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Summary:

At Structure:Europe in London, two venture capitalists offered quite divergent takes on big data.

Jonathan Heiliger North Bridge Venture Partners Michael Abbott Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers StructureEurope: 2013
photo: Anna Gordon/GigaOM

What’s the big, imminent opportunity for big data? Easier analytics or the development of data science – it depends on whom you ask.

This was a major question at GigaOM’s Structure:Europe conference on Wednesday, posed to two notable VCs, Michael Abbott of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Jonathan Heiliger of North Bridge Venture Partners.

“There are 2.8 zettabytes of data in the world,” said Abbott. “Less than 1 percent has been analysed… there is a step forward as to the discovery element.”

For Heiliger, though, the opportunity is more fundamental: “Data science is part science, part art. There is an opportunity to build better tools to dumb down analytics…. but technology has enabled us to ask questions. The bigger opportunity here is being able to educate people on data science and turn this into a real practice.”

Check out the rest of our Structure:Europe 2013 coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:


A transcription of the video follows on the next page

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  1. Dumbing down or smartening up probably misses the concerns of business. Ultimately to be valuable a business wants insights that it can act upon, e.g. have they saturated the market for their product, can they leverage marketing spend by targeting a small group of influencers versus running a national campaign, etc.

    In the past it was generally accepted that you would buy the tools and work with them yourself (or hire teams to work with them). With this type of analysis, few people have a clue as to how you would assemble a team that can deliver truly actionable insights versus cool observations. In terms of dumbing down, I suppose that new analytical techniques will be developed that everyone will start to use just like built-in formulas, but at that point people are just trying to see whether they can get results that reinforce what they already think.

    There are opportunities, but I don’t think they are in selling the tools to the companies at the end points.

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