Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
October 18th, 2013

Big Data Use Cases, Erman Akdogan

Big Data Use Cases

Big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. It has been the buzzword of the last couple years, and many businesses today want to “Get Started with Big Data”.

When I start discussing with clients what they want to do with big data, more often than not I get puzzled looks. It is important to have the preparedness to “get started with big data” by having:

  • Pinpointed a line of business in the company to get started with the use cases
  • Identified use cases that serves a true business needs within that line of business
  • Verified that there’s indeed large amounts of meaningful data available to support the use cases

Above is the snapshot of the mindmap showing some sample use cases. You can download the original mindmap from the links at the original post.



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This is an interesting analysis on adoption of smarter planet solutions by various industries. It leverages a mindmap to organize the challenges and advantages for industries in embracing the smarter systems.

Here’s the snapshot of the mindmap from the link:

Smarter Planet Solutions Adoption Analysis by Industry

Smarter Planet Solutions Adoption Analysis by Industry


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Since you are reading this on an IBM official blog, I bet you would remember Deep Blue, the amazing chess player ‘trained’ by IBM. And of course, since you are such an IBM-fanatic, you would also know that Deep Blue is no ordinary human. It’s actually a machine; a chess-playing computer that supposedly beat former world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Either he was a sore loser or his Russian senses were tingling, Garry accused IBM of cheating by allowing human intervention during gameplay which was against the rules. Nobody really knows if that was true or not since IBM later tore down the machine before any real investigation could be initiated (There’s always something between Americans and Russians it seems…).

Earlier on in the late 18th century, a machine known as the Mechanical Turk (a predecessor to Deep Blue) was invented by Wolfgang von Kempelen to impress the Empress of Austria. After beating numerous chess players, however, it was uncovered as a hoax: a real human chess master was actually hiding inside it and making it looked as if the Mechanical Turk had a life of its own and an intelligence unparalleled by any human being.

But why all this talk about getting humans to perform the task of machines in a time where machines are supposed to be legitimately doing the work for humans? Well it turns out that there are some tasks that computers couldn’t do (I think I heard a loud resonating “WHAT?” in the background), and has to be done manually by humans. And this is what the Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is all about!

In essence, MTurk is an online crowdsourcing marketplace which allows job seekers (called workers) to earn money by doing tasks (posted by people known as requesters) that no computers can accomplish. These tasks usually include things like choosing the best picture for a particular theme or putting tags to pictures so that these pictures can show up when a person types in a particular keyword on Amazon (I believe this was how the MTurk was first conceived). Actually now you can also find tasks like transcribing or programming which may be accomplish-able by machines as well, but still seems to be have a better result if carried out by humans.

So just to give you an idea how much a task would pay from the perspective of a worker, copying text from a business card would be around $0.02 while answering a surveys would be like $0.16. Here’s a short list of tasks that may interest you:

Proofreading a real estate transaction: $0.10

Identifying companies from a photo: $0.01

Voicemail transcription: $30.00

Writing three 400-words articles about travelling: $12.00

Flagging pornographic content: $0.10 (this should be excellent for a lot of readers here)

No matter which tasks you choose, you can see that Service Thinking is applied at MTurk. Value is being co-created between the requesters and workers; a modular business structure is present where a requester can “outsource” tasks to a community of workers; a GLO-MO-SO platform is pretty obvious; you can refer to my earlier blog to think about how the other chevrons of Service Thinking is applied at MTurk.

As quoted from a reviewer who posted on Youtube, MTurk is not going to pay big bucks, but at the very least, it puts money in your pocket.

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Yup yet another legit money-making website for you guys out there looking to pay your rent while you look for a full-time job.



IBM Intern; Hult International Business School


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July 24th, 2013

If you have worked in the corporate world for a bit of a time, you would have understood, or at least have witnessed, the eternal animosity between the engineers (or techies) and the sales guys (or street-smarts). Now what is it that constantly fuels the acrimonious debate between these two polarized groups of homosapiens? Are the engineers’ criticisms about a product’s unrealistic specifications and the discouraging cost-benefit ratio too myopic? Or is it that the sales people never knew what the customers really want right from the beginning? Probably. The bad news is that similar incidences can be found in any place where one works for a paycheck, and the good news is that most of the time, such skirmishes usually stem from a lack of, what service science specialists would call, T-shapeness.

So what is this T-shapeness that is the new hype word poised to take over the world by storm? First of all, as one should know, the letter ‘T’ is formed by a horizontal line, followed by a vertical line drawn down from the center of the aforementioned horizontal line. The vertical line signifies a professional’s main skill or combined set of skills: for example, an electrical engineer could have an expertise in semiconductor microfabrication process, a doctor could have 10 years of experience in neurology, a realtor could have unparalleled foresights and insights in the real estate industry, and the list goes on. For the record, people who stopped here are often described as I-shaped.

To become truly T-shaped, a person would have to develop knowledge of other things going around them which are not directly related to his or her expertise; this is represented by the horizontal line in the ‘T’. Regardless of the profession a person is in, this broad knowledge could be knowledge of an industry as a whole, communication skills, collaborative team skills, networking skills, an understanding of another culture, linguistic abilities or the different functional units in a company. So why would inefficiencies in a company result from a lack of T-shaped professionals as implied at the beginning of this section? The straightforward answer would be that simply being an expert in one specialized field often results in myopic behavior and the inability to see the interconnectedness with other entities would form the basis of lopsided arguments and lead to ill-informed decisions. To be a productive member in the company, one would need a breath of knowledge and collect a great number of ‘dots’, as innovation experts would refer to. This would help to boost a professional’s T-shapeness, which is very much needed to promote collaborative behavior with team members and provide a breeding ground for creativity and innovation.

Don’t believe me? Just check out this interview with IDEO’s Duane Bray:
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IDEO is an international design and innovation consulting firm founded in Palo Alto, California, and has local offices in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston as well as overseas presence in London, Munich, Shanghai, Singapore, Mumbai, Seoul, and Tokyo.


IBM Intern; Hult International Business School

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