Gramener, a data visualization startup, is helping GVK Biosciences turn scientific data into images, based on cognitive research tools that help human eye find important messages quickly resulting in actionable decisions. “Gramener’s visualization tools and algorithms are very useful in our drug repurposing analytics work,” says Nandu Gattu, vice-president of GVK Biosciences. “Visualization tools are helping to explore the unexplored.”
Experts like Sharad Sharma, co-founder of software product think tank iSpirt, said he is seeing a big shift where businesses are moving away from traditional players. Instead, they are trying out data analytics startups to mine hidden insights. “This is democratizing the power of big data,” said Sharma. “This shift is creating a disruption by limiting the market opportunity of traditional data analytics players.”
For instance, when Indian consumer electronics retail chain Croma went online to tap India’s booming ecommerce, it explored many of the traditional recommendation companies in the space. It found them basing their analysis on a history of customer clicks and purchase history .
“We were dealing with the problem of plenty. New products weren’t getting the proper attention unless we manually promoted them,” says Ajit Joshi, CEO at Tata Sons-owned subsidiary Infiniti Retail, which owns the Croma brand.
It is then that Croma approached analystics startup Infinite Analytics whose recommendation engine got implemented in a month and delivered immediate results. Post Diwali, one-fourth of the online revenues came because of this technology. “These are really powerful insights,” said Joshi of Infiniti Retail whose orders with recommendations have accounted for about one-third of overall orders.
“We are taking away the business from large traditional players,” said Akash Bhatia, who co-founded Infinite Analytics two years ago along with his classmate at MIT, Purushotham Botla.
Bhatia and Botla converted a classroom project at MIT into a big data technology startup after being mentored by the World Wide Web inventor Tim BernersLee. It has bagged clients like Future Group, publisher of women’s fiction Harlequin and online retailer Trendin.com, part of Indian multinational Aditya Birla Group.
Startups like Xurmo Technologies — founded by IIT Madras alumnus Sridhar Gopalakrishnan — is helping US-based Fishbowl, which provides analytics solutions for restaurant chains, to reduce product development time. The platform helps Fishbowl learn the behavioural habits of customers at restaurants and predict insights like where the chain should open their next store. “Xurmo’s ability to manage big data and library of machine learning algorithms lets us focus on rapidly building and deploying analytics apps for our customers,” says Dev Ganesan, CEO of Fishbowl.
Another young firm, iCreate, is providing real-time business intelligence and analytics to multinational banks like Bank of America and The Saudi Investment Bank.
The growth of these young firms is pushing traditional tech players to start engaging with these startups as new big data innovations become strategic for their clients.
IBM is partnering with 100 startups across India as it looks to tap innovations in areas like big data analytics. “We have realized that we cannot solve these problems by ourselves. It is about coming out with innovative technologies very quickly and you can’t take your own sweet time,” says Karthik Padmanabhan, ecosystem development leader for IBM in India & South Asia.
For example, Big Blue is now partnering with the Thiruvananthapuram-based startup Senzit that uses data analytics to speed up the criminal justice system by capturing and archiving live events from crime scenes. It is also is working with Algo Engines, which brings efficiency in wind turbines and solar plants for GE and Suzlon by analyzing sensor data.
“We are witnessing another wave in the big data industry led by these Indian startups. They have developed self-customizable decision tools. You can use them anywhere, whether you are in Bellary or Belgium,” says Sharma of iSpirt. “The era of bespoke decision systems is over,” he pointed out.