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March 27, 2017 News big data data analytics


The concept of big data has been around for years. Most organisations now understand that if they capture all the data that streams into their businesses, they can apply analytics and get significant value from it. But even in the 1950s, decades before anyone uttered the term “big data,” businesses were using basic analytics (essentially numbers in a spreadsheet that were manually examined) to uncover insights and trends.

The new benefits that big data analytics brings to the table, however, are ability to handle structured and unstructured data in an integrated manner, with speed and efficiency. Whereas a few years ago a business would have gathered information, run analytics and unearthed information that could be used for future decisions, today that business can identify insights for immediate decisions. Thus, there is a shift from descriptive analytics to prescriptive analytics. The ability to work faster – and stay agile – gives organisations a competitive edge they didn’t have before.

The economic landscape of Pakistan is looking up due to China-Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC) and the business sector is witnessing a growing demand for data due to its immense utility for business. Companies are now aware of the big data potential and the role statistical analysis can play in business growth. These, companies are investing in various aspects of data analytics to achieve manifold advantages.

Sophisticated use of technology is the core of big data. It includes a rigorous examination of enormous data to identify hidden trends, concealed patterns and their associations. Multiple tools are employed in data analysis to extract information. These methods are R&D, advanced exploration of data, social media analytics and clickstream data.

Such analysis helps brands to understand their standing in the market and ascertain where they are lagging behind vis-à-vis competitors.  Due to these reasons, government organisations and private enterprises are employing data analytics vigorously.

The growing demand for big data is validated by Teradata, a US-based company which offers analytic data platforms, applications and services for integrated data warehousing and analytic technologies. The company started working with Nadra in 1999 and now has expanded its customer base catering to other government agencies, all telecom companies, as well as leading banks and financial institutions of the country.

Stephen Brobst, the chief technology officer (CTO) at Teradata Corporation believes that in Pakistan the field of big data has great potential and is highly significant for local business due to its broader applicability and effectiveness. It needs to be emphasised that big data is particularly important to the Pakistani marketplace.

Nadra has been a great beneficiary of big data analytics. With the help of Teradata, Nadra has built a repository of data for all citizens which is now being used for a range of purposes. Its work holds special significance as Teradata helps Nadra exploit its big data to identify population demographics and to support intelligence investigation, the tax compliance system, data governance, cyber data, law enforcement and safety. The company has also worked with the Punjab government on healthcare and crime prevention, especially in tracking dengue fever and preventing its further spread.

Living in a digital age which is ruled by information and its rapid flow, companies are generating sizeable revenues through strategic and in-depth data analysis. Online retailing and banking are the two sectors where big data can play a pivotal role in their growth. For example, it helps greatly if a brand is aware of its purchasing pattern and consumer needs. It can help it develop strategies on the basis of such an understanding and serve customers effectively.

The utility of big data is not only for big companies where data is huge and diversified but also for SMEs. Its usefulness is evident from the fact that Teradata has released cloud infrastructure for small and medium-sized enterprises since SMEs prefer such a solution.

In nutshell, today success belongs to data-driven companies.

Stephen Brobst says, “Consumers have the choice of with whom they share data and with whom they will not – if no value is provided, then the consumer will not share.”

Transparency is also an important factor. According to Stephen Brobst, “The key to a good privacy policy is transparency. Say what you do and do what you say.”

Pakistan can capitalise on this technology to boost its education, healthcare delivery, manufacturing and banking systems. Another important area which needs due attention is the energy sector. It is appreciable that K-Electric is intending to install smart meters with the help of Teradata to avoid electricity theft and manage energy crisis.

Teradata has significantly invested in Pakistan as the global leader in data analytics. It believes that the country has brilliant human capital and hardworking people.

“Companies that abuse consumer data will be punished by the loss of their customers as they destroy trust,” says Brobst.

Teradata has invested in the universities for curricula, provided free software and courseware, helped the professors develop and create talented graduates, and then hired the graduates directly or sometimes indirectly through their customers.

The company built a development centre in Islamabad and grew that from small numbers to hundreds of people.

Brobst said in the past data was coming from the core banking system and customer care centres.  He has a very pragmatic view regarding the debate over data acquisition and the right to privacy. He acknowledges that the majority of the people don’t bother reading the terms and conditions before subscribing to a free service or an app that grants rights to the data usage.

Brobst says the world is now shifting from a system where the companies own the customer data and use it to make intelligent choices for them to the phenomenon where the customer owns their data and decides who to share it with.

The Teradata Corporation chief technology officer says the telecom operators (telcos) currently working in Pakistan are fast becoming an example even for telcos of developed countries, which are catching up with some of their best business practices, placing Pakistan among the top tier in the global telecommunication sector. The reasons, he said, are clear – Pakistani telcos are investing and competing with each other in technology and data analytics with multinational companies always leading the competition and making the market’s overall structure efficient and sophisticated.

Teradata also provides analytics to governments for tax compliance at corporate as well as individual levels.

In Brobst’s opinion, Pakistan can use big data technology to streamline its energy issues, banking system, large-scale manufacturing, healthcare and education.

In power companies, smart metering is the solution which can exactly detect how much data is consumed, and at which hours, unlike analogue meters where one has to visit all the meters in order to analyse.

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