Category Archives: Machine Learning

Are You Content with Your Organization’s Content Strategy?

In this post, we will examine ways that your organization can separate useful content into separate categories that amplify your own staff’s performance. Before we start, I have a few questions for you.

What attributes of your organization’s strategies can you attribute to successful outcomes? How long do you deliberate before taking specific deliberate actions? Do you converse with your employees about decisions that might be the converse of what they would expect? Is a process modification that saves a minute in someone’s workday considered too minute for consideration? Do you present your employees with a present for their innovative ideas? Do you perfect your plans in anticipation of perfect outcomes? Or do you project foregone conclusions on a project before it is completed?

If you have good answers to these questions, that is awesome! I would not contest any of your answers since this is not a contest. In fact, this is actually something quite different. Before you combine all these questions in a heap and thresh them in a combine, and before you buffet me with a buffet of skeptical remarks, stick with me and let me explain. Do not close the door on me when I am so close to giving you an explanation.

What you have just experienced is a plethora of heteronyms. Heteronyms are words that are spelled identically but have different meanings when pronounced differently. If you include the title of this blog, you were just presented with 13 examples of heteronyms in the preceding paragraphs. Can you find them all?

Seriously now, what do these word games have to do with content strategy? I would say that they have a great deal to do with it. Specifically, in the modern era of massive data collections and exploding content repositories, we can no longer simply rely on keyword searches to be sufficient. In the case of a heteronym, a keyword search would return both uses of the word, even though their meanings are quite different. In “information retrieval” language, we would say that we have high RECALL, but low PRECISION. In other words, we can find most occurrences of the word (recall), but not all the results correspond to the meaning of our search (precision). That is no longer good enough when the volume is so high.

The key to success is to start enhancing and augmenting content management systems (CMS) with additional features: semantic content and context. This is accomplished through tags, annotations, and metadata (TAM). TAM management, like content management, begins with business strategy.

Strategic content management focusses on business outcomes, business process improvement, efficiency (precision – i.e., “did I find only the content that I need without a lot of noise?”), and effectiveness (recall – i.e., “did I find all the content that I need?”). Just because people can request a needle in the haystack, it is not a good thing to deliver the whole haystack that contains that needle. Clearly, such a content delivery system is not good for business productivity. So, there must be a strategy regarding who, what, when, where, why, and how is the organization’s content to be indexed, stored, accessed, delivered, used, and documented. The content strategy should emulate a digital library strategy. Labeling, indexing, ease of discovery, and ease of access are essential if end-users are to find and benefit from the collection.

My favorite approach to TAM creation and to modern data management in general is AI and machine learning (ML). That is, use AI and machine learning techniques on digital content (databases, documents, images, videos, press releases, forms, web content, social network posts, etc.) to infer topics, trends, sentiment, context, content, named entity identification, numerical content extraction (including the units on those numbers), and negations. Do not forget the negations. A document that states “this form should not be used for XYZ” is exactly the opposite of a document that states “this form must be used for XYZ”. Similarly, a social media post that states “Yes. I believe that this product is good” is quite different from a post that states “Yeah, sure. I believe that this product is good. LOL.”

Contextual TAM enhances a CMS with knowledge-driven search and retrieval, not just keyword-driven. Contextual TAM includes semantic TAM, taxonomic indexing, and even usage-based tags (digital breadcrumbs of the users of specific pieces of content, including the key words and phrases that people used to describe the content in their own reports). Adding these to your organization’s content makes the CMS semantically searchable and usable. That’s far more laser-focused (high-precision) than keyword search.

One type of implementation of a content strategy that is specific to data collections are data catalogs. Data catalogs are very useful and important. They become even more useful and valuable if they include granular search capabilities. For example, the end-user may only need the piece of the dataset that has the content that their task requires, versus being delivered the full dataset. Tagging and annotating those subcomponents and subsets (i.e., granules) of the data collection for fast search, access, and retrieval is also important for efficient orchestration and delivery of the data that fuels AI, automation, and machine learning operations.

One way to describe this is “smart content” for intelligent digital business operations. Smart content includes labeled (tagged, annotated) metadata (TAM). These labels include content, context, uses, sources, and characterizations (patterns, features) associated with the whole content and with individual content granules. Labels can be learned through machine learning, or applied by human experts, or proposed by non-experts when those labels represent cognitive human-discovered patterns and features in the data. Labels can be learned and applied in existing CMS, in massive streaming data, and in sensor data (collected in devices at the “edge”).

Some specific tools and techniques that can be applied to CMS to generate smart content include these:

  • Natural language understanding and natural language generation
  • Topic modeling (including topic drift and topic emergence detection)
  • Sentiment detection (including emotion detection)
  • AI-generated and ML-inferred content and context
  • Entity identification and extraction
  • Numerical quantity extraction
  • Automated structured (searchable) database generation from textual (unstructured) document collections (for example: Textual ETL).

Consequently, smart content thrives at the convergence of AI and content. Labels are curated and stored with the content, thus enabling curation, cataloguing (indexing), search, delivery, orchestration, and use of content and data in AI applications, including knowledge-driven decision-making and autonomous operations. Techniques that both enable (contribute to) and benefit from smart content are content discovery, machine learning, knowledge graphs, semantic linked data, semantic data integration, knowledge discovery, and knowledge management. Smart content thus meets the needs for digital business operations and autonomous (AI and intelligent automation) activities, which must devour streams of content and data – not just any content, but smart content – the right (semantically identified) content delivered at the right time in the right context.

The four tactical steps in a smart content strategy include:

  1. Characterize and contextualize the patterns, events, and entities in the content collection with semantic (contextual) tags, annotation, and metadata (TAM).
  2. Collect, curate, and catalog (i.e., index) each TAM component to make it searchable, accessible, and reusable.
  3. Deliver the right content at the right time in the right context to the decision agent.
  4. Decide and act on the delivered insights and knowledge.

Remember, do not be content with your current content management strategy. But discover and deliver the perfect smart content that perfects your digital business outcomes. Smart content strategy can save end-users countless minutes in a typical workday, and that type of business process improvement certainly is not too minute for consideration.

Top 10 Data Innovation Trends During 2020

The year 2020 was remarkably different in many ways from previous years. In at least one way, it was not different, and that was in the continued development of innovations that are inspired by data. This steady march of data-driven innovation has been a consistent characteristic of each year for at least the past decade. These data-fueled innovations come in the form of new algorithms, new technologies, new applications, new concepts, and even some “old things made new again”.

I provide below my perspective on what was interesting, innovative, and influential in my watch list of the Top 10 data innovation trends during 2020.

1) Automated Narrative Text Generation tools became incredibly good in 2020, being able to create scary good “deep fake” articles. The GPT-3 (Generative Pretrained Transformer, 3rd generation text autocomplete) algorithm made headlines since it demonstrated that it can start with a very thin amount of input (a short topic description, or a question), from which it can then generate several paragraphs of narrative that are very hard (perhaps impossible) to distinguish from human-generated text. However, it is far from perfect, since it certainly does not have reasoning skills, and it also loses its “train of thought” after several paragraphs (e.g., by making contradictory statements at different places in the narrative, even though the statements are nicely formed sentences).

