Big Data Event

Peter Simons (CIMA) author of 'Big Data - Readying Business for the big data revolution' whetted the audience's appetite with a brief overview of what big data is and how it can drive changes across all sectors. He highlighted the mix of competencies that need to be developed to enable organisations utilise this information to its fullest extent.

Trevor Steenson (DFP) provided us with the public sector perspective and demonstrated the practical applications of representing data graphically. He showcased international examples of where big data was informing public services in real time with mapped information. He advised the group of a government initiative, 'Digital NI', which is helping create the conditions whereby SME's can be encouraged to grow in the digital age.

Our next speaker, Professor Adele Marshall (QUB), described big data as the 'new oil' and showcased examples where data was used in a hospital setting to advise and identify value, which better assisted with decision making, resource allocation and ultimately cost savings. She advised the group that analytics can be applied to create the future smart cities and left the members with her concluding remark: 'Be comfortable with uncertainty .... but lead the industry.'

Our members also heard perspectives from the private sector. Stephen McKeown, CEO from Analytics Engines, informed us that it's not about creating new data; it's about bringing existing operational data together with the customer data to get new insights. He highlighted that 88% of companies stated that big data was a top priority for business operations but only 7% take it from the exploration stage to actually embedding it companywide. He outlined the barriers and the added value that could be achieved.

Kieran Kelly, CEO of Arc-net, a local business demonstrated the practical outplaying of big data. He set up a company using big data to assist with food fraud and traceability within the food supply chain. He attributed his success to close collaboration with Queens University and other local business networks.

The session concluded with an interactive panel discussion, chaired by the Forum's Stephen Peover. Panellists encouraged the idea of horizon scanning for individuals who have a seed of an idea and for public sector organisations to embrace more small projects incrementally to avoid the fear of catastrophic failure.

We look forward to working with our colleagues in CIMA on future insightful events