Data

Big Data Course Plymouth Uni
No small talk for big data: Software Solved spend time with Amazon scientist at Plymouth University
No small talk for big data: Software Solved spend time with Amazon scientist at Plymouth University 629 437 Aneeq Rehman

If you want to learn about how machine learning is being applied in the business world, e-commerce giant Amazon is a good place to start.

Software Solved’s Aneeq ur Rehman spent a week with big data experts including Amazon’s Dr Zhenwen Dai at a course at Plymouth University.

Supported by the Environmental Futures of Big Data Impact Lab, the course was led by Dr Antonia Rago alongside key academic figures from the Mathematical Sciences department including Dr Mu Nui, Dr Matthew Craven, Dr Malgorzata Wojtys and Dr Craig McNeile.

That’s a lot of Doctors – all experts in their respective fields!

Dr Zhenwen Dai, a Machine Learning Scientist at Amazon, whose, research interests include the development of scalable probabilistic models and inference methods for autonomous learning from real world data was one of the keynote speakers who shared his expertise with Aneeq and others on the course on probabilistic approaches to deal with huge volumes of data.

Aneeq, who is at Software Solved as part of our own machine learning research project, running in partnership with Plymouth University and funded by Innovate UK, said: “The course was about enhancing people’s understanding of big data and how to use and derive value from large volumes of data to make smarter decisions. Large volumes of data in machine learning often require flexible models that can imitate the way the human brain processes data and assimilates multiple sources. That was a key aspect of what we learnt.”

Topics covered included Gaussian process, machine learning and neural networks.

  • Dr Mu Niu – overview of Gaussian Process, different models and how they function in theory and practise
  • Dr Matthew Craven and Dr Malgorzata Wojtys – detailed explanation into various machine learning parametric methods
  • Dr Craig McNeile – summary of deep learning and neural networks and running hands-on workshops and exercises to learn more about topological data analysis and high-performance computer facilities.

Aneeq, already a Masters Graduate in Data Science himself, added: “It was a good knowledge sharing platform with a blend of workshops, practical exercises and lectures. We reviewed many interesting topics such as topological data analysis, neural network design and artificial neural networks. In addition to this, we also got insights into some of the cutting-edge research and practices in the world of big data and AI.

There were also intriguing discussions over the use of neural networks and gaussian processes and good comparisons over their use and limitations. Some of it was a good refresher session for me, some of it really new and interesting.

It’s all highly relevant to the research work I’m doing at Software Solved into the application of machine learning and advanced data analytics for risk modelling and mitigation for the insurance sector.

It was great to meet with other students and learn from the academics and other organisations. It’s technical but truly fascinating and a fundamental part of how organisations will operate, interpret and derive value from the data in the 21st century- the advantages of which are manifold.”

Author: Aneeq Ur Rehman is Software Solved’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate from Plymouth University

Software Solved are specialists in giving organisation’s a competitive edge through software and data. Contact 01392 453344 to find out more.

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Innovate UK Machine Learning Project Team
Living the dream with Eric Clapton, ice-cream and machine learning…
Living the dream with Eric Clapton, ice-cream and machine learning… 1024 680 Jon Stace

So, what are the best collaborations in history? Eric Clapton lends a mighty ‘slow’ hand to The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield shared a passion for the frozen stuff before going into business together. Today they are worth an estimated $150m, each. And I’m not even going to mention what became of the pairing of the ‘Steves’, as in Jobs and Wozniak.

Machine learning collaboration

At Software Solved we’ve got our very own and very exciting collaboration going on. It’s not music or food related even though we do have plenty of talent in that department. But we’ll save that for a later blog.

We’ve teamed up with some very clever people at Plymouth University and our client RSA UK. Backed by funding from Innovate UK, we have collectively fired the starting gun on an exciting two-year research programme into machine learning and advanced data analytics for the corporate insurance sector.

Data insight

Leveraging data architectures to model relationships and interactions to mitigate risk, the aim is to derive greater value from the large volumes of datasets used in the industry.

Dr Ian Howard and Dr Luciana Dalla Valle of the University of Plymouth are providing research expertise in the areas of machine learning and pattern recognition, data modelling, statistics and predictive analytics, with Aneeq Ur Rehman, Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate, being based at Software Solved for the project.

RSA UK role

RSA UK are another key partner in the project. We already have a close working relationship with them. Their underwriters use the award-winning RSAred application for a real-time view of risk, along with a secure, mobile-accessible client risk portal for brokers and customers to understand, benchmark and manage property and casualty risk in real time, both created by Software Solved.