2) MLOps became the expected norm in machine learning and data science projects. MLOps takes the modeling, algorithms, and data wrangling out of the experimental “one off” phase and moves the best models into deployment and sustained operational phase. MLOps “done right” addresses sustainable model operations, explainability, trust, versioning, reproducibility, training updates, and governance (i.e., the monitoring of very important operational ML characteristics: data drift, concept drift, and model security).

3) Concept drift by COVID – as mentioned above, concept drift is being addressed in machine learning and data science projects by MLOps, but concept drift is so much bigger than MLOps. Specifically, it feels to many of us like a decade of business transformation was compressed into the one year 2020. How and why businesses make decisions, customers make decisions, and anybody else makes decisions became conceptually and contextually different in 2020. Customer purchase patterns, supply chain, inventory, and logistics represent just a few domains where we saw new and emergent behaviors, responses, and outcomes represented in our data and in our predictive models. The old models were not able to predict very well based on the previous year’s data since the previous year seemed like 100 years ago in “data years”. Another example was in new data-driven cybersecurity practices introduced by the COVID pandemic, including behavior biometrics (or biometric analytics), which were driven strongly by the global “work from home” transition, where many insecurities in networks, data-sharing, and collaboration / communication tools were exposed. Behavior biometrics may possibly become the essential cyber requirement for unique user identification, finally putting weak passwords out of commission. Data and network access controls have similar user-based permissions when working from home as when working behind the firewall at your place of business, but the security checks and usage tracking can be more verifiable and certified with biometric analytics. This is critical in our massively data-sharing world and enterprises.

4) AIOps increasingly became a focus in AI strategy conversations. While it is similar to MLOps, AIOps is less focused on the ML algorithms and more focused on automation and AI applications in the enterprise IT environment – i.e., focused on operationalizing AI, including data orchestration, the AI platform, AI outcomes monitoring, and cybersecurity requirements. AIOps appears in discussions related to ITIM (IT infrastructure monitoring), SIEM (security information and event management), APM (application performance monitoring), UEBA (user and entity behavior analytics), DevSecOps, Anomaly Detection, Rout Cause Analysis, Alert Generation, and related enterprise IT applications.

5) The emergence of Edge-to-Cloud architectures clearly began pushing Industry 4.0 forward (with some folks now starting to envision what Industry 5.0 will look like). The Edge-to-Cloud architectures are responding to the growth of IoT sensors and devices everywhere, whose deployments are boosted by 5G capabilities that are now helping to significantly reduce data-to-action latency. In some cases, the analytics and intelligence must be computed and acted upon at the edge (Edge Computing, at the point of data collection), as in autonomous vehicles. In other cases, the analytics and insights may have more significant computation requirements and less strict latency requirements, thus allowing the data to be moved to larger computational resources in the cloud. The almost forgotten “orphan” in these architectures, Fog Computing (living between edge and cloud), is now moving to a more significant status in data and analytics architecture design.

6) Federated Machine Learning (FML) is another “orphan” concept (formerly called Distributed Data Mining a decade ago) that found new life in modeling requirements, algorithms, and applications in 2020. To some extent, the pandemic contributed to this because FML enforces data privacy by essentially removing data-sharing as a requirement for model-building across multiple datasets, multiple organizations, and multiple applications. FML model training is done incrementally and locally on the local dataset, with the meta-parameters of the local models then being shared with a centralized model-inference engine (which does not see any of the private data). The centralized ML engine then builds a global model, which is communicated back to the local nodes. Multiple iterations in parameter-updating and hyperparameter-tuning can occur between local nodes and the central inference engine, until satisfactory model performance is achieved. All through these training stages, data privacy is preserved, while allowing for the generation of globally useful, distributable, and accurate models.

7) Deep learning (DL) may not be “the one algorithm to dominate all others” after all. There was some research published earlier in 2020 that found that traditional, less complex algorithms can be nearly as good or better than deep learning on some tasks. This could be yet another demonstration of the “no free lunch theorem”, which basically states that there is no single universal algorithm that is the best for all problems. Consequently, the results of the new DL research may not be so surprising, but they certainly prompt us with necessary reminders that sometimes simple is better than complexity, and that the old saying is often still true: “perfect is the enemy of good enough.”

8) RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and intelligent automation were not new in 2020, but the surge in their use and in the number of providers was remarkable. While RPA is more rule-based (informed by business process mining, to automate work tasks that have very little variation), intelligent automation is more data-driven, adaptable, and self-learning in real-time. RPA mimics human actions, by repetition of routine tasks based on a set of rules. Intelligent automation simulates human intelligence, which responds and adapts to emergent patterns in new data, and which is capable of learning to automate non-routine tasks. Keep an eye on the intelligent automation space for new and exciting developments to come in the near future around hyperautomation and enterprise intelligence, such as the emergence of learning business systems that learn and adapt their processes based on signals in enterprise data across numerous business functions: finance, marketing, HR, customer service, production, operations, sales, and management.

9) The Rise of Data Literacy initiatives, imperatives, instructional programs, and institutional awareness in 2020 was one of the two most exciting things that I witnessed during the year. (The other one of the two is next on my list.) I have said for nearly 20 years that data literacy must become a key component of education at all levels and an aptitude of nearly all employees in all organizations. The world is data, revolves around data, produces and consumes massive quantities of data, and drives innovative emerging technologies that are inspired by, informed by, and fueled by data: augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), autonomous vehicles, computer vision, digital twins, drones, robotics, AI, IoT, hyperautomation, virtual assistants, conversational AI, chatbots, natural language understanding and generation (NLU, NLG), automatic language translation, 4D-printing, cyber resilience, and more. Data literacy is essential for future of work, future innovation, work from home, and everyone that touches digital information. Studies have shown that organizations that are not adopting data literacy programs are not only falling behind, but they may stay behind, their competition. Get on board with data literacy! Now!

10) Observability emerged as one of the hottest and (for me) most exciting developments of the year. Do not confuse observability with monitoring (specifically, with IT monitoring). The key difference is this: monitoring is what you do, and observability is why you do it. Observability is a business strategy: what you monitor, why you monitor it, what you intend to learn from it, how it will be used, and how it will contribute to business objectives and mission success. But the power, value, and imperative of observability does not stop there. Observability meets AI – it is part of the complete AIOps package: “keeping an eye on the AI.” Observability delivers actionable insights, context-enriched data sets, early warning alert generation, root cause visibility, active performance monitoring, predictive and prescriptive incident management, real-time operational deviation detection (6-Sigma never had it so good!), tight coupling of cyber-physical systems, digital twinning of almost anything in the enterprise, and more. And the goodness doesn’t stop there. The emergence of standards, like OpenTelemetry, can unify all aspects of your enterprise observability strategy: process instrumentation, sensing, metrics specification, context generation, data collection, data export, and data analysis of business process performance and behavior monitoring in the cloud. This plethora of benefits is a real game-changer for open-source self-service intelligent data-driven business process monitoring (BPM) and application performance monitoring (APM), feedback, and improvement. As mentioned above, monitoring is “what you are doing”, and observability is “why you are doing it.” If your organization is not having “the talk” about observability, now is the time to start – to understand why and how to produce business value through observability into the multitude of data-rich digital business applications and processes all across the modern enterprise. Don’t drown in those deep seas of data. Instead, develop an Observability Strategy to help your organization ride the waves of data, to help your business innovation and transformation practices move at the speed of data.

