Latest read: Learning with Big Data – The Future of Education

Big Data has changed education forever. Learning with Big Data reveals If your school has not fully embraced big data you should consider moving your child’s education elsewhere. In higher education its fully integrated across the institution from the admissions office all the way through the office of alumni relations.
Learning with Big Data – The Future of EducationThis short e-read builds upon the success of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think released in 2013. This book is not about MOOCs, but does dedicate pages to the background and success of Khan Academy.

Authors Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation from Oxford and Kenneth Cukier from The Economist introduce Learning with Big Data by way of the role of machine learning at Stanford. The course is taught by Andrew Ng, cofounder of Coursera.

Ng has brought to the globe the ability to teach a world class curriculum in machine learning from California to students in Tibet. In many ways this very idea is threatening to close minded administrators sitting in their siloed office.

The focus in this special book is how big data, which reveals to educators what works and what does not is reforming education. The ability today to interactively track the performance of each individual student in real time throughout the semester can make a big difference because the data drives how focused, dedicated administrators can more effectively budget extremely tight dollars in guiding a campus forward.
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Microsoft Cybersecurity Briefing

Microsoft cybersecurity
Kudos to Microsoft’s Cybersecurity briefing team for providing a great three day briefing on Greenfield and Red Forest solutions. With 24 pages of hand written notes but no swag from Ignite, Microsoft has provided a solid foundation to continue moving Azure cloud services forward for small or large corporate IT infrastructure.

Latest read: Too Big to Ignore The Business Case for Big Data

Phil Simon’s book Too BIG to IGNORE: The Business Case for Big Data is another well written primer for Big Data in business. The focus is NOT the programmer’s dilemma of Hadoop vs. NoSQL vs NewSQL. Simon richly documents how Big Data has forever changed business and society.
Too Big to Ignore The Business Case for Big DataThe core message of Too BIG to IGNORE: for the first time we have a very inexpensive ability to data mine a wealth of information. Organizations that tap into this new capability can execute their business more accurately than ever before. However Simon also acknowledges the obvious fact that companies must understand the format of their data while the leadership understands the benefits of pushing big data solutions throughout the organization.

Too BIG to IGNORE begins by telling about the success of MoneyBall by noted author Michael Lewis. Too Big to Ignore reveals how sports franchises exploit data to win on the field and for the worse how Las Vegas casinos have been using A/B testing to pinch every penny out of their best customers. Probably the best but sad example. Similar to the approach by other authors addressing Big Data the focus is on the explosion of data from Google, Facebook, Apple and Netflix as the smartphone and wireless technologies began to change society in ways that drive unstructured data well beyond traditional structured environments.

Simon walks through the history of big data from Web2.0 to Predictive Analytics and touches The Internet of Things. Simon address the tool Hadoop lightly enough as to not scare off any non-database programmer to understand how this free tool is used by Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Apple just to name a few successful highly profiled companies. The growth of Hadoop and the emerging role of Cloudera is addressed in greater detail for the non-technical audience.

Latest Read: Actionable Intelligence: A Guide to Delivering Business Results with Big Data Fast!

Actionable Intelligence: A Guide to Delivering Business Results with Big Data Fast! falls into the must read category for leaders of any organization. Actionable Intelligence is in the Lean model well beyond the vanity metrics that so many leaders have embraced. Lessons on implementing a secure framework comes from lessons including Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble, Lifetime Brands and the CIA. Yes the CIA.
Actionable Intelligence: A Guide to Delivering Business Results with Big Data Fast!Reading this book I have found tested lessons by Keith B. Carter regarding the lack of Actionable Intelligence in many organizations. The start always seems to be the lack of organized data and determining which is the most pressing to actually use in order to be successful in a fast changing world.

Maybe his most powerful work revolves around how executives at any company (or university) even question the value of actionable intelligence regardless of the tools already in place. Too many silo examples reinventing the wheel while overlooking the need to understand their own data reporting methods.

Sustaining delivery of actionable intelligence by the evolution from Dashboards to Cockpits. IMHO to many university leaders are just beginning to understand the Dashboard and their tools miss the Cockpit opportunities.

Business lessons alone describe how to mine actionable intelligence prove the validity of this book. Lessons from Estee Lauder include how the company was able to leverage secure data reporting in order to adjust following the powerful Japanese earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. And in some ways Carter points to a crisis in order for executives to embrace actionable intelligence:

People do not trust data, they trust other people and their opinion of the data. So when the data owners, the people who input the data and/or use it, raise their hands and say, “This data is good; I trust it,” that will make it more likely for other people in the organization to believe it. It also means that it’s clear. It’s not just that they trust it from the point that 1 + 1 = 2. It is also clear how the data has to be used, and the definition of the data is clear.

