Describing data as the “new oil” or “new water” of the world, Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Mechatronics and Control (SAIMC) president Annemarie van Coller has emphasised the importance of changing data from “just data to insights”.
Speaking during an automation-themed webinar hosted by SAIMC as part of this year’s Electra Mining Africa 2020 Connect virtual event, for which Creamer Media’s Engineering News & Mining Weekly is a partner, she urged companies to “rethink” their data architecture and to consider the data they have access to.
She said companies had to “look at the bigger picture”, evaluate their data infrastructure and consider the goal they want to achieve with the help of data.
It is for this reason that Van Coller − the SAIMC's first female president − said the most important part of the data world is how information is extracted from raw data and how this is then used to not only find solutions to potential issues, but also to optimise data and related operations.
This was especially important for engineers in manufacturing and production, she noted.
Considering that this forms part of a technical field, she emphasised the importance of continuous learning and an educational foundation – of which mathematics, statistics and programming play a key role in problem-solving capability.
In terms of continuous learning, she suggested parties consider data “boot camps” and online courses and certification.
“These [data] skills don’t have specific career paths, but we do know that you need mathematics, statistics and programming – though it is dependent on the type of job that you want,” Van Coller said, indicating that a variety of fields were open on the data journey.