Dhiraj Rajaram creates India’s first billion dollar analytics company

Dhiraj Rajaram, got featured in Economic Times recently as the CEO- founder of India’s first billion dollar valuation analytics startup.

Mu Sigma attracts a clutch of foreign investors, gets valued at $1 billion, Dhiraj Rajaram is now king of data

This year, the company which employs 2,500 people across a development centre in Bangalore and offices in the US, UK and Australia, will build a data analytics lab in the US and hire 400 data scientists there.

I first met Dhiraj in 2008 Q1 for a job. We didnt agree partly because I needed to be close to my son ( who was 4 mth old) and I ended up taking a contract with another Bangalore based company. What impressed me at that time was something I rarely see in India’s analytics entrepreneurs-

1)  A Grand Vision- Dhiraj said- I am trying to build the largest math factory on the world.

2) Focus- Dhiraj was focused only on analytics projects. No quick and easy outsourcing low end tasks and outsourcing for him.

3) Positivity- Not once during the entire two hour interaction did he say a negative word on competition, attrition, challenges, pressures.

4) Flamboyance- I wonder sometimes why a colorful culture like India’s end up with people being so meek in corporate culture. Dhiraj was probably one of the most flamboyant senior analytics leaders.

But there were some concerns I had in 2008 q1- including plans for IPO ( I thought that was early) and senior management flux ( the COO left in a few months).

Anyways Dhiraj grew the 200 strong team to around 900 by 2010 q3. This time again he called me for a job interview. This time we again found that there was nothing I was really good at in analytics company- with my interest in open source, blogging and writing books, and my morbid fear of managing people in operations. However I noticed some changes-

  1. There were greater signs of process driven orientation ( including messages to keep meetings short)
  2. There were newer people in senior management
  3. Dhiraj was slightly more restrained in his frank talk ( given his increasing stature and demands on his time and attention on him)
  4. I loved the sign on his Office- Jugad. Literally that means ingenuity in Hindi- and shows a glimpse into the maveric, brilliant and flamboyant nature of the CEO.

Again, there were some odd points. Mu Sigma continued to have the perception ( true or false, I dont know) of having a large number of attrition at junior levels. Again there were rumours that Dhiraj had become a bit autocratic in management ( which I found no clue of). I found that the biggest problem that Mu Sigma, Dhiraj had – they were creating enemies just by shaking up the slow IT Services mindset of India- where easy money was available just by low quality labor arbitrage. This cultural opposition to anything new (like a pure analytics company), or anything rapid ( like a company that scales up organically) could have stopped lesser men, but Mu Sigma moved on.

So it was quite nice to read the news, finally an Indian company , had broken the 1 billion mark. Allow me some leeway here. I truly believe analytics and maths have no nationality. But if you see the rampant poverty in India , what we need is more aggressive and impatient businessmen like Mr Rajaram, than the chalta hain _ ” it is okay” attitude.

Dhiraj and team, take a bow. You make us proud!

 

 

 

 

Churn Analytics Contest at Crowd Analytix

Crowd Analytix- the Bangalore based Indian startup is moving fast in the

data scientist contest space (so watch out Kaggle!! )


Churn (loss of customers to competition) is a problem for telecom companies because it is more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep your existing one from leaving. This contest is about enabling churn reduction using analytics.

To join, go to – http://www.crowdanalytix.com/contests/why-customer-churn/

Talking on Big Data Analytics

I am going  being sponsored to a Government of India sponsored talk on Big Data Analytics at Bangalore on Friday the 13 th of July. If you are in Bangalore, India you may drop in for a dekko. Schedule and Abstracts (i am on page 7 out 9) .

Your tax payer money is hard at work- (hassi majak only if you are a desi. hassi to fassi.)

13 July 2012 (9.30 – 11.00 & 11.30 – 1.00)
Big Data Big Analytics
The talk will showcase using open source technologies in statistical computing for big data, namely the R programming language and its use cases in big data analysis. It will review case studies using the Amazon Cloud, custom packages in R for Big Data, tools like Revolution Analytics RevoScaleR package, as well as the newly launched SAP Hana used with R. We will also review Oracle R Enterprise. In addition we will show some case studies using BigML.com (using Clojure) , and approaches using PiCloud. In addition it will showcase some of Google APIs for Big Data Analysis.

Lastly we will talk on social media analysis ,national security use cases (i.e. cyber war) and privacy hazards of big data analytics.

Schedule

View more presentations from Ajay Ohri.
Abstracts

View more documents from Ajay Ohri.

