London-based data analytics firm, Black Swan announced a strategic investment of £3 million led by Japanese corporate giant, Mitsui. A statement issued today confirmed that this investment will support Black Swan’s expansion into Asia.
Last week, government officials in Japan told Reuters the country would be the first to use big data in an official measure of consumption by 2019. Japan’s efforts to aggressively ramp up its use of big data began in 2008, when a survey conducted by the Japan Users Association of Information Systems revealed only slightly more than 8 per cent of Japanese companies exploited big data in their systems. The same study showed how Japan was lagging behind in the number of data skilled graduates entering the workforce every year.
The country’s largest corporation, Mitsui, has been investing in predictive analytics and data science start-ups across the Asia Pacific region, including Tata-backed Singaporean start-up, Crayon Data.
“Mitsui is investing in global business innovation across a variety of key business sectors. We believe that the trend towards predictive data analytics will affect all industries and the way they think about corporate strategy, so it’s logical that utilising big data will become increasingly more important to maintain and strengthen businesses, which is why we are collaborating with Black Swan,” stated Jun-ichi Shibuta, general manager of IT platform Div, IT and communication business Unit, Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
Big data: still hot?
Big data has been one of the most hyped terms in enterprise IT for the past decade, yet its uses across sectors suggest there is still a lot to be explored in the way data is consumed, analysed and stored. Thanks to big data, retailers can forecast seasonal events and its impact on business, governments can map the spread of illness and trigger programmatic social media warning campaigns for pharmaceuticals, and police departments can isolate urban crime to individual buildings.
Black Swan works with international businesses including Pepsi.co, Disney, GSK, Unilever and MARS, interpreting available information such as news, weather and social data, then applying data science and natural language processing on its own platform, the NEST. The company has grown since its inception in 2011, from a team of three to a growing staff of 210 digital developers, planners and data scientists.
“After three years of organic growth it’s going to dramatically change the pace of our international plans,” Black Swan’s chief executive, Steve King said on the investment news.
A major funding injection from Mitsui’s IT & Communication has been agreed following a round of Series B discussions.