World Economic Forum: How the data revolution will change the world

ATN-300InsightaaS: Big Data seems to be everywhere in the media and blogosphere today, as commentators from all quarters put their perspective on what can and should be done in areas ranging from I0T to 1:1 marketing. Today, we are featuring an intriguing voice in this swelling chorus. The World Economic Forum’s “How the data revolution will change the world” provides a ‘big picture’ perspective on how “deep learning” based on Big Data analytics is evolving, and what it is likely to mean to the evolution of practice in a wide range of areas: aid delivery (where data-driven perspectives are already “jaw-dropping”), astrophysics, mobility (via self-driving cars), and more: “facial recognition, automatic speech recognition, natural language processing, handwriting and audio/video signal recognition” are other areas where deep learning can drive performance levels that support entirely new applications.

Author Alaina Levine also examines the executive management implications of Big Data. At a high level, she discusses the trend towards having data experts in the boardroom, ensuring that businesses take sound, data-driven directions. And while this trend will play out over time, there are examples of industries where data analytics is reshaping the ways in which businesses act. One example is journalism, which “used to be more of an anecdotal endeavour…[where] data would back up the story,” but where we now fined that “data is the basis of the story and the anecdote provides colour and timbre.” Levine notes that advances of this type in areas like medicine require an approach to data sharing that responds to “security, safety and privacy concerns.” The broad trend, though, is towards reliance on a combination of greater use of data coupled with the human insight: the article concludes by noting that “judgement can never be entirely replaced by an algorithm.” 

The television show Star Trek gave us much to look forward to: teleporting, food “replicators” and that other far-fetched creation — the data scientist. The show also introduced us to Data, an android who could access every piece of information ever generated, while Spock himself wasn’t just a pointy-eared Vulcan, but the logic-loving prototype for a role that taps into the power of information in unprecedented ways.

The idea that people in leadership roles should specialize in the organization, visualization and translation of vast swathes of data is no longer limited to sci-fi buffs. Today, data scientists play a leading role in what to do at a fork in the road within organizations, says DJ Patil, Vice-President of Product at RelatelQ, who helped coin the phrase “data scientist” while at LinkedIn. “Companies need a Spock in the boardroom,” he adds.

Firms, both large and small, are heeding this suggestion, as they continue to grasp the strategic importance of “Big Data”. This is no longer just a buzzword: data, data science and data analytics are all crucial tools for everything, from understanding customers to optimizing supply chains. As such, companies, governments and other institutions are vigorously investing in data science techniques and expertise.

Within the last 20 years, the focus has shifted from data collection to data use. What can we learn from the data? What is it telling us? How do we organize, access and visualize data in a way that steers strategic action? And how will this change in the future as data and the algorithms designed to comb them become more powerful…

Read the entire post on the World Economic Forum website



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