There is no use for accurate data, unless it tells a story

IDC’s Neli Vacheva shares her thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s markets, the importance of data analysis and the books that changed her worldview.

Neli Vacheva is an experienced analyst with a broad knowledge in IT industry and ICT markets in Bulgaria, and with proven Business Development and Change Management records.

She is part of IDC in Bulgaria for more than 14 years.

Neli is a research manager in IDC’s European Industry Solutions, Customer Insights & Analysis team. She manages the research and consulting activities with primary focus on digital transformation, including the transition of the urban areas toward Smart Cities. Neli is contributing to the IDC Digital Transformation and IDC Smart City Spending Guides and is advising cross-vertical projects.

Before joining IDC, she worked as an editor-in-chief of PC World magazine and on managerial positions in Bulgaria’s software industry.

Neli Vacheva has a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Technical University in Sofia and a diploma in Management from Open University, U.K. 

Which three books have had the greatest impact on you as a person? Why?

I tried to choose not the 3 books that I liked the most nor the ones I would like to read again, but those, who have made the most impact on me. I reached the conclusion that those three were all books that I have read at the wrong age. Perhaps not that significant as artistic works, but they had the power to break through the limitations of my worldview at the time.

Undoubtedly, Asimov’s “I, robot”, which I read at an early age, and after which I made a life plan – to go to a math high school to study computer science and work in technology. Here I am, already witnessing an early synergy between natural and artificial intelligence, and I think that I will be able to see robopsychology be established as a science during my lifetime. Or do I think I will live too long?

I would say “Cannery row”, but since I read it at a slightly more mature stage of my life and it mostly makes me smile, I prefer to mention the shock of ” The confessions by Lady Nijō ” by Lady Nijō. The book was gifted to me and with great enthusiasm that it was a book about exotic Japan, I, totally unprepared, about 16 years old (less “cooler” than most of my classmates at that age),  read the diary of a girl who grew up in the imperial court in the 1300s and was for some time the emperor’s favorite. I was infinitely puzzled by the inexplicable excitement of the girl, the incomprehensible relationship (Why does she cry when she stood half a step behind in some case!) and the symbolism “sleeves, wet with tears, dew, sadness, … “… aaaaah … enough, enough with these sleeves! Still, there was a feeling of an inaccessible world with some logic and beauty. The puzzlement of this book marked the beginning of my journey to the “different”. Later, after 4 books about Japan and many years, I was a little bit more enlightened and I decided to read it again. You probably must be Japanese to fully understand it. I don’t think I’ll try again, but if it rains all Sunday, it’s possible.

“My Brothers the People” by Yannis Manglis. What can be said? Infinite kindness and acceptance of others. May God help me to be able to do that one day!

And just to mention that Faulkner changed my opinion forever and now I do not want to live in a house outside the city or in a house at all, which is also a serious influence, but mostly welcomed by my husband.

Is it a challenge to handle accurate data – for many it seems like a boring topic?

Having accurate data, as accurate as you need it for your purpose, is wonderful for anyone who needs to do something based on it. Here comes the difficult part because it immediately becomes clear that no matter how accurate the data is, if it does not tell a story, if it is not placed in context, it’s of little use. Meaning that data may be boring, but the analysis, the context, the conclusions are the bigger challenge.

According to the data at your disposal, how did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the markets? What has happened to digitalisation – in the introduction to the report, the International Data Corporation (IDC) calls for the introduction of technology to be viewed not just as an opportunity to optimize costs and improve efficiency?

Anyone who looks at the IDC website will find our IT market forecasts for  2020 and next years by region and technology, so I will not dwell on that. The difference from previous crises, which led to such declines, is that today there is no such direct link between the  GDP and the decline on the IT market. This is precisely due to the fact that digitalization is seen not as a cost but as an engine to achieve different goals. Since April, every 2 weeks we have been surveying among ICT users in Europe, tracking how the crisis is affecting IT and business priorities, investment intentions, types of projects, etc. While in the first stage of the crisis, the investments were focused on providing remote work for the employees, the respective IT security and on urgent projects for business continuity, in the next stage priority is given to projects with high return and reduction of costs, followed by actions to ensure business resiliency and, later, targeted investments to support the resumption of the growth phase.

Each organization is at a different stage of this cycle, with many European companies still in the first stage. Accordingly, for the success of technology solution providers, it is important to be able to identify what stage their customer is at and to communicate their solutions in the relevant business context.