In some ways, the chemistry of the board is as important as our actions at this point. We are still working thorough start up issues and, more importantly, learning how to work together. The board is not only big, 24 members, it is also has many companies that often compete (power of we).
Here are my top 5 impressions:
Transparency. The bylaws are crafted to ensure a openness and our meetings are broadcast to the maximum extent possible. Even with that background, there is a consistent self-check and discussion about increasing transparency so that the community is included.
Humor. It’s a great sign of progress that we are laughing together because it shows that we trust and respect each other.
Frustration. Recognition that we have important decisions to make and a degree of impatience to make them. Boards are subtle: we spend a lot of time setting up the right structures that allow us to make hard decisions quickly. Also, grumbling that we’d overlapped the board meeting and the summit.
Consensus. This something I committed to help build. I feel that our actions reflect both healthy discussion as individuals and desire to work together as a board.
Leadership. Looking back from our first meeting, it is clear that Jonathan and Alan have fully assumed their roles. I’m also seeing how the Foundation team (Mark, Lauren, Stephano) are smoothly supporting operations even though we’re really just weeks from the Foundation launch.
I hope that gives you some insights into the board meeting and that more of you can join the broadcast for the next ones (2012 schedule TBD) including a joint tech and foundation meeting
If you are coming to the OpenStack summit in San Diego next week then please find me at the show! I want to hear from you about the Foundation, community, OpenStack deployments, Crowbar and anything else. Oh, and I just ordered a handful of Crowbar stickers if you wanted some CB bling.
Today my boss at Dell, John Igoe, is part of announcing of the report from the TechAmerica Federal Big Data Commission (direct pdf), I was fully expecting the report to be a real snoozer brimming with corporate synergies and win-win externalities. Instead, I found myself reading a practical guide to applying Big Data to government. Flipping past the short obligatory “what is…” section, the report drives right into a survey of practical applications for big data spanning nearly every governmental service. Over half of the report is dedicated to case studies with specific recommendations and buying criteria.
Ultimately, the report calls for agencies to treat data as an asset. An asset that can improve how government operates.
There are a few items that stand out in this report:
Clear tables of case studies on page 16 and characteristics on page 11 that help pin point a path through the options.
Definitive advice to focus on a single data vector (velocity, volume or variety) for initial success on page 28 (and elsewhere)
I strongly agree with one repeated point in the report: although there is more data available, our ability to comprehend this data is reduced. The sheer volume of examples the report cites is proof enough that agencies are, and will be continue to be, inundated with data.
One short coming of this report is that it does not flag the extreme storage of data scientists. Many of the cases discussed assume a ready army of engineers to implement these solutions; however, I’m uncertain how the government will fill positions in a very tight labor market. Ultimately, I think we will have to simply open the data for citizen & non-governmental analysis because, as the report clearly states, data is growing faster than capability to use it.
I commend the TechAmerica commission for their Big Data clarity: success comes from starting with a narrow scope. So the answer, ironically, is in knowing which questions we want to ask.