In summary, my top 10 data innovation trends from 2020 are:

  • GPT-3
  • MLOps
  • Concept Drift by COVID
  • AIOps
  • Edge-to-Cloud and Fog Computing
  • Federated Machine Learning
  • Deep Learning meets the “no free lunch theorem”
  • RPA and Intelligent Automation
  • Rise of Data Literacy
  • Observability

If I were to choose what was hottest trend in 2020, it would not be a single item in this top 10 list. The hottest trend would be a hybrid (convergence) of several of these items. That hybrid would include: Observability, coupled with Edge and the ever-rising ubiquitous IoT (sensors on everything), boosted by 5G and cloud technologies, fueling ever-improving ML and DL algorithms, all of which are enabling “just-in-time” intelligence and intelligent automation (for data-driven decisions and action, at the point of data collection), deployed with a data-literate workforce, in a sustainable and trusted MLOps environment, where algorithms, data, and applications work harmoniously and are governed and secured by AIOps.

If we learned anything from the year 2020, it should be that trendy technologies do not comprise a menu of digital transformation solutions to choose from, but there really is only one combined solution, which is the hybrid convergence of data innovation technologies. From my perspective, that was the single most significant data innovation trend of the year 2020.

Analytics Insights and Careers at the Speed of Data

How to make smarter data-driven decisions at scale:

The determination of winners and losers in the data analytics space is a much more dynamic proposition than it ever has been. One CIO said it this way, “If CIOs invested in machine learning three years ago, they would have wasted their money. But if they wait another three years, they will never catch up.”  Well, that statement was made five years ago! A lot has changed in those five years, and so has the data landscape.

The dynamic changes of the business requirements and value propositions around data analytics have been increasingly intense in depth (in the number of applications in each business unit) and in breadth (in the enterprise-wide scope of applications in all business units in all sectors). But more significant has been the acceleration in the number of dynamic, real-time data sources and corresponding dynamic, real-time analytics applications.

We no longer should worry about “managing data at the speed of business,” but worry more about “managing business at the speed of data.”

One of the primary drivers for the phenomenal growth in dynamic real-time data analytics today and in the coming decade is the Internet of Things (IoT) and its sibling the Industrial IoT (IIoT). With its vast assortment of sensors and streams of data that yield digital insights in situ in almost any situation, the IoT / IIoT market has a projected market valuation of $1.5 trillion by 2030. The accompanying technology Edge Computing, through which those streaming digital insights are extracted and then served to end-users, has a projected valuation of $800 billion by 2028.

With dynamic real-time insights, this “Internet of Everything” can then become the “Internet of Intelligent Things”, or as I like to say, “The Internet used to be a thing. Now things are the Internet.” The vast scope of this digital transformation in dynamic business insights discovery from entities, events, and behaviors is on a scale that is almost incomprehensible. Traditional business analytics approaches (on laptops, in the cloud, or with static datasets) will not keep up with this growing tidal wave of dynamic data.

Another dimension to this story, of course, is the Future of Work discussion, including creation of new job titles and roles, and the demise of older job titles and roles. One group has declared, “IoT companies will dominate the 2020s: Prepare your resume!” This article quotes an older market projection (from 2019), which estimated “the global industrial IoT market could reach $14.2 trillion by 2030.”

In dynamic data-driven applications, automation of the essential processes (in this case, data triage, insights discovery, and analytics delivery) can give a power boost to ride that tidal wave of fast-moving data streams. One can prepare for and improve skill readiness for these new business and career opportunities in several ways:

  • Focus on the automation of business processes: e.g., artificial intelligence, robotics, robotic process automation, intelligent process automation, chatbots.
  • Focus on the technologies and engineering components: e.g., sensors, monitoring, cloud-to-edge, microservices, serverless, insights-as-a-service APIs, IFTTT (IF-This-Then-That) architectures.
  • Focus on the data science: e.g., machine learning, statistics, computer vision, natural language understanding, coding, forecasting, predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics, anomaly detection, emergent behavior discovery, model explainability, trust, ethics, model monitoring (for data drift and concept drift) in dynamic environments (MLOps, ModelOps, AIOps).
  • Focus on specific data types: e.g., time series, video, audio, images, streaming text (such as social media or online chat channels), network logs, supply chain tracking (e.g., RFID), inventory monitoring (SKU / UPC tracking).
  • Focus on the strategies that aim these tools, talents, and technologies at reaching business mission and goals: e.g., data strategy, analytics strategy, observability strategy (i.e., why and where are we deploying the data-streaming sensors, and what outcomes should they achieve?).

Insights discovery from ubiquitous data collection (via the tens of billions of connected devices that will be measuring, monitoring, and tracking nearly everything internally in our business environment and contextually in the broader market and global community) is ultimately about value creation and business outcomes. Embedding real-time dynamic analytics at the edge, at the point of data collection, or at the moment of need will dynamically (and positively) change the slope of your business or career trajectory. Dynamic sense-making, insights discovery, next-best-action response, and value creation is essential when data is being acquired at an enormous rate. Only then can one hope to realize the promised trillion-dollar market value of the Internet of Everything.

For more advice, check out this upcoming webinar panel discussion, sponsored by AtScale, with data and analytics leaders from Wayfair, Cardinal Health,, and Slickdeals: “How to make smarter data-driven decisions at scale.” Each panelist will share an overview of their data & analytics journey, and how they are building a self-service, data-driven culture that scales. Join us on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 (11:00am PT | 2:00pm ET). Save your spot here: I hope that you find this event useful. And I hope to see you there!

Please follow me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter at @KirkDBorne.

RPA and IPA – Their Similarities are Different, but Their Rapid Growth Trajectories are the Same

When I was growing up, friends at school would occasionally ask me if my older brother and I were twins. We were not, though we looked twin-like! As I grew tired of answering that question, one day I decided to give a more thoughtful answer to the question (beyond a simple “No”). I replied: “Yes, we are twins. We were born 20 months apart!” My response caused the questioner to pause and think about what I said, and perhaps reframe their own thinking.

This story reminds me that two things may appear very much the same, but they may be found to be not so similar after deeper inspection and reflection. RPA and IPA are like that. Their similarities are different!

What are RPA and IPA? RPA is Robotic Process Automation, and IPA is Intelligent Process Automation. Sound similar? Yes, in fact, their differences are similar!

In the rest of this article, we will refer to IPA as intelligent automation (IA), which is simply short-hand for intelligent process automation.

Process automation is relatively clear – it refers to an automatic implementation of a process, specifically a business process in our case. One can automate a very complicated and time-consuming process, even for a one-time bespoke application – the ROI must be worth it, to justify doing this only once. Robotic Process Automation is for “more than once” automation. RPA then refers specifically to the robotic repetition of a business process. Repetition implies that the same steps are repeated many times, for example claims processing or business form completion or invoice processing or invoice submission or more data-specific activities, such as data extraction from documents (such as PDFs), data entry, data validation, and report preparation.

