Get personal: A secret recipe to cash in on data

Published September 12, 2017   |   

Its your weekend, and that favourite haunt is tempting for the weekly brunch, you settle down and order, prefer a certain cool track to suit your mood and ambience as you unwind and so on, you have left enough reasons for Crayon Data – a five-year-old Singapore based big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) startup – to study and understand consumer preferences based on the choices you made.
The company understands and derives from consumer preferences through its product Maya which drives their AI-led digital personalisation initiatives in the UAE. Crayon works with leading banks and airlines in the UAE, and globally.
“Our product Maya is at various stages of deployment with several clients here, including the world’s leading airline, the leading consumer bank, one of the largest Islamic banks, and one of the most innovative customer banks. For each of these clients, Maya drives their AI-led digital personalisation initiatives,” said Suresh V Shankar, founder, Crayon Data.
Identified by Gartner as one of the top 40 digital personalisation providers, Crayon currently works with leading banks and card issuers in APAC, India, Middle East and the US. Over the last few years, Crayon has acquired multiple patents that have been incorporated into its flagship product Maya.
Crayon’s investors include, Jungle Ventures, Spring Seeds Capital, Ratan Tata, chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, Mitsui Japan, and many prominent business angels. Crayon is currently in its Series A2 round of funding [A typical series A round is in the range of $2 million to $10 million]. A portfolio company of Jungle Ventures, Crayon has been accredited as one of the most successful and innovative big data startups in 2014 and 2015, by global platforms such as Gartner, TiEcon, CEBIT, IBM Watson, Intech50 and OrangeFab.
Speaking on Ratan Tata’s investment in Crayon, Anurag Srivastava of Jungle Ventures said, “We have always strongly believed in Crayon’s proposition. Srikant Sastri, founder, Crayon Data and Suresh Shankar, with their years of experience in marketing and analytics, have always had a clear vision of the value Crayon can bring to consumer-facing enterprises.”
So how does Maya work? Taste remains secret sauce. Crayon’s global TasteGraph is a map of the world’s tastes, at scale. Crayon has created a unique map of the world’s tastes. Across 10 plus categories globally. The company is aware of every one of 3.78 million restaurants in the world, and attributes about each. “Critically, we have calculated a unique affinity rank between each restaurant and every other one. And we have done this across categories,” adds big data and analytics evangelist.
Consumer choice is a unique human process, that is based on each individual’s tastes, the influences, the context of current decision and past behaviour. Crayon’s algorithm captures all these elements in a patented model, that mimics the way we think and behave. The tech platform allows to mix vast amounts of different types of data from different sources into a unified pattern and then combines unstructured data from web-based reviews and social feeds, and mixes them with structured enterprise data sets on behaviour, and real-time context data from devices and sensors.
“The company’s algorithm is privacy-sensitive, as we use behaviour, and not identity to match data sets. This lack of need for PII [Personally identifiable information is any data that could potentially identify a specific individual] gives a comfort to be deployed for large enterprises, including banks. In fact, this is the reason we have already been deployed at many global banking and airline majors,” said entrepreneur and Innovator .
Crayon makes it possible for any company to monetise untapped customer and data assets. While Internet giants are able to monetise their data and customer assets, millions of enterprises, large and small, struggle to compete and these include the world’s largest banks, retailers, airlines, hotels and CPG companies, and smaller e-commerce players.
Shankar opines that the UAE is a great mix of high growth and maturity in digital penetration. However, enterprises here are still in the early stages of their big data and AI journeys. With the rapidity of tech adoption by consumers and increasing competition among banks, airlines, hotels and other retail companies, it is imperative to better engage their customers at a personal level – through the use of AI led digital personalisation. While Crayon would like to be a universal engine that eventually powers all enterprises, we wish to focus on the more innovative enterprises who are keen to use cutting edge technology to #getpersonal with their customers.
“As a consumer myself, I get frustrated when I don’t get relevant personalised information and offers from my bank and airlines. None of them make me say “yes, that’s exactly what I’m looking for!” Crayon’s vision is to transform this. To help clients to #getpersonal with their customers. Something that has never been attempted before. And it is clear to see that it is the only way to go,” said Siva Shankar Ganesan, executive director, Crayon ME.
In general, UAE companies looking at big data solutions include typical IT-savvy industries, such as airlines, telecom, banking and leading retailers. These verticals are gradually seeing the business value of big data, in relation to business transformation, customer value management, revenue creation, process improvement and cost optimisation. For instance, according to recent reports, Emirates NBD will invest Dh500 million over the next three years towards digital innovation and the multichannel transformation of its processes, products and services.
What value addition is Crayon providing given the fact that the UAE is very tech savvy? Shankar explains, Maya is the world’s only taste-driven choice engine, delivering digital personal experiences, centered around taste. It enables enterprises to #getpersonal with millions of customers. It is like a “Google of Choice” – makes it possible for each customer, to be matched by taste, to each product / merchant in the world .The platform has two main modules, both of which allow enterprises to deal with millions of customers, at an individual level: TasteStudio – unique analytics engine that allows enterprise to create unique personal Taste Fingerprints and EngageStudio – APIs [An application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications] and apps that create personal digital storefronts. So next time you step in a restaurant or get customised banking package or air travel package based on your taste and preferences… just know that Maya is around. –