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Trailblazing online travel in Malaysia with big data analytics

In a market saturated with international players all offering variations of the same travel booking products, this Malaysian online travel trailblazer harnessed big data analytics (BDA) to stand out above the rest, aggregating millions of search results through their service.  This meant that LagiSatu processed, in real time, thousands of user requests, thousands of hotels, millions of reviews and photos. The speed of processing and understanding user behaviour is at the core of its entire operation to improve customer experience. BDA has also allowed LagiSatu to stay ahead of its competitors, not only through the ability to process vast amounts of real-time data fast and efficiently, but by enabling its analysis team to better understand and predict user patterns on the website.

Challenges:
The tourism industry is highly volatile, where booking trends for certain destinations can change in a heartbeat.  A whole target group can change their preference and purchasing behaviour overnight.  Furthermore, processing of all relevant data was a resource-intensive and expensive process for the company.  Lagisatu.com has placed great importance in its ability to process millions of datasets in real-time and without downtime to ensure a smooth customer experience.

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The company’s team of analysts must be able to process vast amount of data efficiently as a guide to future marketing decisions. It was also important to ensure that any advanced data analytics exercise is not just a mere business intelligence process with a cool dashboard. It is about extracting valuable insights from data and empowering decision makers with analytics that allows them to make strategic decisions and ultimately enable a data-driven organization.

Solution:
Lagisatu currently stores more than 10TB of data on Hadoop with a projection to increase to 100TB in the next 5 years.  The company uses Hadoop to store and process web log data; Hive to query and aggregate the data into tables; SQL Server for reporting against aggregated data; and JMP, a visual discovery software from SAS to further explore the aggregated data.

Hadoop is an open source software project that enables distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of commodity servers. It is designed to scale up from a single server to thousands of machines, with very high degree of fault tolerance. Rather than relying on high-end hardware, the resiliency of these clusters comes from the software’s ability to detect and handle failures at the application layer.

Business Benefits:
A big benefit of BDA is the delivery of timely insights from the vast amount of data. This includes those already stored in the company databases, from external third-party sources, the Internet and social media. As a result, this allows real-time monitoring and forecasting events that impact business performance and operations. Such understanding and predictive abilities allow much quicker response to market changes and supports LagiSatu.com to stay on top of these changes rather than being surprised by them.  It changes the business position from being reactive towards a more proactive stance.

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With the implementation of BDA practices, the hardware infrastructure for data processing can be reduced and the speed significantly increased.  BDA also allows Lagisatu.com to scale the analysis of the vast amount of data and maintain data ingestion without congesting or crashing the entire system. A substantial amount of cost-savings can be brought about for the company.

Overall, LagiSatu.com’s use of BDA helps it to stay ahead of its competitors, not only through the ability to process vast amount of real-time data fast and efficiently, but also to enable its team to better analyse the patterns of users.  BDA also supports the company in processing years of historical data, providing its marketing team with the ability to follow user behaviour trends.  This allows the team to strategize and to improve its customer experience better than other players.

The Future:
From data centres to software architecture, scalability is at the heart of Lagisatu.com on many levels. Moving forward, BDA will play a big role in all of LagiSatu’s decision making processes to create a data driven decision enterprise, and at the same time ensuring that user experience is at the core of all decisions.

Doing business now and in the future means harnessing the explosive growth of data. The mobile data generation, real-time connectivity and digital businesses have changed the nature of the game when it comes to protecting data assets. As a result, BDA has an increasingly important role to play in data security, which the company wants to intensify in the future. It also wants to use BDA to transform intrusion detection, differential privacy and malware countermeasures.

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