Our Perspective : Free Flow of Data as Key to Advance the ASEAN Economic Community

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As one of the regional with the highest potential of future growth, the members of Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) entered a historic phase with the initiation of ASEAN Economic Community. An establishment to integrate the economic agenda of all the member countries of ASEAN, an ambitious goal which hopes to emulate the success of Eurozone.

The blueprint of the initiative has been developed to complete the programme by 2025. Much of the plan is on point, but, if there is a aw, it is that the digital economy, while acknowledged to be important, remains at the periphery of the AEC framework. Doing so leaves potential unfulfilled. The digital economy should be embraced as central to the AEC to make integration bigger, better and happen sooner.

This issue was discussed extensively by a report written by Deloitte in 2016. To highlight the importance of Free Flow of Data as a key factor to advance AEC in the digital economy sector, Deloitte interviewed several digital business of ASEAN to gain their insights and perspective.

We at Dattabot are very proud to have been chosen as one of the business highlighted in this report. Here is the content of our opinion about Free Flow of Data:

Applying Smart Data to Agriculture

When we founded Dattabot in 2003 (known then as Mediatrac), Imron Zuhri and Regi Wahyu thought the big opportunity was building data warehouses and managing data gathered from mass, social and online media in Indonesia. But very quickly, they realised that it was near impossible to build and sustain competitive advantage in that space and that it needed big investment dollars (which they didn’t have or have access to). In getting to that realisation, the two friends learned that there was more value available in cleaning up data, integrating it with other datasets and in analysing it to provide insight to customers to be used in decision-making. From that insight, Dattabot grew rapidly in the field of data analytics in Indonesia.

The Opportunity in Agriculture

Dattabot serves a range of industries, but one that has a special place is agriculture. Its subsidiary, Collective Intelligence Agriculture (Ci-Agri, for short), has been developed around the simple observation that farming in Indonesia has historically been low-tech, low-productivity and low-yield but that the application of smart data can make a big change for the better.

Ci-Agri has worked for two years on a pilot programme with 4,000 farmers in Lampung, South Sumatra. It has developed a suite of three modules that address farm and farmer productivity, using a two-part business model ~ the rst, a subscription-based model for land-owners (who, in turn, work with smallholders or contract farmers); and a second, a fee-for-service model used for credit-scoring for small ticket lenders to land-owners and farmers. Ci-Agri has commercialised the rst and expects the second to be in place by 2018.

Favourable Responses So Far

The experience to date is that stakeholders are uniformly enthusiastic about the service, when they fully understand the proposition. Land-owners see big bene ts in higher yields and lower costs, and all with more transparency and traceability across the value chain. Farmers also bene t from higher yields and lower costs, while building their own know-how and expertise. In time, both should bene t from improved access to working capital nancing (which is a major hurdle for the development of SMEs) as the track records of individual credits becomes better known.

Policymakers can Support Growth

Ci-Agri in particular (and Dattabot more generally) is a business with data as its centre. Put simply, the bigger the data set that is made available, the more value that can be created. There are three areas where policymakers can lead which will allow Ci-Agri to grow further and faster:

1. Regulatory certainty

So long as there are uncertainties regarding the use, privacy and security of data, owners will hesitate to
join the Ci-Agri programme. Action now to clarify on each of these three critical areas will give the stakeholders the con dence they need to participate in the scheme.

2. Set an example

There are large pools of data within the control of various branches of government which could be put to better use. While summaries have been made available, those who rely on data need it at a disaggregated level. Perhaps in a small, controlled and trial basis, government can set an example by making disaggregated data available to the private sector to use at a regional level.

3. Build out Internet infrastructure

Across the country, Internet penetration is too low and access speeds are too slow. Granting priority to investment in Internet infrastructure will have quick, large and lasting positive impacts even in rural areas.

The Regional Opportunity

Dattabot is a young, medium-sized company going places. With its focus on data analytics, it is a business which has a lot to
o er a wide range of Indonesian and ASEAN businesses. What is undoubtedly true for productivity in agriculture in Indonesia is multiplied if taken across the region ~ after all, agriculture contributes 48% of total employment in Southeast Asia14, but only 10% to total GDP. Ci-Agri and Dattabot could in time regionalise ~ but only if data can move freely across the region.

The full report can be read at the following link: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/sg/Documents/about-deloitte/sea-about-aec-digital-economy-free-flow-of-data-2016.pdf

 

 

 

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