Pittsburgh Technical Council

Information, Too Much, Too Little and Now What?

Information, Too Much, Too Little and Now What?

Article Published: December 22, 2014

Speed. Acceleration. Velocity. Change. Whirling. Artificial intelligence. Robotics. Visualization. Pattern recognition. Behavioral trends. Qualitative analysis. Computer modeling. Performance improvement. 

These were just some of the prevalent conversations which were used during our “I Love It When You Call Me Big Data” event in early November when industry leaders from information and data analysis, health care, manufacturing, academic research, services and product design, cyber, marketing, ecommerce, aerospace, logistics and consulting took center stage.

What was so interesting about this conference was not the sudden “emergence” of Big Data, rather the evidence of the skills that are now required to prepare for the next five years of opportunity. I profess that this five-year window is the period of time I selected, not one that was provided by any data source. What’s intriguing to me is the emergence of skills that necessitate the rapid convergence of analytics, design, economics, computer learning and human interaction. In the last five years, our business environment has shifted. While it is not a generational shift in scope, nimble adaptation has been necessary to keep pace with the rapid rate of change. Unfortunately, the workforce gap will continue to widen as many fall behind the dynamic demands of our marketplace.

Looking forward to the next five years, here is what will change:
* The notion of “The Internet of Things” will be part of every company’s strategy. Go ask leaders who hold positions in banking and finance, manufacturing, and health care.

* Wearables will be priorities for health care providers and insurers, not just high-performance athletics.

* Everything will be connected and we will not be able to opt in or out. Products will already have embedded technology used to track usage patterns.

* The business opportunities for data collection and analysis remain a green field.

* The standards for non-financial data analysis are non-existent outside of academic institutions.

* We don’t even know what data is important for consumer engagement.

* If high school students are not learning statistics, data analysis and predictive modeling tenets, the gap for their opportunities will widen drastically and rapidly.

* The MVP of every company is their information; about customers, employees, and the marketplace.

* Business Intelligence is not a financial scorecard. However, without business intelligence, there will be no financial performance.

* Data integrity will be an operant word used pervasively across every company. Every employee will understand what it means and why.

* Data will be consistently used erroneously to make profound decisions in our businesses and in our lives. Expect it.

* Pittsburgh has deep roots in this domain. Get to know these companies and researchers.

I am actually enthralled with what I am seeing in the domain-specific marketplace.

(First Insight, Rhiza, Civic Science, Management Science, Jawbone formerly Body Media, the Acquisition of PoweredAnalytics by Target, etc. and the companies who lead in connecting everyday life with technology, such as YinzCam, SongWhale, NoWait.) 

There isn’t a company who is not wrestling with how to leverage what they produce, what they know about their partners and consumers, who aren’t trying to organize their business strategies around the proliferation of applications that will illuminate key market differentiators.

The incredible thing is that we have companies who have expertise in almost every market building their companies in Pittsburgh. Even at the Tech Council, we have spent a good part of this last year unraveling an old customer relationship management system to catapult into the dynamic period of interaction and mobile, we have dug through 20-plus years of “data” (scrubbing, losing, rebuilding). We are far from our end game… but the entire team, while still focused primarily on ensuring the vitality of the region’s innovation economy, has learned that data analysis is a skill set inherent to everyone’s role. Applied examples include PTC’s annual State of the Industry Report; tracking Venture Investment activity; and the Pittsburgh Creative Industries report, which has provided insight into the region’s rapidly growing creative economy.

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