We should drop the term ‘big data,’ experts suggest
By Goh Thean Eu August 7, 2015
- The term focuses too much on technology; it’s actually about value creation
- Government needs to work on open data initiatives to spur innovation
ALTHOUGH the interest level in big data is on the rise, many companies wanting to embark on such a journey are making a few common mistakes.
Teradata Corp chief technology officer Stephen Brobst said that one of the biggest mistakes companies make is that they tend to put too much focus on the technology.
“It’s not just about the technology; it’s more about value creation. Big data initiatives should not be technology-led; they should be led by value creation,” he said at a roundtable discussion in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 6.
Brobst said that the term ‘big data’ can sometimes be bad for the industry.
“Sometimes, companies measure success by how many terabytes of data they can accumulate. It’s a really bad strategy.
“In some ways, I think this term big data is actually a very bad term … because it gets people to focus on the wrong thing.
“The ‘bigness’ of the data is important, but if you can create big value from small mines of data, that’s even better.
“So, my advice is: Don’t focus on the ‘bigness’ of the data, but on the value creation from the data,” he added.
Fusionex International Plc managing director Ivan Teh concurred, saying that one of the big mistakes companies make is treating big data as a “giant project.”
“They tend to think of big data analytics as a mammoth initiative, and so they plan for years. By the time they complete all the strategising, the competition would have overtaken them.
“That becomes quite a pity,” he said at the roundtable discussion organised by Teradata, which looked into big data and national development in the Malaysian context.
“Don’t wait for too long. Identify the low-hanging fruit. Don’t worry about failure, because failing doesn’t equate to failure,” said Teh.
Govts need to have open data
The panellists also discussed the importance of government and its agencies working on open data initiatives, as such a move could help spur the adoption and creation of big data solutions, and also drive innovation within startups.
“When a government embraces open data, it provides the fuel for the economy of these startups,” said Brobst (pic), a former member of the President’s Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee under Barack Obama.
“They [startups] need access to data to create a platform, software, application or product. By doing so [opening up data], the government is enabling innovation with that data.
“If data is not open, if it costs money and is very difficult to obtain, then that will create friction and make it harder to innovate,” he added.
According to a Gartner report, cost-effective open data is one of the 10 most important technology trends for government in 2015.
“Government open data is here to stay, but it will take a decade or more before its maximum utility is realised,” said the research firm.
“Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than 30% of digital government projects will treat any data as open data,” it said in the report.
Dr Karl Ng, director of the innovation capital division at Malaysia’s national ICT custodian Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC), claimed that the Malaysian Government and its agencies are increasingly embracing the open data concept.
“Last year, there were 150 data sets made available by various agencies. This year, we already have 350 data sets,” he said. “It is good progress.”
Ng admitted that there is still plenty of room for growth in terms of open data sets, but said he believes that more government agencies will come on board when they start to see the value of open data.
“So we need to engage with various stakeholders and agencies to develop more proofs-of-concept and prove this value. It’s a continuous journey,” he said.
Teradata Malaysia country manager Craig Morrison said that his company is working closely with MDeC to develop “high-impact products” that can help build a compelling case of how big data analytics can benefit society, the Government, and businesses within Malaysia.
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