Enterprise Times spoke with Anjan Kundavaram, Chief Product Officer at Precisely. Last week Precisely made two major announcements at Trust ’21, its annual conference. The first was the acquisition of Winshuttle. It also revealed EngageOne Communicate, the first unified SaaS platform for customer engagement at Trust21.
Kundavaram joined precisely in December 2020 from Hitachi Vantara, where he was vice president, product and engineering. Enterprise Times asked him why he decided to join?
“That’s a good question. There are a few things that attracted me. Firstly, the scale of the business and where we want to go. Our aspiration is to be a billion dollars in revenue in three years. If you look at the data integrity space, we’d be in the top two, and hopefully, top in terms of growth soon. In the data space, you can’t think of companies our size. So clearly, scale and scale matters in this business.
“The depth of IP. As I started doing my due diligence, and as I joined, I was impressed. From data integration, where we have some really strong replication capabilities, to data quality and 15 years being a leader in that quadrant. Also, location analytics, this is super fascinating, the kinds of use cases that I’ve now come to see in terms of insurance and retail.
“Then the data enrichment portfolio. I think that’s our secret weapon in this age of AI. Looking at that depth of portfolio, where we want to go in terms of the revenue goals.
“Finally, the company had a compelling vision around data integrity. Clarity is important for me, and I talked to Josh, Eric and the senior management here; we want to win in data integrity. So there’s clarity, focus, and there’s a mission to a billion. All of those were things that excited me.”
What’s your vision for the Precisely product portfolio.
“We want to be a leader in data integrity, and we want to be a leader by providing the best SaaS portfolio of products and everything.”
On building a platform through acquisitions
Precisely has been built largely through acquisition and has a large number of products. How big is the challenge in terms of creating that focus from a technical point of view?
“As a team, we have looked at everyone’s data integrity suite. We see a massive opportunity with where the markets going. SaaS consumption is heating up with data warehouses, data quality, integrity, AI and ML/Ops. We’re going to focus our products going forward with those new growth use cases. At the same time, we’ve got a dual strategy. First, we want to ensure that we can support our existing customers with our great IP, which we are already doing. Second, we are focusing our new investment on building a set of SaaS capabilities and providing our existing customers with a path, to Cloud and SaaS, with that unique differentiation.
“Our growth is going to be organic and inorganic. We’ve done well with Winshuttle and Infogix, but we want half of our growth to come from organic. With the Data Integrity Suite, we’re getting ready to turbocharge that. You see a lot of vendors and startups out there. No one’s got the depth and the breadth of what we have in terms of IP, in terms of engines.
“These take a long time to build. If you just look at our data quality engine, it’s battle-tested, if you look at a geocoding engine, it took us 30 years to get there. If you can run that in a cloud-native format, in a SaaS consumption model, in a way that can scale in cloud data warehouses like Snowflake, we will be unbeatable. It’s a lot easier for us to do that. We feel like we’ve got natural advantages and compelling IP to take us there.”
What is your approach to integrating these applications?
“On the integration side, we have to be thoughtful in how we integrate. Our core philosophy on integration is we don’t want to be platform play. We want to be modular. We want a loose coupling and integration with our existing products so that customers can pick and choose. The market is going away from, give me everything, towards, give me best of breed capabilities that they want to use.”
Isn’t there a risk with that approach that you have some developers duplicating effort?
“That’s a good point. From our point of view, it’s okay for us to have multiple data quality engines. We’ve got really strong products in certain use cases, like address quality versus core data quality and even in geocoding. We’ll continue to invest in that, but in a more thoughtfully integrated SaaS way.
“If you think about data quality. We want the customer to do data quality in addressing, in a cloud data warehouse, for MLOPs, and in a traditional sense, like an on-prem ERP or Salesforce. Do that through a consistent user interface, simple UX.
“Now, does that mean there are multiple data quality engines to support that? Yes. It’s not conceivable to have the depth and the breadth to have one engine to support all those use cases. But, we want simple experience across all of them. That’s how we think we can straddle both worlds it gets us a way to land and expand. We already have great use cases that we do today. This lets us take those same customers to the cloud.”
I believe there are four different architectures that your target customers have. Those with on-premise solutions, those migrating to the cloud, hybrid environments and born in the cloud. Where are you seeing the traction and growth at the moment?
