Business Profile | Gaurav Issar

September 2016 View more

Gaurav Issar, CEO of Allant Group, for Naperville MagazineFounded in 1984, Naperville-based Allant Group LLC—a leader in data aggregation, advanced data analytics and customer insight solutions—was recently acquired by VntCap Technologies, LLC. President and CEO Gaurav Issar talks about changes in the tech industry and what’s behind the companies numerous business excellence awards.

How has the tech industry changed in your area in the past 5–10 years?

The business of data analytics has undergone enormous change. In the early 2000s, companies would cross-reference the customer data they housed in their internal computer systems with minimal demographic and behavioral data they procured from external sources. The resulting data would then be compared to behaviors these companies observed in their brick and mortar businesses, and standard reporting and analytic tools would be used to try and gain insight into customer trends and behaviors.

In the past decade, the amount of data captured by businesses, such as retailers, via in-store and online sales has grown exponentially. Similarly, the growth of the Internet and the availability of online information have fueled the collection and compilation of consumer and business data. To maintain a competitive edge in today’s business environment, companies must be capable of analyzing enormous volumes of such data about their customer’s behaviors in both their brick and mortar locations as well as online. Technical trends that include cloud computing, cheaper storage and improved graphical tools are all fueling the rapid growth of advanced data analytics. Allant’s transformational approach and focus on key markets, positions it well to address this growing need.

Allant Group has been recognized with several business excellence awards. What do you attribute to the company’s success in this area?

It begins with our organization’s long history in the areas of data capture, list acquisition and fulfillment, all of which enabled the company to grow into other related areas of data acquisition and analytics. In the end though, it is our employees and key partners who are the key drivers of excellence. They work tirelessly to provide an amazing level of customer service to all of our clients, many of whom I spoke with personally prior to VntCap’s acquisition of Allant. We are fortunate to have employees who have worked at Allant for several years. They understand not just our business but our customers’ businesses as well. Many are continuing on this new journey with us and others who previously left the company are rejoining. I am confident that this combination of the right people and Allant’s state-of-the-art data assets and technology will result in further recognition for Allant in the years ahead.

You were born in India and grew up in Kenya. What inspired you to move to the United States and settle down in suburban Chicago?

From the time I was in middle school in Eldoret, Kenya, I was enamored with the United States. This infatuation was based on what I saw on TV and read in books and newspapers. Upon entering college, I decided to pursue a degree in computer science. My fascination with my first computer, the Commodore Amiga, probably had something to do with this. With the technical prowess the U.S. had in the field of computers, I felt this would be the place to go to both study and work. My move to Chicago is a story similar to that of many other international students who have come to the U.S. to study. I was offered a job by the management consulting firm Price-Waterhouse, whose Midwest headquarters were in downtown Chicago. The rest, as they say, is history. I fell in love with the city, its people and, of course, its sports teams. I lived for many years in downtown Chicago and eventually moved with my family to the northern suburbs, where I live now.

Is there anything you miss about living in India or Kenya?

I lived in India until I was nine years old, so unfortunately my memories of those early years are few. What I do remember, and sometimes miss, however, is the close-knit nature of families that is at the core of Indian culture. My greatest memories about Kenya are the wildlife and game parks. As far back as I can remember, my family would go on photographic safaris to many of the well-known game parks in Kenya and Tanzania. Being able to get away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life to a quiet, serene environment where animals can be viewed in their natural habitat is something I miss. I was fortunate to be able to take my family back to Kenya a few years ago so they could experience this as well.

When you’re not busy being CEO, how do you enjoy spending your free time?

Since the acquisition, I have been spending a lot of time at work since it has been necessary to focus on many aspects of the company. Two of my favorite hobbies, traveling abroad, which I have done quite a bit and playing golf, have definitely been impacted—though my wife may disagree about the latter. Living in the Chicago area, one of the things I really like doing is going downtown for a night out with my wife to try interesting new restaurants. I have three great kids, ages 16, 14 and 11, and therefore when I’m not working I try to spend as much time as I can supporting their athletic pursuits, which consist of travel soccer, travel basketball and, more recently, recreational golf. The travel to the various sports events can sometimes be challenging, but it’s a lot of fun watching them play and develop.