TechSparks 2022: Decoding the data economy for the coming ‘techade’
At the 13th edition of TechSparks – India’s most influential startup-tech event – a specially curated panel of data experts got together to decode the nuances of leveraging data in the emerging ‘techade’ and building thriving data-first business in the data economy.
We’re living in the data economy!
Social media, smartphones, apps, IoT, and other technologies are generating an extraordinary amount of data that can be used not just to transform life, but also businesses.
Recent Snowflake research revealed that data economy leaders are achieving significantly better business results than their peers. For example, 77 percent of ‘data economy leaders’ experienced annual revenue growth over the past three years.
So, how can organisations align people, process, and technology with their business strategy to become a thriving data-first business in the data economy? How does one unlock the power of this data in the data economy and leverage it to transform and grow?
To help analyse this and more, four data thought leaders namely: Vimal Venkatram, Managing Director, India(Sales) - Snowflake; Gaurav Bhalotia, CTO, Udaan, Vaibhav Khandelwal, Co-founder and CTO, Shadowfax; Baskar Subramanian, Co-founder and CEO, Amagi; and Phaneesh Gururaj, CTO, Koo India got together on a panel with Beverly White, Senior Anchor, YourStory, at the 13th edition of TechSparks. The data experts spoke about the nuances of leveraging data in the emerging ‘techade’ and building thriving data-first business in the data economy. Here are some of the key takeaways that emerged from the discussion.
The Data Cloud and extracting untapped value from data
Vimal of Snowflake spoke about how organisations could integrate and analyse previously impossible-to-obtain data sets and reveal new insights, and create previously unforeseen business opportunities with your data.
Successful data evangelism within an organisation boils down to the culture. It has to begin at the top, and percolates much faster when it does,” he said while supplying references from Snowflake’s success stories from across the world and in India - including Disney and Swiggy.
“As media companies such as Disney deliver more of their content via streaming services, they need to carefully govern the vast amount of first-party data they’re collecting and also learn which data is going to be the most impactful for making decisions,” he said.
The Data Cloud has enabled Disney to design and customise methods to share data easily with the appropriate teams and partners, he noted. Data discovery ensures that data can be found and easily understood, while the use of data clean rooms enables secure data sharing and analysis under defined restrictions. Queries can be evaluated and a determination made as to whether, how, and when to provide query results to ensure data remains anonymised and secure.
He also cited the example of India’s leading food ordering and delivery platform - Swiggy and how it leveraged Snowflake’s data services for various performance enhancements from faster processing of food delivery queries to other operational nuances of moving drivers from low demand to high demand areas.
Data and India's social commerce behemoth
Gaurav, who has nearly 20 years of experience in large-scale distributed systems, machine learning, and information retrieval algorithms, spoke about how India's social commerce behemoth, Udaan, leverages data strategies at scale to optimise productivity across more than 30 lakh retailers, 25,000+ sellers, 12,000 pincodes, with the added complexities of price variations, different lead times.
“There is a complex mesh of orchestration across people and processes that are driven by data - particularly pricing,” he said.
He added that the key conversations in the sector are around revamping and adapting to newer consumer preferences, especially as it is critical now for businesses to go digital.
Speaking about how customers today have all-time high expectations. Gaurav added that customers today demand accuracy, leading to the need for faster and more reliable deliveries, which, in turn, demands aggressive service levels.
Companies have tried to crack the code by employing various new-age technological trends, such as AI (artificial intelligence), robotics, and self-driving vehicles. With growing consumer expectations, the term ‘omnichannel’ has also gained much currency. Gaurav pointed out, “It is important to get your products to the customer where they are; it's important to reach where they are.”
He explained how one of Udaan’s top priorities is to reach customers where they are, spread across the entire length and breadth of the country; to reach 14 million or so retailers across the spread of the country. Bridging divides, and connecting miles across India, and leveraging data in the most effective manner captures the essence of Udaan’s big retail flight.
“Be very deliberate, have the right culture - right from the top and the right infrastructure,” he advised.
Speed, security and convenience is important when you’re india's largest
on-demand delivery platform. Speaking about his data playbook for creating a high-tech intelligence platform for both brand and rider advantage, Shadowfax’s Vaibhav Khandelwal said. “Cost optimisation and customer experience are the two biggest factors for us - and both of these factors can be controlled by the way we process our data.”
“I believe everyone in the organisation needs to understand the right data elements. We also leverage visualisation tools to make the data understandable to a larger audience,” he added, citing that solutions from the data can come from individuals beyond the leadership team, or teams dealing with the data.
Catering to the eight-second attention span
Attention is an invaluable resource in the digital age. In the era of eight-second attention spans and highly crowded digital marketplaces, Baskar drew from Amagi’s vast experience in enabling content owners to launch, distribute and monetise live linear channels on Free-Ad-Supported TV and video services platforms.
Talking about how AI was being used to deliver personalised and contextual content, and how to leverage data to make brand experiences more personal and contextual, he said, ”Amagi gives you a clear view of your audience’s viewing patterns and provides you with the key data to make strategic programming and monetisation decisions.”
Baskar also spoke about how the platform highlights advertising metrics such as ad breaks, ad requests, responses, total number of ad assets received, impressions, completion rates and ad drops.
“Critical attributes related to content owner, geographical region, streaming platform(s), devices, channels, content assets, ad operations, and more, are analysed and detailed to help clients with forward planning,” he added,
Data and Bharat
‘Bharat’ has always dominated over India when it comes to growth of various industries in the country. With India poised to emerge as the biggest digital consumer market in the world, it is necessary to tap the aspirants beyond metros, in India's towns and villages.
Speaking about the data strategies to serve the unique needs of this unique population base - which is either using the internet or going on social media for the first time, Koo’s Phaneesh said,
“We don’t look at data by urban areas, but by interests and topics. Bharat users express themselves with their local language, and we do our best to ensure that the sentiment is not lost in translation - and data plays an important role here.”
“To overcome language challenges we leverage open source models and work with partners like AI for Bharat and MeitY to improve language citation, datasets and corpus,” he added.
“Other third parties can now leverage these data sets to develop their own use cases,” he said.