Big Data, Scotch and Cheese (Events Don’t Get Better Than This!)

October 23, 2015

By: Hannah Smalltree

In the 15th century, innovative Scottish farmers seeking a beer-alternative discovered distilling, a new way to harvest the life or “spirits” from barley. Malting, mashing, fermenting and boiling the grain produced a steamy cloud that rained down its concentrated essence into an alcoholic, amber liquid now known as scotch whisky. It was arguably the earliest-ever case of a new cloud producing positive, measurable value!

This fitting anecdote came together during Cazena’s recent Scotch Tasting and Big Data 2.0 event at the exclusive Wingtip Club in San Francisco. We invited local CIOs, industry visionaries and world-renowned scotch expert Steve Beal to a unique space in the heart of the city, with stunning views and an expertly-curated selection of scotch, cheeses, chocolates and fine food. With this inspiring backdrop, the conversation veered amicably from fine scotch to big data.

Peter Levine, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, shared his observations on the industry shift toward Big Data 2.0, a topic covered in a recent podcast with Cazena founder Prat Moghe. Levine sipped Highland Park Dark Origins and discussed how enterprises are trying to re-orient analytics programs from “what happened” to “why?” and “what will happen?” But, he explained, this requires major technological transformation, driven by new -- but still-maturing -- approaches such as scale-out computing, in-memory, parallel processing and the cloud.

This kicked off a consistent theme for the evening: New technology choices offer both opportunities and challenges. It's a sentiment we all related to on a smaller scale when faced with 10 fine scotches! Next, our founder Prat shared more about Cazena’s vision of Big Data as a Service, and our mission to remove data challenges for enterprises, so they can better focus on uncovering opportunities. Big data analytics should be as easy as plugging in to a secure cloud, he said, and it’s been exciting to see our vision become a reality with early customers.

Later, after sampling a rare Peruvian chocolate, Clorox CIO Manjit Singh shared his perspectives. Clorox has experienced big wins with analytics from improved forecasting to personalized marketing to its data-driven flu tracker program, which predicts outbreaks (and where to send more disinfectant products!) based on social and other data. Analytics success is contagious, and the company has many more ideas in the pipeline. While the cloud and big data technologies promise benefits, they also introduce new complexity for busy IT groups. It’s a balancing act Singh describes eloquently in this video

As the evening wound down, we enthusiastically debated the future of BI, and I reminded myself to sip a fabulous AD Rattray Cask Collection 22, while not being too distracted by the alluringly ample supply of Oban Distillers Edition. Opportunity and challenge, indeed!

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