Krishnan Chatterjee, chief customer officer (CCO) and head of marketing, SAP Indian subcontinent, talks about how entrepreneurs can use technology to scale up as they look to build billion-dollar enterprises. Edited excerpts:
As early stage investors, how critical is it to analyse the technology aspect of the startup?
At the early stage if you look at the founder and the team and if they have a technology vision for the scale then that is probably the most risk-free fashion in which you can assure yourself, that they can demonstrate to you their aspiration for growth by how strategically they think about technology. I think it is a very good box to check when you look at a company.
How important a role does data play today in businesses and how can it help scale up a company to become a billion-dollar enterprise?
Today if I look at any business, especially in India, where the opportunity is the consumption growth that India is seeing, which is driving a massive transformation across the front, middle and back office. Every one of these stages in your business demands that you use data in a fashion that you have not done before. Data can no more be a rear-view mirror. Let’s pull it in excel sheets and make management decisions. Data is, I swipe my credit card and you make me the offer right then. As you start seeing that kind of demonstration you will see unicorns being born.
Can you share some examples of such transformative exercises?
If you want to scale up then you will have to change transactional clock speeds. Reliance Jio’s onboarding of 100 million customers through KYC-based onboarding in three months when it launched, is the world’s largest on-board exercise. Till that happened, our view of KYC onboarding was that it takes weeks. Here was Reliance who did it in microseconds. So there was a fundamental shift in clock speeds that drove the entire exercise. So that’s one way in which technology was used to disruptively create scale.
What are the most important things that entrepreneurs should keep in mind when building for scale?
First, look at your data strategy. That is fundamentally true for any business that wants to scale. Design your back office for very low cost, highly compliant transactions. Design a middle office that reconciles extremely well. Design a front office for personalization.