Events Watch – Emily Gresham, LIKE Ideas 2013

Events Watch enables new professionals to share their thoughts and learning outcomes from events they have recently attended (such as conferences and training) for the benefit of all new professionals.

This time I will be sharing my experiences from LIKE Ideas conference 2013.

Thanks to a sponsored place funded by Sue Hill Recruitment I was able to attend the LIKE Ideas conference 2013, entitled “From Big Data to Little Apps: How to access, present and deliver information in the workplace” on 28th June[1]. This post is an extended version of the one I wrote for the Sue Hill Recruitment Blog[2].

As a first-time attendee at the LIKE Ideas conference I was a little unsure of what to expect from the day. Would everyone else know what big data was? Would they all be wrangling with the possibilities already? Would my lack of knowledge make it difficult to chat with other delegates about the talks? I quickly found there was no need to worry. I have never attended an event where so many delegates have been so keen to mingle and chat about their interests, roles and the points raised in the talks. If you’re based in or near London and interested in the wider world of information management I would encourage you to attend one of the LIKE meetings.

Thankfully, I wasn’t the only person to arrive at the conference with an understanding of big data which stretched to “some sort of large data set that had potential to be put to good use”. We stood corrected minutes into the first presentation as Dom Pollard told us that big data is “big” not just because of its volume, but also because of the variety or velocity of the data. He explained that what makes data “big data” is an organisation’s inability to manage, store or analyse it within their traditional infrastructure. So what is considered to be big data by one organisation, may not be to another.

So why should we care about big data? Well, as members of the information management profession it is our domain. It is definitely worth undertaking some analysis of any big data available to you, to see if it has the potential to be repurposed to inform decisions which may enable you to better focus your resources, improve your services or focus promotional activities on target groups. It is worth noting here that you should consider compliance issues when looking to repurpose data, particularly personal data which should not be used for purposes beyond those it was originally collected for.

Throughout the day a number of speakers shared their thoughts and experiences of working with big data, providing some brilliant insights into how big data is already being used. The recurring themes were:

  • Big data is still a relatively new technology, there are challenges to be faced but they can be overcome. At the moment the technology is running ahead of any legislation, however future changes may impact upon the rules surrounding data use.
  • It is important that you ask the right questions of your data, this will give you answers that are meaningful which you can then use to inform your actions.
  • Presentation and user experience is key if you want those using your data to get the most out of it. Only give them what they need, tailor their view to their individual/group needs and provide the data in an engaging and user friendly format. A table might give them the whole story but an infographic will clearly show them the piece of the story you want them to notice.
  • Showcase and promote your successes to your users, tell them about what you can provide for them and offer your help. Collaborate and form partnerships where appropriate.

Emily Gresham, SfNP Publicity Officer

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