175 episodes

Welcome to the the Data Gurus Podcast!

The world around us is changing faster than ever before. From automation, artificial intelligence, big data, geo-location to every aspect of how we work and live. This includes DATA. Welcome to Data Gurus Podcast… our mission is to bring you a real life perspective on what’s happening in the data industry and how successful companies and individuals in this niche navigate through the sea of change. Encouraging you to Be Bold, Be Brave and Be Fearless – Let’s navigate the Data Ecosystem together.

Data Gurus Sima Vasa

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 42 Ratings

Welcome to the the Data Gurus Podcast!

The world around us is changing faster than ever before. From automation, artificial intelligence, big data, geo-location to every aspect of how we work and live. This includes DATA. Welcome to Data Gurus Podcast… our mission is to bring you a real life perspective on what’s happening in the data industry and how successful companies and individuals in this niche navigate through the sea of change. Encouraging you to Be Bold, Be Brave and Be Fearless – Let’s navigate the Data Ecosystem together.

    Brand Promiscuity with Devora Rogers | Ep. 175

    Brand Promiscuity with Devora Rogers | Ep. 175

    Welcome to another informative episode of Data Gurus!

    Sima is excited to have Devora Rogers, Chief Strategy Officer for Alter Agents, joining her today to talk about the book she recently co-authored with Rebecca Brooks, called Influencing Shopper Decisions: Unleash the Power of Your Brand to Win Customers.

    Devora’s book

    In the book, Devora and Rebecca connect their journeys, careers, and their boss’s journeys with their historical perspectives to show people how market research has evolved, why it is the way it is today and things we need to rethink due to the way the world has changed.


    Devora and Rebecca have worked together as research partners since 2008. Early on in their working relationship, they began working on proving how emerging media was and would continue impacting purchasing decisions because that was not clear at that point. They wanted to give marketers a sense of the roles social media, mobile, or digital out-of-home were going to have on their marketing efforts.


    Fourteen years ago, Google started doing extensive and ground-breaking B2B studies to prove that people were using the internet to research products and buy things. That motivated Devora and Rebecca to begin their research.

    The foundation of their work

    The foundation of their work began with the idea that shoppers were doing more research than ever before.

    Shopper promiscuity

    Promiscuous behavior is about being open and unbound. Promiscuous readers, for example, will read anything. Davora and Rebecca began to see that behavior in shoppers too. They opened to brands, products, and content, in ways that never existed fifteen, ten, or even five years ago. They are also willing to switch brands- even after a lifetime commitment to a particular brand.

    What is behind shopper promiscuity?

    More information than ever before is accessible.

    More people are consuming the information.

    More innovation is happening.

    There is no limit to what is available and when and where they are available.

    We are surrounded by information and choices. That has impacted us by making us more promiscuous, more open to trying new things, and less loyal to brands.

    An opportunity for brands to shift

    Shopper promiscuity has allowed brands to shift to become content creators, PR specialists, and values-driven, and also express what they are committed to and what they are willing to stand up for.

    Brand narcissism

    In part of the book, they describe what brand narcissism is. (It is much like going on a date with a needy person, and it no longer meets the needs of shoppers who have changed fundamentally.)

    Growing brands

    For brands to continue growing, they need a platform for listening and an approach that allows them to be informed continually because the needs of consumers can change rapidly.

    A shift in power

    Retailers used to have all the power. Then, things shifted, and brands began to call the shots. Now, we have reached a point where shoppers hold all the power.

    Source usage 

    Source usage is a metric Davora and Rebecca created when trying to understand what people do before they buy something. It refers to the discreet touch-points people use at each phase of their buying process.

    Net influence

    Net influence calculates whether a particular source was influential for more people than it was not influential. It produces a quadrant chart that tells marketers where to find the most people or the right people they can influence to say “yes”. It also reveals the marketing campaigns of competitors’ brands.

    Changing shopper values 

    • 28 min
    Employee Experience: Reducing Friction with Jason Telner | Ep. 174

    Employee Experience: Reducing Friction with Jason Telner | Ep. 174

    Welcome to another informative episode of Data Gurus! Sima is excited to have Jason Telner join her on the show today!

    Jason is a Senior User Researcher within the CIO organization at IBM. His primary purpose is to use various methods to improve the employees’ experience with the apps and tools they use and improve their overall workflow and work experiences.

    Improving the lives of employees

    Jason’s role at IBM focuses on improving the employees' lives in terms of their day-to-day productivity, how they relate to the company and the tools they provide. He does that using surveys, user interviews, and collecting data to see how that can improve the design of their entire experience.

    A unified experience

    At IBM, they feel that having a unified experience benefits the employees, and the company's response to things in the environment, like Covid or global crises. They have a website for employees to find information, figure things out around their careers, and have a more unified experience.

