Big data success in the Middle East: how Microsoft is helping young startups

The big success stories of the tech world used to start in someone’s garage, with a bit of homemade hardware, a big dream and a lot of hard work. Today, though, for the steady stream of new would-be tech unicorns – that is businesses valued at over $1bn – there are supportive, thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems springing up all over the world. The world’s tech movers and shakers are an increasingly global bunch and there are helping hands available wherever they turn.

More than ever the new technology driving these startups is focused on data. With today’s digital economy increasingly powered by data, it is no surprise that so many commentators have begun referring to data as “the new oil”. There are huge amounts of data available in the global economy. Recent GlobalData research cites the examples of 3.5 billion Google searches and 1.3 billion Internet of Things connections per day, and 254 Exabytes (one exabyte is a billion gigabytes) of mobile broadband data traffic per year. When all this data is scattered across formats and is difficult to analyse, it’s of little value to businesses or consumers. The term ‘big data’ refers to large, diverse data sets that can be analysed to reveal patterns and trends in behaviour. The benefits of harnessing big data are huge and varied, from creating customer profiles to predictive modelling.

The key features of big data that make it so powerful are its volume (huge amounts), velocity (high speed and streaming of data), variety (different formats) and veracity (accuracy and reliability). These things make it hugely useful to businesses and consumers. For example, an online retailer can use rapidly analysed data to make a recommendation to a customer while they are browsing a website.

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The amount of digital data in the world began to increase exponentially after 2010 and it is expected to keep growing 26% a year up to 2022. Alongside this, the cost of computing, including big data production, continues to fall partly because both computing power and digital storage can be rented on the cloud. In combination, these conditions create a virtuous cycle for the growth of big data in the modern economy.

And the Middle East is playing its part, with successful products and brands across big data, health tech, property tech, education tech and AI are being produced at a speedy rate. The UAE in particular has become a hotbed of startup and tech growth. According to startup data analysis company Magnitt, more than 60% of investment funding for start-ups in the MENA region was given to projects based in the UAE in 2019. And 2018 saw two Middle East-based startups scooped up in big deals by Western companies; ride-hailing app Careem was acquired by Uber for $3.1bn in 2019, while online retailer was purchased by Amazon in 2018 for $560m.

Several major tech corporations, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter and have made their MENA HQs in the UAE. Now, with the tech ecosystem Hub71 offering networking opportunities, …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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