IBM Datapalooza Takes Aim At Data Scientist Shortage

IBM announced in June that it has embarked on a quest to create a million new data scientists. It will be adding about 230 of them during its Datapalooza educational event this week in San Francisco, where prospective data scientists are building their first analytics apps.

Next year, it will take its show on the road to a dozen cities around the world, including Berlin, Prague, and Tokyo.

The prospects who signed up for the three-day Datapalooza convened Nov. 11 at Galvanize, the high-tech collaboration space in the South of Market neighborhood, to attend instructional sessions, listen to data startup entrepreneurs, and use workspaces with access to IBM’s newly launched Data Science Workbench and Bluemix cloud services. Bluemix gives them access to Spark, Hadoop, IBM Analytics, and IBM Streams.

Rob Thomas, vice president of product development, IBM Analytics, said the San Francisco event is a test drive for IBM’s 2016 Datapalooza events. “We’re trying to see what works and what doesn’t before going out on the road.”

Thomas said Datapalooza attendees were building out DNA analysis systems, public sentiment analysis systems, and other big data apps.

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The Key to Analytics: Ask the Right Questions

People think analytics is about getting the right answers. In truth, it’s about asking the right questions.

Analysts can find the answer to just about any question. So, the difference between a good analyst and a mediocre one is the questions they choose to ask. The best questions test long-held assumptions about what makes the business tick. The answers to these questions drive concrete changes to processes, resulting in lower costs, higher revenue, or better customer service.

Often, the obvious metrics don’t correlate with sought-after results, so it’s a waste of time focusing on them, says Ken Rudin, general manager of analytics at Zynga and a keynote speaker at TDWI’s upcoming BI Executive Summit in San Diego on August 16-18.

Challenge Assumptions

For instance, many companies evaluate the effectiveness of their Web sites by calculating the number of page hits. Although a standard Web metric, total page hits often doesn’t correlate with higher profits, revenues, registrations, or other business objectives. So, it’s important to dig deeper, to challenge assumptions rather than take them at face value. For example, a better Web metric might be the number of hits that come from referral sites (versus search engines) or time spent on the Web site or time spent on specific pages.

TDWI Example. Here’s another example closer to home. TDWI always mails conference brochures 12 weeks before an event. Why? No one really knows; that’s how it’s always been done. Ideally, we should conduct periodic experiments. Before one event, we should send a small set of brochures 11 weeks beforehand and another small set 13 weeks prior. And while we’re at it, we should test the impact of direct mail versus electronic delivery on response rates.

Read more at The Key to Analytics: Ask the Right Questions

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