On day two of B Dash Camp 2013 in Fukuoka, there was a panel discussion on recent developments in the field of big data. Participating in the talk was Takashi Kusano, the CEO and president of BrainPad Inc.; Masaya Mori, the executive officer at Rakuten Inc., and Ryuichi Nishida of B Dash Ventures Inc.
The moderator Nishida began by wondering about the term big data, and what it means exactly. Kusano noted that in the past, they would just refer to it as data mining. But these days, he figures that it’s data that you can’t process with traditional tools. At his company, BrainPad, they help companies who can’t process such data on their own.
He explains that many companies store unstructured data, which is of low value, but of a huge volume. And for most companies, it’s hard to extract meaning from that. And typically, unless the management can see how important it is, then it’s difficult for them to dedicate a special department for this purpose.
Mori explained the unique situation facing Rakuten these days, where they have a business that spans across many sectors, such as travel, finance, retail – so they have much data to deal with to say the least. He notes that they analyze (process?) 300 gigabyes daily, and their big data department alone has 160 people – a total that he notes is still not high enough. The findings from this data is not just used for things like recommendation, but it’s also used in areas like online ads and other products.
The moderator Nishida asked Mori about how active they are in hiring skilled data hires. Mori explained:
We have many data scientists and we actively hire for that position. We have about 60 right now in various departments. What we are doing now is accumulating and analyzing data, beyond what marketers would conventionally do, using it in the are of machine learning to try to get our algorithm to improve itself.