Infosys, TCS, IBM facing the heat from startups

BENGALURU: A clutch of technology startups is heating up competition for established players like Infosys, TCS, IBM and Mu Sigma in the data analytics market, using cutting-edge technology to wean away big customers in the healthcare, retail and banking sectors.This shift in the data analytics market is being propelled by innovations that make scientific discoveries possible, predict customer purchase behavior and help fight financial crime.

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.”

In Bengaluru, Interpretomics is helping India’s largest biotechnology company, Biocon, to mine hidden insights from troves of genetic data to develop the next generation pharmaceutical ingredients.

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, 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.



Data scientist among the sexiest jobs of the century

NEW DELHI: The title has been around for less than a decade, but already ‘data scientist’ is considered to be among the sexiest jobs of the 21st century. In India it is no different.

Data scientists — the term was coined in 2008 by DJ Patil and Jeff Hammerbacher — are a rare species being chased by startups and big technology companies alike for their ability to make sense of large and complex set of information. As a result, their salaries have shot through the roof and poaching is rampant. Take the case of S Anand, the chief data scientist at Hyderabad-based data visualisation and analytics company Gramener, for instance.

He was recently wooed by an ecommerce major with an offer that was hard to refuse. Luckily for his cofounder Naveen Gaddu, he was too passionate about their 50-people startup to leave. “At least one-two of my people get pinged on Linkedin every day on an average. Thankfully, they choose to stay,” said Gaddu, the chief operating officer at Gramener.

The sudden prominence for data scientists highlight how startups and established players now need to comb huge volumes of data for information that is key to the success of an idea or business. Salaries for chief data scientists with over 10 years of experience in mathematics and statistics are regularly touching the Rs 1 crore mark.

Mobile commerce player Paytm is hiring a team of eight data scientists in Canada, paying on an average $250,000 (Rs 1.5 crore) each. “The team will look at the large amount of data we have from different angles. For instance fraud detection, upselling and such,” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of One97 Communication which owns Paytm. “If a person paid Rs 60-70 lakh is offered Rs 1.2 crore, then no one in the marketplace will touch him for a while,” said Gattu, chief operating officer at Gramener. At least four senior industry professionals said Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon and Walmart were among the companies waving fat pay packets at top data scientists.

For ecommerce companies, data scientists who can help them make better sense of their customers needs have become a top priority. “Data is a large asset that is often not used to its full potential in most organisations. There is a huge amount of technology investments that we can make in this area,” said Amod Malviya, the chief technology officer of Flipkart.

The online retailer generates terabytes of data every day and is now building a data science lab that can help them sell better.

“The big technology trend is to make systems intelligent and data is the raw material,” said Malviya, who declined to share specific salaries being offered by Flipkart. A chief data scientist, with about 10-15 years of experience using mathematical and statistical tools, earns about Rs 50 lakh on average annually.


Start-ups: Delhi beats Bangalore in hiring; IT/Telecom-Software is most in-demand function

Neha Singh Verma, Bureau

Delhi NCR beat Bangalore in start-up hiring in the month of August. Delhi NCR bagged the highest share of e-commerce start-up jobs, more than the ‘Silicion Valley of India’. Mumbai bagged the third position. In Delhi NCR, after internet/e-commerce and IT start-ups, Travel/Tourism/Airlines/Hotel start-ups are ruling the roost.

According to Sunil Goel, managing director, Global Hunt, an executive search firm, Delhi NCR has become the hottest location for travel start-ups as it is already a hub for major players such as MakeMyTrip, Expedia and Yatra. “Travel start-ups are setting shop in the region owing to easy availability of resources trained in a similar industry.”

Talking about the e-commerce and technology/IT start-ups, Goel mentioned that in the NCR Gurgaon is emerging as a technology and IT hub and attracting entrepreneurs, especially techies from the three IITs situated in the northern region – Delhi, Roorkee and Kanpur, to set up shop here. “The proximity to venture capitalists companies is another added advantage.”

Of late, the success story of Indian start-ups such as Flipkart, Snapdeal, Zomato and the likes have revolutionised the job market. International giants such as Amazon have also set up shop in India owing to availability of talent and the start-up friendly Indian environment. E-commerce start-ups have made customers as well as employees, kings. According to RecruiteX (August 2014), the recruitment index, internet start-ups have posted a 25 per cent rise in jobs. data shows Amazon is the top hiring company among Indian start-ups currently. did a dipstick survey to decode the kind of job opportunities available in the Indian e-commerce start-ups space:

Hot Jobs – IT/Telecom-Software, HR/Training and Sales/Business Development

As per the data, IT/Telecom-Software is the most in-demand function in the Indian start-up industry. In this function, application programming, software engineers, graphic designers/animators/web designers and database administrators are the hottest profiles.

