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India in unique position to make most of Big Data: SAS

Mike Hagstrom, SAS executive vice president, believes big data no longer just a buzz word

Shivani Shinde  |  Mumbai 

With close to 90% of the world’s data created in the last two years, Mike Hagstrom, executive vice president, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, SAS, believes that big data is no longer just a buzz word.

Within the Asia Pacific region, he says, India is in a unique position to make good of this opportunity.

Hagstrom feels that big data and its ability to understand patterns, spot trends, and evolutions makes it one of the most significant technology revolution or as he says, “this may be as big as steam engine’s evolution.”

“Organisations do not have the big data problem. Rather if you look at the source of data you will see that data created internally is not growing fast, data explosion is coming from unstructured data. The challenge in front of these is to bring these two data together and interpret it,” said Hagstrom.

But more than the enterprises Hagstrom is interested in the use of SAS technology in big data for the public sector. “When we combine these two worlds—structured and unstructured data—it provides a window to wealth of opportunities to tackle issue slike unemployment to health issue, demographics, budget deficits, and other global issues that public policy is finding it difficult to address,” he added.

SAS has already started working with governments and institutions were analytics and big data concept are being used to resolve or understand social issues.

For instance, SAS recently teamed up with United Nations Global Pulse on a research project entitled “Unemployment through the lens of social media.” The project investigated how social media and online user-generated content can be used to enrich the understanding of the changing job conditions in the US and Ireland.

The analysis revealed that increased chatter about cutting back on groceries, increasing use of public transport and downgrading one’s automobile could indeed, predict and unemployment spike. “Such information would be crucial for policy makers trying to mitigate negative effects of increased unemployment,” added Hagstrom.

India calling

SAS, with global revenue of $2.87 billion that provides solutions in the analytics space, has seen double digit sales growth for its solutions and services over the last few years. In all the growth that the company has witnessed, India is a crucial partner.

“What matters to us is that we have presence in markets that are seeing hypergrowth, and India is one such market,” added Hagstrom.

Hagstrom also believes that within Asia Pacific, India is uniquely placed to leverage the benefits of big data and analytics.

“The difference between India and other APAC countries is that in several of these countries technology adoption is still for driving efficiencies, bring in automation and standardisation. India on the other hand is done with all this, and hence is in a unique position to incorporate the data that is being generated into the work processes better,” he added. The other reason is also the higher rate of users using the digital platform.

In India though the private sector has been ahead of adopting these technologies, SAS is also working with the government sector.

“For a lot of government departments use of technology means the transactions systems, many are yet to understand how they can leverage analytics and big data. For instance, when we approached the Sales Tax Department of Maharashtra they were reluctant to understand what analytics can do. But at the proof of concept level itself the government earned over Rs 30 crore,” added Sudipta Sen, Regional Director, South East Asia
CEO & Managing Director, SAS Institute (India).

Hagstrom also added that Indian enterprise is yet to use the social media platform much more effectively. For instance, Japan-based KDDI, a telecommunications services provider, is merging social network analytics on their internal data to understand the peer influence, and they are using social media analytics on external data to see who likes what, music preferred etc. “Today they have gone ahead of Sony on the online digital music,” said Hagstrom.

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First Published: Mon, March 18 2013. 16:23 IST