Big data help on its way for UK firms

A new partnership between the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and IBM is set to boost small business' big data capabilities. 

The STFC's Hartree Centre will use IBM's big data and analytics technology to help organizations gain valuable insight from the information held within their company. 

Moreover, the STFC will work with firms to design their own big data systems and strategies that fit the enterprise's specific business needs. According to the organization, this could lead to getting new products to market more quickly and cost-effectively. 

Lee Hannis, business development manager at the Hartree Centre, said the facility "has a great track record" in the area of high-performance computing systems that help companies utilize algorithms and complex modeling. 

"This new collaboration in data analytics provides an obvious and exciting extension to open up our skills to a wider business audience," he stated. 

"This unique toolset will allow any company to both accelerate their understanding of data and its value within their business."

Small firms hoping to take advantage of these services must first complete a 'proof of concept' regarding their proposed big data system. The staff at Hartree will then work closely with the business to establish processes and help them make ideas fully operational. 

The STFC has already aided several companies across a number of industries, including construction, healthcare and local government. 

For example, UK building firm Democrata is using Hartree's services to automate work on environmental impact assessments, helping to reduce risk. 

Conducting the required surveys means analyzing multiple data sets to understand how infrastructure developments will affect surrounding areas, which has traditionally been time-consuming and laborious. 

However, using sophisticated big data analytics allows much faster decision-making for engineering and construction companies, as automated searches and queries can be applied to disparate data sets more quickly. 

According to the STFC, the Hartree Centre has also enabled healthcare providers to assess hospital performance records in more detail and better identify data correlations that improve patient outcomes.