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Big data rocks Shoreditch Village Hall

Big data: here to stay?

Big data: here to stay?

Last night, Shoreditch Village Hall played host to a meet-up debate hosted by Sally Hadidi and David White, of, the online data specialists, and sponsored by Teradata and Genius Digital, the content analysts, who generously laid on the pizza and beer.

The subject? Big Data in the media; what it means to us, how we can harness its power, and where it is heading.

As the old hall filled up with Tech professionals and data enthusiasts, the walls began to reverberate to the tune of ideas being swapped and new friends and contacts being made.

Finally, at around 7.15, the flash presentations began.

First up was Tom Weiss from Genius Digital, who delivered an entertaining and revealing pitch explaining how the data mining his business conducts has directly influenced his client’s strategic decision making. Top tip: if you want to watch satellite TV in the rain, make sure you talk to Tom! Most of Tom’s work is in the Middle East, and his company are currently on a recruitment drive. There is no doubt Tom would be entertaining to work with.

Next came Carl Holmquist, the founder and CEO of Freespee. Carl explained the tricky concept of Inattention Blindness in a lucid and informative way. Inattention Blindness is key to what Carl’s company does, and by focusing on areas that others may have missed Carl can deliver significant cost benefits for his clients. Carl admits he sometimes suffers from Inattention Blindness himself, especially when he is trying to concentrate on driving with his wife and 3 kids in the car!

Last, but by no means least, came Marie-Alicia Chang, co-founder and Head of Data Partnerships at Musicmetric. Although Marie-Alicia had 2 hard acts to follow, she did not disappoint, and her Company’s idea that Big Data analytics could be used to predict the next no 1. hit is certainly a compelling one.  The journey from release to smash hit can be as long as 16 weeks, her research has shown, so budding musicians, don’t give up hope yet!

After the pitches, the debate: Tom and Marie-Alicia were joined on stage by Rob Symes, CEO, the Outside View, Duncan Ross, Director of Data Science at Teradata, and Alistair Jones, a Software Engineer at Neo4J.

Host Charles Arthur, the Guardian’s Tech editor, brought a light touch and quick wit to an occasionally heated debate, which ranged from a discussion of voice recognition, to how Big Data will evolve over the next five years, to whether the Sex Pistols were a manufactured band (they were, according to one insistent audience member).

Prog-rock enthusiast Duncan Ross spoke intelligently about where he sees big data headed, and believes that it could be a game changer, particularly where corporate decision making is concerned, with analytics ready to replace the outdated opinions of middle management bores.

Rob Symes was keen to look at how Big Data can benefit society, in areas such as improved health care, or personal wellbeing, and argued that “prediction” is the next step on the Big Data journey, whilst Alistair Jones warned that we should not become over reliant on analytics, arguing that consumers who register a one-time interest in a product do not want to be bombarded with advertising for similar products.

The last word is reserved for Marie-Alicia, who, once she had wrestled the microphone under control, argued that data is only as effective as the people who are creating it – a garbage in, garbage out scenario that she has worked hard to counter in her business affairs. The result? A daring product that can make a difference to our lives.

Well, almost the last word; Charles’ story about the fly away drone has to be worth sharing:

This event really underlined what can be achieved when passionate people are brought together by a common goal or interest, and underlines the fact that Tech City in Shoreditch, no more than a concept just 5 years ago, is increasingly becoming a creative force to be reckoned with, and a genuine incubator of new ideas and ways of thinking.

Big data debate links to speaker’s / panels companies

1 Response
  • Maren
    April 4, 2014

    Thank you for this write up. Despite every best intention, I became mired somewhere in the Midlands for business and I was unable to get back to London in time for the event. In short, I was disappointed I couldn’t be there, but am now comforted by the fact I could catch a glimpse of the players and the vibes in the room. Thanks, again.


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