CeBIT 2014: The (accidental) art of making Big Data analytics profitable -CSIRO

Allan Swann

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has found itself producing products a long way away from their original expected uses, and its going to make the world a better place.

CSIRO's director of business development - information services, Geof Heydon, said that in our modern digital economy, one that is defined by large data sets, that the key differentiator is analytics.

It has seen Australia's national science agency produce a wildly varying array of technologies designed for one purpose, being reused for others - with great success.

The problem Heydon believes with a lot of businesses trying to make sense of their datasets is the large amounts of marketing overhype in the IT sector, specifically in the areas of cybersecurity, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and in communications infrastructure.

Heydon said all these areas are rapidly being commoditised, and the one thing they all share in common, and can produce the most benefit is the analytics of the data produced.

Consumers don't really care whether their Internet comes via Vodafone or Telstra, which app does what, as long as it all works. Our communications infrastructure is already commoditised, he says, noting that each company struggles to differentiate their offering in the marketplace. We only tend to notice when a brand lets us down.

"We only tend to think about our roads when they're congested - same with broadband," he says.

One of the key drivers of the 21st century will be the Internet of Things (IoT), pretty soon every digital piece of technology will be online through this commoditised infrastructure.

While Heydon admits, the idea of 'the connected fridge' seems absurd, it is the future unforeseen uses of the technology - especially in combination that will define it. An example being the dishwasher - a combination of electricity, sewerage and water, which no one foresaw in a world where neither of these infrastructural devices was readily available to the masses - let alone in concert.

Heydon said one day you will be able to buy a 'washing cycle' (as a service effectively), without having to buy the whole machine - the sophistication of robotics and sensors will have reached that point.

The usage of sensors also brings privacy concerns, as does Cloud and Big Data, its storage and analysis, only when all these issues are settled can these combined tech innovations really begin. The problem is that the rate of innovation is vastly exceeding the rate of policy, that it is 'constantly moving on muddy ground' when it comes to laws, says Heydon.

However, Heydon said data analytics could be potentially a huge opportunity for Australia. Its an export that can transition to anywhere. However, Government policy in encouraging this in the digital age is lacking - its the "difference between an export to somewhere, versus an export to everywhere."

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