Interview with Ghislain Lamy, senior BI expert
I had the chance to sit down with Ghislain Lamy, senior BI expert, who just arrived in Vietnam.
First, could you tell us more about you, and what brought you to Vietnam?
After finishing my studies (Master of Science in Management at University Paris-Sorbonne and then Master in Computer Science for Management at University Paris-Dauphine), I began my career in Paris as a consultant in management and Information Systems. Interested in Business Intelligence (BI), I joined the consulting firm IENA in 2007, a startup of more than 60 people created by consultants from large accounting firms (PWC, KPMG, Deloitte). I am now a senior BI Consultant.
As far as Vietnam is concerned, I’ve always been attracted to Asia in general. So after several visits came the idea of moving there for good. My Vietnamese girlfriend also moved back to Vietnam a few months ago and was waiting for me here. Additionally, I felt excited to try my luck in a new Asian tiger country with an unexplored BI market, rather than in other “dragons” (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan…) where the market seems saturated.
After one month of exploration, what is your viewpoint on the BI market in Vietnam, strengths and weaknesses?
I’ve done a small survey and contacted some professionals in the field to get an idea of the BI market in Vietnam. Then I quickly realized that Vietnam is only in the early stages of BI adoption. For example, I met a Vietnamese BI consultant who told me he was the only one in Vietnam to master a very famous and popular BI tool in other countries, IBM Cognos.
Foreign BI consultants might feel disappointed when coming here as the salary offered in France or other mature economies are often 3 to 6 times higher.
On the other hand, this youth means that the market has quite a lot of potential, though it remains to be seen when it is really going to take off.
According to you, how do you think Vietnam can develop its BI field?
A good solution would be IT outsourcing/offshoring. That is to say, we could handle in Vietnam the technical part of foreign BI projects. This is also what Officience has been doing in other IT domains over the past few years.
On the other hand, a BI project requires a great deal of operational & business understanding as well as a high level of English, even more than for other pure IT projects. These competences still appear to be quite rare here.
However, Vietnam is investing considerably in education, so hopefully we could expect the situation to change rapidly in the coming years.
Rapid growth of Offshore BI in Vietnam could bring him a step ahead of its Indonesian or Thai neighbors, as it will already have experienced local professionals. Hence, Vietnam would be able to cope better with the arrival of its inevitable “BI boom”.
What are the benefits of implementing a BI solution for a Vietnamese company? What is the critical mass required? And what quick results can be expected?
Generally speaking, the list of benefits that a BI solution brings for a company is rather long: accuracy, sharing capability and real-time access to reports and objectives, better data quality, costs reduction, high Return On Investment (ROI), customer relationship improvement…
And decision-makers have all the cards in hand to drive their “ship” – our favourite metaphor for an organization in France. But for Vietnam, a country with tremendous growth, I would even use the “fighter aircraft” metaphor! At such high speed, it is particularly important to grasp quickly where a company is heading to, and to know precisely how much fuel in the tank.
These benefits are aimed for a vast majority of medium and large enterprises (> 200 employees), whereas smaller enterprises will continue to use Access and/or Excel.
As a first step, I think a Mid-market solutions such as Cognos TM1 will be particularly suited for the size of local companies as they are less expensive and more flexible than those tools designed for larger infrastructures like Hyperion Essbase and SAP BI.
What advice would you give to a Vietnamese student who wishes to steer his career path towards this field? What skills seem to be critical to you?
In my former company we would hire two types of profiles:
Management: Masters in management / finance / economy, business schools graduates…
Technical: Masters in Information Systems, general engineers specializing in Information Systems
We favored management school graduates, even though the engineers also do quite well. The reason is, it is faster for a financial controller to master a BI tool than for an engineer to grasp the seemingly abstract finance and accounting concepts. Moreover the current trend in BI solutions providers is to make the setting/configuration less obscure and more accessible to non-experts in programming.
A double degree in both management and information systems would be ideal. For example, in Vietnam, there is now “Master Degree in Business Information System” offered by the Vietnamese-German University in Ho Chi Minh. Best case scenario, a MBA or a Master degree in Business Intelligence.
Finally, a good command of English is quite important and even essential especially if you want to work on projects for foreign customers.
Thanks a lot Ghislain for your time, and welcome to Vietnam!