Think 2018, hosted by IBM, will be March 19–22 in Las Vegas. This conference brings together 40,000 people from technology and business to discuss data analytics, cloud computing and security. Its lineup includes hands-on labs, deep dives into technical topics and sessions that highlight how people combine technology and business in the real world to achieve measurable results. These offerings underscore how the conference has something for everyone.
In many cases, however, it’s understandably the guest speakers who ultimately encourage people to attend. After all, going to a conference to hear specialized insights allows individuals to come away with experiences that could reshape the way they operate and fuel them with inspiration. And seeing someone talk live from a nearby podium is typically more effective than merely hearing a podcast or watching a DVD.
Many of the speakers scheduled for Think 2018 have a distinctively data-driven focus. Here are seven of them.
1. Salman Khan
As the founder of the education company and nonprofit Khan Academy, Salman Khan began with the desire to give people a world-class education no matter where they are in the world. As part of that goal, he and other representatives from his company provide teachers with data they can use to do their jobs more effectively, whether it means confirming mastery of a concept or realizing a student needs additional help.
While giving a TED talk about his company, Khan brought up how access to data is expected in some industries, such as finance and marketing. He believes it should be less foreign in education, and Khan Academy is helping to change that situation substantially.
2. D. J. Patil
When it comes to working with data for big-name clients, perhaps no customer is more prolific than the President of the United States. From 2013 to 2015, D. J. Patil served as the U.S. chief data scientist at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Before that role, he improved weather predictions using open data sets for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
During his time at the White House, Patil spent time working on President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which involved using patient data and genetic information to help physicians and other health professionals make more-informed care-related decisions, as well as to spur further research.
Also, Patil helped kick off the Obama administration’s Police Data Initiative in 2015. It involved jurisdictions releasing statistics about law-enforcement activities.
3. Jessica Pointing
Although she’s still a college student taking classes at Harvard and MIT, Jessica Pointing proves it’s never too early to use data to capitalize on a passion. She created the Now Know organization, which uses research to improve efforts to attract people to technology careers.
By diving into data and taking a seven-prong focus, the initiative particularly aims to make computer science appealing to women.
4. Faiyaz Shahpurwala
As the general manager of the IBM cloud platform, Faiyaz Shahpurwala has turned big data management via the cloud into his livelihood. Before coming to IBM, he was responsible for developing and maintaining a cloud infrastructure at Cisco. Shahpurwala is also a board member of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.
5. Maya Leibman
Anyone who’s ever noticed how many people ask for help at airport check-in desks on the busiest travel days of the year knows data plays an important role in helping things go smoothly. Maya Leibman is the executive vice president and chief information officer at American Airlines, and she knows passenger-data mining is valuable when done carefully. In a 2013 article, Leibman spoke of data as being “key to almost everything we are doing.”
More recently, the brand Leibman helps lead formed a data-validation branch of the tech ops team, which facilitates internal access to data collected by American Airlines. It allows people from various departments to access specific data sets, and it increases collaboration among departments.
6. Marc Altshuller
Marc Altshuller is IBM’s general manager of business analytics. In that role, he communicates with and streamlines the efforts of employees tasked with using IBM’s Watson Analytics platform. He also regularly contributes to an IBM blog about analytics and weighs in with timely perspectives about newsworthy topics and predictions.
Altshuller believes business leaders often underestimate the value of data and thinks it’s a serious problem because he sees data as the differentiator between success and failure, especially while making decisions. Although Altshuller acknowledges that many executives frequently make assumptions and realizes those assumptions aren’t always wrong, he also emphasizes that big data provides a complete picture that may otherwise be unavailable.
7. Jeff Jonas
Once called “The Wizard of Big Data” in a National Geographic piece about innovators, Jeff Jonas built analytics programs for Las Vegas casinos and, while working at IBM, used data to address shortcomings in voter-registration material that could disrupt the political process.
He’s the founder and chief data scientist at Senzing, where his primary work involves the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and helping customers become compliant, with help from the Senzing ER platform. Among other capabilities, this platform uses artificial intelligence to automate the process of answering the critical “who’s who?” questions while poring over a wealth of data. Having that knowledge is a crucial part of adhering to GDPR regulations. The Senzing ER platform can dig through data and, in only days, provide need-to-know insights that would previously have taken months to acquire.
Think 2018: For IT People Who Love Data
The list above provides a glimpse of the intelligent and diverse people appearing at Think 2018. The standard rate for the full event is $2,295, and the cost goes up by $100 for attendees who don’t buy tickets in advance. Those with valid government IDs pay a reduced price of $1,560.
Attendees can also save by registering as a team. For example, a company that buys its employees five to nine standard passes pays $1,995 each. The rate per person drops to $1,600 for a purchase of at least 30 passes.
Many conferences are geared toward IT professionals but don’t delve into the data analysis side of things. Think 2018 is different and has broader appeal, and these speakers are sure to deliver new ways of thinking about data.
Already registered for Think 2018? Come say hi to me in the Cloud and Data Campus during the event!
Sad you can’t make it? Check out my Instagram feed, March 19–22, to get an inside look at what’s going on at Think!
About the Author
Kayla Matthews is a technology writer and reporter, contributing to websites such as VentureBeat, Vice, MakeUseOf and TechnoBuffalo. Visit ProductivityBytes.com to read more recent posts by Kayla.