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Tech-savvy San Francisco Giants aim for bleachers with @Café

SearchCIO's Nicole Laskowski was at the E2 Conference this week. Here's what she picked up for The Data Mill.

Take me out to the tweet game? The San Francisco Giants -- already one of the most tech-savvy teams out there -- is hoping for a home run with its latest high-tech offering: @Café.

Nicole LaskowskiNicole Laskowski

Billed as the first of its kind, @Café is a social media headquarters inside AT&T Park. It provides a space for fans to congregate, plug in, buy an iced coffee, read tweets and see photos from other fans -- and even connect with the players. (Move over, peanuts and Cracker Jack!)

Bill Schlough, CIO of the San Francisco Giants and guest speaker at the E2 Conference, shared a story of one player mentioning @Café's partner Peet's Coffee & Tea in a tweet. Peet's saw it, responded, took the player's order and delivered the order to the clubhouse -- all within a matter of 15 minutes.

"Talk about bringing fans closer to players and making them feel part of action -- virtually," Schlough said.

You've heard of the three Vs -- volume, variety and velocity -- I like to say there's four Vs, with the last one being 'vacuosity' because the term has become so meaningless.

William Cukierski,
data scientist, Kaggle

@Café is the latest high-tech offering from the Giants. Well before the iPhone was unveiled, Giants fans had Wi-Fi in the stadium. Just four years ago, fans also saw the advent of dynamic ticket pricing, a method for pricing tickets based on individual game demand. Schlough believes the new pricing model has helped the franchise realize a 200-game sell-out streak.

Big deal

There's more shuffling in the data visualization world this week -- just three months after Tableau Software filed an IPO. The Chelmsford, Mass.-based Datawatch Corp., which specializes in data preparation and big data integration, has acquired the Swedish visualization company Panopticon Software. The deal is valued at $31.4 million.

While Panopticon may not be as well known as, say, QlikView or MicroStrategy, Zubin Dowlaty, vice president of innovation and development for analytics service provider Mu Sigma Inc., included the company in his list of the four most popular commercial visualization providers.

"It's big in the financial space," he said during his presentation at the recent E2 Conference. In fact, he said Panopticon basically has a lock on the financial industry visualization. "It's got some beautiful visuals and really strong tree maps."


Get out your reading glasses. The venerable Oxford English Dictionary just made big data an official entry. Not that this will clear anything up. One of the complaints practitioners have with the term big data is the lack of a standard definition. And, while the acceptance of the term grows, so do the big data definitions. Here's a roundup from E2:

  • Michael Chui, principal consultant, McKinsey & Co.: "We see big data as being a tool rather than a class of problems."
  • Michael Housman, vice president of workforce analytics, Evolv: "Big data is about granularity and precision. So we're now capturing data with higher granularity that allows us to answer questions and generate insights quickly and with a higher level of precision than ever before."
  • Omer Trajman, vice president of field operations, WibiData: "It's an abstract phrase that really describes a phenomenon. It's not a particular size of data or a type of data; it is, abstractly, our increasing ability to collect more information about the world."
  • John Burke, research analyst, Nemertes Research Group: "The reason we talk about big data -- we're talking data sets in the terabytes range and total data management in the petabytes range -- is [because it's] big, it's lots, it's more than you're used to dealing with, and that's why it's a special problem set."
  • William Cukierski, data scientist, Kaggle: "A word executives like to toss around. I like to joke: If you've heard of the three Vs -- volume, variety and velocity -- I like to say there's four Vs, with the last one being 'vacuosity' because the term has become so meaningless."

Here's the Oxford English Dictionary's definition: "Data of a very large size, typically to the extent that its manipulation and management present significant logistical challenges."

Welcome to The Data Mill, a weekly column devoted to all things data. Heard something newsy (or gossipy)? Email me or find me on Twitter at @TT_Nicole.

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