Here is the transcript of the interview:
Interviewer: Jit, you have been in this for more than 15 years with two major corporates, what was the single reason that made you think about founding BRIDGEi2i.
Prithvijit Roy: I think 15 years of GE as well as HP has been amazing in terms of building analytics competencies in the organization from almost scratch to a tremendous business impact over a period of time and many assets in terms of people and technology created during that time frame.
What made me ponder is the value that we create from analytics for these organizations, can we go out and create something based on our experience that we have seen ideas of applications of analytics? So the opportunity we saw was to create an enterprise which can work with companies of various forms – large, medium, small size and guide them in this whole journey which is through the expertise or through the technology assets. So that’s the fundamental reason why we started creating BRIDGEi2i.
Interviewer: How did the name BRIDGEi2i come about?
Prithvijit Roy: We spent quite a few days in initial time frame thinking through what do we want to do as company. We thought we would be a catalyst for organizations to drive more data driven decisions. And BRIDGEi2i essentially means bridging information, insights and impact. If you have some of the information which is backward looking, how do you start looking at forward looking and generate insights from there. Next is with the insights, but if you don’t put it into action, it doesn’t give them any value. So how do you stay with these company to really help them realize the topline or bottom line impact for their businesses? So that is the third phase and it is not just incremental impact but it is also sustainable impact for them. So this what we are trying to do as a company. That is information, insight and impact.
Interviewer: Totally agree Jit. Without the impact, information even if it converts into insight, is not going to make sense.
Interviewer: There are lot of competitors in this space. How does BRIDGEi2i differentiate itself from the others ?
Prithvijit Roy: I think BRIDGEi2i’s philosophy is pretty simple. It is a two pronged approach towards creating a value proposition and differentiating ourselves. We go and solve business problems in an unstructured environment and guide businesses in terms of how data can help solve their problems. So that is the 1st part.
Then we try to simplify analytics. In the areas which are getting solved, can I productize a lot of that, such that there is no repeat human intervention required. We can create simple applications for business managers or for an enterprise wide deployment.
The third part of it is don’t do an incremental one time impact but help businesses sustain the impact. There is lot of work which needs to go in terms of really help the organization focus on how to institutionalize data riven decision making. One approach would be how to embed some of the analytical solutions in the process of decision making and how to have a set of people to continuously figure out new areas to bring in the value for the enterprise. So sustain is the 3rd part.
How do we do it? One is the expertise, a lot of us who have done this for a while in unstructured environment, how do you really look at what data is available, how do you use it to solve the problem. It is a horizontal expertise in terms of solving problem and it gets verticalyzed in expertise in certain industry or certain domains that we work on. The other part of the story is continuous focus, so wherever we have solved the problem once we try to focus on how to build algorithms and also modular technology assets which can be reused in future scenario again, almost packaged to a scenario where complexity of the analytics gets hidden at the back-end and a simplified solution is available to business managers. So it is really people expertise and technology where we try differentiate from the market place.
There are companies who focus on either of the two or bringing a scale for organization to drive it. Our focus is on partnering with businesses and providing them a combination of people expertise and technology to solve problems, simplify analytics and help them sustain over a period of time. That’s a very simple approach that we drive.
Interviewer: So if I put it like this, will it be right. It is a marriage between technology and analytics.
Prithvijit Roy: Absolutely. Marriage between analytics expertise and technology assets.
Interviewer: Now lot of unstructured data is available on social media, chat, emails, blogs and almost everywhere. How do you look at it – challenge or a boon.
Prithvijit Roy: Anyway it is boon. For example, you can use a certain amount of social media information to figure out, not only what people are talking about in social media but also what it means to you. Do you know what products people want? General inclination of people. What’s the feedback about you on social media? What sentiments are there? It is also about being able to correlate some of that information to predict how your business would perform. There is big data analytics at play.
There is variety of data in unstructured information like voice, photographs, videos. In a retail outlet as you walk out, there is tremendous amount of video getting captured. Can we use that to detect fraud? Or can we use satellite images e.g. A company takes photographs of the parking lot at Walmart to figure how Walmart is going to predict their sales even before Walmart reporting out their sales. So there is variety of applications that are possible. So that’s where there is a huge opportunity is sitting.
Prithvijit Roy: Fundamental expertise where we focus on is behavioral modeling and personalization. Today there is lot of information on behavior of customers or students in educational institutions or employees in companies, who by various touch points or transactions, generate information. The idea is to see if we can use analytics to find some patterns and trends around them, to be able to segment them in some homogeneous groups, to be able to figure out what drives them to take certain decisions which might impact an enterprise or educational institute or rather say what makes them buy a product, what makes them stay as loyal customer, what makes them have fantastic customer experience. So, essentially lot of our work goes in segmentation, predictive modelling and recommendation engine, text mining, variety of techniques to drive better behavioral modelling, to be able to personalize. So that one big area of our expertise.
The other big area that we focus on is resource planning and optimization. Every business has a finite set of resources that they work with; it could be set of people working in call center, it could be budget for marketing or a salesforce that you have that you need to allocate to different geographies. So how do you do the most efficient and the effective deployment of your resources to get the return on investment? So that’s where lot of our work around forecasting, optimization, simulation and others come into play to be helping the business drive better decisions. So there are a variety of applications out there but we build expertise in behavioral modelling personalization a resource planning optimization.
Interviewer: In your opinion what are the challenges that the analytics industry is facing?
Prithvijit Roy: Yes, there are challenges, but first I would want to say that the last two years has been a fantastic two years for industry because the whole realization of big data analytics of how it can add value. Having said that, I think the market is also in its very nascent stage, it still kind of forming in terms of what can be really done. There are few enterprises that have actually seen value through analytics and there are a lot more who are interested to see value.
