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Strata+Hadoop Interview Series – Prakash Nanduri, Co-founder, CEO, Paxata


Big Community had the pleasure of a quick interview with Co-Counder and CEO of Paxata, Prakash Nanduri, during our coverage of the Strata+Hadoop World in Singapore recently. Prakash was kind enough to share his views with us on the adoption of Big Data in the region and how he sees the future integration.

With the ASEAN region at a clear advantage to adopting Big Data, and by having a front row seat to observe what was done right and wrong in North America, has created the culture and business drivers towards having a pragmatic approach to adopting Big Data.

“It is not about dealing with Big Data, as many people would refer to as big volume data, but it is also about dealing with big variety and big velocity. So, when you think of IoT, you think of velocity. When you think of big analytics, you think generally of big volume. A lot of times people forget the notion of variety”, he explains.

The opportunity in data analytics becoming relevant in communities and societies is substantial. By looking at many regional country’s economies, one can see that they are moving from resource rich economies, to being knowledge based economies.


“Lets take for instance a very advanced economy such as in Japan, where there are a number of interesting significant transformations. First of all, the society is aging. They have a very rich manufacturing society. The society is transforming in its types of services and the goods that are being produced. They are looking at how to leverage analytics data, algorithmic data and artificial intelligence, to drive towards a whole new world, where productivity gains are high enough for that economy to grow.”

Countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, with a much younger work-force in manufacturing, needs to move into different types of businesses. Therefore, leveraging data analytics is going to center around the types of people that are being educated.

“Unfortunately, people tend to think that we need to work around stem education. ASEAN countries are strong in mathematics and sciences. However, there is a need to focus the education towards creating critical thinkers and analytical thinkers. That kind of thinking ability is very important. It will affect and permeate into the overall business cycle”, explains Prakash.

He believes that going about this in a planned, step-by-step approach won’t work. That a more organic and creative method of addressing the issue needs to be found.

This is the greatest challenge yet to be addressed by a number of ASEAN countries. Though it is not practiced in all countries and by all people, however the general modus operandi to finding a solution, is in taking a step-by-step approach, and that’s not how innovation takes hold. The work-force needs to be educated in being creative and analytical but with a different approach than what is practiced now.

In the business world, data and analytics is nothing new. The ability to harness data and use that data to make better decisions, has been a natural process all the while.

“There tends to be a lot of hype in our industry. The fact and the vision of saying ‘We want to drive towards a world of information decisions’, is now more important than ever before. It is also not new. The thing people leave out is how they will have confidence in the information that they are relying upon.”

There is a clear distinction between data and information. We are in the world of being data hoarders. We have more data than we know what to do with. What is lacking is the relevant information to have confidence in the decisions we are making with the data that we own.

“We still tend to be gut based in our decision making. Why is that? The problem is, the largest challenge in driving towards information decisions, is the process of turning raw data into contextual information that you can have confidence in.”

This is an industry wide struggle. The concept of having business people get information at the speed of thought. The power of algorithmic techniques, married to highly scalable computing infrastructure, wrapped in a consumer experience that is not centered on a sophisticated IT or Data Sceintist audience, but towards a line of business audience and therefore democratizing the data to meer mortals.

“The world of democratizing data has been going on for a long time. I believe that the ultimate in democratization is when information at the speed of thought in the context of the analytical problem du jour, is made a reality.”

Depending on which segment the client is from, either as a marketer or a business person, each of these wants to get the information on what the customers needs are, and get it instantaneously. Pulling product information, customer information, sales information and not forgetting customer sentiment.

“Today, if you’re dealing with a segmentation exercise, and you’re not doing customer sentiment, are you really doing a proper segmentation exercise? A segmentation analyses needs to have a sentiment segment to have any validity.

“Therefore, the whole notion of being able to bring data from a variety of sources, volume and velocity, while quickly transforming the raw data into information that’s pertinent for the analytical exercise, is the world of democratization, which needs to be done by the line of business person and not by a Data Scientist”, argues Prakash.

The data collected will then be easily viewed by people who understand the business context and who understands the semantics of the data from a business point of view and not just a technical or scientific perspective. The view which, in the end, will be the driving force of the business.