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Interview – Bhupendra Khanal, CEO and Co-Founder at Simplify360

Interview – Bhupendra Khanal, CEO and Co-Founder at Simplify360

Simplify360 is the leading Social Media Management Company. The company has physical presence in India and US, and have partners in APAC and Europe. The product is sold in over 100 countries directly or through partners.

Simplify360 is the fastest growing company in the industry and is invested by Amvensys Capital Group LLC, Atlanta, GA. The company is advised by renounced Analytics Professionals like James Taylor, Author of the book – Smart Enough Systems- and CEO of Decision Management Solutions, and Anunay Gupta, Ex-VP Analytics Citibank and COO for Marketelligent.

In an interview with CEO Bhupendra Khanal, we talk more about Simplify360.

[dropcap style=”1″ size=”2″]AIM[/dropcap]Analytics India Magazine: What are some of the main tenets (philosophies, goals, attributes) of analytics approach and policies at your organization?

[dropcap style=”1″ size=”2″]BK[/dropcap]Bhupendra Khanal: We live Analytics and are big believers of a data based decision-making approach to businesses. The gut is important but it is always good to have information to it back-up as data is the foundation on which we make judgments, decisions, and policy. We believe that decisions made on the basis of data, even if the data is incomplete or if the data has issues, are better on the long run than decisions made by uncalculated one. Moving swiftly is valued, only if decisions made through measurement, not indiscriminate guessing.

AIM: Please brief us about some business solutions you work on and how you derive value out of it.

BK: We have an analytical practice, contrary to the industry peers who run mostly run analytics models. This enables us to give our clients end to end solutions. We use business rules engine and analytics models for sentiment and demographics that builds segmented models and enables continuous performance monitoring. By following an analytical practice route we are able to initially customize the solution and then revisit the rules based on client requirement.

AIM: How does a typical requirement gathering to delivery cycle looks like for you?

BK: There is a dedicated analyst who does the preliminary work, prior to any analytics concept going into production. The analyst presents his work to the Analytics Work-Group (Analytics and Business Team). I myself take an active role in this meeting and we also have people from verticals such as marketing, technology and sales who join in. This helps us get a 360 perspective and thereby ensure that we have not left any corner unturned

The final requisite goes to the Research and Analytics Team, who work on models and upon approval from the quality assurance team and business teams, this goes into production.

AIM: Please brief us about the size of your analytics division and what is hierarchal alignment, both depth and breadth.

BK: Being a Product based company we follow a non linear employee model which enables us to keep smaller teams. Our Analytics team is divided into two – a team that builds models and does the performance testing from time to time, this team is led by the Product Research Head. The other team is the implementation team and is headed by the Chief Software Architect. This team works on implementing the Analytics Models. We currently have a 6 member Analytics team overall and plan to scale this to 25 over the next couple of years.

AIM: Would you like to share any example of an Insight that generated a huge positive impact for your clients?

BK: A matric that we had built to showcase the strength of Football fans threw some very interesting insights. Our forecast showed that, over the next 3 years India would have more football fans than in France. The response we received post sharing this with a few of our clients was overwhelming, as they had been completely unaware of the potential of the game in India. Three of the enterprises went ahead and invested in clubs.

AIM: What are the next steps/ road ahead for analytics at your organizations?

BK: We specialize in Analytics and that is our USP. We are building attribution models and second generation noise antibody, and moving towards simulation and recommendation engines. The research team is also working on analytics on unstructured data.

AIM: What are a few things that organizations should be doing with their analytics efforts that most don’t do today?

BK: Analytics shouldn’t be statistics driven; it has to be value driven. I see a lot of analysts spending lot of time on technical aspects of analytics and completely missing the business use cases. Despite analytic opportunities that are as close as the nearest data warehouse, the inability to understand how analytics can solve business challenges is the most daunting obstacle to adoption.

AIM: What are the most significant challenges you face being in the forefront of analytics space?

BK: Problem definition still seems to be a challenge and we need to think hard and start thinking of business problems followed by working back-wards to solve it through Analytics. India sadly has a significant number of analysts who are technically strong and can give solutions only if the problem is well defined. The need would be to fill the void of analysts who can think forward, define problems and come up with the architecture of the solution. The lack of analysts who can effectively characterize the problem is augmented by the need for the right infrastructure and mentors in India.

AIM: How did you start your career in analytics?

BK: It was quite incidental that I came into analytics. I had just completed my Engineering and was quite new to this industry and did not quite know how it worked. In fact I hardly had an idea as to what analyst did. I remember seeing a paper advertisement by a company looking for Business Analysts. I applied and got through it. My first role was to build predictive models and build marketing strategies for clients.

AIM: What do you suggest to new graduates aspiring to get into analytics space?

BK: A good analyst needs to have a sound understanding of the business environments and scenarios that he/she would be working in. As I mentioned before, this area is where most analysts in our country are lacking today. The Technical aspects can be instilled during the training period; however business uses are rarely trained. It can only come from business acumen and passion. I would recommend reading the business magazines and papers to gather this knowledge.

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[quote style=”1″]The easiest way to enter into the Analytics industry is to find people from the industry and approach them. Targeting the right people and reaching out to them would be the first analysis that one has to do to get the early entry.[/quote]

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?

BK: A good data analyst should be Methodical ie being systematic in your analysis approach and also be Capable of spotting patterns as spotting the data patterns takes a unique eye.  An efficient analyst would also be able to take all of the pieces of different data points, patterns, and themes and be able to compose them into a story.

In addition to this we also look at candidates with strong mathematical and analytics skills, having business acumen.

AIM: How do you see Analytics evolving today in the industry as a whole? What are the most important contemporary trends that you see emerging in the Analytics space across the globe?

BK: Analytics is going real time and big data is supporting it finely. This is going to rule the Analytics space for next 5 years.

AIM: Anything else you wish to add?

BK: India has good edge over other nations in terms of back-end Analytics resources; we need to quickly ramp up the value chain. Innovation needs to kick in and our offerings to the world need to be the outcome of analytics and not analytics itself.

[spoiler title=”Biography of Bhupendra Khanal” open=”0″ style=”2″]

Bhupendra is Chief Executive Officer of Simplify360 Inc., leading Social Media Management Company. Bhupendra started the company in Bangalore with his friends and has grown the company to become one of India’s finest Enterprise Tech Product Companies.

Simplify360 is now Head quartered in Delaware, United States and have branch office in Bangalore, India. The product is sold in over 100 countries directly or through partners.

Bhupendra has rich experience in Analytics field and calls himself a data person. Before starting Simplify360, Bhupendra started an Analytics Consulting Firm, Marketelligent as its founding member.

Earlier Bhupendra worked for Global Analytics and Fair Isaac (now FICO) as Analytics Consultant.

Bhupendra is a passionate blogger and maintains blog named “Business Analytics”. He has also co- authored the books “Demystifying Twitter Marketing” and “Predictive Analytics – The Future of Social Media”.

He is a poet, sports enthusiast and one of the most influential internet personalities from India.[/spoiler]

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