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Debating “Big Data or Big Hype?” at the World Economic Forum

Innovation, technology and big data were hot topics this month at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions, where over 1,500 business leaders, government officials and scholars gathered in the northern Chinese city of Dalian to discuss global challenges.

I was fortunate enough to attend on behalf of FICO, and what I found most exciting was the intense interest in our type of science. Analytics and big data were seen as central to the discussion of how technology could help solve our intertwined global challenges – economic, political, societal and environmental. Indeed, I was often asked by interested attendees about how our technology can be used to predict human behaviour and allow organisations to make better decisions.

I took part in a particularly engaging debate entitled: “Big Data or Big Hype?” The packed session was moderated by Vijay Vaitheeswaran, China Business and Finance Editor for The Economist. There was a lively discussion on how the widespread use of big data, telecommunications and the internet will alter sectors such as finance, healthcare, energy, social security and retail. It was clear that technology efficiency will drive numerous improvements, and nowhere more so than in the countries of Asia Pacific.

This echoed the theme of the forum’s opening address, delivered by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. He called on the global community to keep confidence in the ability of emerging economies to cope with current challenges. He also signalled that future growth for China would be more moderate and that the government is actively pursuing measures to ensure sustainable growth continues for the world’s second-largest economy. 

Dalian itself is a good example of this message in action. Once a small shipping port, it is now a bristling modern metropolis of over six million people, developing global economic ties worldwide across multiple industries—and even hosting a World Economic Forum.

Hopefully my post has given you a small taste of the event. To see several sessions for yourself, video recordings (with written summaries) are available online. These sessions cover a wide variety of topics, especially relevant for those of us working in Asia.

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