Telling data stories – Amy Nicholson – Ep 25

Data is increasingly driving the world we operate in and the way we are using data to drive it is changing rapidly. Business decisions are no longer made just by Fred with his humongous spreadsheets, or Mary and her accounts package wizardry.

Data analytics is now something that we see every day, even if we don’t realise it, from the intelligence in our smartphones, to high performance computing crunching masses of numbers, the use of analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning is becoming increasingly commonplace. This was highlighted at the recent IPExpo event in Manchester, Data Analytics (alongside security) seemed to be the major focus for most of the presentation theatres.

I attended a handful of analytics and data transformation sessions including one delivered by Microsoft which focussed on using data to drive actions. It was an excellent session and I was lucky enough to catch up with presenter Amy Nicholson afterwards.

We had a great half hour chat discussing the continued development of the data amy nichoanalytics market, how people are using analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to bring exciting innovation to their businesses and organisations.

During our chat, we looked at how companies like Microsoft are making these data tools more accessible and how platform as a service offerings, allow us to focus on getting value from our data without having to worry about the infrastructure behind it, regardless of how complex it may be.

We looked at how the data analytics conversation is changing, no longer focussed on technology, so steady techies, but on how we solve complex business problems, using these intelligent solutions and asking them to learn things from our data that on our own we couldn’t.

In fact that was one of Amy’s key messages, analytics technology is not about replacing humans, but supplementing what we do, whether that is tools that remove some of the dull and repetitive tasks from our day to day work or providing us with more intelligence so we can make better decisions.

We talked about how the design of data analytics solutions, both how we interact with and how we visualise results that come from them are crucial to their success. Ensuring that they meet their main purpose of delivering key information, to people when and where they need it, so they can take good and informed actions.

We also discuss how we have now moved from worrying whether we have enough data to whether we have good quality data, because without good quality, we are never going to make good decisions.

In fact, Amy touches on an interesting point about how, as the title of this episode suggests, what’s really important is that we can use that data to tell a story, a story of how we fix a challenge, a story of how we do something new and inventive, or even a story of how we can reduce the monotonous and repetitive tasks.

We wrap up looking at the kind of tools available from Microsoft to help you get started with data analytics in your organisation, we discuss the Cortana analytics suite and its component parts that you can consume to help you start getting not only more value from your data, but to use that data to help take better actions.

Oh yes, don’t miss the connected cow story!

Hope you enjoy the show and Amy’s infectious enthusiasm for her subject.

If you want to find out more from Amy you can follow her on twitter @amykatenicho

Check out the connected cow video

You can find out more about the Cortana Intelligence Suite here

Next time on Tech Interviews I’m joined by Ian Finch as we discuss the rise of the chatbot!

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