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Indonesian companies becoming aware of Big Data

A sales officer promotes an app-based loan service to potential customers during an expo in Jakarta. Alternative lending companies and platforms across Asia are scrambling to raise funds and stave off bankruptcy as they face a wave of bad loans. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

JAKARTA, Oct 2, 2020, Digital News Asia. As with many other stalwarts in the IT industry, Remco den Heijer has witnessed to rise of data analytics in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. “It’s not exclusive to large organizations anymore to be a data-driven business model,” Digital News Asia reported.

Like many others, the SAS Vice President for ASEAN also acknowledged the role of Covid-19 in accelerating the process, in particular in the adoption of cloud computing. “The massive disruption and transformation that has happened with cloud has really helped in levelling the playing field. World-class technologies are available on the tap at really low cost now.”

The question he put forward now is simple: “What do you do with that?”

SAS: Indonesian companies becoming aware of Big DataIf you are a company intending to embark on the data analytics journey, den Heijer had three pieces of advice. “(Number one), start with the end problem that you’re trying to solve, and then work backwards,” he said. Don’t be too keen to install the tools before understanding the purpose. “Before you know it, you (have put) millions of dollars into building a huge data lake, and its like, ‘What was the question again?'”.

Secondly, start small. “You don’t have to completely redo your current way of working from day one.”

His last piece of advice is simple for somebody who works for a company specialising in statistical software. “Number three, give SAS a call.”

Of course, den Heijer is joking – well, half joking. He has worked for SAS for sixteen of the 40 plus years the company has been in existence, and adding that their first office in Asia was in Singapore in 1983. “So we’ve been we’ve been in this industry for a very long time,” he said. “And the only thing that we’ve been doing is data analytics.”

He described Indonesia as a “super interesting market,” adding “There’s a lot of stability in the country from a political point of view, and the government itself has made it explicitly and publicly important in their policies around digitalisation, trying to get Indonesia up in terms of its overall competitiveness.”

For SAS, increasing its investment into the country is a strategic consideration.

Febrianto Siboro (pic, right), SAS Country Manager for Indonesia, agrees there is much room for growth. “Most of Indonesian companies right now are in the data awareness age, (and) they are starting to adopt Big Data, IoT and AI technology to differentiate themselves from their competitors,” he explains.SAS: Indonesian companies becoming aware of Big Data

Nevertheless, the public sector in Indonesia has taken a strong role. “Most of the spending right now is in government,” he says, and that drives the economy. “So we are working very well with them, and helping them.”

The appetite for digitalisation has not been suppressed by Covid-19. According to Febrianto, their pipeline has seen a growth of 250% year-on-year, renewals (for Q3) have grown 120%, while business partner growth is at 63%.

Most of those business partners joined in 2020, and this can be attributed to companies needing to change strategic direction as quickly as possible this year. “Our discussion is really with the C-level,” he shares.

They see the urgency to somehow monetise the data they have, but they’re not sure what is the best way forward. “That’s why they have the intention of partnering with SAS,” he says.

There are obviously obstacles to be overcome. Den Heijer is quick to praise the top-level decision makers who understand the big picture. But that vision needs to filter down the line.

“What they’re asking for help with is, how do you now get middle management and the rest of the organisation to buy in? Organisations are looking at us not just as a software solution vendor,” he explains.

Another obvious issue is to make sure there is enough talent to do the necessary work.

“The Indonesian Association of Higher Education in Informatics and Computer Sciences state there are between 40,000-50,000 graduates each year in the informatics computing field. (This) is a lot but it’s still not enough to match the demand, so digital talent scholarship programmes are very important.”

As an example, den Heijer points to the SAS Business Intelligence and Analytics (BIA) programme in Singapore, which he hopes will extend to similar initiatives elsewhere in the region. “We’re looking to get graduates in to learn the technologies, take them under our wings for between half a year to a full year, and then we take some of those to our partners.”

Ultimately, den Heijer is optimistic about the future. “Covid-19 is going to go away, and the demographics and socio-economic situation within Asia and Southeast Asia, in particular, are very healthy in the mid- to long-term.”

“In that world where Covid is behind us, there is a lot of data out there that has the potential for new, unique and valuable insights. Our premise is you always have that data – but data without analytics is value not realised.”

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