Friday, May 22, 2015

Toastmaster's Advanced Speech 12 - "Big Data"

This is speech #1 from "Speaking to Inform" manual, called "Resources For Informing". The objectives are to analyze your audience regarding your chosen subject, focus your presentation at the audience's level of knowledge, build a supporting case for each major point using information gathered through research, and effectively use at least one visual aid to enhance the audience's understanding. Time allotted is 5 to 7 minutes.

Data. Big Data. Naam toh suna hoga?

Good Afternoon fellow Toastmasters. Seriously, there would be no one in the world of technology who hasn’t heard this name..unless of course one lives in a cave, in which case, most probably one doesn’t have  anything to do with technology at all. 

Jokes apart, Big Data is something that has baffled many of us at many times. But my friends, nothing could be simpler to understand. Unlike terms such as cloud computing -which has nothing to do with clouds or specifically with weather prediction, big data means exactly what the name suggests – big, huge, large, gigantic, humongous data. 
Imagine the amount of data that you yourself deal with everyday…..on your office laptop – work files, mails, archives, knowledge sharing docs..then on your home PC or tablet – pics, videos, music, movies…then the content you access online….or your data on the “cloud” – on social networking sites, content sharing websites, or even your email data or browsing history…..things that the apps on your smartphone remember for you – notes that send you an alarm across devices, ebooks that are in sync on any device you use, and on and on. Look at this image on the left…according to…every minute of the day, this is what users do on an average on the internet.

48 hours of new videos uploaded on you tube, over 204 million email messages, 2 million searches on google, 3600 photos on instagram, 47 thousand app downloads on the Apple Store…and this is just one minute. And there are 1440 minutes in a day. 365 days in an year. Imagine the amount of data.  A Zillion terabytes, isn’t it?

Don’t you think big is a small word to describe it? Now to organize, capture, and analyze all this data is such a Herculean task that our traditional data processing techniques - that I learnt in college ten years ago - fall short. There is a need of multiple high capacity parallel processors that might be running in a distributed environment. To support them, we need to have a new set of exceptional software techniques and technologies; these are also known as Big Data or sometimes Big Data Analytics. Examples of some software being used today are - Hadoop, MapReduce, Cassandra, Storm. MongoDB and many more.

To study big data, you should first understand its nature and attributes. There are various characteristics of Big Data..but the 4 Vs stand out – Volume, Variety, Velocity and Veracity. This infographic from IBM best describes the 4 Vs. 

Volume: Scale of data; we already saw a sample in previous slides. Variety: different forms of data – text, images, audio, video. Velocity: Analysis of Streaming Data – increasing speed with which the data is getting uploaded and has to be analyzed; and Veracity: Uncertainty of Data – whether the data is accurate and how to determine the accuracy.

Image Source:
Now you all might say…ok…big data..means lots of data…with volume, variety, velocity, veracity. So What?? understand and decipher all these zillions of bytes of data, to uncover correlations that you didn’t know existed, and then to predict user behavior is what Analytics is all about. This can involve data mining, predictive analytics, forecasting, optimization, artificial intelligence and what not.

Eventually, after applying all these techniques, an answer would emerge as shown in this graph.

Data, when structured and correlated, becomes information; information, when interpreted and sifted for patterns, becomes knowledge; knowledge, with a little bit more understanding and correctedness, transcends to wisdom. With the application of this DIKW pyramid of information science, the future might just become a better, or wise place to live.

Like any scientific discovery, invention or innovation, it is up to us how to use this wisdom when we ultimately get there. Not just doing things right, but doing the right things.  Not just the what, how and why of things, but doing what is best for the greater good.


This speech took 8 minutes to deliver and was appreciated for the subject (the audience being an IT crowd), research and the visual aid : PPT.

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