Doing It Right Is Also Doing It Different

DATA collection design is like strategizing the armies in a battlefield. To win the battle, it is essential to have the right strategy.  To paraphrase Sun Tzu, if you know your strengths, and know your competition, you will be victorious in battle after battle.

When Dattel was launched three years ago, we had a vision of it being different from what was available in the marketplace. Having embarked in the data collection field as a rank-and-file worker, before working way up to current position, we are all too aware of its weaknesses — questionable accuracy of the data collected, a non-committed, transient data collection workforce, plus costly and time-consuming methods of collecting and analysing data.

Right off the bat, we knew that we had to redefine how data collection is done, to make it more efficient and informative. At the time we started the company, we were not sure if anyone else was doing what we were doing. Companies do not look at evolving their platforms and technologies with new investments. We were looking at getting our quality right before up-scaling and looking at our quantity (of clients). Quality to us is about identifying the loops in collecting data, training our dedicated workforce of Field Data Associates (FDAs) — through our subsidiary and data collection arm, Dattel — to prompt and be creative with questioning and data collection methods.

Our vision is to grow Dattel into a leading data collection company in the Southeast Asian region. Having expanded beyond Malaysia by establishing our corporate presence in Thailand and Indonesia, we believe we are on the right path towards it. We have an overarching goal of being a trusted consumer data partner, with the intent to revolutionise the data collection industry. And to achieve that goal, we further aim to be a game changer, to do it with integrity, and to apply kaizen principle of continuous improvement as we work towards our goal.

We’re changing the game with our FDA programme, and are setting new industry benchmarks in providing value, veracity, velocity, coverage, depth and transparency. Currently, the data collection industry — in Malaysia as well as in our neighbouring ASEAN neighbours — relies on part-timers and freelancers, who are paid poorly and have no job security. This arrangement may have worked in the past but in the fast-moving connected world of today, this imperfect system just doesn’t cut it. This method of data collection has given rise to questions of integrity, accuracy and relevance.

In the current climate of economic uncertainty, where many graduates — and non-graduates — have difficulty in finding and securing a decent job, we are providing a 21st century employment solution for the disenfranchised. Our FDAs are hired as full-time members of the team, with full-time staff benefits including EPF, SOCSO, medical and insurance coverage. Additionally, they earn well above the national monthly average income for non-graduates, have a clear career progression from the time they join us, and are rewarded with incentives for outstanding performance.

All this translate into FDAs who have ingrained in themselves the core values of the company and a desire to deliver Data with Integrity. Having our own proprietary cloud-based mobile platform that is capable of receiving and processing massive amounts of data 24/7 further solidifies our position as a game changer in this field. Not only does it allow us to collate and analyse large amounts of data quickly, but it also enables us to be transparent with our clients, who would have access to up-to-date information as it comes in. Having our own platform also allows us to future-proof our technology by constantly improving on its features, efficiency and security. This means we also have better control over the privacy and security of the data collected, enabling us to strictly adhere to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) 2010 — making us one of the few businesses in data collection to comply very strictly with this Act.

Adopting the kaizen concept creates a culture of continuous improvement where all employees are actively engaged in improving the company. We’re continuously working to better our “hardware” (our platform) and “software” (our people). Our innovation-driven technology includes a range of GPS track and monitoring systems, and algorithm driven quality control. Our corporate structure facilitates close interaction among staff, from FDAs on the ground to senior executives in the office.

Doing business is an on-going process, you can never stop and rest on your laurels otherwise you’ll find someone catching up and getting ahead of you. There is always a better way of doing things — if someone has not already thought of it, we’d like to think that we have, and in doing so, have become trailblazers in the field data collection and analysis. And we hope that we continue to work towards and achieve new firsts in the industry.