Big data is still hard, but it gets better

What’s standing between your staff and big data analysis? That was the existential question posed of DJ Patil and Jeff Hammerbacher at the GigaOM Structure:Data event today in New York. The two had different takes on how easy it was to give people the power to use data, with Hammerbacher, who is the co-founder of Cloudera, saying that it’s pretty simple today.
He did say that today many aspects of the input and ingress of data will end up being automated, much like systems administrators responsible for running the data center have seen many of their tasks automated.
Patil, who is now a data scientist in residence at Greylock Partners, was a bit more focused on end users. He shared his visit to a nonprofit called earlier today, and said that people there had plenty of curiosity and a desire to play with data and ask questions, but they didn’t always know what to ask to get the insights they seemed to want. “We need another layer to help those people figure out what they want to ask,” he said.
From Patil’s perspective we need tools that will help us tell stories with data and let people play with it in ways that can help people come to new conclusions or see new relationships. “This is less of a machine learning problem than a ‘Can I try a bunch of things with the data?’ kind of problem,” said Patil.
And for those who are still intimidated by playing around with big data Patil has this to say, “Most people doing sophisticated analysis they don’t really know what they are doing.”
Check out the rest of our Structure:Data 2013 coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:
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A transcription of the video follows on the next page