Home CEO Zone CEO Interviews Phani Nagarjuna, Founder & CEO of Nuevora
   
Phani Nagarjuna, Founder & CEO of Nuevora

Company Profile: Nuevora is an emerging leader in the delivery of “Outcomes Research & Analytics”. Using targeted research and advanced analytics, Nuevora helps leading organizations achieve higher levels of customer profitability and marketing ROI. Nuevora’s solutions transform disparate sources of structured & unstructured operational data into predictive insights enabling smarter decisions and better outcomes.

Some of the most respected and well-run organizations across multiple industries have improved their operational efficiencies and accelerated their momentum in the marketplace in partnership with Nuevora.

Nuevora is founded and led by individuals with real-world experience in delivering operational excellence. Using expert analytics talent, MBAs from top business schools including Ivy League & IIMs, and a global delivery model, Nuevora delivers unparalleled advantages in quality, cost and time-to-market.

Nuevora is headquartered in California, USA and operates a wholly owned subsidiary in Hyderabad, India.

Phani Nagarjuna

CEO Profile: Mr. Phani Nagarjuna, Founder & CEO of Nuevora sets out the global vision & strategy for the Company and leads the overall execution. Prior to setting up Nuevora Mr. Phani was working with OneCommand as EVP (Product Marketing, Strategy and Business Development)

Mr. Phani is a frequent speaker on the subjects of Services Globalization, CRM and Outsourcing at various worldwide conferences. He has a B.S. in Engineering from Osmania University, MS in Engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and an M.B.A from Harvard University.

Mr. Phani is an active community service member and a two time recipient of the honor from the President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton for his outstanding contribution to environmental protection services.

CEO Under Scan: Mr. Phani Nagarjuna, Founder & CEO of Nuevora

Telephonic Interview by: Mr. Amit Madaan, Campus Editor, IBS-H, The CEO Insights

Please tell us about the background and business model of your company?

The business model that we bring to the market place is rooted in the fact that a number of organizations in order to succeed in today’s globalized and hyper-competitive markets have to operate on the basis of predictive customer & consumer insight that that can be gained from market data, customer data that the organizations hold, competitor data, and data from multiple other sources. The cornerstone for innovation in organizations relies on business process excellence achieved through operational effectiveness. And, this can be most effectively achieved by tuning one’s business processes based on actionable intelligence gained from predictive analytics - learning more about one’s customers’ behaviors and purchasing patterns, learning more about what’s working and not working with one’s products, knowing what the ROI on one’s initiatives is, synchronizing one’s brand strategy and positioning across all channels of commerce and communication, and tracking the customer perception of one’s brand at every customer touch point, the so called “moments of truth” are just some of the examples of the power of predictive analytics.

Our business model enables organizations to compete on analytics? However, analytics driven execution requires a well thought-out analytics based strategy, a business process driven approach, and continuous development of predictive insights based on rigorous data analysis and predictive science, and the application of these insights to the day-to-day operational decision-making and execution. A focus on continuous process improvement using analytics maximizes short-term and long-term results as opposed to ad-hoc once-a-while initiation of segmentation and analytics projects.

We employ deep-dive statistical talent combined with business acumen to understand our customers’ business processes and identify areas of potential growth and improvement. The business talent understands our customers’ business processes and the outcomes they are interested in achieving and articulates the business problem into a data problem. Our statistical expertise addresses the data problem using some of the most advanced predictive science concepts.

We deliver this high-end service portfolio using the outsourcing delivery model, which enables us to be highly cost-effective and deliver superior turnarounds yet at the same time be A+ in the quality of results we help our customers’ achieve.

You are an MBA from Harvard University and you also have industry experience? How is it helping you in your venture?

It’s very important that you learn the ropes of the trade once you come out of the business school to apply those skill sets and to practically see how things get done. Combination of your knowledge that you acquire within a B-school and application of that in a corporate environment gives you a very good platform to go and invent and start something on your own. There are many more things that you need in order to succeed once you start something on your own.

It requires a lot of discipline, a lot of focus, a lot of hard work and above all a clear vision as to why what you are doing is beneficial for the market, and how you are providing value which some other players are not providing, or how you are providing value better than the that provided by your competitors. So there is a clear vision that you need to have, a clear value proposition you need to define and of course all the ingredients of hard work, dedication and more importantly the leadership that is required to marshal the resources behind you and get the job done.

So did you always have it in your mind that you will start something of your own?

Yes. I always wanted to start something on my own.

Did you have any other business ideas before setting up Nuevora? If yes, why and how did you zero down on this business idea?

There were a few other ideas that I was considering before fixating on Nuevora. However, creating a business model by combining outsourcing and analytics turned out to be very compelling and the market need was obvious. At the same time the value proposition was simple yet powerful and we could kick-start the venture quickly and effectively without much gestation time.

