What are you going to do with all that data?

Tableau: Media update

JY Pook
Vice President, Asia Pacific
Tableau Software

What are you going to do with all that data?
By JY Pook, Vice President, APAC, Tableau

Big data has grown up. Data is now at the core of decision making for businesses and organizations. Businesses use data to find out about market trends, understand customer profiles, and analyze sales cycles. Governments use data for city planning, budgeting and to allocate resources. These days, non-profit organizations too are using data to raise funds, identify where help is most needed and intelligently allocate funding.

In fact, data is not just sweeping across businesses and governments, but we are living digitized lives, and data is part and parcel of how we work, live and play.

Taking a look at our digitized lives

Each year, at around this time, Tennis Australia[1] turns into a data-driven machine. Tennis Australia organizes the Australian Open, one of only four grand slam events in the professional tennis calendar each year. That is, big prize money and ranking points are at stake for players. Naturally, lots of attention from fans and media.

Tennis Australia uses the latest data-driven technology to drive fan engagement and ensure that operation is faultless. For the 2016 event, they have added a Tournament Notifications Dashboard, an application that automatically identifies and classifies statistics and updates from matches as they happen during the tournament, along with player statistics. The information is color coded so that editorial and social media teams can easily differentiate and identify what is useful to them. Then, the informed recipients make real-time decisions on what information to share with media partners, what to post on websites and what to put out through social media channels.

Also, it is not just the big budget organizations like Tennis Australia that are making intelligent use of data. Whether we do it consciously or not, data is a big part of our lives.

In Southeast Asia, we have some of the highest penetration of social network usage among Internet users in the world. In Indonesia, the most populated country in the region, 72.3 million people use social media monthly, according to eMarketer[2]. The number is 3.1 million in Singapore. Take Facebook for example, Facebook is now a ‘companion in life’s greatest moments’ for many of us. According to a recent survey, people are using Facebook while commuting, at a café, waiting in line, before they sleep, etc. In other words, anytime, anywhere. They are uploading pictures of birthday parties, vacations, and yes, even what they are having for lunch.

Facebook or social media is just one example of how we are digitizing our lives. There are also digital photographs and videos, e-commerce, e-banking, and many more. Most likely, you are right now reading a digitized version of this article on a computer or tablet screen.

No matter what cultural backgrounds we have across the region, digital is the constant. People across Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore or Thailand may not speak a common language, but we all know how to use the same social media tools.

Putting data into the hands of everyday people

We are consuming data every day no matter if we are doing it consciously or not. We may be receiving data as information, such as in the form of weather reports, flight arrival or departure times, or election statistics.

The thing is, the time has come for us ordinary people to see data as data. When we see and work with data, we can ask our own questions and make our own discoveries.

In Singapore, the Government plans to bring about a new economy that is more fueled by technology. Data and data analytics are going to play a critical role in this Smart Nation goal.

The Smart Nation initiative is also about liberating data, or putting data into the hands of the common citizen. The initiative will provide people with more access to real time data. According to Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Programme Office, this include plans to put up wider data sets and more real time data for citizens.

This brings us to the next stage of the data revolution where more data will be available to the man in the street. It means that it is up to us to make sense of and make use of the data.

What are you going to do about it?

Naturally, data skills are to be essential for everyday people, not data analysts or scientists, but anyone who has questions for their data. Already, schools are making data analytics part of their curriculum. More students are learning how to code, program and use tools that allow them to work with data. At Tableau, we are seeing our software being taught to students in various universities and polytechnics here in Singapore.

Meanwhile, easy to use data analytics tools like Tableau are also helping people, without programming or IT skills, to easily make sense of data. They pick up the simple drag and drop style, and are now able to work with large amounts of data, visualizing it and turning it into useful charts, diagrams and graphics so that they can see hidden details and trends.

Analysts project that data-focused technology trends, like Internet of Things (IoT), are going to impact our lives, from how we maintain our cars to how we monitor our health; from how we consume energy to how we stock up groceries in the refrigerator. That means, data is going to be everywhere and data is going to part of our lives wherever we turn. So, are you going to embrace data and use it to your advantage? I would.

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