Shopping or browsing on Main St? India's Big Data firms know

Sun Oct 7, 2012 5:24pm EDT
 
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By Harichandan Arakali and Raju Gopalakrishnan

BANGALORE (Reuters) - Shopping in a U.S. department store? Surveillance cameras may be watching, and not because you might be a shoplifter.

In minutes, video of which aisles you visited, what products you picked up and put down, what you bought and the displays that caught your fancy will be sent to a company in Bangalore, India.

"These logs can be analyzed to determine propensity to purchase, what a customer's intent, satisfaction, sentiment is," said Dhiraj Rajaram, CEO of Mu Sigma, which says it is among the world's biggest pure-play data analytics companies.

The business of storing, decoding and analyzing unstructured data - think video, Facebook updates, Tweets, Internet searches and public cameras - along with mountains of facts and figures can help companies increase profits, cut costs and improve service, and is now one of the world's hottest industries.

It's called Big Data, and although much of the work is done in the United States, India is getting an increasing slice of the action, re-energizing an IT sector whose growth has begun to falter.

One reason for the emergence of Big Data as India's next big thing in IT is the dramatic fall in the costs of storing and working with huge volumes of data with the advent of cloud computing and open-source software programmes such as Hadoop.

"There are hundreds of (analytics) boutiques in India right now. Every other week I hear some of my friends have started on their own," said Santosh Nair, who quit a job in an IT services provider four months ago to open Analytic Edge.

The Bangalore firm has studied pharmacy sales, population trends and other data to help a U.S. funeral company pinpoint areas for its marketing campaigns.   Continued...

 
Employees work on their computer terminals on the floor of an outsourcing centre in Bangalore February 29, 2012. The business of storing, decoding and analysing unstructured data - think video, Facebook updates, Tweets, Internet searches and public cameras - along with mountains of facts and figures can help companies increase profits, cut costs and improve service, and is now one of the world's hottest industries. It's called Big Data, and although much of the work is done in the United States, India is getting an increasing slice of the action, re-energising an IT sector whose growth has begun to falter. Picture taken on February 29, 2012. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash