One of the things that kept me very busy while at IBM was education. Everyone knew that analytics was important, but surprisingly few people knew exactly what analytics was. (My boss and CTO of IBM Business Analytics, the wonderful Brenda Dietrich, had a great line: Do you remember when “analytics” was just called “math”?) There was a lack of understanding around the basics and foundation of analytics, and yet that knowledge was critical for (say) development teams to understand what was possible and how to truly incorporate analytics into their software.
As a result, my colleague and friend Jean-Francois Puget and I set out to create a series of recorded lectures on the many areas of analytics, from basic descriptive statistics, to predictive models, to optimization, to machine learning, to parallel computation to image and video analytics. We did not want lectures on products or solutions: we wanted people to learn about the science of analytics. At the same time, we did not want things to get too deeply technical or mathematical: our audience, while technical, were developers who really just needed a high level understanding and could then follow up from there.
Internally, our lecture series broke all kinds of attendance records, becoming one of the most well-attended talks ever within IBM. Clearly there was a need for this information assembled together in one place!
I am thrilled that we are now able to make this video lecture series available, at no charge, to anyone who wants it. I’m biased, of course, but I think the content is awesome.
You can read more about the lecture series on Jean-Francois’s blog and on AnalyticsZone. Kudos to the people back at IBM who are continuing to drive this effort while I am on sabbatical — you know who you are. 🙂
During my break from IBM, one of my goals was to directly re-learn some of the technology shifts over the past recent years. In particular, I have the following two goals:
Explore the areas of mobile, cloud, visualization and analytics through hands-on development. Ironically, I’ve done a lot in all four years here while at IBM, but at high strategic levels and through the leading of development teams, with only minor amounts of coding. I’ve missed the years I used to spend in addictive whole solution development — being truly responsible from everything from concept to design to architecture to implementation. (The first few products I built for Cognos were very much like this: I was essentially a one person design, development and QC team until the concept was matured enough to build a full team around. At IBM, the solutions we built tended to be so large that it was almost impossible to have them be the result of a single person only, even during the initial stages.)
Design and build using the latest techniques, tools, and thinking. During the past six years at Cognos and IBM, we had settled on methodologies, principles and tools that were probably quite leading edge at the time. But recently a lot of new thinking and technologies have emerged. It’s time to step back and re-evaluate the full landscape of what’s available to me.
Over the past couple of weeks, while resting and enjoying the wonders of both my family and Canadian camping, an idea for an interesting mobile experiment has emerged. I’m calling it Phlow, and I’m going to use that as my testbed for my self-education. I have no illusions about making a fortune through application development. This is strictly something for me to do on the side to satisfy my two goals above.
And you know what? That’s more than enough. I can’t believe how excited I am! This is going to be fun.
It turns out that’s good advice for humans, too. I’m now on a sabbatical from IBM, taking a much needed break from the exciting but exhausting things I’ve been doing.
Instead, I’m going to spend more time with my family, and in addition, step back and take time to explore and discover the technology that got me started in my career. I’ll try and do a reasonable job of documenting my experiences here in my poor, underused blog. As you can see, I’ve already started doing some changes.
Ready? Here goes.
(Let’s see how many people recognize the reference.)