Committee on the Future Economy report: Strategy 4: Build strong digital capabilities

Data 'can help us make smarter decisions'

Ms Lim, a data scientist at NCS, helps clients look at how they can use business analytics and data science in their businesses.
Ms Lim, a data scientist at NCS, helps clients look at how they can use business analytics and data science in their businesses.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Ms Lim Yi-Min graduated with a degree in engineering, but found a career - and the future - in data instead.

"Data is all around us, and it is growing like never before," said the 24-year-old data scientist at infocomm services provider NCS.

"I believe data science allows us to unlock the value of data.

"We can uncover meaningful insights we might not even expect. We can understand the world better and, eventually, make smarter decisions."

The Committee on the Future Economy's report, released yesterday, shone the spotlight on data.

Collecting and making sense of it will become even more crucial in future, the committee noted.

"We should recognise, treat and develop data in ways similar to how we would treat more conventional assets such as property and human capital," said the report.

"We should also develop our own abilities to make the best use of data."

 

Already, it has helped crack real-world problems.

Last year, engineers and data scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Agency and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore waded deep into data to identify the "rogue train" behind a series of extensive train disruptions on the Circle Line.

They studied train logs and incident reports and found that the faults occurred when a particular train - which was discovered to emit erroneous signals - was running.

More, however, can be done.

Businesses stand to gain from learning to make sense of data, for one thing.

Among the committee's recommendations was the establishment of a dedicated programme office by the Government to help companies make the most of data.

Ms Lim's job involves helping clients look at how they can use business analytics and data science in their businesses.

Her interest in data and new technologies was sparked by Singapore's push towards becoming a Smart Nation, using technology to improve people's lives.

But when she graduated in 2015, data was still an alien field to her.

She signed up for the company-led training programme by what was then known as the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, and started three months of intensive training at analytics company SAS.

This, said Ms Lim, provided a good foundation to jump-start her career in data science.

Data is where the future lies, she noted: "I believe it is a powerful strategy... We can find solutions to make society better."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline 'Data 'can help us make smarter decisions''. Print Edition | Subscribe