With data production growing by a staggering 40% every year, it is clear that we have entered the era of Big Data. It has even been said that we now create the same volume of information every two days as was created between the birth of civilisation and 2003!
From the retail sector, to transport, financial services, health, energy and manufacturing – Big Data can generate value. The advent of technologies able to analyse these data can make information more transparent and usable, provide a more detailed picture of performance or customers (allowing more tailored products or services) and increase the accuracy of forecasting.
Keeping up with the cloud
But technological progress alone is not enough to ensure Europe’s economy makes full use of data. During the ICT 2013 Conference, European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes called for a European public-private partnership on Big Data to create a coherent European data ecosystem that stimulates research and innovation around data, as well as the uptake of cross sector, cross-lingual and cross-border data services and products1. This should improve data use, potentially transforming Europe’s service industries and significantly increasing their efficiency. The value of data will then be translated into growth and jobs, which ultimately benefit the entire EU economy.
Public authorities are also prolific data producers and users, and the cloud presents an opportunity to procure services cost effectively, share data efficiently with other agencies and make public data freely available to citizens – a concept known as ‘Open Data’. The Commission has been proactive here, recently revising its Public Sector Information Directive to facilitate data re-use and limit charges.
For any organisation to use such extensive datasets meaningfully, it requires secure networks able to distribute large amounts of data in real time – and a storage solution. Cloud computing storage is both efficient and affordable. To keep up with the explosion in data, the European software industry must now develop new skills, advanced technologies and innovative business models. In human capacity, Europe has some catching up to do – while the number of digital jobs is growing by more than 100 000 every year, the number of ICT graduates and skilled workers is shrinking.
Skilling up for the digital age
It is estimated that Europe’s ICT sector will be looking to fill 900 000 vacancies by 2015, and many of these in cloud computing, where a new generation of innovative start-ups is flourishing.
The European Commission has launched a Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. Seeking to get some of Europe’s 26 million unemployed into work while simultaneously preparing the continent for the soaring demand for ICT skills, the initiative asks companies to make pledges in five key areas:
- Training and matching for digital jobs to ensure skills meet business needs;
- Helping those with skills work where they are needed, avoiding shortages and surpluses in different locations;
- Recognising qualifications, regardless of which country awarded them;
- Raising awareness of the rewarding opportunities within the digital sector;
- Upgrading education systems so that more people have the opportunity to acquire ICT skills.
Action here will benefit businesses in view of the returns that cloud computing will bring. Small companies in particular will see significant savings in software and computing, and will be able to tap into computing resources when needed without making upfront large capital investments.
Anticipation is mounting over cloud computing – and not only among IT companies. The technology has huge benefits for every sector reliant upon large data sets, and as data production continues to boom, so does the demand for software developers and cloud experts. Alongside competitiveness gains, the technology therefore has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs.
(Article from net-cloud future magazine (2013) - for complete magazine click here)