The rise of big data is transforming the business landscape. Enabling companies to gain meaningful insights from the data they produce, big data allows organizations to implement data-driven strategies, gain a greater understanding of their target audience, rectify failures in real-time and, ultimately, increase their profitability.
What is Big Data?
Businesses have been producing data in large volumes for decades. Until the digital revolution, this information was recorded manually and stored in offices and warehouses. Manual indexing systems were predominantly used to record and access the information, although these time-consuming methods often meant that data was not used efficiently.
As technology progressed, so did the production of data. The use of computers meant, of course, that manual indexing was no longer required. Instead, data was created and stored digitally. However, our technological ability to produce data outpaced our ability to process it. Before long, computer systems were capable of creating reams of data in minutes, but we remained unable to analyze it effectively. As a result, potentially valuable data was siloed on servers, hard drives and in the cloud.
However, the rise of big data means we’re now able to process information in increasingly large volumes. For businesses, this means the petabytes and exabytes of information produced can be put to good use via data mining, artificial intelligence and behavioral analysis.
What Does Big Data Mean for Africa?
For Africa, the emergence of big data comes at just the right time. As the Information and Communications Technology industry looks forward to unrivalled growth across the continent, the potential for companies to leverage big data is growing. Furthermore, it’s hoped that the growing tech industry and the increased accessibility of tech solutions will help to eradicate inequality in African countries and create new opportunities.
Companies are already using Big Data in Africa to transform their operations. Indeed, the use of big data to reduce the spread of Ebola in West Africa may have been used as a model for newer nationwide tracing systems being used to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. As African businesses gain greater insights into their customers and streamline supply chains, African governments can also rely on big data to facilitate the creation of much-needed population census.
With so many possibilities, it’s easy to see why so many people have high hopes for big data in Africa. As the tech industry gets set to boom in the continent, the ability to analyze, as well as produce large volumes of data, will enable African businesses and governments to really reap the rewards that a new digital era offers.
Capitalizing on Big Data
The tech industry is a major global employer but it’s about to become even bigger in Africa. As a result, there are new opportunities across the whole sector, from software developers and designers to data scientists and security analysts. Whether you’re planning your future career or strategizing your next steps, it’s vital to factor in the emergence of new technology. By doing so, you can ensure that you’re at the forefront of the digital revolution.
The evolution of the tech industry ensures there are always exciting opportunities to explore. The increasing use of big data and the financial benefits it offers to businesses virtually guarantee it’s going to be a mainstay in the corporate world for the foreseeable future. This makes it a potentially lucrative option for anyone who wants to build a career in the tech industry, although there are, of course, a wide array of alternatives too.
Although the tech boom and rise of big data will inevitably open up more opportunities for developers, analysts and networkers, these aren’t the only job roles which will be created. If you’re not proficient in tech, you can’t code, or you don’t know a data center from a shopping center, you can still play a role in the growth of the sector. With tech sales, IT support and digital marketing set to grow symbiotically, you’ll find a wide range of roles to suit your talents and skills.
Building a Career in the Tech Industry
If you want to be ready for the technology boom in Africa, it’s important to enhance your skills and increase your employability now. As employers begin to look for candidates with tech-related proficiencies, you can take meaningful steps to enhance your career prospects. To get started, take a look at these top tips for building a career in the tech industry:
1. Always be Ready to Learn
If you work in the technology, there will always be something new to learn. Tech is one of the fastest growing sectors and new developments routinely change the business landscape. Due to this, you’ll need to be proactive when it comes to learning new things and adapting these skills for your particular workplace. When you can take the latest advancements and make it relevant to your employer, you increase your value and make yourself indispensable.
2. Get Qualified
Even if you didn’t take a tech-related subject for your undergrad degree, it’s not too late to obtain the qualifications you need for a successful tech career. In many ways, your skills and proficiencies will count more if you want a ‘hands-on’ role, like developing or design. However, if you want to secure a leadership role in tech, it’s important to have formal qualifications to beat the competition.
Obtaining an MBA is an effective way to secure top roles, so this could be one of your top priorities. What’s more – studying an MBA with a concentration could give you the business skills to lead a company and the tech insight to become an industry leader. With a business intelligence specialism, for example, you’ll have in-depth knowledge of how data can be collected, analyzed and used by businesses. To learn more about the benefits of adding a concentration to your MBA, take a look at this blog post.
3. Gain Experience
Gaining experience is important if you want to move into the tech industry. Indeed, you’ll need experience to secure a highly paid role in any sector. Studying for a formal qualification can be a good way to achieve this because programs often include practical, as well as theoretical, elements. In addition to this, look for opportunities that will allow you to develop the skills you need.
Vacation schemes and internships can help you to gain valuable experience but, if you’re already in work, it may be difficult to commit to a long internship. Taking on more tech responsibility in your current role, undertaking external courses and volunteering with organizations can, however, be a good way to gain experience while remaining in your current position.
4. Develop a Network
Having a professional network can benefit your career in so many ways. As well as being able to learn from other people, you can build connections and find out about the latest opportunities. Furthermore, having a professional network who can recommend you to potential employers will stand you in good stead when it comes to applying for promotions and new job roles.
5. Build Your Profile
Being well-known in your chosen industry can boost your earning potential and make it far easier to land top jobs. Enhancing your personal brand, knowing your weaknesses and honing your skills are all important factors when it comes to building your profile. However, you’ll need to publicize yourself too, if you want to impress future employers. Attending industry events, being active on online professional networks and sharing original content are just some of the ways you can showcase your skills and establish a profile in the tech sector.
6. Use Tech to Solve Problems
No matter what your role currently entails, you can incorporate technology into it. Employers value problem solvers and being able to identify issues and resolve them makes you an important part of the workplace. When you can use technology to streamline workflows, for example, you can leverage tech to save your employers money and increase efficiency. By doing so, you’ll incorporate technology into your remit and impress your managers in the process.
7. Look to the Future
Keeping an eye on current trends is important in the tech industry, but it’s not as important as identifying emerging and future trends. When you can predict how technology will change in the 12 months, 5 years and 10 years, and find ways to make it benefit your business, you become extremely valuable. Of course, you don’t need psychic powers to do this; you simply need to take an active interest in the industry and use your creativity to find new ways for the latest tech to deliver a financial advantage.
Be Part of the Digital Revolution
As Africa welcomes new opportunities, the digital revolution is already upon us. No matter what stage of life you’re at, it’s never too late to be part of the change. By enhancing your skills, getting the qualifications you need and gaining experience now, you can ensure you’re ready to be part of Africa’s tech generation.