'India is a huge market for business intelligence'
— Dennis Samuel, Vice President - South East Asia &
India, Teradata (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Enterprise data warehousing and business intelligence are
fast catching up in India. Dennis Samuel met Venugopal Pillai to
explain the concepts, share his experiences in India, and discusses how India is
a huge market for business intelligence.
Explain in brief what enterprise data warehousing is.
In simple terms, enterprise data warehousing is a concept where all the data
relating to a company or an industry is placed together in one place, and more
importantly, in a manner that is easy to access and retrieve. This data is then
used for analytical purposes and serves as the biggest tool for business
The human brain is perhaps the most complex entity and it is difficult to
anticipate what questions would cross the human mind when it is "exposed to
data". The hallmark therefore of enterprise data warehousing is the ability to
anticipate questions and provide answers, thereby enhancing the business
intelligence of an enterprise.
To give you an example, take the case of a bank executive that receives each day
a simple sales report on his computer. The report, say, gives basic information
like aggregate sales by a bank. This is just the entry-level and is something
that most EDW service providers could do. The dividing line is when the system
can anticipate questions relating to the sales performance and instantly throw
up answers. Remember that these questions have never been asked before, and the
efficiency of an EDW system lies precisely in this - providing instant answers
to unexpected questions. Teradata specializes in this. Continuing the example,
the system can analyze the sales report and instantly give past sales trends and
even pinpoint which branch has seen a drop in sales. It can even go down to the
level of instantly telling the various banking products offered by that branch,
the employee strength and even the configuration of how the bank tellers are
located in that branch. All this adds to business intelligence that is a vital
precursor to business decisions.
The cutting edge of EDW is therefore to be able to provide artificial
intelligence to the database enabling it to answer the most complex and
Tell us more about Teradata Corporation and its Indian operations.
Teradata Corporation is the world's largest company focused on raising
intelligence through data warehousing and enterprise analytics. Located in over
40 countries, Teradata offers a single source of consistent and accurate data
for decision-making improving customer relationships, profitability and analytic
capabilities to turn data into information. It has more than 850 customers and
more than 1,900 implementations spread over 100 countries.
In India, Teradata has been present since 2001. Today, it has a research and
development facility in Hyderabad and Bangalore, and a global consulting centre
What are your prospects for India?
India is going through a period of dramatic economic growth, and Teradata over
the past seven years has been happy to be part of it. We are very optimistic
about India, and see a huge market for EDW and business intelligence. The market
for providing high-impact business solutions is still very nascent and grossly
under-exploited. Let me explain. In a booming economy, it is very easy to make
money. A telecom company for example can acquire licence, set up towers, build a
brand and start its business. Along with the economy, the business would also
When several businesses grow, domestic competition increases, consolidation
occurs, foreign players enter the market etc. One cannot then rely purely on the
growth of the market and would naturally turn to other competitive strategies.
In such a scenario, it is business intelligence that offers value over and above
the natural growth rate, and this is where we see a huge untapped market in
India. EDW and the resulting business intelligence help businesses to become
smarter and this is where companies like Teradata come to the play. I think that
our growth in India would accelerate in the years to come.
What drives companies to business intelligence?
Simply put, competition is the biggest driver. In a competitive market,
aggressive pricing alone does not help fully. Take the case of telecom companies
in India. With little scope to lower them further, it is business intelligence
(and not pricing) that will govern the competitive advantage of companies.
What is the awareness level of business intelligence in India?
I believe awareness is very high, but the level of deployment is low, which is
why we think India is a large untapped market. One of the reasons is the ongoing
economic boom where businesses are eager to start and enthusiastic about
market-driven growth. Business intelligence, to such companies, is still a
faraway idea as far as deployment is concerned. I am also pleased to note that
almost every business executive is fully aware of business intelligence and what
it could do to further his company's growth.
Teradata is largely catering to India's private sector. What are your plans
for government companies?
We do see growth opportunities from Indian government companies also. It is a
lot harder to open business relations with government companies, not just in
India but in other countries as well. Government companies generally have
lengthy procedures in terms of evaluation of new suppliers, which is why our
penetration might be faster with private sector companies. In India, Life
Insurance Corporation of India, the country's biggest insurer, is a Teradata
World over, Teradata has been serving government agencies particularly those
that data-centric and analyze data for social and regulatory reasons. Income
tax, pension funds, postal departments, and customs are some areas where
Teradata is actively present. Post-9/11, security has also become an emerging
How do you compare your experiences in India vis-à-vis other emerging Asian
One remarkable thing about China and other countries like Taiwan, Malaysia and
Singapore is their aggression and their ability to stick to a plan. If China
decides to build a bridge in six months, it will do it. In India, I think that
the growth rate is phenomenal and sometimes infrastructure cannot cope with the
growing demand. Speaking of business intelligence, or the perceived need for it,
I think India still thinks of business intelligence as a strategic tool and the
sheer amount of day-to-day business work on hand pushes it lower in the
priority. But I am sure that competition will bring about urgency for business
Do you see the application of EDW in project monitoring?
Monitoring of projects is, in fact, a very exciting and challenging application
for EDW, particularly in India that is currently seeing huge infrastructure
development. Projects can be very diverse in terms of their cost, complexity,
completion schedules, critical paths, suppliers etc. If details of all projects
were to be integrated into a single database, it would be the most useful tool
for regulatory authorities.
Project implementation also means participation of a number of agencies that
step into a project in some sequence, based on a preceding deadline. If there is
a time overrun in a particular segment, and this can be foreseen through EDW,
the impact that it could have on the next implementation scheduled can be gauged
instantly. Authorities could also undertake crucial supply analysis and
inventory tracking. I am not sure even if China, just for the sake of
comparison, has a system of this kind, but it is definitely a very appealing
proposition. The opportunities for EDW application and the analytics possible
from there are limitless.
Given that EDW is a very sophisticated concept, how will you deal with human
resources in India, in particular?
India has huge talent and skills. In fact, India has more Teradata employees
than in any other part of the world. There are 1,200 Teradata consultants in
Mumbai alone! The quality of education and the skill set in India is very
impressive, and we see no problems in our human resource endeavours. Business in
India is growing very rapidly and we are also looking at partnership to further
What will be your growth drivers in India?
Competition, which will result in a growing need for business intelligence, will
be the main driver. We are also looking at the small and medium enterprise (SME)
market that is growing at a phenomenal rate. We believe that SMEs despite their
small size and fragmented presence will have the same business analytics as
their larger counterparts would. EDW will make this possible.
Teradata has targeted to enlarge its presence in India's manufacturing sector.
We will focus on "straight manufacturing" that is where unit-wise production
takes place - automobiles, semiconductors, etc. In a general sense, heavy
engineering and technology-intensive manufacturing industries will be the thrust
[May 19-25, 2008]