Industry leaders: Learn to manage big data or suffer the consequences

‘Big data’ is one of those buzzword terms that gets tossed around a lot, but understood by few. Well NZ industry brains say that now’s the time to get your head around it, and the research is backing them up.

A new study, conducted by the EMC Corporation and surveying over 200 small and mid-market CIO and senior IT professionals, says that nearly 70 per cent of survey takers believe data analytics is a key element in their current strategy, with a further 41 per cent also saying they’ve already begun incorporating big data into their business decisions.

“Big data is no longer only a concept and IT leaders are starting to fully appreciate the potential transformative value data analytics can bring to the enterprise,” says EMC New Zealand CTO Arron Patterson.

“Already businesses are investing time and effort to include data insights into everyday corporate decisions and see how this information can be extended into the wider business.”

Ed Hyde, CEO of Qrious, says the results of the survey echo trends he’s seen – that businesses understand the potential of big data, but are unable turn that potential into actual results.

“Senior leaders intuitively understand the potential of data driven innovation but feel there is a gap between this potential and capability to deliver.”

Among the gaps in that capability to deliver is a belief that there’s a skills gap at work, with workers unable to analyse or understand the data.

“The rapid growth of unstructured data represents a significant challenge for many organisations today,” says Patterson.

“There is growing need for people with the skills to manage large data streams and to turn them into tangible information.”

About 31 per cent of survey respondents said a significant problem was not having the right expertise at hand to analyse data. Sixty-four per cent also said the government needs to do more to educate young people about data analytics and its importance.

The government seems to be listening, at least partially. Both the University of Auckland and University of Otago now offer data science programmes. The programmes are the first of their type in New Zealand.

Patterson says it’s at least a start.

“Now that businesses across the country have an appetite for big data, we need to educate the younger generation about the importance of data analytics and the value it can bring to New Zealand.”