1. Brief us about your business model. How did the idea come to start and how does it work (step by step procedure)?
To talk about the opportunity, there’s so much hype today around AI. Whether or not people and companies use it, they’re talking about it. What sets us apart is that we’re actively using it. We took a step in that direction five years back when everyone was just talking about it. Industries had a problem in getting actionable insights to navigate through everyday business challenges while retaining a competitive edge. And we saw AI as its solution. We assessed the real value-addition that AI can bring to the table and decided to expand capabilities around it. What differentiates us is our experience, expertise, and a sophisticated AI solution that’s giving business owners real results. AI, deep learning, and new data architectures are rewriting what’s possible in the world of marketing, sales, and analytics. This constant urge of evolution ignites the passion at Absolutdata and drives it to innovations.
Founded in 2001, Absolutdata is based in San Francisco and employs 400 professionals across offices in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, Singapore, Dubai, Gurgaon, and Pune. The company is the brainchild of Anil Kaul, CEO and Co-founder at Absolutdata; Sudeshna Datta, EVP and Co-founder; and Suhale Kapoor who is also the EVP and Co-founder.
Absolutdata products and services deliver scalable business impact across the enterprise by combining cutting-edge AI and ML with its heritage in analytical frameworks, business understanding, and technology. Absolutdata’s NAVIK AI Platform for the enterprise blends AI technology, data, and analytics to serve as the intelligence layer for forward-thinking companies. NAVIK AI Platform has pre-built solutions, customizable solutions, and enabling services that get an enterprise AI-ready. The growing set of AI-powered SaaS solutions include NAVIK SalesAI, NAVIK MarketingAI, NAVIK ResearchAI, and NAVIK MicroMods. The services teams build custom solutions based on NAVIK AI.
We have been able to leverage our almost two-decade-long experience to help businesses turn the digital leaf in the most impactful way, ‘impact’ is the keyword here. A majority of analytics service providers today only focus on helping the enterprises make the transition. However, our deep bench of data scientists, engineers, and analytics experts bring along state-of-the-art skillsets to future-proof the client’s analytics applications.
2. What are the unique key points of your company? How are you different from the existing competitors?
We can see the world of analytics is getting increasingly competitive. Today, enterprises are brimming with great products and amazing talent. Businesses are also becoming aware of their expectations from new-age solutions, which makes our tasks easier and challenging simultaneously. A majority of analytics service providers in the market only focus on helping the enterprises make the transition. However, our exceptional team of data scientists, engineers, and analytics experts bring along state-of-the-art skillsets to safeguard the client’s analytics applications.
Our diverse NAVIK AI platform offers built-to-suit solutions targeted to meet the client requirements, rather than following a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. We combine cutting-edge AI and ML with the rich legacy of developing optimized analytical frameworks to get an enterprise AI-ready and giving them a competitive edge.
3. What is the funding status and monetization model?
Initial funding was from the savings of the three founders. In 2012, we received an investment worth USD 20 million from Fidelity Growth Partners India, which is the private equity arm of Fidelity Worldwide Investment.
Absolutdata is the only organization, which truly combines the four distinct skills essential to implement scalable, effective, and efficient analytics solutions. These skills are knowledge of AI/ML, analytics framework, domain knowledge, and technology. A perfect combination of these determinants has changed the way data is leveraged. Our technology-focused delivery mechanism helps enterprises scale-up rapidly. We ensure that our clients gain a deeper understanding of the internal and external dynamics that impact their business every day. This is why Absolutdata is extensively preferred for high ROI, organizational success, quality, and timely delivery. We have been extremely profitable over the last few years because of innovations and the value-addition that our clients create with the help of our AI-enabled solutions.
4. What challenges are you facing in running your business?
The pandemic has caused global upheaval that may endure for months, or maybe longer. The economic setback has slowed down and disrupted operations globally. As a company, we had our share of cash flow crunches and stressed revenues. However, we were agile to realign on focus areas, reprioritize on actions, and quickly make the move.
We had to lay off a part of our workforce, made some structural changes to the company, and took some administrative decisions. But luckily, we have been able to sail through the trough and are now moving towards growth.
5. How has been your partner’s/ customer’s response so far post-lockdown?
Both our clients and partners have been quite optimistic and proactive about this entire situation. They know that we have the most advanced technology at our end to not only help them navigate through unique conditions but also present new market opportunities. Similarly, the scenario provided us an opportunity to engineer new solutions that could further expand our domain capabilities and add products to our AI-suite (NAVIK AI products) to cater to the impending business needs.
And this was also a time for us to explore newer roads that could benefit us and our customers alike. For instance, we entered into a silver-level partnership with Nielsen to accelerate the digital transformation of CPG and Retail companies by integrating Nielsen Data into our AI-driven solutions.
We designed and launched a ‘COVID-19 TOOLKIT’ that could help address the key issues the pandemic brought to the fore for business and also help them recover in the post-pandemic phase. The toolkit is an ensemble of three products: ASK NAVIK, an AI-powered virtual assistant for instant answers; NAVIK SIGNALs, which gives insight into a potential change in customer behavior in the post-pandemic phase; and COVID SWAT Team, to develop dashboards and custom models for the current COVID impacted environment. We made these products available to our customers at no cost for a limited period.
