Data culture is crucial for big data analytics to thrive
Data is crucial for digital transformation to happen. Bringing together social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies together requires data and generates more data to ultimately enable businesses to know their customers, recognise new opportunities and streamline processes among other things.
Malaysian business leaders know this too, and a Microsoft Asia Data Culture study conducted last March revealed that local business decision makers felt there is need for a modern data culture, but that there are very huge gaps that need to be addressed as well.
Significantly, an analytical workforce is key, as is an infrastructure that supports data agility, and data governance that will break down siloes and maintain the integrity and quality of data.
The Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)’s Director of Innovation Capital, Dr. Karl Ng, observed that Malaysia is not far off from other countries, when it comes to adoption of big data and analytics (BDA).
He said, “Our focus this year is to look at the adoption of BDA and we are working with a number of organisations on this.”
As the agency responsible for driving BDA in the country, with end goal of Malaysia achieving digital nation status, MDEC recognises talent as a critical enabler and have put strategies in place to create new data analytics and data science courses in universities, as well as develop professional programmes at the technical-level and C-suite level.
“Executives need to understand what it means to be data-driven,” Dr. Karl pointed out and also added, “While we have made progress, there is still a bit more catch up to do, to advance the digital economy.”
Technology and application
Microsoft’s National Technology Officer Dr. Dzahar Mansor said, “To succeed, companies need to respect data and treat it as a strategic resource. A data culture is important.”
iPrice, a one-stop online shopping destination in Southeast Asia, perhaps best exemplifies what it means to have a sound data culture. It captures publicly available Google traffic to predict what online shoppers are looking for, and quickly react by populating their websites with the desired products and services.
CEO and co-founder David Chmelar said, “For instance, we tripled revenues in our health and beauty category when we spotted the rise of Korean beauty products in our data. Capturing this trend early allowed us to have a headstart.”
iPrice which has the largest number of product catalogues in Southeast Asia is an example of a data-driven company. Chmelar said, “I do very little intuitive thinking. Most of my time is spent forcing people to stop thinking intuitively and to do more analysis.
“Our CMO is a PhD holder and data scientist who understands Southeast Asian women and their purchasing needs more than anybody else.”
Interestingly, iPrice uses Microsoft’s data visualisation tool that enables timely and efficient decision-making, and also good ol’ Microsoft Excel sheets when it comes time to drill down the data and finetune cause-and-effect factors.
iPrice operates out of Malaysia with presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Philippines.