London-based dunnhumby, which provides customer-centric services to clients such as Cadbury, Coca Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg's, L'oreal and Unilever worldwide, is planning to open another research and development Centre in India, besides the one it has in Gurugram.
The company's new Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Bacuvier
, who was the vice-president of Advertising Solutions at Google, tells Indivjal Dhasmana
is eyeing primarily large retailers and consumer goods companies
in India to offer their services. Edited excerpts:
You have one office in Gurugram. Do you plan to set up another in India?
Down the line, there is a possibility to open a new office to access different talent. This is not just to access different talent but tap good engineering talent in Bengaluru, as well as, other places.
We have not done any research for that, but Bengaluru
comes into my mind because it's famous for that. We will properly do the research first.
From the R&D centre in Gurugram, do you also service your clients to entire globe?
Our team in India works for our customers on a global scale with clients all over the world from Asia to Europe to North America to Latin America to London. We do work with every single one of our customers from India.
Which particular sector of industry do you offer your services to globally?
Our sector of expertise is retail — fast moving consumer goods, the retailers and the product that you find in shops. This is the area where we do most of our work but we do have business here and there in other sectors. dunnhumby
is really famous for its retail expertise such as loyalty programmes understanding customers, pricing, promotion, category management. This is where the company built its reputation over past 20 years.
Who are your clients in India and who could be in future?
For a long time, we have one exclusive agreement for the joint venture which is one of the largest retailers and that was our one time because it was an exclusive agreement and by mutual consent. We terminated that joint venture a year ago now we are in a different mode where we can work with anyone and we are trying to build our business in India and move away from the exclusive agreement that we had in the past
Whom will you be targeting as such for now?
Our primary targets are going to be the big retail groups, the larger once those are our primary interest. We have also done work and are doing work in some of the consumer goods
company such as Hindustan Unilever, Procter and Gamble where we have relationship at global level so these are the typical profile, the large grocery and distribution companies
and their suppliers to the consumers' goods companies
and that should a core area of interest. It can be any native Indian companies; it can be any international companies
with operations in India.
What are your hiring trends for India?
We have little less than 400 people in our R&D centre. We intend to grow in the short term as well as the midterm because the quality of the people we hire here is highly undeniably very good. We are all on the same side and that is a good level of best practice showing in a community of people who try to improve each other. Of our own clients, we know that we are going to need more data science and more engineers. So, we are not able to give you an exact number but we do intend to grow over the coming year. In the last few years, we have grown head-on for about 20%. And hope to continue doing so.
Since GST has already been rolled out in India, are you incorporating it into your R&D work?
We haven't got into it in detail yet but we have a very similar situation in Brazil where the government has also been pushing a lot of digitisation as invoices and payments and tax collection and we have been doing various work there which we will apply to India. What’s interesting in Brazil is a lot of neat data that has been collected is part of digitisation initiative essentially an open data bases, which means it could be accessed by anyone under a certain condition so that allows companies
like ourselves to prudently access the data and apply science to it to create interesting services. so if such a framework is to be developed in India over time some kind of open data model where the government allows companies
to process and exploit the data for commercial purposes we can certainly do something around the GST
How is your experience with Google helping you initiate the business strategy?
The experience I bring from Google was at two levels. One we can really talked about a lot of at this point but dunnhumby
does provide a number of services related to media and advertising for customers. We help retailers generate revenue by selling advertising on their website within their store, we help them use their data to create and target audience segments basically that can be used to draw an advertising so I bring experience of that space because this is how Google makes money primarily and this is very business on which we have higher ambitions. So this is part of a business being particularly essential because of my background.
Second, Google is famous for having a very strong engineering culture being excellent with building great stuff at massive scale; we want software practices in our engineering practices to be best in class. I hope I can bring some of my Google experience in this respect especially in India which is one of our largest R&D centres.
Which are your biggest competitors in India?
It’s a mix, I would say, there are some local players, more so software players, in space of CRM systems and big data. So we have a bit of local competition, though no one quite does near what we do. And then in addition to that, some consulting firms like Accenture or even Mckenzie operate somewhat in our space because dunnhumby
is both the consulting company and a software company. Hence we see some competition in consulting firms as well. And then you have some US Companies
that operate in our space have some presence here in India. What’s interesting about dunnhumby
is that we do not have any competitors that do exactly what we do. We have multiple competitors at different points of our business but no one has a bigger presence in India.