Carter helps breakdown the old data principle “People don’t trust data – they trust other people.” Its true. Estee Lauder’s use of actionable intelligence is such that every organization should be striving towards in order to stay competitive.

Latest read: Big Data Using smart big data analytics and metrics to make better decisions and improve performance

There is nothing boring in the established insights and support for Big Data Using smart big data analytics and metrics to make better decisions and improve performance.
Big Data Using smart big data analytics and metrics to make better decisions and improve performanceRead one big data book you’ve read them all right? Not so fast. This book reveals how a well planned understanding of your business can better embrace select data sets for your company, organization or school to not only remain competitive but thrive in the new global economy.

For all of the Big Data blogs, books and white papers that I have read Big Data by Bernard Marr is one of the better written books. Many will benefit from this knowledge.

Bernard Marr’s challenge continues to be what most senior managers do not understand about Big Data. And he does an admirable job in chapter six: Transforming Business. There are so many examples of how Big Data can actually re-define your objectives, but many are surrounded by a sales approach I recall from work Apple’s Michael Mace.

Michael was Director of Competitive Analysis at Apple and eloquently addressed FUD at a sales conference in the 90s. The same lessons apply today regarding Big Data. FUD is Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt.
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Latest read: Need, Speed, and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World’s Most Wicked Problems

Every company and school needs to add Need, Speed, and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World’s Most Wicked Problems to their mandatory reading list.
Need, Speed, and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World's Most Wicked ProblemsVajay Vaitheeswaran really understands the need for innovation, change and embracing new ideas in order for America to survive and thrive into the future.

This is especially true for those in aging markets like the auto industry and higher education.

Need, Speed, and Greed is divided into three sections: Why Innovation Matters, Where Innovation is Going, and How to win in the Age of Disruptive Innovation.

This is cover-to-cover reading for everyone. I really looked deeper at the closing chapter Can Dinosaurs Dance. While applied to the American auto industry, think about the strides made by Elon Musk and Google, the application of dramatic change fits quite nicely into many universities around the country.
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Need, Speed, and Greed Preview

Just started reading Need, Speed, and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World’s Most Wicked Problems.
Need, Speed, and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World's Most Wicked ProblemsMust say its another refreshing look at how we must innovate in today’s global world. Written by Vajay Vaitheeswaran of The Economist, it is providing so far excellent lessons for any company, non-profit, innovation center or educational organization.

Addressing global health and education is just the beginning. Need, Speed, and Greed is laying out how companies must adjust (via lessons from IBM, Google and P&G) or watch the world run you over and out of business.

The one thing Need, Speed, and Greed is making very clear: we are now able to collaborate in a global view with advanced technologies and new open business thinking to solve complex problems around the globe.

This is shaping up to be the kind of book every school kid in America should be reading.

Latest read: Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room by David Weinberger is an amazing look at how vast amounts of knowledge in our digital world has changed our ability to not only comprehend data, but how data and the internet rewire how our brain’s process information.
Too Big to KnowIn a way this book is about networks of knowledge stored in databases and in people. So what happens to all the knowledge and expertise we now confront? Outside of it being somewhat accessible on the net, the large amounts of data are forcing us to reimagine data infrastructure.

This is pushing development of large “big data” solutions that will have the ability to process and dashboard results that are more easily “digestable” for larger and larger groups of people across the spectrum.

Weinberger confirms that there is so much data, information & knowledge today for the first time in our collective history that no single person can process it all. And that is not always a good thing. He stated “We see all too clearly how impotent facts are in the face of firmly held beliefs. We have access to more facts than ever before, so we can see more convincingly than ever before that facts are not doing the job we hired them for.”

And at the same time accounting for human nature – access to more data will only reinforce the worse as illustrated by Cass Sunstein: “Studies have shown that when people speak only with those with whom they agree, they not only become more convinced of their own views, they tend to adopt more extreme versions of those views.” And now you know the rest of the story.

Too Big to Know reveals in chapter eight how we are managed today. In the past we learned about Jack Welch of GE. He was the final, top decision maker for his company. But today with wikis, blogs and mobile technology GE’s strategic plans are made from the bottom up: “The CEO of General Electric could be entirely off the grid, but still GE’s engineers, product managers, and marketing folks are out on the Net, exploring and trying out the ideas that affect their branch of the larger decision tree.” Its the Wikipedia approach to business today. And this is also something Weinberger acknowledges in Don Tapscott’s work Wikinomics.

Finally I could not agree more with Weinberger’s example in chapter five regarding a marketplace of echoes. He describes the impact of David Halberstam‘s award winning The Best and the Brightest (my review here) Halberstam attempts to explain how the Kennedy White House, so full of superbly educated, dedicated men, could have failed so badly in Vietnam. The book’s world is populated by household names now known in few households: McGeorge Bundy, George Ball, Chester Bowles . . . the events it discusses are distant, recalled most often as an analogy to our worst current mistake. But Halberstam’s question remains deeply unsettling: How did the best and the brightest get us into the Hell of Vietnam? If these men, so well educated and so worldly, erred so badly, how can we trust the advice of lesser men?

