April 12, 2014

3 Trends Driving Big Data Breakthroughs: A CIO's View
By marrying external data with the terabyte of data per day spinning off of each of its sensor-equipped turbines, Fowler said GE is helping customers eke out a seemingly small 1% improvement in output that will translate to $2 to $5 million in savings per turbine, per year. That will net $66 billion in savings over the next 15 years across all 1,700-plus turbines that GE customers have in operation. The second trend changing the game in the use of big data is new platforms such as Hadoop and NoSQL databases, Fowler said. "We've seen the cartel of database vendors broken up, and some great new entrants give us new capabilities that we've never had before at a cost that we've never seen," he said.

When Machine Learning Isn’t Learning
Like k-means clustering, many algorithms being tagged with the machine learning label today are more iterative in nature than adaptive and learning in nature. I first came across the difference between artificial intelligence and a complex set of rules in high school. For a science fair project, I programmed my computer to play the game Isolation. Isolation is played on an 8 x 6 grid. Players move their piece to an open space and then punch out any space on the board. The idea is to get your opponent trapped on an island with no moves to make before you are trapped.

Is There Anything Beyond Quantum Computing?
While we don’t yet have full answers to these questions, over the past 15 years we’ve accumulated strong evidence that qubit quantum computers are up to the task of simulating quantum field theory. First, Michael Freedman, Alexei Kitaev, and Zhenghan Wang showed how to simulate a “toy” class of quantum field theories, called topological quantum field theories (TQFTs), efficiently using a standard quantum computer. These theories, which involve only two spatial dimensions instead of the usual three, are called “topological” because in some sense, the only thing that matters in them is the global topology of space.

eLearning: Ethiopia, Kenya & Beyond
Technology in schools projects have tended to do extremely well in Kenya. This is partly because the Kenyan government has placed ICT at the forefront of all its on-going initiatives, but it also boils down to a strong spirit of commercialism. This means that the government tends to leap on any available opportunities and promote competition to make them work. ... “This is the pathway to bettering yourself and there is hunger for education that is a lot more apparent within the kids in the school [than you ever see here in the UK]. They want to absorb everything. This differs from country to country in terms of the reason why.”

BPO on the Brink of a New Generation: Technology Transformation
A new research study from HfS Research, sponsored by Accenture, examines the extent to which new technologies and platforms can help companies break out of their current business process outsourcing (BPO) situation, in which BPO is still basically transactional and operational in nature and rarely transformational. The report, “BPO on the Brink of a New Generation: Technology Transformation,” is based on a survey of 773 BPO stakeholders—including enterprise buyers, service providers and advisors.

How Big Data Could Help Law Enforcement Catch Bulk Cash Smugglers
There are exciting developments in an emerging breed of software that can explore and analyze data to help uncover unknown patterns, links, opportunities and insights that can drive pro-active, cause-based decisions. Often referred to as “predictive analytics,” it is now available to help law enforcement sort through large volumes of data to predict the likelihood of targeted activity. A limited pilot program has proved very successful in intercepting narcotics flowing north from Mexico into the United States. I believe this same technology could revolutionize law enforcement decision-making at the border by increasing our odds of identifying, intercepting, and seizing bulk cash.

McKinsey research: IT needs a kick in the keister
A new study from strategy consulting firm, McKinsey, shows “growing dissatisfaction” with IT performance, from both business users and within the ranks of IT itself. The study notes that almost one-third of IT respondents believe replacing their own leadership should be a top priority to improve IT performance. This data signals a growing crisis, in which the CIO and IT are evolving but have not yet found their rightful place during a time in which expectations of IT are changing rapidly. ... For CIOs and IT, the message is clear and definite: being an infrastructure provider is not sufficient to meet expectations of today's business leaders and IT executives.

The DBA Detective: Disturbing Developments
Hell, it must be that new database. I played dumb. "I don't know what you're talking about Mildred. Which server is having trouble?" I tried to sound nonchalant, but my voice came out as a nervous squeak; the disks were her girls and they weren't happy. "There are massive reads and writes going on. My girls are rattling like mice." "I don't know, Mildred. There was a new app released last night, maybe that's it." "Well, ya better find out, and fast. Don't you guys have any monitoring?" Mildred knows how to make a guy feel small. "We're working on it," I lied, smooth as a grifter running twenties on a barman.

The Great Analytical Divide: Data Scientist vs. Value Architect
In hiring the business analyst or value architect, the “hybrid” component would focus on the quantitative/mathematical capabilities of the prospective candidate. For example, is the individual extremely comfortable with numbers? Does the individual know how to apply this knowledge to solve the given business problem. As part of the interview process, data and numbers could be presented to the candidate in order to understand their thought process in terms of identifying the real problem or business issue. Further questions might probe their thinking in how they might solve the problem.

Designing an Event Log API with RAML
Humans are the key ingredients in API design which means that API design tools and documentation formats must be human readable and writeable. Recent API documentation standards strive to be "human-centric." API Blueprint was an early leader in this area adopting Markdown as a format which is familiar to both developers and business analysts involved in the API design lifecycle. Mulesoft released their RESTful API modeling language RAML, late last year. The language could end up being just a proprietary vendor language, but there are a number of reasons why this language is interesting to the broader API community:

Quote for the day:

"The most likely way to reach a goal is to aim not at that goal but at some more ambitious goal beyond it" -- A. Toynbee