The benefits of RPA accrue from its robotic repetition of a well-defined process (specifically some sort of digital process with defined instructions, inputs, rules, and outputs), which is to be repeated without error, thus removing potential missteps in the process, or accidental omission of steps, or employee fatigue. The process must be simple, stable, repetitive, and routine, and it must be carried out the same way hundreds or thousands (or more) times. This robotic repetition of the process assures that the steps are replicated identically, correctly, and rapidly from one application to the next, thus yielding higher business productivity. Consequently, as organizations everywhere are undergoing significant digital transformation, we have been witnessing increases both in the use of RPA in organizations and in the number of RPA products in the market.

So, what about Intelligent Automation? IA refers to the addition of “intelligence” to the RPA – transforming it into “smart RPA” or even “cognitive RPA”. This is accomplished by adding more data-driven, machine learning, and AI (artificial intelligence) components to the process discovery, process mining, and process learning stages. IA incorporates feedback, learning, improvement, and optimization in the automation loop. The market and business appetite for IA is growing rapidly, particularly as more organizations are seeking to add AI to their enterprise functions and to step up the value derived from their process automation activities.

The pivot from RPA to IA right now has spurred Automation Anywhere, Inc. (AAI) to conduct a survey of businesses and organizations in numerous sectors and industries, to assess the current and future (Now and Next) state of RPA in the enterprise. AAI’s recently published “Now and Next State of RPA” report presents detailed results of that survey.

The AAI report covers these industries: energy/utilities, financial/insurance, government, healthcare, industrial/manufacturing, life sciences, retail/consumer, services/consulting, technology, telecom, and transportation/airlines.

The first part of the report addresses the “Now” – the present-day impact of RPA and IA – how organizations are deploying process automation, what their priorities are, how much are they investing in it, and what are the benefits being achieved. The “Next” part of the report probes organizations’ forward-looking strategies and goals over the next one to two years. Of course, both the “now” and “next” sections are affected and informed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some top trends from the report include:

  • Cloud is becoming the platform of choice for RPA deployments. Cloud is top of mind for leaders everywhere, and that includes cloud migration and cloud security.
  • Organizations are thinking big about RPA, with millions of bots already implemented by AAI customers. Some AAI customers have individually deployed tens of thousands of bots.
  • The pandemic has rapidly increased demand for RPA, especially in customer-facing functions, such as call centers.
  • Most organizations (63%) are deploying or scaling their efforts, while 27% are still evaluating RPA solutions, and 10% have no plans at this time.
  • Spending on RPA is increasing, with an estimated doubling of the number of bots deployed in the next 12 months in most organizations who are already actively using RPA bots.
  • Productivity improvement is the single most important driver for adopting RPA, IA, and AI.
  • The average ROI from RPA/IA deployments is 250%.
  • Interest in AI is high and growing, specifically in the areas of smart analytics, customer-centricity, chatbots, and predictive modeling. Many organizations are seeing a strong alignment of their AI and RPA (hence, IA) projects.
  • The top barriers to adoption are (in order of significance): lack of expertise, insufficient budget, lack of resources, lack of use cases, limited ROI, organizational resistance, scalability concerns, and security concerns.
  • Top use cases in the back office include finance (general ledger data reconciliation), accounts payable (invoice processing and payment), and HR (new employee onboarding).
  • Top use cases in the front office include customer records management (including account updates), customer service (request handling and call center support), and sales order processing.
  • RPA education and training are on the rise (specifically online training). This reflects the corresponding increase in interest among many organizations in data literacy, analytics skills, AI literacy, and AI skills training. Education initiatives address the change management, employee reskilling, and worker upskilling that organizations are now prioritizing.
  • Organizations report an increased excitement for RPA/IA, an awareness of significant new opportunities for adoption, and a desire for more mature RPA – that is, intelligent automation!

There are many more details, including specific insights for different sectors, in the 21-page “Now and Next State of RPA” report from Automation Anywhere, Inc. You can download the full report here: Download it for free and learn more how the robotic twinning and repetition of business processes is the most intelligent step in accelerating digital transformation and boosting business productivity.

Productivity is the top driver of RPA and AI.
Open-ended survey questions gave insights into organizations’ planned AI projects.
Training initiatives are a high priority for increasing ROI from RPA and AI projects.

How We Teach The Leaders of Tomorrow To Be Curious, Ask Questions and Not Be Afraid To Fail Fast To Learn Fast

I recently enjoyed recording a podcast with Joe DosSantos (Chief Data Officer at Qlik). This was one in a series of #DataBrilliant podcasts by Qlik, which you can also access here (Apple Podcasts) and here (Spotify). I summarize below some of the topics that Joe and I discussed in the podcast. Be sure to listen to the full recording of our lively conversation, which covered Data Literacy, Data Strategy, Data Leadership, and more.

The Age of Hype Cycles

The data age has been marked by numerous “hype cycles.” First, we heard how Big Data, Data Science, Machine Learning (ML) and Advanced Analytics would have the honor to be the technologies that would cure cancer, end world hunger and solve the world’s biggest challenges. Then came third-generation Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and soon Quantum Computing, with each one seeking that honor.

From all this hope and hype, one constant has always been there: a focus on value creation from data. As a scientist, I have always recommended a scientific approach: State your problem first, be curious (ask questions), collect facts to address those questions (acquire data), investigate, analyze, ask more questions, include a sensible serving of skepticism, and (above all else) aim to fail fast in order to learn fast. As I discussed with Joe DosSantos when I spoke with him for the latest episode of Data Brilliant, you don’t need to be a data scientist to follow these principles. These apply to everyone, in all organizations and walks of life, in every sector.

One characteristic of science that is especially true in data science and implicit in ML is the concept of continuous learning and refining our understanding. We build models to test our understanding, but these models are not “one and done.” They are part of a cycle of learning. In ML, the learning cycle is sometimes called backpropagation, where the errors (inaccurate predictions) of our models are fed back into adjusting the model’s input parameters in a way that aims to improve the output accuracy. A more colloquial expression for this is: good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.

Data Literacy For All

I know that for some, the term data and some of the other terminology I’ve mentioned already can be scary. But they shouldn’t be. We are all surrounded by – and creating – masses of data every single day. As Joe and I talked about, one of the first hurdles in data literacy is getting people to recognize that everything is data. What you see with your eyes? That’s data. What you hear with your ears? Data. The words that come out of your mouth that other people hear? That’s all data. Images, text, documents, audio, video and all the apps on your phone, all the things you search for on the internet? Yet again, that’s data.

Every single day, everyone around the world is using data and the principles I mention above, many without realizing it. So, now we need to bring this value to our businesses.

How To Build A Successful Enterprise Data Strategy

In my chat with Joe, we talked about many data concepts in the context of enterprise digital transformation. As always, but especially during the race toward digital transformation that has been accelerated by the 2020 pandemic, a successful enterprise data strategy that leads to business value creation can benefit from first addressing these six key questions:

(1) What mission objective and outcomes are you aiming to achieve?

