Big Data Now

at Radar – O’Reilly: “In the four years we’ve been producing Big Data Now, our wrap-up of important developments in the big data field, we’ve seen tools and applications mature, multiply, and coalesce into new categories. This year’s free wrap-up of Radar coverage is organized around seven themes:

  • Cognitive augmentation: As data processing and data analytics become more accessible, jobs that can be automated will go away. But to be clear, there are still many tasks where the combination of humans and machines produce superior results.
  • Intelligence matters: Artificial intelligence is now playing a bigger and bigger role in everyone’s lives, from sorting our email to rerouting our morning commutes, from detecting fraud in financial markets to predicting dangerous chemical spills. The computing power and algorithmic building blocks to put AI to work have never been more accessible.
  • The convergence of cheap sensors, fast networks, and distributed computation: The amount of quantified data available is increasing exponentially — and aside from tools for centrally handling huge volumes of time-series data as it arrives, devices and software are getting smarter about placing their own data accurately in context, extrapolating without needing to ‘check in’ constantly.
  • Reproducing, managing, and maintaining data pipelines: The coordination of processes and personnel within organizations to gather, store, analyze, and make use of data.
  • The evolving, maturing marketplace of big data components: Open-source components like Spark, Kafka, Cassandra, and ElasticSearch are reducing the need for companies to build in-house proprietary systems. On the other hand, vendors are developing industry-specific suites and applications optimized for the unique needs and data sources in a field.
  • The value of applying techniques from design and social science: While data science knows human behavior in the aggregate, design works in the particular, where A/B testing won’t apply — you only get one shot to communicate your proposal to a CEO, for example. Similarly, social science enables extrapolation from sparse data. Both sets of tools enable you to ask the right questions, and scope your problems and solutions realistically.
  • The importance of building a data culture: An organization that is comfortable with gathering data, curious about its significance, and willing to act on its results will perform demonstrably better than one that doesn’t. These priorities must be shared throughout the business.
  • The perils of big data: From poor analysis (driven by false correlation or lack of domain expertise) to intrusiveness (privacy invasion, price profiling, self-fulfilling predictions), big data has negative potential.

Download our free snapshot of big data in 2014, and follow the story this year on Radar.”