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LiveBlog: Intelligence at the Edge

This is a live-blog of the event organized by @NexusVP, with the CTOs of @DruvaInc, @Helpshift, and @Uniken_Inc, talking about “Intelligence at the Edge” – i.e. the increasing amount of enterprise data that is now found in mobiles, laptops, and other devices of their employees, and how that is changing the world of enterprise software.

The panel consisted of these people:

  • Jishnu Bhattacharjee (@b_jishnu), of Nexus Venture Partners:
  • Sanjay Deshpande, CEO and Chief Innovation Officer at Uniken, a Pune-based enterprise security company.
  • BG (@ghoseb), CTO and Co-founder at Helpshift, a Pune-based company that provides a software platform that allows mobile app developers to incorporate high quality customer service and support into their apps.
  • Milind Borate, CTO and Co-Founder at Druva, a Pune-based company that provides backup solutions for the enterprise.

Here is a random list of interesting stuff said during this discussion:

  • More and more data and intelligence is being pushed at the edges of the corporate networks. Translation: Imagine a large company. It has an IT department that runs many servers and complicated applications in their labs and data centers. In the past, most of the data and intelligence of the enterprise was in these servers. But in recent times, the devices in the hands of the employees (the desktops, laptops, mobile phones) have more and more powerful apps, more sensitive data, and more unique data (i.e. data which is not replicated on the servers). This is the “edge” of the enterprise.
  • What does Druva do? Druva looks at data that is sitting on laptops, mobiles, and other devices at the edge from 4 different angles:
    • Backup of the data
    • Data theft prevention if the data falls in the wrong hands
    • Analyzing the data on all these devices and providing intelligence (actionable insights)
    • Being able to share that data with others: colleagues within the company, but also outside – customers, vendors

  • What does Helpshift do? Built a SDK that mobile developers can download and incorporate into their app to automatically and easily get very sophisticated customer service into their app. For example:
    • Reduce customer service calls through the use of in-app FAQs, which can easily be updated by the developer – updates to the FAQ can be pushed to all customers mobiles automatically
    • When a customer reports an issue, the Helpshift runtime uses breadcrumbs to keep track of what the customer was doing just before hitting the issue, so that without any extra effort on the part of the customer, details of the device, the configuration and what exactly caused the bug are sent to the server
    • Now they are focusing on building machine-learning based higher level features. Their bigger customers have millions of daily users and get thousands of support issues per day. So, they need sophisticated analysis to figure out the common patterns.
    • 80% of Helpshift’s market is the US and the remaining 20% is from the rest of the world, including Europe and Latin America
    • 80% of the money comes from iPhone users. But Android is still young, and growing.
  • What does Uniken do? Uniken realized that most of the technology on the internet has been driven by media companies who want to sell ads on their websites, and maximize the number of users, whereas enterprises (like banks) are trying to use the same internet to give a very secure experience to their (captive) users. There is a mismatch here, and what the enterprises need is a much more secure environment where they have much more control over all the pieces in the chain – including the network and the devices being used by the customers. This is the area Uniken is in.
  • Indian market vs US market: In India, there is a software/web/mobile market, but a lot of it is mostly consumer oriented. The B2B software market is still not really well developed, and is it not easy to make much money here.
    • 60% of Druva’s revenue comes from the US, 30% from Europe, and 10% comes from the rest of the world (India included).
    • Druva started off trying to sell in the Indian market. They tried in-person enterprise sales, and had a tough time. In the meantime, they started getting enquiries from the US from people who had simply downloaded their software, tried it out, liked it, and wanted to buy it. Over time, this increased, and they soon realized that US was where the real market was.
    • One of the key things that helped them was that they built software that was very easy to download off the web and install without requiring any help from the company itself. This was unheard of in the enterprise backup business (which was dominated by companies like Symantec/Veritas, EMC etc.)
    • Druva used Google adwords very effectively to market its products. The big players like Symantec/Veritas, EMC have very large sales organizations with great reach, and it would have been very difficult for Druva to compete with them in terms of reach of their salespeople. But Google adwords allowed them to reach out to customers all over the world.
  • BigData is big. The number of devices (mobiles, laptops, desktops) that people are using is so huge, that with even minimal intelligence in each device the amount of data is huge – petabytes.
    • Collect as much data as possible. You will find uses for it later.
    • Don’t worry about where/how to store the data. Just store it in flat files initially, and then later you can figure out where to put it to analyze it.
    • No single software will solve all your problems. Use everything – SQL, NoSQL, Hadoop, etc.
    • What has made this possible is the fact that all these devices are now internet connected, and hence all the data can be collected and stored centrally in the cloud. Further, again because of the internet connectivity, it is possible to push software updates to the devices, so the data collection abilities can be continuously upgraded.
  • How has Uniken managed to sell into the Indian enterprise market? It is currently 100% in the Indian market – and it sees India as a big market, with lots of potential. Most Indian software startups struggle with this (as seen by Druva’s experience above). You need to do this:
    • In any company, identify the right person – the one who has enough vision to do things differently, try new products, and who can also get things done in that company
    • Choosing the right champion in the customer company is key
    • Keep meeting the right people, keep selling them your story, keep plugging away, until the sale happens
    • Think of an enterprise sale as dating with a long-term relationship in mind
    • Have lots of patience. Don’t give up. India is a market requires a lot of patience.

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