We feature Mr. Dorai Thodla in our monthly Feature corner, He’s Founder of Technology Strategies LLC and iMorph Innovation Center Pvt. Ltd. this month. He has co-founded 4 software companies – two in India and two in the USA. Mr. J. S. Sridharan, our Co-Founder, and Senior Vice President ask a few questions to Mr. Dorai Thodla. You may follow Dorai on Twitter (@dorait) and LinkedIn.
He helps organizations leverage emerging technologies for building skills and creating innovative products. His companies build Information Assistants, a collection of tools for gathering and analyzing information.
He considers the ability to do informal research and tracking technology trends as important skills for the future of work.
Sridharan – With reference to the informal research process, could you tell us more about which areas this would apply to?
Dorai – There are a few areas where quick informal research can help.
1. A product team trying to validate a set of ideas. They may need to know what already exists and whether they should build a product.
2. A startup with reasons similar to product groups, but may need additional information about the market size, how the market is growing, current players, and whether there is a viable business model.
3. Finding gaps and opportunities in emerging technology trends. Inferring latent needs from discussions and analyzing competitive market spaces.
Sridharan – Why do you think organizations would undertake informal research and at what level?
Dorai – It depends on the size of the organization. Small to medium organizations may use it at a tactical level. For example, a small product group may use it to do competitive analysis, opportunity analysis for product extensions, etc.
Sridharan – We know that we can leverage Twitter as a tool for any informal research. Can you share insights on how twitter hashtags will help organizations in this research?How can we leverage LinkedIn for this? What are some other tools we could use for doing this informal research?
Dorai – Hashtag’s usage is not uniform. Some of the most influential tweeters (like Paul Graham) do not use hashtags at all. An analysis of hashtags shows that they are used when you want to join conversations or when you are in a conference or other similar events.
Twitter is a broad platform serving a wide variety of people. You can see authors, journalists, news organizations, technology people from the small, medium, and large organizations. LinkedIn is different. It started serving the needs of HR and recruiters. For a while, now LinkedIn is broadening the base but the type and quality of conversations are very different. It is easier to find influencers and people from large organizations. The profiles on LinkedIn are much richer.
The major problem with LinkedIn is a highly restricted API. So gathering information using automated tools is a bigger challenge.
With respect to other tools, If you cannot afford to subscribe to expensive research resources from experts in the field (students and startups have this problem), there are many tools you can cobble together to do your own research. You can call this DIY Research or Informal research. These tools include:
– Search engines
– Blogs and syndicated feeds
– News sources (both raw and aggregated)
– Websites and Portals
– Social media tools like Twitter but also LinkedIn and to some extent Facebook
– Wikis including Wikipedia and its properties
– Trade and Research publications
– Data and Scholarly search engines
Sridharan – How can startups leverage social media for tracking technology trends?
Dorai – If you want to speak the language of your customers, you need to use the vocabulary of your market place. These include idioms, phrases, and memes in those places. For example, tl;dr (too long did not read) is a common term among software developers. Other terms include “code smells”, “tech debt” etc. You can gather tweets of developers, do a frequency analysis of the terms to understand the terms of the group.
The importance of understanding the vocabulary of users may be much fold. If you want to use content marketing, you may want to use that language in your content.
There are a few ways. The more open the social media, the better. That is why Search and Twitter are our primary tools of choice.
1. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter will provide you data about the size of a specific niche audience.
2. The search parts of Google, Twitter, and others will provide discovery tools. I prefer tools that provide good APIs. These tools make data-driven decisions easier. For example, on Twitter, I can type a search, find popular hashtags, lists, and mentions, and can mine them for more information. This is not so easy to do for example in LinkedIn (despite their having an API) and Quora. So people resort to using scrapers and RPA (robotic process automation) tools.
3. Blog searches or Feed Searches
4. Job searches – for certain types of research jobs are a leading indicator
5. Conferences, meetups, and discussion forums are useful tools for identifying watch signals.
6. Funding patterns, especially Angel-funding are leading indicators. You can also track other rounds of funding and private equity to understand the market space.
7. Books and articles are mostly lagging indicators but they are good sources to track the popularity of certain technologies.
Sridharan – How can start-ups and organizations leverage this informal research for new product markets and finding new opportunities?
Dorai – There are several stages for a product startup. Let us look at the needs at each stage.
1. You come up with an idea for a product. You need to find out whether products similar to yours are there already and what are the pros and cons of each product (an analysis of alternative solutions). Having some competition validates that there are a problem and the need for a solution. But a lot depends on how established the competition is. At the end of this research, you identify a niche and some potential early adopters.
2. You build a prototype or a minimum viable product. You do this in stages. Once you have a proof-of-concept prototype or a functional, usable prototype, you need to validate that it solves the problem. You need research to identify these users, ways to reach them, and interact with them.
3. Once you have a few users using your product, you need to expand the number and also identify paying customers. You need research to go from 100s of users to thousands or tens of thousands of users.
