What do you see as the main benefits of Big Data?

Big Data enables us to make the best informed decisions in our daily life. For example, when we choose which new movie we want to watch following the recommendations by our streaming platform or we decide what the best way to reach a destination based on real time traffic information is. I am particularly interested in the impactful benefits of the area of Big Data for social good, where nowadays it is possible to predict a disease outbreak and prevent it. In summary, Big Data is here to help us, and we should take the best advantage out of it.

In what way is Big Data beneficial in business?

Big Data is a real game-changer in business. Can you imagine how much more efficient we would be if organisation decisions were based on data? Traditionally many decisions have been made with a limited amount of data, or  on a gut feeling, or based on the opinion of the highest paid person in the room or whoever shouts louder! We have all been in meetings where ideas are discussed for a long time, and it is difficult to reach a final decision. Big Data is in short a massive amount of data which processed correctly can lead to better insights and enable us to make the best decisions. It impacts all the areas of the business (finance, marketing, HR, IT…) which can now become more efficient, more cost efficient and less risky.  Companies can now better understand their customers and predict their behaviour, and there are new opportunities for monetising data and creating new services and sources of revenue.

What is the importance of Big Data with regards to Digital Transformation?

I see Big Data as the foundation of digital transformation. Digital decisions need to be underpinned by Big Data. Artificial Intelligence has a long history. The difference between now and forty or fifty years ago is the amount of data that is produced at high speed and our capability to process and interpret it. Now we can process and interpret all the data that comes from IoT, and our AI systems are much more intelligent so we get more accurate outcomes and more potential. Each company in one way or other has to transform their way of doing business, and this is what digital transformation is all about.

“I see Big Data as the foundation of digital transformation. Digital decisions need to be underpinned by Big Data.”

How do you see Big Data developing towards the future?

Big Data is opening endless possibilities, and we are still in the beginning. Nowadays there are statistics that very little data is being analysed in a company, even under 1%, so imagine the potential! I dream of the fantastic potential of Big Data for social good and its possibilities to solve global social challenges. It will also help us to become a more connected society and will facilitate even more our daily life. However, this bright future is not secure and cannot be taken for granted. The future and evolution of Big Data involves a very complex technical and cultural process and a lot of responsibility. We need a society and workforce ready for it.

What is ‘Women in Big Data’ and why did you join this initiative?

Women in Big Data is an industry-driven organisation with sponsors and partners such as SAP, intel, Vodafone, IBM, AWS, Cloudera, LinkedIn, Netflix…We want to inspire, connect and grow women in Big Data careers. The way we do it is through events where we bring great speakers, discuss trends and inspire our attendees. We also offer high-quality training and webinars and the chance to network with a vast worldwide community. Why Big Data?  I am very aware of the advantages and opportunities of a career in Big Data. I was very much focused on other technical paths and after shifting my career towards data, I am now open to much more exciting opportunities to grow in a field with high potential. It is also relevant to mention that there are career paths where you do not need to be an engineer. For example, you can have a marketing background, and by specialising on the impact of Big Data in the marketing field, you will be able to bring new ideas to your business applying digital marketing and to grow.  Why women? It is proven that diverse ways of thinking bring benefits but there are not many women in this area. I perceived that many women around me were discouraged from growing in their careers because of different reasons. They did not consider it and when considering it, they did not know where to start. Encouraging, coaching and guiding women to this great opportunity where talent is needed seemed for me the natural right thing to do. It is a win for all of us.

What are key lessons that people need to think about getting started with Big Data?

First of all, people need to choose wisely the direction in which they want to go. I would recommend firstly to get some inspiration looking around digital trends in your area of interest or at the different career paths and new roles that are available. People should then think about their strengths, their existing background and what kind of role or area they want to focus. When this is clear, they need to look for learning resources. Fortunately, nowadays there is a lot of proper quality training.

Why should anyone get trained and accredited in Big Data?

It is all advantages. Training will give you the knowledge to grow in your current role, contribute better to your company or upgrade your career to a better one. It is important to have accreditation so you can prove your knowledge and distinguish yourself. Now is a great time: all companies are going one way or another through a digital transformation, and they need a workforce ready!  Big Data is relevant in many fields, and therefore there are many exciting jobs for different people. There is a significant potential for growth and for appearing even new roles. Additionally, these career paths are well paid. Big data brings us endless possibilities and it is in each person’s hands to get the most out of it!

Meet the expert: Nahia Orduña
Senior Manager in Analytics and Digital Integration, Vodafone
EMEA Program Manager of Women in Big Data
Women in Big Data Munich Chapter co-lead