Big Data Panel from NJ Tableau User Group – Part 1

Lee Feinberg, President of DecisionViz, is moderating the panel:

  • Jose Maldonado, Verizon Wireless

  • Jamie Fox, Tableau Software

  • Ted Frisch, Alteryx

Our presenters have nicely agreed to field a few questions and share their views on how they see big data challenges out in the real world.  Gentleman excellent work on the presentations and thank you again for joining me here. Lee Feinberg: What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen around Big Data that you would like to be involved with?

Jamie Fox: For me it was the 1.2 billion rows of data being queried in 40 seconds.  That’s just way too cool for me.  Just seeing those large volumes of data being accessed so quickly is pretty amazing.

Lee Feinberg: And what kind of platform was that done on?

Jamie Fox: It was on Amazon RedShift.  But to see those types of volumes, I have never seen that in my life.  Having that capability in this day and age is just great.

Lee Feinberg: So, for your friends that don’t work in the industry, how do you describe Big Data?  And more importantly what do you tell them why it might be important to them?

Jose Maldonado: The way I describe it to them is basically when you’re talking data that we’re collecting, we’re talking about data that’s so massive and spans so many rows and records that it’s almost impossible to explore.  And you have to figure out a way to kind of process it and dump it, and you accumulate so much of it.  That’s the best way that I try to explain it to my friends.

Jamie Fox: The first way I explain Big Data is when I have 20% more data than I have today, because then that creates a crisis in my head that I have to go out and invest an awful lot of money to store that data.  But as I said also in my presentation, it’s the volume of data that has not been able to be traditionally stored using conventional methods up until we have these new technologies.  And it enables us to do things like capture every last transaction of every product at Walmart in real time.  Not only is it a volume thing but it also builds really expanded capabilities to do things we’ve never done before in computing.

Lee Feinberg: Think about that next time you shop at Walmart. Lee Feinberg: Do you think that all the activity around Big Data is distracting since most people haven’t even solved Little Data?

Jose Maldonado: Yeah, I think it’s distracting.  I believe it’s getting to a point in our organization where it’s become the shiny object.  Folks are just amazed at what you can process, what you can get at.  But they don’t narrow in on the actionable items that they’re getting today. There are a lot of people who want to explore and capture what they’ve never seen before, instead of mastering what they have in their hands today.

Jamie Fox: Actually, I agree with that because it’s a real thing, but it’s also a buzz word these days.  Everyone’s talking about it and everyone’s figuring out, “Okay, I have a new hammer, let me find some nails.”  Like I said, it’s having that 20% more data than I have today.  I created a crisis in my head and I found a new technology, the cutting edge.  I think it’s very distracting at times because people are so focused on what’s new as opposed to what they need.

Lee Feinberg: Yes, I think it’s definitely a balancing act because you can’t ignore it for the sake of saying, “I need to still get better at what I’ve been working on.”  There’s definitely some work you have to do to keep moving forward and we’re kind of on both of those tracks now.  This is really isn’t any different than I think what we’ve seen in any type of technology change in our business.  Just maybe a little bit more attention on it because everybody’s looking so hard at how data can now be used in their organization. Lee Feinberg: What kind of problems do you see the work of Big Data creating at your company or with your customers?

Ted Frisch: I see the problem in many respects tying back to the business, because I don’t think the business understands the challenges.  They want to be able to access data quickly and the idea of having to push all this data in one central repository is becoming daunting for them — and not having access to that data is becoming more difficult for them.  While I understand the reason behind organizations wanting to push all this data into a central repository, essentially collapsing all these different data warehouses, the business would rather get to the data a lot quicker, have a lot more accessibility to it.

Jose Maldonado: I think one of the other problems is just the amount of work it might take for the folks that are pulling the data and analyzing it.  Even if you can organize it and you can get it to once place, it’s how do you get insights from it?  I think there has to be some time allotted to data, aside from organizing all of it.  I think that’s also going to be something that’s unprecedented in being able to operationalize how you look at that data going forward.

Jamie Fox: I was going to say also it’s an added cost.  It’s a brand new paradigm.  All your DBAs (data base administrators) don’t know Big Data because they can’t, it’s new.  With any other new technology that’s revolutionary, you have to get either re-staff or find another new set of consultants.  So I think it’s a challenge because it’s going to be somewhat expensive.  You’re not using your conventional methods that you’ve already invested in to take care of these issues.

Lee Feinberg: Money should really be no issue….right.

Look for Part 2 in a couple days

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