big data

A trip from a Digital Ocean to Orange’s Plaza [by Franck Martini]

[This is a Tech Days catch-up of my very best friend Franck Martini @franckmartini who roamed in the Microsoft Tech Days in Paris this week. Franck is intranet manager in gemalto, comics lover, smart guy, … but married.]

Day three of the Tech Days 2013 and today the focus is more on “the business”, read non IT people. As a consequence the amount of women has dramatically increased (over 60 to 70! which is ten times more than the day before)… If politics and companies top management are two very masculine domains, we can safely add IT to the list. My personal feeling is that it’s probably one of the jobs that most need a more feminine touch. And I’m not even writing this because this post is hosted by my good friend Virginie…

An ocean of Big Data?

The intro keynote was mostly devoted to Big Data even if its misleading title (“Welcome to the Digital Ocean”) could have implied many other topics. Other will explain better what Big Data is all about but some figures in the introduction were pretty striking:

  • 1/3 of babies have an online life before being born
  • Digital birth online is at the age of 6 month.

Which means that a baby has a digital identity long before he gets regular ID papers… and an online footprint long before he/she has the ability to become naturallysocially active?

There is no real novelty in this as a fact, but the statistic behind can be seen either as extraordinary or scary…How long before someone invents the concept of ‘Parental branding’ or ‘Online Parenthood’?

For the rest of the day, I focused on topics that pique my interest as Intranet Manager : BYOD and mobility, Company Social Networks.

BYOD, ATAWAD, CYOD, COPE… who wins the acronym war ?

As an intro the BYOD session, some elements were quite noteworthy:

  • On average a Smartphone owners checks his/her mobile 150 times a day. Question: does playing to Angry Birds for 45 min count as one time?
  • 45% of employees use their personal device at work or for work purposes.
  • 75% of exempts work outside of working hours (and very frequently on personal devices)

BYOD has several aspects: it can have an impact on a company image; it has ties with HR policies, trade unions matters, definition of working hours etc… Yet it also means advanced legal elements and big headaches for IT teams in terms of data security and device support. Data security is obvious but why support? Well simply put, when one considers the variety of devices, how often new products appear on the market and the updates of mobile OS and apps, it seem that supporting all these devices compared to today’s armada of Dell computers is going to be a major issue or can be seen as virtually impossible.

Social Networks – ‘We do not have all the answers’

Moving on to Enterprise 2.0 or Company Social Networks, one classic argument remains, the techno gap between external tools (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc…) and what is happening behind the firewall. Experts say that IT departments will have to become more and more agile to fit with new needs and the speed of the external tools (the topic of Day 2’s keynote).
What also appears from the various presentations is that the aspect of personal branding is still essential and that a user will only contribute internally if there is a sort of payback for him.

Feedback and quick-wins also presented mentioned important money savings (ROI Finance guys! Yes, that’s possible), lots of problem solving, bugs identification, good company positioning, improved image for managers who ‘play the game’ and finally something that we’re all waiting for: less emails and less meetings.

The final and main message that I identified is that no matter all the plans for such a project, all participants agreed on the fact that it is a jump into the unknown as it’s the users who will define its use and not its creators. And this is the scary part of the story that you will not tell to your boss when you discuss the perspectives of such a project.

Big Data – They unveiled the secret


Still in the hurricane of the Microsoft Tech Day 2013 in Paris. Two smart guys were interviewed about Big Data and Innovation.

Why did they were elected ? The first because his name is Cyrille Vincey @cyrvin, founder of Qunb, a startup which which created a good Buzz during Paris Le Web, which offers some datavisualization services. And the second is Antoine Durieux the CEO Chef Jerome @Chef_Jerome. Interview was conducted by  PEG @pegobry.

What is big data ? In real real reality. Those guys set up the context of big data. Big data is not new. It is just the principle of storage a very laaarge amount of data and being able to perform some request on it. Nothing really new. even the algorithms use to manage the operations are old. The major skills required to be a significant player on this area is the capability to store on different servers in parallel a large amount of data, with a reasonable scalability.

As an exemple. Chef Jerome is a linker of big data : receipts on one hand, supermakert catalog on the other hand. Chef Jérôme makes the link for the user : offering him a aggregated view. The little magic behind is the following : receipts are analysed, scanned, cut into basic elements such as title, picture, list of components, weight, quantity, supermaket catalogs suffer the same and it is done. Regarding the number of data manipulated, this is what can be called big data.

Limitation. Calculation operated on large amount of data are complex. Why ? Because data are fragmented. Because data calculation takes a non-predictable time to be performed. Because calculation are done in a asynchronous way. And to make sure that you can use the data despite those obstacles, pre-calculation is used. Which presents the drawback to make real time impossible.

Solutions. Oversimplifying, there are kind of two technical types of solution. The distributed model based, running in several servers, asynchronous and thus pre-calculated which has the advantage to be open source. And the second model which is based on storage on a single machine, allowing real time, but which has the disadvantaged to be under license.
What has changed since everyone talks about big data ?

One. Start up can talk to investors and decision makers, as they feel they should belong to the history by joining the big data movement. But in reality, shhuuut, don’t tell them, but big data is just a statistical tool for the dummies.

Two. Companies using big data principles on their internal information system can now have support to make micro-decision. Big data may not help you to build your innovation and strategic 3 years-plan, but may help companies to fine tune some decisions, analyzing statistically some usage of the employees, of their customers…

Three. Some work is starting about prediction based on Big Data. By spoofing little signs, you may be able to predict some behavior, or some underground trends, or detect some demand from your customer that you do not address.

Four. There is an unlimited combination of trying to correlate data. Imagination does not have any limit, expect power processing, and silos between actors detaining the data.

The philosophical questions. If we believe that the big data tool will be deployed in all area of business. One should ask if this is really attractive for citizen (and their privacy), for example, in the health domain. Another question, is, when are we going to open the data from different sectors ? Last amazing observation. Why is that statisticians do not join the movement ? (well, we can guess they might feel uncomfortable with everyone starting to play with statistics).

Definitely a technology to monitor. Thanks again to two guys, who have been innovative and demystified for us the big data magic.

Note : Picture by h de c’s under creative common license.