Kavi Associates: Helping Clients Lead with Analytics

Vijitha Kaduwela, Founder & CEO
Orville Wright, who was credited with the invention of controlled flight with his brother Wilbur once said, “If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance.” Following in the likes of the Wright brothers, Vijitha Kaduwela left his leadership role at GE, ending his 15-year corporate career in analytics that started at United Airlines. He refused to accept the industry status quo and took a plunge into the entrepreneurial space during the grave recession period of 2008, materializing his ideas into Kavi Associates.

“The timing of our decision to launch Kavi was questioned by many,” says Kaduwela, the founder and CEO of Kavi Associates. “We believed what the market needed most at the time was analytics and we knew how to address that need and chose to ignore the outlook. We were convinced that analytics would be the key differentiator to help businesses make optimal, strategic, and tactical decisions. It has the power to transform a business; it has the power to pinpoint market opportunities, grow revenues, reduce costs, and streamline operations,” he explains.

Redefining Innovation and Excellence

Kavi, a word from ancient Sanskrit, means wisdom, intelligence and excellence as a ‘thinker’ or a ‘leader’. True to its name, the firm offers consulting services that cover the full-spectrum of data analytics—from strategy to implementation to support. As Kaduwela explains, “We help our clients make analytics the cornerstone of their corporate strategy, by working with them from the discovery of their analytics needs to the delivery of business results.

During Kaduwela’s corporate career, he came to the sad realization that there were no specialized consulting organizations that covered the full spectrum of required consulting services in the analytics space. As a result, they had to work with multiple non-specialized consulting organizations, some from management consulting and others from IT services. One of the analytics projects he led included consultants from five different vendors. As a result, the project becomes complex, risky, time consuming and costly. Since there were multiple vendors in the mix, none took responsibility for the outcomes. “That was the turning point for us; we sought to innovate and figure out how to do it ourselves, and ended up delivering many analytics projects quite successfully. That is the corporate experience and the delivery expertise the core team brought to Kavi,” reveals Kaduwela. Also the fact that Kaduwela is a classically trained violinist, who is well versed with the importance of harmony and collaboration in a team, played an important role in the success of the organization. This not only helped the company concentrate on their core strength—the team—but also helped them to build a constructive atmosphere where everybody can learn and grow.

Kavi’s innovation driven culture is built on a few key beliefs. First, that a small team with the right mix of skills can achieve extraordinary results. Second, that the team should have access to the right tools, information and training. Finally, they should have a tight budget and a short timeline. These beliefs mimic the environment that the Wright brothers operated in. Prior to becoming aviators the Wright brothers were bicycle repairmen. Their small team with limited resources beat all other well-funded experts in in a short span of 4 years!

“Our highly specialized project teams are much smaller than those of our competitors. Our project teams have the required mix of skills that are needed and typically include industry subject matter experts, advanced analytics experts, data scientists, big data and data management experts, technology experts, and project managers,” says Vignesh Balasubramanian, who leads are Kavi's Solution Delivery Practice. His team brings services accelerators to their engagements to drive efficiency and quality of implementations.

“We have a culture of embracing the challenge to work on complex problems with very little prior knowledge. So when the time for implementation comes, we have already mastered the techniques,” says Rajesh Inbasekaran, who leads the R&D Practice at Kavi. “For example when Hadoop based big data platform became available we had it figured out before anybody else, so we were able to bring value to our clients by deploying analytics on top of the big data platforms. Now, we are in the process of perfecting in-stream analytics leveraging the capabilities offered by big data platforms,” reveals Inbasekaran.

Partnering for a Difference

“When we partner with our clients, we look for the vision match,” says Kaduwela. “We are focused on long-term while maintaining controlled growth. As a privately held company we can choose to do so. We do not have investors breathing down our necks to drive short-term profits,” explains Kaduwela. This helps the company to focus on what is important to our clients and take advantage of new developments that benefit them.

SAS is a key partner in Kavi’s success and the company has several strategic joint clients. “SAS leadership strongly encouraged and supported our decision to launch Kavi,” says Kaduwela. Kaduwela began using SAS in graduate school and was a SAS customer throughout his corporate career. He had a long-standing productive relationship with SAS as a customer. “We decided to take that relationship forward. We have very similar operating philosophies that make it easy for us to work together,” explains Kaduwela.

