How Is Business Intelligence Being Used Differently in Asia?

Enterprises in mature markets, like Western Europe and Northern America, are increasingly wielding BI and Analytics as a strategic tool, but what’s happening in Asia?

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s recent study of 300 CXOs ‘The Data Directive’, commissioned by Wipro, high growth firms are making better strategic use of their data. Furthermore, they are far more likely to have changed the way they handle strategic decisions as a result of having more data, and to have seen improved outcomes as a result of better data analysis. Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics is increasingly being seen as a key differentiator in the global, competitive landscape, although the levels of adoption vary across markets. Analytical processes based on proprietary data and methods aid faster decision making and are found difficult to copy, providing a sustainable competitive advantage for businesses.

Enterprises in mature markets, like Western Europe and Northern America, are increasingly wielding BI and Analytics as a strategic tool, but what’s happening in Asia?

Driven by rapid economic growth in the Asian region, enterprises are considering the potential of BI and analytics. The growing need to leverage the power of analytics for analysis and quick decision making, in an increasingly competitive landscape, is being felt all across this region. Alongside pervasive adoption in mature markets like Hong Kong and Singapore, BI is gaining greater traction in the emerging economies such as China, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia as well. According to the 2013 Gartner Executive Programs (EXP) CIO Agenda survey, BI and Analytics topped the 2013 technology priority list for CIOs in Asia Pacific again this year. As such, the estimated size of the Asia Pacific BI and Analytics services in 2013 stood at USD 2.1 billion, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2% through 2015.

In Asia, the demand for BI ranges from simple data discovery tools to complex near real time analytical applications. Although many organisations are still using BI primarily for reporting purposes, a growing economy and population is presenting an opportunity for greater adoption of advanced BI methodologies. Mature markets in Asia are employing BI for dynamic reporting and real time analytics while less mature ones are still focusing on static reporting. Consequently, the technologies around big data, next gen visualisation and in-memory, for example, are the areas of significant interest in this region.

Enterprises in Asia with a large amount of data – such as those in finance, government, telecom and retail – are looking to leverage big data and in-memory technologies. For instance, influencer and sentiment analysis on social media data is gradually emerging as a valuable business use case.

By leveraging advanced visualisation technologies, enterprises are looking to present a much richer view of business process and customer complex data analysis, but in a simpler and easy-to-understand way. Advanced visualisation takes the whole concept of insights to the next level as it entirely converts the hitherto complex data spreadsheets and bare graphs into easy to infer, highly interactive and dynamic data visualisations. Moreover, these exciting features allow users to consume data at a rate that is in line with the rapid data input.       One element that is helping enterprises in Asia leapfrog the BI adoption curve is that they don’t have to worry about legacy systems.

However, an uneven level of IT maturity, exacerbated by smaller IT budgets, is posing a roadblock in the extensive adoption of BI in this region. The emerging markets in Asia face challenges ranging from having the right tools, skills and methodology, to crucial factors like good data quality for BI and analytics. In addition to this, the common error of approaching BI from a technology driven perspective, instead of envisaging it from a business perspective, is also holding enterprises back.

As a result, some enterprises are finding it difficult to obtain the desired ROI from BI. For instance, the concept of a ‘Single Customer View’ is used commonly in mature markets like North America whereas enterprises in Asia, especially those in South East and Middle East Asia, are still coming to terms with this critical concept and it has become an area of investment for them.

As a strategic tool, BI has the power to aid growth, cut costs and manage risk for enterprises in Asia that are keen on staying competitive in the globalised economy. However, adopting BI in the right manner with a clear strategic roadmap in hand will be critical. The key will be to look at BI as a business driven initiative instead of as a technology driven one, and to increasingly factor it in as a fundamental part of the enterprise strategy formulation.


K. R. Sanjiv, Sr. Vice President and Global Head, Analytics & Information Management Services, Wipro