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UCL professor on big data: Small businesses "don't realise the tsunami is coming"

Professor Treleaven of University College London has warned small businesses to protect themselves against a coming "tsunami" of data by investing in big data analytics infrastructure.

His comments came during a panel discussion surrounding the release of an e-skills UK report on "adoption and employment trends" surrounding big data analytics.

He argued that there was already widespread appreciation of the importance of data science among scientists, government and finance. However, he said, "the tsunami has now arrived in retail and utilities."

He blamed a lack of big data analytics skills for the gulf in supply and demand for key skills, and a lack of appreciation of the reality of big data.

"The problem is that students particularly don't realise that big data analytics goes beyond working for Goldman [Sachs]".

He said that there are a whole raft of opportunities opening up in "customer analytics and supply-chain analytics," and even in "sport analytics," which has been "huge in the States, and has only just arrived in the UK."

"A lot of companies don't realise they need these skills, and a lot of students don't realise that these are well-paid jobs," he said.

According to Treleaven, UCL has begun a half module course designed to encourage the acquisition of data analytics skills among students from the social sciences, and particularly women.

He added that UCL was working on developing an entire MSc programme for data analytics.

"The biggest problem is, companies don't know the tsunami's coming," he warned.

His comments came shortly after Lord Green, the minister for trade and investment, called data analytics a "fundamental competence" of business for the 21st century.

Image: Flickr (arkhangellohim)