20 October 2014
Unlocking the puzzle of Big Data within the travel industry
According to the http://www.itb-berlin.de/media/itbk/itbk_media/itbk_pdf/WTTR_Report_2013_web.pdf over 5.3 million Malaysians travelled overseas spending US7.2bn in 2012. In the same year Malaysia welcomed 25 million tourists contributing RM60.6 billion to the economy according to the UNWTO. The Travel & Tourism generated US$50.3 billion to the local economy (over 16 percent of total GDP) and is forecast to reach US$54 billion in 2014.
The challenge for everyone in the industry is to figure out which parts of the country locals and foreign tourists will want to visit, and goods and services they are willing to spend on. For many businesses, speculations are ripe that Big Data may hold the key to unlocking the puzzle within the industry.
The operative word is ‘speculation’ for indeed whilst many businesses have heard of Big Data and are interested to use Big Data, many don’t know how to deploy and use Big Data to their advantage. For most the knowledge of Big Data is limited to reading materials and snippets of information shared behind seminar walls. Indeed when meeting interested parties, the most common approach we encounter is “I read about it. My company has strong direction to harness Big Data but we don’t know to do it.”
As an early proponent of Big Data, we help them explore the potential of the technology and at the same time help them recognize that Big Data is a transformative journey that requires making big, sometimes, disruptive decisions of they are to achieve their Big Data objectives.
The reality of Big Data is that it forces you to wrestle with three key strategic and operational challenges: information strategy, data analytics and enterprise information management. Information strategy revolves around how you harness the information at your fingertips. Data analytics is about garnering insights from your data so you can predict future customer behaviour, trends and outcomes.
Finally, because of the volume, variety and velocity of data coming into your systems, you need an enterprise information management to drive innovation.
Experienced data analytics people will tell you that Big Data is complex technology that requires complex solutions. It is complex because in one single system you have congregation of large volumes of different types of data coming in very rapid sequence, and changing just as quickly. To handle this complexity therefore requires complex but powerful and highly scalable platforms like Hadoop.
At Fusionex, we live by the principles of simplicity. The many failed ERP and CRM systems have taught that users will shy away from using tools too difficult to use. Conversely we saw from the success of the Apple IOS platform that users will flock towards technology that is easy to use. We recognized the capability of Hadoop to allow us to work with Big Data with minimal programming. We developed GIANT – a Big Data analytics software to shield end-users from the complexities surrounding Big Data, low-level plumbing, hard-core Apache Hadoop and MapReduce programming.
We are able to do this because we work with some of the largest retailers, hypermarkets and malls to connect their transactional data and provide them insight on customer behaviour. We also work with some of the largest hotels to help them identify customers who are buying or not buying their promotions and developing insights to drive future campaigns by cluster customer behaviour patterns.
Many large enterprises are unfazed by complex technologies. For instance in the travel industry, organizations already have structured data culled from CRM systems. They also have unstructured data captured from customer engagements within their call centre. The challenge is how to combine all these data to develop a 360 degree view of the customer. Many within the travel industry continue to struggle to fully understand customers proactively. They often operate in reactive mode waiting for customers to approach them. Most marketing campaigns are broadcast mode designed to cast a wide net hoping to make a few catch. They don’t have clear view of customers or even cluster of customers.
The reality is that because Big Data is still in its infancy, many businesses lack the skillset, exposure and technical expertise to deploy Big Data. Many are also turned off by the upfront costs that come with building and deploying in-house Big Data systems.
Marketers of Big Data principles of speak of the three Vs of Big Data: volume, velocity and variety. We believe that for businesses to truly reap the benefits of Big Data, they need to aim for a fourth V – value.
For decades companies have been building repositories of data that let them see what happened in the past. But looking at historical data does not allow them to predict the future. What they want is to be able to predict what the customer will buy in the future. That for them is a powerful value. Big Data promises to make that happen.
Fusionex specializes in analytics, business intelligence and Big Data – we are able to harness Hadoop platform with minimal programming so that we can allow publishing of notes pertaining to transactional data on Hadoop using Fusionex GIANT to perform advanced analytics.