Describing Modern Data Management to my Mom

For Mother’s Day this year, I am inviting the women (and men) in my life to a belated celebratory dinner, as soon as I fly back to the Bay Area later this month. As someone whom I turn to for practical advice from time to time, my Mom rarely asks me to explain things to her. However, when I called her today to wish her a happy Mother’s Day, I not only thanked her for her unwavering support, but also described to her what the company I work for does, and why Modern Data Management matters.

Our conversation went something like this:

So Mom, you know how your cell phone provider charges you every month for the family plan, and sends you an email promotion every so often? Large organizations like them collect information about you and your family members to recall people, data usage and charges per phone number.

Different departments within the telephone company use different systems to save your information, such as your name and billing address. They also keep records of the times you called or sent them an email. Different departments, like order processing and customer support may store your information in different systems that do not talk to one another. For instance, should you call the customer support number on your bill, that department will collect the information that you give them in a different system than if you were to log into the online portal to manage your account.

Oftentimes, different systems have different information about you and your family members from different time periods. This is a problem because every department in the telephone company may have a piece of information about you, but none will have the complete picture. Do you remember the last time you ordered a cell phone online, and then called to change the color? It took the telephone company a while to locate your order. This problem will only get worse as they acquire more organizations, and add more systems and ways of communicating with you (email, phone, website, Facebook, Twitter, direct mail), because your information will be spread into even more systems. In order to provide consistent customer service, all communication channels and departments, like sales, marketing and customer support must have access to the same, consolidated customer information.

Organizations like telecommunications service providers and retailers use Reltio’s Modern Data Management technologies to build applications that provide a 360° view of customers like you. Our technology provides a way to connect to all systems from all departments, and create consolidated profiles with reliable customer information. This reliable information is then made available to all business and analytics applications used by all departments. Reliable information ensures a consistent customer experience across channels and departments, and builds trust and loyalty with customers. So, the next time you call them, you won’t have to repeat what you ordered or what type of data plan you have, depending on whether you use an iPhone or an Android device. They will have that information readily available. We also help organizations understand and manage relationships. Like Facebook, where people can connect to one another and follow their favorite stores and restaurants, we help organizations understand how people are related to each other, and to other organizations and locations through a graph. This helps organizations, like our cell phone provider understand our household needs.

Another reason why Reltio’s platform is modern, is because it uses your profile information to analyze whether your information is correct and complete. We use machine learning and predictive analytics for that. Machine learning make programs “smarter,” by allowing them to automatically learn from the data you provide. Predictive analytics takes information from existing data to find patterns and predict future outcomes and trends. Machine learning and predictive analytics form a recommendation system that recommends satellite TV service or a new phone accessory after learning about your tendencies and desires. These intelligent recommendations help people in marketing and sales determine which promotion to send you, on which channel (email, phone, USPS), at which time. That’s pretty much the gist of it. See you later this month!

At Reltio, our core mission goes beyond MDM. We are focused on simplifying all aspects of data management for IT, while delivering high value data-driven applications into the hands of frontline business users. Reltio Cloud achieves this by combining MDM with multichannel interaction data, predictive analytics and machine learning, all within a unified Modern Data Management platform that operates at Internet scale leveraging big data.

Source: reltio.com

Using Artificial Intelligence to Reduce the Risk of Nonadherence in Patients on Anticoagulation Therapy

Researchers are using VR to make dentist visits less painful

Patients in a study reported less pain, as long as they viewed nature scenes.
OnTheGo

Like airlines, dentists understand that the more they can distract you from what they’re doing, the better off everyone will be. UK researchers wanted see if virtual reality can ease patient pain and anxiety, so they enlisted 79 people who needed a tooth pulled or cavity filled. Patients were divided into three groups: One that viewed a VR coastal scene, one a VR city, and the other, no virtual reality at all.

The result? Folks that viewed the ocean VR experienced “significantly less pain” than the other two groups, showing its therapeutic potential for stressful events. Furthermore, follow ups showed that the coastal VR patients experienced less “recalled pain” memories after the fact.

Notably, the city VR was no more effective at reducing patient pain and stress than no VR, so the trick seems to depend on using calming scenes. While that seems incredibly obvious, the psychologists thought VR could just be distracting patients from all the drilling and poking, much as a TV does, but that proved not to be the case. “Our findings are in line with literature, showing that contact with nature, even indirect contact through windows, can influence physical and mental well-being,” the paper explains.

The researchers note that in previous studies, VR has been shown to reduce patient dependence on pain medication. “Our research supports the previous positive findings of VR distraction in acute pain management, and suggests that VR nature can be used in combination with traditional [medication].” The next step, they suggest, would be to vary the content of natural environments (using a forest instead of a coastal scene, for instance) to see if the can determine exactly how it reduces pain. We’d recommend they check out the zen content out there, and avoid any games.

