With big data emerging as the next ‘big thing’, start-ups which cater to this need and believe that they can crunch these vast amounts of data and make it meaningful to a user are mushrooming all over the world.
Founded in 2011 by Sameer Narkar, a BE Electronics and Communications graduate from the University of Pune, Mumbai-based KonnectSocial is one such company.
This shift necessitates a quick response and presents meaningful opportunities for companies to gain customer and business insights.
“In the winter of 2011, I was toying with the idea of creating an application similar to Foursquare and felt that I could create a better product,” says Narkar, who is now in his early 30s.
He began working on the idea, based on feedback he received from industry veterans. As he started putting his business together by talking to different marketers, Narkar began to understand that he should, instead, switch gears and move on to a product different from the one he had envisaged.
What they do
Konnect Social is the flagship Software as a Service (SaaS) product by Prudence Analytics and Software Solutions. It's a platform that enables organisations to monitor and engage in conversations across the web. The tool crawls millions of sites including mainstream news, blogs, forums, and complaint sites, comments, videos, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and other social media platforms.
The company has bagged clients such as Zapak Digital and Wat Consult.
In effect, Konnect Social serves the purpose of assisting brand managers with key insights about their brand, audience, competition and industry, something which digital marketers around the world and in India are starting to embrace in a significant way.
The need for this kind of a solution comes about as marketers are increasingly looking at customer engagement with their brands, instead of mere display advertising.
This is where Konnect Social fits in. It discovers brand conversations for quick response management through an inbuilt social CRM workflow. “More importantly, we present big data analytics through actionable, easy-to-understand and customisable dashboards,” explains Narkar.
Like other start-ups, Konnect Social had to go through the start-up grind in order to gain acceptance in the market. “Our journey involved everything from soup to nuts, and we had to make do with basic infrastructure, limited access to financial resources and the challenge of mentoring fresh talent in the early days,” according to Narkar.
However, the biggest challenge was to prove that a home-grown big data company from India can create a product better than globally established names, he adds.
In 2013, things began to fall in place and the start-up got its first customer.
In a segment that is now spawning several similar ventures owing to the business’ low entry barrier and access to technology, isn’t Konnect Social making a late appearance in the game? Narkar admits it is a late entrant but adds that it is not a determining factor. “The product had to be better than others. And since we were late we had an upper hand because real-life applications of big data had just begun to come to the fore back then,” he says.
The founder’s expertise in big data came in handy for building a search engine. “Our competitors rely on third-party data providers and old-school relational databases,” says Narkar.
The company started as a bootstrapped effort, with money and funds coming from family and friends in the initial days. It turned out to be a profitable venture. “In the past few months, we’ve realised that we are an ideal candidate for Series A-funding,” says Narkar.
There is no doubt about the kind of opportunities on offer in the digital media space. It has been predicted that advertisers will be spending $23.68 billion on social media across the world in 2015. Add to that, Wikibon has predicted that the big-data market will top $84 billion in 2026. However, while going the big data route may be on the rise, it is as yet under-utilised. Gartner, a US-based information technology research and advisory firm providing technology related insight, predicts that 85 per cent of Fortune 500 companies will be unable to exploit big data to gain a competitive advantage in 2015.
Several Indian brands, though, have showed an inclination towards harnessing big-data analytics to spot trends, understand demographics and psychographic evaluations to make informed decisions. That said, there’s still a long way to go before big data’s true potential is recognised and utilised. For companies like Konnect Social, the real challenges lies in processing large amounts of data. To scale up they require funding and the backing of influential financiers. For the likes of them, the journey has just begun.