Interview: Indian Data Analytics & the Consumer Explosion

Kathryn Cave catches up with Venkat Viswanathan, CEO and co-Founder of LatentView, to talk about the Indian economy and data analytics.

With a population of 1.2 billion rapidly moving online and beginning to take advantage of data driven services, India could be at the crest of one of the biggest global data explosions.  Kathryn Cave catches up with Venkat Viswanathan, CEO and co-Founder of LatentView, a data analytics company that has won the Deloitte Fast 50 India awards for four consecutive years, to talk about the Indian economy and data analytics.  

The world is under big data siege. North America is already in the grip of the deluge and McKinsey estimates that the US (alone) will experience a shortage of almost 1.5 million big data professionals by 2018.  “Those types of jobs can only be filled by economies like India,” says Venkat Viswanathan, CEO and co-Founder of LatentView. “[This is a country which] continue[s] to produce large numbers of educated people who can potentially be groomed into these particular talent gaps.”

LatentView began in 2006 to serve the then need for data analysis. “Today things have changed,” says Viswanathan. “There is so much hype around big data and data collection processes that everyone wants to have a share of the pie. Every player is looking at analytics as a potential growth area.”

The desire to analyse data is at its highest in developed markets due to the sheer volume of data in these regions.  Forrester Research, “Big Data Adoption Trends in Asia Pacific: 2013 To 2014,” shows that India currently ties with China as the largest big data adoption leader within the East. This is based on findings that demonstrate that 21% of those surveyed (in each market) have already implemented big data. However, this is nothing compared to the insight from Transparency Market Research which reveals North American technology vendors currently hold 54% of the market. 

Yet markets in the East do look set to explode. The vast Indian population is gradually moving online and starting to build its own gargantuan data footprint.  “The majority of our clients are in North America, around 80-85%, but we do have Indian clients,” Viswanathan tells me. These tend to fall into two categories. The first of these are multi-nationals with operations in India.  “From an organisation structure and data driven culture they are fairly well evolved. Maybe their head office is driving some of their best practices to make it more data driven?”

The second segment is emerging Indian companies. “These are home grown and as they scale their businesses they’re finding that they need to mature their processes. They are very global in their thinking and they have the resources and ability to invest in platforms which allows them to use data as a competitive edge. Our life insurance companies are a good example of this. [Some of these] are adding hundreds of millions of consumers into their businesses and are leapfrogging the technology. [This means without any legacy issues they] are investing in the latest technology [first]. This allows them to start looking at opportunities to apply areas like analytics.” 

It is hard to ignore this type of potential and Viswanathan stresses: “The size of India’s consumer segment means organisations are looking [to it] as a significant market they can serve. It has rising income levels, increasingly ambitious people [and] there is always a need for consumer goods.”

Like the majority of people I have spoken to on the ground, Viswanathan is very positive about India’s future.  “Overall I’m very optimistic about India’s economy in the long term. But in the really short term, maybe six months to a year, we still have some hurdles to clear before things turn around again. Businesses which have a strong external orientation like ours don’t find India and the government limiting in any significant way,” he concludes. “We’re limited in achieving results only by the efforts we are putting in and we are very optimistic about where we can potentially take our business.”


Kathryn Cave is Editor at IDG Connect