(2) What is the business problem, expressed in data terminology? Specifically, is it a detection problem (fraud or emergent behavior), a discovery problem (new customers or new opportunities), a prediction problem (what will happen) or an optimization problem (how to improve outcomes)?

(3) Do you have the talent (key people representing diverse perspectives), tools (data technologies) and techniques (AI and ML knowledge) to make it happen?

(4) What data do you have to fuel the algorithms, the training and the modeling processes?

(5) Is your organizational culture ready for this (for data-informed decisions; an experimentation mindset; continuous learning; fail fast to learn fast; with principled AI and data governance)?

(6) What operational technology environment do you have to deploy the implementation (cloud or on-premise platform)?

Data Leadership

As Joe and I discussed, your ultimate business goal is to build a data-fueled enterprise that delivers business value from data. Therefore, ask questions, be purposeful (goal-oriented and mission-focused), be reasonable in your expectations and remain reasonably skeptical – because as famous statistician, George Box, once said “all models are wrong, but some are useful.”

Now, listen to the full podcast here.

Key Strategies and Senior Executives’ Perspectives on AI Adoption in 2020

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become one of the most significant emerging technologies of the past few years. Some market estimates anticipate that AI will contribute 16 trillion dollars to the global GDP (gross domestic product) by 2030. While there has been accelerating interest in implementing AI as a technology, there has been concurrent growth in interest in implementing successful AI strategies. Some key elements of such strategies that have emerged include explainable AI, trusted AI, AI ethics, operationalizing AI, scaling sustainable AI operations, workforce development (training), and how to speed up all of this development.

The 2020 year of the pandemic has forced organizations to speed up their digital transformation and advanced technology adoption plans, essentially compressing several years of anticipated developments into several months. These accelerated developments cover a wide scope, including: technology-enabled remote work solutions, technology-enhanced health and safety programs, AI-powered implementations of “all of the above”, and sharpened focus and attention on their workforce: future of work in the age of AI, AI-assisted human work and process enhancements, and training initiatives (including data literacy and AI).

In the recent 2020 RELX Emerging Tech Study, results were presented from a survey of over 1000 U.S. senior executives across eight industries: agriculture, banking, exhibitions, government, healthcare, insurance, legal, and science/medical. The survey, carried out by RELX (a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers), focused on the state of interest, investment, and implementations in AI tech during the pandemic period. But it was not just a snapshot on the state of AI in 2020. The survey also had forward-looking questions, as well as historical comparisons and trends from results of similar “state of AI in the enterprise” surveys in 2018 and 2019.

Some of the most remarkable findings in the 3-year trending data include these changes from 2018 to 2020:

1) The percentage of senior executives who stated that AI technologies are being utilized in their business dramatically increased from 48% to 81%.

2) The percentage who are concerned about other countries being more advanced than the U.S. in AI technology and implementation increased from 70% to 82%.

3) The percentage who believe that government programs should assist in AI workforce development increased from 45% to 59%.

4) There was a slight increase (though still a minority) in those who believe that the government should leave the promotion of AI technologies to the private sector, growing from 30% to 36%.

5) There is a continued (and growing) strong belief that U.S. companies should invest in the future AI workforce through educational initiatives such as university partnerships, increasing from 92% to 95%.

6) The percentage who are offering training opportunities in AI technologies to their workforce increased significantly from 46% to 75%.

Some of the interesting findings specifically in the 2020 survey results include:

1) Across all sectors, a strong majority (86%) of survey respondents believe that ethical considerations are a strategic priority in the design and implementation of their AI systems, ranging from 77% in government and 80% in the legal sectors, up to 93% in banking and 94% in the insurance sectors, with healthcare and science/medical near the middle of that range.

2) The majority (68%) of respondents stated that they increased their investment in AI technologies, 48% of which invested in new AI technologies. The sectors with the greatest increases in investment were insurance, banking, and agriculture, followed closely by healthcare and science/medical.

3) 82% stated that AI technologies are most likely to be used to increase efficiencies and worker productivities.

4) Only 26% of respondents reported that AI technologies are being used to replace human labor.

Regarding the last point, this minority view regarding AI’s potential negative impact on employment is consistent with a 2019 worldwide survey of 19,000 employers, which found that 87% plan to increase or maintain the size of their staff as a result of automation and AI, and that just 9% of companies across the globe and 4% in the U.S. anticipate cutting jobs. Another report stated, “Rather, than being replaced, humans will be redeployed into higher-order jobs requiring more cognitive skills.”

The broader takeaways and insights drawn from the 2020 RELX Emerging Tech survey are these:

(a) COVID-19 drove increased AI tech investment and adoption.

(b) The use of AI has increased across all sectors that were polled.

(c) Ethical AI is viewed as both a priority and a competitive advantage.

(d) International competition remains a concern for U.S. organizations.

(e) AI workforce training and development is a major component of AI strategy, though AI implementations consistently outpace training initiatives.

Vijay Raghavan, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for the Risk & Business Analytics division of RELX, has summarized the survey results very well in the following statements:

  • “Businesses’ response to COVID-19 has confirmed the view of US business leaders that artificial intelligence has the power to create smarter, more agile and profitable businesses.”
  • “Businesses face more complex challenges every day and AI technologies have become a mission-critical resource in adapting to, if not overcoming, these types of unforeseen obstacles and staying resilient.”
  • “Companies that do not dedicate the necessary resources to training existing employees on new AI technologies risk leaving growth opportunities on the table and using biased or otherwise flawed systems to make and enforce major decisions.”

Therefore, when we consider AI strategy, a global perspective is no less important than local organization-specific mission objectives. Understanding your competition, the marketplace, and both the current expectations and future needs of your stakeholders (customers, employees, citizens, and shareholders) is vital. Furthermore, non-technology considerations should be incorporated alongside technology implementation and operationalization requirements. Performance metrics and goals associated with AI governance, ethics, talent, and training must be on the same balance sheet as AI tools, techniques, and technologies. How to bring all of these pieces together in a successful AI strategy has become clearer with the results and insights revealed in the 2020 RELX Emerging Tech survey.

You can find and read the full RELX survey report here:

Key Finding in Emerging Tech Survey
Key Findings in RELX 2020 Emerging Tech Survey

Data Science Blogs-R-Us

[UPDATED September 7, 2021]

I have written articles in many places. I will be collecting links to those sources here. The list is not complete and will be constantly evolving. There are some older blogs that I will be including in the list below as I remember them and find them. Also included are some interviews in which I provided detailed answers to a variety of questions.

In 2019, I was listed as the #1 Top Data Science Blogger to Follow on Twitter.

And then there’s this — not a blog, but a link to my 2013 TedX talk: “Big Data, Small World.” (Many more videos of my talks are available online. That list will be compiled in another place soon.)

  1. Rocket-Powered Data Science (the website that you are now reading).

The Power of Graph Databases, Linked Data, and Graph Algorithms

In 2019, I was asked to write the Foreword for the book Graph Algorithms: Practical Examples in Apache Spark and Neo4j, by Mark Needham and Amy E. Hodler. I wrote an extensive piece on the power of graph databases, linked data, graph algorithms, and various significant graph analytics applications. In their wisdom, the editors of the book decided that I wrote “too much”. So, they correctly shortened my contribution by about half in the final published version of my Foreword for the book.

