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In Conversation with Ashish Kohli, Verdis

1. Please share with us, the idea behind Verdis. What made you realise there are gaps in SCM which you believe can be addressed. A bit about the market size and maturity as well please. How has been your experience in selling to clients?

Verdis stands for Virtual Data Scientist. Our solutions enable real-time decision-making enabled by intelligent insights that are prescriptive or predictive, as per the need, along with probabilistic accuracies. Machine Learning algorithms act on data sets to cull out deep insights which were not possible earlier at the client’s end. We construct the decision making process like a mathematical formula which leaves little no room for errors. Added to the formula is of course the right context incorporated into the system using domain expertise.

SCM is one of the domains that we operate in and Verdis can be operated in this domain across several industries. Eventually, we want to reach the same level of maturity in other domains including finance & marketing as well. The world as you know is changing at an incredible pace and service level gaps / quality of delivery amongst peers, are narrowing. Large market forces make it inevitable that gaps are identified and addressed in double quick time. And, technology is the greatest enabler. Business leaders realise the significance of making decisions which are free of bias; the interdependency with the real world is very high which makes it imperative that these actions are taken very quickly. There’s no room for complacency.

In SCM function, we have a very strong focus on the automobile, food retail and consumer packaged goods verticals. We started off with the automobile vertical which has a complex supply chain catering to the JIT way of inventory management. Literally, thousands of parts are outsourced from ancillary units which feed into the assembly line – different colour combinations and brand families, add to the complexity. On top of this, there are external factors such as weather conditions and distribution logistics which can majorly impact production. Companies also have internal ops levels with pre-defined KPIs to drive efficiency. Verdis can address both external and internal conditions to factor in the levels of complexity.

For instance, if there’s a transporter strike on a given route, operations can be hampered. Such changes impact instantaneous decision-making if it has to be made by a human. The Verdis software ably supports senior leaders with its real-time data-driven insights.

2. The Product ecosystem in India. How has it shaped up in the last 5 years? Any specific asks from the govt.? Some of the best practices from more developed ecosystems around the world that you’d like to see here – your views please.

India has a few successful SaaS products currently, but these numbers have to go up many times over, if we want to be a global powerhouse. Indian startups need institutional support from the government to enable creation of powerful IP within the country that is owned by Indians – both from the perspective of organising capital and skills. Good work is happening across several clusters but much more is possible and required from both the Government and bodies like NASSCOM.

3. Your thoughts on emerging tech – how do you leverage tech to derive value for your customers?

We use Hadoop, Spark and of course ML to draw insights. Distributed processing in computers has completely altered the landscape and made it possible for query response time within a matter of seconds. Using Spark for distributed processing also allows for more efficient resource management.

We use ML for a number of use cases for prediction and prescription. For example, for predicting the lead times involved in delivery of orders to customers or for suggesting the most optimal inventory mix that should be earmarked for a warehouse.

4. How do you ensure data privacy & security for your customers? Your thoughts on Data Strategy please.

Data security is of paramount importance and we address it at several levels. At the technology level, we use state-of-the-art encryption and data masking techniques to protect data at rest, in transit or in use. Several new approaches to make data and its communication more secure are emerging and we are actively considering their adoption. One of these, for example, is the onion routing, which encapsulates data in layers of encryption thereby enabling anonymous communication over computer networks.

A strong Governance approach towards handling people and systems effectively is another facet of our data security strategy. This aligns authentication, backup, archiving, storage and selection of tech components to strong data security measures.

5. “Born Digital” companies such as yours – what kind of unique opportunities and challenges do you face which legacy companies do not?

For organisations such as ours, there are a lot many opportunities that exist which currently are under-addressed. Companies like ours are therefore able to create unprecedented value in the eco system. I can say that by being able to bring in a quantum leap in decision-making through real-time data, interplayed with predictive and prescriptive technologies, we help enterprises become more competitive and profitable.
Challenges are two-fold. One, is about having the resources to scale up business and go well beyond the industry verticals we are presently serving. And two, breaking through the ranks to get in early adopters. Our entire product design and delivery approach is to ensure that value creation seeps in deeply in our end-users across verticals, which lays the springboard for our sustained growth.

6. The talent roadmap for you – hiring, retaining, reskilling etc.

We are a Learning focused organisation. We try and create adequate opportunities for our people and prepare them continually towards taking up bigger challenges.

Our focus is on connecting with the right talent and then nurturing and growing the same. We are prepared to go to any lengths for the same. For instance, We are connected with premier institutions in our vicinity (such as IIM Rohtak, IIT Delhi) to enable the academia interface to our knowledge and skills as well as to recruit the best talent. As another example, we are connected with several hotspots of skills around the world, such as Berlin which is a hub of data scientists.

7. Your future pivots and leadership mantra.

• Changes due to Productization.
• Focus on Design Thinking.
• Machine interaction with humans and ensuring that displaced humans are res-skilled to move up the value chain.

Business Mantra – Innovation is the do-all and end-all in everything that we do!

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