Mobile-based big data to spark acquisitions

Data generated through heavy mobile app use in Asia makes such apps prime candidates for acquisition by larger companies, who can combine them with their own for a competitive edge.

SINGAPORE--The vast mobile penetration and app use across the Asia-Pacific is filling up rich but isolated pools of customer data. This makes the apps an increasingly attractive acquisition targets by larger companies, which are keen to leverage those external data points with their own.

The acquisition by Facebook for Instagram is a sign of the change in direction the market is moving toward, said Craig Stires, research director for business analytics and channels at IDC Asia-Pacific. He was speaking on the sidelines during the IDC Asia-Pacific Business Analytics Conference 2012 held here Thursday.

With most mobile apps, the data generated is siloed, in that it is tied to the app, he said.

As certain apps get more popular, generating lots of user-sharing and interaction, they become valuable and attractive acquisition targets in the eyes of larger developers or companies such as telcos, Stire added.

Consolidation of data pools
As a result, there will be consolidation of companies in the marketplace as well as consolidation of hitherto disparate data pools within newly merged entities, he said.

Businesses in Asia understand big data , properly implemented and acted upon, can be a competitive edge by helping to attract new customers and reducing churn, Stires said.

With the data combined, a more holistic profile of existing and potential customers is created. Companies are then enabled to formulate more relevant micro-segmented strategies, and resources are not used for naught since they know, for instance, which peer influencers to target instead of spending the same amount of investment on every single customer, the IDC analyst explained.

According to Stires, Asian organizations on the whole are aware of the benefits of big data and analytics, but the extent of implementation and competency does vary.

For those struggling to handle big data, it is not due to a lack of knowledge of what big data entails, but figuring out how to best align any big data investment with their company's business KPIs, he added.

To establish a real business case, they have to be able to answer the question of "how does better understanding customer trends change anything for the business", Stires noted.

One company that has experienced the benefits of analyzing big data is Standard Chartered Bank.

Analytics is a big enabler for the organization's aim to be the world's best consumer Internet bank, said Asif Saleem, global head of channel management and business performance for group remote banking and consumer banking at Standard Chartered Bank.

He pointed out his company's internally-developed software, which analyzed customer behavior and transactions helped improve sales through the digital channel. Online sales of credit card grew by 160 percent and personal loans by 60 percent since January this year, he added, speaking at the same conference.

Leverage data or play catch up
The idea to have an analytics tool, first came about in 2008, which Saleem said was part of figuring out who were the right customers to target with their marketing dollars.

"The results can prove our belief in data. Payoff is greatest when you play to your strengths, not when you play catch-up", he said, referring to the bank's customer data.

IDC analyst Stires had a similar point to make about companies which tended to have a wait-and-see approach, wanting to see how their peers or competitors fare with big data implementation before pushing their own.

Waiting until the competition has started getting results from big data solutions can put a company at a disadvantage for between 12 to 18 months, he cautioned, noting that the whole process from procurement to implementation to integration of big data tools with existing IT systems takes about that duration.

The time a company's rival has realized the returns from its big data investment, it becomes their competitive advantage, he noted.