By Dr. James Spohrer
It’s no longer a question of if or when. The age of Big Data is here.
Look no further than the fact that a full 90 percent of all the data in the world has been generated over the last two years and some 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day.
And while the pace of data isn’t about to slow down — in the healthcare industry alone the average data per hospital will increase from 167 TB today to 665 TB in 2015 — the good news is that the data deluge is rife with opportunity. Just ask the public agency seeking to alleviate gridlock traffic by studying a stream of data from electronic sensors; or, the medical facility searching for new ways to cure diseases by combing through clinical trial results. Big Data is the new “natural resource” and both public and private entities can play essential roles in transforming that opportunity into reality.
Our nation’s first annual Big Data Forum, held on March 29th of last year, was a ground breaking event for the U.S. government, in which the country’s first federally-initiated Big Data research program was launched. As part of the event, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced the investment of $200 million in research by universities, non-profit institutes and corporations, with the goal of improving the tools needed to access, organize and glean discoveries from Big Data, while fueling entrepreneurship and creating jobs.
This year’s event, “Data to Knowledge to Action,” builds on that foothold by setting the goal of helping decision makers from business, government and academia recognize and inspire multi-stakeholder partnerships in the area of Big Data. Specifically, the administration showed interest in advancing projects and initiatives that educate and expand a workforce of professionals who can uncover insights and build strategies based on what data has to offer.
T-shaped professionals with depth and breadth of skills are needed to be more successful adaptive innovators and applied to every industry and every profession that’s out there.
For years, we at IBM have worked closely with the government, private businesses and partners to help further organizations’ ability to harness data for valuable insights, our new strategic natural resource – from our skills initiatives with more than 1,000 education institutions across the country to our cognitive computing technology, IBM Watson. Last year, IBM was proud to embark on this research program with the White House and we are again happy to participate in this year’s Big Data forum to highlight our public and private collaboration efforts to advance Big Data and analytics for public good.
Organizations across the country recognize the disparity between the need for skilled data handlers and the availability of these professionals. Adding to our already existing educational initiatives, we are announcing the launch of the first-of-its-kind IBM Analytics Talent Assessment platform that allows university students to track and measure their readiness for public and private sector jobs involved in handling data. Additionally, the tool will also provide students with guidance on ways to further develop their skills and position themselves for jobs within the analytics field. The tool is currently available to eight of our more than 1,000 university partners that offer Big Data and analytics curricula, with an expansion to all partner universities planned for the future
As a partner, participant and speaker at the event, we are also highlighting IBM Research as joint recipient, in partnership with Sutter Health and the Geisinger Health System, of a $2 million research grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop new methods for using data analytics to better predict and detect heart failure, the leading causes of death, disability and costly hospitalizations in the United States. The research aims to develop a better understanding of the disease and use Big Data to create more tailored, individual treatment options and holistic management approaches.
These announcements are just two examples of IBM’s continued leadership in the Big Data space. As the federal government makes strides in its efforts to support Big Data innovation, IBM will be at the forefront of this movement, helping to not only better the lives of individuals, the operations of businesses and the function of cities, but to assure the U.S. stays competitive in the years ahead by closing the skills gap and preparing the next generations for the jobs that await them.