13 stories to help you "Think Big" at IOD 2012
Delaney Turner 270003RQ8K Delaney.Turner@ca.ibm.com | | Tags:  ibmsoftware information-insights
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We’re one week out from the start of Information On Demand 2012, where Jason Silva will challenge you to “Think Big” about the opportunities, innovations and improved outcomes for your own organization that you’ll discover at the largest conference in the IBM Software event calendar.
The articles and blog posts below should give you a head start. I've drawn them from a wide range of sources, but they all sit at a happy intersection of big data, analytics, professional development and organizational change. These topics will no doubt dominate the main stage and breakout sessions during our four days together. Happy reading!
How do YOU feel about the potential of big data?
A new Pew Internet/Elon University survey measured current opinions about the potential impact of human and machine analysis of newly emerging large data sets in the years ahead. While 53% of those surveyed predicted that the rise of Big Data is likely to be “a huge positive for society in nearly all respects” by 2020, 39% of survey participants said it is likely to be “a big negative.
“The analysts who expect we will see a mostly positive future say collection and analysis of Big Data will improve our understanding of ourselves and the world,” said researcher Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.
Quantified communities: Coming soon to a neighborhood near you?
Over on Project Syndicate, tech watcher and blogger Esther Dyson makes a case for “Quantified Communities.” An evolution of the nascent “Quantified Self” movement, Dyson sees communities to take their data into their own hands to measure, analyze and improve outcomes across a range of essential services:
I predict (and am trying to foster) the emergence of a Quantified Community movement, with communities measuring the state, health, and activities of their people and institutions, thereby improving them.
Is too much of a good thing a bad thing?
From Princeton University comes On the Pursuit and Misuse of Useless Information, a fascinating study on the perils of data overload on decision-making. The study posed two unsettling questions:
Their conclusions are available here and they just might surprise you.
How do you tell an uplifting story about technological disruption?
At a recent TEDx talk in Boston, HBR blogger and author Andrew McAfee explored the parallels between the steam engine and computer with respect to their ability to improve our quality of life:
The positive message is that digital progress is, in my view, the best economic news in the world today. And I'll go one step further: it's the most important business story in recent times.
Can big data help us reinvent society?
Over on edge.org, MIT’s Alex (Sandy) Pentland takes a similarly in-depth look at the possibilities of big data and provides a four-course meal for thought. Personally, I think the ethics – and ethical use – of big data will come to the forefront of this conversation as more governments begin to harness its potential.
With Big Data we can now begin to actually look at the details of social interaction and how those play out, and are no longer limited to averages like market indices or election results.
CIOS: Boost your people skills to increase your influence
On the professional development front, CIO’s Paul Glen provides a helpful primer on how CIOs can wield more influence at the executive table. Glen’s focus is less on emerging technologies and more on improving interpersonal skills:
As geeks, we don't like to trespass on other people's interior experiences and subjective reality. That's the realm of emotions, and we don't do emotions. We don't like to talk about them, think about them or attempt to make others feel them. And strategizing about how to make someone feel a certain way seems wrong.
Steve Mills addresses the analytics skills gap
On The Hill blog, IBM Software Senior Vice President and Group Executive Steve Mills writes:
There’s strong demand for data scientists, people who know how to deal with one of today's most popular technology topics, Big Data. That’s the huge trove of raw information that’s now available thanks to the explosion of social media, sensors and other sources.
Big demand for big data skills
Mills’ views are corroborated on readwriteweb, where Brian Proffit paints a pretty job picture for those with big data and mobile platform development skills:
Programming and development abilities top many employers' most-sought-after-skills lists, as big data and mobile-platform development jack up demand to new levels.
Get started with free online courses
Luckily, over at GigaOm,Derek Harris finds a bevy of free courses to help you get started.
Several novice programmers who signed up for a free machine-learning class on Coursera have gone on recently to win predictive-modeling competitions. Maybe it’s not that hard to mint new data scientists after all.
How to talk to your executives about big data
On the Harvard Business Review blog, Michael Schrage looks at successful techniques to educate your executives about the positive possibilities of all those petabytes:
Instead of asking, "How can we get far more value from far more data?" successful big data overseers seek to answer, "What value matters most, and what marriage of data and algorithms gets us there?"
Big data: The management revolution
In a similar vein, Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson present two examples of how big data, harnessed in the right way, can lead to dramatic business transformation. One uses big data to create new businesses, the other to drive more sales. It’s worth noting that both examples feature established companies, not Silicon Valley upstarts:
We expect companies that were born digital to accomplish things that business executives could only dream of a generation ago. But in fact the use of big data has the potential to transform traditional businesses as well. It may offer them even greater opportunities for competitive advantage (online businesses have always known that they were competing on how well they understood their data). As we’ll discuss in more detail, the big data of this revolution is far more powerful than the analytics that were used in the past. We can measure and therefore manage more precisely than ever before. We can make better predictions and smarter decisions. We can target more-effective interventions, and can do so in areas that so far have been dominated by gut and intuition rather than by data and rigor.
Analytics and wine: A perfect pairing
On the analytics front, New Zealand wine maker Delegat finds that predictive analytics complement its winemaking process quite nicely when dealing with the unpredictability of weather patterns and consumer tastes:
Predictive analytics quantifies what every winemaker instinctively understands: that change in any one area affects the entire vineyard-to-bottle process. The links between these different areas are complex and diffuse, but the deep data analysis of platforms like IBM’s Cognos TM1 can give us strong correlations and models upon which to base our decisions.
Ten reasons people resist change
To wrap up is HBR's Rosabeth Moss Kanter on why people resist change. How many do you see within your organization?
Leadership is about change, but what is a leader to do when faced with ubiquitous resistance? Resistance to change manifests itself in many ways, from foot-dragging and inertia to petty sabotage to outright rebellions. The best tool for leaders of change is to understand the predictable, universal sources of resistance in each situation and then strategize around them.