VIDEO: Tom Burton talks with Kerry Purcell, the Managing Director for IBM Australia and New Zealand, about the challenge of getting real insight from digital data metrics.
Tom: Kerry what makes you so excited by the data and analytics place in government?
Kerry: There is so much data out there and breaking that what we call… so we see data as the next natural resource, but it is like a natural resource. It is like sand, water, and big desserts and finding the gems and the natural resources and extracting them is the most exciting bit for us.
Also technology has enabled us to do things and this is changing in such a rapid rate. So whether it’s more Moore’s law, any law in our industry, it is driving us to new places that we’ve never thought we’d get to. Even 12 months go, 24 months go, the advances we are all making, not just IBM, but everyone is making, in this space is huge.
So the challenge for us all is we have what we call structured data and unstructured data. So if you say “Okay this is a natural resource. There’s a lot of sand, there’s a lot of water out there, how do we work it?” We go “Okay we’ve got structured data, so every government agency has reporting systems and it captures information in a logical way.” That’s cool, that’s fine. But there is so much happening in the unstructured data space.
What do I mean by unstructured data? I mean whether it’s tweets, blogs, things that are on public records, stuff that is just floating out there, that’s where there is tremendous opportunity to draw insights. And it’s not just about drawing insights for the sake of drawing insights, it’s about drawing actionable insights.
Tom: And am I right that these tools now, a couple years ago you probably needed a whole room of data scientists to do this stuff, but what’s happened with the technology?
Kerry: The technology has really obviously advanced significantly. We do still have a number of data scientists, but on the client side or the government agency side, whereas before they would have said “Okay, we go scratching our head. We need to hire a bunch of smart people, we need to have data scientists in their own operations, we need to buy a particular software.”
And now it comes back to the same point before.Their looking for an integrated solution, they want a business solution, so we have to show up with an integrated business solution. So we have integrated the hardware, the software, any telecommunication requirements, working with partners on the content with our own data scientists saying “Here’s a solution to your particular opportunity or particular problem.”
Tom: So you’re a classic policy analyst who works in central agencies could be using these tools to really gain insights today?
Kerry: From their desktop, that’s right. So then again for us, we’re quite a strong consulting group, taking those consultants and actually let’s provide you with a dashboard that can be on your device, that can be on your desktop, that can be wherever you want it to be, that just gives you the information you need.
So again it just comes back to the sand and the water saying, where are the gems and the resources that you want to pull out that you can actually use. Summarising those into “here’s what it looks like, please make your call, make a decision around this on an informed basis, much faster than you were able to before and much more accurately”.