With all this in mind, and with RSA UK’s experience as one of the world’s longest standing and most forward-thinking of general insurers, it made perfect sense to invite them to be part of the project. They will be providing the data and working closely with us so they and their clients can benefit from the advantages of automated data integration in risk assessment.

We’ll be updating everyone on the project as it progresses and we will be looking to hold some workshops at key milestones to involve and share with others.

Special thanks to Innovate UK for funding the project and if you’d be interested in joining one of those workshops (in person or online), or if there are other truly great collaborations we clearly should have flagged, then walk this way and tell me! jon.stace@softwaresolved.com

Jon Stace, Principal Technical Consultant and project lead

 

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Data revolution
Get Ready for the Data Revolution
Get Ready for the Data Revolution 855 590 Simon Hollingworth

Real-time data transforms lives. It allows people to make decisions based on reality. And it allows organisations to be more effective and efficient in everything they do.

When it comes to some of the most vital services in society – social care, education, bin collections, looking after the vulnerable – we are still not realising the true potential of data. Although a new study carried out by Software Solved highlights this very fact, I do believe we are on the verge of a real-time data revolution across local government.

We surveyed 38 unitary, city, county and district councils across England and the findings are revealing. You can get your copy of the Local Government Data Revolution Report here https://www.softwaresolved.com/localgovdata

The survey, as covered by media including Local Gov News shows that 92% of councils say that it is important or very important to running improved, cost-effective, services, though just 19% admit that they are effective at using their data.

And in spite of disparate IT systems, departmental silos, lack of skills and tools being seen as barriers, 95% of local authorities have started or plan to invest in data visualisation in the next 12-18 months.

 

 

Change is happening, with 97% of local authorities recognising that improved data visualisation tools will be of value to their council, yet only 19% of councils feeling that they can easily access the data they hold today.

For many years the technology simply did not exist in a format that could readily be used by non-IT experts and internal barriers, such as departmental silos or the lack of skills and tools to make a real impact, were seen as too tough to tackle.

But data visualisation tools like Microsoft Power BI are now affordable, easy to use and incredibly powerful and you no longer need to be an expert in data and the outcome can be incredibly exciting – making real-time informed decisions becomes the new reality.

Working with the right partners there is now a way to harvest existing data, set up robust data warehousing and use simple data visualisation tools so that real-time data use becomes the norm rather than the exception.

The likes of Camden Council, Lancashire County Council, Leicestershire, Doncaster, South Hams and West Devon District Councils are shaping services, shifting resources, achieving savings to move towards a more democratic, informed, accurate and cost-effective way of running public services.

Insurance Survey: Unlocking the Power of Data to Produce Actionable Insights
Insurance Survey: Unlocking the Power of Data to Produce Actionable Insights 1024 683 Simon Hollingworth

The team here at Software Solved love problem solving. We’re pleased to share some of our useful resources and insights with you. These have been selected based on the areas we’ve helped our clients with. We hope you find them useful and if there’s anything we can do to help you, we’d love to talk to you.

We love solving technical problems. We’re pleased to share some of our useful resources and insights from our work developing bespoke software for clients.
Insurance: Unlocking the Power of Data to Produce Actionable Insights
Data has been called the new oil, the lifeblood and a valuable currency. So, insurers are fortunate in that most have vast amounts of this most precious commodity. But, are they maximising its potential or is it too often an untapped resource?

There’s no doubt some insurers are starting to leverage the value in their data, even if an elite group is starting to pull away from the rest of the pack. However, as the rise of InsurTech shows, size is no barrier since smaller providers can prove highly effective through using with the right technology and, not least, having a forward-thinking mind-set when it comes to sharing data.

Whether or not insurance is playing a big enough role in the data revolution is a moot point. The technology now exists to connect legacy systems, while machine learning and analytics allow for transformational work to take place, with the goal for many insurers being to turn their data into actionable insights. The question is, will this remain a goal or become a reality?

Software Solved, who work with a range of large and small insurers to deliver Risk & Claims Management Systems as well as data rich Customer Portals, are seeking to better understand this crucial area and so we conducted a research project, in conjunction with Insurance Post. This involved speaking to around 60 providers, covering commercial and personal lines, and with those providing opinions including directors and professionals from various disciplines including underwriting, claims, risk management and IT.

Download this report from an in-depth analysis of the research findings.

How Does Business Process Mapping Relate To IT And Systems?
How Does Business Process Mapping Relate To IT And Systems? 1024 683 Simon Hollingworth

Business Process Mapping (BPM) can be an incredibly valuable exercise for an organisation. In the simplest terms, it visualises and defines the processes within an organisation. Not only does this help provide clarity to job roles and business procedures, it can often be the catalyst for changes that improve a business’ efficiency and performance.

