AirAsia unit in APAC data science JV with Scotland’s Bd4h

  • To build a SaaS business in the region, first client will be AirAsia
  • Part of move to establish AirAsia as a digital company, says Tony Fernandes

AirAsia unit in APAC data science JV with Scotland’s Bd4hLOW-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd said its data science unit MadCience Consulting Sdn Bhd has entered into an agreement to set up a data analytics joint venture in Asia Pacific with Edinburgh-based Big Data For Humans Ltd (Bd4h).
 
The joint venture will be responsible for building a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business in the region, with its first client being AirAsia, it said in a statement.
 
The business will be operated through Big Data For Humans APAC Ltd, which is expected to commence operations in the fourth quarter of this year, AirAsia said.
 
“For the first 15 years, AirAsia has been a marketing and branding company and we have built a very valuable, social media savvy brand,” said AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes (pic).
 
“I am excited by the possibilities offered by data analytics to grow AirAsia's business … these are exciting times. Data is king, and we look forward to working together with Bd4h to unlock the value in our customer database as we bring AirAsia even closer to becoming a digital company,” he added.
 
The news comes less than a week after AirAsia announced that it was establishing a South-East Asian publisher-side trading desk for digital advertising with London-based media and marketing agency PHAR.
 
Meanwhile, the Bd4h data science platform will be able to automate insights and generate action plans in real-time to provide AirAsia guests with the best offers based on their preferences across all channels, the airline said in its statement.
 
MadCience Consulting is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AirAsia that was established in March 2015 to provide insights into customer behaviour to better personalise and monetise AirAsia's data assets, build reporting tools to assist in business decisions and develop new third-party business, AirAsia said.
 
MadCience Consulting also subscribed to one million unsecured convertible loan notes issued by Bd4h for £1 million (US$1.3 million), of which £500,000 (about US$660,000) will be used to finance the joint venture.
 
“Peter Ellen and Steven Rose who head up Bd4h have a solid track record of delivering cutting-edge, cloud-based data analytics platforms,” said AirAsia Group chief data officer Nikunj Shanti.
 
“We hope to tap into their wealth of experience to implement better targeted marketing and cross-selling as well as identify new business opportunities that will not only benefit AirAsia but deliver an improved guest experience,” he added.
 
Bd4h, incorporated in February 2014, specialises in big data insights, particularly in travel, leisure and consumer businesses. It received a total of £1 million early stage funding in 2014 and closed another US$1.2 million seed funding a year later, according to AirAsia.
 
“We are thrilled to be part of this joint venture and we will work closely with AirAsia to serve up the right deal to the right guest at the right time,” said Bd4h founder and chief executive officer Peter Ellen.
 
“Asia is a huge market that’s just beginning to realise the power of data science, which presents clear opportunities for us going forward as we build our business in the region beyond AirAsia,” he added.
 
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