The book is awesome, an absolute must-have reference volume, and it is free (for now, downloadable from Neo4j).

Graph Algorithms book

Now, for the first time, the full unabridged (and unedited) version of my initial contribution as the Foreword for the book is published here. (You should still get the book because it is a fantastic 250-page masterpiece for data scientists!) Any omissions, errors, or viewpoints in the piece below are entirely my own. I publish this in its original form in order to capture the essence of my point of view on the power of graph analytics.

As you read this, just remember the most important message: the natural data structure of the world is not rows and columns, but a graph. And this: perhaps the most powerful node in a graph model for real-world use cases might be “context”. How does one express “context” in a data model? Ahh, that’s the topic for another article. But this might help you get there:

“All the World’s a Graph”

What do marketing attribution analysis, anti-money laundering, customer journey modeling, safety incident causal factor analysis, literature-based discovery, fraud network analysis, Internet search, the map app on your mobile phone, the spread of infectious diseases, and the theatrical performance of a William Shakespeare play all have in common? No, it is not something as trivial as the fact that all these phrases contain nouns and action verbs! What they have in common is that all these phrases proved that Shakespeare was right when he declared, “All the world’s a graph!”

Okay, the Bard of Avon did not actually say “Graph” in that sentence, but he did say “Stage” in the sentence. However, notice that all the examples mentioned above involve entities and the relationships between them, including both direct and indirect (transitive) relationships — a graph! Entities are the nodes in the graph — these can be people, events, objects, concepts, or places. The relationships between the nodes are the edges in the graph. Therefore, isn’t the very essence of a Shakespearean play the live action portrayal of entities (the nodes) and their relationships (the edges)? Consequently, maybe Shakespeare could have said “Graph” in his famous declaration.

What makes graph algorithms and graph databases so interesting and powerful isn’t the simple relationship between two entities: A is related to B. After all, the standard relational model of databases instantiated these types of relationships in its very foundation decades ago: the ERD (Entity-Relationship Diagram). What makes graphs so remarkably different and important are directional relationships and transitive relationships. In directional relationships, A may cause B, but not the opposite. In transitive relationships, A can be directly related to B and B can be directly related to C, while A is not directly related to C, so that consequently A is transitively related to C.

Because of transitivity relationships, particularly when they are numerous and diverse with many possible relationship (network) patterns and many possible degrees of separation between the entities, the graph model enables discovery of relationships between two entities that otherwise may seem wholly disconnected, unrelated, and difficult (if not impossible) to discover in a relational database. Hence, the graph model can be applied productively and effectively in numerous network analysis use cases.

Consider this marketing attribution use case: person A sees the marketing campaign, person A talks about it on their social media account, person B is connected to person A and sees the comment, and subsequently person B buys the product. From the marketing campaign manager’s perspective, the standard relational model would fail to identify the attribution, since B did not see the campaign and A did not respond to the campaign. The campaign looks like a failure. But it is not a failure — its actual success (and positive ROI) is discovered by the graph analytics algorithm through the transitive relationship between the marketing campaign and the final customer purchase, through an intermediary (entity-in-the-middle)!

Next, consider the anti-money laundering (AML) use case: person A and person C are under suspicion for illicit trafficking. Any interaction between the two (e.g., a financial transaction in a financial database) would be flagged by the authorities, and the interactions would come under great scrutiny. However, if A and C never transact any business together, but instead conduct their financial dealings through a safe, respected, unflagged financial authority B, then who would ever notice the transaction? Well, the graph analytics algorithm would notice! The graph engine would discover that there was a transitive relationship between A and C through the intermediary B (the entity-in-the-middle).

Similar descriptions of the power of graph can be given for the other use cases mentioned in the opening paragraph above, all of which are examples of network analysis through graph algorithms. Each of those cases deeply involves entities (people, objects, events, actions, concepts, and places) and their relationships (touch points, both causal and simple associations). Because of their great interest and power, we highlight two more of those use cases: Internet search and Literature-Based Discovery (LBD).

In Internet search a hyperlinked network (graph-based) algorithm is used by a major search engine to find the central authoritative node across the entire Internet for any given set of search words. The directionality of the edge is most important in this use case since the authoritative node in the network is the one that many other nodes point toward.

LBD is a knowledge network (graph-based) application in which significant discoveries are enabled across the knowledgebase of thousands (and even millions) of research journal articles — the discovery of “hidden knowledge” is only made through the connection between two published research results that may have a large number of degrees of separation (transitive relationships) between them. LBD is being applied to cancer research studies, where the massive semantic medical knowledgebase of symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, drug interactions, genetic markers, short-term results, and long-term consequences may be “hiding” previously unknown cures or beneficial treatments of the most impenetrable cases. The knowledge is already in the network, if only we were to connect the dots to discover it.

The book Graph Algorithms: Practical Examples in Apache Spark and Neo4j is aimed at broadening our knowledge and capabilities around these types of graph analyses, including algorithms, concepts, and practical machine learning applications of the algorithms. From basic concepts to fundamental algorithms, to processing platforms and practical use cases, the authors have compiled an instructive and illustrative guide to the wonderful world of graphs.

Chapter 1 provides a beautiful introduction to graphs, graph analytics algorithms, network science, and graph analytics use cases. In the discussion of power-law distributions, we see again another way that graphs differ from more familiar statistical analyses that assume a normal distribution of properties in random populations. Prepare yourself for some unexpected insights when you realize that power-law distributions are incredibly common in the natural world — graph analytics is a great tool for exploring those scale-free structures and their long tails. By the way, I always love a discussion that mentions the Pareto distribution.

Chapter 2 steps up our graph immersion by introducing us to the many different types of graphs that represent the rich variety of informative relationships that can exist between nodes, including directed and undirected, cyclic and acyclic, trees, and more. If you have always wondered what a DAG was, now you have no more excuses for not knowing. It’s all here. The chapter ends with a quick summary of things to come in greater detail in future chapters, by defining the three major categories of graph algorithms: pathfinding, centrality, and community detection.

Chapter 3 focuses on the graph processing platforms that are mentioned in the subtitle to the book: Apache Spark and Neo4j. In the Apache Spark section, you will find information about the Spark Graph Project, GraphFrames, and Cypher (the graph query language). In the Neo4j section, you will learn about its APOC library: Awesome Procedures On Cypher. Brief instructions on installing these graph engines are included, to prepare you for the use cases and sample applications that are provided later in the book.

Chapters 4, 5, and 6 then dive into the three major graph algorithm categories mentioned earlier. For example, the map app on your mobile phone employs a version of the pathfinding algorithm. Root cause analysis, customer journey modeling, and the spread of infectious diseases are other example applications of pathfinding. Internet search and influencer detection in social networks are example applications of the centrality algorithm. Fraud network analysis, AML, and LBD are example applications of community detection.

Marketing attribution is a use case that may productively incorporate applications of all three graph analytics algorithm categories, depending on the specific question being asked: (1) how did the marketing message flow from source to final action? (pathfinding); (2) was there a dominant influencer who initiated the most ROI from the marketing campaign? (centrality); or (3) is there a community (a set of common personas) that are most responsive to the marketing campaign? (community detection).

