Telling Stories With Data

— Predict Conference 2016 In Dublin

Last week I attended the wonderful Predict Conference, at the RDS in Dublin, courtesy of a ticket provided by Women in Technology Galway. The conference had a strong focus on Analytics, Open Data, FinTech and the future of Marketing. There were a number of interesting panel discussions on and around the topic of Data. I met so many really smart people. People proficient in Statistics, Maths and Programming. Data Scientists.

Predictive analytics uses many techniques from data mining, statistics, modeling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to analyse current data to make predictions about future. So, if you are a good Data Scientist you can predict the future….what an asset to any business organisation!

While coding has become popular in the last number of years, we are currently facing a shortage of Data Scientists here in Ireland. However, it is not a quick process to mass educate people in Data Science. Like good wine it takes time. Data Science is an Art.

Good Data Scientists are like hens teeth. They are rare indeed. They take a long time to mature — generally about ten years. 10,000 hours or there abouts. They need to be proficient in Programming and Statistics and need to have a mastery of these subjects. It is easy to talk or write about Data Science and Data Scientists and all the magic that they can do but to actually be one and do Data Science well is a completely different story…..

There is also another aspect of Data Science that is not discussed a lot. It is the ability to tell your Data stories with your findings and present them. To present well also is an art and an essential skill for any up and coming Data Scientist.

One of the most interesting talks I saw at the Predict Conference was The Art Of Data StoryTelling by Shaku Atre — President of a business intelligence and data warehousing corporation called Atre.com based in the US. The challenge with Data and the science behind it is in making it interesting . Science and facts can be boring — especially statistics and if delivered to the audience in a monotone will most definitely put the audience to sleep.

Shaku’s presentation was a breath of fresh air. She told the story of Smita.

I certainly won’t forget it. It made a lasting impression on me.

The way she presented was unique, she jumped right into her talk and made a strong connection with the audience. She woke us all up. She got our attention. She inspired and entertained us. She educated us too but in a way that you enjoyed — not being preached at or lectured to.

Shaku has been writing about Big Data since 2003.

It’s fair to say that she is someone that has put in her 10,000 hours into her craft. Lots more that 10,000. The Atre Group was founded in 1992.

She worked close to over 14 years with IBM and there she became a Database expert. It’s safe to call Shaku a Big Data Expert.

It is the experts that should have the say in how the masses should be educated. Maybe they should direct how the teachers should be taught and what they should teach to their students in relation to Big Data? This is an issue not just in Ireland but an issue globally. There is a shortage across the globe right now. Why should Ireland be an exception? Our shortage on the island is attracting talent from overseas and from all around the globe here helping to fuel the current Tech boom. Talent that could only dream of the salaries that they now receive here as a result of their hard work in STEM. They are really smart, highly skilled and in big demand.

They are the thinkers of tomorrow. Remember — they can predict the future.

They will also change our society forever as they become a part of political boards and make important decisions that will affect us as a a nation. The Internet has removed the borders of nationalism everywhere and the Internet will indeed need to be governed.

Other great talks were given by both Dr Finn Macleod, Founder of Beautiful Data and Krystian Stamp of Newswhip.

There were many. I can’t list them all otherwise this post will get really long and I’ll bore you. Attention is short online.

I have to give Dee Lee a mention and her work also on Open Data with DERILinx.

Another thing that was seriously cool at the Predict Conference were the Huddles that the organisers arranged in what was called an Experience Zone. They were built in mind to bring different small groups to come together. Following each of the presentation sessions on the main stage, Predict hosted small intimate huddles with the speakers, where you got a chance to ask questions, explore topics in further detail and connect with them. I sat in on one facilitated by Eoin Kennedy - you learned a lot from all the questions that got asked in the Huddle.

Overall the few days at the RDS were really informative and gave an insight into the growing Data Science community in Ireland .

Looking forward to Predict 2017.