The Power of Data Mining for Companies in Singapore

Data is a valuable asset if it is mined correctly, says Ms Irene Boey.

With more than 25 years of practical experience in enabling organisations to benefit from data mining, Ms Irene Boey has amassed a deep appreciation for the best practices in business analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) from a wide array of industries. She has also chaired and presented numerous papers at public conferences on data analytics, AI and conducts practical workshops to teach leaders how to leverage on AI and data for digital transformation.

She is currently the Director (Data Strategy) of Integral Solutions (Asia) Pte Ltd and has been called a technopreneur, data strategist, educator and mentor. She wears many hats. Besides data, what also drives her is her commitment to women’s economic empowerment. She believes that promoting female entrepreneurship through adoption of technology especially in the effective use of data mining is the way to accomplish this. As the Chairperson of Research for the Singapore Women Entrepreneurs Network (SG-WEN), she is well-poised to make a difference!

Her other current SG-WEN projects include her appointment as Lead and Facilitator for Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), that was established by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The AWE aims to provide female entrepreneurs with the knowledge, networks, and access they need to launch or scale successful businesses, and SG-WEN has been appointed its programme partner.

Ms Boey is also the Singapore Chairperson for ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN),  a regional network of women organizations representing women entrepreneurs from the 10 ASEAN Member States.  Engagements include the AWEN Millennial Series and the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Award (AWEN Annual Award)

BiZQ speaks to Ms Boey about matters close to her heart and her plans for the future.

Why is women empowerment a topic close to your heart?

Anecdotal evidence shows that women, being more family-focused, have a smaller support network than men who have more business connections and contacts. There is also the perception that venture capitalists see women as less committed, so raising funds can be difficult, which severely limits the expansion of their businesses.

Eventually many women entrepreneurs end up working at a micro level in informal sectors, and their enterprises have lower levels of growth.

Why the focus on educating women on e-business practices?

E-business (e-biz) is something that women entrepreneurs can move into. They can leverage technology to make efficient use of their time as they juggle their diverse roles. When I was the President of Singapore Business & Professional Women’s Association (SBPWA) from 2006 to 2008, I initiated and led the team to create the first SBPWA marketplace in the form of an e-biz portal — now known as e-commerce — to enable women to have an additional channel to market their products and services over the web internationally. I also organised the highly successful “APEC Women’s e-biz Training” which is the first APEC’s free e-biz training programme for women in Singapore to enable women to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in starting online businesses and writing effective business plans.

With the advancement of technologies and the onset of Industry 4.0, businesses adopt multichannel and omnichannel ecommerce to engage consumers along the customer journey.  As a result, the accumulation of data from these digital platforms has increased tremendously.  Businesses are becoming more confused on how to extract more value and discover useful insights from their ever-growing collection of data to increase revenue.

With my deep experience in this area, I am trying to find time to do my part to offer free sessions to advise entrepreneurs on how to effectively utilise data mining to extract more value from their data 

In my opinion, businesses have not exploited the full potential of the data they have already invested in collecting. It is a waste of resources since data will lose its value over time. Nothing comes close to data mining in finding anomalies, patterns and correlations within large data sets to predict outcomes. Using a broad range of existing tools and techniques, businesses can learn to use information to generate insights to improve customer relationships, increase profits, cut costs, and reduce risks.

Share with us how the technology of data mining can benefit business?

Data mining is all about extracting more value data. You start off with raw data, which could be the age and gender of the customer for instance, or the product that was purchased. This data is mere raw material but can be elevated to the information level by spreadsheet systems such as Excel. These systems are said to be passive tools as they are driven by human input and human-defined analysis process which sets the boundaries of the analysis outcome. In most cases ,only AI and machine learning can tranform this information into new knowledge by automatically linking different fields in unexpected ways for a more concise profile of the transactions. From this, you garner insights- when unknown knowledge is born.

Each progression adds value and power to the initial data. The more we enrich our data with meaning and context, the more knowledge and insights we get out of it so we can make better informed and data-driven decisions. This often leads to valuable insights and successful digital transformation.

Many companies have the data but are not making effective use of it. I once worked with a retail business that had a lot of data but were only generating information and reports from their data.

There are many more success stories and testimonials that Integral Solutions has received over the years, proving that businesses can improve their profitability by extracting more value from data.