Our Companies

Q&A with Suresh Katta, CEO of Saama

headshot_suresh saama.jpg

Q. Can you explain exactly what your company does, what problem it solves and how it differs from competitors?

Saama is an analytics outcomes company that helps global 2000 customers analyze data to boost revenue, improve efficiency, and increase customer satisfaction. Our Fluid Analytics maximizes the leverage of existing technology investments, allowing us to focus on the white space between existing capabilities and the critical business outcomes that need to be created. Traditional BI systems are too slow and lack the industry specificity required to manage overwhelming volumes and sources of data, resulting in big data project failure in a majority of cases. We win over competitors largely due to our ability to combine our Fluid Analytics orchestration with our vertical expertise. This drives the rapid adoption of advanced analytics into company- and industry-specific business processes in a matter of weeks rather than months or years. Our customers include companies such as Actelion, Brocade, Broadcom, Cisco, CSAA Insurance Group, Delta Dental of California, Dignity Health, Genentech, Motorists, PayPal, Roche and Unilever.

Q. How did Saama get started?

The question that has stuck with me, that has been driving me, is how the human brain is enabled by intuition in making decisions and taking actions. So it’s been, and remains, my passion to assist human intuition with data driven insights – rather than gut feeling alone – in this ever-expanding digital world. The potential for augmented intelligence has only grown. It is an exciting time to be in data and analytics.

My boss, who led me into data and analytics twenty years ago, would say that I have the perseverance and tenacity to drive and lead a business, and to be successful. Other well-wishers in my life recognized me as an entrepreneur and encouraged me to pursue my passion toward changing the way businesses use insights.

So I founded Saama with a vision to turn raw data into actionable insights that enable enterprise leaders to make timely and reliable decisions for critical business discovery. I applied my lifelong love of mathematics to solve complex data analysis, well before the term “big data” became ubiquitous. I leveraged success at Silicon Graphics, Silvar-Lisco, and a couple of successful startups to build another great company.
Today, it’s come down to how you deliver success at the speed of business. At a recent keynote I spoke about our move from conceptual to consumption modes, where analytics are embedded and pulled together on the fly depending on the specific context someone is in at that time. We still have a long way ahead of us for much of this to be adopted by the Global 2000.

Q. Tell me about your team, your approach, and your business philosophy?

I see success as an ongoing journey. I grew up in Silicon Valley and quickly understood that everything is perishable, particularly in the technology industry. So we must constantly evolve on a daily basis, to have an impact and to be successful. For me personally, it has always been about being passionate in having a positive impact on business and society.

We’ve assembled a top-notch team based on their belief in our vision, their alignment with our execution strategy, their internal passion and their drive to create a profound impact in the industry among the best of the big data experts. We have been able to attract the best talent from the best schools in the country with a great training program for the recent graduates, diverse candidates, and long-term employees that are seeking continuous growth and a career path. When the people who work for us feel good about working on the same mission, when we are able to create business outcomes for customers and they say we are great, then financial markets validate us with a continued uptick in our company’s value.

It is not just about leading a billion dollar company, or raising a billion dollars, or creating a billion dollar valuation. What impresses me, is the impact on the lives of thousands of people since I started the company. It is the stories that customers, partners, employees or their parents or spouses tell me about the impact Saama has made on their personal journeys. That is success.

Q. Saama is a large, established company that took private equity long after it established itself as a success. Tell me about how you got so far without private equity and the value you believe the funds and your private equity partner are bringing to Saama at this stage?

Through building unique expertise in services and solutions over our 18-year history, combined with careful resource planning and the ability to build upon custom analytics projects for a few big global 2000 clients, we have been able to establish a profitable company virtually since our inception in 1997.

An investment from Carrick Capital Partners allows us to expand our global footprint and awareness through sales and marketing. We are investing in turning our expertise into a series of solution areas focused on specific industry sectors, including healthcare, life sciences, insurance, and consumer packaged goods. It also allows us to build out our reusable, customizable Fluid Analytics, designed to accelerate data and analytics initiatives to completion within weeks instead of months. These solutions leverage the years of experience we have building data management and analytics solutions for some the world’s most important brands, and enable us to eliminate up to 70% of efforts and cost typically required to deliver these capabilities.

Q. What are the benefits of working with a group like Carrick Capital Partners / have there been any changes to the company as a result of working with a private equity partner?

We see Carrick as a strategic partner that has been following and engaging with Saama for numerous years and has a close, long-term working relationship with our Chairman Ken Coleman. We are very pleased with the guidance, resources, expertise, and added value that Carrick’s experienced team has offered our company and executive staff throughout the process. Through frequent engagement and interactive meetings, we have been able to leverage Carrick’s sage expertise and experience to have more of a laser focus on our solutions approach, our business processes and metrics, and our market opportunities. The added capital has allowed us to significantly expand our teams in areas such as delivery, sales, and marketing.

Q. What are the lessons you have learned from the private equity relationship?

I would say that it’s never too late to consider the value that private equity can bring to build additional value for successful technology companies, particularly in finding unique opportunities in new high growth markets. And with a firm like Carrick, you get the added value of partners that are engaged with executives and bring valuable investment and growth expertise based on real world experience with companies in similar sectors and growth stages.

Q. What’s your advice for other businesses considering private equity?

Get to know your partner contact and understand the goals and operating style of your equity partner. We have had the luxury of a close relationship with Carrick for many years, so we’re familiar with the kind of value that an engaged and knowledgeable partner can bring in growing our company.

Q. What are you most excited about at Saama and what’s next?

I predicted at the beginning of 2016 that business outcomes will require two key drivers at unprecedented levels: speed and specificity. Data volumes and sources will continue to explode this year, creating a need for “in-the-moment” intelligence that can be gleaned immediately, while still leveraging existing systems and disparate data sources. Up to 80% of companies will adopt new fluid big data infrastructure approaches in the coming year to get a handle on big data. They will require specific solutions that are tailored to their industry and their particular business challenges to achieve successful business outcomes from big data projects. We are seeing analysts and prospects echo this idea of speed with specificity of business outcome as providing a major differentiation in the market.
Over the past year, we have made a big transformation in the minds of customers, partners and analysts as an emerging and innovative analytics solution provider that drives strategic business outcomes with speed and specificity. In making the transformation, we’ve invested heavily in all areas of the business to accelerate our journey toward becoming a Solutions company, with repeatable solution components and technology-accelerated services. We are upbeat about the opportunities to address a huge, underserved market for big data solutions that lead to better business outcomes in the coming year.

About Carrick Capital Partners
Who We Are
A firm of enterprise software, SaaS, and technology enabled services investors and operating executives with substantial experience founding, scaling, and optimizing market leading businesses.
Our Approach
We work with management to identify and improve critical areas of their business - focusing on the priorities that align with our experiences and that will deliver the highest strategic impact in both the short-term and long-run.
Why We Are Different
We have a concentrated number of companies in our portfolio so that we can build substantial relationships with each management team and ensure our firm's commitment to each company's goals.
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