If Indian software players spoke of product expertise and labour arbitrage as a value proposition in the first phase of moving beyond mere services, they have set their sights on offering niche custom-made solutions and products to cater to each specific market. Having adopted a domain knowledge strategy, this is literally seeing them build non-technical data modelling and market research teams to help their technical set-up make sure their products are well suited for the sectors they are aimed at.
For example GE, according to market sources, has set up a 100-member team at its John F Welch Technology Center in Bangalore to exclusively looking at data modelling across the industry segments that the global major operates in. While company officials were not reachable for a comment, sources say that the team of highly qualified professionals (PhDs, statistical experts, etc) look at various data modelling techniques, for most of GEs global businesses and the data is finally integrated into the products the company builds.
To typically explain it, data modelling simply put is all about getting relevant teams to study data and build usually non-technical operational/sector specific models based on the data. For example, a software product company building a product for the retail industry will use its data modelling teams to understand consumer behaviour, buying patterns, customer interaction patterns, etc and build in the business intelligence into the product so as to enable it to scale to meet the demands/specific customer requirements of the industry.
Interestingly, early bird investors too have started keeping an eye out for this model with a view to perhaps invest in such areas when the time is right.
Managing director of e4e Labs, Dr Sridhar Mitta, says this could well be the next new strategy for India to tap new opportunities and especially leverage the countrys pool of statistical and PhD talent pool. E4e is a technology incubator and investment firm
Earlier India took advantage of the labour arbitrate and cost advantage and mainly operated in transferring projects from outside to India to be executed at lower costs. But the opportunity as a country lies in us looking at areas where work is not viable in other countries by using the statistical and PhD talent pool India has. For example mathematical modelling and price modelling is a big area. In the US this is focused only on high-end high-priced items, but now using Indias talent pool this price modelling could extend to other appliances as well. As investors, our investment plans will also be focussed in this direction, Dr Mitta said.
Reveleus, the business intelligence and data mining product division of i-flex Solutions Ltd is also looking at charting a similar strategy. A major part of its recruitment initiative now looks at hiring non-technical domain experts mainly from the financial services segment to help build industry models which are incorporated into the companys data mining products.
Data modelling consists of a broad spectrum of activities starting from the statistical-end for using these models to make predictions, to the deterministic-end where the data is analysed to understand a sector and make exploratory initiatives based on the findings. As part of our product strategy (which is exclusively for the finance sector) we are encapsulating the domain knowledge into the product, said Reveleus CEO Mr S Ramakrishnan.
Interestingly, the division is using a combination of technology and consumer insights to build its products and hopes to also enter another big vertical within the next five years.
For some, these skill sets are also turning out to be attractive enough for acquisitions. US-based Symphony Services Corporation (part of the Symphony Technology Group a $300 million investment and technology holding company promoted by Romesh Wadhwani (of the Aspect Development fame) acquired Bangalore-based eKnow Ventures for exactly this reason.
Though this was a small company, it had the whole range of data modelling and analysis skill sets from statistical expertise, to engineering modelling to predictive modelling etc. And we chose to acquire this company for exactly these skills. Now when Symphony Services India is delivering on a product development project for a client from any industry, we are able to model relevant industry specific data and build it into the product we build which is a significant value addition, says Symphony Services CEO Robert L Evans.