Going big with Big Data
Finesse’s Sunil Paul and Software AG’s Rami Kichli discuss the recent positive growth of big data and its future impact in the Middle East
While the adoption of Big Data has traditionally seen a slow uptick within the Middle East region, a recent drive among GCC nations towards realising a knowledge-based economy has triggered a substantial increase in its popularity.
According to the latest findings from Frost & Sullivan, the GCC’s big data and analytics market was valued at $230.6m in 2015.
Predictions from the global market intelligence firm also showed that the market will likely experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.7% and will reach $635.5m by 2020.
Furthermore, while its research found that the majority of the GCC’s revenues stemmed from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Frost & Sullivan concluded that Qatar will enjoy the fastest growth rates in the coming years.
Serving as one the most prolific business technology providers active in the Middle East, Finesse Global offers a variety of platforms aimed at capitalising collected data.
Specialising in storage, data management and analytics, the company’s Big Data offerings include management of the customer experience, real-time fraud, in-memory data ,and predictive analytics.
“We have partnered with industry leaders such as Hadoop, Software AG, Customer XPS to bring in technology and expertise to the region. We have also initiated a few orientation programmes to further leverage and equip our team on the developing technologies,” comments Sunil Paul, co-founder and chief operating officer at Finesse Global.
“We help organisations in finding new insights in data by linking different data sets, bringing data from data markets to get a bigger picture, finding creative approaches to visualise data.”
Commenting on the positive growth of the market over the last year, Finesse’s co-founder and COO credits recent smart city initiatives for driving the current wave of demand.
With numerous high-profile events occurring in the region, which includes the World Expo 2020 and Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the need for intelligent infrastructure frameworks built upon IoT, big data and analytics, is paramount.
Outside of local government initiatives, Paul also sees big data technologies adoption in banking and financial services, telecommunications, retail and healthcare segments.
“Big data adoption is a journey of data collection, management and insights. Organisations will start discovering the real potential and real value will be seen only when the systems learn more to deliver predictive analysis,” comments Paul.
“This is where machine learning and artificial intelligence come in play to deliver meaningful insights and then will big data will realise its full potential,” he adds.
Despite the upbeat demand from the market however, challenges particular to the region remain and continues to threat the forward progress of big data adoption. One such issue lies with the accuracy of data including how it is acquired and shared, as well as a common concern of privacy.
It is more often the case that enterprises are reluctant to divulge information related to their clients and users, as well as data related to their own operations.
The decision to remain secretive could be due to many reasons, which include legal and reputational considerations, a desire to remain competitive, as well as what Paul described as, “the absence of the right incentive and information structures.”
“There are also institutional and technical challenges — when data is stored in places and ways that make it difficult to be accessed and transferred,” explains Paul.
“There are other technical challenges of inter-comparability of data and inter-operability of systems, but these might be relatively less problematic to deal with than getting formal access or agreement on licensing issues around data.”
Sharing a similar viewpoint is Rami Kichli, vice-president of Gulf & Levant MET, Software AG (SAG). Serving as part of the enterprise software company’s Middle East executive management team, Kichli believes a lot more effort needs to be made by organisations towards gaining a better understanding of collected data, as well as its use as a measurement for business performance.
But even before reaching that point where an enterprise can effectively process and analyse its data, a number of considerations need to be taken into account.
“Ensuring data security, creating effective and efficient information technology architecture, and finding new ways for collaboration are some fundamental efforts crucial to meeting current organisational challenges,” explains Kichli.
“There is also the need to conduct training to produce the right talents capable of both working with new technologies and interpreting the data to find meaningful business insights. Regular training will help bridge the big data talent gap.
“Making the best choices while not introducing additional unknown risk to big data adoption is a big challenge in the region as well as getting data into the big data platform, synchronizing all data sources, and getting useful information out of the platform,” adds the vice-president.
In terms of its own offerings, SAG’s portfolio includes the Terracotta In-Memory Data Fabric Platform, a distributed in-memory data management tool boasting low and predictable latency. Designed for a variety of sectors, such as manufacturing, retail, banking, energy, healthcare and government, the platform stores essential data in-memory. This enables quick access by multiple users and multiple apps.
SAG also offers the webMethods Operational Intelligence platform, a predictive analytics tool that gives users a clearer sight of their systems without the need for modelling.
“We recently partnered with IoT platform leader Cumulocity for us to further streamline the provision of our IoT services and applications. We were able to execute this by seamlessly connecting our machines across any network via a plug-and-play approach,” explains Kichli.
The company also delivers Apama Streaming Analytics, a system designed to stream analytics and intelligent automated action on fast-moving big data. By combining event processing, in-memory data management and visualisation, the platform can help process large data streams produced by IoT, converting the data accrued into valuable real-time metrics.
“Big data will definitely consistently grow over the next year as entities from the government and private sectors continue to fully adopt this technology. We also expect to see the emergence of new and advanced tools for analysis,” comments Kichli.
“Additionally, the gap between insight and action in big data will narrow by the end of 2016, with all efforts revolving around big data collection to be redirected towards insights and execution,” he concludes.