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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Sid Banerjee, CEO of Clarabridge (Part 5)

Posted on Sunday, Jul 7th 2013

Sramana Mitra: Given where you sit and the kinds of customers you work with, if you were to step up from your micro viewpoint and look at the macro picture, where are the open problems? What kind of areas do you recommend entrepreneurs to look at?

Sid Banerjee: We see customers continuing to look at more and more volumes of data around customer interactions. We have moved from a world of primarily analogue interactions – people talking to people and sending traditional mails or making phone calls – to a highly digitized mode of interaction. Everything is happening a lot more online and with more social interaction and interaction through non-traditional media.

That is only going to mean that a system like ours will continue to have scale for big data volumes. Our data growth across the customers we sell to has been geometric for the last few years. Each year we have to look out and make sure how we architect for the next two years. There is a technology opportunity but also a business application opportunity, because the more data that comes in, the more you can do with it. But you also need to have the right architecture. That is more of an infrastructure opportunity.

From an application opportunity point of view, our journey in the first years of Clarabridge has been collecting the data and serving up analytics applications on that data, asking ourselves, “What more can we do with this data?” What we can do is use it to recommend, and to pinpoint conversations, customer interactions and engagements that we need to have. There are opportunities to use customer feedback and analytics to drive more real-time and automated customer response, problem resolution, and potentially customer marketing applications. We are not primarily selling a marketing solution, but a customer experience management solution that helps keep customers happy. You can use the same technology and apply it to marketing – providing a service to a customer or predicting what a customer might want to buy.

SM: That is different heuristics, but the same data looked at differently, analyzed with different heuristics – additional applications on top of the same data.

SB: Absolutely. That is an interesting use case. This is something we are already addressing and will continue to address. If you look at the market we play in, it is primarily a market that has grown and evolved quickly in the U.S. but is also quickly evolving internationally. We are seeing a very big interest in Clarabridge in the European market. We opened an office in London a few years ago, and we are pulling into mainland Europe right now. Asia is also an emerging market for this kind of thing. I think there is an opportunity for companies to replicate what is working well in the U.S. for Europe, Asia, or the rest of the world. The interesting thing about the digitization of customer experiences is that it is occurring in other markets much faster than here in the U.S.

SM: The subtlety in that is that a lot of this data is in different languages and the heuristics of those languages need to be tackled also for those markets. Are you capable of handling different languages today?

SB: In the very early days of the company we tackled English, because that was the language of the market we were in. Three or four years ago we abstracted the way we do analytics from the way we process language, so we can create additional language modules and insert them into the product stack. We have done that for 10 or more languages and will continue to add languages as we go forward. Language is different – how it is modified, how it is negated, grammar use, etc. Syntax and colloquialisms you don’t want to just leave up to chance. It is worth being sure that you adapt that to the language being used.

SM: Thanks a lot for sharing your story. Take care.

SB: You, too. Goodbye.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Sid Banerjee, CEO of Clarabridge
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