I was invited to speak at the Big Data and Business Analytics Forum in Hong Kong last week, and introduced our latest research on big data in Asia Pacific for both marketing and technology management professionals in the age of the customer. Listening to other speakers at the event who discussed Hadoop and explained the 4Vs of Big Data: volume, velocity, variety, and value, it dawned on me that there may be a significant gap in Big Data development between mainland China and Hong Kong. While Hong Kong is perceived as more technologically advanced, these terms were already buzzwords on the mainland 18 months ago. There are several constraints that could have hindered big data adoption in Hong Kong:
- Demographic limitations. With a total population of 7 million, Hong Kong doesn't generate data volumes as gigantic as mainland China's. This raises the unit cost of big data for Hong Kong businesses.
- Budget to invest in new technologies. Hong Kong businesses are still struggling to recover from the 2008 financial crisis and maintain hiring freezes. It's difficult for tech management to convince business leaders to invest over HK$1 million in a big data project and hire data scientists.
- There are few local practices in unstructured data like social, location, and mobile. Hong Kong is open to global social platforms like Facebook or Twitter, meaning that multinationals can use global big data solutions to cover social in Hong Kong and keeping local adoption of big data technology for SoLoMo low.
Marketing, business and several CIOs from retail, banking, and CPG whom I spoke with after my session gave similar feedback: They're interested in understanding the business requirements for big data and how technology management can support it. From these conversations, it seems that business execs in Hong Kong are still uncertain about what exactly big data is, how it's valuable, what the difference between big data and business intelligence is. The top issue that Hong Kong businesses need to solve: the disconnect between tech management and the business.
What it means for your business
From the presentations at the event, I did see a few big data practices in areas like CRM; these are normally initiated by the technology team. Most other businesses in Hong Kong don't know how to deal with big data - but they could start with small projects to build big data capabilities, iterate quickly, and demonstrate results to business leads - which can help them get more funding for larger big data projects. And one final piece of advice: Never overpromise.
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