Unlocking data’s potential is key to building successful startups

Unlocking data’s potential is key to building successful startups

Thursday August 31, 2017,

4 min Read

The right technology coupled with measured approaches to manage critical, real-time, and mobile data will help burgeoning, as well as successful startups, lead than react.

“It’s not how much data you have but what you do with it that counts,”- Tom Davenport.

Truer words were never written. As India moves towards a digital future, with new technologies disrupting existing business models on one hand and growing mobile and internet penetration on the other, one point stands out sharply – this disruption is built on the ability of new-age businesses/startups to accelerate and affect consumer lives via data; be it from digital footprints or offline behaviour.

The second point that stands out – India, despite being the third largest in entrepreneurial strength, has a high failure rate. According to a recent study conducted on ‘Entrepreneurial India’, more than 90 percent of startups in the country fail within the first five years. We are a highly competitive market, where a few might survive to succeed long term, while most often crash and burn quicker than expected. Why? The chief reason cited is an undifferentiated business model. There is a visible lack of right economic model and proper market research when starting up.

That is one way of looking at it. But, it can also be interpreted as a lack of using data smartly, which invariably creates customer/market disconnect.

Power of data

Successful startups make ingenious use of the power of data to create opportunities in industries that have historically been slow to innovate. Ola in transport, OYO in hospitality, Grofers in grocery or Pepperfry in interiors, all are based on solving a problem or plugging in gaps. They certainly have competition, but by using data smartly, they are constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Whether reshaping western business models or starting anew, innovations backed with actual insights that can solve issues will create a better ecosystem for businesses to flourish and strive long term. And it is data that will make this possible.

Currently, most of the new companies not only have access to a quantitative database of consumers but also to behavioural insights about their most valuable users - where they spend most of their time, how they behave online/offline etc. This helps in matching the right consumer to the right service/product, subsequently helping with cost and time reduction, product innovation and ultimately making the right business decisions.

But, only a few of them are able to use this data successfully, mainly because becoming data-centric is not a small undertaking. It requires new approaches, investment, and infrastructure. Most often startups face a lot of challenges searching for smarter and dynamic solutions at lower costs. So, even if a Flipkart or Amazon can turn around huge chunks of data using solutions like ‘Bigfoot’ and AWS, not all startups are in the same phase of the journey.


Some are just starting out or are in the middle when it’s highly difficult to invest in massive infrastructure or dedicate the manpower to build in-house solutions. They are always looking at ways that can help them access data quickly, efficiently and at an affordable cost. The other challenge is adopting the right hybrid or multi-cloud models as they scale up or down depending on market and product adoption.

This is where technologies like flash can help. Flash is built to accelerate and future-proof data by simplifying storage infrastructure and business operations. All-flash storage systems will offer the speed, scalability, and responsiveness needed to quickly extract value from data. Flash will cut down processes that normally take hours to run to minutes, giving decision makers far better access to information. They would not only accelerate performance by up to 3x, but also reduce costs by 60-70 percent, with additional savings in space. Software-only versions for use in cloud environments will aid in scaling accordingly.


In short, the right technology coupled with measured approaches to manage critical, real-time, and mobile data will help burgeoning, as well as successful startups, lead than react. Whether the focus is on what insights data reveals or responding to customer needs via data or both – a digital-focussed, data-led infrastructure backbone is necessary.

The Indian government is pro-startups, amply demonstrated with initiatives like Make in India and Startup India. Combined with a young, passionate workforce, startups are looking at a bright future. All that is needed is some course correction in terms of infrastructure and data accessibility and they will be all set to ride the next wave of success.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)