Birthing a modern data culture
By Dr Dzaharudin Mansor March 17, 2016
- Organisations being bombarded by both structured and unstructured data
- Adopting a reactive stance is no longer acceptable
ACCORDING to IDG, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. To put things in perspective, that’s enough to fill 10 million Blu-Ray discs, or to make a stack the size of four Eiffel Towers.
The fact that we’re in a digitally connected world, with the size of data constantly changing across industries and landscapes, contributes to this staggering amount.
The most astonishing thing about big data is the speed at which it is increasing. 90% of the world’s data, for example, was created in the last two years alone. The number of people with access to the Internet today is equal to the world’s entire population in 1960 (that is, three billion).
Global communication has never been easier, and it might not come as much of a shock that there are 204 million emails sent per minute. There are also 216,000 Instagram posts and 217,000 tweets made within those 60 seconds.
This is social and business conversation at its best.
The data collected through all these interactions is shaping the way we live our lives, but in today’s quickly evolving landscape, are we making the most of big data?
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In order for technology to provide a positive effect on an organisation, it needs to be able to provide actionable and predictive insights in real-time that enrich what the organisation already knows.
It used to be that organisations were comfortable with a more reactive data culture approach, reacting to data only after an event has passed.
However, big data today is more complex, bombarding organisations with both structured and unstructured data, including text, sensor data, audio, video, click streams, log files, etc.
Adopting a reactive stance is no longer acceptable – the real struggle behind a successful big data solution is the need to evolve to a modern data culture (click chart below to enlarge).
A modern data culture takes into consideration today’s business concerns, its landscape and trends. It is a culture that shifts from a reactive position to a predictive, transformative one.
Organisations today need a consolidated approach toward big data that includes not only the high-tech and mathematically cutting-edge tools associated with the technology, but an easy-to-learn and easy-to-use human interface that allows decision-makers to view, assess and take action, anytime and anywhere.
What about Malaysia?
The push to a more proactive approach to big data is seeing a shift in data culture and an increasing demand for 21st century technology which allows big data to be analysed together and to produce tangible outcomes applicable to organisations across industries.
Malaysia, for example, is looking to increase the number of data scientists from a mere 80 to 1,500 by 2020, and in doing so, making the country a big data analytics hub in Asean.
This push is not incidental nor is the demand fabricated. According to a study commissioned by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), the current state of big data analytics (BDA) in the country has matured and edges neighbouring countries including Indonesia, Thailand and India.
Having said that, Malaysia, just like many other countries within Asia Pacific, has some ways to go in terms of BDA maturity and adopting a more refined and proactive data culture.
The same MDeC study highlights the need for talent and data-driven culture across industries as well as continued efforts to drive Malaysia towards a leading BDA regional player, which would explain the number of data scientists that Malaysia intends to bring in.
Reaping the benefits
While Asia Pacific countries aspire to transform to a modern data culture, their western counterparts have long been adopting this mindset and reaping the benefits of big data.
The city of Barcelona, for example, has deployed big data and business intelligence (BI) solutions to improve lives and create a smart city template.
Barcelona, a global innovator in trade, tourism, IT, and architecture, wanted better insight into government effectiveness – it needed a solution that could collect and analyse data from its systems and public sources such as social media, software log files, and GPS signals.
The city found the answer through a combination of BDA and BI solutions.
What’s next for big data?
More and more organisations across continents are leveraging the power of big data in their quest for better efficiency, to reap maximum rewards, and to go one-up over their competition.
The latest Magic Quadrant from Gartner, which focuses on products that meet the criteria of a modern BI and analytics platform, highlights that by 2018, most business users and analysts in organisations will have access to self-service tools to prepare data for analysis as part of the shift to deploying modern BI platforms.
The Gartner report is a testament to the ever-changing landscape of big data and what organisations are constantly looking for in each vendor.
Some vendors have demonstrated a solid understanding of the product capabilities and commitment to customer success that buyers desire in the current market, coupled with an easily understandable and attractive pricing model that supports proof of value and incremental purchases. Those that didn’t meet these requirements are dropped.
The rapid pace of transformation towards a modern and proactive data culture is one that changes constantly. The Gartner report goes to show that it’s not just customers which get left behind if they fail to adopt this mindset; vendors too are susceptible.
On a larger scale, this explains why governments and countries are not resting on their laurels in their quest to unravel invaluable insights from big data.
Countries like Malaysia, which is pushing towards becoming a data analytics hub, are doing so out of necessity not luxury, as the need for a modern data culture is adopted increasingly across industries and sectors.
This is today’s trend – a modern data culture and mindset. Organisations, governments and countries which are not able to leverage these, will be left behind.
Dr Dzaharudin Mansor is the national technology officer at Microsoft Malaysia.
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