Fusionex is a Malaysian success story and a key player in the big data scene in the region. DSA caught up with Fusionex Managing Director Ivan Teh to find out more about why and how Fusionex has managed to ride the big data wave so well.
Ivan and his team discovered the big data opportunity very early on. In fact before it became the buzzword it is today, they were already “doing big data”. Fusionex came into being back in around 2007. Ivan and his colleagues (who come with data warehousing background) saw a few things on the horizon. They felt that analytics and business intelligence needed to be made easier and more elegant.
They also had the foresight to see that ingesting data from a multitude of sources was going to become critical.
Ivan explained that at the time they were already seeing the explosion of data from social media and Internet of Things (IoT). They knew that analytics was needed to make sense of it all.
“Fusionex Giant was developed with this forethought in mind and from the beginning it was designed to be data source agnostic with connections to unstructured data sources from day one,” he proudly beamed.
Ivan explained that having the connections to frameworks like Hadoop was important but for Fusionex. Simplifying the whole process of connecting to different data sources was also key.
In line with making analytics easy and accessible he explained that embracing other emerging technologies, perhaps not obviously linked to analytics and BI was also important. Citing BYOD as an example he elaborated that mobility is now critical for all analytics players. Ivan and his team were ahead of the curve in understanding that in today’s business world powerful analytic tools need to be available any place and any time and on numerous formats.
BYOD has driven analytics to new heights in this respect. Fusionex understand that most business people carry and access data from multiple devices including tablets, phones, laptops and desktops. Ivan explained how they designed Fusionex Giant to be device agnostic so that reports are delivered looking “beautiful and elegant” no matter where you might be and what device you may be using.
He cautions, however, that whilst BYOD elevates analytics consumption it is not without risks including that of increased security threats. He points out that aesthetics and platform support should not be implemented at the cost of compromised security.
There is no doubt that analytics reports need to be visually stunning particularly on mobile devices and there is a lot of talk with Big Data applications about Visualisation. DSA posed the question on whether Visualisation is just a gimmick.
Ivan offered a candid assessment of the situation. In his view Visualisation is not a gimmick; it is a key part of analytics. “In our media rich world, people expect and want to see business data presented looking “beautiful”. In addition good visualisation can summarise complex data in ways that make it much quicker to digest and understand,” he adds.
Ivan also stressed that great visualisation can mask underlying gaps in a product. Ultimately the fundamentals of an analytics product are the most important thing. To drive the point he notes that there is no point having great visualisation if the data you are analysing is dirty.”
Ivan is seeing the interest in data analytics growing significantly, as people from all lines of business including the CFO’s office, operations, and executive management to name a few are coming to realise that to stay ahead of the curve requires instant answers at their fingertips.
He sees some companies embracing this, but warns that there are real challenges. Within some organisation not everyone “gets it” and a mindset change is required to truly embrace how today’s analytics can transform decision-making. Beyond that Ivan also notes tangible challenges.
“If we use the ‘dirty data’ analogy, implementing Big Data analytics requires a lot of thought and planning otherwise the risk that it will not deliver the promise is real,” he cautioned.
He points out that companies like Fusionex have built invaluable man-years of experience in navigating the journey. Much of this experience is built into the technology they develop. As an example Fusionex Giant can clean dirty data using algorithms that glean from these years of experience.
Having the opportunity to speak briefly with Ivan we got a glimpse into why Fusionex has been able to excel in their field. Their foresight to predict the big data boom has been key. But just predicting the boom would not have been enough. More important, Ivan and his team had the vision to understand how to capitalise on it. They have pioneered to deliver products and technology that people need, perhaps before those same people even realised they needed it.
Ivan is keen to make sure that whether your requirement or your data is big or small, when it comes to business intelligence and analytics, people should not be reticent or intimidated. He believes that analytics truly is a journey to actionable insights. “Think of the journey as a quest to achieve more in less time and perhaps leave the office earlier each day having achieved more,” he noted.
His advice is to “start small, think big and scale fast”, and he believes Fusionex can help any company of any size with that.