Simplifying access to enterprise data for the ASEAN market

Before a business decision gets made, countless hours of research go into analysing macroeconomic headwinds, tracking competitors’ performances, and gauging supply and demand, among other parameters.

With the availability of artificial intelligence and machine learning, data analysis is no longer a tedious task that requires massive time, manpower, and money. However, the challenge lies in where to look for the right data, and when to use it at the right time.

Frontier Enterprise spoke with Yasunori Naito, the CEO in charge of the ASEAN business of SaaS platform SPEEDA, on how businesses can leverage the power of data quicker and more efficiently, as well as issues surrounding data privacy.

Regional expansion

Founded in 2008, Japanese firm Uzabase has since grown to become Japan’s largest industry and corporate database, banking on its ability to mine the right data to provide accurate insights for clients in need of industrial analysis, financial data reporting and emergent trend forecasting.

SPEEDA's Yasunori Naito talks about how organisations can leverage the power of data, as well as issues surrounding data privacy.
Yasunori Naito, Chief Executive Officer – Regional Head for SEA, SPEEDA. Image courtesy of SPEEDA.

SPEEDA, one of its SaaS platforms, allows companies to search and browse information, analyse data, and develop professional reports in one visit, which according to Naito, saves organisations considerable time and money.

With the recent expansion of SPEEDA’s features to the Southeast Asian market in 2021, Naito seeks to address some of the challenges prevalent in the region, in terms of data accessibility.

“Corporate development managers or business planning professionals need to gather relevant and concise information and data on changing business environments, emerging threats and opportunities posed by new technologies, local competitors, and potential customers when considering new business development or entering neighbouring markets,” Naito said.

He also noted that in certain countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, individuals may encounter challenges in finding English language materials to access industry structures. Additionally, comprehending new technology adoption trends often entails consulting with local experts.

Under the hood

According to Naito, SPEEDA covers a total of 560 industries, and features a detailed breakdown of industry segments. As an example, 20 sub-industries can be found under the chemical industry.

“The industry analyses are written by our in-house analysts, and the quality of the reports is assured in-house. Naturally, the sources of literature and statistical information referenced in the report are also listed. On the other hand, financial information and news are produced by our multiple external partners, who are the leading firms from each country or globally. We have invested significant amounts of time into the internal content creation and building partnerships in each region to make it possible,” Naito said.

On each company’s dedicated page, information that can be found include links to related industry analysis reports, mergers and acquisitions and other related news, and the competitors’ financial information.

The industry analysis report, Naito explained, provides links to company profiles and related news on the major players in the industry. An algorithm behind this links the company to the industry automatically or connects news with specific companies.

Since SPEEDA contains information on about 10 million companies, the types and formats of financial information differ, depending on where the company is registered.

To resolve this, the company needed to standardise financial expense items to enable horizontal comparison of corporate finances.

Moreover, the platform allows users to submit questions to industry experts, and has mechanisms to ensure that the questions can be matched to the expert with high accuracy, Naito said.

The CEO added that SPEEDA’s technology allows ML to incorporate high-quality training data delivered by their in-house analysts, such as their industry report carried in their database.

“In addition, an agile development structure and data designing has made it possible to ensure the new reports and features to be uploaded easily,” he continued.

Securing data

With growing concerns over the rise of cybercrimes perpetrated against enterprises, the pressure is high for companies like Uzabase, whose line of business is data collection.

However, Naito stressed that they take the protection of their users seriously, and have undertaken steps to ensure this.

“We collect minimal information about each user, mostly to help optimise their browsing experience when conducting research on the platform,” he said.

According to Naito, the company uses endpoint detection and response software as a countermeasure against malware, constantly monitoring terminals for suspicious behaviour caused by malware.

Likewise, Uzabase has adopted both CIS Controls framework for hardware and devices, and OWASP framework of web application security standard for their product development.

As part of its information security policy, the company has published the following on its website:

  • Continuous development and revision of rules— In addition to complying with various laws and regulations, we will continue to analyse related risks, and create and revise the necessary rules to handle those risks.
  • Operation by personnel possessing information-related expertise— We will make continuous efforts to notify employees of any related laws and information security rules, foster information security literacy, and ensure that all executives and regular employees understand the meaning of these laws and regulations and carry out their duties accordingly.
  • Utilisation of technology— We will make continuous improvements using various technologies by analysing the latest technology trends related to information security in order to provide services with enhanced safety while also maintaining their convenience and ease of use.
  • Honest attitude and response— In the event of an incident related to information security, we pledge to promptly and accurately disclose any information regarding the incident. We will also investigate the cause of the incident and take steps to prevent recurrence of similar incidents.

Beyond current challenges

Down the line, Uzabase is intent on capitalising on its core values of “content ✕ technology ✕ human knowledge.”

“Content refers to industry analysis and company information, while human knowledge refers to our analysts and their tacit knowledge,” Naito said.

Aside from this, the company intends to continue using ML to evaluate the relevance of information and link it together, tagging information to be searched more easily.

Generative AI is also one area where Uzabase seeks to experiment with, in order to improve user experience.

“For technology, like a good search browser, our service is constantly being improved to answer users’ questions as quickly and accurately as possible,” the CEO concluded.