What are you going to do with all that data?

  • Data is sweeping across businesses and governments, and our personal lives
  • No matter what our cultural backgrounds across SEA, digital is the constant

What are you going to do with all that data?BIG data has grown up. Data is now at the core of decision-making for businesses and organisations.
Businesses use data to find out about market trends, understand customer profiles, and analyse sales cycles. Governments use data for city planning, budgeting and to allocate resources. These days, non-profit organisations too are using data to raise funds, identify where help is most needed and intelligently allocate funding.
In fact, data is not just sweeping across businesses and governments, but we are living digitised lives, and data is part and parcel of how we work, live and play.
Each year, at around this time, Tennis Australia turns into a data-driven machine. Tennis Australia organises the Australian Open, one of only four grand slam events in the professional tennis calendar each year.
Big prize money and ranking points are at stake for players. And naturally, there is a lot of attention from fans and media.
Tennis Australia uses the latest data-driven technology to drive fan engagement and ensure that operation is faultless. For the 2016 event, it had added a Tournament Notifications Dashboard, an application that automatically identifies and classifies statistics and updates from matches as they happen during the tournament, along with player statistics.

What are you going to do with all that data?

The information is colour-coded so that editorial and social media teams can easily differentiate and identify what is useful to them. Then, the informed recipients make real-time decisions on what information to share with media partners, what to post on websites, and what to put out through social media channels.
Also, it is not just the big budget organisations like Tennis Australia that are making intelligent use of data. Whether we do it consciously or not, data is a big part of our lives.
In South-East Asia, we have amongst the highest penetration of social network usage among Internet users in the world.
In Indonesia, the most populated country in the region, 72.3 million people use social media monthly, according to eMarketer. The number is 10.6 million in Malaysia and 3.1 million in Singapore.
Take Facebook for example, Facebook is now a ‘companion in life’s greatest moments’ for many of us. People are using Facebook while commuting, at a café, waiting in line, before they sleep, etc.
In other words, anytime, anywhere. They are uploading pictures of birthday parties, vacations, and yes, even what they are having for lunch.
Facebook or social media is just one example of how we are digitising our lives. There are also digital photographs and videos, e-commerce, e-banking, and many more.
Most likely, you are right now reading a digitised version of this article on a computer or tablet screen.
No matter what cultural backgrounds we have across the region, digital is the constant. People across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore or Thailand may not speak a common language, but we all know how to use the same social media tools.
Data in the hands of everyday people

What are you going to do with all that data?

We are consuming data every day no matter if we are doing it consciously or not. We may be receiving data as information, such as in the form of weather reports, flight arrival or departure times, or election statistics.
The thing is, the time has come for us ordinary people to see data as data. When we see and work with data, we can ask our own questions and make our own discoveries.
In Singapore, the Government plans to bring about a new economy that is more fuelled by technology. Data and data analytics are going to play a critical role in this Smart Nation goal.
The Smart Nation initiative is also about liberating data, or putting data into the hands of the common citizen. The initiative will provide people with more access to real time data.
According to Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Programme Office, this includes plans to put up wider data sets and more real time data for citizens.
This brings us to the next stage of the data revolution where more data will be available to the man in the street. It means that it is up to us to make sense of and make use of the data.
What are you going to do about it?
Naturally, data skills are to be essential for everyday people, not data analysts or scientists, but anyone who has questions for their data.
Already, schools are making data analytics part of their curriculum. More students are learning how to code, program and use tools that allow them to work with data.
Meanwhile, easy to use data analytics tools are also helping people, without programming or IT skills, to easily make sense of data. They pick up the simple drag and drop style, and are now able to work with large amounts of data, visualising it and turning it into useful charts, diagrams and graphics so that they can see hidden details and trends.
Analysts project that data-focused technology trends, like the Internet of Things (IoT), are going to impact our lives, from how we maintain our cars to how we monitor our health; from how we consume energy to how we stock up groceries in the refrigerator.
That means, data is going to be everywhere and data is going to part of our lives wherever we turn.
So, are you going to embrace data and use it to your advantage? I would.
JY Pook is Asia Pacific senior vice president at Tableau Software.
Related Stories:
Top 5 trends for 2016: Big data gets even bigger
The emerging role of the chief data officer
The legalities of big data and data analytics
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