Analytics India Magazine: What are some of the main tenets (philosophies, goals, attributes) of analytics approach and policies at your organization?
- We help our clients solve their business challenges by providing technology enabled solutions powered by advanced analytics.
- We customize our products and solutions to deliver faster, actionable, results-oriented impact
- We take a collaborative approach with client stakeholders and provide flexibility to circle back and try different techniques or review different data streams to answer client questions
- We continuously measure the impact to ensure that the recommendations are relevant, effective and efficient in a changing business environment.
AIM: Please brief us about some business solutions you work on and how you derive value out of it.
AE: Our Management team has over 3 decades of experience in statistical modeling and advanced analytics across FMCG, Retail, Telecom and Travel & Hospitality domains across multiple geographies. Our core capabilities are in the area of marketing and customer analytics. Some of our key solutions include Marketing Spend Optimization, Shopper Marketing, Demand Forecasting and CRM analytics. We have developed client deployable applications for some of these solutions to aid planning and decision-making. In our experience, clients derive tremendous value when insights from complex statistical and econometric algorithms are supported by technology that enables activation of these insights.
AIM: How does a typical requirement gathering to delivery cycle look like for you?
AE: We start out with a detailed understanding of the business challenge. Once we have a clear understanding of client objectives, available data and output desired, we develop the solution framework with inputs, approach, sample outputs, timelines and cost. This process usually takes 2-4 weeks. We then engage with clients on key milestones viz. data review, insights and recommendations presentation and application deployment. Our typical delivery cycle is 6-12 weeks depending on the nature and scope of the business challenge.
AIM: Please brief us about the size of your analytics division and what is hierarchal alignment, both depth and breadth.
AE: We are currently a team of 8 associates but growing rapidly. We want to create a climate of entrepreneurship and so everyone gets exposure to client engagement and delivery. We encourage all associates to share their views on how to enhance project deliverables, the delivery process and roadmap for the future. We want our associates grow professionally by not only mastering the technical aspects of our solutions but also by acquiring business and domain understanding so that they look at challenges and insights we provide from a client perspective. We have been very fortunate to hire the right talent who are passionate and eager to contribute to the growth of our company.
AIM: Would you like to share any example of an Insight that generated a huge positive impact for your clients?
AE: We had delivered a marketing spend optimization solution to a US-based beer, wine and spirits manufacturer. They wanted to understand the efficiency of their marketing spends on a flagship brand. The objective behind the analysis was to decide if they should shift their marketing budget to Digital media from other traditional media i.e. TV, Print and Radio.
Using our proprietary algorithm, we calculated the return on investment for all their media vehicles and across all their marketing campaigns. We provided recommendations on how can they can optimize their media spend between digital and traditional media to maximize sales. Our recommendations resulted in an 8% increase in brand sales with a 6% decline in their marketing spend!
AIM: What are the next steps/ road ahead for analytics at your organizations?
AE: Our strategy for the first 2 years was to drive growth through analytics consulting. In parallel, we identified some key areas where we wanted to develop analytics products. While we will continue to engage with clients to provide analytics consulting services, our vision is to develop easy to use and deploy analytics products. We are currently developing a suite of “easy to use” products that will not only facilitate activation of insights but will also will enable business users to do advanced analytics in-house with minimal reliance on external vendors.
AIM: What are a few things that organizations should be doing with their analytics efforts that most don’t do today?
AE: Many organizations have not yet started investing in analytics although there is an abundance of data that suggests that analytics can drive tremendous efficiencies and provide a competitive edge. Several organizations do not invest in analytics because they feel they do not have perfect data. But data will never be perfect. It is essential that these organizations take the plunge and get at least some insights from the data that is available. Analytics engagements can help identify the data gaps and these organizations can then take measures to collect necessary data to plug the gaps.
On the other hand, there are organizations that are currently investing in analytics but are not activating the insights effectively because their workforce is not trained on how to deploy the insights. There is training gap that needs to be addressed. These organizations must also invest in tools and technology that will enable the activation of insights. Monitoring and measuring the impact of analytics insights in another area that must become a priority for both client and vendor organizations.
AIM: What are the most significant challenges you face being in the forefront of analytics space?
AE: We have a lot of ideas but since we are a start-up, we have to be very judicious about where we invest our time and money. Our two key priorities are product development and business development.
AIM: How did you start your career in analytics?
AE: I started at Symphony Marketing Solutions, which was later acquired by Genpact. Vijay started his analytics career at Novartis Pharmaceuticals. In 2012, we felt the time was right to venture out on our own and do something we were very passionate about and Analytic Edge was born.
AIM: What do you suggest to new graduates aspiring to get into analytics space?
AE: In my opinion, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential that the analytics industry will offer in the years to come. Graduates keen on getting into the analytics space must be proficient in statistics and data mining techniques but, more importantly, it is the ability to translate algorithms into business insights and effectively communicate these insights to Clients that will set them apart.
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?
AE: The key skills we look for are analytics aptitude and the right attitude. We expect the entry level candidates to have a basic understanding of statistics, working knowledge of one or more analytical tools and the ability to visualize data and make meaningful inferences.
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?
AE: We expect to see more and more mid-size and small-size companies invest in analytics with the increase in awareness of the value of data analytics. With the advent of cloud computing, data collection and storage is no longer an expensive proposition for these companies. The emerging trends in analytics will be in the area of automated and real-time analytics.
AIM: Anything else you wish to add?
AE: We have developed proprietary algorithms in the areas of attribution modeling and demand forecasting and plan to release the beta version of web based marketing analytics tool by June 2014. We are very passionate about combining each of these analytics solutions and technology to help organizations address their business challenges. We can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]
Dr. Santosh Nair
Santosh brings with him vast experience in advanced analytics and statistical modeling in a multi-disciplinary manner. In his tenure, he has developed various analytics solutions in his career providing deeper insights and saving costs for the end clients in the CPG, Retail, Pharmaceuticals, Telecom and Education verticals.
At GENPACT, he worked as an engagement leader for clients based out of the US, helped with pre-sales efforts and delivery of advanced analytical solutions in the areas of customer analytics, product development, automated pricing, marketing mix and simulation models.
Santosh has a Ph.D. in applied economics and statistics from Clemson University in the US. He can be reached at [email protected]
Vijay has a strong background in clinical trials research, strategic pricing & promotion analysis, customer analytics and marketing mix modeling using SAS, R and automated analytics platforms. He is also a content developer and visiting faculty at Jigsaw academy.
His past experience includes Novartis pharmaceuticals, GENPACT SMS and IBM Demand Tec. In his tenure, he has lead the off-shore analytics solution delivery for clients like PepsiCo and Coke International and has a record of recruiting, training and transitioning on-shore work in a quarter.
Vijay has a post graduate degree in statistics from University of Mumbai and an executive MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur. He can be reached at [email protected]