Interview Srikanth Velamakanni, CEO at Fractal Analytics

Published By : Analytics India Magazine

Fractal Analytics is the most global analytics provider in the world serving Fortune 500 companies in CPG, financial services, insurance, retail, technology and pharma in over 150 countries. Headquartered in San Mateo, they have offices in New Jersey, London, Singapore, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Dubai.

In this interview with Srikanth, we talk more about the offerings at Fractal.

(AIM)Analytics India Magazine: What are some of the main tenets (philosophies, goals, attributes) of your analytics approach and policies?

SVSrikanth Velamakanni: Fractal Analytics seeks to be the most respected analytics brand in the world. We believe analytics is critical for business to- 1) make better high-volume decisions to achieve breakthrough business performance, 2) deeply understand and engage customers to earn and inspire their loyalty, and 3) change the game and drive competitive advantage through Big Data and technology .

Our core values are demonstrated in everything we do. These values include: client value creation, excellence, speed, innovation, professionalism integrity, and respect and fairness.

We also believe taking good care of our employees create an empowering environment to make happy customers.

AIM: What according to you is your biggest USP that differentiates your organization with similar sized players in the analytics space in India?
SV: What clients like about us is-

1) we have the broadest global footprint among analytics providers with experience in data and consumer behavior in more than 180 countries and 7 offices around the world;
2) we have deep industry expertise and leverage cross-industry knowledge to solve problems;
3) we are building proprietary products and advanced machine-learning platforms and increasing process automation; and
4) we are building a great place to work because we, are very selective in our hiring process, and have the lowest attrition rates in the industry.

AIM: Please brief us about some business solutions you provide to your customers and how do they derive value out of it.

SV: Our key solution areas include: 1) Customer Insights and Analytics, featuring Customer Genomics for personalized targeting; 2) Pricing Analytics, featuring Pincer for insurance price optimization; 3) Marketing Analytics for more effective marketing mix, media and promotions management; 4) Forecasting and Business Intelligence, featuring Concordia data harmonization that creates clean, organized and consistent data as inputs into visual storytelling dashboards and predictive models; and 5) Analytical Centers of Excellence, bringing an experienced team of data scientists, analysts and consultants to help in-house teams scale analytics, drive implementation and foster a data-driven decision culture.

Fractal Analytics has enabled more than 200 clients in consumer goods, retail, financial services, insurance, technology, telecom, pharma and government to make better data-driven decisions with analytics.

We help companies answer questions like:

“Where can we make more effective use of our marketing budget?”

“Which product features or brand attributes should we target to which customers through which communication channels?”

“What’s the best pricing and promotion approach to increase consumer loyalty while maintaining profit targets?

Some exciting business problems and results that excite us include:

  • Optimized pricing decisions for over $100 billion in revenue
  • Forecasted demand for 15,000 country/categories for a top 5 global consumer goods company
  • Developed predictive models for more than 200 clients
  • Increased returns on marketing allocation for advertising and promotions for 5 Fortune 500 CPG companies
  • Helped a Fortune 500 financial services company increase customer loyalty by understanding and predicting customer response to brand advertising and promotions
  • Redefined assortment, product promotions and pricing for one of America’s best known retailers
  • Predicted and reduced crime for state police departments

AIM: Where do you see the bulk of your business coming from? Do Indian organizations have the same affinity towards BI/ Analytics as that of organizations from other regions?

SV: Our clients are global Fortune 500 companies, headquartered in the United States with market reach in Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East/Africa markets. We also work with several large financial institutions and insurance companies in India, largely due to the rapid growth in Big Data and emerging analytics talent pool in India. According to recent study by NASSCOM and CRISIL, the Big Data industry is expected to grow from $200 million in 2012 to $1 billion in US dollars by 2015. While India is in the early stage of the analytics adoption curve, we expect the market will steadily adopt more advanced business approaches.

AIM: Please brief us about the size of your analytics division and what is hierarchal alignment, both depth and breadth.

SV: Today we are 460 employees and expect to grow to 700 or more employees by September 2013. Fractal Analytics has a flat organization structure and the vast majority of Fractalites are engaged in the client-delivery functions, broadly classified in four tracks – analytics consulting, big data engineering, data scientist and analytics program management. Every track consists of sales, account management, engagement and offshore delivery teams.

AIM: What kind of knowledge worker do you recruit and what is the selection methodology? What skill sets do you look at while recruiting in analytics?

SV: We are very selective in our hiring approach. During the past 9 months we received over 10,000 applications and hired less than 2%. Fractal Analytics is recognized as a recognized recruiter brands among the top colleges in India where we seek engineers, management graduates, statisticians, mathematicians, and economists. To qualify, candidates must demonstrate an analytical mind, inclination to solve problems, a drive for learning new skills, and a passion to serve clients. Candidates are also required to align with Fractal Analytics’ core values.

We believe exceptional people with a good education foundation that share our values can be trained to serve. We set up Fractal Analytics Academy (FAA) to provide a six-week client-ready education on tools, data and modeling techniques, domain knowledge and soft skills training. We are big on continuous learning so new courses and instructors are added to our FAA curriculum regularly to provide all Fractalites with electives and access to new courses for an average of 85 learning hours per person throughout the year.

AIM: Would you like to share any example of an Insight that generated a huge positive impact for your clients?

SV: Our Customer Genomics solution is changing the way marketers engage with their consumers. Unlike traditional marketing models that segment people into boxes, Customer Genomics is a machine-learning algorithm that adapts its understanding of customers on more than 200 dimensions, and learns from every consumer interaction. It decodes and learns about customers from every shopping transaction, every tweet, and every store visit. Armed with deep customer intelligence, we helped our Fortune 100 retailer client gain unique insights into the kinds of products and promotions that would most resonate with individual customers.

During this project we uncovered the following insights:

  • Novice users more likely to buy expensive items with inexpensive accessories
  • 40% of apparel spend among brand neutral shoppers occurs during holidays
  • People who move spend 4 times the average amount weekly 5 weeks prior to moving

This retailer is now able to personalize its messages, promotions and product mix to increase sales among its 60 million households.

AIM: What are the most significant challenges you face being in the forefront of analytics space?

SV: It is widely reported that there is an expected shortage of data scientists with business skills and real-life problem solving that will challenge the analytics industry worldwide before the end of this decade. Fractal Analytics is well positioned to help companies bridge the gap by providing deep expertise, proprietary solutions and highly trained and experienced data scientists, analysts and consultants to solve real-world data problems.