How are we using Big Data in Northern Ireland?


Big data is a seriously hot topic in Northern Ireland with data integrity, analytics and data sharing presenting huge opportunities for local companies. 

In a world where the amount of data being generated is growing rapidly, data analytics can be used to examine and interrogate a range of data compiled by a company. It can create valuable insights and information that lead to better strategic business decisions.

Earlier this year, a new UK Digital Catapult Centre was announced for Northern Ireland to help businesses in developing breakthroughs for the UK’s data sharing movement. The centre will help to showcase Northern Ireland’s world class capability in areas such as advanced sensors, predictive analytics and cyber security, and will also provide a platform for local digital companies to engage with large companies across all sectors.

What can investing in big data do for your company?

Various organisations in Northern Ireland have used big data to generate efficiencies, new sales and a wider customer base for their organisation. Invest NI is helping small local food producers who supply Tesco with a package of support to use Tesco Clubcard data, and to build their capacity to interpret and apply shopper data for improved market planning and the creation of new products.

Simon Cole, Automated Intelligence, talks about how his business helps companies get more value out of the information they hold and provide a sense of control for their client’s big data.


Benefits and opportunities of big data to Northern Ireland companies

  • Improved operations and maintenance costs
    - By using data in a more efficient way, the time taken for your business to undertake internal processes can be significantly reduced.
    - Through better data collection, you can identify inefficiencies and so reduce costs.
  • Better Customer Understanding
    - By using data to look at the information a customer is viewing online, it is possible to offer much more relevant products or information to them.
    - Through investigating lots of data, complementary products can be identified with bundled offerings being made to customers.
  • Better market assessment
    - By looking at lots of social media data you can gain a better insight into how your brand is being viewed and what consumers actually think of it.
  • Improved risk management
    - By examining the data your company holds, you can identify the critical points of your business and so better protect its operation.
  • Create new revenue streams
    - By looking at the information you have available, as well as linking in other external sources, new products and services can be developed.

What are the current challenges with Big Data?

  • Companies can find it difficult to understand the data they are using.
  • Finding and analysing the data quickly for timely decision making can be challenging.
  • The availability of skills to interpret the data to display meaningful results can be a barrier.
  • Companies must ensure the data they are using is of a high quality.

How can Invest NI support your company with big data?

The key to using big data is having the necessary data, skills and tools to interrogate this data.

Invest NI can offer expert, impartial advice, as well as consultancy and R&D support, to help you to partner with companies to manage your data and analytics.

We’ve a range of financial support to help you create new products, processes and services, check out funding for Innovation and R&D where you can apply for up to £50,000 of support to help you to investigate or plan your big data idea, develop, build and test a prototype, refine your design and also handle intellectual property.

Our next Innovation Voucher call will go live from Monday 13 June 2016.

An Invest NI Innovation Voucher offers you £5,000 to ‘purchase’ specialist knowledge from one of 39 respected universities, colleges and research organisations throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to help you expand, improve or create new products, services and processes using the data sets you have available.

Invest NI can provide funding towards the costs of working with a consultant to help companies embrace big data and start to apply it within their own company activities.

In addition, support can also be gained from the new Department for the Economy through its Assured Skills program, where it is seeking to raise the numbers of individuals working within the analytical sector through the delivery of a range of new training programs. Past users have included the likes of PwC, Deloitte and EY.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership, (KTP) Schemeis also led by Innovate UK and funded by fifteen government organisations including Invest NI. It is a three-way partnership between a business, an academic institution such as a university or college and a qualified graduate delivering a project lasting about two years. These collaborations can improve your company's competitiveness, productivity and profitability, and locally Hughes Insurance has used this to great effect.

Next steps to getting involved in big data

We can help you understand where big data could be applied within your business and we can also signpost you to a wealth of information so do not hesitate to contact us for an informal chat.

We are sponsoring Big Data Belfast Conference, organised by Analytics Engines, which is coming to Titanic Belfast on Thursday 2 June 2016.

Hear how we supported Analytics Engines from start-up stage through to providing expertise to pair the company with specific European partners.