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(Guest Post) Winning Solutions: Kirk Borne Discusses the Big Data Concept Ahead of Big Data World London

Looking ahead to 2017's Big Data World event, Booz Allen Hamilton's Principal Data Scientist discusses the Big Data concept, benefits and developments in detail with John Bensalhia...

2017's Big Data World promises plenty in the way of insightful talks and discussions on the subject. One of the unmissable talks to watch out for in March will come from Kirk Borne, Booz Allen Hamilton's Principal Data Scientist, who will look at “The Self-Driving Organisation and Edge Analytics in a Smart IoT World.

“I will describe the concept of a self-driving organisation that learns, gains actionable insights, discovers next-best move, innovates, and creates value from streaming Big Data through the application of edge analytics on ubiquitous data sources in the IoT-enriched world.”

As part of this discussion, Kirk will also present an Analytics Roadmap for the IoT-enabled Cognitive Organisation.

“In this case, the “self-driving organisation” is modeled after the self-driving automobile, but applicable organisations include individual organisations, and also smart cities, smart farms, smart manufacturing, and smart X (where X can be anything). The critical technologies include machine learning, machine intelligence, embedded sensors, streaming analytics, and intelligence deployed at the edge of the network.”
“Big Data and data science are expanding beyond the boundaries of your data centre, and even beyond the Cloud, to the point of data collection at the point of action! We used to say “data at the speed of business”, but now we say “business at the speed of data.”

Having achieved a Ph.D. in astronomy from Caltech, Kirk focused most of the first 20 years of his career on astrophysics research (“colliding galaxies and other fun stuff”), including a lot of data analysis as well as modelling and simulation.

“My day job for nearly 18 years was supporting large data systems for NASA astronomy missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope. So, I was working around data all of the time.”
“When data set sizes began to grow “astronomically” in the late 1990s, I began to focus more on data mining research and data science. It became apparent to me that the whole world (and every organisation) was experiencing large growth in digital data. From these observations, I was convinced that we needed to train the next-generation workforce in data skills. So, in 2003, I left my NASA job and joined the faculty at George Mason University (GMU) within the graduate Ph.D. program in Computational Science and Informatics (Data Science).”

As a Professor of Astrophysics and Computational Science at GMU, Kirk helped to create the world’s first Data Science undergraduate degree program.

“I taught and advised students in data science until 2015, at which point the management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) offered me the position as the firm’s first Principal Data Scientist. I have been working at BAH since then.”

Booz Allen Hamilton offers management consulting services to clients in many sectors: government, industry, and non-profit. “Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) is over 100 years old, but has reinvented itself as an agile leading-edge technology consultant,” says Kirk.

“Our market focus is very broad, including healthcare, medicine, national defense, cyber-security, law enforcement, energy, finance, transportation, professional sports, systems integration, sustainability, business management, and more. We deliver systems, technology strategy, business insights, consultative services, modelling, and support services in many technology areas: digital systems, advanced analytics, data science, Internet of Things, predictive intelligence, emerging technologies, Cloud, engineering, directed energy, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), human capital, fraud analytics, and data for social good (plus more, I am sure).”

Discussing Big Data, Kirk regards this as a “concept”.

“It is not really about “Big” or “Data”, but it is all about value creation from your data and information assets. Of course, it is data. But the focus should be on big value, not on big volume; and the goal should be to explore and exploit all of your organisation’s data assets for actionable information and insights.”
“I like to say that the key benefits of Big Data are the three D2D’s: Data-to-Discovery (data exploration), Data-to-Decisions (data exploitation), and Data-to-Dividends (or Data-to-Dollars; i.e., data monetisation).”

Looking back to the the past year, Kirk says that there have been several significant Big Data-related developments.

“These include the emergence of the citizen data scientist, which has been accompanied by a growth in self-service tools for analytics and data science. We are also seeing maturity in deep learning tools, which are now being applied in many more interesting contexts, including text analytics. Machine intelligence is also being recognised as a significant component of processes, products, and technologies across a broad spectrum of use cases: connected cars, Internet of Things, smart cities, manufacturing, supply chain, prescriptive machine maintenance, and more.”
“But I think the most notable developments are around data and machine learning ethics – this has been evoked in many discussions around privacy and fairness in algorithms, and it has been called out also in some high-profile cases of predictive modelling failures. These developments demand that we be more transparent and explanatory to our clients and to the general public about what we are doing with data, especially their data!”

Much value can be gleaned from the Smart IoT World for businesses, and in a number of ways, as Kirk explains.

“First of all, businesses can learn about the latest products, the newest ideas, and the emerging technologies. Businesses can acquire lessons learned, best practices, and key benefits, as well as find business partners to help them on this journey from digital disruption to digital transformation.”
“The “Smart” in “Smart IoT” is derived from machine learning, data science, cognitive analytics, and technologies for intelligent data understanding. More than ever, businesses need to focus more on the “I” in “IT” – the Information (i.e., the data) is now the fundamental asset, and the Technology is the enabler. IoT is about ubiquitous sensors collecting data and tracking nearly everything in your organisation: People, Processes, and Products. Smart IoT will deliver big value from Big Data.”

Kirk says that the past few years of Big Data have been described as The End of Demographics and the Age of Personalisation. The next five to ten years, on the other hand will be the Age of Hyper-Personalisation.

“More than ever, people are at the centre of business,”

 explains Kirk.

“Big Data can and will be used to engage, delight, and enhance employee experience (EX), user experience (UX), and customer experience (CX). The corresponding actionable insights for each of these human experiences will come from “360 view” Big Data collection (IoT), intelligence at the point of data collection (Edge Analytics), and rich models for behavioural insights (Data Science).”
“These developments will be witnessed in Smart Cities and Smart Organisations of all kinds. The fundamental enabler for all of this is Intelligent Data Understanding: bringing Big Data assets and Data Science models together within countless dynamic data-driven application systems.”

With Big Data World only weeks away, Kirk is looking forward to the great opportunities that it will bring.

“I expect Big Data World to be an information-packed learning experience like no other. The breadth, depth, and diversity of useful Smart IoT applications that will be on display at Big Data World will change the course of existing businesses, inspire new businesses, stimulate new markets, and grow existing capabilities to make the world a better place.”
“I look forward to learning from technology leaders about Smart Cities, IoT implementations, practical business case studies, and accelerators of digital transformation. It is not true that whoever has the most data will win; the organisation that wins is the one who acts on the most data! At Big Data World, we can expect to see many such winning solutions, insights, and applications of Big Data and Smart IoT.”

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