big data book brian clegg

Just recently, I was listening to a quirky podcast on New Books in Technology, with Brian Clegg as guest. Clegg, who has many books and accolades to his name, is the author of a new book, “Big Data: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our Lives.” It was one of those podcasts that got me thinking, especially about this notion of hiring the right talent for your digital transformation.

Clegg explained that the grandfather of big data analytics was John Graunt, a London-based button maker and haberdasher, born in 1620. Having made his fortune, he turned his attention to the use of available public data to improve the understanding of life and death in Britain. (See more on Smithsonian).

Clegg also talks about how weather forecasters are the first large-scale (and increasingly successful) users of huge, complex data sets. Of course, it’s still not a perfect trade, but the big data winds might be behind weather forecasters (compared to most companies who can’t see up from down with the tsunami of data that has overtaken them).

Finally, Brian Clegg talks of how insurance companies not only helped understand (and share) risk, they positively contributed to financing the bold and dangerous expeditions that helped uncover the world. Today, insurance companies have a step on most industries in their ability to use data effectively.

And then, have you ever considered the power of a paperclip? Well, perhaps not the clip itself… but you might want to know about Frank Lantz, the person behind the clicker game, Paperclips? It’s a game about being a paperclip-producing artificial intelligence and is designed to explore the possibility for paperclips to take over the world. A bit of tongue in cheek, but maybe that is what is needed for your company looking to transform itself. See more on The Verge.

So, as you and your company explore topics like big data, artificial intelligence and corporate creativity, are you ready to hire a button maker, weather forecaster or an individual with an insurance background? I think you might first want to take a listen to what Brian Clegg has to say!

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