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November Travelogue Part 1: Bonfire Night, and Analytics Is On Fire

by Alan D. Duncan  |  November 12, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

I attended two conference events last week . Tuesday 5th November was IBM’s Business Connect event at Twickenham Stadium, while Friday 7th November saw me hop over to Dublin for Information Governance and Quality Ireland (IGQIE), hosted by Data Quality and Governance consultancy Castlebridge Associates. Both events were very different in scale, content and tone, and both were equally worthwhile. Between the two events, there’s way too much to cover in one go, so today I’ll concentrate on what Big Blue had to say for themselves, and I’ll come back the IGQIE event in more detail next time out…

5th November is Bonfire Night in the UK, which commemorates the foiled plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his Catholic conspirators attempted, and totally failed, to assassinate King James VI and I by blowing up the British parliament. (“Remember, remember the 5th of November. Gunpowder, treason, and plot.”)

Cue fireworks, more fireworks, and effigies of Guy Fawkes being burned on top of huge piles of scrap timber. Oh, did I mention the fireworks?

Now, while IBM’s recent market challenges have been commented on at length, it would seem that in the Business Analytics arena at least, Big Blue’s business is still pretty explosive. Throughout the Business Connect event, the themes of Analytics and Social Business were writ large, underpinned by Cloud and Mobility (although I had to laugh at the fact that of the IBM Executive Wonks on show, only 50% of them were actually active on Twitter… Credible, much?! Anyway see here for the event’s Twitter stream, #IBMBCUKI). Rugby Union World Cup winner Will Greenwood‘s liberal dropping of the F-bomb during the closing keynote interview was also a highlight…

Anyway, in particular, the much-heralded IBM Watson seems to be getting traction at last, as it moves beyond the fun showcase of winning quiz shows and progresses towards usage in the real world.

Collaborations with University of Southampton, Imperial College London and the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) are all making active use of the Watson capability. Specific use cases identified include: medical diagnosis and health, maritime & marine management, humanities, and computing science.

In the financial services sector, Monitise Group are driving out new applications and banking-enabled “digital life “ecosystems based on correlating personal data, financial transactions and geolocation (although my esteemed Gartner colleague Frank Buytendijk may argue that some of what Monitise is proposing to do with “we know who you are, we know where you are, we know what you’re doing” is riding quite close to the creepy line… See also @FrankBuytendijk for more from Frank…) While in transport, National Express have built out on traditional “station to station” route planning to incorporate geolocated guidance on their latest version of their iOS App and Android App.

The IBM-enabled hackathons of Rewired State (Twitter: @rewiredstate) are also are moving adaptive analytics into the mainstream, as well as encouraging a whole new generation of creative and technically talented developers through the Young Rewired State initiative. Recent work with young developers include including a prototype “Hello George” text-based shopping experience for Asda developed using IBM BlueMix and Twilio. Excitingly, Rewired State are about to embark upon a whole new programme of work in the public sector in collaboration with IBM and UK Government, with the “Data Citizen” project seeking to build new capabilities based on combinations of government data, citizen data and private data (again, the issues of Digital Ethics loom large within the overall design of the programme). 

The hacker ethos, if not hacker mentality is foundational in Rewired State’s approach (which I like), although it was well observed that even in applying Agile principles to their government projects, progress can still feel glacial…

 But then, as Hack Event Leader Julia Higginbottom pointed out in the spirit of the day, even though the Gunpowder plot may have failed spectacularly, at least Guy Fawkes and his conspirators failed fast!

Category: analytics  big-data  business-analysis  business-intelligence  data-governance  data-quality  data-science  information-management  

Alan Duncan
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
22 years IT Industry

Alan Duncan is a Research Director within Gartner's Analytics and Business Intelligence research team. Major areas of interest include: the business value of analytics solutions and architectures, data governance and quality, culture of evidence-based decision making, and data-led organizational change. Read Full Bio




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