IEEE Conference – Part 3: Congratulations you won the prize

Teradata – VP

Bill Franks – Chief Analytics officer spoke on the topic: “Putting Big Data to Work”. This was one of the best presentations of the entire day. Both the presenter and his presentation material were looking smart. His voice, confidence level, pauses he made between the speech, designs of the slides, and interactions with the audience – everything was impressive. Here are few highlights of his speech:

He started out with a question: “Is Big Data bubble ready to burst? After a few seconds pause, he himself told that answer is: “Yes and No”.


Fig: Is Big Data Bubble slide and the smart presenter Bill Franks.

Answer is “Yes” because it’s too much hyped up, several CIOs/Managers have secured funding for last year and this year to build “something” in Big Data. However in upcoming year, they have to deliver, for which they haven’t made much progress. He made a common sense point (which is quite un-common among lot of technical geeks): Don’t start to use Big Data technology and then start to come up with the problem, rather start with a problem first, if Big Data is a right fit then go ahead and use it. Several technical geeks in silicon valley that I have meet, get obsessed with the technology and employ them, just because they are hot in the market, while it adds less little or no benefit in solving the problem.


Fig: Start with a Problem and not with technology

Answer is “No” because there is still strong use case for it. That was the remainder of his session. He brought about an interesting analogy. In 1999, 2000, 2001 entire internet was hyped by several times. Because of the hype, bubble busted and resulted in major dot com crash in Silicon Valley. However as we look back now in 2013, internet has produced lot more than the hype created during the dot com boom time.

His next interesting point was: “Data and Analytics can blur industry classifications”. The example he quoted was Nike’s Fuel product. For the folks who aren’t aware of the Nike Fuel product, please click on the hyperlink in the previous sentence and play the video clip. It’s great product to measure your activities, sleep cycles, calorie burn rate……. This product emits thousands of data points about the user who wears this wrist band. All those data are parsed and analytics are generated to report how much calories he has burnt, whether he has meet this week’s goal, whether he is getting enough sleep …. Nike Fuel just became possible because of Big Data.


Fig: Showing Nike Fuel Product

He continued to give few more examples/use cases f or big data. Here is the one that I still remember: Today product recommendations that we get on any site is based on our previous purchases. Say if I had bought “Eat, Pray and Love” book from Elizabeth Gilbert in Amazon (which I did by the way), next time when I go to Amazon, I could be recommend the other books written by her. The case he made was: Technology can go to an extent of capturing cursor movement in the screen. Say if I would have scrolled over my cursor over “Lee Kuan yew’s” book, it can also be recorded. Next time when I go to amazon, they can recommend me his Lee Kuan yew’s memoir’s book. Just think about amount of data it’s going to generate if for each and every cursor movement. Ofcourse all these opens up a big can of privacy, liability and ethical issues and regulations has to catch up yet.


Fig: Bill Frank’s concluding slide

Above was the concluding slide he had. The book posted on the slide: “Taming Big Data” sounds like a great read for Managers who are planning to employ Big Data in their organization.

Lunch Break

After his speech there was a lunch break. Unlike Java One where they serve cold sandwiches (which Minh never likes to eat), IEEE served hot lunch – chicken, pillaw rice and vegetable salad. Lunch was good. After having lunch I walked to few vendor booths that were there outside the conference hall. In IEEE booth, they had a very old Macintosh computer (which was built in 1980s). They asked the visitors to guess the price of the computer and write it at the back of their business card. They told whoever guesses the correct price will get a gift card. I wrote a price as 5000$ and dropped it. Two days after conference, following email landed in my In-box:

Subject: IEEE Rock Star – Congratulations you won the prize

Dear Ram,

Congratulations and thanks for attending IEEE Computer Society’s Rock Star – Big Data Event.

Based on your entry and the guess of 5,000 cost of the Apple Computer, you have won a $25.00 gift card.

Should I send this to your work address –

45 Fremont St,

San Francisco, CA 94105

Or would you prefer another address?

I would also request that you accept my LinkedIn invite – to join my professional network.

Ram, thanks again for attending our event and please let me know to what address I should send the gift card.

Warmest Regards,

Helen Scott

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