Analytics Day of Learning: Focus on Cognitive Solutions
On December 11, 2015, the Business Analytics Center at Scheller College of Business, Georgia Tech, held its first ever cognitive analytics conference.
When Lee Lewis from Deloitte and I first discussed the idea of a forum of experts brought in to focus on analytics, Lee said, "yeah but we want a layer deeper, something more, we want to go beyond Analytics 1001." Ok, I hear you - makes sense.... But what? Where's the right place to focus? What deserves our attention, right now?
Tom Davenport points out that we're amassing incredible amounts, but also types, of data now. With means for capturing cross-channel experiences, use of specialized recording devices, and the increase in collecting text and video based data, our questions and approach, as well as the data itself, all become more complex and voluminous.
And whether you ask International Institute for Analytics, the president of Clarabridge, the experts at SAS, or a number of leaders in this field, the consensus is that around 80%, if not more, of all data will become unstructured, which provides a redirect for much of what we do.
Lee suggested we move the needle toward innovative solutions, the future look, less reflective - a shift away from the common structured neat and tidy world of X's and Y's, toward a focus on areas of incredible interest, primarily where the currency is not one of simple values, but one of conversations, possibly photographic images, and to the extent we can capture it, human feelings and sentiment.
That was the move to Cognitive solutions, and the focal point of our content for the day, which I had hoped our participants would thoroughly enjoy.
The question then became: where shall I find speakers? Cognitive experience is not commonplace, and I wanted this event to reflect positively on the caliber I'd like associated with the Business Analytics Center.
I searched the nation and found a very small set of experts in this field, interviewed several of them, and narrowed it down to the elite set that we brought in for the day.
Extremely luckily for us, one of those experts resides at Georgia Tech. The other three hailed from very impressive backgrounds and posts as well, traveling from New Jersey, Chicago, and California. Our incredible slate included the following cognitive experts:
Arnab Gupta, our Keynote-Speaker, President of Opera Solutions,
Dr. Ashok Goel from Georgia Tech's School of Interactive Computing,
Kris Hammond, Chief Scientist from Narrative Science, and
Trung Tran, Program Manager at DARPA, and Founder of AD Cognition.
I've been to conferences with incredible minds and vast experience on the stage, but disappointingly, the delivery falls short. Not the case with these speakers - on the contrary, the audience was engaged, I'd say even fascinated at times, and participants from entry through senior level commented on the content and delivery. The day was fantastic, and I heard a great number of positive remarks from participants, speakers, and my administration.
A huge thanks to Dean Alavi - it means so much to have Scheller College of Business as our parent, and specifically, to have her leadership and support for the Business Analytics Center. Also to Lee Lewis from Deloitte for his strategic guidance throughout. And a special thanks to the Center’s program coordinator Michelle Graham, our event coordinator Patricia Smith, our student volunteers: Leah Brohm, David Salazar, Allen Lo, Chris Swanson, and Nityansh Seth. These students took on whatever task we asked of them, did not get extra credit of any sort, took off from work, and attended a campus event during the semester break....which shows their enthusiasm to learn and advance themselves. (Hint, hint, you should call them.)
I've said it often and I'll say it again: these are exciting times for data science and analytics. We've moved to a respected position as drivers of data-inspired* decision-making, and we keep pressing forward to advance, remembering that it's all about the insights we can deliver.
*thanks Rob Brown