Facebook Australia Chief: Here’s What Everyone’s Missing About Big Data

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Most miss the whole point about big data and just bandy the term around, according to William Easton, the managing director for Facebook in Australia.

“We’re at risk of losing sight as to what big data is all about,” he told a Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce function in Sydney.

Facebook, alongside Google, has one of the most high-profile big data programs in the world. It uses data to make news feeds more relevant to users and create opportunities for advertisers to reach narrow, but precise, audiences. It digests about 500 times more data each day than the New York Stock Exchange.

Easton says there are a lot of business which think they are ticking the boxes for big data because they are gathering information.

“Big data is not just about data collection,” he says, adding:

“The reality is that big data has absolutely no value unless you can build insights. And insights have no value unless you can distribute those insights in the right format to the right people… to make the right business decisions to ultimately drive efficiencies and P/L sales.”

And LinkedIn agrees. Big data is driving businesses.

Cliff Rosenberg, Managing director of LinkedIn in Australia, says there’s huge pressure on companies to collect and store that data.

The big challenge, he says, is getting the right type of people to analyse the data – but they are rare.

“That’s data scientists,” Rosenberg says.

“So if any of you have teenagers wanting to know what to do [they should look at data science].” It’s the thing to do right know if you want to go to Silicon Valley. It’s a pretty cool job.”

Easton at Facebook agrees that technology is changing the skill sets in demand.

“I don’t think we’ll need less people … the question is what will those people do?” he says. “We will require different skills.”