Key Learns from Big Data Week Belfast 2015
Thursday 23rd April marked the return of Big Data Week Belfast’s 2015 conference. It was an opportunity for data experts and technologists to meet, discuss and explore all things analytics. The stellar line-up including HP, Amazon Web Services and Skyscanner to name a few ensured the day was filled with thought-provoking sessions and insights into the future of the analytics landscape.
“Data are becoming the new raw material of business” – Craig Mundie Head of Research and Strategy at Microsoft.
Keynote – David Kemp – Strategic Systems Architect at HP
David began by setting the scene with the infographic below – our current digital universe has gone beyond the decimal system! And with the growth of the “Internet of Things” it will not be long before data is measured in geopbytes. The big data acceleration that we are currently seeing is being driven by technology advancements, making this vast amount of data much more accessible in terms of both storage and manipulation.
He went on to speak about legacy and dark data and the risks of ignoring these. David defined legacy data as being redundant, obsolete or trivial data residing in legacy applications and repositories. Whilst dark data goes beyond legacy data, it tends to be human-readable, unstructured, unindexed, unmanaged, inactive, orphaned data which resides in file and email servers and repos like SharePoint. Legacy and dark data sitting outside the information governance strategy exposes organisations to risk:
Our competitive advantage as big data and analytics specialists comes from how quickly we are able to extract useful information from data.
David outlined the “Siloed data challenge”
To “cash in” on your data assets you need a big data platform for:
David detailed a number of interesting use cases for a big data platform:
Ewan Nicolson – Senior Data Analyst at Skyscanner
Ewan gave a particularly interesting and engaging talk on how companies should use their data to accelerate growth. He was a strong proponent of using scientific methods and indeed behaving like a scientist to gain information and understanding, citing the scientific method as the most powerful tool humans have for gaining knowledge.
Use cases explored were,
Ewan was also keen to highlight that coding is key to data discovery. Success for an organisation on their data analytics journey should be marked by empowering their workforce to explore their own data for insight. Two questions were prevalent during Ewan’s talk – What questions do you want to answer? And, what data do you have that could help you answer that question? I would firmly agree with Ewan’s thoughts on this! Delving into the big data and analytics sphere should not be undertaken because it is the “hot new thing” rather that there is a business problem to be solved through the use of relevant, informative data.
“Data at rest is cost, data in motion is value” – Ben Greene CTO Analytics Engines
Upon reflection on all speakers’ talks, the industry experts’ panel session and lively debates with colleagues I would contend the following as my 5 main take homes from the event.
I joined Kainos in 2011 as a placement student, working continuously with the company whilst completing my Masters degree. I graduated with a Masters degree in Computer Science from Queen’s University Belfast (First class honours) in June 2014 and currently hold the position of Senior Software Engineer. Over the past 5 years, I have been an integral part of development teams delivering software to public sector clients.
I have also been instrumental in the organisation and execution of a number of initiatives designed to promote STEM subjects and coding skills amongst the younger generations – as part of Kainos’ Digital Academy, including the successful TechAdventureUK and GirlsTEC coding camps.
I am currently working as a senior developer within the Big Data and Analytics Practice. Outside of work I have a serious case of wanderlust – working on scratching off as many countries as possible from my scratch map!
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