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Reflections on a Successful Learning Journey to New York

During the first week of December The Data Lab and Scottish Development International (SDI) hosted a very successful and enjoyable trip to New York with 5 Scottish Data related businesses who attended the Chief Data Officer Summit and visited companies like IBM Watson, Dataminr, Cognito, The New York Tech Alliance and UNICEF.

We had the opportunity to meet with a range of organisations working with data in different sectors, so everyone in the group got some good takeaways from the programme. From getting immersed in the IBM Watson experience and learning about the amazing possibilities that cognitive systems bring, to learning about data in the PR world with Cognito; from an interesting meeting in a law firm to find out how to do business in the US, to learning how data can be used for good at UNICEF, we got a good feel of what is happening in New York around the world of data science.

We also had some excellent networking opportunities, including a fun networking event organised by SDI and UKTI where we were able to meet with their New York network; the Chief Data Officer conference where we could network both at the exhibition lounge where we had a stand and at their networking reception; and a hip Christmas Party hosted by Cognito, where we experienced the vibrant New York vibe.

During the conference, we heard some interesting case studies from organisations like the CIA, American Express and Time Inc., among many others. The Scottish delegation also had the chance to present to the audience. Jude McCorry, Head of Business Development at The Data Lab kicked off by presenting on The Data Lab’s work and the Data environment in Scotland. Steve Faull from Aggreko followed with an interesting case study on the amazing work Aggreko is doing around the world. Martina Pugliese presented Mallzee to the attendees next, and Steve Coates closed by talking about what is coming soon with Brainnnwave, which will be launching in January.

Overall, it was a very valuable week from a networking and educational perspective. Here is some excellent feedback from some of the attendees who put their hearts and souls into the trip and made the most of every opportunity to learn, network and enjoy sharing some good times.


Adam Turner, Watson Engagement Professional & GEP Advocate, UKI & Europe – IBM:

“Last week I had the pleasure of joining a fantastic delegation of Scottish businesses travelling out to NYC. The Data Lab and SDI worked tirelessly to deliver a jam-packed agenda whereby the delegation visited a number of key influencers within key industries, focusing on the explosion of data and the value that can be created through clever application. I was privileged to co-host the delegation for a demonstration of IBM’s Watson technology at Astor Place – a moment that really hit home for me was after the IBM Watson Health presentation, a delegation member shared that his son had been in an almost identical medical situation to the one demonstrated by the IBM team. Had Watson been used at the time, his son would have received treatment far faster due to the unlocking of value within medical data. Visits to Dataminr and Cognito were very impressive and really demonstrated the numerous ways in which data can be used by organisations to realise value. I couldn’t speak more highly of the week and would recommend anyone considering it to definitely sign up in future.”


Steven Faull, Development Manager – Aggreko:

“This was an excellent opportunity to get visibility of how other large organisations are using data to differentiate themselves from competitors, and to network with peers and industry leaders”


Martina Pugliese, Data Scientist – Mallzee:

“The trip and the conference have been a dive into the world of business data science. From the perspective of a data scientist, this has proven to be extremely useful to sharpen the knowledge about what it means to build a data strategy in a company, how to evaluate the effect of the scientific work in a commercial environment and, eventually, sharpen the personal business acumen. This field is, in the industrial world, relatively new, and it often happens that data scientists miss out on the opportunity to deeply engage with the rest of the company and fail in communicating findings in a way that they can become actionable. Data science entails the application of the scientific process to a task but it also requires understanding what is it that the company actually needs. Learning how successful companies have managed to build a working workflow and networking with them is a much recommended experience for anyone working in the field.”

Our next learning journey will take place in March 2017, to attend the Strata + Hadoop conference in San Jose, California. Find out how to apply for a chance to be a part of it.

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