Training the Future to be BigData Analytics Fluent: What led two Gurgaon-based entrepreneurs to entice youngsters into learning analytics?
It is inspiring to see that these two young entrepreneurs kept striving towards their passion for success through quality hard work, instead of looking for some magic shortcuts to sudden entrepreneurial success. This is a story of two businessmen, who wanted to start a value-based business to bring about the necessary change by employing real, quality people and provide services to their customer base.
“Yes, it is no doubt difficult, and there have been days when we sat at the office waiting for the phone to ring at least once. But we knew this is the right place to start!”– said, Vivek Debuka about him and his friend and co-founder Subhra Jyoti Adhkiary of the company, DexLab Analytics. We had a heart-to-heart with him about their endeavour to create DexLab Analytics, the pioneering analytics training organisation based in Gurgaon, Pune and Noida, and what led him to believe that the present as well the future working generations must be aware of big data analytics skills!
Here is what the CEO and principal founder of DexLab Analytics, Mr. Debuka had to say about their unique idea, and the story behind the raging success that is DexLab Analytics, in the analytics-training environment:
• Why do you think the future generation of working population needs to be data fluent?
Well, you know back in the 90s life was much simpler.Landlines were there, mobiles were a rare sight and people hardly used the internet. PCs were just surfacing with the Silicon Valley revolution. Even with the birth of internet connectivity it was dial-up connection,which was slow, and people would not be able to use the phones for calling if connected to the net and so on! But in the past 15 to 16 years, lives have changed drastically.It seems we are actually living in the era that the cartoon show Jetson’s predicted. Kids barely play sports, they are always on their iPads and smartphone, everything around us have become smart with the emergence of faster and easier internet, with emergence of easy communication technologies like Whatsapp, and BBM. I remember back in the days, BBM for us was a luxury at an expense of INR 400 for. So, it is evident that the internet has happened to us!
Today, the need for a web-based interface with a proper functional website is more important than a physical store or office. The economy around us is now data driven, we just need to open our eyes to it. I am a huge fan of retail giants such as Pantaloon and Shopper’s Stop. The way they were doing business when they started, as they would collect the customers’ buying behaviour data physically, through surveys and forms and these computerised reviewing devices while we stood at the queue. Customers were given bonus points and loyalty discounts at the exchange of valuable purchase decision data. Things like age group of shoppers, gender, time of shopping, reference, etc was available to them just like that.Now that very concept is being used by e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon! So, every where we are going data follows. In fact I believe we are being driven forward due to data, and that the country needs to realize.
We started DexLab Analytics, because we understood that business is where data lies. Soon enough all jobs will be coming from data analytics, be it digital media, sales, marketing, HR, management everything! We are already data driven, but we need skilled hands to control the data steering wheel, so, who better to do so, than the present and the future generations of workers.
• How have you been inspiring more and more youth to join your courses in order to be data-driven and analytical? And what are you offering that’s different.
Indian education system is no doubt at the top of their game. That is why every IT Giant and the top universities of the world have Indians at leading positions. But there are certain roadblocks to change within the system that is keeping it from being the best in the world. It seems our education system has reached a bottleneck; there is a big gap between knowledge and its transference to the students. Our professors are highly knowledgeable with all the required skills, yet somehow due to the lack of evolution of the system or a slow changing process, the in time needed knowledge is not being transferred to the students.
However, I do appreciate the schools and colleges like IITs, IIMs and even some major private ones like IBS who are trying to mitigate this gap and reviewing their curriculum to train the students to be industry ready. The professors know the subjects really well, but they somewhere lack the right outlook and are not in touch with the latest industry trends and technologies. Initially we did face some struggles to change this perspective of the educators.
However, we have been conducting seminars and workshops and various colleges now. We are being allowed to make the students aware of the prospects and the latest developments in the industry and the job markets with big data and analytics. MBA colleges are still teaching market research, which is an outdated learning curve, the future lies in analytics. And the education system must realize that now.
We inspire students by providing fresh and updated, job-ready course modules and do not offer faux marketing gamut. We have dedicated field-specific courses, like for instance, those who want a future in analytics will be offered comprehensive training in SAS, those who want to pursue visualization will need to learn Tableau, the machine learning industry is shifting to Python and so did we, Data Science is currently happening based on R Programming while Big Data Hadoop required knowledge of both Hadoop and Python.We do not combine a mixture of courses to students, which all over the place. We believe in focused expertise as that is the way the industry operates. Our students are not Jack-Of-All-Trades masters at none! We create professionals!
In order to create awareness, we recently concluded our very successful campaign dedicated for college students DexLab’s Datacember,wherein attractive discounts were offered for students. We are also conducting data analytics competitions by becoming a part of college fests such as Atharva’17 by Department of Commerce, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University in order to enable students from more fifty colleges across to start thinking analytically.
• Tell us a little about how DexLab Analytics came to exist, were there any initial roadblocks, what would you say is the key turning point for the organisation?
We started DexLab Analytics with a vision, that was very clear but we still had little background knowledge about the concepts and almost no connections. We were both very young, myself being 27 years (Vivek Debuka) and Subhra(Subhrajyoti Adhikari) being around 30, with just 3 or 4 years of work experience in the real world.
