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CIO Conference 2013: Navigating the data conundrum in Malaysia

Rosalind See | March 26, 2013
Making sense of Big Data requires multi-prong approach to preparing, processing and interpreting vast volumes of digital data.

Devabalan Theyventheran
Photo: Devabalan Theyventheran.

That approach has worked for the regional financial institution which has expanded rapidly through mergers within and beyond national borders over the past 15 years. Sorting out data from the multiple systems employed by the different banks absorbed into the group had presented its own challenges. Add to that the fast-growing stream of data from social media and the bank has had to be very focused in cultivating viable data.

"CIMB has a large number of Facebook and Twitter followers. By combining traditional big data from banking transactions with the new (social media) data, we have created a large big data platform," said Devabalan. "There is huge revenue potential if we leverage this asset. It has allowed us to have more targeted sales campaigns and to manage attrition better."

He continued: "It is what you do with the information which is important. You need to make sense of information before you use it. As the technologies are new, be prepared to experiment—use, discard and replace technology components as required."

Chin-Fah Heoh, Managing Consultant, Storage Networking Academy believed that to adopt big data effectively, organisations had to change their mindset. "Big data is not incremental; it is disruptive. Big data is about being visionary, not reactionary," he said. 

Chin-Fah Heoh
Photo: Chin-Fah Heoh

Inherent is this change is enabling people within the organisation to engage in shaping its future direction. People, not technology and process, are able to make sense of the interconnected chaos data provides.

"Fundamentals do not change, but how an organisation responds and how quickly it responds does. The organisation that is going to be the most competitive is the one that makes sense of what they learn, as fast as they learn it," said Heoh.

Driving big data forward
The Q&A session featuring all speakers considered the big data development cycle in Malaysia and factors holding back its implementation.

Awareness of big data and its benefits was still in its infancy in Malaysia. However, Au noted that across the causeway in Singapore, big data had been accepted as the de facto standard and was practiced widely. Au saw this as a reflection of the different market environment in both countries.

From a financial institution industry perspective, Devabalan acknowledged that data analysis brought about huge opportunities but organisations had to learn how to utilise it to their advantage. "In the past, the bank pushed out a lot of data for sales to pursue. However, this was not a successful strategy as the conversion rate was low," he said. "We have learnt from those experiences and now provide better quality information in targeting customers."


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