Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Big Data with UKTI in France

Pic of the British Ambassador's Residence in Paris
UKTI event at the Residence of the British Ambassador in Paris

On 19th March, I attended a very informative event at the Residence of the British Ambassador in Paris entitled:

 "How Big Data and Analytics are Energising Economic Growth - Accelerating Innovation, Building Trust, Powering Performance".

UKTI's Lyon-based team planned the programme to explore the business, social and technical challenges created by Big Data and analytics.

Sir Peter Ricketts, the British Ambassador to France, opened the day's proceedings and underlined how both Britain and France are at the forefront in the field.

The day comprised of 4 panel discussions in the morning and a series of roundtables in the afternoon. The event was very successfully chaired by David Reed of DataIQ and involved a well-selected blend of knowledgeable UK and French panel speakers and roundtable hosts.

The 4V's
In his introduction, David Reed referred to the 4V's of Big Data:
·      Velocity
·      Volume
·      Variety
·      Veracity
He stressed the pace of change and the importance of unlocking the value in data. Unstructured data is of no value whatsoever. We need to work out how to structure it. A new skillset will be required.

Female caution
There were many knowledgeable female panellists. It was generally the women who raised the main notes of caution and ethics in this new Big Data "gold rush".

The event covered so much ground that it is impossible to do the subject justice in a single blog. My main takeaways are summarised below:

1. Infrastructure will be key
Structuring huge amounts of data will be power-hungry. 
2. Doubts over ability of mature cities to expand
Global Switch datacenters commented that most mature cities are struggling with ageing infrastructures. No additional capacity in London; tough situation in Paris. You need a window of 3-5 years to get a reliable new electricity supply. (Major financial centres cannot afford to lose even a day's trading or want to risk resorting to back-up systems).
3. Structuring data
Data needs to be structured and segmented to unlock value for different demographics, locations and requirements.
4. Right "TechCity" location
Four key factors:
(i) TechCities need to be sited near universities producing graduates with the right skills from data science courses with very current industry relevance.
(ii) Access to local staff with technical know-how (examples of Barcelona, Toulouse and Montpellier given).
(iii) A supportive local Government
(iv) Must meet demanding bandwidth requirements (rural areas should not be excluded. Reverse of UK trend to live in countryside in France).
4. Verifiable identity and privacy
The ability currently exists to identify more than 50% of the world's population. It was suggested that identifying the remaining 50% could be achieved within 5 years. Accessed via worldwide agreements, but dangers and concerns exist over privacy.
5. Consumer at the heart of regulation 
Concern for the consumer needs to be at the heart of regulation. Only the right people should have access to given data. Access rights need careful segmentation.
6. Standards and good governance
Standards are important - ISO/IEC 27001: Information security management.
Significant numbers of organisations are simply not doing enough on security protocols.
7. Data security breaches
US requires that data security breaches are reported within 72 hours. Most companies do not realise that they have been attacked for 200 days. The average cybercriminal only needs one day to succeed. In 69% of cases, a cyberattack is detected by third parties - usually the customer with a fraud on his account.
8. Hacking of health and medical data
Major and powerful pharmaceutical companies are very keen to access data relating to medicines. There is a major concern about the security of medical data. Credit card details can be changed. Medical data cannot be changed if hacked. French example given of hacked blood tests with extortion demands. 
9. Potential role of innovation centres
Example of TUBA in Lyon to capture local ideas. Aim for a bottom-up rather than top-down approach. Success of the Lyon scheme should be unveiled in October 2015.
10. SMEs for innovation
There is concern over private sector involvement in research. Often findings do not make it into the public domain. Innovation needs to happen with SMEs. Is FrenchTech competitive approach one to be copied? Tech clusters already exist around the UK.

What next?
UKTI hopes to build a UK/French collaborative business campaign around the Information Economy. Plans are already afoot in Big Data and IoT. The new Eurostars scheme may offer French and British SMEs opportunities to collaborate.

If you would appreciate help with your technical communications, email karen@anglicity.com or call Karen on +44 (0)20 8581 9369.

Karen Andrews runs
Anglicity Ltd. She is a
technical writer and 
translator with over
15 years' marketing
experience. Anglicity offers
marketing consultancy and
content marketing with a 
particular focus on innovation.
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