Businesses and organisations appreciate that the data they possess has a value. But do they know just how valuable it is for improving a product, streamlining a service or to better understand markets and customers?
When collected, cleansed and properly structured, data works very hard for a company.
A study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research has found that data-driven technologies will contribute over £60bn per year to the UK economy by 2020.
Data analytics improves decision-making processes and leverages operational efficiencies.
Data can aid organisations to better mitigate and predict risk. It is the catalyst that forges deeper relationships with stakeholders. It develops richer experiences for customers. We've seen this in practice. At present, we're delivering a fintech project that involves pulling in over 20 billion datapoints of complex international trade data and visualising it in a single dashboard.
Information that would previously have taken days or weeks to source can now be captured, interrogated and acted upon within a matter of minutes. End users on that system will now be able to make major strategic investment decisions more quickly, with greater accuracy and with much less risk.
Working with The National Gallery in London, we're helping them to develop a more robust reporting methodology. It's an attraction that draws in around six million visitors a year - so in addition to collecting paintings, the gallery is collecting a wealth of reporting information that can be used to improve their exhibitions and visitor experiences.
In many instances, public and private sector organisations face common challenges - they want accurate, timely information in a format that serves the needs of their end users.
And the good news for Northern Ireland is that the capability resides in the marketplace to help organisations quickly exploit their data. We're also seeing a great deal of innovation driven by public and third sector organisations. Belfast City Council and their Smart Cities team have done a lot of work exploring how data can be used to deliver improved public services. Similarly, we also have a solution deployed to support the work of clinical pharmacy teams in the Western Health and Social Care Trust.
Back in 2014, we launched the first Big Data Belfast conference. When we first hosted the event, it was convened in a small room in Titanic Belfast. But by last year the business and technology showcase was attracting more than 500 people to the ICC Belfast.
What that reflects is the growth of our local eco-system. The awareness of data has exploded; technology adoption has widened and the quality of talent pipeline being produced within our universities has grown too.