need from a data engineering, from a data visualization developer, a data scientist, a change management, a user experience persona. So you have these skillsets or personas that you know that will help bring a digital capability life. But I'm really realizing though the skillset behind that, that I'm finding, and you already touched upon it, the learning agility. When I think about who can help bring that vision to life, I think it's individuals that have a strong ability for strategic thinking, that problem solving and that ability to connect the dots of digital functions.

Bhavin Patel: Those that can execute in that arduous journey of you want to retire or invent a new capability and you want to implement it in the business, who has that ability to actually drive that execution from idea to implementation, working with your stakeholders, your customer, getting the adoption of the capability you need there. So you can have these persona profiles, and I can tell you, this is what this role and persona looks like. But if you think about the skills that are most successful in this space, it goes back to that strategic thinking, that learning agility and that execution management. If you find individuals, a lot of organizations will call them people like [inaudible 00:24:37], right? How do you find somebody that knows the business, knows the technology, can bring it to life, that just gets it. That's what I found is if you find people like that, they will be very successful and they'll be very sought off, their talent, especially in this marketplace.

Adel Nehme: And what's so nice is that people within your organization already have subject matter expertise. They already know the business and their function inside out. And if you augment their skills with data skills and tools, then you're able to mass produce these unicorns that combine business skills and digital skills.

Bhavin Patel: Right. And I think back to that matrix team example is you want to bring people that have a bit of that, who've been embedded in the business, that know it, bring that with those that can connect dots, implement and technology. Those are those matrix product teams that are extremely effective and can work really well to bring meaningful solutions to life.

Adel Nehme: Of course, skills is only one part of scaling the people component. We talked about this slightly around culture and generating a mindset shift, but this requires a lot of buy-in and excitement and assuaging cultural resistance. Do you mind walking us through kind of your experience dealing with that and what you think works the most in these types of situations?

Bhavin Patel: Change management, right? I think a lot of this is thinking about how you garner the sponsorship, how you can garner the resources or funding that's required to bring these programs to life, how you then get organizations excited. So one famous methodology prosci is ADKAR, right? Do you have the awareness, the desire, the knowledge, the ability and the resistance plan? But thinking about your communication plan with your stakeholders, sponsors, having that ironed out on a frequency and cadence to move the ball forward is so important. So I think change management cannot be underestimated. I think it is a vital investment for digital programs to be very successful. And I think investing in resources and practitioners of change management will allow you to get from point A to point B. And I think making sure that as a part of that change manager journey, you recognize, and you're very realistic on what people are at.

Bhavin Patel: I think if you're speaking at a level or an aspiration that they don't fully understand, you will never really bring the organization with you. I think communicating to what people and where they're at in a method and format that we talked about, that they can understand and resonate and being repetition. Repetition is king. Be repeating. And I'll laugh with my team like this. Sometimes it feels like I'm banging my head against the wall repeating the same thing, but recognizing that without that consistent messaging, it may not land because as you're doing your day to day job, you'll think about, "Oh, who can I work with in the organization? Who can I address this point or challenge to?" And that persistence is very important, right? To your point, it is a multiyear journey. I think making sure that you have the fundamentals of the sponsorship from the top, that effective and robust change management program and it being able to generate the enthusiasm and optimism by showing the progress on that journey will really allow organizations to move on their digital journey there.

Bhavin Patel: So I can't underestimate that enough. Try different things, right? Definition of insanity is Einstein. If you try the same thing expecting different results, definitely try different... And don't be afraid to empower others, right? I think this concept of a change agent of who are you enlisting from these organizations that will help bring you on a journey. So it's not an us versus them mentality. It's a journey of we. And do you have that collective one team mentality of you're enabling them to succeed and you are a valued partner, stakeholder or customer on that journey as you're trying to get to that next level there.

Data Ambassador Program

Adel Nehme: So you mentioned here enlisting other evangelists on the team. One inspiring example from another guest on the podcast is the Chief Data Officer of Gulf Bank, Mai AlOwaish, where they have an organization wide program called the Data Ambassador Program where anyone working with data goes through an upskilling program and they do a lot of community events, webinars, hackathons. What do you find has worked with you in enlisting evangelists and creating a community practice?

