Young tech startups winning biz despite competition from big IT cos like Infy, TCS

BENGALURU: A clutch of technology startups is heating up competition for
established players like Infosys, TCS, IBM and Mu Sigma in the data
analytics market, using cutting-edge technology to wean away big
customers in the healthcare, retail and banking sectors. This shift in
the data analytics market is being propelled by innovations that make
scientific discoveries possible, predict customer purchase behavior and
help fight financial crime.

Gramener, a data visualisation
startup, is helping GVK Biosciences turn scientific data into images,
based on cognitive research tools that help human eye find important
messages quickly resulting in actionable decisions. “Gramener’s
visualisation tools and algorithms are very useful in our drug
repurposing analytics work,” says Nandu Gattu, vice-president of GVK
Biosciences. “Visualisation tools are helping to explore the

In Bengaluru, InterpretOmics is helping India’s
largest biotechnology company, Biocon, to mine hidden insights from
troves of genetic data to develop the next generation pharmaceutical
ingredients. Experts like Sharad Sharma, cofounder of software product
think tank iSpirt, said he is seeing a big shift where businesses are
moving away from traditional players. Instead, they are trying out data
analytics startups to mine hidden insights. “This is democratising the
power of big data,” said Sharma. “This shift is creating a disruption by
limiting the market opportunity of traditional data analytics players.”

instance, when Indian consumer electronics retail chain Croma went
online to tap India’s booming ecommerce, it explored many of the
traditional recommendation companies in the space. It found them basing
their analysis on a history of customer clicks and purchase history.

were dealing with the problem of plenty. New products weren’t getting
the proper attention unless we manually promoted them,” says Ajit Joshi,
CEO at Tata Sons-owned subsidiary Infiniti Retail, which owns the Croma

It is then that Croma approached analystics startup
Infinite Analytics whose recommendation engine got implemented in a
month and delivered immediate results. Post Diwali, one-fourth of the
online revenues came because of this technology. “These are really
powerful insights,” said Joshi of Infiniti Retail whose orders with
recommendations have accounted for about one-third of overall orders.

are taking away the business from large traditional players,” said
Akash Bhatia, who cofounded Infinite Analytics two years ago along with
his classmate at MIT, Purushotham Botla.

Bhatia and Botla
converted a classroom project at MIT into a big data technology startup
after being mentored by the World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee. It
has bagged clients like Future Group, publisher of women’s fiction
Harlequin and online retailer, part of Indian multinational
Aditya Birla Group.

Startups like Xurmo Technologies founded by
IIT Madras alumnus Sridhar Gopalakrishnan is helping US-based Fishbowl,
which provides analytics solutions for restaurant chains, to reduce
product development time. The platform helps Fishbowl learn the
behavioural habits of customers at restaurants and predict insights like
where the chain should open their next store.

“Xurmo’s ability
to manage big data and library of machine learning algorithms lets us
focus on rapidly building and deploying analytics apps for our
customers,” says Dev Ganesan, CEO of Fishbowl. Another young firm,
iCreate, is providing real-time business intelligence and analytics to
multinational banks like Bank of America and The Saudi Investment Bank.
The growth of these young firms is pushing traditional tech players to
start engaging with these startups as new big data innovations become
strategic for their clients.

IBM is partnering with 100 startups
across India as it looks to tap innovations in areas like big data
analytics. “We have realised that we cannot solve these problems by
ourselves. It is about coming out with innovative technologies very
quickly and you can’t take your own sweet time,” says Karthik
Padmanabhan, ecosystem development leader for IBM in India & South

For example, Big Blue is now partnering with the
Thiruvananthapuram-based startup Senzit that uses data analytics to
speed up the criminal justice system by capturing and archiving live
events from crime scenes. It is also is working with Algo Engines, which
brings efficiency in wind turbines and solar plants for GE and Suzlon
by analysing sensor data. “We are witnessing another wave in the big
data industry led by these Indian startups. They have developed
self-customisable decision tools. You can use them anywhere, whether you
are in Bellary or Belgium,” says Sharma of iSpirt. “The era of bespoke
decision systems is over,” he pointed out.

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