Malaysia’s Statistics Department has emerged as the world’s first government agency to have its staff certified data scientists, thanks to collaboration with analytics expert SAS Institute Sdn Bhd.
In an interview with NST Business, SAS Institute executive director of operations Sheikh Manzoor Ghani said data science is a multi-disciplinary practice that involves computer programming, advanced mathematics, artificial intelligence, data visualisation, database administration, data warehousing, and business intelligence.
“We trained 211 data scientists last year. We’re happy to be of service to Malaysia’s Statistics Department and contributing to MDEC’s initiative to promote benefits of embracing digital economy,” Monzoor said.
As of todate, he noted, Malaysia’s Statistics Department has emerged as the world’s first government Statistical Office that has the most number of SAS-certified data scientists.
Also present at the interview were Malaysia Digital Economy Corp Sdn Bhd (MDEC) director of data economy Dr Karl Ng and Statistics Department’s chief Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin.
Ng noted the ubiquity of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices from the GPS that runs on our smartphone and fitbits we wear, to devices that make up our smart home.
Malaysia’s agriculture and manufacturing sectors are also starting to use sensors or other IoT devices to capture data for quality control.
With the proliferation of IoT, Ng said, there is a need for thousands of data scientists to talk to data, understand, interpret and gain valuable insights from it.
“There are now close to 7,000 data professionals in Malaysia. We hope to achieve 20,000 high-quality data professionals by 2020,” he said.
As Malaysia’s chief statistician, Uzir said the tools, concepts and practices of analytics hold the key to understanding massive amounts of data.
He outlined his staff’s daily routine involves data collection, data modelling and analysis that leads to informed decision-making.
As statisticians upskill themselves to become data scientists, they would use computer coding languages to help drive strategies forward using data.
This process requires persistence and software engineering skills — know-how that are also necessary for understanding biases in the data, and for debugging logging output from code.
He noted his team initiated the STATSBDA project to enhance the Government’s ability to make informed and evidence-based decisions, develop talent in Big Data Analytics as well as responding to the critical needs of the country’s transformation agenda.
“Prior to STATSBDA initiative, our Department has developed STATSDW, a comprehensive data warehousing system as a central location and permanent storage which is able to support analysis process,” he said.
“It is essential we keep up with the advent of data-driven technologies. Our collaboration with SAS has created the talent and skills needed to leverage the technologies to carry out an effective Big Data Analytics initiative,” Uzir added.
“It is essential we keep up with the advent of data-driven technologies. Our collaboration with SAS Institute has created a talent pipeline to help our staff become more savvy and productive,” Uzir added. – New Straits Times