Reflections on Big Data Confereneces

Last week, I attended two technical events. One was Big Data Techcon in San Francisco and another was Seattle Biz-Tech Summit 2013. My focus was on Big Data and proximity sensors.

For Big Data Techcon, there were many sessions about tools; for example, how to collect data, analyze the data and make a correct interpretation of the analytics. The emphasis is on engineering data. Two things that stood out for me was the graph data base and the keynote speech by Doug Cutting.

The graph data base has an advantage to visualize the connections between Big Data. The book, “Graph Databases”, was given away at the session led by Max De Marzi. He was passionate about Neo4j and showed us the connections between Facebook accounts using code. The connections were visualized regardless of the privacy setting in Facebook.

In the keynote speech, Doug Cutting, the founder of Hadoop claimed that “Hadoop 2 is the Big Data OS” and “Open source’s time has come”. After the keynote, Doug was available to talk to people who wanted to obtain his insights or wanted to have a photo with him. Regarding my inquiry about his view on proximity sensors and Big Data, he saw the significance of the sensor impact to Big Data and made an example with retail stores “What would be the value to the retail stores when they can figure out the shopper’s favorable route.

Seattle Biz-Tech Summit 2013 also focused on Cloud and Big Data. I particularly enjoyed the panel “Innovation and Impacts of Cloud Computing and Big Data”. Dave Segleau, Director, Oracle described the phases of the customer adoption of Big Data as:

  1. What is Big Data?
  2. What can Big Data do?
  3. I have a Big Data (or NoSQL) problem. How can I use your product help me build and deploy a Big Data (or NoSQL) based solution?
  4. I’m starting to understand the issues (limitations, requirements, administration) around managing a Big Data (or NoSQL) solution.
  5. Here’s how I can leverage Big Data to benefit the Enterprise and our customers.

Ying Li, Director, ACM SIGKDD suggested that we would move from an engineering data phase to a data knowledge sharing phase in the future. She was an advocate for open data. Jay Mozek, Chief Architect & Director, iSoftStone thought that we need to be clear about the business goal before engineering data. Chris Garvery, Senior Director, Expedia encouraged us to think what we can’t do today and use data to discover the possibility. Panelists had their own perspectives and their unique views made the session informative and interesting.

Yesterday, I found this article that shared how graphics chips can help process big data sets in milliseconds and “opening up new ways to visually explore everything from Twitter posts to political donations.” This trend of facilitating big data visualization is certainly in full swing.


Develop an NFC Strategy Through Observing Cloud Adoption Trends

NFC pioneers in the US have questions about the adoption rate of the technology and the partnership opportunities in the ecosystem.

The adoption trends of Cloud Computing perhaps provide some insight on this inquiry. Amazon started to offer Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006, Google added Google Docs to its Gmail offering in 2007, Microsoft launched Azure in 2009, and Apple announced iCloud in 2011.

James Staten of Forrester Research, shared recent trends from a survey on Cloud developers at the  RightScale Compute 2013 conference. The first trend is that developers seem to be lacking in experience with Cloud. The survey revealed that only 30% of developers had hands-on experience with the Cloud. Given the number of consumers utilizing the Cloud, this low percentage is surprising to me. For example, my laptop offers Acer Cloud, my iPad synchronizes with my iPhone through iCloud, and my Google calendar is in Google Cloud. Because these and other Cloud products are becoming more widely utilized, one can assume that a high percentage of the developers are using Cloud products. What could motivate these developers to create Cloud-based apps?

Another trend points to smaller organizations as leaders in Cloud innovation. The survey revealed that less than a quarter of Cloud developers are working for large enterprises. Finally the demographic of the survey itself revealed a trend that US’s adoption seems to lag behind that of other countries. Only a quarter of Cloud developers are in the US; the others are in Asia and Europe.

What can this tell us about NFC? A brief history shows some of the parallels. The first NFC enabled mobile phone was released by Nokia in 2006. Since then, quite a few NFC-enabled phones have come on the market, followed by the introduction of NFC-enabled tablets in 2012 and 2013. Asia and Europe have had a higher adoption rate of NFC, while in the US, consumers are not taking full advantage of the capability.

If you are one of the NFC pioneers in the US, will working with large enterprises present a good opportunity? Where can you make an impact as an educator of the technology? “What do we need to do together to make this work” as asked by James Staten.


NFC and Big Data

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless connectivity technology. The key word here is “connectivity”. It is not rocket science; it is similar to WIFI or Bluetooth, the technologies that we are familiar with and widely use. NFC enables devices within short proximity (4 cm) to connect with each other in order to exchange information. It also enables devices to read and write from/to NFC tags in order to retrieve or distribute data.

The term WIFI was used commercially in 2000. I remember that in 2002, I used three long Ethernet cables in order to connect  my home computers to the internet. The next year, I bought a WIFI router and started taking advantage of wireless connectivity. Nowadays, when we go to Starbucks, we connect our laptops to the WIFI network and start browsing the web within seconds. The hardware (wireless adapter) and user interface make the connectivity so easy that we don’t even think of the underlying mechanism.

Bluetooth specifications were developed in 1994 and many products are using the technology now. In the tele-healthcare industry, Bluetooth enabled medical devices provide significant value to the consumer. For example, a patient can take a blood pressure reading with a Bluetooth device at home and a nurse can remotely monitor the readings through a server.

NFC is based on RFID technology. The first RFID patent was granted in 1983. The NFC Forum was established in 2004. In 2006, the first NFC-enabled phone was released by Nokia. Today, most newly released smart phones are NFC enabled; they have an NFC chip inside the phone that communicates with NFC tags or other NFC enabled phones, consumers know very little about this capability because of lacking of education.

With your NFC enabled phone,  you can tap your phone with a new friend’s NFC phone and exchange contact information upon agreement. That’s the simplicity of connectivity. This kind of data exchange will add more data into the Big Data realm.

Big data is a hot topic nowadays. Enterprises want to leverage it in order to serve their customers or to develop customer desired products. Whatever we say, write, connect to or exchange with; structured or unstructured data all are part of the Big Data. With the broad usage of mobile devices, big data can be collected easily with or without our permission. When combined with Cloud computing, Big Data analysis can be performed easily and create tremendous impacts to the businesses.

AWS Summit NYC 2012, Werner Vogel’s keynote shared how a drug designer used computational chemistry algorithms with 21 Million compounds to develop a medication that would treat cancer. A Cloud platform shortened the process time and operational expense while dealing with big data analysis.

NFC, like any other connectivity enabler data traffic, will provide useful information for businesses and provide value for consumers. Any business that is thinking of capturing NFC data will be ahead of the game. I believe when consumers start to adopt NFC, it will become part of our life.