 

Interview Ajay Ohri Decisionstats.com with DMR

From-

http://www.dataminingblog.com/data-mining-research-interview-ajay-ohri/

Here is the winner of the Data Mining Research People Award 2010: Ajay Ohri! Thanks to Ajay for giving some time to answer Data Mining Research questions. And all the best to his blog, Decision Stat!

Data Mining Research (DMR): Could you please introduce yourself to the readers of Data Mining Research?

Ajay Ohri (AO): I am a business consultant and writer based out of Delhi- India. I have been working in and around the field of business analytics since 2004, and have worked with some very good and big companies primarily in financial analytics and outsourced analytics. Since 2007, I have been writing my blog at http://decisionstats.com which now has almost 10,000 views monthly.

All in all, I wrote about data, and my hobby is also writing (poetry). Both my hobby and my profession stem from my education ( a masters in business, and a bachelors in mechanical engineering).

My research interests in data mining are interfaces (simpler interfaces to enable better data mining), education (making data mining less complex and accessible to more people and students), and time series and regression (specifically ARIMAX)
In business my research interests software marketing strategies (open source, Software as a service, advertising supported versus traditional licensing) and creation of technology and entrepreneurial hubs (like Palo Alto and Research Triangle, or Bangalore India).

DMR: I know you have worked with both SAS and R. Could you give your opinion about these two data mining tools?

AO: As per my understanding, SAS stands for SAS language, SAS Institute and SAS software platform. The terms are interchangeably used by people in industry and academia- but there have been some branding issues on this.
I have not worked much with SAS Enterprise Miner , probably because I could not afford it as business consultant, and organizations I worked with did not have a budget for Enterprise Miner.
I have worked alone and in teams with Base SAS, SAS Stat, SAS Access, and SAS ETS- and JMP. Also I worked with SAS BI but as a user to extract information.
You could say my use of SAS platform was mostly in predictive analytics and reporting, but I have a couple of projects under my belt for knowledge discovery and data mining, and pattern analysis. Again some of my SAS experience is a bit dated for almost 1 year ago.

I really like specific parts of SAS platform – as in the interface design of JMP (which is better than Enterprise Guide or Base SAS ) -and Proc Sort in Base SAS- I guess sequential processing of data makes SAS way faster- though with computing evolving from Desktops/Servers to even cheaper time shared cloud computers- I am not sure how long Base SAS and SAS Stat can hold this unique selling proposition.

I dislike the clutter in SAS Stat output, it confuses me with too much information, and I dislike shoddy graphics in the rendering output of graphical engine of SAS. Its shoddy coding work in SAS/Graph and if JMP can give better graphics why is legacy source code preventing SAS platform from doing a better job of it.

I sometimes think the best part of SAS is actually code written by Goodnight and Sall in 1970’s , the latest procs don’t impress me much.

SAS as a company is something I admire especially for its way of treating employees globally- but it is strange to see the rest of tech industry not following it. Also I don’t like over aggression and the SAS versus Rest of the Analytics /Data Mining World mentality that I sometimes pick up when I deal with industry thought leaders.

I think making SAS Enterprise Miner, JMP, and Base SAS in a completely new web interface priced at per hour rates is my wishlist but I guess I am a bit sentimental here- most data miners I know from early 2000’s did start with SAS as their first bread earning software. Also I think SAS needs to be better priced in Business Intelligence- it seems quite cheap in BI compared to Cognos/IBM but expensive in analytical licensing.

If you are a new stats or business student, chances are – you may know much more R than SAS today. The shift in education at least has been very rapid, and I guess R is also more of a platform than a analytics or data mining software.

I like a lot of things in R- from graphics, to better data mining packages, modular design of software, but above all I like the can do kick ass spirit of R community. Lots of young people collaborating with lots of young to old professors, and the energy is infectious. Everybody is a CEO in R ’s world. Latest data mining algols will probably start in R, published in journals.

Which is better for data mining SAS or R? It depends on your data and your deadline. The golden rule of management and business is -it depends.

Also I have worked with a lot of KXEN, SQL, SPSS.

DMR: Can you tell us more about Decision Stats? You have a traffic of 120′000 for 2010. How did you reach such a success?

AO: I don’t think 120,000 is a success. Its not a failure. It just happened- the more I wrote, the more people read.In 2007-2008 I used to obsess over traffic. I tried SEO, comments, back linking, and I did some black hat experimental stuff. Some of it worked- some didn’t.

In the end, I started asking questions and interviewing people. To my surprise, senior management is almost always more candid , frank and honest about their views while middle managers, public relations, marketing folks can be defensive.

Social Media helped a bit- Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook really helped my network of friends who I suppose acted as informal ambassadors to spread the word.
Again I was constrained by necessity than choices- my middle class finances ( I also had a baby son in 2007-my current laptop still has some broken keys :) – by my inability to afford traveling to conferences, and my location Delhi isn’t really a tech hub.