Source: engadget.com

The Big (Unstructured) Data Problem

OnTheGo

The face of data breaches changed last year. The one that marked that change for me was the breach that involved former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Gmail account. Targeted to expose the Hillary Clinton campaign, Colin Powell’s emails were posted on DCLinks.com for everyone to read. One of them had an attachment listing Salesforce’s acquisition targets and the details of its M&A strategy. Colin Powell, a member of Salesforce’s board, had access, through his personal email account, to sensitive information. When his personal email was hacked, all of that sensitive information was exposed — and blasted out in the headlines.

Corporations are trying to lock down sensitive information, most of it in structured systems and in data centers with a variety of security solutions. As it is getting harder for hackers to get to the data they want, they are finding the weakest path to that data and evolving their attack vector. Unstructured data is that new attack vector.

Most enterprises do not understand how much sensitive data they have, and when we consider how much unstructured data (emails, PDFs and other documents) a typical enterprise has under management, the red flags are clear and present. Analysts at Gartner (gated) estimate that upward of 80% of enterprise data today is unstructured. This is a big data problem, to say the least. As the level of unstructured data rises and hackers shift their focus to it, unstructured data is an issue that can no longer be placed on the enterprise IT back burner.

What Exactly Is Unstructured Data?

Unstructured data is any data that resides in emails, files, PDFs or documents. Sensitive unstructured data is usually data that was first created in a protected structured system such as SAP Financials for example and then exported into an Excel spreadsheet for easier consumption by audiences who are not SAP users.

Let me give you a very common example in any public company: Every quarter, a PR department receives the final quarterly financial numbers via email ahead of the earnings announcement in order to prepare a press release. The PR draft will be shared via email by a select group within the company before being approved and ready to be distributed out on the news wires. When pulling that financial information from the ERP system — a system that usually lives behind the corporate firewall with strong security and identity controls in place and with business owners who govern access to the systems and data within — we’ve instantly taken that formerly safe data and shared it freely by email as an Excel file.

A hacker could easily try to hack the credentials of a key employee rather than break into the network and tediously make his or her way to the ERP system. The path to getting the coveted earnings data can be easily shortened by focusing on its unstructured form shared via email or stored in files with limited security.

Right now, enterprises are woefully unprepared. Nearly 80% of enterprises have very little visibility into what’s happening across their unstructured data, let alone how to manage it. Enterprises are simply not ready to protect data in this form because they don’t understand just how much they have. Worse yet, they don’t even know what lies within those unstructured data files or who owns these files. Based on a recent survey created by my company, as many as 71% of enterprises are struggling with how to manage and protect unstructured data.

This is especially concerning when we consider the looming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) deadline. When that regulation takes effect in May 2018, any consumer data living in these unmanaged files that is exposed during a breach would immediately open the organization up to incredibly steep penalties. While regulations like GDPR put fear into companies, it may be a while before they start to take action. Many companies are struggling to strike the right balance between focusing on reacting to security threats versus time spent evaluating the broader picture of proactively managing risk for their company.

The Path Forward

Enterprises simply cannot afford to ignore the big unstructured data problem any longer. They need an actionable plan, one that starts with this four-step process:

•Find your unstructured data. Sensitive data is most likely spread out across both structured systems (i.e., your ERP application) and unstructured data (i.e., an Excel spreadsheet with exported data from your ERP app) that lives in a file share or the numerous cloud storage systems companies use today for easier cross-company sharing and collaboration.
•Classify and assign an owner to that data. Not all data has value, but even some stale data may still be of sensitive nature. Take the time to review all data and classify it to help you focus only on the most sensitive areas. Then assign owners to the classified unstructured data. If you do not know whom it belongs to, ask the many consumers of that data; they usually always point in the same direction — its natural owner.
•Understand who has access to your data. It’s extremely important to understand who has access to all sensitive company information, so access controls need to be placed on both structured and unstructured data.
•Put parameters around your data. Sensitive data should be accessed on a “need to know” basis, meaning only a select few in the company should have regular access to your more sensitive files, the ones that could have serious consequences if they ended up in the wrong hands.

With these steps in place, you can better avoid anyone within your company from having access to a file that they don’t need to do their job and ultimately minimize the risk of a breach. And although there are data access governance solutions that help corporations protect unstructured data, very few enterprises today have such a program in place. Ultimately, these solutions will need to find their way into enterprises as hackers once again change their attack vector to easier prey.

Source: Forbes

Voiceitt lets people with speech impairments use voice-controlled technology

OnTheGo

Voice-controlled technology like Amazon Echo, Siri or hands-free features in Google Maps are things we’re starting to take for granted. But as Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report noted, voice controls are changing computer-human interfaces, and industries, broadly. Speech recognition or voice controls are being added to medical devices and business applications, even vehicles and industrial robotics.

