Big Data broken down for digestibility by Cambridge Service Alliance

Posted on 19 Sep 2012 by Tim Brown

On 18 September, the Cambridge Service Alliance hosted its one-day conference on 'Big Data' looking at the innovation opportunities available for complex service companies.

The focus of the event was to reinforce how to ensure value from data despite the ever growing complexity, frequency and size of the data which needs to be analysed.

Case studies came from large manufacturers including Caterpillar and BAE Systems Maritime Services. Both agreed that while data collection was important to business development, it was equally important to understand why the data was being collected and how it would be used.

Craig Olmstead of Caterpillar told the gathering that his company had “spent a lot of time and money in data” but warned that “when it’s not applied, it is wasted”.

Matt McNeill from Google explained the innovative ideas coming from the search engine giant and the ways in which businesses are able to potentially monetise the data they collect and analyse.

A presentation from Lars Chr. Christensen of wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Global Solutions and Services demonstrated a great example of just how valuable Big Data can be to manufacturing if it is leveraged cleverly.

Vestas has spent 12 years collecting data on global wind streams and along with external data is now able to assist customers to position their wind turbines in places which will maximise power generation.

The Cambridge Service Alliance was founded in September 2010, bringing together the University of Cambridge’s expertise in service-science research, together with IBM and BAE Systems, to research new ways to provide, implement and employ complex service systems. In 2011 the Alliance was joined by Caterpillar Inc. as an industrial partner.

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*Photography by Brian Gautreau