Only a few Big Data firms are focusing on an integrated man-machine ecosystem: Mu Sigma's Dhiraj Rajaram

Big Data is a hot space within the new generation tech business globally but it is yet to make a big mark in India. However, that has not stopped a bunch of India-born firms to make it big in the business overseas. Easily, the most prominent among them is Bangalore-based Mu Sigma which has raised over $160 million from names such as General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital, Fidelity, FTV Capital, Accel Partners besides MasterCard. Mu Sigma is now eyeing other emerging markets in the world to spread its wings. In an interaction with, its founder and CEO Dhiraj Rajaram talks about the Indian Big Data market, opportunities, expansion plans and more.

Excerpts:Although Big Data has been growing well globally, the Indian market is yet to mature. How do you see is it shaping up? What are the windows of opportunity in India?

Yes, the Big Data market in India is yet to mature. Most Indian entities are still thinking of analytics as a project-based activity rather than a core on-going initiative that needs to be institutionalised across the organisation. Further, they are grappling with whether to partner on their Big Data initiatives or do it internally. Also, many are thinking along only one dimension—either on people or on technology. However, the market is definitely growing with many companies realising that they need to move in parallel, along the 3Ps (people, processes and platforms).

You are present in four countries – India, the US, Australia and the UK. What other markets are you looking at?

Yes, we are expanding in APAC as well as South America and the broader European countries in a few years.

How is the competition in Big Data space? Which are the key companies that you are competing globally?

There are a large number of players that want to compete and provide offerings in this space – data providers, system integrators, BPOs, niche and boutique consulting firms and management consulting firms. However, we feel that to be successful in the space of analytics and decision sciences requires a very unique culture and DNA. I mean, a combination of disciplines, cross-industry convergence, culture of learning over knowing and an integrated & scalable ecosystem of 3Ps.

Some new names are emerging in the space that include Cloudera, ScaleArc and ParStream. Do you think these companies can make it big?

We do not look at these companies as threats. There is an eco-system of value chain players out there that we are a part of. Many companies are focusing only on Big Data analytics technologies. However, only a few are focusing on an integrated man-machine eco-system that can help clients make the promise of Big Data real.

What is your employee strength? How are you expanding the team, given your growth plans?

We have close to 3,000 employees on board, globally. We are significantly expanding to new geographies as well as investing in analytics centres overseas. A number of our customers want us to open co-innovation and discovery-driven labs that are closer to their locations. We recently opened an analytics centre in Austin in the US. We will grow it to over 300 decision scientists over a few years.

What is the secret sauce that helped you make it big in the Big Data space? What are the lessons you have learnt?

A number people have asked me this question and every time I tell them that the secret sauce is that there is 'no secret sauce'. On a more serious note, I think that from the start we have had a tremendous amount of clarity, focus and persistence on how we thought about this space of decision sciences. We are continuously innovating and experimenting. We are very unconventional in many ways "the way we do talent management, our no-expert mindset, culture of learning over knowing, interdisciplinary training, focus on cross-industry convergence, our innovation and product group, etc.  The most important thing is to have a strong belief system around your vision and execution.

For full text of the interaction check our VCCircle version.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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