CEO recognises customers won’t care, need to deliver value instead
Aims to build an ecosystem rather than position Pulsate at its core
PULSATE Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Bob Chua has his ‘dream team’ in place to push forward his big data play.
However, he also realises that as much as he is enthusiastic about the partners he has assembled – in this case Dell, Intel and Revolution Analytics – customers don’t really care who his dream team is. They just want a solution that works and a service that delivers on its promise of turning meaningless data into actionable intelligence.
In the brave new world of big data, where vendor and service provider hyperbole frequently runs ahead of the ability of the technology to deliver, Chua and one of his dream team partners manage to stay grounded during an interview with Digital News Asia (DNA).
Describing Pulsate’s role as “the insights to action layer,” Revolution Analytics chief executive officer Dave Rich tells DNA that “there is nobody doing this says,” as Chua nods vigorously from across the table.
What he means is that there is no big data offering as comprehensive as the solution Chua has put together. In industry lingo it’s called ‘the complete stack.’ Clients can either buy the computing power and applications necessary to find meaning in their own data, or they can just ask Pulsate to do the analytical part for them and give them a report of what the data is telling them.
This is why Chua is making a big deal of the need to build big data capabilities in people and of his own search for data scientists to join Pulsate.
Revolution Analytics describes itself as the leading commercial provider of software and services based on the open source R project for statistical computing.
Rich himself is an analytics consulting veteran who retired from Accenture as its global head of analytics. The commercial agreement between the two is based on the licensing model, with Pulsate paying Revolution Analytics by the number of licences it uses.
The idea of the stack Chua has put together is to make it easy for customers to spend time where the value is; that is, in the applications and applying the insights. “That’s why I was so excited to be part of this,” says Rich.
Realising that the skills set needed is sorely lacking, and that this gap will become even more pronounced in the future when everyone and their grandmother will be screaming for inhouse big data capabilities, Chua is setting up a Big Data Academy in Kuala Lumpur, which will be facilitated by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), “with the possibility that there may be something [funding] allocated.”
MDeC is the quasi-government agency in charge of the Multimedia Super Corridor project as well as the Digital Malaysia programme which seeks to transform the nation into a digital economy.
Chua believes that the academy, which he claims is the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region, will be a key anchor of the big data ecosystem that needs to be created.
“It is like Stanford University in Silicon Valley,” says Rich. “Their students go and create startups or join other companies.”
The dream team that Chua has put together then acts as another component of this ecosystem by way of acting as a sort of shared services platform companies can leverage off to build their own big data applications.
“Not everyone can put together the type of investment needed to do what we have done now, and really there is no need to,” says Chua of the infrastructure, platform and expertise he has assembled.
While Chua does not offer how much this portion has cost to put together, he has publicly stated that he will invest RM60 million (US$18.1 million) into making Pulsate Asia's premier big data solutions provider.
The academy is not just going to focus on equipping university students with big data relevant skills, but also the staff of small and medium enterprises, as Chua foresees the need for big data quickly moving from just the big companies to all types of businesses which need to better understand changing market and customer behaviour.
“But there is the third option of customers just wanting to use our expertise to provide insight on their data,” says Chua, who has observed that most companies have reams of data but actually do not know how to convert this to insight they can profit from.
“That’s the opportunity,” exclaims Chua, who is hoping that Pulsate will stand to be among the major beneficiaries of the estimated US$52-billion big data market in the next five years.
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