The more questions I asked around the internet, the more people responded, and I wrote it all down.

I guess I just was lucky to meet a lot of nice people on the internet who took time to mentor and educate me.

I tried building other websites but didn’t succeed so i guess I really don’t know. I am not a smart coder, not very clever at writing but I do try to be honest.

Basic economics says pricing is proportional to demand and inversely proportional to supply. Honest and candid opinions have infinite demand and an uncertain supply.

DMR: There is a rumor about a R book you plan to publish in 2011 :-) Can you confirm the rumor and tell us more?

AO: I just signed a contract with Springer for ” R for Business Analytics”. R is a great software, and lots of books for statistically trained people, but I felt like writing a book for the MBAs and existing analytics users- on how to easily transition to R for Analytics.

Like any language there are tricks and tweaks in R, and with a focus on code editors, IDE, GUI, web interfaces, R’s famous learning curve can be bent a bit.

Making analytics beautiful, and simpler to use is always a passion for me. With 3000 packages, R can be used for a lot more things and a lot more simply than is commonly understood.
The target audience however is business analysts- or people working in corporate environments.

Brief Bio-
Ajay Ohri has been working in the field of analytics since 2004 , when it was a still nascent emerging Industries in India. He has worked with the top two Indian outsourcers listed on NYSE,and with Citigroup on cross sell analytics where he helped sell an extra 50000 credit cards by cross sell analytics .He was one of the very first independent data mining consultants in India working on analytics products and domestic Indian market analytics .He regularly writes on analytics topics on his web site www.decisionstats.com and is currently working on open source analytical tools like R besides analytical software like SPSS and SAS.

Bringing Poetry to Life

Here is a new poetry book.

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I’m excited to let you know about Carol Calkins who is releasing her first book of poetry entitled Bring Poetry to Life. This book is a powerful compilation of poetry touching on the most important moments in our everyday lives from new beginnings, to special people and events, to endings and saying goodbye.  Carol who found her life purpose through poetry is excited to release the first of a series of poetry books on Amazon. Grab your copy of Bring Poetry to Life today on Amazon.com – Find out more about Carol and her new book at http://www.bringpoetrytolife.com

We Said Goodbye a Thousand Times

 

Don’t be sad about my parting

Don’t feel like you never said goodbye

For you and I both know deep in our hearts

That We Said Goodbye a Thousand Times

And shared so much love and joy every day

 

Be happy that I am now at peace

Be joyful that I have lived a wonderful life

Be happy that we have shared so much together

 

And remember I am always with you in a thought and a sigh

Every day when you see the beauty in nature think of me

Every day when you see the colorful flowers think of me

Every day when you see a frisky animal prancing around think of me

Every day when you look into the eyes of someone you love think of me

 

And know beyond a doubt that I am with you in everything you do

And know beyond a doubt that I am with you in everything you say

And know beyond a doubt that I am with you in every quiet moment of your life

 

Don’t be sad about my parting

Don’t feel like you never said goodbye

For you and I both know deep in our hearts

That We Said Goodbye a Thousand Times

And shared so much love and joy every day

 

 

India to make own DoS -citing cyber security

After writing code for the whole world, Indian DoD (Department of Defense) has decided to start making it’s own Operating System citing cyber security. Presumably they know all about embedded code in chips, sneak kill code routines in dependent packages in operating system, and would not be using Linus Trovald’s original kernel (maybe the website was hacked to insert a small call k function 😉

as the ancient Chinese said- May you live in interesting times. Still cyber wars are better than real wars- and StuxNet virus is but a case study why countries can kill enemy plans without indulging in last century tactics.

Source-Manick Sorcar, The great Indian magician

http://www.manicksorcar.com/cartoon33.jpg

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/news/software-services/Security-threat-DRDO-to-make-own-OS/articleshow/6719375.cms

BANGALORE: India would develop its own futuristic computer operating system to thwart attempts of cyber attacks and data theft and things of that nature, a top defence scientist said.

Dr V K Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said the DRDO has just set up a software development  centre each here and in Delhi, with the mandate develop such a system. This “national effort” would be spearheaded by the  Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in partnership with software companies in and around Bangalore,  Hyderabad and Delhi as also academic institutions like Indian Institute of Science Bangalore and IIT Chennai, among others.

“There are many gaps in our software areas; particularly we don’t have our own operating system,” said  Saraswat, also Director General of DRDO and Secretary, Defence R & D. India currently uses operating systems developed by western countries.

Read more: Security threat: DRDO to make own OS – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/news/software-services/Security-threat-DRDO-to-make-own-OS/articleshow/6719375.cms#ixzz1227Y3oHg