US-Based Business Planning Software Unicorn o9 Solutions Aims To Accelerate Growth in India With India's growth plan and initiatives like Make In India, the company is actively working to acquire more customers in the country

By Debarghya Sil

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o9 solutions
(From Left) Sanjiv Sidhu, Chairman and Co-Founder and Chakri Gottemukkala, Co-founder, CEO, o9 solutions

When the first public Web page was launched on August 6, 1991 by Berners-Lee, no one ever thought that the Internet would be considered as a fundamental right in some countries. The reason is quite obvious, now we eat, live and breathe the Internet. When it comes to business, back then the idea of using the Internet to scale their businesses was yet to be sown. However, now most of the businesses are relying on the Internet to stay afloat and serve customers.

While it is true that the Internet has jumpstarted multiple businesses, lack of demand forecasting, disarrayed supply-chain management and poor business planning solutions have resulted in manufacturers losing their grip over the market in this age of cut-throat competition.

Understanding the importance of integrated business planning and the dire need of digitization, two Indian-America software engineers—Sanjiv Sidhu and Chakri Gottemukkala—founded o9 Solutions in 2009. The firm has recently joined the prestigious Unicorn club this year after it received a minority equity investment of $100 million from KKR.

In an interaction with Entrepreneur India, Chakri Gottemukkala, chief executive officer and co-founder, o9 solutions shares his journey and what are the plans for India.

Strong Desire To Create Large Value For Clients and Employees

Moving down the memory lane, Gottemukkala said at the time he along with his co-founder Sidhu founded o9 Solutions, the supply chains were complex, markets were dynamic, and the value proposition of optimising and orchestrating them were on top priority.

According to Gottemukkala, their long tenure at i2 Technologies made them aware of the problems faced by global companies and helped them to gain knowledge of various industries and their planning processes. He said they had access to advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cloud system and deep analytics, among others, to build a future proof platform.

"We could design a future-ready platform that baked in all these technologies as an intrinsic design construct and not a fancy "bolt on','' said Gottemukkala.

However, the main reason behind launching the firm was to provide "large value' to their clients and their employees.

How Does o9 Solutions Help Manufacturers?

o9 Solutions is an AI platform which powers digital transformations of integrated planning and operations at global companies across a variety of manufacturing and retail industry verticals. The company with its proprietary AI platform provides demand forecasting, commercial planning, supply chain planning and integrated business planning.

The company brings together graph modeling, big data analytics, advanced algorithms for forecasting, demand/supply match, scenario planning, digital engagement portals and easy-to-use interfaces for customers, suppliers, internal operations and cloud-based delivery into one platform, thus helping companies accelerate and shape the digital futures of their operating models and planning processes.

"o9's AI platform can upgrade your revenue planning to a digital platform that empowers channel, regional sales management, sales operations, finance and product marketing to collaborate, plan and align on plans, forecasts, initiatives and resources to optimize revenue and margin performance," added Gottemukkala.

Retail, consumer goods, consumer electronics, industrial manufacturing, oil and gas, and pharma are among the various sectors where o9 Solutions platform is used.

Increasing Footprint In India

The firm has its operation running in India since the inception in 2009 with significant number of development, design and product management talent. However, the US-based firm started acquiring customers in India and globally in 2014.

"We have a limited but extremely reputed set of customers in India from some of the most respected Industry groups," added Gottemukkala.

The firm in India works with Asian Paints, a company with a turnover of INR 19,350 crore, and some companies of the Tata Group and Aditya Birla Group.
It has recently partnered with Future Group to deploy its next-generation platforms to help improve their supply chain. Their platform will support Future Group's (acquired by RRVL) 1,500 stores across 450 cities.

Understanding the country's huge market potential, the company wants to work closer to India.

"Given India's growth plans and some of the initiatives like "Make in India" we are very bullish on Indian Companies and are actively working to acquire more customers here as well," Gottemukkala added.

The company raised $100 million from global investment firm KKR in June this year. Gottemukkala said the fresh investment will help the firm to accelerate its growth across the globe including India. The company currently has 300 people working in India and is planning to hire more in the coming month.

"India is also the place where we hire world-class development and consulting talent. In the last year, our India team grew by close to 100 per cent. We have on-boarded about 100 new hires even in the midst of the pandemic. We will continue to hire both experienced professionals and freshers from IITs, IIMs and other premier institutions," Gottemukkala said.

"We have been associated with reputed Indian companies in the last few years and see a lot of opportunities to bring in best-in-class planning processes and technologies to our premier Indian and Asian bluechip clients who are themselves competing in the world space," Sidhu has said during KKR's investment.

Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

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