The biggest challenge in my view in this space is the ability to show the return on investment or the value in terms of impact, and it is not an easy one and it is the fundamental one. Second would be the format of data, most of the data is not very organized; it is scattered and available in many places. So it takes a lot of time today to prepare it to get into the analytical work. Third major challenge is people know about big data analytics but they don’t know how to approach it. So those are probably the biggest ones in my view, where organizations need to focus on.
Interviewer: Do you think market has been conducive for a startup environment?
Prithvijit Roy: Yes, absolutely, I think, in the last two years we have got a fantastic response. We have tremendously grown over last two years and that is only possible because of the value that we are creating for enterprises and people, in terms of difference we can make. Having said that, opportunity comes in because the space is huge. If you see, there are players of various functions, the largest consulting companies of the world, largest IT players, everyone is trying to get into this space for sure. But they are still building up their technology stand and capability offerings. There few niche players who 5 years ago were almost non-existent but are of a certain size today. Having said that, there is tremendous room several other players to come in.
There are also lots of startups today who have given the opportunity. I don’t know if all of them will survive but a few who are good will actually survive and have enough room to grow in this space because there are enterprises who want this support. They want data scientists, they want technology assets which can help them drive better data driven decision making. So I would say there is huge opportunity for startups to transform this space, because startups are more agile, they can bring innovation very fast. I think they have to stay tuned to what value that can create from this whole space but I see many startups of today being very established players of tomorrow. It is not that you are taking out business from some established players, there is new business out there. So there are newer opportunities getting created because of the abundance of data where companies have started pitching that how do I monetize this data. So there is big room for them.
Interviewer: Jit, how does your work day look like?
Prithvijit Roy: (Gives a mystical smile and adds….) I don’t have a structure as yet. I assume any startup person would have similar thing. I travel a lot now days; 50% to 60% of my time is spent travelling. Thanks to the leadership team we have, which primarily focuses on internal side of the matters. Personally I am now focused a lot externally. I get to meet a lot of different customers and that is a fun thing. I enjoy going to a technology company, meeting the CMO in the morning to understand what his priorities are and think about how analytics can add value while early afternoon meeting the Chief Risk Officer for financial services institution to figure out how we can put structure around the models he has and have a mix of his regulatory requirements. By evening probably we are talking to a pricing leader discussing how to bring in better discount optimization. So that’s fundamentally one part that I spent lot of time talking to stakeholders to see how analytics can add value.
While in the office, I spend a lot of time in building solutions; how analytics can help business problems that come to us. A lot of time also goes in building processes because being small organization who has a dream to become big. So there is lot of focus creating processes. So there are fundamentally 3-4 places where lot of my time get spent today.
Interviewer: Earlier you were talking about the work culture, now there might be lot people who would be viewing this and might be really interested in being a part of BRIDGEi2i. So what do you think is the current work culture of BRIDGEi2i?
Prithvijit Roy: I think there are 2-3 elements which we have been trying to kind of drive in terms of work culture. The fundamental one that I focus on a lot is our employees being able to learn in the environment. Are you able to bring value to yourself and hence to the organization? It is almost like can we create an environment where people can learn even after leaving the school while you also earn money out there. So that’s the fundamental work culture if I would say, since people are very focused on learning.
The second focus is on team work. Individual genius is a great which obviously we want to use, but I think the way we deliver is nearly being boundary less and being able to work in a team. So people who love working in a team should think about BRIDGEi2i. Also, it is not just teaming up with the organization but it is also teaming up with the clients because we consider ourselves as partners. So it is not that we will work in a silo and deliver something but we make a tremendous effort to learn about the clients business and bring value.
Third is, I think we are very innovation focused. The innovation can be in variety of forms. It can be type of problems you solve. It can also be types of techniques we use, the types of data we might use. This whole world of big data is huge. So how do we really crack problems one by one to be able to use it from business context? So it is not a never ending R&D kind of the thought process, but in a short time frame how do you bring innovation which gives incremental value creation for clients. Those are three fundamental things which we try drive in the organization and I feel that’s something that our employees are excited about.
Interviewer: Jit, How has the journey been in the last two years ?
Prithvijit Roy: The whole concept of creating a brand, starting to get known as one of the top startup in analytics space is something amazing because when you start working with organizations and have them see the value from analytics is something which is a completely different feeling. We have achieved quite a bit over the last two years. We have now set of people out here for 40 years. We have very smart team, one of the best in the industry. We have different companies, some very large enterprises, some fairly medium size organizations whom we are working with, who cut across industries, geographies. We have one product out in the market which is getting accepted quite a bit i.e. Surveyi2i. We are at a stage where we have started conceptualizing a few other products and we see them coming in. So overall we have fantastic body of work for the last 2 years. So, overall I think story is fantastic till now but it’s a big journey.
Interviewer: It has been two fantastic years as you said. What is that one memorable event in the last two years?
Prithvijit Roy: This is a difficult one. There are actually lots of small events. It is not just one big event that made a difference. If have to pick up one event, I would pick up our flagship product release – Surveyi2i, which we released in August 2013 and got a good response from the market.
BRIDGEi2i provides Business Analytics Solutions to enterprises globally, enabling them to achieve accelerated business impact harnessing the power of data. Our analytics services and technology solutions enable business managers to consume more meaningful information from big data, generate actionable insights from complex business problems and make data driven decisions across pan-enterprise processes to create sustainable business impact. To know more visit www.bridgei2i.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of BRIDGEi2i.