Sramana Mitra: What format did that take in LatentView?
Venkat Viswanathan: Our vision was clear. We were looking to help companies uncover hidden insights in their own businesses. That is what LatentView primarily does. We have been lucky that the market has been evolving and maturing so much, providing us more and more with fertile ground. We took sudden turns and made changes, as any young company does, in navigating markets and opportunities. Today our business is primarily focused on developed markets. In fact, the United States is probably the number one market for us, accounting for more than 85 to 90 percent of our revenue. We are one of the fastest-growing analytic services companies that primarily helps large companies build dedicated analytics centers of excellence to deliver business insights. This is a big change in the way India has been leveraged by multinationals or for services needs in the last 25 years. As companies start figuring out what value they get from their relationships with their partners, they constantly evaluate and look for the next innovation and the next value unlocking step they could take.
Business insights have been a medium that has been under the radar of large companies in the last eight to ten years. And in the last two or three years, it has become more and more mainstream. That is the opportunity we are focused on and where we are helping very large companies look at the data they collect in-house as well as external data. In the in-house data you have structured and unstructured data, and in the external data you have social, mobile, and unstructured data, which is increasingly available. Companies can potentially meld [these] together to find insights, which gives them a competitive edge and helps them make better data-driven decisions for their business.
SM: Tell me a bit more about the kinds of data problems you are working on. Do you specialize in any type of data or analytics systems against which you provide services? How do you get to the next level of granularity?
VV: While we figure out the topic of analytics as a medium, we also need a kind of anchor or a champion within the organization, to which we can attach our business. I have seen this in my IT offshoring background as well as from the experience that many companies went through in developing large corporations from humble beginnings, which is to essentially focus their efforts on the CIO’s office. One of the things that we and a lot of other companies in this sector have done is to focus primarily on the CMO’s office. Our aim is to be the trusted partner of a Fortune 500 CMO. If you look at the CMO’s role in the last ten years, it has changed significantly. Consumers are migrating into digital, mobile, social, or multiple channels, which is different from how they used to engage in brands ten years ago. Back then, as long as you had a good TV commercial, you knew how to go about building a consumer brand. Today the media landscape has changed, and people’s behavioral patterns in terms of how much time they spend online have changed. So many challenges have been posed to marketing officers in terms of how to manage and build a brand that allows companies to compete. The common threat to all of this is measurement, analysis, and insight. These are the areas we kept our layers focused on. How do we help CMOs measure, analyze, and drive insights so that they can quantify to other senior management the impact that our marketing has?
The entire digital world – if you take the most recent innovations in Silicon Valley in the last 10 to 15 years, you take Google, Facebook, or Twitter – it is all about how to monetize the traffic that these companies get into marketing and advertising opportunities for brands. Google and Facebook are all about advertising and brands. Twitter is also getting there in terms of leads, advertising, and brands. These are now becoming multibillion dollar markets, all of which have been set up since the start with a digital measurement system that allows them to run experiments, where you can see if you spend two times the money, do you really get two times the business. Or, people ask, How do I quantifiably relate the input to the output? That is the idea we are focusing on.
CMOs tell us that there clearly is a talent gap. Traditional marketing organizations are not a bunch of quantifiers; they are primarily creative people. CMOs are realizing the need to diversify their talent and build teams of both analysts and creatives. They need help enhancing marketing spending effectiveness, they need help leveraging social media effectively, and they need to manage campaigns in a profitable manner, and they need to constantly increase “share of wallet” among their customers. These are the ideas we are focused on.