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Industry Insights

UK Government invests in big data for the future

What is Big Data? Over the last few years big data has become a commonly used phrase that even filtered into the mainstream media. It soon reached saturation point and was being used inappropriately to describe several different areas which made it very confusing. A loose definition of big data is a large data set, usually made from structured and unstructured data, which organisations can then analyse to reveal useful insights about their business and its performance.

Government Investment

In the March budget announcement, Chancellor George Osborne announced a £222 million government science package. Part of this is a £42 million fund to create an Alan Turing institute to ensure that Britain leads the way in big data and algorithm research. This new institute will undertake research into methods of collecting, organising and analysing large sets of data and universities will be given the opportunity to bid to host the national facility.

The funding, supplied over five years, comes from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The public sector has continually lagged behind the private sector in terms of business intelligence and data analysis, but this new investment from the government indicates they are actively investing in technology and have recognised the potential benefits that come with analysing large data sets.

Alan Turing Institute

Alan Turing, recently the subject of a new film 'The Imitation Game' starring Benedict Cumberbatch, was a renowned mathematician and is now regarded as one of the founders of modern computer science. During the Second World War he was the head of the code-breaking unit at Bletchley Park. Together with a number of colleagues they created a number of code-breaking machines which allowed the team to decode messages sent by the German Enigma machines. After the war Turing was involved in the development of encryption machines for secure transmissions and he formed a number of theories that underpin modern computing.

The new Turing institute is intended to bring together expertise and experience with the goal of analysing the vast amount of data being recorded every year. British businesses are expected to benefit by having a more disciplined approach to analysing data and translating that information into a competitive edge in an increasingly fast-moving global economy. The investment is predicted to stimulate cutting edge research and help the UK to keep up with the rest of the world. Big data may seem like a fad, but it is an area that has an enormous amount of potential to transform businesses and the government has made a significant investment to prevent the UK lagging behind other nations in the future.

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