Zivanta Analytics: Combining Analytics & Business Strategy as Differentiator

Sudipto Sengupta (Zivanta Analytics) -Interview with Fusion Analytics World

In a conversation Mr. Sudipto Sengupta, Country Head and Director, Zivanta Analytics divulged Fusion Analytics World how analytics which till now was influencing the business bottom line will in future influence how humans live on earth. As the country head, he provides leadership to the India operations and is responsible for project delivery, client interface and design of analytics solutions.

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am one of the Directors at Zivanta Analytics. Zivanta Analytics started as a project to provide financial data analysis service to financial institutions in the United States. As demand rose the initiative was given a formal structure and Zivanta Analytics was registered as a company in 2014. I have a Masters Degree in Planning from Virginia Tech University in the US.

I have worked in a number of consulting firms in Government consulting practice. Have provided advisory and implementation support to a number of large development projects (funded by ADB/World bank/DFID) in Government of India and State Governments. I have also worked in consulting assignments in Ghana and Nepal. All my assignments had a significant component pertaining to  handling and implementation of large data sets for drawing inference for policy. I have always enjoyed the connect between data and field level strategy and implementation and this brought me to Zivanta Analytics. Being part of the mainstream data science world is thrilling and challenging.

  • Year of Establishment : 2014
  • India Headcount : 13
  • Verticals served: Finance and Social Sector
  • Tools & Software’s used for data analytics services: Statistics : R and PSPP. Web: PHP, Java Script, Python. Data Base: MongoDB

What is your opinion on how analytics is having an impact on the way businesses work?

We at Zivanta Analytics feel strongly about leveraging analytics for the development sector. Government which is the largest player in the development sector largely takes decision (at least at the grass root level) based on precedence and perception. However things are changing in the government with big data seeing entry primarily in the taxation sector. We feel that soon the power of analytic will be leveraged in other sectors like drinking water, education, health, nutrition, social justice etc. It will depend on the analytics community to provide useful solutions for these domains. We foresee  that in next ten years a district collector will control all the welfare programs in the district using a dashboard at his office which will stream live data, audio and video coupled with a grievance redressal system. The algorithms will digest all this  data and provide actionable analytics.

​With new technological advances non traditional data like image, audio and video files stored in the deep recesses of a company data archives will become new source for information and provide competitive edge to business. Analytics companies who work in the area of computer vision, pattern recognition, and cognitive analytics will have a distinct advantage in the future at the analytics marketplace.

Artificial intelligence is the next sign post in the analytics journey. Capabilities like machine learning, Robotics process Automation, Bots etc will change the way businesses and society is organised. It has the potential for altering the human way of life. Analytics which till now was influencing the business bottom line will in future influence how humans live on earth. One has to have a look at the Google Alphabet innovations on the drawing board to understand how AI will change paradigms.

How are businesses making use of analytics? How Zivanta is adding value to them?

Data immensely helps in informed decision making and much has been talked about it. However data and analytics has to be followed up with strategy and implementation discipline. Companies which focus on merely data and IT and not have the gumption to act on the inferences fail to leverage the potential of Analytics. Those companies which focus on the entire analytics value chain gain enormously.

Zivanta Analytics works on a number of verticals and help our clients leverage the power of analytics. We help financial services companies especially in pricing their products using data from competition analytics.  Also we help corporate CSR programs use data to better focus their interventions so that their development initiatives reach the last mile. At Zivanta Analytics, we do not just crunch numbers and present the statistics; we also sit with our clients to help devise strategy based on what the numbers speak. We operate in a niche domain and work with CEOs and Department heads directly on a one to one basis.

Our analysts are in a number of internal committees of our corporate clients. This means not only knowledge of Statistics and IT but also domain knowledge of the client’s business. This is a big differentiator for us as well a challenge to keep our knowledge base topped up to meet the demands. Also we find that transforming the data speak onto plain English language is one skill which the client’s needs and appreciate and we are increasingly called upon to help do that.

How difficult it is to convince clients about the benefits of undertaking your data analytics services OR do you feel they have a fair understanding about the value?

The biggest difficulty is to convince clients when to run with numbers and when to run with guts. Most of the clients in India are conditioned to work with perceptions, precedence and experience. Data is seen as something esoteric, and a fad. It does take lots of convincing especially to the SME segment clients that data is a good investment and makes business sense. Larger corporate clients are versed with the use of data and its benefits. However the connect between data and the imperative to act on what the data throws up sometimes becomes a bottle neck.

Another difficulty is to convince clients to go beyond the descriptive statistics (e.g. average revenue per employee or average order size etc) onto more powerful tools like predictive analytics.

However increasingly the clients have begun to appreciate how data analytics can help.

What is the USP of Zivanta and how does your engagement model differ from your competitors? Please give a brief about your consulting and technology areas?

As I mentioned earlier, we go beyond presenting data and inferences. We sit with clients to help devise strategy and in some cases also help in monitoring the implementation of decisions which were taken on the basis of the analytics we provided. Our  service combines Analytics and business strategy and is a differentiator for us. That we are able to gain the trust of our clients for the long haul is something we pride ourselves in.

Can you give an insight into your client list by verticals, geography, revenue size and the kind of projects that you typically engage with? Are they one off engagement or ongoing engagements?

Geographically our clients are in US and India. While for US clients the engagement is more with data and inferences, for clients in India, the engagement also in most cases includes strategy and monitoring.

If you elaborate with few case studies how you have helped your clients through your offerings?

For CSR of a large corporate we helped devise a social audit mechanism which relies on a set of indicators and a ranking mechanism. We also advised on data collection mechanism, data cleaning and dashboards to help data stream in for key indicators. The reach of the CSR program in terms of leverage and reach of the benefits to the most vulnerable has considerably increased.  For a SME we were able to use the sales analytics inferences  to help streamline their marketing function and also convince them to start a e-commerce initiative for their product. This is proving to be a winner in terms of realization and national market reach.

What challenges/hurdles faced by Zivanta team till now and how they overcome them successfully and the lessons learnt.

The biggest challenge for a small niche firm is to keep pace with the technology changes. We have set aside time for our employees during work hours to upgrade their skill and knowledge. Sharing of knowledge and documentation of lessons learnt from our projects is highly encouraged.  Zivanta Analytics recently collaborated with the Analytics Society at IIT Kharagpur for an Analytics competition by providing live cases for the students to solve. The innovative approach and fresh thinking which the students brought was learning experience for us as well. Such engagements  help us with fresh ways to think.

Secondly getting the right talent in terms of human resource has remained a challenge and substantial training effort has to be done in house training of the new hires.

Thirdly business acquisition in the sector takes a long time to fructify and mostly is by word of mouth and reputational equity. Since we are a young firm, it will take some time for Zivanta Analytics to be widely known. Our clients are doing their bit in spreading the word around. We are lucky to have a strong pipeline of projects.

How your company is scaling up and what its future goals is and if you would like to share anything else which can inspire our readers then please do it.

We do look to scale up in the coming years and mainstream in our offerings to our clients the emerging technologies. This would require investment in technologies, and manpower which we hope to gradually scale up.

How do you source talent for your India office and what kind of expertise do you look for. What are the vacant positions available currently? 

Our hiring is contingent on the projects at hand and the skill sets required to execute the same. Our core team is largely in place for the time being. However looking into the future we expect new positions to come up. Best way is to keep an eye on our website where we advertise the open positions or consultant requirements.

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Kalyan Banga203 Posts

I am Kalyan Banga, a Post Graduate in Business Analytics from Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta, a premier management institute, ranked best B-School in Asia in FT Masters management global rankings. I have spent 6 years in field of Analytics.

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