International Finance
Entrepreneurs Magazine September - October 2018

Thai big data startups harness big data for competitive advantage

Thai big data startups harness big data for competitive advantage
Three Thai startups are tapping into the power of big data to help companies manage their businesses better

The business potential that lies in big data is still largely untapped in Asia and there is an ever increasing shift when it comes to using data in business. In the digital age, companies are acquiring more data than ever before and the universe of data keeps expanding leaving some organisations totally unprepared.

The challenge of efficiently making the best use of unstructured data coming from a variety of channels remain a key one in the years ahead. Data can turn into competitive advantage for businesses and the ability to make the best use of them result in big digital payoffs for organisations, enhancing decision-making and reinventing fully or partly business models. However, the risks for companies is to amass an enormous set of data that are not clean, which makes them worthless when it comes to making good and solid business decisions. Therefore, companies can either decide to streamline data internally or they can rely on the external support of startups which focus on acquiring, and building innovative products around big data. In most cases, the second option is the most effective.

The trend of companies buying startups with the specific objective of coping with ‘the big data revolution’ doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon. When a new startup comes up with technological advancement in big data and machine learning, usual catches the eye of bigger companies, and this has also been the case for Southeast Asia startups.

Here are three Thai big data startups collaborating with multinational companies in various sectors either through direct partnerships or separate deals.

  1. TranspoTech – DRVR, making Asia’s vehicle fleets smarter

DRVR, a Bangkok-based startup and fleet management application provider, works with a number of major corporations, including Tata Communications, was selected as its global internet of Things (IoT) connectivity partner to achieve its goal of making Asia’s vehicle fleets the smartest and most cost efficient in the world.

Failing to keep up pace with the proliferation of Big Data and the increased power of machine learning could prevent companies from achieving a substantial shift from stand-alone things to more intelligent collaborative environments, through greater connectivity delivered by Internet of Things (IoT). As sensors spread across almost every industry, IoT is going to trigger a massive influx of big data also in the transportation sector, which has been considered for quite some time one of the next industries in line to get disrupted by the use of new technologies such as Big Data, IoT and, Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Most transpo-tech companies promise to automate process, providing real-time solutions for customers, through much faster search options and the digitalisation of the whole application process. Mr Henderson, Co-Founder & CEO of DRVR, says: “much of the problems are with manual processes and opaque paper trails. Through the automation of processes and by giving visibility through IoT Sensors and using technology such as Distributed Ledgers, DRVR promises to solve them”.

DRVR can deploy its own sensors and devices and in more advanced markets can use the existing infrastructure to help customers improve their supply chain. GPS tracking and Fleet Management has been around for decades, but many companies offer simple solutions with no understanding of the environment and customers’ business needs. Mr Henderson notes ‘we understand the culture of ASEAN, so we have developed unique solutions which address some of this region’s most pressing problems’.

Thailand lies at the centre of Southeast Asia; it is the East-West and North-South crossroad of the region, and there is an increase in integration across the region. “Just few months ago no trucks could legally crossed the Thai-Myanmar border, while now hundreds do each day and we expect this volume to grow significantly once regulations get up to speed with reality’, Mr Henderson adds.

  1. TalentTech – Get Links, using AI and Big Data to disrupt the recruitment industry

As aforementioned with the ramping growth of data and channels or touch points, multiple data streams make it difficult for organisations to gain a single view of the ecosystem and their customers.

Breaking down data streams and utilising analytics enables service providers to better understand their customer behaviours, while also improving customer verification, accuracy, and speed. This also applies to the recruitment sector, where the streamlining of the process through algorithms helps to match candidates with companies in a quicker and more refined way.

Pichaya Srifar, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer at GetLinks, a Bangkok-based startup focused on helping tech companies find and hire top talent, says: “the recruitment industry operates on a long tail effect. The demand may not be met immediately even on a streamlined platform like ours”. However, through analytics, this startup can track the funnels in the process, and find solutions to individual problems. Having a self-service marketplace that places candidates in less than 48 hours, as opposed to the average three to six weeks, it is one of the ways GetLinks aims to disrupt the traditional recruitment model

GetLinks takes a different approach to building its users database. The startup relies on Big Data to create a scalable, self-service service, and with the data collected it is able to gain invaluable insights into how to create a platform unlike any other. Through its A/B testing and machine learning, it continuously build a more personalised experience. The more data is collected, processed, and fed into a machine-learning algorithm which learns how to process, the more likely is to reproduce the right match.

Traditional recruitment processes carries the problem of human bias and subjectivity that reduces diversity and leads to suboptimal selection decisions, However, collecting data is far faster than trying to understand and provide for every single eventuality. Despite systems and algorithms working 24/7 in real time, they are not yet sufficiently sophisticated to replicate human empathy and decision-making. Mr Srifar stresses: “That’s why, though the GetLinks marketplace is entirely automated, from screening to making of job offers, we still strongly believe in the power of human touch to build genuine human relationships”.

  1. MarTech – Zanroo, fastest growing startup in Southeast Asia

Zanroo enables real-time big data analytics to help companies find actionable insights that enhance campaign activation and crisis management. It delivers social insights through listening, monitoring, and engagement because of its software and innovative tools, which empower companies by giving them a clear and consolidated view on their Return on Investment (ROI) .

Zanroo places great importance on the clients’ confidentiality: It does not work with companies’ internal data, but uses data from the company’s social media channels and other external data sources from blogs, forums, news sites to analyse the data and categorise it to provide companies with powerful insights.

In less than five years, Zanroo has been able to put together more than 300 leading brands among its clients, which span vertically from e-commerce to banking. Zanroo works with both large multinational companies and small-medium enterprises (SMEs). Chief Marketing Officer, Daud Charles, notes: “Both big companies and SMEs come with their respective challenges which is where positioning is critical. Larger companies are more mature in terms of social listening and digital marketing and they are more likely to be familiar with tools and deliverables, while SMEs are less savvy and resource constrained and require relatively more hand holding”.

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