    Jason’s journey

    As an undergrad, Jason focused on neuroscience and cognitive behavior. He wanted to apply the theories he had learned, in terms of how people think, feel, and perceive information to everyday world problems. He considered industrial psychology and did an internship withHuman Systems, a company focused on optimizing human performance using military equipment, command and control, and transportation. Then he got involved in human factors, studied it in grad school, and worked on various projects around redesigning displays for traffic controllers- looking at night vision goggles and different perceptual distortions causing accidents.

    Later, Jason applied his skills to the digital age of the internet and the user experience.


    Jason has been with IBM for eight years. He has spent much of his time within the CIO, working on employee engagement and the day-to-day workflow of the employees.

    Interesting projects

    Jason has been working on some exciting projects at IBM. With one of them, they are trying to assess whether or not various project teams have the right capabilities and attitudes regarding user experience.

    An assessment tool

    Jason and his team created an assessment tool to help teams figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the project teams, pinpoint how they can improve, and recommend the training to equip them to do user research and user experience design.

    Agile teams

    Teams need to work in an agile way in terms of designing applications and software.

    User research

    User experience research is becoming vital to the overall product, so it must be injected into a design project early. Teams realize that if the user research gets done too late, it is hard to pull back.

    Creating a digital assistant

    Another project Jason is working on is creating a digital assistant to help employees in various realms with IT support and answer employee-related questions. They are building it on the information they get from doing user research and data.

    IBM cares about its employees

    IBM cares about its employees in various ways. It does that through its phone and online IT support and how they work when big crises, like Covid, happen.

    UX and data science trends

    Data science is a hot area. The areas of data science and user experience research are becoming increasingly more integrated as time passes because data does not always give the whole story. Data science and user experience research complement one another, so using them together will help to prevent blind spots.

    The great resignation

    The great resignation has made it easier for employees to find n...

    • 20 min
    Shipping Containers, with Rick Kelly | Ep. 173

    Shipping Containers, with Rick Kelly | Ep. 173

    Welcome to another fascinating episode of Data Gurus! Sima is happy to have Rick Kelly, the Chief Product Officer of Fuel Cycle, joining her on the show today!

    In this episode, Rick explains how he got to where he is today and discusses Fuel Cycle’s unique approach of linking with multiple API partners to offer different capabilities for specific communities to utilize and positioning itself as the Salesforce for communities.


    Rick is currently the Chief Product Officer at Fuel Cycle, where he has worked since 2014. Before his tenure at Fuel Cycle, he worked at an early-stage health tech startup, taught political science, and worked in market research.

    Outside of work, Rick volunteers with the bleeding disorders community and obsessively learns about food and cooking.

    How Rick got to where he is in his career

    Rick started his career in market research by accident. When he left grad school in 2009, the company he was going to work for went insolvent. So he got referred to a sample company and started working in market research. He left market research to spend a year teaching political science and then took some time off to travel to India, where he worked for a tech startup based in San Francisco. After moving back to the US in a hurry because his baby had a rare bleeding disorder, he emailed a former colleague and ended up working at Fuel Cycle.

    The State of Communities

    The State of Communities was the title of Rick's presentation at an IIEX Conference in April 2022. Fuel Cycle is known for its research communities, so they are interested in how those communities get used, different use cases, and what leads to the adoption of communities. They run a study each year amongst their research practitioners to better understand how they utilize their communities. That develops their content and informs their product development and where they invest on their platform.


    Most of Fuel Cycle’s customers are brands, big enterprises, and licensing communities over the long term. In many cases, they put three-year-plus deals together to help their customers stay engaged with key audiences. So when they talk about Fuel Cycle, they take it beyond communities and call it the Market Research Cloud because they enable their customers to maintain a constant connection with their key audiences. They also help accelerate decision-making with their suite of solutions and integrated partner platforms.

    Integrating with partners

    Fuel cycle has a platform in a robust set of APIs that allows them to integrate with more than forty partners.

    A developer platform

    A decision got made to treat fuel Cycle as a developer platform. They decided to go API first and partner extensively to deliver broader functionality to high-demand researchers.

    More research

    Fuel Cycle believes that the world needs more research. They advocate for that.

    Bad business decisions

    Bad business decisions get made often. It usually happens because those decisions have neither been validated by customers nor prospective customers.

    More efficient businesses

    Businesses will run more efficiently if insights are made more accessible to decision-makers. That will also reduce the existing economic dead-weight loss in the world.

    The world needs more research

    The world needs more research. That means market research needs to scale beyond the insights department to be truly effective.

    Use cases

    Use cases are growing dramatically outside the core research persona.

    Delivering value

    Research practitioners do a challenging job. Rick believes that the best way to deliver value to an organization is...

