Big data — the game changer in identifying consumer needs?

By Lum Ka Kay / EdgeProp Malaysia | November 13, 2017 3:30 PM SGT
In the past few years, the term “big data” has caught a lot of attention but how many of us fully understand or utilise it?
According to Shanghai Distrii Technology Development Co Ltd (China) CEO and founder Dr Hu Jing, big data has allowed businesses to test their solutions based on the hypotheses or assumptions made via data collection.
“To mine data, we must first have sufficient database and to do so, we need connectivity. Take Distrii for an example — all working devices and co-working spaces are connected via our application,” he said.
(From left) Nippon Malaysia head of project marketing Wong Meng Lee, Rehda Youth chairperson Carrie Fong, Patai, Hu, Tan and Chew at the forum. (Photo by Low Yen Yeing/
Distrii is an operator of co-working spaces in China, pioneering the concept of co-working in smart offices to support flexible working and distributed work arrangements with tech facilities, providing users with comprehensive office solutions.As of August this year, Distrii has 17 co-working spaces across China and is hosting more than 300 companies. It will debut in Singapore — Distrii’s first overseas expansion — in April 2018, occupying seven storeys of Republic Plaza Tower 1 in Raffles Place.
“Using the app, we can then monitor which offices are open, and whether the workers come in to work on time or not. So, say, most of your workers come to work late — does it mean the office is situated too far from their homes? We can then come up with solutions for the company and determine if our solutions work.
“This will be the future of work. It will not be humans managing humans anymore. It is a combination of technology and humans as a result of the use of big data,” Hu shared during a panel discussion titled “Digital disruption: Programming the property industry” at the Future Forward Forum 2017 held on Sept 7.
Themed “Trends: Insite”, the Future Forward Forum 2017 was organised by Rehda Youth, the youth division of the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Malaysia, in partnership with Nippon Paint Malaysia. was the official media partner.
The panel discussion was moderated by the organising committee member of the Future Forward Forum Alex Chew. Also on the panel were Panasonic Malaysia strategic B2B development general manager Tan Chee Hon and BUILK Asia Co Ltd (Thailand) principal Patai Padungtin.
Track, trace and hypothesise
Meanwhile, BUILK Asia’s Patai said one could also gauge consumer behaviours via the conversion rate on digital platforms.
“When we develop a digital platform, be it mobile or desktop, there is a script for the website developer to learn about the users each time they navigate through the platform. With that, we can continuously improve the platform to enhance user experience and further raise conversion rates.
“For example, for garbage collection, I can use Internet of Things (IoT) devices to track the route [of garbage collection] and then develop an optimised route,” he said.
BUILK Asia’s Patai listed out three factors needed to shift consumer behaviour — motivation, ability and triggering elements.
“These three things have to happen at the same time. So the ‘ability’ part is handled by my team where they make the user interface and user experience as easy as possible for users. And finally, the last piece of the jigsaw is the trigger,” he explained.
“As a start-up, I try to figure out my purpose. So my motivation is the role of my company, which is to try to appeal to the construction people around the region that BUILK Asia can make a change in the digital world.
“I found a good partnership with the largest bank in Thailand to develop a scoring system. If the contractor uses our platform, they will get a free credit scoring by the bank for their construction loan.
“A start-up like me working with corporations such as banks will add more credibility to our platform and from there, we get to increase our user base,” he elaborated.
BUILK is Asia’s first-ever free online web-based application for construction businesses with the objective to enhance time and cost efficiency in doing business. The start-up has helped to manage over US$800 million (RM3.39 billion) worth of construction projects across the Southeast Asian region last year.
As of today, the platform has over 20,000 small and medium-sized construction enterprises within the region — Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia have used the managing functions under BUILK.
Know your end-users
Noting that no company is able to do everything from hardware to software and analytics, Panasonic’s Tan said that while its consumer products do not collect data, it develops the technology for service-based companies to do so.
“Data collection needs an entire ecosystem. No company can do it alone. You need specialised companies, with defined objectives on why they want to collect the data, what they want to derive and what kind of benefits they can get from studying the data.
“We have the responsibility to establish an ecosystem. That’s why we are very open to collaborations and open innovation, to understand every stakeholder in the ecosystem on what is required for the benefit of end-users,” Tan said.
Distrii’s Hu also stressed that identifying the real needs of customers is crucial in the current business landscape.
“Yes, there are so many co-working spaces but we’re not a simple co-working space. We are the solution to future offices and we would like to be known as an internet company. Our ultimate target is to tap into IoT for mobile working.
“Identifying the real needs of your customers is very important. So, all products or business models have to be tested. Distrii can get recognition from customers because they really like and need our solutions. If your product is good, people will come to you,” he concluded.
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