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The next big thing in big data

Friday, October 9, 2015

The rate of data production has grown exponentially. Twitter and Facebook respectively generate more than 7 and 10 terabytes of information on a daily basis. These are the kinds of numbers that make knowing scientific notation useful.

Not only is the amount of data massive, but 80% of the world’s data is unstructured, making an enormous puzzle to be solved. And there’s a lot to be learned from these huge data sets, provided you have the know-how.

That know-how is a combination of statistical, mathematical, and predictive modeling. Plus the business insight to ask keen questions and the ability to link distinctive data sets to seek out connections and form valuable insights.

By 2020 there could be as much as 40 zettabytes online with more than 20 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). It is now possible for computers to sort through 100 terrabytes of data in 23 minutes.

According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity,” Enterprises with the capability to analyze big data experience twice as much profit growth, and more than double in stock price appreciation compared to others in their given industry.

Many companies have stockpiles of data at their fingertips, but tapping into it takes talent. Companies are discovering a pool of talent in an unexpected place. Not in a tech hub like Silicon Valley or The Triangle, it’s in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Nova Scotia is where big things are happening in big data. One of Nova Scotia’s biggest resources is talent—and that means big opportunity  to turn big data into profit.

Nova Scotia offers companies in ICT access to the highest number of post-secondary graduates in Engineering, Applied Sciences, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences per capita compared to any other province in Canada—a track record the province has maintained over the past ten years.

More than a few savvy companies are realizing Nova Scotia is a great place to do business in big data—the biggest being tech giant IBM. IBM recently chose Halifax as its location for a new data analytics centre, for its outstanding labour pool, prime location to work with Europe and North America’s Pacific coast, and its competitive operating costs—Halifax has a 16% cost savings over the U.S. average cost for software development.

Programs at different institutions across the province relate directly to the needs of the ICT sector, such as Graphics, Gaming and Media, Intelligence Systems, and Cyber Security to name a few. Students in these programs want to stay in Nova Scotia.

Post-secondary institutions in Nova Scotia are working directly with ICT companies to make sure graduates have the right knowledge and skills for the job. They’re working together to develop curricula matching the needs of the industry to make sure the talent companies need is here, and to help graduates who are eager to live and work in Nova Scotia stay in Nova Scotia with good careers.

Together, institutions of higher learning and tech companies are also looking for ways to commercialize research and development, because these institutions are themselves innovators in big data. Canada’s first big data academic research facility, the Institute for Big Data Analytics, was opened by Dalhousie University. Dal, as it’s commonly called, also houses the Ocean Tracking Network, which holds more than 53 million animal tracking records, an unparalleled resource that provides insight into the effects of climate change on the world’s oceans and influences decisions about fisheries management.

All over Nova Scotia, there are companies collecting and harnessing the potential of big data for purposes that are widely varied but profit-turning.

Companies like LeadSift scan through millions of conversations happening on social media to identify which conversations are relevant to a company’s brand and industry.

topLog provides early detection, repairs and prevents costly IT systems issues.

Athletigen provides genetics based performance improvement solutions to sports, fitness, and health professionals.

Companies like T4G are working with retail heavyweights like Macy’s, TJ Maxx, and Sears Canada move data, video, images, and other information seamlessly from websites to mobile devices.

From start-ups to big ICT players to post-secondary institutions, Nova Scotia has what it takes to make a big name for itself in big data: talent, loyal workforce, expertise, innovation, and investment. With unstructured data growing at 15 times the rate of structured data, there’s clear opportunity for businesses. Nova Scotia has a big lead when it comes to the big data business, one which other tech centres will be looking to catch.

Learn more here.

View the full Big Data inforgraphic:
Big Data infographic (PDF)