Let’s not forget one more example application — a well-conceived theatrical masterpiece will almost certainly be an instantiation of community detection (co-conspirators, love triangles, and all that). That masterpiece will undoubtedly include a major villain or a central hero (representing centrality). Such a masterpiece is probably also a saga (the story of a journey), containing intrigues, strategies, and plots that move ingeniously, methodically, and economically (in three acts or less) toward some climactic ending (thus representing pathfinding).

In Chapter 7, we find many code samples for example applications of graph algorithms, thus rendering all the above knowledge real and useful to the reader. In this manner, the book becomes an instructional tutorial as well as a guide on the side. Putting graph algorithms into practice through these examples is one of the most brilliant contributions of this book — giving you the capability to do it for yourself and to start reaping the rewards of exploring the most natural data structure to describe the world: not rows and columns, but a graph! You will be able to connect the dots that aren’t connected in traditional data structures, build a knowledge graph, explore the graph for insights, and exploit it for value. Let’s put this another way: your graph-powered team will be able to increase the value of your organization’s data assets in ways that others may not have ever imagined. Your team will become graph heroes.

Finally, in Chapter 8, the connection between graph algorithms and machine learning that was implicit throughout the book now becomes explicit. The training data and feature sets that feed machine learning algorithms can now be immensely enriched with tags, labels, annotations, and metadata that were inferred and/or provided naturally through the transformation of your repository of data into a graph of data. Any node and its relationship to a particular node becomes a type of contextual metadata for that particular note. All of that “metadata” (which is simply “other data about your data”) enables rich discovery of shortest paths, central nodes, and communities.

Graph modeling of your data set thus enables more efficient and effective feature extraction and selection (also described in Chapter 8), as the graph exposes the most important, influential, representative, and explanatory attributes to be included in machine learning models that aim to predict a particular target outcome variable as accurately as possible.

When considering the power of graph, we should keep in mind that perhaps the most powerful node in a graph model for real-world use cases might be “context”, including the contextual metadata that we already mentioned. Context may include time, location, related events, nearby entities, and more. Incorporating context into the graph (as nodes and as edges) can thus yield impressive predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics capabilities.

When all these pieces and capabilities are brought together, the graph analytics engine is thereby capable of exploring deep relationships between events, actions, people, and other things across both spatial and temporal (as well as other contextual) dimensions. Consequently, a graph algorithm-powered analysis tool may be called a Spatial-Temporal Analytics Graph Engine (STAGE!). Therefore, if Shakespeare was alive today, maybe he would agree with that logic and would still say “All the world’s a STAGE.” In any case, he would want to read this book to learn how to enrich his stories with deeper insights into the world and with more interesting relationships.

Glossary of Digital Terminology for Career Relevance

Career Relevance - keeping you digitally literate
Career Relevance

Definitions of terminology frequently seen and used in discussions of emerging digital technologies.

Additive Manufacturing: see 3D-Printing

AGI (Artificial General Intelligence): The intelligence of a machine that has the capacity to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can. It is a primary goal of some artificial intelligence research and a common topic in science fiction and future studies.

AI (Artificial Intelligence): Application of Machine Learning algorithms to robotics and machines (including bots), focused on taking actions based on sensory inputs (data). Examples: (1-3) All those applications shown in the definition of Machine Learning. (4) Credit Card Fraud Alerts. (5) Chatbots (Conversational AI). There is nothing “artificial” about the applications of AI, whose tangible benefits include Accelerated Intelligence, Actionable Intelligence (and Actionable Insights), Adaptable Intelligence, Amplified Intelligence, Applied Intelligence, Assisted Intelligence, and Augmented Intelligence.

Algorithm: A set of rules to follow to solve a problem or to decide on a particular action (e.g., the thermostat in your house, or your car engine alert light, or a disease diagnosis, or the compound interest growth formula, or assigning the final course grade for a student).

Analytics: The products of Machine Learning and Data Science (such as predictive analytics, health analytics, cyber analytics).

AR (Augmented Reality): A technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. Examples: (1) Retail. (2) Disaster Response. (3) Machine maintenance. (4) Medical procedures. (5) Video games in your real world. (6) Clothes shopping & fitting (seeing the clothes on you without a dressing room). (7) Security (airports, shopping malls, entertainment & sport events).

Autonomous Vehicles: Self-driving (guided without a human), informed by data streaming from many sensors (cameras, radar, LIDAR), and makes decisions and actions based on computer vision algorithms (ML and AI models for people, things, traffic signs,…). Examples: Cars, Trucks, Taxis

BI (Business Intelligence): Technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information. The purpose of Business Intelligence is to support better business decision-making.

Big Data: An expression that refers to the current era in which nearly everything is now being quantified and tracked (i.e., data-fied). This leads to the collection of data and information on nearly full-population samples of things, instead of “representative subsamples”. There have been many descriptions of the characteristics of “Big Data”, but the three dominant attributes are Volume, Velocity, and Variety — the “3 V’s” concept was first introduced by Doug Laney in 2001 here. Read more in this article: “Why Today’s Big Data is Not Yesterday’s Big Data“. Some consider the 2011 McKinsey & Company research report “Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity” as the trigger point when the world really started paying attention to the the volume and variety of data that organizations everywhere are collecting — the report stated, “The United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.”

Blockchain: A system in which a permanent and verifiable record of transactions is maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network. It has many applications beyond its original uses for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Blockchain in an example of Distributed Ledger Technology, in which independent computers (referred to as nodes) record, share and synchronize transactions in their respective electronic ledgers (instead of keeping data centralized as in a traditional ledger). Blockchain’s name refers to a chain (growing list) of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography, and are used to record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. In simplest terms, Blockchain is a distributed database existing on multiple computers at the same time. It grows as new sets of recordings, or ‘blocks’, are added to it, forming a chain. The database is not managed by any particular body; instead, everyone in the network gets a copy of the whole database. Old blocks are preserved forever and new blocks are added to the ledger irreversibly, making it impossible to manipulate by faking documents, transactions and other information. All blocks are encrypted in a special way, so everyone can have access to all the information but only a user who owns a special cryptographic key is able to add a new record to a particular chain.

Chatbots (see also Virtual Assistants): These typically are text-based user interfaces (often customer-facing for organizations) that are designed and programmed to reply to only a certain set of questions or statements. If the question asked is other than the learned set of responses by the customer, the chatbot will fail. Chatbots cannot hold long, continuing human interaction. Traditionally they are text-based but audio and pictures can also be used for interaction. They provide more like an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) type of an interaction. They cannot process language inputs generally.

Cloud: The cloud is a metaphor for a global network of remote servers that operates transparently to the user as a single computing ecosystem, commonly associated with Internet-based computing.

Cloud Computing: The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server, local mainframe, or a personal computer.

Computer Vision: An interdisciplinary scientific field that focuses on how computers can be made to gain high-level understanding from digital images or videos. From the perspective of engineering, it seeks to automate tasks that the human visual system can do, including pattern detection, pattern recognition, pattern interpretation, and pattern classification.

