'Growth potential' for firms using analytics

The use of data and analytics is fast becoming a part of the business strategy for many companies amid economic volatility, according to an advisory expert at professional services firm EY.

And this can spell significant "growth opportunities" for firms if managed well, he said.

Mr Jonathan Wright, partner and leader for the EY Asia-Pacific Advisory Centre at Ernst & Young Advisory, said at an EY forum yesterday: "There is so much data out there and sometimes organisations do get a bit confused. But it goes back to understanding where you need the data and the types of issues you're trying to address, and then looking for the right data to solve the problem."

He said companies today are interested in making investments in e-commerce, new digital solutions and entering new markets to take advantage of growth opportunities, while focusing on productivity - "sweating the assets and making the most out of what we've got".

But managing the risk-rewards of digitisation and analytics amid growing cyber-security concerns is still a challenge, Mr Wright noted. He cited a recent EY study that found only 17 per cent of firms surveyed are using analytics, though about 64 per cent believe it is critical to improving business.

StarHub chief executive Tan Tong Hai, part of a panel discussion at the event, agrees that analytics is necessary for businesses. "Analytics can help us to understand consumption behaviour and, more importantly, predict future (patterns). That would be the transformative part, as it helps us not just to service (our customers) well, but also to surprise and delight them," he told The Straits Times.

But he acknowledged that challenges remain, especially those relating to consumer privacy.

EY yesterday also announced it has set up four new centres of excellence aimed at helping firms perform in today's age of digital transformation. The four centres, each focused separately on digital business transformation strategy, analytics, cyber security and manufacturing, represent EY's commitment to a "multimillion-dollar, multi-year investment in Singapore", it said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2016, with the headline ''Growth potential' for firms using analytics'. Print Edition | Subscribe