Bhavin Patel: Right. I love that concept. I think it is about that community of practice or that center of excellence type of mentality and two different things, they are, but all those programs are very, very effective, right? I think from an awareness perspective, that ability to highlight where it's happening well, so whether it's a showcase or a hackathon of inspiring others of the art of possible, of saying, "Here's a problem statement," and having that, I think allows people to think really, really differently about their problem statements and it gets [crosstalk 00:29:01]

Adel Nehme: A hundred percent.

Bhavin Patel: ... ability in the organization. I think from the skillset perspective, these bootcamp type of programs or this skilling initiative with the certification or accreditation process, whether it's through industry, whether it's in house work, really work well as to show I have this competency or this in demand skillset that's needed to succeed in the world [inaudible 00:29:22] digital.

Bhavin Patel: So I think organizations that are able to launch those and whether they have dedicated learning or training days, or whether they're partnering with organizations like DataCamp or whoever it may be in the industry, to bring those solutions to life, I think, is very important. So I think there are ways to approach the hackathon piece. There are ways to approach that data bootcamp or that dedicated learning time piece is very important.

Adel Nehme: Yep.

Bhavin Patel: I think other solutions that work really well is making sure that communication mechanism at whether it's town halls, whether it's team meeting, but closing that feedback loop and making sure the promotion of those capabilities would be very important, right? What are the success stories of how things are solved and what visibilities are getting the organization, because that will help drive more change and it will start integrating the necessity of those programs into these strategic roadmaps and priorities for organizations as well.

Bhavin Patel: Right? So I think that is absolutely needed. And I think that ability to even benchmark. Quite honestly, what I love doing with my team is especially with each of the industries, I help them find a benchmark peer of saying, "Hey. Here's how we're approaching our roadmap. Where is this versus the benchmark? What could we be doing differently in this space? Or what should we be trying or implementing?" But when you think about trying and experimenting new ideas, innovation doesn't have to be in a silo. There's a mantra, "Steal like an artist," where you're trying to connect different train of thoughts together to try something net new, but that's what innovation really is collaboration [crosstalk 00:30:49]

Adel Nehme: Exactly.

Bhavin Patel: ... scaling that together. So I think that's very important as well of knowing how you're understanding what is working well, and then honestly, asking your own employees. We did an innovation program last year. And one of the things I really loved is when you give the problem statement and the creative freedom of your team to come up with ideas, you might be surprised to see what you can go sponsor. You don't have to create it net new on yourself, but making the [inaudible 00:31:15] based time of asking your team of what's working well and having that type of innovation campaign of digital of, "Here are the problem statements. Here are the things that..." Give a criteria, and solicit that, and then promote that internally and scale that with sponsor and bring it to life because that's how you... Not just the learning agility, but you get the creative problem solving type of mind mentality as well. So I would say beyond a hackathon, is have an innovation campaign, have those in your organization, really solicit, bolster and scale ideas that may not be getting a voice because of a level in your organization.

Adel Nehme: And once you champion these voices, you create a virtual cycle that generates more excitement, more champions and so on and so forth.

Bhavin Patel: Exactly. And the platform for those individuals. It was amazing to see the voices that can present in front of senior leaders to say, "Here's my idea. Here's what I want to go solve. Here's what's needed." And having whether it's sharp take or things that allow you to really think about, "Oh, wait, a platform for those voices to get a traction." It drives a lot of inspiration there too. So it would definitely encourage that.

Adel Nehme: So to be able to enable that, you definitely need to adjust the process and make it much more agile. I think an especially challenging aspect of leading change and innovation is designing processes around legacy systems, skills and organizational workflows and structures. In light of that, do you mind kind of sharing your thinking around redefining processes to optimize for digital innovation?

Bhavin Patel: I think a lot about the matrix team piece, and you mentioned earlier on community of practice and centers of excellence, we talked about it briefly is... And I think a company that does this really well is Spotify with guilds, chapters and tribes. Do you create a community around the technology or capability, right? And is the technology even like a data science, right? Whether you centralize or decentralize it, what is a form and mechanism for those practitioners to collaborate? Right? So whether it's a technology, whether it's a function, I think that's a really effective mechanism for that or when I think about data visualization and a COE around that of effective ways, building capabilities, bringing them to life and ways that they've earned around that solution or capability there too. So I think in order to remove some of the bureaucracy is implementing matrix organization is building a community of practice and empowering individuals regardless of a level or function.

