Telcos and banks in Malaysia applying analytics, but on a siloed basis
Lack of adoption likely driven by attitude, not cost or resources
MALAYSIAN companies and organisations in general understand Big Data Analytics (BDA) and its benefits, but this has been into significant adoption, according to Teradata Malaysia country manager Craig Morrison.
“There is a lot of awareness of BDA, but not enough momentum for companies to say ‘Yes, I want to start using BDA to improve my operations’,” Morrison told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Cyberjaya recently.
This lack of momentum can be seen across various industries and sectors, including banking and telecommunications, the two most perceived to be early adopters.
However, Morrison was quick to note that this does not mean that Malaysian telcos and banks are not adopting any forms of analytics – just that they are not crunching data at an advanced level.
Big data is a broad term for data sets that are so large and complex, that traditional data processing applications are inadequate to handle them.
Morrison said that telcos deal with a massive amount of data on a regular basis. These data include call data records – which comprise details like originating number, destination number, time of call, duration of call, and others. These data could amount to tens of terabits of data daily.
At the same time, the telcos are also storing other information, such as call centre and network data, as well as data from various social media platforms.
“While telcos may be analysing these data on an individual, silo basis, most of them are not integrating and analysing these data as a whole,” said Morrison.
On how a telco could apply big data to improve its operations, he cited as an example one of Teradata’s clients, although he declined to name the company.
“This telco had a network problem in terms of quality – it had a lot of dropped calls, and it was losing quite a fair number of customers as a result.
“So it embarked on a programme whereby when a customer called in and complained about dropped calls, the customer service team would give the customer some form of discount on his or her bill,” he said.
Within a short time however, as the market heard about the programme, this resulted in customers abusing the programme.
“[The telco] was giving away a lot of discounts, and it didn't really know who really deserved the discount,” said Morrison.
“It then embarked on a BDA initiative, pulling in network data and integrating this with the call centre. That way, when a customer called in to complain, the customer service team was able to have a clear view of how many dropped calls the customer experienced, and if the customer was telling the truth," he said.
“So the conversation basically moved from ‘I am sorry to everyone’ to ‘I am sorry to those who are affected’,” he added.
Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of how BDA could help that particular telco. Using such data, it could also try to find the root cause of the decline in network quality, and to rectify it.
Morrison said that Malaysian telcos are not applying BDA at such a level, although he conceded that analytics was being applied in parts of their operations.
Morrison (pic) believes that it may be the ‘wait-and-see’ mentality that is stifling adoption. “I don’t think it’s so much about cost or talent,” he said.
“In the United States, when companies look at a concept, they will immediately jump onto it when they find out that no one else has done it. That’s the early adopter personality.
“There are pockets of that in Malaysia, but not enough early adopters still,” he added.
Morrison said that Malaysia may even be behind its South-East Asian neighbour Thailand in terms of big data adoption.
“In Thailand, we did about 10 big data proofs of concept (POCs) last year; in Malaysia, the number was far fewer than 10. From the 10 POCs [in Thailand], four went on to operationalise it,” he said.
While the ‘wait and see’ attitude does have its benefits, Morrison argued that there’s a limit to how long one can hesitate.
“It’s not a bad strategy, because you can learn from other people’s mistake and experience. But there has to be a duration for the wait-and-see approach – if you wait too long, you will miss the boat entirely,” he said.
“We are getting very close to the point that if you were to miss it, it will be very hard to catch up,” he added.
Malaysia a BDA hub?
Nevertheless, Morrison believes that Malaysia is doing the right things to steer itself into becoming a BDA hub in South-East Asia.
Teradata is currently working with national ICT custodian Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) on setting up BDA centres of excellence (COEs).
The primary objective of these COEs is to churn out POCs and high impact projects, so that BDA can be used and adopted in a larger scale.
“The idea is to move from ‘It is a good idea’ to ‘I have done it.’ That, we hope, will create the momentum in the market – where companies and organisations can say, ‘If they can do it, so can we’,” said Morrison.
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