Nowadays, several brands have an active presence on social media in order to enhance and safeguard their reputation. They have also subscribed to listening tools for discovering brand conversations and acting on them. The benefit of such big data tools is that data from them can be churned to gain market intelligence in real time. Some leading brands have started to make optimal utilization of such tools to generate predictable and tangible benefits. The benefits gained by them will serve as case studies for laggards to follow suit.
Big data analytics is steadily emerging as a viable mean for brands to generate actionable business intelligence. As per the Wikibon report, the big data market will top $84 billion in 2026. Although adoption of big data is on the rise, its utilization is less impressive, with Gartner predicting that 85 per cent of Fortune 500 companies will be unable to exploit big data for their competitive advantage in 2015.
Needless to say, the scope for brands to indulge in big data analytics is huge. One such brand KonnectSocial, which was founded in early 2012, claims to be one of the fastest growing social listening and analytics platform enabling brands.
Entrepreneur interacted with Sameer Narkar, Founder and CEO, KonnectSocial, to get better understanding of big data analytics and how they are helping brands to enhance their reputation by using KonnectSocial as a tool.
Tell us about KonnectSocial.
KonnectSocial tools work like a search engine, which fetches brand conversations from millions of blogs, news sites, discussion forums, complaint forums and social media networks. In effect, it helps brands achieve higher and faster response benchmarks, while keeping a finger on the pulse of the industry. Depending on their specific needs, different customers use KonnectSocial for any or all of these different purposes – predictive analytics, response management, business insights, industry overview and brand perception.
Your view on the current market scenario and future landscape.
Brands have started warming up to social media listening and analytics. This observation is based on our interaction with leading brands and agencies over the last 12 months. Brands have started realizing the importance of social listening tools, which simplify the task of managing brand conversations from multiple sources. This is partly due to the fact that importance of data-backed marketing initiatives is on the rise. With social media analytics market slated to be worth $2.73 billion in 2019, we are optimistic about the future.
What challenges you faced – in terms of taking your product to the market, convincing your customer about its benefits, etc?
The major challenge for us was server capacity. The cost was too high for a start-up like us to invest a sizeable chunk of money on servers alone. Building a strong development team and training them on the latest big data technology was another challenge. We bootstrapped the venture during that period and somehow managed to address these challenges.
We did the right thing by releasing the product at a time when marketers were looking for an all-inclusive tool. Initially we faced a lot of resistance from potential customers as we were new to the market and lacked credibility, but we overcame that resistance by offering free trial accounts to test KonnectSocial out with other tools. This also helped us fine tune our product.
We were very fast in releasing major updates to help our customers gain the most valuable insights, and over a period of time our search engine crawlers became smarter and faster. The dashboards became insightful and actionable and soon we were the most preferred tool for many brands and agencies.
Through word-of-mouth, we started closing deals within a couple of weeks of trials. The major breakthrough happened during Lok Sabha elections – when we launched a Live Election Tracker. This gave us the required visibility. Today, KonnectSocial boasts of top brands from sectors like Telecom, Insurance, Banking, Financial Services, Automobiles, Market Research and many others.
Throw some light on your business and revenue model.
KonnectSocial works on a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) based model. Users subscribe for yearly package, but they can pay quarterly or monthly. We are expecting about 500 customers in next 2 years and that should translate to revenues of around $5 million a year.
What makes KonnectSocial unique from others dealing in same sector?
Our USP is rich coverage, speed and social CRM:
Rich Coverage: KonnectSocial is architected on big data because we do our own crawling and save all the huge data that we get every day unlike other tools, who take data from third party data providers. We are, in a sense, data providers. This ensures that as a brand you will not miss any conversations.
Speed: We ensure that you get data in real time. Our clients love this feature because they can respond to the conversations faster, draw insights out of the data faster than their competitors.
Social CRM: KonnectSocial has its own CRM which can be integrated with the in-house CRMs at the clients’ end. For those who want a 360 degree view of their customers, this feature is a boon.
Apart from this, our upcoming release features dashboards that are on an altogether different level. The command center feature that enables users to create custom dashboards and filter results on the fly have been appreciated widely by our users. KonnectSocial is also used by research agencies to do predictive analysis. The reports from our tool ensure that they focus on key areas and not spend too much time on churning reports.
How do you see your organization growing in coming years?
Working on this product has given our team a greater understanding on big data technologies. We are building some great products that complement our flagship product. One of them is on the lines of Influencer marketing that we are very excited about. We want to go global in next 6 months and target 5,000 paying customers by 2019. The team is very positive about this milestone.