Big Data becoming Big Business in Malaysia

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MOSTI Minister Datuk Dr. Ewon Ebin (centre) with MDeC CEO Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood (right) and MIMOS President and CEO Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah.MOSTI Minister Datuk Dr. Ewon Ebin (centre) with MDeC CEO Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood (right) and MIMOS President and CEO Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah.

Big data analytics (BDA) has become a significant part of the national agenda, according to Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) Datuk Dr. Ewon Ebin, during the launch of the Big Data Analytics – Digital Government Lab (BDA-DGL) at MIMOS recently.

MOSTI minister Datuk Dr. Ewon EbinDato’ Dr. Ewon (pic), who officiated the launch of the BDA-DGL, said in his speech that it was meant to accelerate the pickup of big data technologies by both the government as well as the private sector. “Big data analytics will be crucial for organisations to spur value creation, efficiency enhancement, productivity growth and innovation.”

In addition, the minister explained that it is hoped that the lab was established in hope of accelerating the implementation of BDA in the public sector towards ensuring more efficient service delivery, increased knowledge generation and wealth creation, and promoting societal well-being for national economic growth.

MIMOS has long been involved in the field of BDA, especially in collaboration with fellow BDA-DGL stakeholders Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) and the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC). During his opening remarks at the launch, its President and CEO, Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah (pic below), highlighted that the BDA-DGL showcased a locally-produced BDA toolset which could be adapted to almost any big data environment.

Wahab MIMOS“Rather than using expensive solutions from overseas vendors, Malaysian industry players can use our homegrown products instead for increased cost optimisation,” he added.

Following Datuk Dr. Ewon’s launching speech, four government agencies were recognised for their participation in the pilot BDA initiative. They include the Ministry of Finance, Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia, the National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia, and Jabatan Pengairan dan Saliran.

During the launch, the Minister and other distinguished VVIPs were given a tour of the BDA-DGL, including a demonstration of the MIMOS BDA integrated solutions. Amongst the patent-pending tools shown off were Mi Clip, a data collector robot that creates spiders which crawl the entire external Internet as well as internal government data sources for both structured and unstructured data; Mi Morphe, a data cleansing tool; and Mi Intelligence, a data analytics system.The tools have been designed to be fully

The tools have been designed to be fully customisable with natural language processing of both English and BM to meet the needs of Malaysian clients, whether in the public sector or the private sector. While the algorithms are generic in nature, MIMOS indicated that their consultants will work closely with clients to tailor the solutions to their specific circumstances.

Data security and anonymity of personally identifiable information (PII) have been incorporated through the use of strong authentication, encryption of both data-in-flight and data-at-rest, as well as transforming all PII through hashing algorithms.The tour also highlighted the use of graphic processing units (GPUs) to speed up visualisations, visual processing, and general computations, while reducing capital and running costs.

The tour also highlighted the use of graphic processing units (GPUs) to speed up visualisations, visual processing, and general computations, while reducing capital and running costs.

At the press conference following the BDA-DGL launch, Datuk Dr. Ewon reiterated that the local BDA industry is set to reach an estimated size of RM1bn or more by the year 2020.

The Winning MDeC factor

Yasmin MahmoodMDeC CEO Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood (pic) said that several companies in Malaysia involved in BDA are doubling in size every 2 years. “This is a very exciting time for us,” she added.

One of the primary stakeholders in the BDA-DGL, MDeC is highly committed to promoting BDA in the enterprise, having just hosted the Big Data Week showcase event, a 2-day conference and expo at Sunway Convention Centre.

During her welcoming speech at the event, Dato’ Yasmin reiterated that Malaysia is positioning itself to become the BDA hub within the ASEAN region. “To achieve this, MDeC is looking to increase the number of data scientists in Malaysia to 1,500 from the 80 or so that we have now.”

According to Dato’ Yasmin, seven local universities have committed to offering data and related Computer Science courses from July. These include Asia Pacific University, Malaysia Multimedia University, International Islamic University Malaysia, Sunway University, Monash University, Universiti Teknologi Mara and Universiti Teknologi Petronas.

Dato’ Yasmin added that in addition to being in talks with four more universities, MDeC is involving itself in delivering online education. “We have introduced the Massive Online Blended Learning Approach system in collaboration with Coursera, using content from Johns Hopkins University. We have also extended MDeC’s existing MyProcert (government subsidy for professional certification) for this Coursera BDA course.”

”In addition, Dato’ Yasmin pointed out that MDeC is working with MAMPU and 12 other government agencies (to date) to release non-sensitive data publically available online for the use of others.

Datuk Abdul Wahab, meanwhile, stressed that both government agencies and private enterprises can rely on local BDA talent to fulfil and even exceed their needs.

“Unlike others who rely on data scientists on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ basis, MIMOS believes it is better to bring in different classes of people for each project; domain experts to recognise the types of data to be mined, technology or systems architects to build the initial BDA environment, and mathematicians to create the necessary analytical models. This will help ensure optimal results before we pass over the completed system to a single project custodian. We have all the necessary people and talent; it is simply a matter of sharpening them,” he clarified.

Datuk Abdul Wahab also said that the launch of the BDA-DGL indicated that MIMOS itself has sufficient resources to implement large-scale projects. “We have around 10 top mathematicians from around the world and nearly 40 system architects with us. Domain experts differ from industry to industry, so we bring them on board on a case-by-case basis.”

“The National BDA Innovation Network is key in forging public-private sector partnerships towards driving adoption of BDA, cultivating innovation, and building a BDA ecosystem that will impact all sectors of the economy,” said Dato’ Yasmin.

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