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Summary:

In a laughter filled talk, Beth Comstock, SVP and CMO at GE explained how the company is taking advantage of design to keep people relevant in the industrial internet.

GE and design may not seem to go together, but as it connects its industrial products, medical devices and home appliances to the internet and rethinks its business for the connected age, the company is focusing on user interfaces and data. Onstage at the Roadmap 2013 conference in San Francisco, Beth Comstock, SVP and CMO at GE explained how the company is designing processes and interfaces that optimize the skills that machines and people each bring to a job.

So a repairman might use sensor data and augmented reality to repair a complicated piece of machinery, or a hospital might use robots to track equipment and move it around, freeing nurses up to do more patient-focused jobs. As a result of this shift Comstock believes that jobs like data scientist or user interface designer will become far more important.

“You need to get the data to do the right things for the right people in a way they can understand,” Comstock said. That’s a big order that requires a lot of background analytics on the machine side and field research and a deep understanding of the process brought in by designers.

Comstock explained that these machine and human interactions require thinking about everything from figuring out what information is valuable at that moment but also considerations like fonts that differentiate from humans speaking (or typing) and machine-generated information. The net result of this is that data scientists and user experience designers will be jobs that grow in importance as companies seek to take advantage of the benefits of connected machines and people.

Check out the rest of our Roadmap 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. The Bitter Consumer Tuesday, November 5, 2013

    Fair point, but I’m skeptical of those who believe this sector is the only one necessary or that it will displace all others. What stability exists here for entrants?

    http://thebitterconsumer.wordpress.com

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  2. If you’re a data scientist it may not be stable, but you’ll always have a job! Probably well above the average pay grade too.

    Come join us bitter consumer, we need a skeptic in the team to challenge our machine learning predictions!

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  3. Nicholas Paredes Wednesday, November 6, 2013

    Combining data with experience and interaction design opens entire new worlds of possibility. As I begin to look for new roles in 2014, only the vision of the team or company limits my future opportunity.

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  4. Great piece. I’d go further (and have) — at Datascope Analytics we *combine* data science and design to develop data-driven applications for humans. In our experience, it is impossible to separate use cases, business needs, analytics, data sources, and visualization interfaces without considering everything together.

    http://datascopeanalytics.com

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  5. Don’t disagree about the growing importance of these roles. However I don’t currently see a great amount of career progression in these disciplines, especially data scientists. I’ve witnessed how analysts don’t get promoted ahead of peers from other disciplines. Hopefully this will change as they become valued more. I also think many data scientists have to learn to be more strategic in their thinking, flicking between detail and big picture.

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  6. I totally agree

    What sets the data scientist aside is robust business awareness, connected with the ability to correspond conclusions to both business and IT Managers in a way that can impact how a corporation approaches a business challenge.

    Thanks for the read.

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