HR/PM/IR/Training function bagged the second highest share of jobs among start-ups. Recruiters and training/development professionals are on hiring radar for Indian start-ups. This clearly indicates start-ups are in an expansion mode and need more people to manage their manpower requirements.

The third most popular job function in start-ups is Sales/business development. Demand is high for telesales and relationship/account servicing professionals.

Start-ups hiring mid level talent

The good news for professionals with 2-5 years of experience is that Indian start-ups are actively looking from them. As per data, the share of jobs for 2-5 years experience is highest followed by candidates with 0-2 years of experience.

In fact, there are ample job opportunities available for professionals with 5-7 and 7-10 years experience as well. The trend clearly points that the Indian start-ups are not taking baby steps anymore and have the required money to sustain and hire experienced professionals.

Demand is also upbeat for IT/telecom-software, sales/business development professionals and marketing/MR/media planning professionals in the 2-5 years experience range.

The data shows the top management level (10-15 years experience), data and web analytics is the hottest skill-set.


4 innovative use of technology

Cloud, Big Data, Analytics, Mobile and Social are used to help businesses address heightened consumer expectations for seamless, connected experiences. Below are four such innovations in different sectors:

Analytics for ATMs ATM analytics allows a bank to track its ATM network to help predict outages due to cash shortages or maintenance issues. Predictive analytics can help suggest cash refill and ATM maintenance strategy. Based on predictive model suggestion, it can point precise locations of ATMs, where action needs to happen. The technology helps in reducing reporting turnaround time and optimises ATM cash planning in the bank. Further it provides the ability to quickly determine and mediate machine outages.

Effective commodity trade forecasts using Big Data Based on Big Data and Analytics, another innovation is targeted at suppliers of commodities such as wheat and rice. Wheat is grown in Punjab, for example, and its yield is heavily dependent on weather. The ideal temperature for its growth is 25-35 degrees centigrade. However, if the temperature increases to around 40 degrees centigrade, then the yield is going to drop. Also, it needs to be stored in granaries, which needs to be at temperature of around 24 degrees centigrade. The crop also has a limited shelf life of a week. So, gap between demand and supply will lead to increase or decrease in wheat prices. By using Big Data this difference in demand-supply can be managed.

Emergency Help via Internet of Things and Remote Patient Monitoring Another new innovation is around the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology that can be used to help remotely monitor patients’ conditions. It help physicians and doctors to analyse the patients’ health status and provide medical consultation anywhere, anytime. The tool can also make use of data from diagnostic sensors, which are connected to a wearable device. Via the cloud, data from the wearable device connects with an application running on Bluemix, which analyses relevant health information and then informs the attendant and the doctor of any problems. This instrumented solution could be especially useful in urgent medical situations by connecting emergency vehicles with a Bluemix-based centralised traffic control, transmitting positioning data and enabling traffic control to clear the traffic for the vehicle.

Insights for Predictive Marketing Predictive marketing integrates social analytics and smarter commerce products to provide insights into personalised cross-channel marketing campaigns. The innovation can enable marketers to “pivot” from analysing anonymous social identities to reach real consumers with customised messages. Analysis of social media can provide an additional input in the creation of models that predict customer behavior. The outcomes can enable an organisation to interact with them in a way to enhance experience across each touch point. As a result, the innovation can support businesses to leverage the relevant information from social media for productive decision making. They will be able to understand their differentiators and competitors vulnerabilities.


The $500 million acquisition announced on Tuesday initially will provide Google with the means to improve the quality and immediacy of the satellite imagery used in its digital maps.

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is buying Skybox Imaging in a deal that could serve as a launching pad for the Internet company to send its own fleet of satellites to take aerial pictures and provide online access to remote areas of the world.

The $500 million acquisition announced on Tuesday initially will provide Google with the means to improve the quality and immediacy of the satellite imagery used in its digital maps.

Google Inc. plans to use Skybox’s satellite already in orbit to supplement the material that it licenses from more than 1,000 sources, including other satellite companies such as DigitalGlobe and Astrium.

Eventually, though, Skybox could turn into another Google “moonshot” — a term that CEO Larry Page has embraced for describing ambitious projects that could take several years to materialize.

Google hopes to build more satellites that could be used to beam Internet access to points around the world. That would expand an effort that Google began a year ago when it unveiled “Project Loon” — a venture featuring jellyfish-shaped balloons equipped with antennas to bring the Internet to parts of the world without the proper wiring to get online.

As the owner of the world’s most popular search engine and email service, Google typically benefits when more people are on the Internet to see the ads that generate most of the company’s annual revenue of $55 billion. Page and other Google executives say they are primarily interested in getting more people on to the Internet to create a more egalitarian and knowledgeable society.

The expansion into satellites comes two months after Google bought drone maker Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed amount.

Google made about 250 acquisitions during the past decade, using many of them to expand into new markets, including maps and mobile devices.