    • 28 min
    Fueling Innovation | Ep. 172

    Fueling Innovation | Ep. 172

    Welcome to today’s illuminating episode of Data Gurus, recorded live at IIEX in Austin, Texas! Sima is happy to have Paul Gaudette, CEO of Dig Insights, joining her to talk about innovation!

    There are many opportunities for innovation right now. However, founders of companies are concerned about failure because 80% of the 600,000 new products and CPG launched each year fail, and 50% of all new businesses fail by year three.

    Dig Insights

    Dig Insights is a consultancy that has been around for twelve years. They built their own innovation software to assist their clients with innovation exercises and navigating their life cycles. They provide their clients with a foundational understanding of the consumer or the market and fill the gaps across the innovation lifecycle with their platform and other research solutions.

    Speed and agility

    There is a lot of pressure for innovation to get out into the market and innovations to be the first ones out. But, sometimes, large organizations get stuck in the process. So speed and agility are critical.

    Clients are taking more advantage of data

    Clients are taking more advantage of data, including survey, sales, behavioral, and social data, to find ideas and opportunities for coming up with innovations.

    Democratization of insights

    One reason companies present at AIX is that democratization of their insights function is happening across their organization. So they want to empower their internal clients with technological solutions to enable them to research independently and speed up the innovation process.

    Traditional companies versus smaller brands

    Years ago, large companies had the advantage because they had the resources, budget, and knowledge to launch new products. Now, they have to compete with many smaller and more agile direct-to-consumer brands with a constant finger on the pulse of the consumer.

    The stage-gate product development process

    Most large organizations Paul deals with still subscribe to the stage-gate product development process, but they try to speed up the process and shorten the time it takes to get a new product to market.

    Medium-sized companies

    Medium-sized companies are now doing a lot of iterative innovation, getting constant feedback, and optimizing everything before going to market.

    Equalizing the playing field

    Lately, startups have also been asking if they can leverage the Dig Insights platform to do their research. That has equalized the playing field and made the competition for larger companies even more stringent.


    Most companies recognize that they need to talk to a younger consumer base. They have to be quick in their approach and get feedback fast. They need a way to solicit information quickly, easily, and confidently, so they are looking for innovative, fun, and robust solutions that are agile, engaging, and have a great user experience.

    Consumer product failures

    Consumer product failures tend to occur when companies start without a strategy. Or when they do not know what they want to achieve or for whom their innovation is. To overcome that, they need to use specific methodologies to get feedback from a broad audience.

    On the flip side

    Some clients want to talk to a very niched customer profile, so they tend to miss potential opportunities outside of that profile.

    Avoiding problems

    To avoid those problems, understand who your innovation is for, think broadly, and plan. The market is changing rapidly, so it is vital to think ahead and consider whether your idea will still be relevant in six months or even a year from now.


    • 27 min
    Get the Beat on Sales | Ep. 171

    Get the Beat on Sales | Ep. 171

    Welcome to another informative episode of the Data Gurus Podcast! Sima is excited to have Veena Giridhar Gopal, the Co-founder, and CEO of Salesbeat, joining her on the show today!

    Salesbeat started in March 2019, and when Covid hit early in 2020, Veena and her partner pivoted the business.

    About Salesbeat

    Salesbeat has software that processes many different data points, including sales data from supermarkets and external data points, like weather forecasts, to predict how much a supermarket will sell any product for a specific period in the future. The purpose is to eliminate sales losses due to under or overstocking.


    Overstocking has become a big issue since Covid because people have changed how they live. So supermarkets are buying the wrong stocks.

    Too much stock

    Veena has worked for companies in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) industry since 2007, so she knows the area well. She has also been in FMCG sales. So she knew that when Covid happened in March 2020, and people started buying things and stockpiling, it would cause a blip in historical sales numbers the following year. Supermarkets would then place their orders based on those numbers and end up with too much stock.

    Big losses

    A problem already existed due to climate change, so beverage companies and personal care companies would not know how much stock to order for some weather conditions, like heat waves. The industry lost up to 30% of its total revenue annually because nobody tracked the lost sales.

    Recent studies

    Recent studies show that lost sales increased due to supply chain issues.

    What they do at Salesbeat

    On a live basis, Salesbeat looks at how much stock is in the warehouse and whether orders get done regularly. They calculate in theory if orders get issued when they run out of stock. They also look for reasons if they have not placed the orders or made the sales.

    Factors considered in the Salesbeat model

    In the Salesbeat pitch, they say that they look at both micro and macro factors.

    Macro factors

    Macro factors include things like demographics. 

