NIIT rides on China’s Big Data wave

NIITSPAR_jpg_2877140fA NIIT class in progress at the Gui’an New Area in southwest China.

Institute is gearing up to train 50,000 Chinese students over the next five years.

At a brand new industrial park in southwest China, where, buildings still smell of fresh paint and masonry, the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) is gearing up to train 50,000 Chinese students over the next five years.

“We are developing the infrastructure to meet the upcoming challenge,” says Santy, NIIT’s point person, at his office in the Gui’an New Area.

Talent Research Center

The training contract was signed on the sidelines of China’s Big Data conference and exhibition at Guiyang. Separately, the company sealed an agreement with the provincial government to establish a Big Data Talent Research Center in Guiyang “to enhance innovation and research.”

The once impoverished city of Guiyang, the provincial capital of the southwestern Guizhou province — well known in history for its role during Mao Zedong’s Long March — is now fast emerging as one of the most prominent landmarks in China’s cyberspace.

And the Gui’an New Area

The Gui’an New Area — like many other dedicated and massive industrial zones, such as Shanghai’s Pudong and the lesser known Lanzhou New Area — is at the heart of the new enterprise.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who addressed a conference and exhibition last week, formally endorsed Guiyang as the country’s Big Data hub. He pointed out that the Chinese government, apart from Big Data, will support an inter-linkage with e-commerce, cross-border e-commerce, cloud computing, and Internet of Things.

Dovetailing with the transition

Analysts say that the directive from the Premier dovetails with China’s transition from a low-end workshop-of-the-world to an advanced digital economy based on hi-end consumption, and production. Robots, sometimes armed with laser cutting tools, will play a major role, in the new production chain, in tune with a modern services industry.

The Prime Minister earlier held a meeting with top cyber entrepreneurs, which included Michael Dell, CEO of Dell computers, Pony Ma, chairman of the messaging and gaming group Tencents Holding Ltd., Terry Gou of the Foxconn Technology Group as well as Rahul Patwardhan, NIIT’s global head.

As its name suggests

Big Data is a massive accumulation of information, siphoned from multiple sources and domains, which can then be analysed for reading trends and making informed decisions. Consequently, Guiyang will host server storage farms, intertwined with an army of engineers, who can cull out useful information from the vast data reservoirs that are being established in the city.

Several factors have gone Guiyang’s way to emerge as China’s Big Data core. The climate here is mild, power is plentiful and cost of establishing businesses lower than China’s more developed parts along the coast. Besides, the local government has been relentless in pushing for hi-tech industry, mindful that large- scale agriculture is unsustainable in the mountainous province.

The provincial economy has so far been dependent on the production of coal, fertilizers, tyres and the renowned Maotai liquor, which caught global attention when the beverage was served by China’s former Prime Minister, Zhou En-lai to toast U.S. President Richard Nixon, during his famous visit to Beijing in 1972.

On a hardware accumulation spree

“China is accumulating massive amount of hardware and on account of the proposed scale, major shortages of trained programmers are inevitable. That is where we, as digital trainers, come in,” says Kamal Dhuper, NIIT’s country head, in a conversation.

Mr. Dhuper points out that the company can cope with the heavy workload, that is expected, as well as the challenge posed by the perceived Chinese language barrier. “Most of our trainers are Chinese, so language is not an issue. Besides we actively follow Synchronous Learning Technology. This allows trainers to connect with multiple locations in real time,” he observed.

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