Aussie firm touts data science as a service

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Aussie firm touts data science as a service

Taps 40 researchers through NICTA partnership.

Big data start-up Contexti has partnered with research organisation National ICT Australia (NICTA) to offer ‘data science’ consulting, systems integration and training to enterprises in the Asia Pacific region.

The company, which targets organisations with untapped data warehouses, hoped to help outsource data science projects that could identify patterns relating to risk, fraud, and customer insights from existing data and social media.

Prospective clients would gain access to IBM BigInsights technology and 40 big data experts from NICTA, under a partnership with Big Blue and embryonic NICTA subsidiary Ambiata.

Those in the financial services sector are on founder and chief executive officer Sidney Minassian’s “personal agenda” for the project.

“If you’ve got all the data [in an enterprise data warehouse], even simple analytics can help,” he told iTnews.

“The problem is, a lot of these organisations’ data warehouses are a mess.

“Big data means different things to different people ... there’s a lot of noise out there right now and a lot of people are questioning who is going to need it.”

Minassian said he hoped to provide a more technical version of Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers' consulting services, laying the groundwork for predictive analytics using Hadoop and NoSQL technologies.

He said Contexti had won two major customers in the lead up to its launch today, including an unnamed Australian financial services firm that was building a Hadoop platform to comply with US capital investment regulations.

A Singaporean media company had also engaged Contexti researchers to predict the value of customers and risk of churn.

Non-exclusive partnership

NICTA enterprise data scientist Rami Mukhtar described the Contexti deal as an “informal partnership”, under which Contexti would specialise in training and infrastructure, and Ambiata would focus on data science.

“We would be pleased to get work from [Contexti] and use our strengths on enterprise customers,” he said.

“[But] there’s lots of different activities happening, and I don’t think we’d limit ourselves to working exclusively with one organisation.”

Mukhtar acknowledged that Ambiata was also approaching enterprises directly as a “professional services provider”, and hoped to introduce product offerings within 18 months.

He noted that the NICTA spin-out would likely focus on members’ areas of expertise, including the banking and finance, retail, and telecommunications sectors.

“It’s very early days,” Mukhtar said.

“Australia is quite embryonic in this whole area and we really need to build an industry collaboratively.”

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