The consulting industry continues to grow but not without pains. With transformation taking place at a rapid rate, the industry is yet gradual in integrating big data or automate processes. While the year 2019 witnessed the industry dip, its proverbial toe into the waters of high-tech, but keeping up with the growth rate in 2021 will require a greater push. Alongside, the industry is also experiencing a trend towards data-based evidence and a transition into implementation consulting. This fairly translates into that companies are not looking for advice but the empirical evidence behind that advice and a team to walk them through the implementation of strategies advised. The same can be observed in how the big four consulting firms are changing their business models and becoming more involved in execution stages, acting as pseudo executives of firms while having large data sources to leverage best practices and approaches.
The same strategy has also benefitted Vast Dreams, which is providing a more modern and personalized approach to its clientele. While the traditional technology consulting firms were still working on the old models, Vast Dreams successfully used the gap in the industry to gain clients that were looking for a more personalized approach with active consulting. On April 23, 2020, Vast Dream Group was formalized with a mission to revolutionize the use of data in traditional industries. The only challenge was data, as being a new venture competing with the established firms was difficult, thus it had to acquire it in select industries through strategic partnerships.
Bespoke Bouquet of Services
Vast Dreams has been functioning with a core vision that remains in building a self-evolving data framework that can be leveraged by the non-programmers to understand and automate processes. The key advantage Vast Dreams has over its competitors is the bespoke business process that combines cross-industry data. These bespoke RPA services are currently catered to the Mining, Healthcare, Construction, and Financial Sectors.
This bespoke service allows the team of Vast Dreams to create an efficiency scale. For better understanding, here is an example, while working for one of the projects the team developed a product for fraud detection across the construction and mining sector to automatically detect Bills and categorize them from emails and match them against ERP data/planning. This product was targeted at solving the problem of how they could solve the Fraud issue faced by their firms from suppliers.
Not only did Vast Dreams succeed but also prevented the business from $138,000 fraud within three months, soon it was listed amongst the white label solutions for corporations. Vast Dreams solution paid for itself as it not only detected fraud but also allowed the corporate to save time in administration by categorizing bills through clients, projects, and resources along with providing them with CF analysis through BI’s.
“Most of our competitors will not go to this step of creating this issue and think outside the box where they can use cross-industry processes to aggregate process efficiency. In this case, most of our competitors would think of using traditional accounting methods to avoid fraud instead of thinking through first principles on how detection works and how we can automate it,” explained Abhishek Sehgal, Founder, and CEO at Vast Dreams.
Multifaceted Leader with Myriad Responsibilities
Abhishek’s role and responsibilities are not limited to the responsibilities of Founder and CEO. He has a vision of revolutionizing the world with efficiency and technology. Throughout his journey, he has acted as the project manager, a programmer, a marketing head, a data scientist, a cyber-security analyst, and a business analyst, of the company. Moreover, he is also actively involved in dealing with the gaps in the company and solving the most urgent problems. Presently, he is overseeing the operations of the client relationship manager and Solutioning Consultant. He adds, “As a founder and a CEO I do not have a set role, my job is to do what must be done. As a founder, we are always short on funds and resources at all times, and managing that involves being a generalist.”
Entrepreneurship is not easy, and the initial days are more crucial for the company as well as the people associated with it. Abhishek’s greatest achievement has been his entrepreneurial venture. Being able to scale up his organization through the phase where the company ran out of reserves is commendable. Keeping eye on the future, he took a bold decision to scale and accommodate large projects by opening multiple divisions at the same time. This involved opening a digital marketing and cybersecurity division. As a result, this decision allowed the team to be more vertically integrated and provide clients better solutions that contained a bit of everything.
Highlighting another achievement, Abhishek quotes, “My second greatest achievement has to be saving the company after scaling it up when we had three days left and a two-digit balance in the bank account. I had to convince all of my clients on Advance Payments, and we barely survived, with delays in employee payments and the company almost collapsing.”
Change in Traditional Businesses
Abhishek has been in the consulting industry for around three years and has witnessed the landscape change significantly. Previously, the traditional companies demanded reports and paperwork on the cost of efficiency and big budgets with multiple time-wasting meetings. Now, the companies which are growing focus more on results, and this demand in consulting has led to a more technologically focused industry with an active approach. This technological adoption has been further fuelled by the pandemic.
With the advent of a pandemic, the customers in the traditional industries such as mining, construction, and banking had to adapt to automation and data. Profit margins were benchmarked against the use of cloud technology instead of against output in recent BI reports. The change may have been rapid but the team at Vast Dreams believes that companies not adapting to the digital transformation will not be surviving the decade.
Longer Timelines and Challenges
Convincing the consumer base has always been a challenge for Vast Dreams. Since the beginning, the team has struggled in convincing its clients of the necessity of long-term investments and capital investments in building data modules and cybersecurity. Most of the clients want the processes implemented within six-month cycles, but tech such as AI and Deep Learning require longer timelines to implement to effect. “This also leads to the challenge of convincing them the equal importance of Cyber Security as ISO27001 and similar frameworks can take more than 12 months to implement,” asserts Abhishek.
In order to tackle this, the team curated a modular approach to both these issues and divided it into a result-oriented approach with three-month implementation sprints. This helped the client in seeing the organizational impact while the team implemented on the long-term projects. Though this approach affects the overall efficiency but has allowed the team to convince the value proposition.
For instance, for one of its Fintech Customers who was launching a Payroll processing product, the team convinced them to implement a PCI/DSS compliance by parts with 45-day sprints which allowed them to be PCI/DSS compliant in 8 months. This increased the cost but seeing the certification and a better marketing tool to attract wholesale processors through this allowed them to be more open after the first 45 days.
Expanding the Clientele
Vast Dreams is currently targeting industries with complex supply chains and administration processes such as construction, mining, banking, and healthcare. Furthermore, it is introducing a bespoke SaaS model for the Billing/Invoicing solution, which will allow the companies to automatically categorize their emails, and read bills, along with allowing payments through the Vast Dreams platform. Besides, the data is also integrated with the ERP of its project management system, which can produce BI with metrics like EVM and process efficiency benchmarks. This leverages AI technology to grow better at analysis and insights over time.
The SaaS model will revolutionize the traditional industries by allowing them insights into micro cash flows and variations, along with insights into the efficiency of their capital. This not only acts as a fraud detector but also provides business intelligence against categories customized to the business. Moreover, the changes in pandemic have perfectly aligned with the business model of Vast Dreams. The team expects to see more companies becoming data and automation focused, thus increasing its clientele. Abhishek concludes, “I am very optimistic about 2021 as the industry goes through an evolution and we get to see Vast Dreams releasing its products into the market.”