I had the good fortune of participating in day one of the *IE BI and Predictive Analytics Summit last Thursday in Chicago. With over 300 attendees, the 2012 version was considerably larger than the one I attended two years ago and, in my view, better as well. The insights on the conduct of data science in large organizations were especially informative.

Digvijay Lamba of WalmartLabs discussed a system for using big data to deliver “unexpected insights” for the very lucrative Walmart Halloween season. Lamba was the first of many speakers to emphasize domain expertise as a critical data scientist skill. To help remove the gap between business and tech/analytics, his group has articulated the “social genome” that consists of products, people, locations, events and interests. Dashboards for ideas are generated when the genome taxonomy is cross-classified with data sources that include transactions, web-based data, social media data, blogs, etc.

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