The people that have made a data driven world possible are people that dare to dream. When Big Data Pioneers like Cloudera’s Doug Cutting were starting out, things like mobile phones, video calls, and email were nothing more than science fiction.
What makes these inventions possible is imagination. One of the most compelling Chief Data Scientists I have ever had the pleasure of hearing speak is a lady who runs the Big Data operations for one of the region’s largest banks. The question she often poses to her audiences is “what do I look for when I am hiring the next batch of data scientists? Is it coding skills? Is it Hadoop experience? Is it BI or analytics capabilities?” She will tell you it is none of the above. She wants people that dream, that have the ability to imagine question and create. She attests that good coders are easy to come by, far harder to find especially in Asia, is people that have the imagination to come up with ideas that will change an industry, because to her that’s what big data is all about.
She is right, and this is not limited to the data science team, the board room needs to get imaginative too. Data really has the power to make dreams become real. I remember seeing hover boards in the movie back to the future and wondering if such a thing could ever exist. Today it does. You can point to numerous other inventions such as insect drones and robots that can teach themselves to speak that existed only as science fiction just a few short years ago. At the heart of the advancement is data, the ability to analyse and process vast amounts of data at speed, advances engineering, physics and the power to invent.
Perhaps the ultimate in science fiction is the ability to “teleport” – not possible you might think, but scientists are already achieving this at a sub atomic level. It may be some way from teleporting people around the planet, but when it comes to what data can help us achieve; never say never.
Imagination still requires technology to keep up. As an example, news agencies need to track real events and separate them from fake news from the millions of "witnesses" posting from devices across the globe. To achieve this for one news agency, Thomson Reuters, Cloudera solved this unimaginably difficult task by helping them build a system which sorts through millions of news events in milliseconds.
Bringing this back to boardroom, how does all this matter. Data IS going to change your world and your business. The corporate hall of fame is already littered with world beating corporations that are now bankrupt because data driven ideas turned their industries upside down. Think “Toys r Us” and “Yellow Pages” as two household name powerhouses that had the rug pulled from under their business world and ended up in receivership.
If you don’t take data seriously, if you don’t break with convention and imagine how data driven technology WILL transform your business, you can bet that a small start up with some smart data scientists and a great imaginer will beat you to it.
Transformation is happening – it doesn’t just mean cloud enabling your IT, it means re-inventing your business with the power of data. Where does it start? In your head, in your ideas and then crafted by sharing those ideas and creations with a data team that can turn them into the application that re-writes how you do business or even what your business is.