Big Data is a Big Deal – say Global Experts @ MYRA

From tracking turtle migration to enabling innovation, Big Data is a big deal – say Global experts

The Centre of Excellence for Data Analytics and Business Insights (CEDABI) – a dedicated centre for research and learning at the MYRA School of Business, was launched in the presence of global experts from Boeing, Indian Institute of Science, Minacs, ReMSL, Toyota and others at Hotel Ritz Carlton, Bangalore on Friday, March 11, 2016.

The launch was preceded by a high-octane and insightful Seminar on Data Analytics and Business Intelligence.  The seminar was inaugurated by Mr. Amit Dhar, Global Head-Minacs Command Center & Process Excellence, The Minacs Group.  Mr. Dhar discussed the industry-responses to the major challenges in business and mentioned that in his organization data analytics is viewed as a horizontal that cuts across different verticals. Professionals in diverse roles across these verticals contribute to the virtual centre of analytics which connects the customer with the enriched experience through analytics.

The vision for CEDABI and its focus at the intersection of data analytics and business insights was outlined by Dr. Michael Shepherd, CEO of CEDABI, MYRA and Professor of Computer Science, Dalhousie University, Canada.  He shared his vision of data-driven innovation contributing to economic growth.  Noting that the unemployment rate for data scientists in the US is less than one percent, Dr. Shepherd emphasized the tremendous opportunities in the field of Data Analytics.  The central theme of his keynote was about how analytics helps decision making across scenarios from tracking leatherback turtle migration to market basket analysis in retail.

Position analytics as a bridge between hard data crunching approach and a soft intuitive one reasoned Dr. Shesha Shah, Founder & Director, LeBoom Technologies & eRx Solutions Pvt. Ltd. She said that organizations today have to rise to the occasion and make conscious changes in the processes and hence there is a strong need to evolve from a tactical perspective to a more strategic, holistic approach with their data.

A contrarian view and a sense of realism to the much hyped domain of big data was brought by Dr. Jayant Haritsa, Senior Professor, Supercomputer Education and Research Centre (SERC), Chair, Department of Computer Science, Indian Institute of Science. He lamented the fact that ‘testing’ is not given its due in software industry.  His talk “Big Data, Small Testing” focused on the criticality of testing in databases – big or small.  He elaborated on the tool CODD (COnstructing Dataless Databases) developed at his lab which constructs dataless environments to simulate alternative scenarios, automated scaling and mimicking to test big data.  He added that CODD is an ingenious tool to leapfrog the infrastructure demands as it fools the system into believing that it is hosting the data.

The power talks were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Abhinanda Sarkar, Associate Dean and Director of Research, MYRA.  Mr. Santhosh Nair, Founder, Analytic Edge Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Gaurav Bhalotia, VP of Engineering, Flipkart and Mr. Debasis Bal, Senior Director, Data Science, Fidelity Investments were the panelists.   Dr. Sarkar, initiating the panel discussion set the expectation from the panel-to throw light and insights on the issue of balancing the technical versus the business side of the expertise that a typical data analytics professional is expected to have. 

According to Debais Bal, Fidelity Investments, the business side of analytics is of critical importance though he valued the technical expertise of an analytics professional. He added that organizations should have professionals with business acumen and they should then go through more formal business analytics training rather than have statisticians develop business acumen. 

Mr. Santhosh Nair, Analytic Edge Pvt. Ltd., said that today, while leaders face an environment that requires real-time decisions and accurate, reliable and timely data in their oversight, rather than guessing or hoping for the best, leaders have to use data effectively to develop and foster a culture in which all members understand, apply and manage data as a dynamic entity to support the focus and improve outcomes.  He opined that business houses prefer to accommodate slightly imperfect solutions at the right time to deal with the pressures of decision making and that these solutions should be palatable and less complex.   

Mr. Gaurav Bhalotia, Flipkart, opined that data-driven organizations should have a strong data culture and a strong data infrastructure, A strong data culture is one where data-backed decisions, not opinions matter; data drives actions without human interventions, he added.  It has its focus on-measure, monitor and improve factors with data flowing seamlessly across boundaries.  A strong data infrastructure is one where there is strong accountability for every form of data and with an easy access to data in reports and visuals. 

The traditional lighting of the lamp by the dignitaries, marked the formal launch of CEDABI.

David J Kasik, Senior Technical Fellow, The Boeing Company, Seattle, Washington, in his insightful keynote shared that Boeing has hugely varied domains of interest to building its aerospace products -ranging from basic physics, statistics, networking, computing, material science, hydrogeology, natural language analysis and so on. He said the growth of data at Boeing is exponential, from terabytes to zetabytes, to say the least. Boeing has made an impact on computing, computer graphics, visual analytics, user interface management systems, and a host of other technological developments.  His own contribution in redefining visual analytics as a science to rapidly explore large complex datasets to gain new business insights had set the stage for Boeing’s first VA project in 2006, subsequently a 5-year research with Canadian Universities-yielded an exponential growth for analytics.  He said that Data is an asset to any company and therefore we need to pay enormous attention to data.  He deliberated that it is important to develop better understanding using visualization techniques, and there are significant opportunities to expand visualization technology in any industry. 

Two secrets of Toyota were revealed by Mr. T R Parasuraman, Deputy Managing Director and Board Member, Toyota Industries in his inauguration speech. First, adopting the principles of the 5S Model in their factories and offices – a Lean Manufacturing tool designed to improve workplace efficiency and improve productivity, while also reducing costs, complete with visual controls and order.  The name 5S Model originates from 5 Japanese words which when translated stand for Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. Second, the A4 Format-a complete report that fits on an A4 sized paper-containing everything from description of the problem to an overview of possible solutions to a description of the implementation of the solution on a limited scale to those actions that need to be monitored, milestones and last, the description of the successful implementation of the solution, on an A4-sized paper. 

Shri Manoj Rajan, IFS, Additional Secretary (Market Reforms), Government of Karnataka, Additional Mission Director, Sakala and CEO& MD, ReMSL, eloquently highlighted three areas-agricultural marketing; Sakala; electoral data where the Karnataka Government has made enormous stride in adopting analytics. In agricultural marketing analytics is used for a deep-dive into market factors, as it provides a wide range of economic, scientific, statistical, mathematical, and market analytic expertise. In Sakala it has taken giant strides in providing service to more than 20 million citizens  with software that is built to analyze the trends of Receipts, Disposals, Rejections, Complaints, Feedback and other important dimensions that are required for an efficient monitoring mechanism and aid the respective departments to take corrective action. And in electoral data where in intra departmental analytics facilitated elimination of duplicates, age and gender analysis, ghost entries, eligibility criteria analysis and others. 

A highbrow event with eloquent speakers and rich discussions from across different sectors – academic, industry and government marked the launch of CEDABI on March 11, 2016.