Online education portals like Udacity and Coursera are really changing the world of remote learning in significant ways. By making free and high quality education accessible to a global audience, these platforms are opening up undreamt of possibilities for communities around the world to improve, grow, and prosper in the digital economy of the 21st century. Education at top tier colleges and universities has traditionally been a social and economic privilege, but now anyone can join in the learning revolution by sitting in virtual classrooms with the world’s best and brightest educators. Whether this involves learning how to code and build smart phone apps, or starting up a new business, or learning about public health literacy, the sky is the limit of what’s now possible.

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What’s your Big Data strategy for 2015

Over the last several years we’ve all heard about the enormity of Big Data . . . and how it doubles every two years. The volume and scale here is even hard to conceive. But the times are changing, and the Big Data train is moving on to new territory, propelled by the ever-expanding growth of new capabilities and digital technologies. In the process, many companies that tried their hands at Big Data experimentation have quite frankly moved beyond the hype by saying to themselves: “been there, done that” now what? Self-reflection and assessment, as an organization, brings a good deal of new understanding, but also new sets of challenges about how to derive better key insights. Reaching an impasse, many companies have begun to realize the only way they’re ever going to make any sense at all of the enormity of the data out there, is through better tools, processes, and smarter strategies for capturing and analyzing in real-time all that’s available.




With Internet of Things and wearables now exploding in the marketplace there is even more urgency for organizations to figure out how to capture all the information generated by these devices. This has given many organizations cause to pause, take stock, and reassess their goals for capturing and analyzing Big Data in real-time.

In many ways, we’re at a new staging ground in the Big Data life-cycle as organizations are admitting their need for deeper insights. Simply stated, it’s a good idea to stop and take an inventory of where strategic initiatives reside in the Big Data market of 2015 before pushing on. Here are some major things to consider as you map out your path ahead for the next 12 months.

1. Leverage machine learning

Big Data has become really good at analyzing historical data, but the next big shift in these technologies is with applying machine learning algorithms to “infer” or predict new types of knowledge. The synergies and connections are nicely spelled out by one blogger as follows:

Think of big data and machine learning as three steps (and phases of companies that have come out of this space): collect, analyze, and predict. These steps have been disconnected until now, because we’ve been building the ecosystem from the bottom up — experimenting with various architectural and tool choices — and building a set of practices around that.

Businesses that can crack the predictive nut from the masses of data available today will have a veritable cash machine at their disposal to drive new types of customer value and service for their verticals.




2. Big Data Cloud has left the station . . . are you onboard?

The growth in Big Data, as well as the expansion in data analytics platforms in recent years such as Hadoop and NoSQL, are creating new opportunities for cloud computing to become a key enabler of Big Data analytics. Public clouds providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft, offer their own brands of big data systems in their clouds, whether NoSQL or SQL, that are cost efficient and easily scalable for businesses of all sizes. All of this points us to the reciprocal relationship between cloud and Big Data that is driven by consumer demand for bigger, better, and faster applications. In fact, Big Data + Cloud has led to another new cloud computing service model known as Analytics as a Service (AaaS). This model will provide companies with faster, scalable ways to integrate, analyze, transform, and visualize various types of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data in real time.

3. Get used to Big Data-as-a-Service

As Big Data meets Internet of Things it will pose a whole new set of business challenges, and opportunities. Raj Badarinath, senior director of product marketing at commerce solutions provider Avangate, has this to say: “In the IoT era, new models such as subscriptions, freemiums and bundles are rapidly becoming the preferred choice over traditional hardware options. Services are easily upgradeable, much more amenable to ecosystems that are constructed around hardware, and provide multiple revenue opportunities rather than a one-time sale.” Big data will become critical to this new business model, and this will mean gaining a 360 degree view of the customer in ways that will keep them happy and engaged. These services will also provide a framework for making data more intelligible, accessible, and actionable from a business standpoint.




4. Big Data + Apple Watch = Huge ROI

Apple has just raised the bar on wearable technology a notch with the pending release of its new Apple Watch, which doubles as a health and digital fitness tracking device. Wearables gathering these kinds of metrics are just some of the innovations that will bring Big Data into an epic new era. Here, as never before, businesses also will have incredible opportunities to capture additional stores of information about who we are, what we do in our free time, our favorite books, and many, many other life preferences. Consumers, developers, and businesses are lining up. Make sure your organization is ready to capitalize on the massive amounts of data that will emerge out of the Apple Watch era.




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About Jeffrey Walker

Jeff is a business development consultant who specializes in helping businesses grow through technology innovations and solutions. He holds multiple master’s degrees from institutions such as Andrews University and Columbia University, and leverages this background towards empowering people in today’s digital world. He currently works as a research specialist for a Fortune 100 firm in Boston. When not writing on the latest technology trends, Jeff runs a robotics startup called, along with oversight and leadership of - an emerging market assistance company that helps businesses grow through innovation.