4. Once you have sufficient users to feel comfortable with your validation, you need to price the product. If similar products exist, you need to research their pricing models. If there are no similar products but the market is being served by services, you need to research those pricing models.
As the number of users and types of users grows, you need more research to get to the next stage. Most of this research is not available in the market. Even if available, it may not be current.
Sridharan – Could you elaborate on some new research methodologies that can help startups?
Dorai – Startups have several free and paid resources for product discovery, content discovery, keyword discovery, and competitive analysis. Informal research strings together available tools to create your own Research Assistants. I see this as a multi-stage process.
– Info tools – tools to gather data from a variety of sources – Web, RSS feeds, Tweets, Posts, Discussion boards, Forums, and Blogs.
– Analyzers – Analyze information gathered via info tools – segment/cluster, discover topics, mine entities, derive the vocabulary of conversations, etc. The analyzers use Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing, semantic tagging, and other emerging techniques.
Sridharan – With reference to businesses tracking technology trends, how do you think digital analytics help track the trends?
Dorai – Data gatherers will bring in a lot of data in various digital forms – text, images, speech (podcasts), videos. You need analytics for different levels of filtering. The first level simple analytics are early filters to separate signal from noise. Next level analytics provide good inputs for inference and prediction.
Sridharan – To understand customers and market size, which tools or platforms to look for?
Dorai – We can start with some of the available free tools. These include search engines, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. They help you understand the market sizes since they need to know it to guide you in advertising. For example, using Facebook or Google ad products you can understand the size of a reachable market.
Using product hunt, beta list, and other similar services you can identify similar products. But nothing beats search. You can come up with a list of key terms that describe your product and try searches and analyze the results. Google provides a search API that you can use to automate this process.
You can use services like angel list to locate startups. You can use search to locate directories, professional associations in your product or technology space.
Twitter is becoming a great resource for discovery. Twitter APIs allow you to automate searches. Using Twitter you can find companies, products, trends, research reports, influencers, and discussions. You can create lists to manage the vast amount of information, retrieve tweets and links, and analyze the results.
Sridharan – How does text analytics help organizations in the changing business landscape?
Dorai – The outcome of searches (web search, Twitter search, Blog Search, Product Search, etc.) is short documents.
You need to text analysis to mine useful information from documents. Let us take an example of a blog comparing several products. You can use topic and keyword extraction techniques to derive useful information. You can use entity extraction to identify companies, products, and events mentioned in the article.
How automation can help you to run your business BETTER?
“Automation” or “automatic control” is a technology by which a process or procedure is performed with minimal or no humane assistance. Automation covers applications ranging from an electric fuse to a self-driving car, but massive usage of automation can be seen in traditional manual systems like customer care, IT support, or other mundane/repetitive work.
Automation can handle analytics reporting, ticket handling, scoring leads, shooting mails, and publishing on social media channels.
For implementing automation in business it will require a standardization of business processes and a bit of human intervention for setting up the whole process. Business must smartly choose the area and tasks which can be automated. Once this automation set-up is done it can benefit the organization in the following ways:
Meet market demands: Automation gives you the power to meet market demands and agility to handle changes in changing market conditions. You don’t have to hire more employees to handle fluctuation in customer demand, order volume, manage inventory, process orders, and payments.
Increase marketing ROI: It helps you retain leads more efficiently by quickly responding to a query(email or chat), automate a mail for a new customer pitch based on customer behavior, follow -up with connections, transfer a contact form from business card to a CRM tool, etc
Social media posts: We can save a lot of time in digital marketing on social media, highlight your business by scheduling posts, manage multiple social media accounts and boost your feeds, posts, and blogs using social media automation. You can now attend to queries on your handles and respond to prospective customers with information without error.
What’s more! Never miss birthdays of your followers and social media friends, you can also send birthday messages to your contact lists.
Computer backups: Always stay safe with all your data backed-up. With automation, you can schedule computer backups automatically. This way you will never forget to backup and lose valuable data. You can also back up the types and volume of inquiry received over a period of time to study how the mood of customers changes in a specific season or festive season.
Error-free operation: The automation process eliminates mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes can be very expensive and can lead to false analytics and poor decision making. You get high precision in your operations.
40% of large businesses automate at least one business process, while 25% of small business owners report using automation. According to MARKETSANDMARKETS, the global digital process automation market is projected to grow from USD 6.77 billion in 2018 to USD 12.61 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 13.3% from 2018 to 2023.
Automation is capable of going well beyond to enhance your customers’ experience by performing day by day repetitive undertakings. Automation can widely be utilized for meeting short-term profit demands. It can majorly help companies cut down human asset-related costs: low human mistake, comparatively less inefficient working hours, decreased training costs, negligible odds of hands-on wounds, and so on. But the advantages stretch out past improving financial wellbeing. According to Deloitte, “the adoption of automation in organizations is expected to increase to 72% in the next two years. And the organizations that have already adopted automation expected to significantly increase their investment in automation throughout the following 3 years. If this proceeds at its current level, RPA will have accomplished near-universal adoption within the next 5 years”.
