Whitehall Media’s 5th biannual Big Data Analytics conference in central London


Whitehall Media’s fifth biannual Big Data Analytics conference on 19 June 2014 was met with resounding success. The day drew hundreds of delegates from across every major business sector and began at 9am with an excellent line-up of leading industry speakers from Birds Eye, JustGiving, ING Bank, Adstream, the German retailer Otto and BUPA.

The event was aimed at sharing use cases of big data, new challenges and walked delegates through the complex maze of technologies available to better harness their existing data.

Big Data Analytics is an essential frontier

In his summary of the event, Anurag Shrivastava, who is attached to ING Bank in the Netherlands, writes that he engaged with delegates and speakers on three topics: namely, how visualisation complements data science, how engineering can complement data science and how the enterprise data hub is evolving across various industries.

One of the key points distilled in Shrivastava’s blog piece includes the essential need for visualisation of data. “To build great data driven applications, you will need data visualisations experts and not only the data scientists,” he says.

He continues:

“The work of Data Scientists intersects with the work of software engineers when they build a data driven application or product for operational use. Good old-fashioned software engineering such as writing well-tested and maintainable code requires engineers having good knowledge of software design, writing quality code and test automation. Data Scientists are generally good at discovering patterns in data, applying machine-learning algorithms to data and developing predictive analytics models. It is hard to find a great software engineer in a great data scientist.

“If you do not develop data driven applications and products using good software development practices before they are put in to production then you can expect to encounter problems that badly engineered code usually brings.”

While big data is at the peak of the hype cycle, Shrivastava says that “forming [the] right teams for big data analytics, choosing the right technology stack and the positioning of big data competency within the enterprise are the common problems that everyone is grappling with at a time when the hype around big data has peaked.”

With skills in the area in high demand, the day featured a thought provoking presentation from Mike Bugembe who is Chief Analytics Officer at JustGiving. Bugembe focused in particular on the essential components required to be a good data scientist, and how the role is a mesh of elements that are, taken together, quite a unique concoction in the industry.

Big Data Analytics Case Studies

The day featured a guest contribution from Jacob Prinsloo who is Head of Analytics and Insight at Birds Eye. Prinsloo spoke at length about how big data is helping Birds Eye manage its supply chain in the production of approximately 5.6 million of fish fingers consumed daily by customers across the world. As one of the largest frozen food giants, the company is continually having to assess cultural typographies, weather and timing, and supply chain variance – all of which have a significant impact on the end product.

Later in the day, BUPA’s head of data science, Barry Panayi, and Alan Payne presented on how big data is helping to reduce average waiting times and helping health practitioners improve the delivery of healthcare services. While Dr Sabrina Zeplin from the German retailer Otto spoke about how predictive analytics and big data help the retailer with automated decision-making throughout the product lifestyle. During the sale seasons in particular, Zeplin showed how predictive technologies can assist with price optimisation to ensure that sales and profits are both on the upswing.

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Join Whitehall Media for our 6th biannual Big Data Analytics conference on 13 November 2014. Click here to see the programme agenda for November 2014.