Well placed to tap data growth

  • SMEBiz
  • Saturday, 01 Aug 2020

Mapping it out: Geographic information can play a significant role in companies’ decision-making.

AS businesses use more data to enhance their positioning in the market, IT services provider RedPlanet Bhd sees vast potential to grow its geographic information system (GIS) offerings to industries that are embracing digitalisation.

RedPlanet executive director Panjetty Kumaradevan Senthil Kumar (pic below) says its mapping and decision-making solutions have become more relevant in these times as almost 80% of data has a location component to it and having a clearer geographic view of their assets would help stakeholders make better decisions.

“We specialise in GIS and the system allows you to combine layers of location information in such a way that you’ll know where things are.

“For example, utility players need to monitor their equipment like transmission towers to know if there is rusting or if it’s broken. Traditionally, they’ll just drive around to see if there are any problems and send a report if maintenance is needed. We are able to fly drones out to locate where these faults are and provide a report that will help the maintenance crew with their periodic maintenance.

“So other data sets such as property values, or where will the next flooding take place, where are the new disease clusters and how to isolate them, all involve location.

“And we are educating customers to make them realise that location details are actually part and parcel of the data they deal with and are part of the decision making that they have to take, ” he says.

Its portfolio of customers has, notably, grown across various industries in recent times. But while the company mainly serves government-linked companies at the moment, Panjetty is keen to increase its business among corporates and smaller firms.

RedPlanet is in the midst of developing a platform to cater to smaller companies where they’ll be able to utilise its system on a subscription basis to solve specific issues. Once their problems have been resolved, they may stop their subscription.

But dealing with such a wide range of businesses has its challenges. Panjetty notes that getting good quality data for its system can be difficult as not every company or industry has existing digital data points.

In this case, Panjetty says the company will help their customers digitise their data for the system to enable GIS for them.

“The input data varies depending on what solutions they need. For example, if the Health Ministry wants to track denggi cases, we’ll need the location of the population, the primary health centres and active cases. When you combine all these information, these can be the input for the health GIS. So the type of data we deal with is quite diverse.

“About 70% of our system comprises data and ensuring the accuracy and latency of the data can be quite challenging. Like we get a lot of details from government departments but how they maintain these details is questionable. So we have to reach out to third parties to supplement the information that the government departments may not have and we have to verify this information on the ground.

“So getting accurate data is a problem. But this is where our expertise comes in. We have implemented automated systems that will send an alert whenever there is an update in the system. So these updates that are happening within the organisation are captured with as little human intervention as possible, ” he explains.

RedPlanet is currently focused on four industries, namely, smart cities, fintech, agriculture and utilities, including telecommunications.

The company is bound for listing on the Leap Market on August 4 and Panjetty hopes that this exercise would help it build visibility in the market.

Its shares are fixed at 18 sen apiece, which would raise a total of RM3.6mil for the company – slightly lower than the RM4.4mil planned for its original listing date in mid-April.

Panjetty says its cash position remains healthy with no borrowings and the company was capable of funding its projects internally.

While the pandemic may have delayed some of its projects, its orderbook was maintained at RM34.4mil as at June, with RM22.5mil of revenue to be recognised.

“Our working capital has been reduced in the short-term and we may scale back a little on marketing efforts overseas. But nothing significant has changed in our overall direction, ” he says.

Currently, about 15% of its projects are based internationally. He foresees that RedPlannet will continue to grow strong locally but the company will also look at more overseas opportunities.

“Our customers are cautious, but everyone seems to be very positive about the third quarter and there will be a lot of planned projects that will likely be pushed to 2021 on top of future projects. So we feel that there is going to be a boom coming in the later half of 2021.

“That is why we continue to do internal R&D of our software-as-a-service model. We are also increasing our staff strength to gear up for all the future work and we’re going to promote some new product development in the spaces we are in as well, ” he says.

RedPlanet is also leveraging partnerships to boost its services in the market.

Panjetty notes that there are three broad categories of IT services providers: the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) software providers, homegrown companies that specialise in some aspects of these services and large IT services companies like IBM.

“The OEMs create the software but not necessarily the data that goes with it. That’s why we have partnerships with them and provide that solution by supplementing it with our own expertise.

“Likewise, the big players focus on a broad spectrum of IT services but not necessarily the GIS component. So we are going to capitalise on our relationship with these big players and supplement them with our solutions. It is the same with smaller players, where none in the market have a one-stop solution so we can work with them to provide the GIS component.

“Our mission is to make GIS part of decision making for companies. We are only scratching the surface now so there is a lot of potential. We want to do for businesses what smartphones did for consumers. We hope GIS becomes so prevalent that they don’t even realise they are using it, ” he says. — By Joy Lee

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