There is more to applications of automation past performing the physical tasks. It’s equipped for handling big data both structured and unstructured data right from its ingestion to developing meaningful intelligent insights for actionable decision-making. Automation can upgrade profitability and improve work processes in all cases at organizations all things considered.
If you are a business owner or decision-maker looking to run business faster and better, automation is the answer, allowing repetitive tasks to be performed with ease. It increases marketing ROI by improving the lead generation process but also enhances customer support. Advanced AI systems are capable of merging the benefits of automation by gathering data and using it to streamline processes and ensure you don’t lose critical data by creating automated backups.
As an AI company, we have automated several processes and clearly reaping the benefits of informed decision making as a result of this process. Are you thinking about adding automation to your business? Want to know how automation can fuel your growth, write to us @ firstname.lastname@example.org
The BI Survey research found that 58% of the surveyed companies relied more than half of their decisions on gut feel or experience over data. But two-thirds believe that information will be valued for decision making in the future. Highly data-driven organizations are 3X more likely to report significant improvement in decision-making, according to a survey by PWC.
The HiPPO effect, coined by Avinash Kaushik and reiterated by Bernard Marr in Forbes, is usually the most experienced, most powerful, or highest paid in the room. Once they voice their opinion, others find it disrespectful to voice their own. This may not lead to desired results. Let’s think if the decision would go on a similar path if the time and resources would be different. Given more time, you would probably rely on the opinion of a board of directors or your experienced colleagues. Will you still be completely confident?
Data however changes this. You have an unbiased opinion based on facts that leads to better results. Data analytics uses information from all sources and simplifies it to visual representations that highlight what you need. You are now capable of viewing all your information in just one screen. But data is useless until interpreted. Data-driven decision making or DDMM lies in interpreting this data for actionable insights. A term fondly called as data storytelling is considered an art. Artificial intelligence-based complex algorithms make sure to see more than what the human eye and mind are capable of. These insights help drive your decisions in directions that lead to success. So you have got your data, got your insights from this data, why then have you not used it to make the decision given to you 10 minutes ago?
The problem with many AI solutions is the inability to get exactly what you want when you want. You have a ton of data and a ton of insights but how does your BI tool know what you need to reach the answer for the question given to you 10 minutes ago. You have knocked on the door of data analytics and are seeking the solution. But can’t you just ask?
FLASH, by geniSIGHTS, gives you the power to simply talk to your BI tool and seek the information you need to come to the decisions that will open the right doors. In turn, FLASH also talks back to you with insights. FLASH is a one of a kind voice-powered dashboard that provides quick insights into your organization’s metrics. It goes beyond the functionality of Business Intelligence and uses conversational AI in the dashboard to respond to queries and generates real-time insights for actionable decision-making.
FLASH is AI-driven, lightweight, and easy to use. It can easily be integrated with your existing data systems without having any extra software. It is also accessible from any location and insights can be exported and shared with the members of your organization. The visualization can be customizable and easily understood without any expert knowledge of data. FLASH ensures that your entire team is on the same page, making your user experience smooth and without any delay. Unlike other solutions, FLASH learns continuously to understand what you need for your business and becomes your virtual data assistant over a period of time.
FLASH is your AI agent who has all the answers you need to make decisions in a FLASH. We have seen how Amazon’s Alexa has made life easier. Shouldn’t your dashboard be able to do that? Now you can make your decisions within 10 minutes and be sure of it.
Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay!
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Data is the building blocks for the new age technology. SMEs (Small/Medium enterprises) often face challenges in adopting data-driven growth because of the following key issues:
Difficulties in effecting data analysis & procuring insights when in need.
Need to spend Timefrequently for analysing & interpreting the insights.
Find themselves facing a brick wall without openings in BI/Analytics journey due to cost, efforts involvement.
SME’s desiring to adopt existing reporting tools in the market often complain they do not obtain ROI. Return on Investment(ROI) explains the degree of profitability and ROI significant for SME’s. If a SME contributes $500 for adopting a reporting tool, the return should be at the multiples of $500.
The cost of preparing existing manual report using spreadsheet applications is neither cheap as it appears. It requires frequent manual interventions, periodic version updates add to the unscheduled cost.
geniMini a cloud-based reporting and data visualization tool for SME’s, is an analytical product of geniSIGHTS, established at IIT Madras ecosystem incubated by NASSCOM.
It engages basal engineering where the SME’s can precisely upload the data into cloud. Custom reports are generated with pre-designed dashboard templates as per the business needs.
geniMini associates a cost advantage offer of $150 per month and with a lesser TCO. It enables the organization to lead a successful journey of analytics.
Sounds interesting? Book your convenient slot with the team here
Visit geniSIGHTS for more information The report we build, Analyses we perform, Decisions we make and the best we can drive.