Venkat Viswanathan is the founder and chief executive officer of LatentView Analytics, a predictive analytics and enterprise decision management services firm based in Princeton, New Jersey. He holds a degree in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. In this interview, Venkat talks about the role of LatentView in big data and about future trends in the industry from the perspective of India.
Sramana Mitra: Venkat, let’s start with some context about both you and LatentView, so that our readers understand where you are coming from – we want to know more about your perspective as what LatentView’s core competency is.
Venkat Viswanathan: Maybe I should start with myself and then move on to the company. My name is Venkat Viswanathan, and I am the founder and CEO of LatentView. I have about 15 years of experience working with leading multinational companies and leveraging the India-based sales delivery model. From a career perspective, I arrived on the scene just as the offshore sector which uses the India-based delivery model was facing its first challenge to go beyond the year 2001. A lot of my time was spent around helping partners to develop teams. We were trying to figure out how to adopt the opportunity to Internet-based solutions. This is what we did in the late 1990s, just before the year 2000.
The next seven to eight years I spent working primarily in London, Europe, and also part of the time in India. I was working with a few large multinational companies, looking to figure out how to work with India. These were early days in the offshoring sector in comparison to how mainstream, well established, and developed it is today. We needed to do a lot of legwork to allay people’s concerns and their level of comfort with [sending] things offshore, as well as address understanding of the cultural differences and political issues around job creation and job growth. This became an important issue as the sector grew. As for me, I was trying to make a career as a credit analyst. I went to IIT Madras and IIM Calcutta, and I started making a career in credit analysis, which was a fantastic experience. I worked on a lot of numbers, and I worked in senior leadership in multiple companies.
This was a great exposure to how businesses are run. But once the Internet revolution started taking over, I navigated toward that and joined Cognizant. In 2005 I left Cognizant with the intent of starting a company. This was a personal mission I had, given all the advantages I had gotten from my education. I wanted to make sure to give back in a way that gave me a lot of satisfaction in terms of job creation as well as potential wealth creation. This is the broad outline of what I wanted to do; I didn’t have a specific segment in mind when I stepped out. But as I started evaluating business ideas, data analytics really stuck in my head. It seemed to bring together a lot of personal interests: numbers, analysis, and building a storyboard around all the numbers that you could see.
From an opportunity perspective, I could see from my offshoring background that in the next wave, we were going to become increasingly specialized and that companies were looking for more value from the partners they worked with. That is the general idea I spent time developing. In the last six years, this is what I have been working on with my team and all our clients to help us grow.