At Global Directions, the future of data is endless. There’s a new paradigm for creative discovery at our fingertips and it can unlock amazing opportunities in our genes, within the customer life cycle and everything in between. Whether it’s big, smart or fast, the exponential increase in computing power and intelligence has infinitely impacted information management for the enterprise (and beyond).

To emphasize this, Global Directions went all the way to the top to teach us about big data's reach. Ray Kurzweil headlined and left his mark indelibly upon the rest of the day's keynotes. 

Forget Everything You Think You Know About Data

You may think you know a lot about big data and artificial intelligence. However, I guarantee what you think you know pales in comparison to what Ray Kurzweil knows about everything. For a futurist, Mr. Kurzweil is pretty understated. He doesn’t wear a technicolor dream coat or beam himself onto stage. Instead, he blows your mind by talking nonchalantly about spectacular and sophisticated scientific-based opportunities provided by smart data. Consider being able to download software to your brain or a particular part of your body. Consider altering your genes to counteract against disease. Sounds like science fiction, right? But this is exactly what the likes of IBM and Google are working on.

And it’s happening because of data. Data about your customer, your genetic history, the history of the world. All of this information and intelligence can facilitate great discoveries, if you know what you’re looking for. The more data scientists, evangelists and analysts I talked to, the more I learned that it’s not how much data you have. It’s not about the tools you’re using. It’s about what problem you want to solve using data.

The New Data Discovery Paradigm

Well, this is new. Fast data is shifting the paradigm of information discovery. Instead of going to war with the army you have, you can solve problems using the data you need. It’s forcing us to work backwards - to start with the problem and then build a supporting infrastructure to support the discovery. It changes the way people work internally. It changes the way you interact with customers. It changes the way you approach new challenges.

When I sat down with Neil Isford, vice president of Smarter Solutions at IBM, it was clear that data discovery, like a lot of things these days, is a journey not a destination. As such, it's not simply enough to integrate information silos, you must effectively change the way things get done. Business processes cannot and should not revert back to the way things were just because information is now connected to others. It requires a fundamental shift in culture, in workflow, and innovation. 

The first day at Global Directions purposely delivered big ideas so that everyone understands what’s possible. For the rest of the conference, attendees are able to dig deeper to learn how to put these applications into action. Chances are, most of us are not working on the next iteration of the Human Genome Project. We’re just trying to improve the customer experience or enhance enterprise collaboration. And that's the point - data can scale to help you manage projects of all sizes.

Image credit: Shutterstock / ssguy