    Certain items do very well on promotions in middle or lower class areas, whereas they could cause money losses in affluent areas. The same thing applies to people from different backgrounds or ethnic groups. Salesbeat looks at those factors and others to advise supermarkets on what and how much to stock.

    Micro factors

    The micro factors they look at include social media. Although influencers increase sales, when regular people rave about a product, and it goes viral, there is even more of an uplift in sales.

    Weather patterns

    Weather patterns have been unusual recently. That can upset retailers purchasing decisions. To fix it, Salesbeat looks at daily weather forecasts for the next few weeks and makes predictions based on that.


    Supermarkets need the service provided by Salesbeat a lot more than brands do. So they now offer their service to supermarkets.

    Two different views

    Salesbeat provides two views: They have an automated system for sending orders to supermarket suppliers, and they also offer brands a view of similar data but in a different format. They tell brands which orders to expect from a supermarket at any point so they can plan their inventories properly.

    An early adopter program

    They are busy setting up an early adopter program for major supermarkets to try their solution out.

    How Salesbeat differs from other supply chain solutions

    Other supply chain solutions differ from that of Salesbeat in that they do not take the daily w...

    • 25 min
    The Second Mountain with Adam Jolley | Ep. 170

    The Second Mountain with Adam Jolley | Ep. 170

    Welcome to another interesting and informative episode of the Data Gurus Podcast! Sima is happy to have Adam Jolley, the EVP and General Manager of Americas for Paradigm Sample, joining her today to talk about how leadership has changed due to how the world has changed over the last two years.

    Adam’s background

    It was a shock for everyone when the pandemic hit. It was also a big shock to Adam’s career because he had quit his thirteen-year job as President of a stable company a few months before. At the time, he was navigating what to do for a career. He was also considering whether to get into leadership or be an individual contributor.

    Having to change

    If Adam had started with Paradigm immediately after quitting his old job, nothing would have changed, and he would not have gotten any better at what he did. Due to all the changes, including the influence of the change in the mindset of the employees, he had to change how he did everything.

    A routine

    Adam feels that before the pandemic, most people were in a routine. They were doing the same job repetitively, so they started getting lazy. People started becoming replaceable, and products became widgets and started becoming commoditized.

    Competition for your people

    Before, people had to think about competition in terms of market and product. Now, there is competition for people.


    It is no longer possible to have a playbook for sales. Currently, there is no one way to manage, sell, or communicate with everybody because that would be limiting.

    An opportunity for leaders

    All the changes have created an opportunity for leaders to personalize their message and motivate their people to show up for work.

    Customizing leadership

    When everyone started working remotely and communicating via Zoom, people learned more about each other. That helped Adam to customize his approach to leadership.

    How Adam changed personally after the pandemic

    Adam stopped looking at what had happened and what was happening that day when making decisions. He was forced to think differently about his goals, and he developed an emotional attachment to his job beyond the paycheck, insurance, and other benefits.


    Adam was never a big believer in teamwork before. That has changed because everyone has gone through a hard time and a change together, and everyone needs acceptance.


    With the change in leadership, there is more emphasis on branding. There is also more emphasis on companies because so much has changed.

    Personal branding

    Many leaders focus on their personal brand outside of the company. However, personal branding is just as important internally as it is externally.

    Have your house in order

    The most important part of a business is making sure you have your own house in order before putting anything out there.

    Leadership and embracing innovation

    It is scary for people to innovate and have foresight, especially when things are going well. However, to move forward, innovation needs to be company-wide. Everyone, including the sales team, needs to be thinking about where things are going and what comes next.

    A tough balance

    Even though it is tough to balance, leaders need to bring their people along throughout the innovation process.

    A fine line

    There is a fine line between taking market feedback, input from sales, input from marketing, and input from people building products, rationalizing what is important, why it is important, and getting everyone to agree about those decisions.


    • 22 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
42 Ratings

42 Ratings

JoshCrist ,

Entertaining, insightful and actionable! 🙌

Whether you’re well established as a data innovator, or just getting started carving out your niche - this is a must-listen podcast for you! Sima does an incredible job leading conversations that cover a huge breadth of topics related to the ins and outs of navigating our shifting technological landscape - with leaders who’ve actually experienced success themselves. Highly recommend listening and subscribing!

Hhrbsjdjdkebbhbv ,

I love how this podcast is focused on all the right things

A data-intensive podcast that focuses squarely on business - that’s a rare find! The guests are absolutely fascinating, I might add. Thanks for this valuable contribution to the world, Sima!

J. Barshop ,

Awesome show, highly recommend!

Sima and her guests provide some incredibly actionable and compelling content, spotlighting the latest data trends that will help improve your business and / or life.

Highly recommend listening and subscribing to Data Gurus if you want the knowledge AND mindsets to take you and your business to the next level (and reach your overall goals as a result)!

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