Back in 2017, the co-founders of Sydney-headquartered data and analytics specialist Bi3 Technologies weren’t planning to have an Indian development team operationally supporting a data platform for high-profile Australian clients.
Perhaps they might not have seen themselves in charge of a 75-person business in a field where one co-founder says talented people are as rare as unicorns. Nor may they have predicted they would have such high-profile clients as a major Australian airport, which they helped try to deal with an influx of people after COVID-19 lockdowns.
In its last financial year, Bi3 Technologies doubled its workforce and more than doubled its revenue to $4.8 million dollars, landing it in 10th place in the 2022 CRN Fast50.
Co-founder Shahnewaz Khan is proud of the company’s ability to deliver data platforms, such as Snowflake, quickly, using Bi3 Technologies’ own automation, enhancement and quality control tools.
Like many technology firms, the company’s growth has been helped by digitisation during the pandemic. Khan also attributed its growth to word of mouth and market growth.
‘Two years back, most of our conversations used to be — I don’t have a platform, can you stand up a platform for us? Or I don’t have a good integration; the platform that I have doesn’t quite work; what can you do to make it better and operationally more stable?” Khan told CRN. “And now most of the conversations are — I do have a platform; I do have X number of systems that integrate into my platform. Now, what can I do with these?”
Demand for data analytics has expanded to small to medium businesses and the midmarket, in Khan’s experience.
“The technology is becoming more robust and more available and cheaper as well,” he said. “If I look 10 years back, it’s all the big telcos and big tech firms in Silicon Valley and the big banks that used to have these data platforms and utilise that data very efficiently. But nowadays, it’s people in the food industry, people in the health industry, the hospitals.”
In addition to establishing its credentials with a major airport, Bi3 Technologies’ work last financial year also included helping a hospital utilise bed space.
“The questions drastically change from industry to industry, company to company,” Khan said. “A telco came and asked ‘why are my customers leaving?’ And we managed to get the data from the network, from the CRM, from the POS systems and integrated all of those together to tell them actually you do these XYZ things wrong, and as a result, your customers are leaving.”
If a business already has an integrated platform it might ask “can you show us how to answer more difficult questions with AI and machine learning and data science? Or can you do more reporting for us in real-time so that we can have that information at our fingertips?” Khan comments.
To keep up with the stronger demand for data and analytics, Bi3 went on a hiring spree. In the last financial year, it doubled its team with an extra 40 employees in its Sydney and Chennai India offices.
“Based on the first few months of this financial year we expect to double the team again and have 100 engineers based out of Chennai within a year’s time.”
The India-based division now supports clients’ day-to-day operations, but it was originally limited to Bi3’s internal development, building automation tools to help complete projects more efficiently.
“For us to do things better, faster, cheaper, we build our own tools, and we hired a bunch of guys in India to help us support those things. So for example delivering a Snowflake platform would take us half or even a third of the time it would take anybody else in Australia,” Khan said.
Bi3 Technologies co-founder Rodney Agassi told CRN that in-house automation tools had been essential for providing clients with more competitive prices and delivery times.
“I recall standing up a cloud platform and loading all their sources in one month. That’s unheard of. Getting it right first time with such velocity is very valuable to our clients,” Agassi said.
Khan said that, while Bi3 had grown a lot in the past few years, one of the advantages it still had against large IT firms was the “nimbleness and efficiency” of being “like a startup.”
“Because it’s only us four cofounders, we make the decisions. And we can move really fast on things. When you’re playing with a bigger player out there in the market they have processes that slow them down: internal bureaucracy. It makes it complicated,” Khan added.
“One piece of feedback that we often get from our clients is that the reason they deal with us is they can pick up the phone and talk to one of the directors or one of the founders and say, Hey, this thing is going wrong, and what can you do about this? And we can be really quick.”
Khan said that one of Bi3’s ambitions is to focus more on marketing and sales and establishing new customer acquisition channels. All of Bi3’s previous customers have been acquired through referrals.
“Every time we come across a client and we deliver something, they go and tell their peers and the other people that they know, and those people come to us and they become our client as well.”
Khan said Bi3 was not looking to hire a sales team but would attend more conferences and events and improve its website and advertising.
“We’re data people… we’re not great at, like marketing and telling stories and the whole heap of things that come along with that, right. And that’s something we’re having to learn, basically.