Big Data Insight Group hosted its 2nd Forum yesterday (19 June) as a range of end users and thought leaders shared their insights, views and experiences around the hottest new business technology trend that is big data.
With 150 knowledge-hungry delegates in attendance at the Park Plaza Victoria, London – a venue at which our sister communities Obis Omni and The Cloud Circle have hosted many of their Forums over the years, the event was roundly hailed a great success.
Those in attendance represented a broad spectrum of job functions – including IT, business, and marketing as well as data analysts – from organisations operating in a wide range of industry sectors, private and public. Indeed, some of the leading lights of British industry were present on the day, including the likes of BT, Barclays, Tesco, and Which?.
The sponsors on the day were EMC, IBM, Microsoft with IMGROUP, TAH, Cognizant and MicroStrategy. Some of which provided some fantastic speakers who shared their experiences and insight with the delegates, fielding questions and offering advice on how organisations can overcome their big data hurdles along the way.
After teas, coffees and pastries first thing, the presentations kicked off with Big Data Insight Group marketing manager Hannah Mitchell – stepping up in the absence of the community's founder and director Emma Taylor who was enjoying her honeymoon – presenting the findings of our own independent research, setting the scene for the day to come by establishing big data’s rise to prominence.
Taking the first keynote presentation, Chris Roche, regional director for EMC Greenplum, delved further into the contextualisation of where big data has come from and its potential impact on organisations. He urged that big data must be a ‘team sport’ and only when people from across the business get involved in big data will benefits begin to be realised.
IBM’s Matin Jouzdani, a senior managing consultant, then took to the stage to present the second keynote speech on marrying a big data project with your business objectives. Ultimately, his main message was that an organisation must have clear questions in mind before delving head first into huge piles of data.
Following a break for coffee and networking, delegates gathered to listen to a case study presentation by Nilan Peiris, chief marketing technology officer at holidayextras.com. As ever, the opportunity to listen to the first-hand experiences of someone who has undergone a big data journey proved hugely popular with those in attendance. Peiris explained how an extra one millisecond in the time it takes to load a webpage can decrease sales by one per cent and, more importantly, how his company used big data to improve the efficiency of its site for customer use.
Up next was a two-person presentation by Linda Chandler and Dr Sylvia Croxall, both enterprise architects for Microsoft. The pair discussed how to best articulate a business case for big data to buy-in from across the organisation. Their key piece of advice was to ensure that people from all facets of a company feed in to any big data project so the results of it can be of benefit organisation-wide.
After a highly-praised lunch the agenda was split into two simultaneous streams – one around ‘strategy and planning considerations’ and the other around ‘putting your data to work to gain actionable insight’. This gave delegates the opportunity to mix and match in each of the three sessions between the two streams depending on what they deemed to be of the greatest interest and importance to them.
With end user snapshots from the likes of O2 Telefonica, Royal Bank of Scotland, Action for Children and City University joining leading suppliers including EMC, IBM, MicroStrategy, TAH, the delegates were able to gain a full perspective on some of the most pressing issues surrounding the rise of big data. There was also a presentation by Simon Briskman, a partner at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, about the legal and ethical implications of big data.
The final session of the day was a case study from Matt Millar, CEO of Tellybug, the company responsible for the apps and data for TV shows such as X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and Dancing on Ice. He explained how his company deals with massive surges in data and then how they are able to extract value from this mass of data. Moreover, he emphasised the value of gaining real-time insight into huge data sets which allows Tellybug to uncover trends in viewer opinions on specific acts on the talent contest-themed shows. It was a great example of how organisations of all sizes can learn from the agile and innovative approach start-ups often take to data analysis, a theme which emerged throughout the day.
Some of the other key messages to emerge from the presentations and general discussion at the forum were:
• Big data is not just about size, it is about analysing data in new ways to get faster, more reliable and more insightful results.
• Do not become overly fixated on the tools and technologies, big data must be about achieving clear business objectives and the most important aspect is people.
• New skills and personnel will most likely be needed to execute a successful big data strategy, what they are and how you go about finding them will vary from organisation to organisation.
• Big data will not lie within the remit of just one person or department, to get buy-in you will need input from across the organisation – it is a team sport.
• Effective planning before you begin is essential; for instance, spreading your data sets across potentially thousands of nodes in a distributed computer system without backing up first can cause problems.
• Data scientists need enquiring minds, a good grasp of maths and stats, and an ability to present numbers in understandable way to the rest of the business
• Usually businesses think there is less risk in adopting new technology late as its issues will have been ironed out – with big data this might mean you’re competitors are able to build up unassailable leads.
• There is no ‘one size fits all’ IT infrastructure to handle big data.
The day ended with drinks and more networking before some delegates joined IBM for dinner at Quaglino’s restaurant in the heart of the capital’s iconic West End, while the others presumably found a suitable spot from which to watch England’s uninspiring yet ultimately victorious performance against Ukraine.
Hannah Mitchell, marketing manager for Big Data Insight Group, hailed the Forum a great success. She said: “Today’s event was superb. People are still in the very early stages of understanding what big data is, what it has to offer and how to implement it within their businesses. However, this Forum offered a great chance for people to get a real grounding of all of the key aspects and considerations involved which they can then build upon with research specific to their own unique use cases.
“Even in the immature market there are already some great examples of just what you can do with big data and to hear some end user examples of that was extremely enlightening. There was also plenty of lively debate in the breakout streams which gave people the chance to get their questions answered.
“The early feedback from the delegates I’ve spoken to has been overwhelmingly positive and the growing interest in the subject shows just how important big data is going to be for so many organisations.”
The 3rd Big Data Insight Group Forum will be taking place on 13 September, once again at Park Plaza Victoria, London. The Forum will be focussed on ‘Seizing competitive advantage through the power of insight-driven decision making’, a full agenda will be announced soon but if you would like to declare your interest in claiming a free place at the event for you and your colleague(s) then please contact Rachel Van Oss on 0207 960 6793 or email her: email@example.com.
Check back soon for a video roundup and picture gallery from the day.