No better lesson on diversity than our failure in Vietnam. This is a very good book.

The Vietnam War: Unstructured data reporting and counterinsurgency

After reading No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in the Vietnam War I could not help but think about the consequences failed data reporting by MACV can serve a historical lesson for re-implementing or adjusting campus data reporting systems.

data reporting during Vietnam War
Data report tickets used by MACV in the early stages of The Vietnam War

Key stakeholders on campus should easily state their reasons for data collection and reporting. No Sure Victory benefits campus units by revealing an early, dare I say Big Data approach to unstructured data reporting and delivering actionable data.

Today we immediately understand Google’s Compute Engine or an Amazon Elastic MapReduce cloud for this demand.

Universities can thrive with diverse reporting teams. Working with Institutional Research and striving to improve enrollment and retention efforts are key goals. Yet important roles are filled with student workers. Here unstructured data often fragments over mismanagement. Many ad hoc Microsoft Excel documents are created without data governance and become silo’d from the campus data warehouse. Key stakeholders on any campus including CIOs, IR Directors, Research staff, Program Directors, campus data reporter writers and student workers. Even seasoned campus data report writers are not leveraged to streamline actionable data insights.

No Sure Victory brings to light a tragic failed data reporting implementation by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in addressing a war in Vietnam. The was his reputation as one of The Wiz Kids, the World War II Statistical Control unit that analyzed operational and logistical data to manage war.

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Latest read: Online Payments Risk Management

Online Payments Risk Management is certainly a hot topic. The 2013 holiday data breach at Target and more recently, a new large data breach at Home Depot the need for organizations to understand Online Payments Risk Management is more important today truly than ever before.
online payments risk managementI think there is no better way than for companies and payment card providers to step back and acknowledge many “security” measures are not effective today in combating cyber crime.

Ohad Samet’s book is a great introduction to payment risk management from multiple angles and can be a good base document to build upon in bringing PCI compliance efforts to online payment websites.

It may even be interesting to see how Samet positions of Loss over Fraud.  The implications can be rather surprising.

Samet has organized this book into logical sections regarding approaches and the use of analytics to optimize tracking losses while also addressing the role of the organization and the people implementing secure transactions.  Regardless of its 2013 publication, section 3 on Tools and Methods provides solid, industry tested solutions that should be reviewed annually.

That said its time to roll up your sleeves and begin protecting consumers.

Latest read: Numbers Rule Your World

I have enjoyed Kaiser Fung‘s blog JunkCharts for some time. He provides insight regarding data visualizations. His book Numbers Rule Your World: The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do reveals how statistics and data mining find insights too good to pass up. Numbers make good stories even more compelling.

Numbers Rule Your WorldKaiser Fung takes an excellent approach to confirming that data analysis is now key to improving outcomes and discovering insights.

Fung outlines the use of big data analysis to solve five problems:

1. Fast Passes/Slow Merges: managing traffic patterns by the Minnesota DOT. This chapter reveals how frustrating statisticians can become when confronting politicians who ignore data.

2. Bagged Spinach/Bad Score tracked a deadly E. coli outbreak that caused three deaths across 23 states.

3. Item Bank/Risk Pool is a fascinating chapter about Florida insurance policies. Hurricane seasons come and go and yet an established city mayor and established businessman could not maintain an ongoing insurance business even with years of experience in state government. I found this chapter interesting to discover how the state games the insurance system say for say….Hurricane Wilma. For Higher Education this chapter also reveals Admissions related stories that are most interesting when compared to hospital billing. Fung also brings into focus the Golden Rule lawsuit that successfully charged discrimination against minority applicants in the insurance industry.
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Latest read: The Art of Capacity Planning

The impact of cloud computing on O’Reilly’s 2008 Art of Capacity Planning has shifted quite a bit to say the least. Its still a great resource and well worth the read for any web administrator, manager or director.

The Art of Capacity PlanningMy interest in revisiting is remembering Chapter 4: Predicting Trends. This touches two important factors today: cloud and procurement.

While in 2008 it was possible to ramp up a cloud, today a very high capacity cloud can be deployed in less than 10 minutes.

At the time of the book’s publication (2008) AWS pricing looked competitive. Yet today those prices are considered somewhat excessively high.

The Art of Capacity Planning now is all looking at cloud solutions by Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure has kept Amazon’s EC2 busy in releasing new services and even more aggressive pricing models. Under AWS users get free access to CentOS, LAMP stack, Git and WordPress.

But the Art of Capacity Planning touches on the very important component of Procurement. Procurement and Cloud contract solutions taught by UCLA has been very beneficial to my cloud projects.
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