The Computer Society of Kenya

Since 1986


Thursday February 13, 2020

The term “Big Data” today attracts huge attention, mainly because of its power to help humans make informed decisions, turning it into an industry competition tool as new waves of business development sweep across Kenya’s corporate world.

It is helping startups, SMEs, corporates, government agencies, non-profits and individuals work more efficiently through the analysis of huge chunks of both structured and unstructured data to achieve higher operational mileage and predict future market demands.

In a period of Industry 4.0 automation and business intelligence, Kenya’s quest to utilise Big Data and machine learning has never been as relevant, but huge hurdles lie ahead.

Its adoption has been slow, with a few data science solution firms in existence and only listed companies being their clients, yet it is increasingly phasing out human decision- makers from boardrooms.

“We are seeing a huge market demand in the use of data tools by several companies and government parastatals which cannot be satisfied by the current rate of supply,” notes Mr Timothy Oriedo, founder of Big Data training firm, Predictive Analytics Lab.

“There is low understanding of Big Data and acceptance into business strategy. Converting it into insights has been a challenge for many organisations. May companies are clueless on the kind of value they will get in these insights,” says Mr Andrew Mukabana, a data scientist.

He adds that adoption of data science requires quite a substantial investment. “While many organisations want to be on this path, budget constraints are becoming a hindrance especially among startups and SMES.

This has made the gap in the provision of data science training services wider, as the amount of data to be analysed keeps surging. But experts are optimistic of the future.

Computer Science lecturer at Maseno University’s School of Computing and Informatics Lilian Wanzare says upcoming learning institutions offering courses in data science are breathing hope into the field.

“Predictive Analytics, Moringa School, KCA university and Strathmore University’s iLabAfrica offer certification in data science. Several meetups also exist where people learn and share knowledge about the technology,” she says.

Associate professor at the University of Nairobi’s Business School Bitange Ndemo says online portals could offer huge training opportunities for Kenyans seeking technological innovations.

“Online training makes it more accessible for anyone because most of the trainers offer it for free. Every professional worth of his salt needs these skills, and online is the best way, especially when you have a busy schedule that cannot allow you in class,” he says.

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