But there’s a problem — voice systems have been built for standard speech today. That leaves out millions of people who live with speech impairments, or who just have a strong accent. Now, a Tel Aviv-based startup called Voiceitt has raised $2 million in seed funding to translate into clear words speech that’s not easily intelligible.

The startup, which was co-founded by CEO Danny Weissberg and CTO Stas Tiomkin, is a graduate of the DreamIt Health accelerator. Investors in Voiceitt’s seed round include Amit Technion, Dreamit Ventures, Quake Capital, Buffalo Angels, 1,000 Angels and other angels.

Here’s how Voiceitt works: Users fire up the company’s app and it asks them to compose then read short, useful sentences out loud, like “I’m thirsty,” or “Turn off the lights.” The software records and begins to learn the speaker’s particular pronunciation. A caregiver can type phrases into the app if the user is not able to do so independently.

After a brief training period, the Voiceitt app can turn the user’s statements into normalized speech, which it outputs in the form of audio or text messages, instantly. Voice-controlled apps and devices can easily understand the newly generated audio or written messages. But Voiceitt also can be used to help people with speech impediments communicate face to face with other people.

Dreamit’s Karen Griffith Gryga said investors view Voiceitt as a technology that’s starting with “the thin edge of the wedge,” in the market for assistive tech. But it could be expanded to help people with strong accents use whatever voice-enabled technology Seattle or Silicon Valley comes up with next.

Weissberg explained that he came up with the idea for Voiceitt after his grandmother suffered from speech impairments following a stroke. The CEO said, “I realized how we take for granted the way we communicate by speaking. Losing this is really terrible, one of the hardest aspects of stroke recovery. So I didn’t say, right away, let’s start a company. But I began to talk with speech therapists and occupational therapists, and to learn everything I can about the problem and whether there was a market in need, there.”

An early version of Voiceitt will be available next year, but the app is in beta tests now. The company’s pilot customers are hospitals and schools, and people there who have speech differences because of a health condition, like those with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Parkinson’s or who are recovering from a traumatic brain injury or stroke.

Long-term, Weissberg said, “This could really be an accessibility extension to speech recognition for anyone, Google, Amazon, Apple, IBM or Microsoft. We’d love to function like a major OEM and work with all the major platforms.”

Source: techcrunch.com

Using Cell Phone Data to Predict the Next Epidemic

Whom you call is linked to where you travel, which dictates how viruses spread.Champion

Can big data about whom we call be used to predict how a viral epidemic will spread?

It seems unlikely. After all, viruses do not spread over a cell network; they need us to interact with people in person.

Yet, it turns out that the patterns in whom we call can be used to predict patterns in where we travel, according to new research from Kellogg’s Dashun Wang. This in turn can shed light on how an epidemic would spread.

Both phone calls and physical travel are highly influenced by geography. The further away a shopping mall or post office is from our home, after all, the less likely we are to visit it. Similarly, our friends who live in the neighborhood are a lot likelier to hear from us frequently than our extended family in Alberta.

But Wang and colleagues were able to take this a step further. By analyzing a huge amount of data on where people travel and whom they call, they were able to determine the mathematical formula that illustrates the link between how distance impacts these two very different activities. This understanding provides a framework for using data about long-distance interactions to predict physical ones—and vice versa.

As humans, we do not like to think that someone could anticipate our actions, says Wang, an associate professor of management and organizations. But his evidence says otherwise. “It’s just fascinating to see this kind of deep mathematical relationship in human behavior,” he says.

Wang’s conclusions were based on the analysis of three massive troves of cell phone data collected for billing purposes. The data, from three nations spanning two continents, included geographic information about where cell phone users traveled, as well as information about each phone call placed or received, and how far a user was from the person on the other end of the line.

The discovery of this underlying relationship between physical and nonphysical interactions has significant practical implications. For example, the researchers were able to model the spread of a hypothetical virus, which started in a few randomly selected people and then spread to others in the vicinity, using only the data about the flow of phone calls between various parties. Those predictions were remarkably similar to ones generated by actual information about where users traveled and thus where they would be likely to spread or contract a disease.

“I think that’s a great example to illustrate the opportunities brought about by big data,” Wang says. “The paper represents a major step in our quantitative understanding of how geography governs the way in which we are connected. These insights can be particularly relevant in a business world that is becoming increasingly interconnected.”

Source: Kellogg Insight

Past, Present and Future of AI / Machine Learning (Google I/O ’17)

 

We are in the middle of a major shift in computing that’s transitioning us from a mobile-first world into one that’s AI-first. AI will touch every industry and transform the products and services we use daily. Breakthroughs in machine learning have enabled dramatic improvements in the quality of Google Translate, made your photos easier to organize with Google Photos, and enabled improvements in Search, Maps, YouTube, and more.