The number of opportunities for analytics outsourcing is plenty, the number of players is very few, and the needs are increasing for organizations with every passing day. So it made sense for me to just dive and start off with it. Ideas are quite a few out there, most ideas seem attractive and your ability to switch off your mind and have the discipline to not go after too many ideas at the same time is a crucial attribute.

Tell us about the organization structure at Nuevora.

We do not maintain any rigid organizational structure with people reporting at multiple levels. We run a very flat organization. Our organization is fluid and has an open door policy. Healthy debate on ideas and issues is openly encouraged, and I make sure key people are accessible to everyone.

Well, I will give you the class of competitors. It’s an emerging industry and it redefines the way the adoption and application of predictive analytics is happening across organizations. The need for analytics and the application of analytics to out-compete one’s competitors is growing very rapidly, which means it is opening up more and more demand and there is room for new players.

We compete sometimes with some of the management consulting firms, sometimes the large BPO firms, and other times with in-house analytics teams. When organizations are looking to apply deep level analytics to gain insights, some of them approach a management consulting firm. Their engagement model is a one-to-one model where you just do one engagement for one client and then move to the next engagement and so on, which is very expensive, not scalable, and above all does not provide a platform for sustainable Corporate Performance Management (CPM).

Our model involves continuous delivery of analytics in an outsourcing model where we do apply the same level of management talent to the problem areas but we deliver it very cost effectively and on a 24x7 turnaround manner with insights directly powering day-to-day decision-making. And, we are more outcomes driven and less presentation focused.

In order to really bring about some positive impact to the organizations that you are delivering analytics to, it is extremely important that you understand the underlining business processes. The large BPO firms operate and survive on the basis of providing low-end services on a larger scale reaping the benefits of economies of scale. So, if it is some basic data crunching on a large scale, yes a BPO firm with massive number of people could do it but the real impact of analytics can only be realized when you know which elements in the business process analytics can be applied to, how much improvement can be brought to that business process after analytics are applied, and what does that mean for the end customers’ outcomes.

It is extremely important analytics firms understand how different outcomes due to analytics are going to impact the organization. And that expertise and domain only comes with specialized analytics firms like us who have a process driven approach.

At the same time, in order to ensure smooth and customer-centric execution, we maintain and grow functional leadership. We make sure we deliver what we promised to our customers 100% of the time, which makes “Delivery” becomes a critical function with significant leadership in place. The other one is managing the relationship with our customers and understanding how their requirements are changing and what they are looking for next and so on. Naturally the support functions like infrastructure and finance are two critical pillars which are again headed by significant leadership. I ensure the vision and the strategy for the organization is set and everyone is successfully marshaled beyond it through leadership and effective human capital management processes. Finally, the marketing and selling of our value proposition to the necessary target segments is all led by significant leadership.

Who are your major competitors?

Well, I will give you the class of competitors. It’s an emerging industry and it redefines the way the adoption and application of predictive analytics is happening across organizations. The need for analytics and the application of analytics to out-compete one’s competitors is growing very rapidly, which means it is opening up more and more demand and there is room for new players.

We compete sometimes with some of the management consulting firms, sometimes the large BPO firms, and other times with in-house analytics teams. When organizations are looking to apply deep level analytics to gain insights, some of them approach a management consulting firm. Their engagement model is a one-to-one model where you just do one engagement for one client and then move to the next engagement and so on, which is very expensive, not scalable, and above all does not provide a platform for sustainable Corporate Performance Management (CPM).

Our model involves continuous delivery of analytics in an outsourcing model where we do apply the same level of management talent to the problem areas but we deliver it very cost effectively and on a 24x7 turnaround manner with insights directly powering day-to-day decision-making. And, we are more outcomes driven and less presentation focused.

In order to really bring about some positive impact to the organizations that you are delivering analytics to, it is extremely important that you understand the underlining business processes. The large BPO firms operate and survive on the basis of providing low-end services on a larger scale reaping the benefits of economies of scale. So, if it is some basic data crunching on a large scale, yes a BPO firm with massive number of people could do it but the real impact of analytics can only be realized when you know which elements in the business process analytics can be applied to, how much improvement can be brought to that business process after analytics are applied, and what does that mean for the end customers’ outcomes. It is extremely important analytics firms understand how different outcomes due to analytics are going to impact the organization. And that expertise and domain only comes with specialized analytics firms like us who have a process driven approach.

What are the services offered by your company?

Our entire portfolio of services is focused on customer/marketing analytics. We have a proprietary framework called “CARE” which stands for “Clarify, Acquire, Retain, Enhance.” We tend to understand very well all activities that fall into customer-facing business processes and how predictive analytics could impact them.

