Experts at GITEX Technology Week’s first ever Big Data Conference agree that the ability to intelligently understand and utilise Big Data will have a profound impact on innovation and competitiveness in the region. The packed Conference, supported by Diamond Sponsor Accenture, offered valuable insights on how Big Data increasingly becomes an unavoidable and compelling item at the top of the boardroom agenda. The 33rd edition of GITEX Technology Week 2013, running under the theme “Lets Create, Disrupt and Re-imagine Together”, runs until October 24 at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Keynote speaker Volkmar Koch, Vice President and Partner at leading global management consulting firm Booz & Co, set the scene:
“The sheer volume of structured and unstructured data driven by digitisation is calling for a host of new coping techniques, methods and analytics to effectively process and leverage.About 2.9 million emails are sent every second, 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute, and by the end of 2013 there will be more networked devices than people on earth. Data has now unavoidably become a topic in the boardroom, with senior executives increasingly understanding the value of data to transform their businesses and to enter into new value pools.”
Volkmar explained that there are three key steps to embrace Big Data: understanding how a capability-driven data strategy can help drive business performance; finding a distinct owner within the organisation to accelerate data and analytics maturity; and adding new Big Data capabilities which typically include changes to the operating model, key processes and Information Technology and to identify, as well as nurture, the right talent.
“There is a pressing need to change cultures in an organisation to more data-driven decision making,” he added. “Starting with a few specific opportunities to demonstrate the value of Big Data in pilots and attracting the right talent mix is key here.”
One of the conference’s many highlights was a memorable keynote address by the Rt. Hon. Francis Maude, Minister for the UK Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, who explained how Big Data had transformed the policy and work of his department.
In his role, Rt. Hon. Francis Maude has used big data for a wide variety of public sector efficiency and reforms, including helping to improve transparency and accountability of government, enhancing the efficiency of buying and managing government goods and services, and creating a digital and unified civil service.
“The first industrial revolution was based on iron, coal and steel. The industrial revolution of the 21st century will be based on data.Using data innovatively, thoroughly and rigorously can drive growth in significant way, enabling businesses to focus on what the customers want and personalise services. It is can also have an enormous impact in fields like life sciences. The scope here is absolutely enormous, but it needs to be done responsibly,” he said.
Worldwide, IDC estimates that spending on Big Data technology and services will likely grow from USD3.2 billion in 2010 to USD16.9 billion in 2015, representing a CAGR of 40%, or about seven times that of the overall ICT market.
Conference speaker Ronald Raffensperger, CTO at Huawei, said:“Data volumes are growing at an exponential rate and increasingly this data is unstructured – everything from click streams to videos to pictures to social media feeds. Organisations today are starting to realise that this data can be an important revenue-producing asset and that the creative use of this information can provide a real competitive advantage
One of the day’s key panellists, Paul Devlin,Director of Business Analytics & Database & Technology, SAP MENA, said:“We are in the midst of major technological, social and economic changes in the world, represented by the shift from the information age into the intelligent age. Business and organisations must now deal with a huge tsunami of data that is growing every day, and they must be prepared to access, manage and use it to stay innovative and competitive.”
Devlin said that one of SAP’s key technologies for helping companies deal with Big Data is HANA, an in-memory computing business platform on which applications can be developed and deployed. The technology has been described by SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott as “the fastest growing software product in the history of the world.”
Earlier this year, SAP introduced SAP HANA (BSoH), the only solution that successfully combines transactional applications with analytics in-memory. The innovation dramatically simplifies IT architectures and processes, empowering businesses to achieve unprecedented speed and real-time predictive analysis. BSoH is also available via the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service.
Another conference speaker, Mahmood Shaker, CIO, Qatar First Bank, said: “Big data and the cloud can enable Qatar’s companies to maximise their potential. We’ve used big data to analyse our customers’ habits with the results helping us enhance our services, while the cloud has provided centralised on-the-go IT systems. At GITEX Technology Week’s Big Data Conference and Cloud Confex, we have been sharing best practices illustrating how Qatar’s small- and medium-sized enterprises can use big data and cloud solutions to operate like larger enterprises at a fraction of the IT cost.”
Additional Big Data Conference speakers included Massimo Cannizo, Technology Consulting Lead, Accenture Middle East; Allen Mitchell, Regional Pre-Sales Manager, Commvault MEA; Regina Casonato, Managing VP, Gartner; Dr. Mustafa Qurban, Assistant Military Hospitals Director in Eastern Province for ICT and Consultant and Director IT at KFMMC; Zubair Ahmed, Head of IT & Business Innovation, Emirates Islamic Bank; Fadi Hindi, Vice President & Head of the Transformation Architecture Office, National Bank of Abu Dhabi; Abdulla Al Madani, Chief Executive Officer – Corporate Technical Support Services Sector, RTA; and Dr.Tolga Kurt, Istanbul Technical University, PlusOneMinusOne.
Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President at Dubai World Trade Centre, said: “By hosting our first-ever Big Data Conference, GITEX Technology Week continues to drive thought leadership in the region. We saw incredible synergy between leading experts, analysts, and senior executives, and expect the fruits of this conference to be incredibly beneficial for the region’s businesses over the next year.”
There are strong indications that Big Data competency is likely to rapidly rise in the Middle East — with the rate of CIOs looking into investing in analytics and big data technologies growing more than tripling from only 12%in 2012 to more than 40%in 2013, according to intelligence firm IDC. .