Chai Break with Raghavendra Agarwala, CTO & Co-Founder, TorcAI

For this segment of Chai Break, we had an interesting chat with Raghavendra Agarwala of TorcAI. Last week we had a webinar hosted in partnership with TorcAI, you can read the report here. Read the interview to find out how AI is changing the digital landscape and more!

1. How do you think AI and ML are transforming the media and advertising landscape?

Success of a digital campaign depends on multiple factors including your bid price. Such operations are mostly repetitive and one needs to analyse multiple data points, which, with the advancement of Data Sciences, are best done by machines and not humans. Example, we will see AI recommending win bid price with far more accuracy which in general is good fast forward for ad tech and publisher industries. This also brings in the efficiencies of automation in desilting fraud, channel & creative attribution etc.

2. Do you think advertisers are making full use of available technologies to improve ROI?
Unfortunately, most of the advertisers look at marketing from a short-term ROI perspective. Few have ventured into data and technology. When you continue to look at a goal from ROI perspective, the risk-taking appetite to explore technologies decrease.
Some of them, that I know of, in BFSI, media and retail have begun to invest in technologies and their CXOs have taken up the mandate to include the ad-tech stack into the core biz-tech stack.
There is a lot of scope to work in this space.
3. What do you think will be the long-term impact of GDPR on the data supply chain?
In the long run, the user privacy concerns will go down considerably. Publishers would become consent gatekeepers and high-quality data would be available in a much more structured way. Also advertisers will learn to respect user privacy and brand, in turn, will be the biggest beneficiaries by way of controlling budget wastages, and earning user loyalty and respect.
4. What are the key disruptors that businesses should take note of?

World wide data privacy frameworks will change a lot of things people do in ad landscape. The privacy frameworks also make it mandatory to have data sharing framework between controllers. Such regulations will break the monopoly of data that is enjoyed by Google, FB or other walled gardens. This will open a lot of possibilities for data biz-based investments in this zone, in turn bringing a lot of innovation thereafter. Secondly, AI & ML are today in reach of only a few. Newer biz formats will enable AI/ML to reach masses giving them clearing ground to compete with bigger players. Most of the transparency and discrepancy issues can be resolved by some or other flavour of blockchain. These three things will make heads spin for few years to come.

5. What is the role of the CTO in TORC AI?

TorcAI is a very unique entity. We engage with our clients at CXO levels and they look at us to drive one of the most complex biz and tech strategy that an organization could have. Our IP is designs and patterns that we learn and discover. We look at tech as enablers and are not bound by it. It’s like, when you want to play the master tune you need to become master of the piano, then forget what you have learned and then play the tune. Only then can a master piece be achieved. For us, our clients want us to deliver a master piece for them.

As a CTO, I need to stay in tune with architectural designs for high performance; algorithms that become building block and constantly contemplate on tech & biz models that our clients should pick. TorcAI is a team work, and tech masterpieces need a team of mavericks. At the end of the day, I have a lot of fun working on complex deliveries along with my team.

6. What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
A lot of things, let’s say top three are:
1. Listen to everyone and everything. Use what you hear and think about it. Usually the important things, you don’t understand it the first time. Make sure you have understood before you decide to use or let go.
2. Have patience, it’s not about high speed or slow speed, it’s about controlled speed.
3. Have faith in yourself and constantly evaluate yourself and your team critically.

Raghavendra is the technical lead and a thought leader. With over 18 years of experience in dealing with marketing platforms, his firm belief in simplifying complex technologies and solutions. He played key roles in envisaging and delivering large, complex and new market models for SDP, CMS & Programmatic. Setup high performance teams for B2C, B2B2C and B2B products.


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