Focus And Spend On Data & Analytics Growing In India: Rajan Sethuraman

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Data, analytics and insights can play a significant role irrespective of the size of the enterprise, says Rajan Sethuraman, CEO, LatentView Analytics

LatentView Analytics has proven its mettle in the US and global landscape since 2006. As the company turns its attention towards India, Rajan Sethuraman, CEO, LatentView Analytics spoke to Rohit Chintapali about growth opportunities that data and analytics can bring to the fore for businesses and organisations in the country. Excerpts:

Could you tell us about the true scale of opportunity in conjunction with data analytics in India?

There are four sets of opportunities for data and analytics in India. One of them is, of course, all the work that is being outsourced to India/India-based service providers, the bulk of which comes from North America and Western Europe.

The second set of opportunities comes from outside India as well, through the back offices/GCCs of MNCs, mostly Fortune 500-1000 companies. The GCCs are now executing this work but, in several instances, it takes support from large/mid/small service providers in a managed services, project-based or staff augmentation model

The third set of opportunities pertains to MNCs with substantial India business (targeting consumers in India). These organisations need data and analytics support and they look to external partners and service providers for such support

And finally, the fourth set of opportunities comes from Indian companies/organisations, both from the private and public sector. Large Indian business houses are starting to double down on using data and analytics for driving competitive advantage and business growth. We are also starting to see public sector organisations increasing focus and spend on analytics.

Where do you see data analytics making the biggest impact in India (sector-wise)?

Several initiatives by government such as NITI Aayog or the eGovernance bodies of state governments are aimed at using data and analytics to improve the penetration and quality of services provided in agriculture, healthcare, and education.

Large private sector organisations are also using analytics to impact innovation, product development, customer service, marketing, procurement, manufacturing, supply chain performance, improve financial controls and governance. Some sectors we have been in conversations with include commodities trading, airport infrastructure, FMCG, media and entertainment, life sciences, retail, and apparel.

We are also seeing interest from public sector organisations in the aerospace and defence sectors. All these sectors have tremendous potential for leveraging data and analytics to drive revenue growth as well as cost control and margin enhancement

With such opportunities, are you planning to focus more on India now?

Yes, we have started off with a core team that is now focused on business development with GCCs, MNCs with India business and Indian private/public sector organisations. We have about half a dozen conversations in progress, and we see that our value propositions and capabilities are relevant and resonating well with the target audience. We intend to contextualise our value propositions even further to ensure that they are helping address the most pertinent challenges and opportunities in an impactful manner. We are also flexible with our engagement models to get this off to a good start. We expect to have a few closures in the coming quarters. The intention is to grow the India business to about 10 per cent contribution to overall revenue in the next three to four years.

How can data and technology insights help the MSMEs grow their business? Could you give us an instance where you’ve helped a company leverage the power of data analytics?

Data, analytics and insights can play a significant role irrespective of the size of the enterprise. However, given volume considerations, MSMEs might be better off focusing on problems that have a large ticket size, such as manufacturing efficiency, inbound/ outbound logistics, sales force effectiveness/ customer acquisition costs, rather than initiatives that are likely to give only a marginal incremental lift

In the past, we have worked with Insurance, Retail, and QSR (quick service restaurants) sectors in India, but these have been with larger organisations and not in the MSME space. We have worked with several young organisations in the eCommerce, FinTech and Technology sectors in North America in the areas of customer behaviour and supply chain analytics. We believe that these value propositions would be relevant in India as well.

As mentioned earlier, the intent is to focus on opportunities with the larger MNCs and Indian private/ public sector organisations

Tell us about subscription commerce and its advantages in scaling the MSMEs.

Subscriptions are increasingly emerging as a way of providing/consuming a vast spectrum of products and services, whether it is entertainment, software, FMCG products, or even furniture, engineering services and tyres!

Subscription models allow product and service organisations to quickly acquire new customers through freemium options, identify the customers (using data and analytics) that have a high lifetime value, and gradually move them into premium paying options by designing and offering the right configuration of products and services that appeal to the target audience

Subscription models can allow MSMEs (as well as larger organisations) to do broad spectrum experimentation and identify the right fine-tuning necessary to drive revenue growth and profitability. This is especially true if the subscription is offered or mediated through online/electronic means that allow the capture and analysis of nuanced, granular data about customer preferences, usage, buying and renewal behaviour.

How do you see metaverse affecting the data pipelines worldwide and in India?

The metaverse presents the possibility of more and more interactions shifting to the online, digital world. These could be human interactions (consumers, employees, patients, citizens, service providers, governance agencies, intermediaries), machines, or processes. Online, digital interactions generate a vast amount of granular, nuanced data that was not available earlier for analysis and interpretation.

Another factor that is increasing the quantum of data generated is the widespread implementation of sensors and instrumentation. We are already familiar with the rich data sets made possible by wearables (smart watches, smart fabrics and the like) in the case of humans and IoT sensors in the case of machines and equipment. Even ideas such as implanting chips in the human brain (Neuralink) are not considered far-fetched.

The increasing availability of data and the associated progress being made in storage and computation technologies will enable digital representations (such as digital twins in the manufacturing space) of a broad spectrum of interaction environments, further fueling the growth of data and analytics

Emerging regulations and governance mechanisms around data privacy and controls will be an important aspect of how this evolves. An ideal scenario would be one where data ownership and control reside not with the technologies (and tech companies) that generate the data (or make data generation possible), but with the people that the data is about. That would provide a more robust framework for metaverse linked technology solutions to progress at a rapid pace.