“Technology is always ahead of its time.” Ranjit Nair was well aware of this cardinal principle when he along with his father founded data analytics company Germin8 in 2006. Founding a data analytics company as early as 2006 would have needed incredible foresight and today Ranjit would be certainly happy that his risk has paid off.
Germin8 is a social media intelligence company that helps companies from across the sector in understanding the complex social media data and act in real-time to better engage with their target customers. This decade old company has quite a few cutting edge products at its disposal to precisely understand gazillion of complex data churned at various popular social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. This data then offers 360-degree view to companies with regards to action required, feedback, public sentiments and about every other factor that is important for branding.
Today Germin8 counts many big companies like Airtel, Marico, Asian Paint, Godrej and ICICI Bank among its many high profile clients.
However, this brief introduction about Ranjit Nair would lose all the zing and sheen if we don’t mention about what really inspired this young entrepreneur to decode the complex world of social media data. Like all things tech, Ranjit’s passion for new age technologies like data analytics started in the United States. He completed his PhD in Computer Science with a specialization in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Southern California in 2004. For next two years, he worked as a Senior Research Scientist with Honeywell Labs in Minneapolis before returning to India in 2006 to pursue his entrepreneurial dream.
In an exclusive interview with Technpluto, Germin8’s founder and CEO speaks about various important aspects of data analytics and his more than a decade old company.
Q) Did you truly believe that one day data would eventually become the new oil way back in 2007 when Germin8 was founded?
Ranjit Nair: I came across an Economist article which mentioned that the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data. Data volumes have grown to unimaginable levels, with data driving the transformative nature of the latest technologies. In seven years from now, data moving across various systems will touch 180 zettabytes, presenting a reminder of the volumes of data that need to be stored and processed.
Data analytics can only be as good as the data that goes into the analysis. Used rightly, data has the power to lend an edge to decisions, backed by the analytical insights of freshly processed data. However, data that has lost its value will blight the decisions, blunting the edge or worse still; damage the prospects of the organization.
Q) How has data analytics really changed since Germin8’s inception in 2007, when social media wasn’t really as big and phenomenal as it is today?
Ranjit Nair: Historically speaking, a simple definition of Analytics is “the study of analysis.” A more useful, more modern description would suggest “Data Analytics” is an important tool for gaining business insights and providing tailored responses to customers.
The practice of Data Analytics has gradually evolved and broadened over time, providing many benefits. Data now not only adds value to decisions and processes but if ignored can cost the company huge loss. Resulting in inability to meet any of the three criteria’s that are critical for data analytics, which is the ‘accuracy’ of the data, the ‘actionable’ nature of the data and the availability of the data in a ‘timely’ manner.
Globally, businesses are estimated to lose around $ 600 billion as a result of bad data. Duplicate data, incomplete data and inconsistent data can adversely impact a campaign or routine processes. The disparate nature of data lends it the informative edge, funnelling different sources of information. However today while we have multiple companies trying to analyse and decode data, the real challenge lies in identifying the right data and using it rightly.
Q) Can you please shed some light on how social media intelligence data can actually help companies in improving their overall work productivity?
Ranjit Nair: Social media intelligence data gives brands a 360 degree view of their stakeholders’ actions, feedback, opinions, and sentiment with regards to your brand. These services help brands figure out trends, using predictive analytics, and monitor millions of social media sites, online news sites and social media brand channels in real time, across geographies and across multiple languages.
We recommend using social media analytics to find out what stakeholders are saying about brands competitors to assess & benchmark strengths and weaknesses of their products & services and to know how brand fares against their competitors on key industry-specific parameters.
Q) Are there any new products on the pipeline or do you think your three existing products – Germin8 Social Listening, Trooya and Germin8 Command Center – are suffice to meet the client demands?
Ranjit Nair: While we are working on new products we are very happy with how each of these following products are faring in the market:
- Germin8 Social Listening helps companies make sense of the conversations about their brand, competitors, products and campaigns on social media. Conversations gathered from various social media and user generated content sites are analysed using industry specific algorithms for topic and sentiment and presented on helpful dashboards for deriving insights
- Trooya is a cloud-based social media contact center that enables you to respond to customers, resolve their issues and earn their goodwill. Some of the key intelligence built into the tool revolves around smart workflows that enable teams to collaboratively attend to customers, prioritize important customers and automate the allocation of customer service agents to customer interactions. The product comes with three pricing plans: Beginner, Professional and Enterprise, based on the volume of usage and support levels.
- Germin8 social command center is a dedicated visual setup where brands can monitor & engage in social conversations. It helps brands take crucial decisions, decisions based on social media intelligence.
Q) According to my research, in the past Germin8 has raised significant capital through external funding? Are you open to raise more funds in the future as well?
Ranjit Nair: Germin8 is now at a point where our revenues are same to sustain our current growth plans. So although we are not actively seeking funding right now, we might raise funding in the future when we have some expansion plans that require it.
Q) Any major predictions about the Industry with regards to foreseeable challenges and future growth?
Ranjit Nair: If there is a slowdown in the economy we think that there might be few cutbacks by some companies in terms of their marketing budget. This could mean a challenge for some products which are not seen as essential or with strong ROI. However, this may also lend an opportunity for social media research companies to partially replace conventional market research which tends to be slower and more expensive.
Q) There seems to be a strong perception that social media data is more useful for B2C than B2B companies. Do you think this is a myth or indeed a reality?
Ranjit Nair: We at Germin8 strongly believe that social media data is useful for both; B2B as well as B2C companies. Today in order to get your brand noticed one mustn’t compromise with the quality of content. Besides, one should also invest in developing a wholesome reach out strategy to grab maximum eyeballs.
With digital content ruling the roost, all that might seem a piece of cake. However, in actuality, it is way deeper than one can gauge. You see, these days, a large number of businesses are thoroughly engaged in marketing their content, but how many of them are really gaining an edge.
The usual play is to roll in content on topics that have been touched upon and covered in detail by others. Sure, you can put in your own thoughts and twists and turns all around to get the job done, but in doing so, you are throwing the towel on originality and significantly contributing towards content adulteration. Thus, the obvious question is how one cuts through the clutter to make an impact. The answer is Social Media Listening. It works in bits and pieces, albeit, but when put together comes out really robust, really firm to leave a positive and enriching effect on your audience.
Q) Over the years have you witnessed any major shift in consumer’s engagement with brands on social media platforms?
Ranjit Nair: Marketers have been using social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to promote their businesses for years now but consumer’s engagement with brands on social media platforms has evolved over the years. In the past, consumers used to see brands as impersonal and most of their engagement was to express their ire when their expectations were not met. Now, many consumers see brands as individuals with personality who can be interacted and engaged with. This has meant much more constructive feedback, exchange of ideas and even funny banter. For brands this results in greater loyalty and also customer driven innovation.
Q) Taking cue from your highly successful entrepreneurial journey, what are some of the valuable advices that you’d like to offer to all the budding entrepreneurs?
Ranjit Nair: The right approach can mean a world of difference in business. Part of setting up a long-term plan is knowing where the problem spots are as well as which business philosophies work better for which industries. My number one advice is to not let failures – there will be plenty – prevent you from taking a risks again. A risk averse strategy will stifle growth.
Q) Who are some of the entrepreneurs that you personally look upto for seeking inspiration?
Ranjit Nair: Narayan Murthy, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk
Q) One word that aptly defines the spirit of entrepreneurship?
Ranjit Nair: Pioneering