Even though things are settling down and businesses are recovering, our clients have continued their association with us and have demonstrated trust in us as a service vendor. This has encouraged us to keep innovating. In fact, many clients have come to us with new business situations, use cases, and growth opportunities to scale the capabilities of our AI offerings.
6. What are the traction details (achievements of the company)?
Absolutdata rolled out the NAVIK AI Platform in 2017 along with three distinguished products viz. NAVIK SalesAI, NAVIK MarketingAI, and NAVIK ConceptAI, to deliver dramatic improvements in sales, marketing, and research effectiveness. Today, our growing set of AI-powered SaaS solutions also includes ASK NAVIK, NAVIK ResearchAI, and NAVIK TradeAI to help enterprises get advanced business insights, market research, trade promotion optimization, and much more. Our commitment to innovation and emerging technology has been recognized worldwide, helping us establish a strong reputation as leaders in AI and analytics. Enclosed are some of the awards we have recently achieved:
- Winner: Best Overall AI-Based Analytics Company, AI Breakthrough Awards 2019
- Winner: MRSI Best Paper of the Year, 2019
- Most Innovative Use of Emerging Digital Technologies in Various Fields, ASSOCHAM
- Named in Technology Fast 50 in India by Deloitte
- Editor’s Pick in Consumer Goods Technology Reader’s Choice Survey
- Analytics India Magazine 40 Under 40 Data Scientist Award, 2019 & 2018
- NASSCOM Top 50 Excellence in Analytics
- Listed as a Representative Vendor in Recent Gartner Market Guide Report
7. How do you look at expansion?
Absolutdata’s future growth driver is the NAVIK AI suite, designed to deliver results quickly, economically, and at a scale that gets noticed at the top echelons of management. Our AI objective spans a long period and we are looking to partner with the best-in-class AI providers to power our AI-based analytical frameworks.
We cater to any business that is looking to deploy and reap the benefits of AI solutions. The journey has been good until now as we have developed strong expertise, name, and traction with Fortune 1000 companies across 60 nations (across various regions such as APAC, EMEA, North America, Latin America, EU, etc.) and have successfully delivered numerous projects across industries.
Our offerings have been instrumental in expanding our customer base. Our dynamic NAVIK AI platform offers build-to-suit solutions that are targeted to meet client-specific needs. Integrating sophisticated AI and ML with our rich legacy of building an optimized analytical framework, empowers them to have a competitive edge. The comprehensive platform covers all factors of decision-making across marketing, sales, finance, manufacturing, and operations. This is helping us get a stronghold as a trusted technology partner for enterprises worldwide.
Our growth metrics include:
● Expanding to new geographies, launching new services and products
● Clients acquisition
● New business from existing clients
8. What are your marketing plans?
We will be extending our Watson-enabled NAVIK AI platform and solutions for clients who have in-house analytical solutions but looking to implement AI into their business frameworks. Besides, we are already pitching to companies that are willing to invest in AI solutions. Our go-to-market strategy is mostly governed by comprehensive and integrated marketing efforts like participation in thought leadership, media coverage, partnerships, vendor relationships, and so forth.
In all, our marketing efforts are aimed to educate clients on how they can benefit from AI and should make it a part of their decision-making process. We want to elevate the maturity of organizations in their adoption of analytics so that it drives major decisions for businesses.
9. What has been the biggest learning so far?
1. Be flexible, and pivot without regret: It was almost overnight when we had to shift our entire operations and work remotely, across geographies. It wasn’t easy but was well-planned. Intermittent discussions between teams and leadership ensured that the transition was smooth. In situations like these, a strong leader knows how to lead the whole organization and make strategic decisions quickly and decisively. The faster you fail, the faster you’ll start to succeed.
2. Take care of your cash: While common sense dictates to preserve the little cash you have to weather the storm, a period of crisis is, for us, is a good time to invest in long-term opportunities. Be it increasing your marketing budget intelligently (as we did), or optimizing your operations.
3. Take care of your team: Your team is your most important asset, right? But are you worth it? Excellent employee service is just as important as customer service. There is no better way to improve loyalty and motivation than to show your worth as a leader during times of crisis. It’s the most intelligent investment of your time and energy. Listen to your team, be present, even remotely. Be aware of their problems, whether financial or otherwise. Empower and engage them to suggest solutions to the crisis-induced problems.
10. What is the market size and opportunity?
The Global Artificial Intelligence (AI) Market valued at approximately USD 16 billion in 2016 is projected to grow at the rate of more than 36% over the period 2017-2025. The Asia Pacific The AI market in the Asia Pacific is anticipated to be the fastest-growing one.
The world has seen an evolution in the consumption and delivery of analytics in the last decade. The use of analytics has significantly increased and businesses expect more state-of-the-art solutions to their problems. Therefore, the scope and opportunities for deploying AI are infinite as almost every enterprise looks forward to investing and implementing it into business processes. Some of the opportunities are as follows:
- Transitioning all existing analytical processes that are still using traditional resource-based models.
- Exploring new analytical use cases that dwell around big data, complex models, and processes that go beyond human capabilities.
- Any company from any sector that wishes to benefit from the power of advanced analytics.
A lot of our global clients are willing to achieve the business transformation that AI can deliver. They often struggle with the best approach, to begin with, and to attain a scalable business impact. Our NAVIK AI platform can economically deliver what they want and at a scale that gets noticed at the board level.