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Industry perspectives on Malaysia's Big Data ambitions: Teradata interview

AvantiKumar | March 20, 2015
Computerworld taps Teradata Malaysia's Craig Morrison's passion for Big Data Analytics and how this will drive Malaysia's National Agenda.

Teradata and MDeC have similar objectives - to accelerate the use of data and analytics to enable Malaysian companies to obtain a competitive advantage.  

We are approaching this with Malaysia's best interests in mind, with the national agenda at the forefront of our strategies and activities as we collaborate with MDeC to achieve their vision.  Hence, we leave our Teradata hat at the door!

However, BDA is all we do and we have the passion, experience, IP, people and the motivation to be an active contributor to the process.  We are perfectly positioned to help MDeC execute the national program.

What more can the public sector do in ramping up the moves towards becoming a developed knowledge based economy by 2020?

There are a lot of opportunities within the public sector.  I've outlined a handful below.  They key is to get started.  Through our COE status we are tasked with running Proof of Values for Malaysian organisations.  These can be completed within a couple of months, often within a month.  We accept data, load it into our big data discovery platform (Aster Data) and apply data scientists to demonstrate how BDA

Border Security
* The detection and prevention of drug smuggling via passenger routes into Malaysia. The system can analyse the travel patterns of each passenger and applies a risk rating. Passengers with a high risk rating are then identified for further screening once they arrive at Malaysia's borders.
* Incoming terrorist detection. The system analyses key words and travel patterns against incoming passenger manifests to identify passengers that be entering Malaysia for unlawful purposes
*  Detection of illegal goods arriving via cargo- Source origin, cargo manifest, target destination, customer and supplier are all vital pieces of data that are used to identify and further inspect cargo that is entering Malaysia via sea to prevent the shipment of drugs, counterfeit goods or endangered species into the country.

Tax - The implementation of tax fraud and tax compliance programs to minimize the tax gap (the amount of tax that should be paid versus the tax that is paid).  This can be implemented through analysing tax records and tax history independently and can be enhanced by combining vehicle registration data and housing data.

Social Security & Planning - The decisions around community aid and subsidies can based on hard data- not just the areas where the aid should be sent to but to the individuals.

Health - Using data and analytics to manage programs around medicine/ vaccine distribution, disease identification, management and containment are common applications across Ministries of Health globally.  The Dengue Index is a great example of this.  The data exists (as shown in the National BDA Challenge) to create a Dengue Index that predicts the likelihood of a dengue outbreak within the next month.  This can be used to plan and implement disease management programs as well as to efficiently and effectively plan the distribution of the dengue vaccine planned for Malaysia.

Some industry spokespersons have noted a possible 'softening 'of the local economy in the next 12-18 months: what's your take this?

In our experience, market downturns produce a higher need for fact and evidenced based decisions.  When every dollar counts and every decision needs to be right, data, analytics, insight becomes invaluable.  

Companies that have taken a 'data driven approach' to managing their business tend to perform better during downturns.  This was evidenced during the global financial crisis where it heightened the demand for strong information management - increased transparency, stronger risk management and more aggressive customer retention. The banks that were 'data driven' out-performed those that weren't as they were more prepared for changes in the market, they could predict better and react faster.  

We've seen this in other industries as well where some airlines were able to optimise their routes well ahead of global slowdowns, retailers were able to manage their product mix and pricing and governments were able to plan their response faster and more efficiently with the benefit of data and analytics.

For example, Teradata generally fares well in challenging times due to the above reasons- the value of a good decision is far greater when times are tough.  Furthermore, at the same time as improving the decision process implementing a Teradata solution can reduce costs - we load the data once and make it available to all departments (load once, use many) which allows our clients to consolidate multiple data marts that often contain the same or similar data into a single system.

Often departments such as CRM, Finance, Sales will use similar data but will keep it within their own departmental datamart.  By creating a single BDA environment where all data is stored once and used by all companies can shave millions off their annual IT budget.  This can reduce IT spend whilst providing a higher level of service to the users (less data movement, standardised data access etc.).  This approach also helps the companies make better decisions, since the data required by executives to manage the business would be available within a single system allowing broader, faster and more accurate reporting.

On a final note, what excites you about Teradata's developing role in the national BDA agenda?

We are passionate about data and analytics, our company is 100 percent focused on data and analytics.  From a personal perspective, I love being part of a movement that provides significant benefits to the people and the community.  I'm an active member of some local charity organisations and I see the national BDA agenda as a way to contribute to Malaysia in a bigger way.  Better services, better pricing, more stability and better government services benefit all.  It's still early days and it's too early to discuss targets, however the main focus of the COE is around running big data Proof of Value's for both Government and Private enterprise.  Through these POV's we will involve local SI's and educational institutions to achieve both of two goals - help Malaysian companies and develop local talent.

Teradata is the leader in this space, we pride ourselves on our ability to deliver results.  In our capacity as a Malaysia COE we will strive to be a good partner with MDeC, Fusionex, MIMOS and MAMPU to help achieve our joint goals.


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