Anil is the Founder and CEO of Ananto ‘a Big Data Solutions and Services Company’. He is responsible for the day-to-day running of the firm including business development, finance, IT, marketing and operations.
In an interview with Analytics India Magazine, Anil speaks about his plans with Ananto and views on analytics as a whole.
AIMAnalytics India Magazine: What are some of the main tenets (philosophies, goals, attributes) of analytics approach and policies at your organization?
AMAnil Modi: Fundamental macro economic changes in global markets has increased competitiveness, lessen product lifecycles and myriad of me too products and services. This has lead the organizations to compete for customer intimacy, the only possible differentiator in today’s customer dictated market space. In this context Customer Life Time Value determines sustainability as well as relevance of an organization. While Analytics has been known for many years, it is now that its relevance to business sustenance is getting applauded.
Ananto is a Business Analytics Services company. We believe in doing work that aims to improve business outcomes. At Ananto we have developed unique ‘Models’ that help organizations implement customer intimacy strategies. The word ‘Ananto’ means Infinite, depicting the very nature of endless possibilities of business solutions that can be achieved using effective analytics. Our ‘Data to Dollar’ framework keeps us focused on improved business outcome.
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AIM: What is your approach to face the challenge of meeting the needs of so many clients across vast geographies with limited resources?
AM: This is a good problem to have. Our approach has been to make it simple for our clients. We have frameworks that help us deliver quickly, automate repetitive activities and we augment that with flexible engagement models. In countries where we do not wish to have our own presence, a partnership model is being put in place. Our partners are mid-tier technology firms who wish to augment their offerings with analytics services.
Analytics as a Service offering allows us to build a reservoir of knowledge, expertise and talent pool to specific verticals and horizontals. Our clients can leverage our services which are ready to be dished out with customisation at great speed . For our clients it means Analytics as a Service in quick time and low cost and for Ananto it results in consolidated and practiced effort by optimizing resources and costs. More importantly Ananto’s engagement model creaes an experienced and diversified talent pool in an otherwise resource starved industry.
AIM: What are the key differentiators in your analytical solutions?
AM: To understand these, I take some time to detail my understanding of Analytics service and solution providers. Typically divided into three categories, Providers of Hardware, Providers of Applications and Providers of Services, the first two categories are quite distinctive and easy to identify. Providers of Services are further sub-divided into two types, Pure-Play players and others who actually provide services in addition to hardware and or applications. Ananto is a pure-play Service Provider.
We are increasingly finding that there is no one size fit all here. A set of hardware and application are no longer enough to deliver variety of business outcomes desired by businesses today. I illustrate using analogy of a restaurant (being a foodie, I find amazing similarity between a restaurant and analytics providers). A restaurant may specialize in more than one type of cuisine and will have to have specialized equipment, ingredients and chefs for both cuisine. An Indian wok is not as suited for making Chinese food as a specialized Chinese wok is. Similarly we use variety of applications and hardware to match the diversity in business problems we are challenged with.
Our key differentiation lie in us making business case or business issue as fulcrum of our 5C implementation framework, being agnostic to hardware and application providers, building models (akin to recipes in a restaurant) that help deliver desired business outcomes. A major consideration is our ability to understand the business issue correctly and then customize the outcomes suiting the taste. This requires a different way of thinking; it requires different skill sets and aligned culture in the organization. I think the diversity and intelligence that Ananto puts in right at the beginning stage is unparalleled in the industry.
AIM: Please brief us about the size of your analytics division and what is hierarchical alignment, both depth and breadth.
AM: The organization structure is based on the four core values of Ananto: Respect, Trust, Freedom and Humane. Ananto is founded and led by Aparup Sengupta and myself, both of whom have significant and deep experience in the field of customer experience management, technology and outsourcing. There is a strong founding team, which is currently responsible for driving sales as well as delivery.