To the frustration of some investors, Google also has been spending billions of dollars exploring new frontiers of technology, including driverless cars, Internet-connected headwear, robots and a startup called Calico striving to find ways to slow the aging process. Other investors have applauded Google for having the vision and audacity to make big bets on bold ideas that analysts say could hatch lucrative products in the rapidly changing technology industry.

Google’s most-widely traded class of stock dipped $2.43 on Tuesday to close at $568.30.

Skybox is a 5-year-old startup in Mountain View, California, located a mile-and-half from Google’s headquarters in the same Silicon Valley city. Led by aerospace industry veteran Tom Ingersoll, Skybox has been working on additional satellites that should be easier to complete with Google’s backing.

“The time is right to join a company who can challenge us to think even bigger and bolder, and who can support us in accelerating our ambitious vision,” Skybox said in a blog post. Skybox had previously raised about $91 million in venture capital. The company says it employs about 100 people.

Google is hoping to gain regulatory approval to take control of Skybox Imaging within the next few months. The deal needs approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as the Federal Communications Commission.


54% Of The Total Jobs In Data Analytics Will Be Created In India By 2015

With a lot of Indian companies building their data analytics team, requirement in the domestic market for this skill will increase over the next couple of years. “As long as outsourcing grows there will be an increased demand for data analytics professionals,” says Amit Khanna, lead, Data Analytics, KPMG. 

Industry experts believe that currently big data and analytics is one of the top three skills in demand in India. Organisations are looking at their internal set of data to understand the business better – as a result there will be an explosion of various job opportunities in this area.
According to Khanna, there are three different talent segments to target in big data and analytics; and requirement is set to increase for all three segments. Some of the requirements are for tech personnel, statistician, econometrician, data scientist, analytical consultant, functional consultant, etc. However, there is a short supply of data scientists, according to experts, followed by functional consultant.

Organisations are hiring big data specialists in various domainstelecom, retail, FMCG, Healthcare and IT among others. “In big data you will find financial services doing a lot of work along with e-commerce,” adds Khanna.

According to a study conducted by Infosys, retailers generate large volume of data across their supply chain and at various customer touch point across omni-channel operations. In addition, the digital customer and social media experience is feeding a massive data explosion. The analysis of this data makes for a sizeable opportunity for retailers. 

Industries in Utilities and Manufacturing will be the next set to invest in Big Datacurrently, they are sitting on the borderline as to whether to put money now or wait for some more time. 

Investment into big data will happen in both large and small companies wherever there is a pool of data. Companies are starting to look at big data as something more than a tool – something with the help of which they can build business and innovate. 

With more than 80,000 jobs estimated in big data, young professionals with data analytics skills will have something positive to look forward to. According to a study released by Accenture, approximately 54 per cent of the total jobs in data analytics will be created in India by 2015.

Businesses Need To Understand The True Potential Of Big Data

After cloud computing, the scope of big data and analytics is huge in India. According to a study, jointly conducted by NASSCOM and CRISIL, Big Data is poised to become a US$ 25 billion industry by 2015.This means that over the next two years companies will be extensively focusing on gathering data and analysing the same. They will also be looking at their workforce pipeline for smooth data implementation at different stages. While the process will be slow in India for some time, a lot of overseas IT services companies will be looking at India for outsourcing data and analytics work.

As a result, companies are taking immediate steps to identify big data talent. There’s a lot of scope for professionals across levels. According to Sridhar Throvagunta, global head – Test Advisory Services, Wipro, there will be exclusive requirements for freshers such as big data developers and big data engineers. These roles will be highly valuable for big data technology implementation, including data collection, integration and designing of big data architecture.

Mid-level professionals will also find roles like big data analysts, data mining experts or big data leads. “Most of the mid-level roles require candidates with 8-10 years of experience,” says Throvagunta.

According to, some of the popular roles in data analytics are big data analytics engineer, backend engineers, staff engineer, senior developer – big data, etc.

Amit Khanna, lead, Data Analytics, KPMG India, identifies some of the other roles across leading industries like IT/Telecom, Retail, Healthcare, etc.

In financial services – decision support people; decision support team who figure out credit risk, customer expansion, lending policies, fraud, etc.

E-commerce: Customer expansion or revenue increase, supply chain or logistics.

Healthcare: A lot is going to happen in terms of drug discovery, patient health, healthcare fraud, R&D – Big Data will help in decision support system in critical care.

Medical practitioners will get help from data scientists to figure out if R&D is happening the right way – example, finding out new molecules or new drugs or which drug to prescribe.

Telecom: Has huge potential in terms of using Big Data – one in terms of network alignment, second while using value added services. Telecom companies already have data architects and decision support team.

In order to identify specific roles, businesses first need to understand the potential of big data and analytics and how this can genuinely work towards business development. According to experts, this will happen only if big data is approached from a business perspective and not from a technology perspective.