Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Third time at Strata and why that's like reading poetry

I am heading up to New York to the 2014 Strata conference. It has become a ritual of sorts to go to Strata in October as I have been going for the last three years.

My first trip was in 2012 where admittedly, I was going as a BigData skeptic. Or put more accurately, I was going in with an open mind about the possibilities of BigData but definitely under-exposed in terms of its capabilities and what organizations and professionals could stand to gain. I walked away with some appreciation of the BigData case studies but many of the examples seemed like applying technology for technology sake.

When I went in 2013, my perspective was certainly more informed. I was going to understand the big data ecosystem in more detail, having spent a considerable amount of time both reading up on the technologies as well as working closely with practitioners in the area. I left the conference with a much wider understanding of the entire HDFS and BigData ecosystem. Props here for Silicon Valley Data Sciences whose presentation was both detailed in both its breadth and depth, a difficult thing to accomplish.

Also, I broadened my own perspective in terms of the kinds of problems that can be solved by BigData. Previously, my field of vision was narrowly focused on business problems. The problem with that lens is that business problems are a reflection of the past - how the business operated yesterday and the challenges that were created in a pure economic sense. What this approach is blind to is the huge world of consumer and human problems that need exploring and solving using BigData. Opening my mind to a whole host of consumer/ human challenges made me aware of the need to harness and harmonize different types of data, the mash-ups and insights created and the different world one could vision for customers. I also had the opportunity within my org to work closely on a classic BigData problem - which was building a holistic view of the customer across functional and product silos. And so working with and talking to people with vastly greater experience and hands-on knowledge made me more informed, allowed me to appreciate even finer nuances in the space and form even more bold customer and business value propositions.

So as I am headed up to New York to attend Strata for the third year, my mind goes to poetry. I have always felt that you need to pass the hump of understanding language to understand the intricacies and beauty within the language. Understand the rhythm and the poetry of the language. And that requires deep study. Countless hours of reading, multiple hundreds of tweets. And hard hard hours of whiteboard sketching, debating ideas, learning from the experts. 

And so here's listening to some good poetry over the next three days at Strata. Should be fun.

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