Ananto has created an organization structure, which is in line with its core ‘Data to Dollars framework’. Apart from Analytics and Business Development, we have senior executives leading the Business Services and Technology Solutions space. The idea is to follow a dual approach i.e. a combination of a vertical as well as a horizontal based approach. We have domain experts from verticals such as Retail, Telecom, Healthcare, Insurance, and Financial Services and will also have experts to lead the horizontals of HR Analytics, Marketing Analytics, Operations Analytics and Social Media and Customer Experience Analytics.
AIM: What are the next steps/ road ahead for analytics at your organizations?
AM: Last year we have acquired some Global brands as our clients. Our roadmap is to aggressively pursue global markets like US, Europe and Middle East apart from India. We see expanding and evolving analytics market.
Today’s companies process more than 60 petabytes of information annually, about 1000 times more than a decade ago. In this era of big data, the real concern is not that organizations are constantly acquiring large volumes of data. Finding value from this amassed data is what matters. Data analytics market is therefore poised for tremendous growth in coming years and Ananto is poised to make its presence felt in the market.
AIM: What are a few things that organizations should be doing with their analytics efforts that most don’t do today?
We at Ananto, constantly educate benefit of using analytic services. We have been able to significantly reduce cost of running analytics projects, we have a ready to go framework to setup “Center of Analytics Excellence” (CoAE) within our customers. All this at a very low cost yet providing for the width and depth of capabilities desired by business leaders.
It would make industry to grow manifold if business leaders start worrying about little use of analytics in day-to-day decisions and not worry about the quantity and quality of data available. We have been able to reduce costs to level of less than salary of an analytics department, making CoAE as well analytics projects easy to implement.
AIM: What are the most significant challenges you face being in the forefront of analytics space?
AM: We anticipate challenges at multiple fronts as we focus on providing actionable insights and knowledge in solving challenging business issues. The fundamental challenge is who will drive analytics initiatives in the organization. There has to be strong guidance from CEO and COO and the CMO and CIO can take the lead in operationalizing these analytics driven organization.
The other challenges do exist in terms of quality of data and existence of data in silos. It will be extremely important to leverage and judiciously select social media data and external data or the open data in the ecosystem. While the data exists and stored in silos, the key challenge is to integrate this data.
AIM: How did you start your career in analytics?
AM: In my last assignment at Aegis as the Global Chief Marketing Officer, I led various marketing programs, focused on presence, intelligence and recognition marketing. Having some global fortune companies as customers, I became increasingly clear about the need for insightful information. I setup up Aegis Innovation lab to develop new data analytics driven solutions and markets, and that’s where I was fascinated by power of analytics and data driven marketing strategies. It was just a matter of time and calling that I along with Aparup Sengupta (ex Global CEO of Aegis) started this venture.
AM: The most critical part of data analytics is that it requires the right set of people along with data analytics tools and framework to find better answers and transform the organization. It is estimated that there will be a significant shortfall of Data Analysts and Scientists in coming years. India with its talent pool is poised to cater to this burgeoning demand.
AIM: What kind of knowledge worker do you recruit and what is the selection methodology? What skill sets do you look at while recruiting in analytics?
AM: Ananto recruits professionals for various levels of roles and responsibilities however in all hires, I believe attitude takes precedence over aptitude. Having elements of inherent curiosity coupled with problem solving skills are some basic ingredients. We recruit Vertical Domain Experts, Business Consultants, Business Development Professionals, Data Scientists, Analysts and Modelers.
AM: Analytics market is on the throes of technology advancements. While this is good thing, in near to medium term it tends to confuse the buyers. Add to that the complexity of business user and technology buyer having to come together for crafting right solution for the organization. Increase in use of unstructured data, availability of cloud based solutions and need to have mobility solutions makes it a much more difficult to decipher a right fit solution for an organization. Buyers tend to make their task easier by going to known brands as was true in computing space many years back. Large brands in the space are making the most of it with high margin, low risk scope of works knocking on their door everyday. Demand is so high that hiring of talent becomes a costly affair.
Emerging from this are companies like us who are more specialized, rely on built models and deliver outcomes. Ananto has focused on consumer analytics, creating solutions that integrate variety of data sources including those of contact centers, social media, other public databases and market studies. This makes for far more compelling insight than delivered by many who tend to work on only internal available datasets.