Strata 2018 is just around the corner. Successfully navigating the event requires a clear set of goals and a strategy. But even with a handy pocket guide of which sessions to attend, Strata can be overwhelming, bringing together a diverse group of technology leaders and industry voices.
That’s why it also helps to understand the broad trends that are likely to shape the conversation: the themes that emerge not just informal talks and panels, but also in buzzy chats between attendees in front of Starbucks or with a drink in hand at the end of a long day.
So what are the major trends likely to emerge this year?
- Democratization of big data: It wasn’t long ago that data was viewed as the engine of a small number of highly quantitative industries like manufacturing and financial services. In contrast, industries like retail, media, and hospitality were largely viewed as “data-poor.” Those days are over. In retail, leaders like Amazon and Zara have transformed the big data landscape through real-time supply chain management and rapid analysis of customer demand trends to power product assortment optimization. In media, the adoption of streaming and on-demand models has led to real-time performance monitoring and optimization – and data mining to uncover viewership patterns and preferences. More industries than ever are leveraging their data to drive growth, and the availability of open-source frameworks has made big data tools accessible to a wider variety of industry participants than ever before (including unconventional users like education providers and non-profit organizations).
- Convergence of business and technical leadership: A quick glance at the Strata schedule (including sessions like this one) demonstrates what has been clear to industry participants for years: the gulf between the “techs” and the “suits” is shrinking. Business leaders are increasingly expected to be fluent with their enterprise’s data sources and models. And engineers are now, more than ever, challenged to think like business owners: to architect data pipelines around concrete problems that drive tangible, measurable value for the organization. The reason for this shift? As big data has evolved from an IT investment to a core part of enterprise-level growth strategy, more departments see it as their lifeblood. For example, at one financial institution, the security team requires network logs for real-time firewall monitoring; the small business team requires application data for real-time loan processing and initiation, and the credit card division requires transaction data for real-time fraud identification and prevention. When data is essential to the operations of the enterprise, it must be viewed as a shared resource – not the sole purview of the IT team.
- Use cases take center stage: As big data has become essential to more industries – and more roles within those industries – the focus has increasingly shifted from theoretical concerns to concrete use cases and scenarios. Sessions like this one, for example, focus on the use of machine learning tools and techniques to solve day-to-day business problems like personalization. Others focus on applications across industries – from pricing optimization to predictive maintenance. Across the board, as enterprises scale the maturity curve, they show more awareness of and engagement with the concrete ways in which big data can drive growth.
Participants at Strata know that a mainstay of the conference is the comment board, which provides a pulse on the hopes, fears, and random musings of conference attendees. We’ll be keeping an eye out for some variation on these trends, in one form or another, to show up on this year’s board.