“One especially prominent subject that came up was dark data, which is stored in vast amounts in businesses’ databases. Dark data means data that produces added value for the businesses, yet which the businesses have never processed or been able to utilise in their business activities. Today’s businesses also have a major shortage in data analytics know-how. They are unable to process the data in a manner that would facilitate necessary changes in their business activity models. There is also a shortage of experts in the free labour market,” says Lecturer Mika Rantonen from JAMK’s IT Institute.

The European Regional Development Fund has granted JAMK €300,000 for the Data-analytiikasta uutta osaamista ja liiketoimintaa (New Know-How and Business from Data Analytics) project. Additionally, the development environment for secure data analytics related to the project was granted €60,000 in investment support.

In practice, data analytics means picking data items from an enormous mass or flow of data and processing them with various mathematical and statistical methods.

“The goal of data analytics is to form interesting information and models from a large amount of data. Data is a raw material that does not produce added value without the necessary skills to refine it. In addition to collecting and storing, the data must be processed, analysed and visualised,” Rantonen continues.

For the data analytics development work, a parallel project involves simultaneously building a secure data analytics development environment. With the project, the know-how of the JYVSECTEC cybersecurity research, development and training centre working in JAMK’s IT Institute is expanded into the area of security perspectives related to data analytics. The secure processing and storage of large masses of data is a prerequisite for using them and processing information further. The data produced by businesses may contain information that is very critical in terms of information security, the storage, filtering and security of which must be paid attention to. Data analytics environments that are based on cloud services face challenges related to data security and protection, as well as legal issues. Furthermore, the EU’s Data Protection Regulation gives businesses sanctioned obligations related to information processing and protection.

Businesses operating in the energy sector or closely related industries are involved in the project and its partial funding.

“The energy sector was selected as the industry, as energy production and consumption affect citizens’ everyday life one way or another and are thus a potential area for developing business activities. Having the businesses operate in the same industry sector also makes it possible to examine and develop data analytics and its utilisation throughout the entire value chain,” says Director of JAMK’s IT Institute Mika Karjalainen.

The project is used to increase data analytics know-how, as well as develop and pilot concrete data analytics solutions that utilise dark data. The raw materials for the contents of the development work consist of concrete pilot cases brought up by the businesses, which serve as the basis for developing new operational models for utilising, visualising and demonstrating data analytics.