Our idea was to create a commercial space but also a place that is passionate about learning.A learning organisation that serves people with a sense of ethicality and responsibility. Before we even set up our office address we had the website running, marketing was being done on all the digital front.Processes were being created to create our identity. We knew that no business is doable without proper marketing. I remember I was taking client meetings at cafes, and telling the candidates that our office was being renovated in the initial days when we were just setting ourselves up.
I remember one particular low point for us, when we lost a business deal with a client because we did not have a proper bank account set up due to some technical hold-ups. We have had days without any activity and even considered cutting our losses to leave the whole idea and get back to Jamshedpur and Kolkata to our home towns! We saw the whole plan for the first year of our business fall apart in just two days. But then again it’s the people that create power houses such as DexLab Analytics. We had an amazing consultant with us on-board at the time ¬– Arjun who sat down with us and worked extremely hard to make it happen. When he later decided to move ahead with a new job prospect at a major MNC after about 10 months, we once again just saw everything failing.
I was getting about 2 to 3 hours of sleep every night and would stay at work till around 3 in the morning. But we still decided to push through as we believed in the idea. Arjun despite moving on still comes and helps us on the weekends. He has forever been a great help to DexLab Analytics.
We try to keep the environment in our organisation people centric and warm.We believe in working really hard but party even harder. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries together. To us the list of priorities go like this – the team > clients > other who wish well for us, love us, support us and at the end eventually - us the founders!
Things are going very well now. Today we are one of the top training organisations in India as per India’s leading online analytics magazine Analytics Vidhya. In last year alone we have added brands such as Hero Motor Corp, Amity University, IBMR, Delhi School of Economics, Avaya, World Health Organisation, Center for Disease Control, ChannelplayPvt. Ltd., RCPL, Snapdeal, JLL, Masters of Business Economics, Delhi University, Cashkaro.com, etcas our training consumers. We have even conducted trainings for hundreds of engineering students of colleges based out of Bhubaneswar, Sultanpur, Kurukshetra etc. A major turning point for us was when we became the pioneers in the field of launching a very domain focused analytics and predictive modelling training in to Credit Risk. I have got calls from unheard places and international locations looking to learn Credit Risk Modelling with us. What started in Delhi NCR at Gurgaon has spread its wings to Pune and now soon going to Noida while making an international presence felt via our online trainings. In fact so much so, that other players in the industry are trying to replicate our business models or launch training modules in the direction we have launched.So, overall I can’t really complain, the journey though bumpy has been worth it for every bit of it.
• Tell us a little about the team behind DexLab Analytics and their unique skill sets that they bring to the table:
We are extremely privileged to work with a bunch of people whose dedication can’t be put in to words. For instance Simran who is one of our cherished consultants, now working with a major MNC, actually took sessions dedicatedly throughout the nine hour day for a couple of weeks when we were going through hardships of running out of Human Resources. Such has been the passion involved in making DexLab Analytics happen. Our full time consultants are usually from Mathematics, Economics, Statistics, Engineering or Forecasting subject matter background with technical expertise in to SAS, R, Tableau, Python, Hadoop and Excel among others. We have working professionals from analytics and consulting companies like Genpact, ChiSquare Analytics, Bajaj, Dunhummby, EXL Inductis, United Health Group, HDFC, SAS India, American Expressetc working with us. We are blessed to have such dedicated people on board with us who believe in our philosophy and together make DexLab Analytics what it is today.
• Do you think the Big data bubble will burst? What are your views on the topic?
I personally do not see that happening. Data is here to stay, this is not a phase but a stage that is just getting set up.Major companies like Flipkart are now joining hands with Microsoft to leverage their data analytics. Organisations in all domains such as Banking, Healthcare, Marketing, Supply Chain Management, Operations, Retail, E Commerce, SEO, SMM and everything else is being driven by data fuel. So, there is no Big Data bubble, but only confusion about its role. With smart cities forming and IoT happening, Big Data will be the thing that saves lives, and not a fad!
If you are moving ahead then I suggest you take the Big Data highway!
• How you are sustaining your baby (DexLab Analytics)?
(Laughs) Yes, we are sustaining it pretty well. But there is no such formula to our success. If we put in the right effort with the right intentions, things automatically start showing up. We are endlessly trying with true passions running multiple business models, both online and offline.The financials are a very important part to sail a ship such as this. It has not been a comfortable ride for us to start with Gurgaon and then expand to Pune and now soon we will be setting up at Noida since we are a boot strapped organisation. Our financial strategy is quite simple, what we earn, we save some and invest the rest back in to the business in form of infrastructure and knowledge development. Ours is not just a commercial aspiration, but a more value driven one. Our baby is growing as we are, and we strive to keep it organic, and people-centric as much as possible.
• A closing note of advice to the youth and recently working generation of the country about why they must board the data analytics bandwagon
All I can remember as a piece of advice to aspiring data analytics professionals, my peers and my fellow entrepreneurs are the inspirational words of B.C. Forbes “Diamonds are only lumps of coals that stuck to their jobs” where in, the jobs of tomorrow are all data driven.