Monetizing data assets is enticing for businesses sitting on lakes of information about consumer likes, dislikes, wants and needs. The spotlight is on the benefits of artificial intelligence and machine learning to parse through it all, but this big data is personal data, and Wild-West attitudes to collection and analysis methods can have serious consequences in the modern business world. "Business leaders don't necessarily know how [AI models] work or what can go wrong with them," said Cortnie Abercrombie (pictured, left), founder and chief executive officer of the non-profit AITruth.org. "Data scientists are just trying to fulfill the challenge at hand, and they get really swept up in it to the point where data is getting bartered back and forth without any real governance or policies in place." So what are companies supposed to do? "What I'm advising executives, the board, and my clients is that we need to step back and think bigger about this, think about it not just as GDPR -- the European scope -- it's global data privacy," said Carl Gerber (pictured, right), managing partner at Global Data Analytics Leaders LLC.
More data is concealed in company archives than is available on the web. But that data is in silos, secured behind firewalls, unsearchable by web crawlers. Some of it may even be sitting in paper files, stored in a warehouse and forgotten for decades. But as data becomes an ever stronger driving force in the economy, companies are starting to realize the value of these hidden assets. "More and more companies are removing the silos, bringing that dark data out," said Gokula Mishra (pictured), business-driven information technology strategy expert and former senior director of global data analytics and supply chain at McDonald's Corp. "The key to that is companies being able to value their data, and as soon as they're able to value the data, they're able to leverage a lot of the data."
Picture a room of information technology professionals where they are asked a simple question: How many have been working on a data science model that still has not gone into production after nine months? Then imagine that more than 90 percent raised their hands. That is what's known as a real business opportunity. "It all boils down to one thing: Companies need to use the data that they've been storing for years," said Ian Swanson (pictured), founder and chief executive officer of Datascience Inc., who posed the above question during a recent conference presentation. "We give the tools to data scientists to get that data in action. That's the last mile that we're all working on, and what's exciting is we can make it possible today."
Many see Splunk Inc. as the big big data company. They've got a lot of seven-figure deals filed away with large enterprises that implement their platform for bottom-up projects built from scratch by data scientists. So who would believe Splunk will be the ones to finally package big data into use-case ready products for smaller scale businesses? Access to the computing foundation layer will help Splunk build easy-to-use products for industry verticals, according to Susan St. Ledger (pictured), president of worldwide field operations at Splunk. Her company is tapping ecosystem partners in the open-source community, the likes of Apache Spark and Flink experts, for the parts necessary to knock out specific business use cases.
Big-data repositories hold much of the world's personally identifiable data. Many data management professionals are now laser-focused on the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, which will take effect in little over a month and will place strict data-stewardship mandates on any enterprise that does business in any of those nations. Since it was founded in 2011, Hortonworks Inc. has evolved from a Hadoop big-data software distribution startup to a diversified provider big-data governance tooling for private, public, hybrid and multicloud deployments. GDPR is now the principal global focus in that regard, though other country- and sector-specific laws, such as HIPAA in the U.S., are still a driver of demand for such capabilities. As I discussed in this recent article, GDPR mandates stringent enterprise controls on processing, movement and use of the personal data of the citizen of EU member states, and imposes significant financial penalties for failure to maintain them.