AWS expands Data Lab program to Australia and New Zealand

AWS wants to help customers through the design and build phase of their data analytics initiatives.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has expanded its Data Lab program to Australia and New Zealand to assist customers accelerate their data analytics projects.

As AWS Australia principal solutions architect Rada Stanic puts it, Data Lab is a "joint accelerated engagement between our customers and AWS technical experts in order to create tangible deliverable that can help accelerate data modernisation initiatives".

The free program has two offerings: Design Lab and Build Lab.

Design Lab is a half to two-day engagement of non-build exercise to discuss architecture patterns and anti-pattern designs for a company's specific use case, best practices for building, and recommended strategies for design and delivery.

"Some businesses are simply not quite ready to build the solution yet so for them we have a program called Design Lab and we bring together customer experts and AWS experts … with a goal for the customer to walk away with clear, prescriptive, defined architectural framework for them to think about and go implement around data analytics," Stanic said.

Build Lab is for more "advanced customers who are ready to build and create specific outcomes", according to Stanic.

"The idea is to provide customers with very prescriptive architectural guidance and best practices so that they walk away with working prototype that has very clear path to production. It's custom-designed and built for the needs of their customer," she said.

"Also, more importantly, they will walk away from the engagement having relationships with AWS people and having deeper knowledge and understanding of products and services they need to implement that."

The new AWS Data Lab is now one of seven across the world. Others are based in Seattle, New York, and Herndon in the US, London in the UK, Bangalore, India, and São Paolo, Brazil.

The launch of the program follows trials with entertainment and live music company TEG and smart meter and data intelligence business Intellihub.

It also comes as a new report prepared by Deloitte Access Economics for AWS found that 61% of organisations in Australia and New Zealand reported having a basic or beginner level of data maturity, and only one-third of businesses expect to move up the ladder in the next five years.

For those, however, with higher levels of data maturity, about half said they experienced productivity improvement and were able to enhance their customer experience.

"If you can understand why you're collecting more data on your customers about what they like or how they like to be service, then you can improve that as a business, and also [see a] big lift in sales revenue," Deloitte Access Economics partner John O'Mahoney said.

Businesses in industries such as banking, insurance, media and technology, and professional services were identified as those who were more mature, O'Mahoney said, compared to "non-market" industries, such as public sector, healthcare, and education.

The report also found that only 25% of businesses are going to try to lift data skills in their organisations through training strategies to upskill their existing workforce, despite it also saying 30% of workers do not have enough skills at the moment to carry out data analysis. The other three-quarters of businesses plan to partner, outsource, or hire skill from elsewhere to fill the data skills gap, the report showed.

"Now that might be okay for some businesses, but not every business is going to be able to hire workers from somewhere in an era of obviously still restricted immigration flows," O'Mahoney said.

"Australia is going to face a burning need for data skills in the next 12 months … so I think come back after the break in February, March, April of next year, I think there's going to be big conversations in this country about the skill shortage of people who can do data analysis."

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