CIMB Data Science Challenge


datachallenge4Similar to hunting for Mewtwo (Pokémon), identifying and recruiting talented data scientists is just as elusive. CIMB decided that the best way would be to bring budding data scientist together for a challenge.

This will provide candidates the opportunity to win cash prizes along with potential employment with CIMB’s Decision Management division. There was a prize fund of RM30,000 up for grabs with the top 6 teams taking home a cash prize. The winning team would walk away with RM12,000.

The Challenge

It was felt that the challenge should be based on an actual problems CIMB wants to address. Therefore, the problem statement issued to the participants is as follows:

“CIMB wants to improve cross-sell take-up of its main consumer banking products by identifying the most relevant product to cross-sell to each of its existing customers. This is to enable CIMB to run targeted marketing campaigns, offering relevant products to each customer, deepen banking relationship and share of wallet.”

Opening the Floodgates

As this was the very first competition organized between CIMB, SAS and MDEC there was a slight air of nervousness in obtaining the targeted number of teams. We decided to be conservative and aim for 50 teams. The initial uptake was a little slow but when the registration closed on 10 June, we had over 120 teams registered from 28 universities.

All participating teams had to submit a 2 minute video which allowed us to shortlist the best 52 teams. Not all the universities used SAS in their curriculum. Therefore, in order to level the playing field, SAS provided E-Learning courses for all teams in Enterprise Guide and Enterprise Miner.

SAS also organized a problem solving workshop which would stretch the participants in their approach. It was based on an actual real world problem and provided participants a taste of what it is like to deal with dirty data. The workshop was delivered at 7 different universities nationwide.

The Pedal to the Metal

The day of the competition – 6 Aug! It was an early start for the participants with registration starting at 8 a. m. They were given 21 hours to come up with a solution to the problem and had the option to stay overnight at the venue. It was obvious that some had more experience at competitions as they packed large suitcases. In order to keep their hunger at bay, there were 6 meals that were provided. There were mentors from SAS and CIMB during the day to assist the participants. This allowed us to identify potential talent who may not have made it to the finals.


The day of judgement – 7th Aug! Final solution submissions was at 7 a. m. It was a busy period for the technical evaluation team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. Participants were given 5 minutes to pitch their solution to a panel of judges (SAS, CIMB and MDEC). The first round of pitching was done in 4 rooms simultaneously. Based on the teams’ performance at the pitching and technical evaluation, the top 6 would make it to the finals.

After morning tea, all the teams converged at the auditorium. The final 6 teams were called one by one to do a more detailed 10 minute presentation. As none of the teams knew who would be called this added to the air of suspense. There was another panel of judges who then asked questions. The final teams were ranked based on their teams’ scores from the pitching round and their presentation.


The winning teams are:

  • Champion:                     DatActuary from Sunway University (RM12,000)
  • First runner-up:            MoCHA from Multimedia University (RM8,000)
  • Second runner-up:       CLS from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (RM5,000)
  • Third runner-up:          3PM from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (RM2,500)
  • Fourth runner-up:        Daredevil from Universiti Sains Malaysia (RM1,500)
  • Fifth runner-up:            Analygent from Universiti Teknologi MARA (RM1,000)

There was also a lucky prize drawing sponsored by SAS and CIMB. SAS gave away RM28,000 in training courses while CIMB gave away RM600.

SAS now has the Data Science Academy which is a structured course for aspiring data scientists. Register now and be one of the rare finds in the business world!



About Author

Mark Chia

Mark is the Advanced Analytics Practice Lead within SAS’s Center of Excellence. Before joining SAS, Mark worked in IT for over ten years with various UK companies. He has worked for software development companies and an internet dating company. He has done a variety of roles from software engineering, systems administration, consulting, systems analysis, project management, product management and company management. Mark holds two bachelor degrees from the University of Adelaide, Australia. He did his PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom. He is also registered as a Chartered Engineer.

1 Comment

  1. Great post! A well-written resource to anyone looking to boost their DATA Science knowledge. The explanation is clear and gives a better understanding lookup method and i find there is a long way in making the entire process much more efficient and effective.

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