Leveraging Analytics to Drive Business Results

Organizations constantly struggle to effectively manage the enormous amount of data they have and find actionable insights to help drive business decisions.
This is because for most of them, it is not a core competency and they require a competent external partner to help them get on the right track and be successful—a role that is meticulously played by Kavi. Kavi serves clients from a wide range of industries including transportation, healthcare, pharmaceutical, financial services, digital marketing, retail, higher education, and state government, whose operational systems, information management infrastructure and business problems vary widely. However, they all need analytics to make better business decision. For example, in transportation Kavi helps its clients identify opportunities to reduce maintenance costs and improve equipment reliability. In healthcare the company assists clients analyze care delivery to improve quality and patient outcomes. In digital marketing Kavi enables clients to identify opportunities to grow while improving customer retention. In addition, the company helps state government clients identify and contain fraud, which is prevalent in social programs.

We consider only a limited number of clients for strategic engagements every year. Controlled growth helps us ensure client focus and deliver quality.

“Most of the analytics implementations today are focused on assisting humans to make better decisions. The decision making process itself, as we know it is going to change dramatically in the future. With some of our strategic clients, we have a unique opportunity take a sneak preview of this future and actively participate in shaping it,” says Kaduwela. This includes analytics initiatives related to the “Internet of Things” as described by CISCO, the “Industrial Internet” as described by GE and a “Smarter Planet” as described by IBM.

Today, large amounts of streaming data originating from sensors attached to transportation and industrial equipment, smart meters, RFID tags and the like. In the future all these sources will be networked to communicate with each other and share information without human intervention. Most of the critical analytically driven decisions will be made in near real-time before even humans come to know about the problem.

"We help our clients make analytics the cprnerstone of their corporate strategy"

“In traditional implementations we store the data and then analyze it. With streaming data we perform analytics in-stream, run algorithms, recognize patterns in the data and drive immediate action automatically,” affirms Kaduwela. In transportation and healthcare this can drive increased equipment up time, reduce breakdowns and maintenance costs, and even save lives. Machines will come to know about impending catastrophic failures and inform humans, or even take corrective action all by itself. “We partner with SAS leveraging their in-stream analytical capabilities in this space,” he adds.

Key Drivers of Success

The analytics services landscape is rapidly changing. Kavi's clients are looking for comprehensive integrated and automated analytical solutions. The services business model itself is evolving from pay for service to pay for results. “Our clients use several metrics to measure the value we bring to the table. They include business outcomes, delivery speed and efficiency, quality of deliverables, ability to mitigate project risks, quality of service and accountability,” explains Kaduwela.

“The key to our success is our people. We hire and invest in the best,” says Nalika Diyadawa who leads the Human Resource function at Kavi. Kavi has established a rigorous selection process for hiring both experienced and new graduates. Many of their employees have an advanced degree in a related field and are certified in the SAS technologies. “We partner with several U.S. Universities with specialized graduate programs in analytics,” explains Diyadawa.

“We consider only a limited number of clients for strategic engagements every year. Controlled growth helps us ensure client focus and delivery quality,” says Jack Tyse, who is in charge of client engagements. “We differentiate with service; we give personalized attention to our clients. Our goal is to exceed their expectations.” This goes hand in hand with the company’s comprehensive suite of SAS powered solutions and industry leading experience. “We bring expertise and experience unparalleled to any other consulting organizations,” claims Kaduwela.

Going forward, Kavi aims to become the partner of choice for organizations big and small seeking business transformation leveraging analytics. The company is leveraging their rich consulting experience and expertise in data management, business intelligence, and advanced analytics to refine their products and services offerings, as well as expand their portfolio with new solutions. This strategy will help them continue to deliver value to their clients, which is imperative to maintaining the competitive edge in the rapidly changing analytical services marketplace.

Kavi Associates


Vijitha Kaduwela, Founder & CEO

A boutique business analytics solutions company that provides solutions to automate data driven decision-making