GWYNPONQ Chatranon, 44, is steering Thailand’s leading cellular operator Advanced Info Service (AIS) on the challenging journey to become what he calls the “best-in-class data-driven organisation”.
The manager of the AIS New Analytics Transformation & Data Science Unit realises it is not a job that he and his team can finish in one day – rather, it’s a journey. The ultimate goal is to further strengthen AIS’ competitiveness and boost customer satisfaction.
AIS has a workforce of more than 13,000. The company started its Data-Driven Organisation Transformation project in 2016 with the formation of the New Analytics Transformation unit to spearhead the project development.
Gwynponq said that the Analytics Centre of Excellence was established later that year, tasked with developing a series of intensive training courses in collaboration with AIS’ partners in the technology and academic circles. The programme was designed to groom AIS staff for the positions of data analysts, data engineers, and data scientists.
The courses took off in 2017 and have since trained more than 500 employees, who in turn have passed on their new-found knowledge to colleagues eager to learn something new.
The training has boosted the number of staff skilled in using data analytics tools to more than 1,200 at present, up from just a few at the beginning. Of the 1,200, most are data analysts, followed by data scientists and data engineers.
Data analytics is the science of extracting “insights” from raw data sets with the aid of special software and tools, providing core information to companies in their decision-making processes.
Gwynponq says that, in addition to the courses, the unit holds regular activities to promote a data-savvy culture among the AIS staff.
Gwynponq first got involved with the data analytics field when he worked on the technical planning side at AIS many years ago.
“I was amazed that it can be applied to bring new great business opportunities to AIS,” says Gwynponq, who is also an accomplished player of the traditional Thai flute.
Once entrusted with present task, he undertook intensive study in this and related fields, including data science, through self-taught methods. He also took online courses as well as learning from university lecturers and AIS technology partners. Then he shared his knowledge with his colleagues in all departments to encourage them to apply these branches of knowledge to benefit their routine operations.
“My goal is to make the use of data analytics tools become the norm in all departments, in the same way that they use basic PC programs,” he adds.
AIS’ attempts to become a data-savvy organisation have paid off. This AIS project was named the Talent Accelerator of the Year by IDC at the IDC Digital Transformation Awards (DXa) event held last November in Thailand.
IDC is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets.
Gwynponq clinched a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunication Engineering, with first class honours, from the Department of Telecommunication Engineering at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology, Ladkrabung, in 1995.
He furthered his studies and gained a master’s degree in telecommunications at the University of Pittsburgh in the US. He also obtained a Ph.D in information science from the Department of Information Science and Telecommunications, also from the University of Pittsburgh, in 2004.
Armed with his academic qualifications, Gwynponq lost little time in seeking to apply his skills in the industry. AIS provided that fit and he has remained with the company ever since starting in 2005 as an engineering specialist in the ICT Planning Department.
In 2014, he was sent by AIS to work with Singapore Telecom, the company’s strategic partner in Singapore, as a senior architect in SingTel’s mobile core engineering department. This was part of a talent exchange programme in SingTel’s regional operation group.
He recalls of his time at SingTel, which ended in 2015, that he |was impressed by the company in many aspects, including how it always strives to take the lead in pioneering the adoption of advanced technology.
The regional telecom giant also is also a multicultural working place as it welcomes talent from diverse nationalities across the region.
Away from the technology side of his life, Gwynponq contributes to the advancement of Buddhism. He had once been a webmaster for Dharmamag.com, a bi-weekly online magazine that serves the faith. He ordained to become a monk twice, first when he was 20 and then before starting work at AIS.
He says he is trying to apply the Buddha’s teaching on the path to Nirvana to guide his daily life. His personal goal is to do the best that he can on the office tasks he is charged with and to apply the same commitment in his contributions to Buddhism.
When asked to compare Buddhism and data analytics, he says that both fields of knowledge share some common characteristics. Both focus on extracting insight from a vast pool of raw data. But while data analytics uses the insight gained to generate business benefits, the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to seek a level of insight that completely frees a follower from attachment to this mundane world - and, crucially, from the cycle of rebirth.
Like Gwynponq’s quest for AIS to become best data-driven organisation, that, too, is a journey.