Why analytics and learning platform o9 solutions is betting big on global supply chain transformation

After raising $100 million six months ago, this Bengaluru and Dallas-based o9 Solutions, an analytics, planning and learning platform for next-gen enterprises, is using a knowledge graph approach to solve large-scale transformation projects.
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Supply chain, sales, and product decisions taken on an everyday basis impact customer experience, and decide the efficacy of a business model. For a business to succeed, quick and quality decision making are vital, especially in complex and dynamic market conditions. This is where data helps execute ideas and business plans efficiently.

Solving this need for speed is o9 Solutions, a knowledge analytics platform that transforms the game for product development, marketing, sales, and supply chain planning

The startup looks at Integrated Business Planning capabilities to transform businesses.

o9 was founded by Sanjiv Sidhu and Chakri Gottemukkala in 2009, but their journey started much before then. In the late 80s,Sanjiv came out of the AI labs of Texas Instruments and founded i2 with the late Ken Sharma, a thought leader in constraint-based planning. Sanjiv and Ken pioneered game-changing planning and supply chain management software that drove billions in value for large manufacturers and retailers across all industry segments.

When the company was acquired in 2008, Sanjiv and Chakri, a key contributor in the i2 journey, got together. They believed there was huge value in making corporations more agile by helping managements take faster and more intelligent decisions in the face of growing market complexity and speed.

"Our operations in India were running since inception in 2009, with a significant number of development, design, and product management talent. However, we started acquiring customers in India and globally in 2014," Chakri says.

He adds that they have a limited but extremely reputed set of customers in India. They include some of the most respected industry leaders such as Asian Paints ,as well as companies including Tata Group and Aditya Birla Group.

o9 has also worked with Future Group to deploy their next-generation platforms to help improve supply chain. Their platform will support Future Group’s (acquired by RRVL) 1,500 stores across 450 cities.

"We want to work in India, considering the huge market potential. Given the country's growth plans and initiatives like Make in India, we are very bullish on Indian companies, and are actively working to acquire more customers here as well," Chakri says.

The company raised $100 million from global investment firm KKR in June this year.

Chakri says that this fresh investment will help the firm to accelerate its growth across the globe, including India. The company currently has 300 people working in India and is planning to hire more in the coming months.

The solution

o9 Solutions is a premier AI-powered platform for driving digital transformations of integrated planning and operations capabilities across different industry verticals.

o9’s AI platform can upgrade a business's revenue planning to a digital platform, which empowers channel, regional sales management, sales operations, finance, and product marketing. It helps teams collaborate, plan and align on plans, forecasts, and initiatives, besides helping resources to optimise revenue and margin performance

Sanjiv Sidhu and Chakri Gottemukkala, the Co-founders of 09 Solutions

The company brings together graph modeling, big data analytics, advanced algorithms for forecasting, demand/supply match, scenario planning, digital engagement portals, and easy-to-use interfaces for customers, suppliers, and internal operations, besides cloud-based delivery into one platform.

This helps companies accelerate and shape the digital futures of their operating models and planning processes.

"We spent the initial four to five years in building the platform’s vision, research, and setting up our R&D and Product teams. Our first customers included the likes of Walmart, Asian Paints, and Bridgestone. The key to our success in getting these initial customers was giving them large value creation opportunities, delivered rapidly and iteratively vs. big bang," Chakri says.

In essence, by driving digital transformation of end-to-end planning processes, o9 is helping global organisations unlock transformation to value in revenue, cost of goods, inventory reduction, as well as dramatic improvements in people’s productivity through automation of end to end operations.

The value proposition in large companies are in the orders of hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

These capabilities are a must-have for any company to compete in the digital age of business. To make this real, instead of big bang multi-year transformations, o9 employs a way to rapidly and iteratively prototype, learn, and deploy capabilities in areas of biggest opportunity, so that value creation is fast and change management is easier.

"We offer a cloud-based SaaS model to companies with a three to five-year subscription. We will not be able to disclose revenue details now. However, KKR, who recently invested $100 million in our company values us at $1 billion plus," Chakri says.

The future

The post COVID-19 world will be a different one, and a lot of the existing technologies and tools are not going to be enough to model the complex dynamics, the uncertainties, risks, and opportunities that are going to be thrown up.

o9 strongly believes that adopting future-ready platforms will be the way ahead for progressive corporates to sustain and grow in this new normal.

"We are a global company with a presence in the US, Europe, Japan, Korea, and India. Companies like Nestle and AB InBev are deploying our platform across all their global markets," Chakri says.

Large companies across industry verticals, including Walmart, Nestle, ABInbev, GE, Nike Caterpillar, Estee Lauder, and Exxon Mobil, are selecting o9 as the platform for digital transformation. The company competes with SAP and Oracle.

"There are three key reasons why companies are selecting the o9 platform- the flexibility of planning platforms like ours to adapt as the business evolves is critical. When a company enters new verticals, makes acquisitions, or changes business models, o9 helps adapt. The ease in using the system is critical for driving adoption and change management across many users - from planners to suppliers and everyone in between.

"How does one get value faster and iteratively rather than wait two to three years? Rapid, iterative implementations that deliver quick wins and value, and build on are critical for success - that's what o9 offers," Chakri says.
Edited by Anju Narayanan

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