Chris Sawyer explains why centres of excellence and data engineering can help firms turn data insights into business value.
I was in Singapore last month. As visits go, mine was a quick one but it was enough to once more experience the city-state’s near - textbook deployment of all things digital.
It starts at Changi airport. Although millions of travellers pass through its state of the art terminals every year, delays are comparatively rare and services are tailored to passenger needs.
Introducing the Centre for Data Excellence
Changi’s commitment to technology is mirrored by Singapore’s wider ambition to be a Smart Nation. Interestingly, its government technology agency – GovTech – is developing a new Centre of Excellence for ICT and Smart Systems. Such clusters of engineering know-how should not be limited to the public sector, however.
At BAE Systems, we believe that data centres of excellence, bringing together analysis and architecture, data science and specifically data engineering, should also be taking root in corporate organisations.
Their presence can help address key challenges in data preparation and implementation, and help organisations embed analytics in operational systems and processes. They can also help align data teams with other internal IT and business operations, helping them turn data beyond the PowerPoint deck and into practical resources and programmes.
Delivering data engineering
Unfortunately, it’s increasingly clear that companies are failing to make the most of their data. In our recent report with Forrester, we discovered that although firms are fully committed to data insights, nine out 10 have found that their projects are not delivering the expected business results – with data ingestion and silos mainly to blame.
Thankfully, our report also found that 46% of firms are already looking to create a data centre of excellence to address these challenges. But such centres are just the start. Investing more heavily in data engineering as a specialist discipline – the enabler that allows firms to turn data into operational solutions delivering direct business value at scale – is crucial.
In recent years, the value of data scientists have widely recognised – and rightly so. But the areas where firms are struggling the most – data preparation and insights implementation – are outside of most data scientists’ expertise. Data engineers, by contrast, can help scale up the implementation of data insights and also tackle governance challenges.
The good news is that companies are increasingly agreeing with our analysis – our research found that 38% firms are looking to invest in improved engineering capabilities to improve their data insights.
Singapore’s success in harnessing the power of technology is rooted, in part, in its refusal to rest on past achievements. Companies, too, must adopt a similar mindset if they are to truly reap the benefits of the data now ricocheting towards them from all directions.
While this will not be straightforward, the promise of data driven products and services, operational improvements and higher revenues will surely fuel the journey ahead.