Mediatrac wants to create a big data wave in Indonesia
By Masyitha Baziad July 15, 2016
- Started off as a media tracking company, to launch its own data integration tech
- Currently monetising from data analytics consultancy, wants to initiate open data
THE data-driven revolution is hitting everyone. Some markets are jumping in at the deep end while others are floundering, but the reality is that data is the new black in the business world.
And Jakarta-based big data analytics (BDA) company PT Mediatrac Sistem Komunikasi (Mediatrac) wants to bring the big data wave to Indonesia – but in the proper manner, say senior executives.
“Businesses are now more aware of the importance of their data, but they first need to know how to deal with their data,” says chief executive officer Regi Wahyu.
And this can be tricky, he warns. Businesses need to know how to properly store their data, how to clean and pick useful data, and how to process that data.
“Once you figure out those important initial steps, you can begin monetising your data – too many companies want to jump into the monetisation part with little knowledge on how to build their data,” he says.
There are many ways for BDA companies to monetise data, including media monitoring services, public data access, advertisements, and credit scoring.
For Mediatrac, which is currently monetising through its data analytics consultancy services, the real money will come when its own algorithm is used by companies.
With its own technology to integrate and connect data, it is well on its way to becoming a full-fledged BDA company after 13 years in the media-tracking business. This technology will be offered as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to other businesses and even the public sector.
“Hopefully we will launch the alpha version by August – we have been using the same algorithm since Day One, but we are now ready to showcase it and help it get greater use,” says chief technology officer Imron Zuhri.
“It will clean, integrate, and connect your data,” he says, adding that this would help companies take care of their big data needs without needing to deploy their own systems internally.
No data legacy
As noted, Mediatrac started as a media-tracking company back in 2003, scanning 160 publications daily. By 2007, it also started tracking social media for its clients.
Imron (pic above), also the founder, says he collected more than 20 terabytes of data from the company’s media-tracking activities.
This was not quite intentional – all he wanted was to have a proper archive.
“Unlike in the United States where the Library of Congress has all the publications in its archive, in Indonesia we have none – you have to collect and archive them yourself,” he says.
With his team, Imron tried and experimented with various techniques to improve the data collection process.
“We failed, tried different techniques, built our own technology, and finally managed to create a large and comprehensive linguistics database,” he claims.
“You can even find slang used by people in social media, specific words for specific social media channels,” he adds.
With the huge amounts of data it was collecting, Mediatrac then used the Hadoop open-source big data platform to help in its database management, which was the milestone that kicked off the company’s big data journey.
Hidden treasure trove
Data monetisation for Mediatrac began in 2010 when Regi (pic) was appointed chief executive officer.
“When I came in, I spotted the hidden treasure in the company right away – its database and the ability to process and analyse the data,” says Regi.
“I asked Imron, why are you not making money from this?” [Clarified]
Supported by his more than 10 years of experience in business development, Regi started promoting Mediatracs’ data analytics service, and in that same year of 2010, landed Mediatrac’s first project – a three-year contract worth US$4.7 million.
“We were bootstrapping at that time because no investor believed that we had technology which could connect and analyse data at the granular level,” he says.
“But bootstrapping was also a good idea – it helped us look for a sustainable business model, to be profitable, while at the same time improve and build on our own technology,” he adds.
In the beginning of 2015, the company restructured its business to focus on its data integration technology, although the consulting service is still being retained while the process of educating the market and creating greater awareness continues.
Mediatrac finally secured funding in the middle of last year, in a round led by venture capital firm Alpha JWC Ventures.
Regi stresses this was not a Series A round. While the company has not disclosed the actual amount, he claims it was larger than “the average Series A.”
“We are using the investment money to expand our team – we had about 56 people late last year, now we have about 120 people, and we will close this year with 200 employees,” he adds.
The company is also targeting a double-digit Series A round, but did not disclose any timeframe for this.
Open data drive
A massive country with a huge population – 250 million and counting – Indonesia is still trying to figure out its data destination.
“Countries need to start somewhere, and to start you need to know where you are going,” says Regi.
“In Japan and South Korea for example, they are using data in advertisements; Brazil is monetising public data access; North America has already started credit scoring.
“What we want to do is to at least help shape the data transformation in Indonesia – to make an impact with big data in such a way that everyone can access any public data for free,” he declares.
But the main challenge in Indonesia is the availability of data.
“If you live here, then you know how hard it is to find basic data like how many people live in a certain area, how many are women and men, what the age groups are, how many public facilities are there – we do not have such data,” says Regi.
But with its upcoming technology, Mediatrac wants to make these basic data available to public. Its vision is to connect data at the “granular level” – according to Regi, this means the company can connect data right up to the transactional level.
“Yes, we enrich the data and monetise from analytics, but we also want to start the open data movement for citizens – we want everyone in the country to be able to access basic and public data easily,” he adds. [Clarified]
Datasets for the rest of us, via Data.gov.sg
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