“Those are probably broadly right. We see traction across all four. Clearly, the green field we see more of in the cloud, with purpose-built solutions for new projects. On-prem to on-prem, we’ve got strong mainframe portfolios. Mission-critical apps don’t get switched on and moved over rapidly. That takes a long time. We still see meaningful investment for on-prem, and hybrid cloud is still growing. We’ve got to plan to make sure that we support all those four trends because we don’t think we can afford to have just do one.
“We support on-prem customers really well. If a customer is moving, with a lift and shift to the cloud, that is another variation of our on-prem approach. We’re getting really good at supporting cloud customers. Then with our data integrity suite, we are building IP and we’re building capability so if a customer wants to go design in the cloud, and want it in their AWS environment, or have us manage it in a SaaS way, we’re gonna do both.
“We think this transition will take a while. All those four threads are important for us. The fourth track, where you talk about the pure cloud-native or SaaS track. We think, more innovations are happening. There are more use cases like ML Ops or cloud data warehousing. That’s early, but we want to invest.”
Where does Precisely fit in the wider picture?
How should Precisely fit into the Enterprise Architecture stack?
“There’s a few ways. From a data point of view, follow the journey of data. That’s how we think about how Precisely should fit in. You are extracting data or doing that data transformation from various data sources, the onset of data, the creation of data. We see a right to play there with our data integration capabilities and more so with our replication capabilities.
“Data quality ends up being a common use case for customers now. They’re building applications, and they need to understand and get a return on your investment. It is now going to be paramount for customers to invest in data quality. For most deals, that’s ours to lose. Now we’ve got data in one place. Do they have the best data from a governance point of view, from a quality point of view, from a preparation point of view? We’ve got a right to play there.
“Then finally, we knew this for the context, can I enrich it from a location point of view from a data set point of view that feels like the third core area.”
On the future
You’re doing interesting things around data enrichment with geocoding and geolocation. What’s the next thing in terms of data enrichment?
“Yeah, we are strong, with location and big data enrichment. We’re deeply integrating that into the data integrity suite. Where we are going with that is customers can come in and say, I’ve got my data, I’ve cleaned it, and I’ve now got my golden record. I want to use Precisely’s data, or I ask Precisely to help me enrich my datasets with data out there and do that in a consistent way.
“Why we think that is important is that if customers are doing analytics, enriched data is a hell of a lot better to give them better outcomes, better precision. Customers are making investments in AI, but it’s super important that they get the data.
“There’s a really good blog from Andrew Ng. He talks about good data is better than big data. He had two cohorts that looked at ML models. One cohort spent a lot of time just on the modelling. The second cohort spent time on modelling but spent more time on data quality.
“The cohort that spent time on data quality significantly outperformed the first cohort. We view that as a massive opportunity for us where customers are going to need quality and enrichment as a key way to get a return on their digital transformations.”
What’s the biggest change you’ve made with a product team since you’ve arrived that isn’t really known outside the company.
“We are investing in our SaaS capabilities and in our UX capabilities going forward. Those are two areas that the board down is very excited that we’re investing more in the product suite. They see the opportunity for us to grow in the space given our IP. Those are two areas, user experience really matters, so we’re going to take that to heart. We see a massive opportunity with the SaaS application of products.“
A few weeks ago now, Precisely acquired Infogix. At Trust21 Precisely gave an update around the acquisition. Enterprise Times asked Kundavaram how Infogix will slot into the platform
“I’m actually very excited about Infogix now we’ve had some time to go spend with that super talented team. If you look at where we’re going in SaaS, data governance is one we’re missing. You keep hearing data quality and data governance, more and more in the market. The govern product that we got from Infogix is a SaaS multi-tenant product. It naturally fits into our data integrity suite and where we’re going. That’s like a match made in heaven.
“They also have self-service data prep that we were lacking. We’re having some customers say now that you’ve done the data migration go massage in an analysis sense. That’s a nice add on that we didn’t have.
“The third thing that’s quite strategic for us is they have Strategic Services function. That was the Datum acquisition that Infogix did. That is all about talking to and influencing C-level executives on data governance, and now we hope for data integrity. We think that’s quite impactful. A lot of these projects are convincing the top on why and the business outcome and then positioning your portfolio. We’re very excited about that piece as well.
“Those are the three things: data governance, it’s a market fit, a technology fit and a product use case, it’s like boom, boom, boom. Data Prep, its something we needed in the portfolio. Then finally, Strategic Services has been a missing piece for us as we present our portfolio.”