PULSATE, which will be setting up a big data centre and a data academy by year-end, hopes to train 3,000 data specialists in Malaysia by 2020 to meet the growing demand for big data solutions across different industries.
The establishment of the centre and academy will also help Malaysia compete with countries like Singapore and South Korea and pave the way for it to become one of the big data hubs in the near future.
Pulsate is a subsidiary of Pulse Group, one of Asia’s leading digital research agencies. Pulse is homegrown and headquartered in Kuala Lumpur.
Pulse Group chief executive officer Bob Chua says the big data centre and data academy are on track for completion by year-end in collaboration with global partners like Dell, Intel and Revolution Analytics.
It is slated to be situated in Cyberjaya, he says, although several other states and neighbouring markets are trying to lure this first of its kind leading edge venture their way due to the huge multiplier effect that it will bring, such as foreign direct investments, high level job creation, and knowledge-transfer, to name a few.
The investment for the project is estimated at between RM60mil and RM100mil.
“For Malaysia to climb up the ranks in the big data race, it needs the infrastructure, talent and expertise, among others, and since data is the new ‘oil’. It is a race in which the winner takes all,” he notes.
The global demand for data specialists, commonly known as data scientists, is estimated at 220,000 by 2017 from about 2,500 currently.
“Data scientists are now the second highest-paid job in the world after oil and gas geologists,” he tells StarBizWeek in an interview.
Malaysia, at the moment, does not have any data scientist and lacks expertise and talent in the big data business compared with other Asian countries.
For example, he says, India is currently training 500,000 students on ‘R’ (a big data statistical platform), while the Philippines is training 200,000, bulking up for the future.
Malaysia, despite having the potential in terms of infrastructure, technology and tax incentives, has not done much in the big data space.
According to Chua, Singapore has earmarked a whopping investment of S$180mil towards big data initiatives for this year and aims to train 2,500 data scientists by 2017 and implement big data programmes in government agencies to drive efficiency and productivity. This initiative was tabled and approved in Singapore’s 2011 budget.
It has even appointed the world’s first ever government chief data officer, which illustrates its seriousness in positioning itself as a big data hub, he explains.
With the big data academy coming on stream, Chua says, it will help in the training of data scientists and facilitate Malaysia in climbing up the value chain in the big data and analytics world. The candidates for the academy will be those with tertiary education with majors in economics and mathematics.
Big data solutions also help advertisers and marketers to enhance their businesses and branding initiatives. For example, they can utilise the relevant data to find out how they can optimise their media spend, analyse weather patterns and its impact on consumption, analyse marketing, historical sales and supply chain data.
After analysing the data, advertisers and marketers will be able to predict the final outcome of a product launch and level of brand awareness needed, among others, when it hits the shelves.
On the outlook of marketing research, he says it is closely related to advertising spending. Chua says over the past two to three years, the marketing research spend globally had been flat at around US$32bil, of which Asia accounted for about 14%. The advertising expenditure this year as a whole in Malaysia is expected to be flat, he notes.
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