Aurovrata Venet heads the Creative strategy and Analytics department of Syllogic, a consultancy firm offering Business Intelligence and Sustainable Business practices services to SMEs. He talks with Analytics India Magazine on analytics from the context of SME’s.
He is also the guest writer at Analytics India Magazine. Read his articles here.
[dropcap style=”1″ size=”2″]AIM[/dropcap]Analytics India Magazine: Hello Vrata! Thanks for accepting the invite for this interview.
[dropcap style=”1″ size=”2″]AV[/dropcap]Aurovrata Venet: It is great to see the efforts of Analytics India Magazine in promoting BI awareness and bringing together so many experts to share their experience and knowledge. I wish to voice my appreciation for this effort.
AIM: Please brief us about what business is Syllogic into and how is analytics utilized in the organization.
AV: Syllogic Consultants’ vision is to: “Enable Integral Sustainable Business Practices in India”. Economic, social and environmental sustainability are our guiding principles, and this primarily means establishing long term relationships with our clients and enabling their long term strategy. Fundamentally, sustainable business development is about long term goals. To achieve this we have partnered with a number of small companies that are able to offer one-on-one attention to our clients so as to offer an entire spectrum of business management services that goes beyond the expectations of our clients.
Syllogic Consultants works with SMEs at 3 levels:
- New business ventures: we help our client develop their brand image and strive hard to achieve Economic sustainability, for without this a new business venture has no meaning. We leverage social media platforms to develop real business leads.
- Strengthening mature business: whether a manufacturing, retail or service based business, we work hard to understand the bottlenecks of a business and propose IT solutions that leverage on the strengths of the business and ease the workflow processes so as to achieve more efficiency. This may be an ERP system, a CRM tool and even an e-commerce platform. We also ensure that these systems lay the foundation for a robust data collection platform that will enable the use of BI analysis to fine-tune the business. We encourage social sustainability in order to ensure that the human resources of a business, its partners and clients, share a common vision.
- Fine tuning established businesses: at this level, most businesses have established processes with data collection using automated process flows or as the very least through excel sheets and Tally systems. One of our strengths at Syllogic is BI analytics which we use to bring about a new awareness of our clients’ business. We emphasise the need for social and environment sustainability where possible through the analysis of resource consumption and potential savings that can be achieved.
AIM: What are some of the main tenets (philosophies, goals, attributes) of your analytics approach and policies?
AV: Keep it simple. There is so much that can be achieved in terms of new business awareness through simple and dedicated analysis. BI is all about answering 5 basic set of questions: How many; How much; How often; How quickly; and How likely? Most of our work is in bringing answers to the first 3 sets of these questions. We rarely venture to answers the last two given the nature of the businesses we deal with and the lack of consistent data in many cases. We identity sales trends and sometimes remove this effects over longer periods of data in order to get an overall picture of the business.
AIM: Please brief us about some business solutions you provide to your customers and how do they derive value out of it.
AV: Generally we work with excel sheets extracted from existing limited sources of data such as Tally accounting tool. We build analysis templates as well as customised report in order to facilitate the subsequent analysis of data. Since BI analysis is expensive, we offer quarterly updates, which for most of our SMEs clients is more than sufficient.
In cases where the client is open to upgrading their platforms, we work with our partner companies to introduce open source ERP and BI reporting platforms which even integrate with existing Tally systems, therefore allowing transparency to existing accounting processes, but giving the client real value for their money with automated reporting on a whole range of aspects of their businesses.[pullquote align=”left”]In India BI awareness is very fragmented, most of our initial contacts fall into three categories: no awareness whatsoever of BI analytics; some awareness but limited to simple tables and inefficient visual rendering of the data; or very good knowledge about online BI analytics related to search engine optimisation.[/pullquote]AIM: Where does the bulk of your business come from? Do Indian firms have the same affinity towards analytics as companies from the west?
AV: Retail and manufacturing SME businesses in south India (Chennai, Pondicherry, and Bangalore) for now, but we are looking to expand as we have recently tied up with partners in Mumbai who have a range of clients in north India.
In India BI awareness is very fragmented, most of our initial contacts fall into three categories: no awareness whatsoever of BI analytics; some awareness but limited to simple tables and inefficient visual rendering of the data; or very good knowledge about online BI analytics related to search engine optimisation. This of course does not apply to corporate business where exposure to BI and its potential is much higher.
AIM: How according to you can small businesses utilize analytics?
AV: It is all about making sense of a lot of data. Any mature business has data, filing taxes requires one to do so. Sometimes, a business may have a lot more data hidden in archived excel sheets such as raw material consumption, service enquiry trends, cost of production and so on, but is not aware of the information that can be obtained from its analysis.
An SME in retail can use sales trends to better manage their stock and orders; one in manufacturing sector can look at production cost rates analysis to decrease their cost or increase productivity; and so on. There are countless examples where SMEs can leverage the power of BI for concrete results.
AIM: Would you like to share any example of an Insight that generated a huge positive impact for your clients?
AV: A garment manufacturing business involved in direct distribution to retailers used the data from sales out of different cities to identify trends in sizes and styles per city to fine-tune their production and reduce wastage.
AIM: How do you see Analytics evolving today in the industry as a whole? What are the most important contemporary trends that you see emerging in the Analytics space across the globe?
AV: Big data analysis is the major evolution over the coming years. The amount of data generated online is growing every day and that is pushing the limits of existing analytical tools. However, a good place to look for future trends is the IT development taking place in astronomy research. The quantity of data produced by data servers is a drop in the ocean compared to the data being produced by modern day telescopes such as the European VLT in Chilli, the Plank space telescope or ALMA array in the Atacama desert. These telescopes carry out surveys of the universe with several Terabyte databases that need to be searched, indexed and analysed. Software being developed for these missions will eventually find their way in more commercial databases for BI analysis.[quote style=”1″]A good place to look for future trends is the IT development taking place in astronomy research.[/quote]
AIM: What according to you are the most significant challenges you face being in the forefront of analytics space?
AV: BI awareness at SME level is probably the greatest challenge we face. Many clients, especially established brands with years of experience and market presence, shy away from investment in BI analysis for they fail to understand its potential for business improvements either through direct increase in sales or savings incurred from better resource management. It is a slow process to expose, tutor and convince business leaders of the strategic importance of BI analysis in their enterprise.
Aurovrata is a Frenchman made in India! Schooled in Pondicherry and later in a boarding school in Ooty, he went on to get a PhD in Astrophysics from Imperial College, London; worked as an analyst at a large investment bank in the City of London, developed data tools for the planetary missions of the European Space Agency, assisted in the running of an aircraft company in Bangalore, and recently headed the performance team at Renault-Nissan IS centre in Chennai. He also maintains a blog on sustainable development in India, Syllogic Thinks! and a humour blog called Only In India. You can tweet him @aurovrata [/spoiler]