Big data might be on its way out as a buzzword, but its lessons hold true. Especially the one about variety. Over the past few years, talk about data as a tool for better business intelligence has turned into talk about data as a tool for better insights into just about everything. Finding the needle in the haystack about user behavior, for example, has given way to finding out how and why users think the way they do.
This evolution in thinking about data has influenced our Structure Data conference, which takes place next month (March 19-20) in New York. It’s a great lineup of speakers, but some of the sessions I’m most excited about are those that turn the standard definitions of data and methods for analyzing it on their heads. Here are five that promise to do just that.
1. A new type of internet needs a new type of platform
Pivotal has staked its business on becoming a major platform for the Industrial Internet, which includes data coming from myriad sensors on everything from automobiles to power turbines. In a fireside chat with Om Malik, CEO Paul Maritz (formerly CEO of VMware) will explain how handling and benefiting from this type of data requires a new way of thinking information technology.
2. More than the sum of all those check-ins
Foursquare might be an old-school social network at this point, but it was eye-opening in terms of showing the world the promise of geo-location data. Now that his company knows who’s where, when and with whom, Foursquare founder and CEO Dennis Crowley will talk with Gigaom’s Mathew Ingram about how the company can turn that type of information into an even better user experience and, ultimately, profits.
3. Have Android phones, will assess emerging markets
Premise Data is one of the most innovative startups I’ve come across in a while, utilizing a network of smartphone-equipped contributors around the world to track trends in the global economy. Founder and CEO David Soloff will present on how crowdsourced camera-phone images of key indicators can give investors, businesspeople and even NGOs insights into emerging markets much faster than waiting for official reports.
4. Talking technology at Data Lab
Data Lab is a new idea for Structure Data and a way to show off some of the technology behind new types of data analysis. We’ll have Ted Bailey of Dataminr talking about how to use Twitter data; Vasu Kulkarni of Krossover talking about how to break down video; Nathan Oostendorp of Sight Machine discussing the cutting edge in computer vision; Brian Whitman of The Echo Nest sharing secrets of machine listening and graph analysis; and Chris Neumann of DataHero talking about designing the UX of SaaS applications around users’ behavior data.
5. Artificial intelligence in all its forms
We’ve been talking about an uptick in deep learning and artificial intelligence for about a year, and we’ll feature some leading minds in the space at Structure Data talking about to train systems and deliver APIs that can learn to make sense of images, voice, text and other types of data. Speakers range from startups — Eliot Turner of AlchemyAPI, Ben Medlock of Swiftkey, Tim Tuttle of Expect Labs and Ramona Pierson of Declara — to large vendors, including Stephen Gold of the IBM Watson Group and John Platt of Microsoft Research.