SHIFT Business Tech Seminar: Demystifying big data analytics | Digital Asia

  • Big data analytics isn’t just for big businesses but any size can take advantage of it
  • It all boils down to analysing existing data to make informed business decisions



WE LIVE in a world where companies born within the digital sphere reign supreme and have begun to cross over to disrupt the way traditional business is done. In light of this, how can Small Medium Enterprises (SME), especially those that run traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, compete against the Alibabas and Amazons of the world?

Fret not because not all is lost. According to The Centre of Applied Data Science (CADS)’s advanced analytics consultant Vimal Dev (pic), it really isn’t all that difficult to incorporate big data analytics into a business.

“It is a matter of getting the context right by choosing the right analytics. The truth is that running analytics is as simple as setting up an excel sheet with relevant data that you have already gathered about your customers, vendors, finances,” he said during DNA’s inaugural SHIFT Business Tech Seminar recently.

Vimal highlighted that it is finally time to drop the perception that big data analytics is scary and complicated. If businesses sit down and think about it, they already possess mountains of data that they have already collected.

“You just need excel. With that, you can use basic graphs so you can see patterns of periods of dates when you are busy. When can I get the most demand and which customers are contributing the most revenue to you? It is that simple,” he said.

For example, Tesco has effectively used its Clubcard to gather information about their customers and what they buy to determine their spending habits. With the data they have, they are able to issue discount coupons on items customers are most likely to buy and increase the chances of them returning to shop.

He added that analytics can actually help small businesses to identify new lines of delivery that they wouldn’t have considered.

Vimal explained that there are five main pillars for an SME to adopt data analytics, namely workforce excellence, process and management excellence, distribution excellence, customer excellence and organisational culture.

What this all boils down to is using analysed data to know when how to optimise your workforce while exploring new methods of delivery like automation and optimising the delivery of the product.

Getting to know your customers as to whether they are new, returning or infrequent ones while knowing which to focus on is also key. Lastly, as an SME grows and takes on staff from different backgrounds it is about making sure that they embody the qualities and beliefs of the company.

While data analytics brings a lot of inherent value to SMEs, how do you get a buy-in from a traditional brick-and-mortar SME, asked SME Association of Malaysia deputy president Ong Chee Tat.

Vimal makes the case that it all comes down to the vision of the business and whether it can foresee itself sticking to the same business for the next 15 to 20 years.

In most cases, businesses never want to stay the same forever due to the changing environment. Hence, to adapt to this change, technology, by way of data analytics, can help move it forward. This then becomes the collaborative point where both veterans (baby boomers) and the next generation (millennials) can come to an agreement.


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