Welcome to Big Boulder 2016

Big Boulder 2016 has officially kicked off! Mark Josephson of Bitly and Farida Vis of Sheffield University, both current Big Boulder Initiative board members, introduced Chris Moody of Twitter to talk about the Big Boulder conference as a whole, as well as the efforts of the Big Boulder Initiative.

Moody spoke briefly about the last five years of the Big Boulder conference, originally begun as several different small, nationwide workshops.

Watching that video [of the conference’s first year] after five years of Big Boulder allows us to be nostalgic. Five years in data is like dog years: we’re probably actually 35 years into this journey. – Chris Moody, Twitter

Moody spoke specifically to the changes that Big Boulder has made year over year, first determining if data was a fad and later realizing that these participants had found themselves in a multibillion dollar industry, making the world safer, happier, healthier, and more productive, in spheres like politics, nonprofits, organizations and for-profit companies.

This year’s conference will feature two days of interview-style presentations, and at the end of each session, there will be a Q&A period. For those not in attendance, Big Boulder will be live-streaming on Periscope (the link is found on the @BBI Twitter handle), and can be followed along through the Twitter hashtag #BigBoulder. Live blogs will be posted of each session here at https://blog.bbi.org/. This will be the first year that the conference has been live-streamed, and also the first year where conference conversations will also be available on Slack. Both attendees and non-attendees alike can access the Slack conversation at BBISlack.com through the #Events conversation. Q&A for presenters will also be taken from the Slack community.

Big Boulder Welcome 1

This year’s focus will be on the future: topics such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), bots, and how these types of technology are shaping the future of data.

Both new and re-elected board members were brought up to discuss the themes of this year’s Big Boulder conference:

Data Privacy: The initial feeling of the beginning workshops five years ago was that privacy was the big elephant in the room of data available – how would people feel about their information being available to companies, politicians, organizations? These days, these conversations have changed: privacy is a cornerstone of the data world, and there are a multitude of opinions on the topic. As the data world matures, standards and methodologies must be formed to improve privacy. All in all, it’s the heart of what the data community talks about each day.

Data Enablement: Social data is everywhere, but is it being made useful to the organizations that need it? There is a difference between availability of data and being able to understand it and turn it into actionable insights. Data professionals must focus on the goal of taking raw data and distilling it down for the modern interpreter. There are products being built to leverage data into insights, but there are still strides to be made.

Data Availability: There is actually less accessibility to necessary data than there was two years ago, but this is more of a reflection on a natural progression of the field and less on the part of mistakes made by professionals. There has been a shift in process, leading to this data to be more closed off and less standardized than before. What types of data will be available in the future? Are bot communications with users private or public? Are marketers able to access and analyze that data? These are conversations that must be had.

Data value/ROI of Data: There is certainly value in data–this is not a question. But now the measurement focus must be examined, and it leans heavily toward paid efforts: companies want to know if their media investments are paying off. Mixed approaches will work best, so data professionals and marketers must start to focus on organic and earned efforts as well, use the data available to them in those areas, and connect them back to business results.

This year’s conference is put on and made possible by the Big Boulder Initiative and planned by the BBI board, to include these members:

  • Eric Bell, PNNL
  • David Schweidel, Emory University
  • Tyler Singletary, Klout
  • Bre Brasseal, Twitter
  • Tim Barker, DataSift
  • Farida Vis, Sheffield University
  • Mark Josephson, Bitly
  • Susan Etlinger, Altimeter Group
  • Justin De Graaf, Coca-Cola
  • Chris Moody, Twitter
  • Megan Kelley, Fidelity Investments

BBI has also been successful enough in membership growth to hire on their first employee, Michael Myers, who is now the Community Manager for BBI. Those interested in BBI membership can visit http://www.bbi.org/membership-benefits/. Those interested in board membership positions should be interested in a two-year commitment


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