According to the Malaysian Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia, “Big Data adoption in Asia is just warming up! We’re investing in it to build our digital economy.”
I was delighted to be presented at one of the first big data occasions in Malaysia and witness the interest by the government and organizations to invest in big data. The report from the Economist shows that Asia-Pacific companies are slow to embrace big data. From my perspective, I have seen that organizations there still lack the full understating of what big data is and how they can a big data strategy but the market for big data should be immense in the region.
The audience were from different backgrounds and mostly coming from the government sector. The first talks were presented by vendors like SAP and Microsoft. Good use cases were presented at the conference. Australia Post presented their take on Big Data and how location intelligence and building a data store can move their services to the next level. This article also states Australia Post plans in predictive analytics. Another interesting use case was presented by the National Library of Singapore. They analyze the titles borrowed by library patrons and provide tailored recommendations to them. NLB library created dozens of digital resources throughout the years ranging from music, posters, maps, eBooks, e-comics, historic newspapers etc…
NLB of Singapore also built a modest Hadoop cluster powered by Apache Mahout in order to perform textual analytics that connect content of the library and provide content recommendations. For example, if we want information about the famous cenotaph of Singapore, textual analytics will be performed to extract content from newspaper articles, maps, images, audiobooks, and books which match the article or topic we need and then provide recommended content for us.
They also showed plans to develop a contextual discovery system of the library resources that help users get the content they need through a map and timeline. It can automatically extract full-text records of time based and location related information which can vastly improve manual tagging.
Standard Chartered Bank of Malaysia also presented about their Capture @ Source project which aims at enabling sales force automation by capturing CCPL products’ customer data accurately and reduce the time to decision.
Another interesting presentation by Chew JC of EBay Singapore, who stated that working at EBay means you are living in a big data world. While most people working in such organizations are not big data experts, he explained that getting big data insights is embedded in all production processes. The same analogy of driving a car without knowing how a car works. He presented some interesting facts that people think about Big Data as an output Y, while they found that big data is input X that you have to understand and manage to get insights. Also, pre big data analytics techniques are still needed as a competency because we are still in the world of Machine – Human – Decision. This gets me to a prominent debate in the big data market that we still need data scientists and human intuition even if we are heading to a world of machine automated targeting and personalization.
Besides, I provided a half-day big data workshop at the conference. I delivered a big picture about big data and its impact and then moved to its use cases in the government sector. I also covered the technical aspects and the shake in the database market along with tips to start a big data strategy and architecture. After the workshop, “We got the 360° view of Big Data”, delegates stated.