Data Science Skills Gap, Pokemon Go Maps: Big Data Roundup - InformationWeek

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Data Science Skills Gap, Pokémon Go Maps: Big Data Roundup

The data and analytics skills gap is an obstacle to achieving digital transformation, according to a Gartner survey; Microsoft is looking to fill that skills gap with a new online degree program; and Pokemon Go's creator shares the secrets behind how the game's maps were created.

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Big Data, Coding, Security: 8 Sites That Offer Free Online Courses
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Microsoft's new professional degree program will debut with a Data Science degree pilot. Facebook's CEO plans to benefit from Microsoft Graph and Delve across its new Office 365 deployment and its own Facebook at Work. Gartner says IT organizations know that analytics and data will be big for digital business, but skills to make that happen are still hard to find.

Plus, we take a look at geographic data experts behind the giant mobile game hit Pokémon Go in this week's Big Data Roundup.

Let's start with the new Gartner survey, which focuses on the digitization of business and how IT will get us there. The survey of nearly 1,000 IT pros revealed that respondents said they believe they will play a part in their organizations' transition to digital business, but that their organizations aren't really ready yet to make that transformation. Indeed, 59% said their IT organizations are unprepared for digital business in the next two years.

(Image: PonyWang/iStockphoto)

(Image: PonyWang/iStockphoto)

The skills gap is one of the obstacles to executing the transformation, according to the survey. Cloud skills topped the list of what was needed, followed by analytics skills.

Microsoft's Data Science Degree

As if heeding the call, Microsoft this week at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto announced a new professional degree program that it will offer on the edX platform hosted on its Azure cloud. The degree is made up of several courses that include introductions to data science, data analysis and visualization, machine learning, coding to manipulate and model data, and statistics.

[Need more news about Microsoft, AI, and games? Read Microsoft's Project Malmo Public Release Brings AI to Minecraft.]

The courses can be audited for free, but to receive credit toward the professional degree, students will need to pay between $25 and $99, depending on the course, with most courses costing $49. Prices may change after the pilot phase of the program ends.

One major program requirement? A Windows PC for the hands-on part of the course, although students can view course videos via iOS or Android devices.

Facebook Likes Microsoft

Also at Microsoft WPC this week, Facebook's CIO announced that the company would be migrating to Office 365, Microsoft's software-as-a-service version of its nearly ubiquitous business and personal productivity suite. It includes Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

But Facebook won't be using Microsoft's Skype or Yammer -- two collaboration products that are competitive with the videoconferencing and messaging capabilities offered by Facebook at Work.

But even more interesting than the announcement itself is the fact that Facebook CIO Tim Campos said in a blog post that his company was also looking to benefit from the additional capabilities available in Delve using Microsoft Graph. Delve uses machine learning and analytics to curate content and display what it considers most relevant to the users' interest or current projects.

Microsoft Graph is the unified API endpoint that provides a way for developers to access data, intelligence, and insights from the Microsoft cloud. It will be interesting to see how Facebook uses those APIs and machine learning to combine insights from its own offerings and Microsoft's.

Pokémon Go

So, how did Niantic, the maker of Pokémon Go, create the maps and find the landmarks that would become Poké Stops and Gyms? The CEO and founder of the company John Hanke is a Google alum who was one of the founders of Keyhole, the company that Google acquired to start Google Earth. He also contributed to the Google Maps project before forming Niantic.

He told Mashable in an interview that accurate mapping was integral to Pokémon Go. All the new players of the game can thank a whole other set of players for the map quality.

Before launching Pokémon Go, Niantic created another augmented reality game called Ingress whose users are responsible for helping create the data pool that determines where those Poké Stops and Gyms appear in Pokémon Go.

Jessica Davis has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology at titles including IDG's Infoworld, Ziff Davis Enterprise's eWeek and Channel Insider, and Penton Technology's MSPmentor. She's passionate about the practical use of business intelligence, ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
7/19/2016 | 8:16:52 AM
FB, Skype and Yammer
I understand FB not wanting to use Yammer but I really wish they would put Skype for Business into their corporate tool box, if only for the purpose of having a company big enough and savvy enough in the muddy waters of Unified Communication that MS stops fighting so hard with other products.  One of the biggest failings of Skype for Business is the horrible methods of tying calls into the industry standard teleconferencing systems.  There is still a strong market for in room systems and I don't see that going away anytime soon.  I also don't see Microsoft making it easy to bridge those systems together either.  Anything that even comes close is a clunky, expensive third party tool that is more frustrating than it is useful.   
User Rank: Moderator
7/18/2016 | 2:38:21 PM
Big Data Answer
Jessica, we are seeing an increase in businesses seeking specialized skills to help address challenges that arose with the era of big data. It is worth mentioning the open source HPCC Systems platform from LexisNexis helps to fill this gap by allowing data analysts themselves to own the complete data life cycle. Designed by data scientists, the programming language called ECL is declarative and expresses data algorithms across the entire HPCC platform. Their built-in analytics libraries for Machine Learning and BI integration provide a complete integrated solution from data ingestion and data processing to data delivery. HPCC Systems provides proven solutions to handle what are now called Big Data problems, and have been doing so for more than a decade. Their free online introductory courses allow for students, academia and other developers to quickly get started. For more info visit:
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
7/18/2016 | 10:07:11 AM
FB using MSFT Graph
With MSFT's acquisition of LinkedIn, I suspect that Facebook is champing at the bit to license what may eventually be the new, LI data-infused Microsoft Graph -- and that MSFT Graph may become a lot more valuable now.
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