Data Mining: Application of Machine Learning algorithms to large data collections, focused on pattern discovery and knowledge discovery in data. Pattern discovery includes clusters (class discovery), correlation (and trend) discovery, link (association) discovery, and anomaly detection (outlier detection, surprise discovery).

Data Science: Application of scientific method to discovery from data (including Statistics, Machine Learning, data visualization, exploratory data analysis, experimentation, and more).

Digital Transformation: Refers to the novel use of digital technology to solve traditional problems. These digital solutions enable — other than efficiency via automation — new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhance and support traditional methods.

Digital Twins: A phrase used to describe a computerized (or digital) version of a real physical asset and/or process. The digital twin contains one or more sensors that collects data to represent real-time information about the physical asset. By bridging the physical and the virtual world, data is transmitted seamlessly allowing the virtual entity to exist simultaneously with the physical entity. Digital Twins are used in manufacturing, large-scale systems (such as maritime vessels, wind farms, space probes) and other complex systems. Digital Twins are virtual replicas of physical devices that data scientists and IT pros can use to run simulations before actual devices are built and deployed, and also while those devices are in operation. They represent a strong merging and optimization of numerous digital technologies such as IoT (IIoT), AI, Machine Learning, and Big Data Analytics.

Drone (UAV, UAS): An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or uncrewed aerial vehicle (commonly known as a Drone) is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two.

Dynamic Data-driven Application (Autonomous) Systems (DDDAS): A paradigm in which the computation and instrumentation aspects of an application system are dynamically integrated in a feed-back control loop, such that instrumentation data can be dynamically incorporated into the executing model of the application, and in reverse the executing model can control the instrumentation. Such approaches can enable more accurate and faster modeling and analysis of the characteristics and behaviors of a system and can exploit data in intelligent ways to convert them to new capabilities, including decision support systems with the accuracy of full scale modeling, efficient data collection, management, and data mining. See

Edge Computing (and Edge Analytics): A distributed computing paradigm which brings computation to the data, closer to the location where it is needed, to improve response times in autonomous systems and to save bandwidth. Edge Analytics specifically refers to an approach to data collection and analysis in which an automated analytical computation is performed on data at a sensor, network switch or other device instead of waiting for the data to be sent back to a centralized data store. This is important in applications where the result of the analytic computation is needed as fast as possible (at the point of data collection), such as in autonomous vehicles or in digital manufacturing.

Industry 4.0: A reference to a new phase in the Industrial Revolution that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, Machine Learning, and real-time data. Industry 4.0 is also sometimes referred to as IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) or Smart Manufacturing, because it joins physical production and operations with smart digital technology, Machine Learning, and Big Data to create a more holistic and better connected ecosystem for companies that focus on manufacturing and supply chain management.

IoT (Internet of Things) and IIoT (Industrial IoT): Sensors embedded on devices and within things everywhere, measuring properties of things, and sharing that data over the Internet (over fast 5G), to fuel ML models and AI applications (including AR and VR) and to inform actions (robotics, autonomous vehicles, etc.). Examples:  (1) Wearable health devices (Fitbit). (2) Connected cars. (3) Connected products. (4) Precision farming. (5) Industry 4.0

Knowledge Graphs (see also Linked Data): Knowledge graphs encode knowledge arranged in a network of nodes (entities) and links (edges) rather than tables of rows and columns. The graph can be used to link units of data (the nodes, including concepts and content), with a link (the edge) that explicitly specifies what type of relationship connects the nodes.

Linked Data (see also Knowledge Graphs): A data structure in which data items are interlinked with other data items that enables the entire data set to be more useful through semantic queries. The easiest and most powerful standard designed for Linked Data is RDF (Resource Description Framework).

Machine Learning (ML): Mathematical algorithms that learn from experience (i.e., pattern detection and pattern recognition in data). Examples:  (1) Digit detection algorithm (used in automated Zip Code readers at Post Office. (2) Email Spam detection algorithm (used for Spam filtering). (3) Cancer detection algorithm (used in medical imaging diagnosis). 

MR (Mixed Reality): Sometimes referred to as hybrid reality, is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. It means placing new imagery within a real space in such a way that the new imagery is able to interact, to an extent, with what is real in the physical world we know. The key characteristic of MR is that the synthetic content and the real-world content are able to react to each other in real time.

NLP (Natural Language Processing), NLG (NL Generation), NLU (NL Understanding): NLP a subfield of computer science, information engineering, and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human languages, in particular how to program computers to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data. NLG is a software process that transforms structured data into human-language content. It can be used to produce long form content for organizations to automate custom reports, as well as produce custom content for a web or mobile application, or produce the words that will be spoken by a Virtual (Voice-based) Assistant. NLU is a subtopic of Natural Language Processing in Artificial Intelligence that deals with algorithms that have language comprehension (understanding the meaning of the words, both their content and their context).

Quantum Computing: The area of study focused on developing computer technology based on the principles of quantum theory and quantum phenomena (such as superposition of states and entanglement). Qubits are the fundamental units of quantum computing — they are somewhat analogous to bits in a classical computer.

Robotics: A branch of AI concerned with creating devices that can move and react to sensory input (data). Examples: (1) Automated manufacturing assembly line. (2) Roomba (vacuums your house). (3) Warehouse / Logistics. (4) Prosthetics.

Statistics: the practice or science of collecting and analyzing numerical data, especially for the purpose of inferring proportions in a whole population from measurements of those properties within a representative subsample.

UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System): see Drones.

Virtual Assistants (see also Chatbots): A sophisticated voice-based interface in an interactive platform for user and customer interactions. Virtual assistants understand not only the language but also the meaning of what the user is saying. They can learn from their conversation instances, which can lead to an unpredictability in their behavior. Consequently, they can have extended adaptable human interaction. They can be set to perform slightly complicated tasks as well, such as order-taking and task fulfillment.

VR (Virtual Reality): Computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors. Examples: (1) Games. (2) Family adventures. (3) Training & Education. (4) Design. (5) Big Data Exploration.

XAI (eXplainable AI, Trusted AI): Artificial intelligence that is programmed to describe (explain) its purpose, rationale and decision-making process in a way that can be understood by the average person. This includes the specific criteria the program uses to arrive at a decision.

XPU: One of the many specialized CPUs for specific applications (similar to an ASIC), which may be real-time, data-intensive, data-specific, or at the edge (see Edge Analytics). For more information, refer to the article “Sensor Analytics at Micro Scale on the xPU“.

3D-Printing … moving on to 4D-printing: Additive Manufacturing — the action or process of making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many thin layers of a material in succession. The terms “additive manufacturing” and “3D printing” both refer to creating an object by sequentially adding build material in successive cross-sections, one stacked upon another.

5G: Fifth-generation wireless, the latest iteration of cellular technology, engineered to greatly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks. 5G will also enable a sharp increase in the amount of data transmitted over wireless systems due to more available bandwidth. Example applications: (1) High-definition and 3D video. (2) Gbit/sec Internet. (3) Broadband network access nearly everywhere. (4) IoT.

Glossaries of Data Science Terminology

Here is a compilation of glossaries of terminology used in data science, big data analytics, machine learning, AI, and related fields:

Data Science Glossary

A tag cloud of data science and machine learning terminology