What is swirling around in my personal Big Data cloud tonight?
The room for the plenary panel on Innovation and Big Data was packed. I could hear the cogs in everyone’s brains cranking up to make sense of the hype and the hope around this this hot topic. The panel, moderated by futurist Thornton May, was stacked with interesting people from academia (Northwestern and Stanford) and tech companies who play in this space (Google, Teradata, and Zementis). My own company, SAS Institute, has been doing a lot of work in the area of high performance analytics and big data, so I was eager to hear what the panelists would have to say, as well as what would emerge from the crowd. Coolest idea I came away with? Blake Johnson of Stanford’s dream for the future that each of us have our own personal analytics cloud, where we would own and control all the data associated with us. Assertion made I think is too often overlooked in these discussions? Thomas Olavson from Google’s opinion that it is far too easy to get caught up in the cool modeling and lose sight of the business problem we are trying to solve. The MBA in me believes it is still crucial to start out with the question, not the data, and then determine what we need to do to answer the question we have that will drive value for the organization. Surprising angle? Thomas Olavson reiterating that it is all about the people – they are the ones who uses the technology to do interesting things, but we can’t forget the importance of getting technology to those smart people and then getting out of their way. A conference like this one reminds me of how many smart people are out there doing interesting things, which is a huge part of the value in being here. And my final question, who will win the Edelman competition tonight?