Malaysia needs 1,500 data scientists by 2020

DIGGING INTO DATA: Companies need data scientists to turn raw data into business strategies.

Malaysia is sorely lacking in data scientists to help organisations make sense of the growing mountains of data.

“There are currently only 80 data scientists in our data analytics industry. We need to meet our target of 1,500 data scientists by 2020,” said Yasmin Mahmood, Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) chief executive officer.
If Malaysia doesn’t meet its target, we will be left behind, as mining data is increasingly becoming more important in being able to offer customised and better services.

To support this initiative, institutes of higher learning like the Asia Pacific University, Malaysia Multimedia University, International Islamic University Malaysia, Sunway University, Monash University, University Institute Technology Mara and University Teknologi Petronas will be offering undergraduate and post-graduate data science courses.

Courses will begin from the middle of the year onwards, depending on the institute.

MDeC has also introduced an online data science specialisation course using content from John Hopkins University,  Baltimore, United States. This course is an extension to MDeC’s existing MyProcert certification that covers ERP (enterprise resource planning), networking, security and project management.

An example of a company that has forged ahead by mining data is KT Corp in South Korea, which offers personalised data plans to its customers.

“This is because KT Corp data scientists have made sense of its customer data. They know their customers’ habits - how many calls were made, how much they surfed the Web and so on,” said Mimos’ director of network base VPTM (virtual trusted platform model) Azhar Abu Talib. 

Google is another company that continually digs through its data for trends.

“Google can foretell an epidemic with data science. It can analyse the amount of searches for a certain disease in a certain area. If a lot of people are Googling for information on a particular disease in a certain place in the world, you can draw a conclusion.”

EMBRACING DATA: Jothi Periasamy believes data scientists could create value for companies.

Chief data scientist Jothi Periasamy from Experfy, a big data consulting marketplace based in Harvard Innovation Lab, said,  “Data science can turn the vast amount of data in the digital age to generate new insights and new knowledge.”

“The technology is now available for crunching data at very high speeds,” he said.

However, data science is not new, he said. It is just modernising existing analytics, data warehousing solutions, business intelligence and data management solutions.

“Data science is a new way of thinking from new data sources and data processing mechanisms,” he said.

It’s especially important in healthcare. “It makes it easy to identify medicine that is not working based on data collected from various patients,” said Jothi.
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