Interview of the week: Manish Choudhary, Pitney Bowes – “All startups need to continuously innovate to stay in the running”

manish-choudhary_high-resPitney Bowes has long been providing industry leading solutions in technology areas such as location intelligence, customer information management and cross-border commerce. With the announcement of Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud earlier this year, it ventured out in cloud platform that provides access to solutions, analytics and APIs. With this launch, Pitney Bowes has expanded their market opportunity to a 40 Billion Digital Commerce and Shipping market.

What is worth noting is that Pitney Bowes has more than 1.5 million clients in approximately 100 countries that rely on their products, solutions and services.

Awarded by Forbes as the Best Large Employers in the US and Top 10 IT employers in India, Pitney Bowes has much more to offer to the analytics community. Its Accelerator Program is a testimony of how PB is continuously investing in innovation, people and technology. By offering opportunities, connections and collaborative knowledge, the program aims to support start-ups to build strong foundations to grow and scale.  

In a candid chat with Analytics India Magazine, Manish Choudhary, SVP, Global Innovation and MD, India, Pitney Bowes spoke about the company’s contribution to Analytics Industries, it’s newly launched accelerator programme, challenges faced by startups in this space and much more.

[dropcap size=”2″]AIM[/dropcap]Analytics India Magazine: Could you throw an insight on how Pitney Bowes is contributing to the Analytics Industry?

[dropcap size=”2″]MC[/dropcap]Manish  Choudhary: Pitney Bowes offers unique solutions by embedding location technology with big data solutions to enable customers to quickly visualize patterns and relationships, ease decision making, and generate richer insights and a faster ROI.[pullquote]Our product portfolio is well-positioned to leverage the growing volumes of contextual mobile and IoT data. We also offer a variety of industry-specific, demographic, and firmographic, data products for further data enrichment.[/pullquote]

  • Location Analytics: As a leader in Geospatial Analytics Tools and Platforms, Pitney Bowes has built core capabilities around location analytics that help see patterns and trends more easily with detailed maps and graphics to visualise business opportunities. Location Intelligence for Big Data makes vast quantities of data consumable using GeoEnrichment and location analytics. It gives capabilities to run spatial operations within a native environment, and then visualize relationships in a spatial context to improve analysis and decision making.  Our Spectrum Technology Platform is the foundation of Pitney Bowes’ Identify and Locate solutions, which help organizations identify customers and locate opportunities to enable commerce across the full commerce continuum with speed and agility. Spectrum Spatial Analyst empowers analyst and executives to glean spatial insights. We offer 350+ datasets that can be used to add spatial context.
  • Customer Analytics: We offer solutions that combine real-time predictive customer analytics with multi-channel customer communication platforms. The solutions help enhance customer acquisition and increase speed of customer on boarding. In 2016, Pitney Bowes was recognized as a leader in Forrester Wave Customer Analytics solutions.


AIM: What does this Accelerator program offer to the start-ups venturing out in Analytics domain? Could you highlight the various facilities and support that PB provides?

MC: Pitney Bowes has a wide range of products which support our clients with cutting edge analytics and decision-making tools. These products include a host of capabilities across upselling, cross-selling, customer profiling, segmentation and recommendation, market basket analysis, customer churn predictions, omnichannel communication management to name a few.

All the startups in our current batch have access to these world-class capabilities which they can leverage in their products and solutions. Also, our team of Pitney Bowes experts works with them to define custom flows and help them address predictive analytics needs for their customers. In the process of mentoring them, we also equip them with capabilities which we have built over last two decades and enable them to support clients across a variety of industries as well as help them deliver solutions at scale.


AIM: What are the kind of start-ups in analytics and big data industry that Pitney Bowes look out for extending its support? What upper edge do these start-ups you support have over others?

MC: Pitney Bowes has been investing heavily internally on building analytics and big data capabilities for last two decades. Hence during the startup selection process, we evaluate how our capabilities will be of value to the start-ups and we try to maximize the support we can offer them.

With the recent launch of Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud, we are offering our core competencies on cloud to the startup and developer ecosystem. We look forward to innovating with start-ups that work in some of the fastest growing opportunities in the marketplace today, and align well with Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud.

We look for start-ups that are disrupting the Big Data and Analytics space either by working on new frontiers of technologies or by venturing into unexplored and high potential business use cases. Another important parameter considered during the Accelerator selection is a basic market validation, which is demonstrated in the form of few paying customers or servicing a respectable size of the user base.

[quote]We evaluate the technology prowess of the team as well as the potential in the market/ use cases being targeted. We look for those bright spots which currently are at their infancy and would be significantly large businesses if provided very specialized mentoring and access to capabilities that their product deserves.[/quote]


AIM: Do you also provide a monetary support/ funding to these start-ups?

MC: Currently, we do not provide funding for the start-ups. We provide our technologies and mentorship with leading engineering and innovation experts for technical and business guidance. They are also provided with opportunities to network with prospective investors. The start-ups leverage our facilities in Pune or Noida for incubation as well.


AIM: How can the quality of startups that are nesting out in India be improved upon?

MC: Everything plays a role. Government policies, corporate and academic accelerators, guidance and mentorship by industries and successful entrepreneurs – all of these factors can make a difference to the quality of the start-up ecosystem in India.

India is a hotbed for start-ups, with the third largest base of start-ups in the world. And we aim to empower even more start-ups, with the technologies, skills and resources to improve their momentum and helping them achieve sustainable scale


AIM: What are the biggest challenges that these start-ups face while stepping a foot in this industry?

MC: Not very long ago Analytics and Big Data were niche subjects. Today, they are the core of any business. Here are some of the challenges facing start-ups in this industry:

  • Need gap fit: Besides making a product that looks good and works well, it’s important for it to be good fit for the industry and meet the need of the customer. The product or tool should be able to work well with the existing enterprise architecture, other data integration tools and still fit the company’s requirement. A lot of testing and work needs to be done before deploying the product to customers and even then, it’s possible that the on-ground reality is very different from what one was expecting.  
  • Innovation: There is absolutely no time to sit around. All start-ups in this space need to continuously innovate to stay in the running. One of the biggest challenges that start-ups face today is the increasing number of Big Data analytical tools and technologies that are in the market at affordable prices. It’s hard to keep the balance between quality and prices and start-ups face continuous price pressures in this space.
  • Talent: Finding and retaining talent with the right skillset and the motivations and passion for the work being done is always a challenge. This is magnified when you’re a start-up. This challenge is often exaggerated due to lack of funds and many start-ups end up hiring the wrong people in order to save costs.


AIM: Do you have any tips for the analytics startups in India?

MC: Based on our experience in the domain and the challenges we have encountered over the years, for any Analytics start-up it is critical to address the following:

  • Be clear about the business case you are focused on i.e. deep understanding of the questions you need to answer for your clients
  • Know your data and its potential i.e. quality, comprehensiveness
  • How can you fill the gaps in the data you handle i.e. enrich to greatest possible degree
  • Build or get access to the right set of tools

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