What is a Business Process Map?

A Business Process Map is the documentation that prescribes how problems, information and decisions are processed. It identifies a roadmap to solutions by documenting the necessary steps in any given process, from managing data flows to fielding client requests. They help analyse, understand and improve segments within a particular process, thereby improving efficiency.

Flowcharts are a common format for Business Process Maps, documenting workflows and activity from beginning to end. This will include the many variables within a process, such as feedback loops, ad hoc inputs and decision gateways. At any one time, a stakeholder should be able to see all the available options and directives.

What should Business Process Mapping cover?

It is essential that a Business Process Map is clear and detailed. In theory, an outsider should be able to review a Business Process Map and have a strong understanding of the activities and responsibilities within an organisation.

Effective Business Process Maps will provide clarity to operational roles and will often cover workflows across multiple roles within a business. This can be invaluable when onboarding new employees or clients and decreases the training time required.  This also helps delineate responsibility and remits, which can be a significant obstruction within large organisations.

What are the benefits of Business Process Mapping?

In addition to the operational benefits of a Business Process Map, they also provide significant organisational value. BPM considers specific objectives, which can then be compared and aligned to an organisation’s wider goals and objectives. This helps outline performance and can highlight processes that are either working efficiently or require improvement.

One of the key benefits relates to quality assurance and management. Process documentation is required for compliance with many valuable quality accreditations, such as the ISO 9001 standard. As data security becomes more critical to a business, an effective Business Process Map demonstrates the actions and contingencies an organisation employs to safeguard data

Who should use Business Process Mapping?

Business Process Maps are an essential tool for project managers overseeing operational delivery. However, they can also be relevant to c-suite executives, particularly chief operating officers, to review and analyse how a business is performing. This can be crucial when scaling a business or making an organisation more agile to adapt to market developments and innovations.

So, whilst there are many reasons to use BPM, they can all be summarised as improving efficiency and performance across an organisation. But how does this extend to IT and technology solutions specifically? In our next blog, we’ll be talking about how business process maps play a critical role in a business’ path to digital transformation.

The New Age Of Business Intelligence And Data Visualisation
The New Age Of Business Intelligence And Data Visualisation 1024 512 Simon Hollingworth

Businesses have always amassed data, however the rate at which it is created has grown exponentially. Globally, we output 2.5 quintillion (that’s 18 zeros) bytes of data every day. Estimates suggest that 90 percent of the total data in the world was created in the last two years.

There are now myriad electronic devices, all connected to one another in an ever-expanding network of data generation. However, for all the data amassed, organisations are barely scratching the surface of what it is capable of doing and translating this into real commercial value.

In short, there is a vast amount of data at your fingertips, just waiting to be utilised.

Data Visualisation for Any Business

Until recently, business intelligence (BI) solutions were only available to global organisations with vast budgets at their disposal. One of the key barriers to entry was the ability to interpret these immense datasets that businesses were acquiring. As inter-connectivity has come to the fore, so too have BI solutions that answer the question of ‘what can I actually learn from this data?’

Tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI have bridged this gap, opening data visualisation up to more businesses than ever before. Businesses and organisations of all sizes and industries can now take advantage of the value in data visualisation and business intelligence. It has helped to democratise data, enabling powerful data analysis and decision making in a fast, accessible and easy-to-use platform.

Business Intelligence to Inform Decision Making

Power BI provides the tools to not only assimilate data from vast sources, but to interpret it as well. This is a crucial factor for executives, who can now immediately examine the data that is relevant to them and draw immediate conclusions. This leads to more informed and responsive decision making across a business, driven by actionable data insights.

Today, every business is a data-driven business. Utilising this data properly could create tremendous value for businesses. From greater market understanding, to more effective trend forecasting, the answers are now there for anyone to see. Powerful analysis can link the dots between data and performance, revealing new insight and opportunities.

Customisable Data Visualisation for Businesses

More importantly, platforms such as Power BI are customisable to the needs of a business. All businesses have different requirements and needs from their data, so a customisable and interactive platform is essential. It can help bridge and connect data silos from marketing, finance and sales, breaking complex data into clear insight across all departments and functions.

Even now, BI solutions and their applications are developing at a rapid rate. That’s why the BI market has exploded and is set to grow to a value of $22.8 billion by the end of this decade. It will become the cornerstone of high-level strategy and decision making, which was once impenetrable without vast budgets and specialised resource.

If you’re interested in business data solutions and would like to discuss your business requirements, talk to us today or call us on 0203 281 7342.