Indian trio launches AbsolutData, providing research solutions to businesses

Brought together in 2000 through that ancient social networking platform called human relationships; Suhale Kapoor, Sudeshna Dutta and Anil Kaul were introduced to each other through common friends. One thing led to another and the trio discovered a shiny opportunity lying amid the dot com wreckage. Though the bust had left a trail of shattered dreams in its wake, it also created room for new ones, including AbsolutData.

In 2001, after deciding e-commerce was not in their best interest, Kapoor, Dutta and Kaul discovered that market analytics was a more lucrative option and founded their company, AbsolutData. The company is based in the San Francisco Bay area of Alameda, California and has offices throughout the U.S. as well as offices in London, Dubai, Singapore and a delivery centre in New Delhi, India.

AbsolutData provides analytics and research solutions to businesses wanting to maximize their ROI from marketing expenditures. The company specializes in big data, high end business analytics, predictive modelling, reporting, social media analytics and data management services. The clients can use these services to evaluate and recalibrate their marketing strategies, enhance customer relationships, and broaden their overall understanding of markets. In short, they convert tons of information into an asset which can sharpen a client’s competitive edge. The Indian marketing analytics industry expected to grow at a CAGR of 25 per cent to $1.2 billion by 2020, according to Nasscom.

It’s no mystery where the data comes from. In this age of hi-tech gadgetry, consumers have no privacy; surveillance is ubiquitous and paper trails are endless. Cell phone activity, internet surfing, credit card payments, banking transactions, medical treatment, travel and hotel stays leave digital footprints all over the place. Add to that the tedious and arbitrary regulations forcing customers to submit reams of documentation- in triplicate at the customer’s expense- just to avail very basic services. Those regulations do little to protect the customer’s privacy; and with a little data analysis companies can discover nearly anything about anyone.

Easy access to such personal data, especially spending habits, can be a real boon to big businesses. It can help auto manufacturers to understand driver demographics in different countries, or help cosmetic companies figure out which age group to target next. The companies can then use this information to improve products or create new sales gimmicks.

When asked to elaborate on analytics, Suhale Kapoor said, “Regarding Customer Analytics, we work with customer data such as transactional data, survey data, behavioural data etc. to unearth insights which drive business decisions. With Market Research Analytics we collect survey data and deliver insights from it. This also covers web and secondary research.”

Analytics isn’t astrophysics, but it does require some degree of intelligence if a company is to benefit from using it. Business leaders must grasp the fact that in order to build and maintain an alluring brand image, increase brand awareness and charm new customers, a company should strive to understand both competitor and consumer behaviour and apply that knowledge to the formulation of innovative marketing strategies. With this in mind, the use of market research and analytics can be summed up as a modern, technologically advanced application of common sense to brand management.

The company’s road to success wasn’t without speed bumps or the occasional pot hole. Kapoor commented on some of the initial challenges the AbsolutData team had to overcome, “Some of the biggest challenges faced by an analytics firm are difficulty in scaling up analytics capabilities due to a global shortage of talent, in addition to finding a balance in solution consistency across regions while retaining a degree of localization. There are also high attrition costs as analytics requires a combination of complex skills that are hard to find and time consuming to build. Finally, leveraging big data requires players to have new skills, especially in technology and business integration.”

AbsolutData is not the only player in the consultancy field, but Kapoor insists that his company stands out from the crowd. When asked about key differentiators, he said, “As an early pure-play entrant AbsolutData is currently gaining momentum in the marketing analytics services market. We focus on high-value consulting led services deals. Depth of marketing analytics expertise coupled with keen understanding of marketing is the key differentiator for AbsolutData. With its service offerings the company is able to focus on large accounts while not neglecting smaller firms with analytical requirements.”

He added that the company uses an optimal mix of onshore-offshore specialists to deliver cost effective solutions that result in higher ROI for their clients. Kapoor said that AbsolutData recently raised a $20 million investment from Fidelity Growth Partners to scale up its global delivery footprint and meet the growing demand for advanced and big data analytics. He added that there are no immediate plans to raise additional funding. The company faces a slew of competitors from the likes of other startups like Mu Sigma to companies like Infosys, IBM, Wipro, Genpact and others who are increasing their presence in analytics market space. Further, capital could be a constraint as its main competitor has got in excess of 5 times funding.

According to Kapoor, the company has a lengthy list of achievements so far. He says AbsolutData published the first ever report on marketing analytics and has received many accolades since. When asked to comment on the company’s success he said, “AbsolutDat has built strong expertise and traction with Fortune 1000 companies across 40 countries; and is the recipient of many prestigious awards in the Analytics domain, including being featured in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 India and Deloitte Asia-Pacific 500 for 2008 and 2009.”

When asked about the future of AbsolutData, Kapoor said the company plans to expand aggressively and double their head count. He added that they have invested in new office space, infrastructure, efficiency enhancing software and product development. Whether AbsolutData can sustain in an area where competition has deeper pockets and customer relationship is something to keep an eye on.

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Tracy Venkatesh

Tracy Venkatesh

Tracy Venkatesh has spent twenty years working and interacting with a socioeconomically diverse population in both the private and public sectors, and has held positions in multiple verticals including content development, healthcare, customer relations management, defense and law enforcement.

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