Interview of the week: Sanchita Sur, Founder and CEO at Emplay Inc.

sanchitaStarting off her career as a management consultant with KPMG, Sanchita has been in the performance consulting business for a good amount of time, till she started Emplay. With an experience of over 15 years, she has held various sales and P&L roles. She comments on her career transition from an engineer to founding a company in analytics domain as “I have struggled with revenue generation while consulting clients on improving sales productivity. So, you see, I have been a part of the problem and the solution at the same time with the realization that sales is not easy and sales analytics in its current form is not useful to the person on the field.”

She further adds that providing high fidelity recommendations using the power of analytics to ensure revenue success became her mandate in the professional life.

In a conversation with AIM, Sanchita Sur, Founder and CEO at Emplay, spilled many beans about the company, its products and services, the growth story, challenges and much more. Let’s find out:

[dropcap size=”2″]AIM [/dropcap] Analytics India Magazine: What solutions does Emplay offer to the analytics industry?

[dropcap size=”2″]SS [/dropcap] Sanchita Sur: Emplay’s flagship product “Sales GPS” provides turn by turn guidance to sales reps to help them acquire accounts, win deals and meet their quotas, predictably. It calculates the most optimum route to success, recommends next steps and re-routes, if required, based on real time information.

Emplay is also building Sales Bots that can assist and augment sales reps, and in some cases substitute them. Emplay brings to bear the concept of self-driving cars to the world of sales.

Emplay marries internal, external and crowd sourced data, qualitative and quantitative, to feed its machine learning algorithms that predict outcomes, prescribe actions and automate responses.

AIM: What are the key differentiators in your analytics solutions?

SS: Emplay goes beyond actionable insights into the realm of action recommendation and action execution. Sales reps are given information on what is happening, why is it happening, what will happen, what to do, how to do and then what has been done, on their behalf (by the system).

[quote]With so much Information, analysis and recommendation users can quickly get overwhelmed. So, information prioritization, timing, quantity and target recipient are equally important. Emplay’s recommendation engine has the ability to recommend actions and content at the right time in the right quantity to the right stakeholders across the ecosystem.[/quote]

Another major differentiation is Emplay’s ability to aggregate crowd sourced data and qualitative information to make the analysis and recommendations richer and more relevant.

However, what sets us truly apart is our ability to automate the actions recommended and execute on behalf of the sales reps via salesbots.  

AIM: How do sales bots help sales organizations?

SS: [quote]Sales Bots are able to collect sales intelligence; process patterns observed from past successes; make decisions on who to sell to, what to sell, when to sell; map out specific next steps – what to do and how to do; execute with automate emails with custom content; set up meetings; update systems; request information etc. It can make high end decisions and perform low level actions on behalf of the sales rep.[/quote]

So, bots can a) assist sales reps make better decisions by gathering data, providing advanced analysis and recommending strategies and actions, b) augment sales reps bandwidth by intelligently performing mundane non-customer facing activities and c) substituting for them in lower value deals.

AIM: How has been the growth story of Emplay so far?

SS: Emplay has grown to become a 20+ employee company in 3 years without any external capital infusion. It has been consistently turning profits to feed its working capital and growth capital needs since its first year of operations. This creates tremendous equity value for our employees and reduces the investment uncertainty most start-ups are facing since last year.

Apart from organizational growth, our employees’ career growth has been unprecedented. Our young talents have equal opportunity to file patents, challenge and trump industry status quo solutions and develop customer and people leadership skills very early in their careers.

AIM: What kind of knowledge and skill-sets do you look for, while recruiting your workforce?

SS: We look for attitude first and our decision to hire has strict toll gate on not what the candidate is capable of doing today but his or her potential tomorrow. We look for people who are willing to challenge status quo and  innovate. I call them challenger candidates.

We mostly look for highly initiated engineering and statistics majors with strong conceptual grip on their subjects. Experience in machine learning, text analytics and product development is highly desirable.

AIM: How do you think ‘Analytics’ as an industry is evolving today? What trends do you see emerging in this space across the globe?

SS: The top two trends I see and am preparing for are:

  • Bots. You will soon get used to self-driving cars. Delegating highly complex and mission critical decisions and activities to reliable algorithm will become the order of the day.
  • Responsive ecosystem. You will not only expect your car to drive you but your car wash and your home to expect you and respond accordingly. Intent mining and action response from connected ecosystem partners will change the gamut of influence.

AIM: What is your best advice to the entrepreneurs keen on diving into the analytics domain?

SS: Analytics has abundant possibilities. It is the right time to enter this domain. However, many solutions hit the market and struggle with adoption. The reason being, analytics professionals make the mistake of believing that their users are like them –excited about graphs, charts, data and patterns. Believe me, they are not.

My advice to them is to think of end users as GPS users. All that they want know is whether they need to go right, left or straight. They are looking for very specific and simple action statements. So, analytics without actions is job half done.

My second piece of advice is on hiring.  Sometimes we make the mistake of focussing too much on tools and technique related fit when hiring. One has to be able to differentiate between button pushers and analytical thinkers. I have met Phds with flawed concepts and hired them.  I have hired interns and was pleasantly surprised by their sharp solution mindset. So my recommendation is to evaluate candidates by their ability to solution than their credentials on paper.

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Srishti Deoras
Srishti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.

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