Prithvijit Roy, CEO – BRIDGEi2i Analytics Solutions, shares how AI and automation have created new job opportunities in the services industry
Q. Please tell us something about yourself. What have been the key highlights in your career?
After graduating from the Indian Statistical Institute with a masters in Quantitative Economics, I spent a significant part of my early years with GE and HP where I helped in setting up the analytics centers of expertise. This global perspective and experience gave me the courage to branch out as an entrepreneur by setting up BRIDGEi2i almost eight years ago. That was the time when the impact of big data was coming to the fore, and many companies were looking to invest in analytics. In a way, I’ve always been on a one-track journey of analytics. Although it may seem monotonous for some, analytics is everything to me. It allowed me to work across a wide expanse of businesses across industries like Banking, Insurance, Consumer Goods, Manufacturing, and functions ranging from marketing, sales, pricing, and supply chain.
It’s only after setting up BRIDGEi2i in a garage did I realize the enormity of the shift. Creating a new brand from scratch, building a scalable business model, finding the right solutions to business problems by leveraging data, or balancing cultures and people, everything came together in the right manner, and we’ve been thriving.
Q. Any awards/achievements that you would want to share with us?
When I look back at my achievements, I received the highest award at GE early on in my career when I was fairly young – this won me a cruise to the Caribbean. After founding BRIDGEi2i, I have started looking at achievements differently. Now I’m gratified when our clients acknowledge the impact delivered or when I see employees progress in their careers and achieve bigger milestones. Seeing the BRIDGEi2i brand grow year on year is another proud achievement for me.
Q. You have been a founder-entrepreneur. Describe your Aha moment as a CEO.
While many incidents come to mind, there’s one anecdote that distinctly stands out. In the early days after founding the company, I was used to long-drawn explanations of the unknown brand called BRIDGEi2i during social interactions. Once, when I took my son to his friend’s birthday party. While interacting with another father, as usual I introduced myself, but was surprised to know that he recognized BRIDGEi2i as an analytics service provider. This was the first time when someone was already aware of us, and that was an Aha moment for me to realize that our brand was steadily becoming popular in the market!
Q. How do you see Data and Analytics shaping up in the context of future of work? Do we have enough talent pool in our country to become market leaders in analytics globally?
When it comes to Data and Analytics, a lot of people fear losing jobs to AI and automation. In reality, the services industry has evolved tremendously in the last two decades and is responsible for the creation of countless job opportunities for people to leverage data science.
Fifteen years ago, it was challenging to explain analytics to people, but today, people are keen to explore and experiment in this field. The allure attached to gold mining or oil mining is as good as the reverence for data mining today.
On the talent front, India has a lot of people in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), but there’s a huge gap between academic learning and industry readiness which needs to be bridged. Having said that, we’ve evolved immensely to become suppliers of analytics solutions to companies across the globe, giving us the first mover advantage over other nations. India has to now work on maintaining this momentous advantage.
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Q. How do you describe your corporate higher purpose, and how do you help your employees share your vision for BRIDGEi2i’s role in society?
All the work we do is for enterprises who are creating value for their customers – whether in terms of delivering operational effectiveness, improving customer experience, or innovating for new business models that the client is looking for. While we are focussed on enabling a digital transformation for the client, the end goal is to help them drive a better life for their customers.
Eventually, we need to get this thinking not just to help enterprises but also the society at large, including the government, citizens, and social bodies. Besides working with data to create impact, we’re also creating job opportunities for the ecosystem as a whole, helping transform more lives in the process.
Q. How digital savvy is your organization? What about you, personally?
As a pure-play analytics company, it’s imperative for us to be on the edge of new tech. Currently, we’re focussed on intelligent and automated decision-making that leverages Big Data, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence.
Personally, I love exploring digital products and appreciate the innovation in phones even if they are simple features. Whether it’s a different way to watch a movie or a new app to shop from, I try to keep with the times. While I think I’m tech savvy, I usually get a reality check from my kids – their games are so far different from what I used to be hooked to. Those are the moments when I feel like I could do with more digital-learning.
Q. While hiring senior leaders in your company, which competencies, other than domain expertise, do you assess?
Whenever we’re hiring leaders in BRIDGEi2i, our basic hygiene is on the culture fit than on domain expertise. Even experts with extensive individual competencies and technical knowledge may sometimes find it challenging to work with a large group of people. So, first and foremost, we try and hire team players who can work towards a purpose.
At BRIDGEi2i, we’re often involved in building strong foundations from scratch in unstructured environments. We are keen to absorb people who can work in unconventional settings where the heads have to dive in and get their hands dirty, working across teams to bring everyone together on a challenge. The readiness to do this is often what distinguishes our senior leaders.
You’d be happy to know that we’ve been ranked among 10 Best Firms in India for Data Scientists to work for!
Q. Do you see India’s rise in EODB (Ease of doing business) index attracting higher FDI in the near-term? Is there an opportunity to be tapped?
Given the abundance of start-ups today, we know that it’s easy for entrepreneurs in India to set up shop. Every Fortune 500 company has invested here and India as a market and talent pool has extensively evolved. Besides, there’s a boom in co-working spaces, global enterprise companies, and investments. We’ve not faced any hindrances due to politics or policies and on the whole, there are more policy interventions to make things easier here. I’d like to think that India is ranked fairly high in the ease of doing business.
Q. What personal development goals have you set to keep yourself professionally relevant?
When you work with larger firms, there’s a lot of structured programs that you need to attend – to keep pace with things. In an entrepreneurial role, there is a conscious need to remain relevant, and one has to put in enough effort to develop the right skill sets and capabilities for new challenges. I invest my time in reading – whether it’s about technology, people, current affairs, or inspiration in general. Reading helps me understand different perspectives and look at challenges as new opportunities. Another way I keep myself grounded is by interacting with people who are experts in diverse fields. It helps me keep updated with things around me – there’s more to life than being a ‘frog in a well’. Something else that every entrepreneur will tell you is that we learn more by doing because when you’re thrown with the sharks, you have to learn to swim. So, a lot of times, we figure out things as we go.
Q. What keeps you awake at night?
On the whole, an organization can only be as good as its people and processes. A small oversight sometimes can lead to huge consequences. Over the years, building structured, socially conscious and scalable processes with continuous improvement have become one of my pet obsessions. The challenge lies in building processes and ensuring that the mechanism continues smoothly, and BRIDGEi2i as an organization is focused on doing just this – creating meaningful impact one step at a time!
About Prithvijit Roy
CEO & Founder – BRIDGEi2i Analytics Solutions
Prithvijit Roy is the CEO and co-founder of BRIDGEi2i, a leading AI and analytics solutions company. He is a product of the Indian Statistical Institute and holds a Master’s Degree (MS) in Quantitative Economics. A frequent speaker at international industry forums, Prithvijit has authored several articles in various publications. He is also a member of industry council namely Wiley Innovation Advisory Council and works with other leaders to drive change and bring about a revolution using disruptive technologies. Prithvijit has been instrumental in conceptualizing and bringing together analytics professionals as a community in the form of Humans of Analytics, which celebrates the diversity of analytics practitioners through stories and inspiring anecdotes.