Bhavin Patel: I think that allows that ability to democratize ideas and allows individuals to learn. So I think that is absolutely needed as a mechanism. And whether you get that through even a capability that you may be trying to solve or build, maybe a way to do that as well. But I really like that concept of, is it around a technology? Is it around a capability? Is it around a function even? But those practitioners coming together and thinking about the scale and innovation and avoid some of the siloed working processes, right? I think that's how you avoid that as well.

Bhavin Patel: And you redesign what it sort of means to be a team. So it's not just this solid line relationship. There's a lot of these dotted line ways of who do you inspire as a team and how are they held for some accountability or some outcome there? So that definitely asks you of thinking about that to work very differently and bring matrix teams together and drive innovation, that scale there. I think it's going to be around as long as the sponsorship from senior leadership is there and the outcome is clear, what's the goal push or what are we marching towards, I think you'll find they're very inspired to work across boundaries to solve a problem there.

Adel Nehme: 100%. And I love the idea of a center of excellence, especially early in the data journey. Do you think there is a risk for data science being siloed as a support function if it's too centralized though?

Bhavin Patel: It's funny, in large organizations, I hear a lot of like, "We're going to centralize this. We're going to pull it under one roof." And the reality is, you're better off doing like a COE approach of you have the right level of competency or expertise within a centralized function, but you have this hub-and-spoke model and this can be within functions, you name it, finance, supply chain, whatever it may be, that allow the proliferation of bringing that to life. And at that level, you may not need a very technically skilled individual or organization there, but you probably need one that is very embedded to the business that defines its roadmap and is very committed to the implementation of those solutions. So when I think about COEs, I definitely think a hybrid approach of what is centralized versus what is regionalized or distributed is absolutely important.

Bhavin Patel: And the way they work together in some consortium to drive change is extremely important there. And I think recognizing what you want out of your COE and a lot of the growing challenges for scale of organization is governance, right? Governance, and support infrastructure. Absolutely, it's like, "Where's my data. How do I access it? Is it accurate?" And the thing that no one wants to work on, that's the stuff that holds you back when you start scaling. So I think governance can't be underestimated even when you have a COE model. And if I think about ways that different teams, that is absolutely an approach to think about in ways of what that distribution can look like.

Successes and Use Cases You’ve Worked on So Far

Adel Nehme: So I can definitely talk about data transformation for hours, but I'd like us to close with some use cases that you've overseen and operationalized in data science. So your work has been primarily focused on leading digital innovation, enabling analytics within the supply chain function at Johnson & Johnson. Do you my mind walking us through some of these successes and use cases you've worked on so far?

Bhavin Patel: Yeah. I think a lot of it is optimization focused, right? I can give you three examples. One is the way organizations, any business thinks about their cost to serve model, right? So cost to serve, aspirational, you want it to be activity based model. You want to have the data to know what it costs to serve from a product level, at a customer level to use it as a way to identify opportunities in your business, where you're suboptimizing ways that your customer are implementing, having a negative P&L impact of saying, "Do you recognize the levers that are associated to this?" And in many organizations that are not data literate, you have more of an assumption based model because the data was not available before you took a lot of what we call swags to say, "I assume the cost of this is like this." But as you get to your role of time availability of data, your ability to harness that to redesign the way you can optimize your costs is amazing.

Bhavin Patel: And I think if cost is not on supply chain organization's roadmap, it's a missed opportunity, because they will allow you to transform the way you approach your business and allow you to partner cross-functionally in your organizations across commercial, finance and supply chains. That's absolutely a vital capability. Another one, we talked about the optimization space, right? So you think about, especially in the world of data science, there are a lot of ways you can optimize supply chain processes. Right now in today's environment of a constrained transportation or freight environment, that's an area that I absolutely would say data science can solve a lot of that to say you'd look at things like vessels or trucks and how do you optimize the cubage footage of a vehicle to fit as much product as you can on that truck?" And so it used to Excel spreadsheets to build your truck out or you may not have that optimization piece built into your TMS, your transportation manager system.

