Data analytics is transforming many aspects of modern life - across health, work, travel and the environment.
From the individual citizen to large multinational organisations, we all generate data - and using this data intelligently is making everyday life easier and much less complicated.
This is will be a big feature for the agenda of the sixth Big Data Belfast one-day conference when it returns at the newly relaunched ICC Belfast on Thursday October 18.
International and local speakers will explore the trends and opportunities emerging in areas like healthcare, Smart Cities, IoT, fintech, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cyber security and business analytics.
Speakers include Spotify Senior Manager Ben Dressler, Lead Data Scientist at Liverpool Football Club William Spearman, Programme Director from The Alan Turing Institute Mark Briers and Thom Kenney, CEO of recruitment marketing platform SmashFly.
Data improves efficiency
Data helps organisations to become more efficient, understand their markets and customers better, as well as identify emerging risks and challenges to the business. But what is data analytics? It’s all about organising information and turning it into actionable insight.
In many ways, data is the most valuable resource an organisation possesses and the economic wider benefits are potentially vast. It has been estimated that data-driven technologies will contribute over £60 billion per year to the UK economy by 2020.
The volumes of information we’re now generating is becoming unimaginably large. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said a few years ago that “every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003”. The OECD predicts that the volume of data creation will increase 40-fold from 2015 to 2020.
Data technologies have leapt ahead and a great many businesses around Northern Ireland - large and small - are now automating much of their workload and making better decisions, particularly in predictive analytics around buyer behaviours.
Impacting all aspects of business
Data is impacting on many aspects of business, but we've also seen its influence particularly in healthcare delivery.
This year saw the 70th anniversary of the birth of the National Health Service. As a society, we now ask a great deal from the NHS. A combination of better information, earlier interventions and improved diagnostic services means we’re living longer and placing additional demands on the 1.5 million people employed in the service.
Data analytics is now a major driver for policymaking in healthcare. Last month, the government published the NHS Code of Conduct for Data-driven Health and Care Technology. In Ireland, the HSE’s eHealth Strategy is progressing apace and there is active encouragement at a policy level for innovative data solutions. Healthcare speakers at this year’s Big Data Belfast include international firms such as Orion Health and IBM Watson Health and also local health policymakers who are using data to transform care provision.
The company I work for Analytics Engines recently launched a product called Precision for Pharmacy which provides pharmacists with visibility of patient need and staff workload. The product enables enhanced patient safety and helps clinical staff to make informed decisions about patient care.
The opportunities arising in personalised healthcare are considerable. The first human genome sequence project took 13 years and cost several billion dollars. Now we can sequence a genome in a few days for about $1,000. This really transforms the way scientific research and clinical testing and diagnosis is done.
Similarly data technologies like IoT and AI are making our cities smarter. Exploiting data can transform public services and address challenges ranging from traffic congestion and energy use, through to rates collection and addressing illegal dumping.
Driving Big Data in Belfast
Here in Belfast, the City Council is taking a lead role in engaging private sector partners to develop innovative new city-wide solutions through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI). These programmes support companies to generate economic growth and help government achieve its objectives.
The opportunities yet to be realised through data technology are immense and its an exciting time to be involved in Big Data Belfast.
The opportunities yet to be realised through data technology are immense and its an exciting time to be involved in Big Data Belfast. The conference - which is sponsored this year by SmashFly Technologies, strategic partners Invest NI, Citi and Allstate, and industry partners Ulster University and MCS Group - is designed to support anyone with an interest in improving how their organisation operates. A small number of tickets are still available, to find out more and to book your place visit the Big Data Belfast website.