Top Big Data News for Your Weekend

It’s been a long, heavy-hearted week, to be sure. International news is taking precedence over anything here on the homefront – and that includes all of the most interesting tech news out there. In case you were hard-pressed, as you should have been, this week to keep up with the going ons within the big data and tech industries, we’ve got your back. 

Here, the top three big data stories to keep you informed and maybe even warm your heart before you sign off for the weekend.

Apple and IBM Partnership – Big Data Meets Mobile Devices

This week, Apple and IBM announced a broad partnership to help companies deploy wireless devices with business-specific applications. Could this landmark partnership help Apple gain ground in the business world, and help IBM gain ground with Apple users? If the partnership lives up to the hype, it could be quite a coup for Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The exclusive agreement will result in a new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions, including native apps developed from the ground up for healthcare, insurance, banking and other markets.

IBM will begin to sell iPhones and iPads to its corporate customers and will devote more than 100,000 people, including consultants and software developers, to the effort.

The combination brings together two historical competitors — who decades ago struggled to dominate the nascent market for personal computers — on the next wave of computing in business: Mobile devices with access to complex data running in the cloud.

The move will also allow IBM to bring to bear its investments in big data and analytics plus cloud computing services and mobility. Enterprise applications will, in many cases, run on IBM’s cloud infrastructure or on private clouds that it has built for its customers. Data for those applications will co-exist with personal data like photos and personal email that will run on Apple’s iCloud and other cloud services. Last year, IBM made a significant bet around developing mobile software for the enterprise with an initiative it called MobileFirst. In working with Apple, the company has created an extension, dubbed MobileFirst, for iOS.

“iPhone and iPad are the best mobile devices in the world and have transformed the way people work, with over 98% of the Fortune 500 and over 92% of the Global 500 using iOS devices in their business today,” said Cook. “For the first time ever we’re putting IBM’s renowned big data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple. This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”

The Apple and IBM partnership could be a match made in technology heaven, so to speak. Apple is in search of growth in the business community for devices like the iPhone and iPad – and IBM is the company who can help Apple accomplish that goal.

Farmers Fuel Productivity With Big Data

Knowledge really is power, and as data science becomes more intertwined with the agriculture industry, farmers have more and more questions about the vast amount of data they generate each year.

An emerging sector of farmers are monetizing their data with services from companies like Monsanto or Pioneer. Those services aggregate field-level data together from different areas and make crop management recommendations.

Drones flying over farm fields recording high resolution images and field sensors providing real-time information on crop nutrients and conditions are among high tech tools likely to become commonplace in an era of big ag data.

“Data aggregation and analysis, calculated to improve farmers’ yields and productivity, ‘is the next big frontier in agriculture.'”

Data aggregation and analysis, calculated to improve farmers’ yields and productivity, “is the next big frontier in agriculture,” said Aaron Putze, Iowa Soybean Association spokesman.

“I have heard big ag data compared with the biotech revolution. I would like to think it will be that important to farmers. I think it is something pretty powerful,” said Ken O’Brien, a manager with DuPont Pioneer’s Encirca Services, which uses data to help farmers make more informed decisions.

Data has been the core concept of precision agriculture since the mid-1990s. But the recent surge in both application and interest has been driven by the strengthening of data infrastructure. 

The leading application for big ag data — prescriptive planting — merges soil, climate and seed corn data with farmers’ production records — a service with the potential to increase grain yields by as much as 25%, according to some estimates.

“Data has been the core concept of precision agriculture since the mid-1990s.”

A coalition of Iowa farm groups, AgState, plans to publish a report later this year assessing how agricultural data is currently used, and will follow it with a strategy for farmers and industries to best use that data with privacy in mind. The “Big Data Strategy and Implementation Plan,” backed by Iowa AgState and developed by The Hale Group of Danvers, Mass., will begin immediately by obtaining all relevant facts about how agricultural data is collected, shared, analyzed and used.

Bayes Impact Using Big Data for the Better

Andrew Jiang, Paul Duan and Eric Liu, the three founders of Y Combinator’s latest nonprofit, Bayes Impact, aren’t your typical entrepreneurs.

The engineer, data scientist, and investor had previously worked on or analyzed investments in some of the toughest problems facing all technology companies in the Internet era — how to get more people to click on more stuff.

Today, they turn their attention away from advertising click-through rates and toward other issues, like criminal justice reform, fraud detection and better, cheaper research into some of the potential causes of Parkinson’s disease. Thus originated Bayes Impact.

Bayes Impact is a nonprofit organization that deploys data science teams to work with civic and nonprofit organizations on solving big social impact challenges.

“Bayes Impact is a nonprofit organization that deploys data science teams to work on solving big social impact challenges.”

Bayes Impact is looking to close the gap between the technology that industry and tech companies are using and what’s available to civic organizations. To do so, the three co-founders began recruiting other data scientists to serve as fellows in its fall program to lead specific projects.

Those projects include working with the Michael J. Fox Foundation on Parkinson’s research, working with a microfinance organization on fraud detection, and working with the parole board to develop an algorithm that would help determine recidivism and gauge who should be released from prison on parole and who should not.

“We don’t do this as a service for this or that organization,” says Duan. “We focus on one area and come together to say how can we make this issue better as a whole.”

Pressing Issues

We cannot ignore the international issues at hand. Here are a few links to help keep you up-to-date with the MH17 flight and the Israel-Gaza conflict.