Data-centric emphasis, skills demand to escalate

Emphasis on data will see businesses including those in Singapore increasingly seek out professionals skilled in extracting value from big data.

SINGAPORE--Now that cloud has kicked off IT transformation at the base architecture level, organizations including those in Singapore will "move up the chain" to look at extracting value from information via intensive analytics and data expertise.

At a media briefing held here Tuesday alongside the EMC Forum, David Webster, Asia-Pacific and Japan president at EMC, said there has been a major shift in techniques used in analytics.

The "old style" involved batch offline processing and data warehouses which stored only internal company data, whereas analytics today and in future involve real-time processing of data from everywhere, internally and externally, Webster pointed out.

This requires IT professionals who are not only able to control the data deluge, but also can immediately "dive" into a data-centric role such as data scientists, he said, noting not many today can do that.

These competencies would involve writing algorithms capable of analyzing data en masse and presenting the results in a way that facilitates business decision-making.

"Just because someone can drive a motorcar doesn't mean they can fly a fighter plane," Webster said, highlighting the need for education about fundamental principles of "understanding information" so value can be extracted.

"The people who can understand data will be the front and center of big data well as the agents of change in adding value to IT and the business," he said.

He added that he expects the talent pool to grow significantly over the next few years, since certain sectors are very data-intensive such as banking and retail.

Data knowledge imperative
Webster said data-centric roles and competencies will increasingly be a key focus as companies compete in today's information economy and need to understand and tap the value of data.

Just as raw materials were manufactured into products of value in the industrial age, value from information will be imperative for companies moving forward, he said.

In future, big data analytics could also mature significantly and be delivered as a mainstream service on the Internet, allowing anyone to analyze whatever data they want, he added.

This means the roles and responsibilities of IT professionals with infrastructure and programming will evolve, Webster highlighted.

Enterprise IT itself is undergoing a transformation, he noted, with cloud computing overhauling the infrastructure, application and user experience.

"Getting your infrastructure right" with cloud enables operational efficiency, Webster said. So a company can take the money normally spent on maintaining the business and use it to innovate the business, in the context of data.

Eric Goh, Singapore managing director at EMC, who was also present at the briefing, said Singapore's cloud-driven IT transformation is already underway, with private sector interest in cloud and the local government's initiatives such as G-cloud and the next-generation nationwide broadband network (NGNBN).

As such, companies in the country are primed for big data analytics, Goh said, noting that interest in this area in recent months had been intense.

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