A call to connect the dots in analytics @ MeasureCamp

Steve Jobs in his famous commencement speech said this: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” He was talking about success, making a difference, finding and fulfilling a purpose. It was an invitation to “trust in something” to follow your heart.

You have to admit that not all of us are visionaries like Steve Jobs and even a person like Jobs used the existing community of developers, product managers and business people to inspire them to create the next great version of the phone or the tablet or the computer. The rest of us instead of pursuing the next unicorn idea, are better off connecting the dots, pursuing your heart with the support of a community. When the next Steve Jobs comes up with the next great unicorn idea, wouldn’t you want to be uniquely positioned to become the software developer, project manager or marketer on that team?

How can you tilt the odds in your favor at success while also pursuing your heart? I suggest that by participating in a community of practitioners, innovators and entrepreneurs and by growing your network with other unique individuals you can do just that at MeasureCamp.

Measurecamp is a unique “unconference” that brings people to share ideas, tools and techniques as a community. You can learn more about MeasureCamp here. But why data analytics? I believe we are at a unique inflection point where multiple trends that ascended the peak of the Gartner Hype cycle are now colluding to bring about a sea change in how technology is used. And how we react to these trends, will determine how much value we will capture for our customers, clients and partners. Let’s examine these trends.

#1 Data has exploded: By some estimates we generate over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. 90% of the existent data has been generated in the previous two years (source: big-data, market). According to one source big data is set to grow at a CAGR of 26.0% to $118.52 billion. Unprecedented advancement has occurred in the areas of machine learning and ai — a confluence of cheap processing power, massive data and advanced algorithms (kdnuggets).

#2 Innovation in actionable insights : Data based management has been an innovation in the past decade, moving from the gut instincts of business mavens to fact based scientific management. It still was a slow process depending on analysts to do number crunching and generating stock reports based on which action is taken or not. The latest technological innovations are disrupting this industry. Large data sets, advanced computing power and techniques have required reporting practices to become more advanced. Reporting practices are moving from descriptive to predictive and then prescriptive models. And these business processes that once depended on slow reporting and insight and execution cycle are being automated to get from data to insight to action in real-time.

#3 Open source: Another advancement in recent times is the rapid adoption of open source model of software development. What was once called a “cancer” by an ex-exec at Microsoft has been their darling for the last two years. And it speaks to a general trend among companies to switch to an open source model for their software needs including in analytics. Companies with tremendous experience in managing data warehouses have open sourced their tooling since their competitiveness does not come from their intellectual property invested in their software solutions but from the network effect of their membership. In fact it is to their advantage to increase adoption outside as a branding tool, as a talent retention tool. Companies like LinkedIn , Microsoft, Facebook, Google and million others have embraced open source — so much so, companies end up in a distinct and disadvantaged minority when they do not embrace open source.

Skills Gap : That brings us to the glaring skills gap in digital transformation efforts. Enterprises are addressing their own digital transformations to compete in a tough market place. Every business is now a digital business, and there is a definite advantage who restructure and compete in this transformed economy. The need to create engaging customer experiences that adapt in real time to customer and systems behaviors. What was not once possible is simply made possibly by the digitization of many customer touch points. What was not once trackable from vendor systems is now a digital opportunity for optimization. What was once not feasible from a compute standpoint of billions of data points is now possible with commodity IAAS and PAAS resources. What was impossible to provision cost effectively is now as simple as shopping from your friendly cloud provider.

Whats in it for me? What does this mean for professionals in these fields ? A change up of your skills is required at an unprecedented scale. One must be proficient in the status quo and at the cutting edge of new technologies or risk being left behind in an unemployable or undesirable career. Current roles in the industry may include — BI architect, Report Developer, ETL Developer, DBA. The future belongs to data engineers with skills with no-sql databases, graph databases, apache spark. These engineers need familiarity with dev ops — building up their proof of concepts in python and R and containerizing them with docker and deploying them to an on premise cloud solution or a full cloud service provider. One needs familiarity with open source tools in analytics.

If you are a vendor in this field, you need to be connected to the right talent pool and the right customer connections. You need to hear first hand from the people who need the problem solved and the people who can solve them.

If you are a business manager at a large enterprise, you should be knowledgeable to make the right decisions between growing an in house custom solution or pursuing a Saas vendor for some of these — or a mixture of both. You will benefit from the ideas and relationships you will have a chance to build.

So where ever your career has brought you so far, whether you are a practitioner, vendor or a large customer — you will benefit from this unique un-conference that is MeasureCamp. What you will not get is a sales agenda being pushed through a predetermined schedule. You will learn lessons and form acquaintances that will benefit and friendships that will last. You will get a chance to connect the dots in a community. See you at MeasureCamp Cincinnati on May 13th!