And what are those business processes - it begins with “Clarify” meaning having clarity about the market dynamics in which an organization operates or intends to operate in. In other words, if an organization wants to enter a new geography or a new segment in an industry and it wants to know everything about that segment such as who the players in that segment are, what the market drivers & inhibitors are, how much demand is out there, etc., we have a suite of “Market Analytics” solutions that could be leveraged.

Then comes “Acquisition.” Once an organization gains clarity about the market it wants to enter and decides to enter that particular geography/segment, then it is about executing a well thought-out and data driven go-to-market strategy to effectively acquire the target customers. So, around the acquisition of customer space, we provide predictive solutions for campaign analytics, market mix optimization, customer-product affinity, etc.

Once you successfully acquire customers then “Retention” becomes the need of the hour. Analytics around retention implies that you need to really understand once somebody becomes your customer what your customer is looking for from your firm and whether the firm is satisfying every need that it could satisfy for that customer. Satisfying a need does not mean just selling a product and running away but it is about delivering the best possible customer experience. The organization should make the customer enjoy and cherish the relationship with it. Only then an organization can continue to make them come back to buy more products on a frequent basis. So there is a lot of customer behavior analytics that could be applied to predict customer behavior, purchasing patterns, profitability, loyalty, etc.

Then comes “Enhance,” which is about how an organization not only just retains its customer but enhances the life time value of these relationships. Life time value of a customer can be enhanced when an organization knows what the next best product that he/she is likely to buy is, when he/she will buy that, why he/she would buy that, how he/she would like to buy that (location/channels), and what incentives should be given to him/her in order to influence that purchase. In addition, it is also about how an organization can make its customers their best sales engine. In other words, the more word–of-mouth an organization’s customers promote and influence new customer acquisition the more it adds to their life time value. We provide extensive and advanced analytics around enhancing the customer life time value.

Who are your major clients?

Some of the leading firms and niche start-ups across financial services, retail, insurance, and high-technology sectors.

What kind of background and domain expertise you look for in your employees?

The main expertise and background differs from function to function but we look for some common traits across every prospective employee. Fundamentally, as a small and growing organization we work in a fast-paced and fluid environment. We look for someone who believes in himself/herself that he/she can succeed and has the self-confidence. One who is willing to work very hard, who has customer-centric philosophy, who is dedicated to the work at hand, who is willing to learn from colleagues, and contribute to the learning process of the organization. These are some of the fundamental traits that we look for. Of course, the ability to communicate is a very critical attribute and we look for that.

Once these are there, the main expertise and other skills are functionally focused. If we are hiring for somebody into a delivery organization we want to make sure are they are good project managers, that they can create meaningful plans and deliver to them, that they are disciplined enough, that they understand requirements well, and that they document the deliverables.

In client management we check whether one has the relationship skills coupled with the business acumen and skills of the industry he/she will be associated with. Additionally, they need to be problem solvers with a focus on client delight.

How important do you think is strategic planning for a company to survive in an uncertain future?

Extremely important. In a turbulent and uncertain environment strategic planning becomes even more important. And what it does not mean when you say strategic planning is that it is not a 3-5 year plan that an organization blue prints and revisits once every year in an offsite. Especially in an uncertain environment an organization need to be turning at the drop of a hat. However, in order to do this effectively, an organization needs to have a clear plan in place with multiple scenarios in mind with strategies laid out to counter them. What becomes critical in this environment are the abilities and the processes of an organization to constantly monitor all its leading and lagging indicators and how they potentially influence its scenario planning. An organization’s strategic planning changes with the changes in the leading and lagging indicators so that it can adapt quickly to the rapidly changing marketplace. Strategic planning acts as a rudder, without which an organization is directionless.

 

Where do you see Nuevora 3-5years down the line?

We do have our existing goals for Nuevora but we are cognizant of the situation that is out there in the market right now. Our goal is to turn Nuevora into an organization with more than $10 million in revenue in the next 3 years. Subject to any significant adverse macro-economic forces, we think we are on our way to achieve our target.

 

Please comment on the importance of Corporate Governance in Business.

Corporate Governance is really the lifeline for any organization and it is that one instrument that helps establish the foundation for your brand, foundation for your trust that your customers place in you, your employees place in you, your other stakeholders place in you and is critical for an organization’s survival. Without this foundation that fosters trust an organization cannot survive in the marketplace long-term.

 

How do you see the financial crisis unwinding in 2009?

It is very tough to predict how the current crisis will unfold in 2009. As far as our business is concerned we are forecasting that it is going to be a tough year. Hence we have made our plans accordingly to conserve and make sure we take care of our customers and continue to run a lean & mean operation.

 

Has the financial crisis affected your business in any way?

In terms of the financial crisis affecting our business we did have a short-term blip in Q4 of last year. However because our business model is about doing “more with less” and providing high end value added services at a low cost we are seeing more interest out there where companies are looking for partners who can help them retain their customers and who can help them maximize profitability in a very cost effective manner. So it is actually playing to our value proposition.

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