The aim of the event was to get beyond the buzzwords often associated with the analytics industry and look at some practical applications of data and some of the tools that will be enabling this.
First up was Richard Lewis from Model Citizens, talking about the 'Statistical challenges of Big Data'.
Richard described how the ever increasing rise in data volumes required a slightly different approach to more standard methods of passing through the whole dataset multiple times to be able to calculate statistics required for modelling but how it was possible to have a situation to be able to analyse and model where the whole dataset needn't sit in the same location.
The next speaker Simon Field from Revolution Analytics whose presentation followed on neatly from Richard's in that it went on to describe the ever increasing rise in R and how the fact that it is Open Source means that new techniques and set routines (packages) are created at a far greater rate than you'd get with a traditional software vendor.
The extra layer that Revolution Analytics brings is the scalability that is not available with standard R, with the ability to run using multiple cores along with enhanced versions of R packages.
After the break, was a presentation by Dan Barnett from Analysis Marketing/Analysis Recruitment talking about the required mindset of a modern day analyst. The presentation focused more on attitudes required rather than skill-set.
Dan talked about how it was important to have an inquiring mind, to be able to think like a customer as it's people's behaviour that ultimately you're trying to understand and it's not just numbers on a page. He also stressed the need to be questioning of any figures you get, to try and break them to see if any issues exist.
Dan also gave a few practical examples of how with the increasing availability of Open Source tools (R/Tableau Public etc.,) along with Open data such as that available from Census/Government sources, it was easier than ever for an analyst to prove they truly understood data and analytics and it not just being a case of sticking some keywords on a CV.
Next up was Lee Witherell from Fuel UK (part of communications agency Engine). Lee talked about the increasing number of touchpoints an organisation might have with a consumer, how our lives now are dominated by 'looking at rectangles' from smartphones to tablets to TV.
Lee mentioned about the trade off consumers are face with between getting a service (examples included an App created by BUPA) and providing some data in return along with the rise of the 'Quantified Self' (see links at end of this blog).
The final presenter was Scott Lutz from Alteryx whose presentation brought together a lot of the themes mentioned in previous presentations. Alteryx provides an easy to use workflow system to enable users to integrate data, analyse and then output to a range of sources including Tableau/Qlikview along with integration with R, this process means you're not left with a situation where a project might be split into silos where people have their own way of coding and documentation often sketchy.
With the ever-increasing rise in Analytics, tools like Alteryx are going to be vital to provide tools that are analytically minded but not necessarily 'Data Scientists' can use.
We'd like to once again thank all those who attended and the speakers for coming along, it was great to see how in practice tools like R and Alteryx and changing the analytics landscape. If anyone is interested in seeing what Alteryx can do, they can click here to download a 14-Day trial.
Lee mentioned a range of sources in his presentation around visualisation and the 'Quantified Self' and has kindly provided us with those below: