Indian enterprises are extensively leveraging data-centric business models: Vimal Venkatram, Country Head, Snowflake India

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Recently, a survey on the future data landscape was conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit. The survey commissioned by Snowflake collected inputs from 914 global executives across eight industries and 13 countries, including India indicated that India is well on its way to becoming one of the leading nations in a data-driven world. Responses indicated that business leaders in India strongly embrace advanced data technologies and have a great deal of confidence in data’s inherent value to Indian businesses and the broader economy.

Snowflake’s Country Head, Vimal Venkatram shares his perspective on India’s leading and unique growth trends in a rapidly changing digital environment

Can you share some of the highlights of the survey on the future data landscape conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Snowflake?
Companies in India are investing tremendously in collecting, analyzing, and sharing data. Innovators, business houses, and leaders are strongly adopting advanced data technologies in their organizations to drive business transformation and meet business requirements. India is ahead of the curve in adopting advanced data exchange and gain business traction from predictive analysis.

Businesses operating in India exchanged data at a greater frequency as compared globally. The survey result showed that 98.1% respondents had purchased data as compared to the global average of 93.4%. This implies Indian companies have sold 10% more data in the last six months.

Simultaneously, extensive data utilization provided crucial insights on how data adoption in the current economic scenario should be handled. To control the increasing volumes of data from data center, organizations should focus on a robust data protection and data management system. Extensive data sprawl has implications for security regulation and compliance. Therefore, upholding data privacy regulation is a top priority for any organization.
Investment in sufficient data systems and infrastructure is another top precedence. Data-driven companies in India need to build up storage capacity to meet new data demands. Organizations should also maintain transparency in how they manage data. Lack of clear mandate from leadership to collect data and shortage of technical capacity were among the core concerns of CIOs. Organizations should prioritize data strategy to leverage enhanced data capabilities.

The survey results show that use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for data analytics is widely embraced across India. Can you tell us which sectors are leading in using AI in India?
The business discussions today are based on insights from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Insights gained through analytics are highly powerful and can be used to enhance data while making it consumer-centric. Data insights help to realize a particular business phenomenon and also identify areas of opportunity. For the year 2020, data analytics in India received a total revenue of $36 billion. This shows an increase in 20% growth in revenue every year. AI driven frameworks can provide in-depth customer information and offers predictive analysis on marketing and sales channels, product development strategies, and buyer preferences.

In India, sectors that have adopted AI for gaining business insights and managed to work flawlessly even during the pandemic includes BFSI, IT/ITeS, Healthcare, Media and Entertainment specially the OTT platforms. The data analytics business model is widely embraced across India. 64% of Indian companies have used AI and ML for drawing insights to gain business strategies and processes as compared to 37% globally.

What are some of the learnings from the survey for Indian enterprises? Are there any gaps that must be addressed immediately?
Indian enterprises are extensively leveraging data-centric business model for their present and future business landscape. In India, the most significant challenge for an organization is data protection and data privacy regulations. The Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) which is currently pending states that compliance is a necessity for all kinds of personal data. The Bill has extended the rights prescribed for individuals, a central data protection regulator was also introduced, and a requirement of data localization for certain sensitive data is also stated.

Another substantial challenge for Indian enterprises is that not enough investment in data systems and infrastructure is being made. As per the data localization requirements which is a part of the PDPB, consumer-related data must be sorted to create a higher demand for data center in India.  Also, due to the current pandemic, March 2020 saw a soar in data traffic. So, the succeeding effect on data center operations is anticipated to be moderate in India.

How does India compare with the rest of the world with respect to usage of data? What are some of the significant differences in approach and implementation?
India is moving forward at a faster pace with data usability as compared to the rest of the world. Businesses in India exchanged data at a greater speed (98%) as compared to the global average of 93%. The top differentiator for business organizations in India is data adoption. Accelerated data adoption has kept businesses on the right track during the COVID time. To withstand the ever-increasing demand of data adoption, businesses must acquire professional knowledge and technical expertise to shift data to the Cloud and move towards digital revolution.

Cloud adoption is primarily run by the Tier I cities in India. However, Tier II and Tier III cities should also consider cloud-based technologies and infrastructure to make greater progress in their business technology and be better equipped at managing future business disruptions. By leveraging Cloud-led data India can become a global innovation hub.

In addition, India is establishing itself as a major retainer of the data-centric business culture. The survey reveals that 94.2% participants accepted data without payment and offered data without payment as compared to 83.3% globally.

What are some of the significant differences in approach and implementation? 
One of the most significant differences in the approach and implementation of the Snowflake Data Cloud is that it is delivered as a service. The time-to-value with SaaS capabilities is rapid and the deployment architecture does away with mundane data administration tasks that are involved in traditional on-prem & cloud data warehouses. This allows customers to focus on additional use-cases such as data science and data sharing thus driving far more value while doing this at unprecedented scale and performance. From an approach standpoint, organizations have the ability to start with a specific use-case and then expand usage to include additional workloads while the consumption happens on a pay-per-use model.

What are the biggest opportunities for Snowflake in India? How has Snowflake grown in the Indian market?
Indian organizations are rapidly adopting Cloud-based business model. The country is also a major hub for various cloud providers. In keeping up with this increasing trend, Snowflake has built a data platform for the cloud- the Data Cloud, allowing organizations to unify all of their data globally. Data Cloud can discover and unite siloed data, and share governed data securely. Our cloud platform can perform near-unlimited scale, performance and concurrency. Snowflake’s cloud data platform is built to integrate, support and perform diverse analytic workloads such as Data Warehousing, Engineering and Data Science.

Since last year Snowflake has become an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Technology Partner. This has enabled Indian consumers to keep their data within the country. They have the flexibility and scalability of their data offered by the Snowflake Data Cloud. Snowflake assist businesses for safe and quick assess of data and offer its service to clients like Swiggy, Urban Company, Freight Tiger, EpiFi among others.

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