Bhavin Patel: There are ways to think about those solutions and adding them as add-ons to legacy systems to really make sure you're getting the most utilization out of that capability. A third one's around inventory, right? Every organization supply chain 101 is the right product, the right inventory at the right time in the right place. And if you think about optimizing the flow of product through your life cycle to your end customer and getting the end data, whether it's at a retailer level all the way back to an organization to say, "Do I have the right inventory that I'm shipping to my customer that allows the demand of that inventory to be captured so I can reduce my inventory on hand carrying costs as well as my customers and we both have a win-win trade off because by the right product be at the right time, we avoided any lost sales and we met the end consumer that wanted the product to where it needed that, right?

Bhavin Patel: And that's sort of the euphoria of that capability [inaudible 00:39:22] optimization. But I would say it's extremely powerful. And I think that's what all supply chain organizations on digital journeys are marching towards is how do I lean out my organization, my supply chain efficiencies throughout as well.

Adel Nehme: That's awesome. And what's mind-boggling about supply chain and data science is that even a 0.1% improvement in efficiency can generate massive impacts on costs, which is why it's so exciting.

Bhavin Patel: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think with digital transformation, that function is going to go through massive overhaul, which is going to be exciting to be part of.

Adel Nehme: I'm sure as well being in J&J, you're also exposed to lots of innovation in data science, analytics other teams are producing. I'd be remiss to not mention this, given that J&J delivered one of the vaccines to COVID. What are some of the use cases you've been excited about that other data teams that Johnson & Johnson has been working on?

Bhavin Patel: Gosh. There are so many, both from a data science perspective. There are so many ways you could think about natural language processing or the way you think about how do you look at customer service organizations with chatbots, right? So I think there are a number. You name a function and there are applications of solutions that are being built, even something that I wouldn't have traditionally thought about, but it is so imperative and I appreciate so much, but even your IT help desk or right? Think about me, I think it's your optimization gets.

Adel Nehme: Yeah.

Bhavin Patel: And if the implementation of a chatbot that allows you to get near real time versus waiting on hold the same way you might when you have a complaint, I think Verizon's also done a phenomenal job with this is you don't want to wait to speak to a live person. You want that ability to answer good data, what's going on, help you solve the issue and that ability. So I'm super excited about virtual chat agents. That's one that I thought about for my team, like how do I reduce, number one, those basic 101 questions? It'd be great if I just had a chatbot that I could send to some meetings and type away and you collect that demand too.

Bhavin Patel: But I think those are some really exciting applications and again, inspires my sort of passion in this space and what could you do with digital products and services, but those are ways that you can redesign that. I think that's around end customers and consumers, you're sort of marrying that back to Domino's example is I think even within our products, if you look at our consumer health portfolio, we're launching a lot of digital services along case products as well, right?

Bhavin Patel: So is it an application? Is it ways that you're engaging on new mediums like TikTok, but how are you engaging on the platforms that are needed for end consumers and the data science piece of it is, is it the right solution? Is it penetrating the right end customer and consumer you're looking for? Are you getting the outcome that you need from that service that I'm not just selling a product, but allowing it's improving the end consumer and patient's life in some way. I think that's really exciting to redesign that. So I would say it's a broad range and it's exciting to see all of that happen, and every week, I'm seeing something new and I'm like, "Wow. That's pretty cool." And a piece we said, learning is not just for the organization. It's for roles like mine that are constantly seeking out what's happening with the latest trends, partners and organizations and externally too, to think about how we can continue to keep inventing our future there.

Final Words

Adel Nehme: That's really great, Bhavin. Finally, before we wrap up, Bhavin, any final words before we end today's episode?

Bhavin Patel: You know what I would say, stay focused on that ability of the skillset you may want to develop, right? Whether it's leveraging resources like DataCamp, or it's partnering in your organizations or your customers, but the skillset of digital in that space, right? So are you a data engineering practitioner? Are you a data scientist? What is it that you want to learn in this technical domain? And go after it. Because the opportunities are endless. People like myself, there are large skill transformations to happen. And so I encourage everyone to continue to focus on building those skillsets and continue to find the application of what problem can you solve with the skillset you're developing because that will allow us to all build our Industry 4.0, and this digital transformation or people revolution we've talked about. So it's exciting to think about that and I encourage everyone to do that.

Adel Nehme: Thanks, Bhavin, for coming on DataFramed.

Bhavin Patel: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.



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