Can data improve the future of our humanity? You better believe it. “Big data” is more than just big businesses. Every day, social impact groups are finding new and creative ways to act upon the information that they’re generating. They’re using data to surface new information, uncover underserved communities, and track performance over time. Here are 5 very different organizations that are using data, in new and creative ways, to improve the lives of people around them:
Meet Maggie Diaz-Vera, one of four Women on the Rise winners who will be flying to San Francisco this fall for a week-long educational journey!
Maggie was born and raised in Miami, FL. Her interest in tech stems from playing Video Games with her brother as a child and learning how to mod gaming systems. Her professional experience is in online marketing, and she is currently studying Computer Science at Miami Dade College with the pursuit of a career in Data Science.
From my past experiences at both large tech companies and small startups, there is a tendency to assign data projects to rockstar developers and let them run with it. The results are often interesting from a data science standpoint, but nonfunctional from a product standpoint.
The problem with this approach is twofold. First, how the developers approach the data and how the data integrates into the product are fundamentally different. Second, datasets in the real world are messy—inaccurate, imprecise, and unstructured—and this can render them unusable in their initial format.
At VeryApt, every data project is allocated developer hours, analyst hours, and budget for external resources (such as tools and supporting datasets). With these constraints established, our analysts and developers work together to create clear goals for the product and its associated site integration. This allows the team to narrowly focus their efforts and determine if the data available can produce useable results. Continue reading →
Understanding data is becoming increasingly important across all facets of business. Small businesses use financial data to make smarter operating decisions, governments are aggregating data to help us map everything from flu trends to voting information, and corporations are getting more targeted in the way they market products and services.
Data has implicitly become a part of nearly every job today. It requires many people to get comfortable pulling, analyzing, and presenting data to decision makers, policy shapers, and even our family and friends. Continue reading →
Never in my life would I have considered myself a data storyteller. While I had always been good at math — taking multiple levels of calculus throughout my years of high school, college, and grad schools — numbers didn’t really interest me. I was more interested in disciplines I felt were “solving real problems,” like sociology and government. Eventually, I majored in English because I enjoyed the challenge of interpreting and communicating complex ideas. Plus, someone once told me, “Girls can’t be good at math.”
By moving beyond analysis into prediction through data science, General Assembly Hong Kong’s DAT graduate Anson Au has brought unparalleled performance and efficiency to traditional practices in the construction industry.
Before coming to GA, Anson was already an avid learner, having completed both an MSc and MBA at HKUST. In his current role as head of IT projects at Alliance Construction Materials, he sought to use data and technology to improve the performance in the traditional construction materials industry.
As you know, women are woefully underrepresented in STEM fields (science, tech, engineering, and math) – making up barely 11% of math faculty, and earning only 18% of computer science degrees. Nearly half of the women who graduate with engineering degrees never enter the profession, or leave soon after.
There is, however, one hugely in-demand STEM specialty where women dominate: statistics!
75% of IT execs say they need to change their leadership style within the next three years;
By 2017, 50% of total IT spending will occur outside of IT;
Also by 2017, 70% of successful business models will be deliberately unstable
In short: Silo-ed roles are out, blended skills are in. As more businesses use data to scale, employees must be agile enough to switch tactics on a dime. Gartner says, “This holistic approach blending business model, processes, technology and people will fuel digital business success.”
Groupon’s original business plan. Image source: Amanda Peyton (via The Point blog)
If you work in digital, you have met them. The data people. You know, the ones who can see level upon level of digital data unfolding in their mind’s eye? The Beautiful Mind types who have the ability to create an almost three-dimensional Excel spreadsheet? Perhaps you are one of these people, and this stuff comes naturally to you. For the rest of us non-data thinkers, creating a digital map on paper is a skill. It’s known as data modeling.
The idea of a data model is to create an overview of a digital project that all invested parties can access, understand, and use to do their jobs. Whether you are a data specialist, an agile whiz, or just a content strategist who studied James Joyce in college and doesn’t inherently think in data bytes, if you work in digital, you will probably have to create a model.
If you’re using technology — to shop, communicate, or find information — the results of data mining are all around you. Just think of the influx of recommendations of items to purchase, shows to watch, and friend suggestions on social media. Data mining allows companies to take the giant pile of consumer information generated daily and analyze for relationships and patterns. When it comes to big data, the possibilities for exploration are nearly endless.