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Here is an interview with Hjálmar Gíslason, CEO of Datamarket.com . DataMarket is an active marketplace for structured data and statistics. Through powerful search and visual data exploration, DataMarket connects data seekers with data providers.
HG- DataMarket is my fourth tech start-up since at age 20 in 1996. The previous ones have been in gaming, mobile and web search. I come from a technical background but have been moving more and more to the business side over the years. I can still prototype, but I hope there isn’t a single line of my code in production!
Funny you should ask about the 10 things that have surprised me the most on this journey, as I gave a presentation – literally yesterday – titled: “9 things nobody told me about the start-up business”
* Do NOT generalize – especially not to begin with
* Prioritize – and ﬁnd a work-ﬂow that works for you
* Meet people – face to face
* You are a sales person – whether you like it or not
* Technology is not a product – it’s the entire experience
* Sell the current version – no matter how amazing the next one is
* Learn from mistakes – preferably others’
* Pick the right people – good people is not enough
* Tell a good story – but don’t make them up
I obviously elaborate on each of these points in the talk, but the points illustrate roughly some of the things I believe I’ve learned … so far
Both Amazon and Google have entered the public datasets space. Infochimps has 14,000+ public datasets. The US has http://www.data.gov/
So clearly the space is both competitive and yet the demand for public data repositories is clearly under served still.
How does DataMarket intend to address this market in a unique way to differentiate itself from others.
HG- DataMarket is about delivering business data to decision makers. We help data seekers find the data they need for planning and informed decision making, and data publishers reaching this audience. DataMarket.com is the meeting point, where data seekers can come to find the best available data, and data publishers can make their data available whether for free or for a fee. We’ve populated the site with a wealth of data from public sources such as the UN, Eurostat, World Bank, IMF and others, but there is also premium data that is only available to those that subscribe to and pay for the access. For example we resell the entire data offering from the EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) (link: http://datamarket.com/data/list/?q=provider:eiu)
DataMarket.com allows all this data to be searched, visualized, compared and downloaded in a single place in a standard, unified manner.
We see many of these efforts not as competition, but as valuable potential sources of data for our offering, while others may be competing with parts of our proposition, such as easy access to the public data sets.
Ajay- What are your views on data confidentiality and access to data owned by Governments funded by tax payer money.
HG- My views are very simple: Any data that is gathered or created for taxpayers’ money should be open and free of charge unless higher priorities such as privacy or national security indicate otherwise.
Reflecting that, any data that is originally open and free of charge is still open and free of charge on DataMarket.com, just easier to find and work with.
HG- The scene is quite vibrant, given the small community. Good teams with promising concepts have been able to get the funding they need to get started and test their footing internationally. When the rapid growth phase is reached outside funding may still be needed.
There are positive and negative things about any location. Among the good things about Iceland from the stand point of a technology start-up are highly skilled tech people and a relatively simple corporate environment. Among the bad things are a tiny local market, lack of skills in international sales and marketing and capital controls that were put in place after the crash of the Icelandic economy in 2008.
I’ve jokingly said that if a company is hot in the eyes of VCs it would get funding even if it was located in the jungles of Congo, while if they’re only lukewarm towards you, they will be looking for any excuse not to invest. Location can certainly be one of them, and in that case being close to the investor communities – physically – can be very important.
We’re opening up our sales and marketing offices in Boston as we speak. Not to be close to investors though, but to be close to our market and current customers.
Ajay- Describe your hobbies when you are not founding amazing tech startups.
HG- Most of my time is spent working – which happens to by my number one hobby.
It is still important to step away from it all every now and then to see things in perspective and come back with a clear mind.
I *love* traveling to exotic places. Me and my wife have done quite a lot of traveling in Africa and S-America: safari, scuba diving, skiing, enjoying nature. When at home I try to do some sports activities 3-4 times a week at least, and – recently – play with my now 8 month old son as much as I can.
Hjálmar Gíslason, Founder and CEO: Hjalmar is a successful entrepreneur, founder of three startups in the gaming, mobile and web sectors since 1996. Prior to launching DataMarket, Hjalmar worked on new media and business development for companies in the Skipti Group (owners of Iceland Telecom) after their acquisition of his search startup – Spurl. Hjalmar offers a mix of business, strategy and technical expertise. DataMarket is based largely on his vision of the need for a global exchange for structured data.
To know more, have a quick look at http://datamarket.com/
This is a guest blog post by Carole Ann Matignon of Sparkling Logic. You can see more on Sparkling Logic at http://my.sparklinglogic.com/
Decision Management is about combining predictive models and business rules to automate decisions for your business. Insurance underwriting, loan origination or workout, claims processing are all very good use cases for that discipline… But there is a hiccup… It ain’t as easy you would expect…
If you have a neat model, then most tools would allow you to export it as a PMML model – PMML stands for Predictive Model Markup Language and is a standard XML representation for predictive model formulas. Many model development tools let you export it without much effort. Many BRMS – Business rules Management Systems – let you import it. Tada… The model is ready for deployment.
The problem that we keep seeing over and over in the industry is the issue around variables.
Those neat predictive models are formulas based on variables that may or may not exist as is in your object model. When the variable is itself a formula based on the object model, like the min, max or sum of Dollar amount spent in Groceries in the past 3 months, and the object model comes with transaction details, such that you can compute it by iterating through those transactions, then the problem is not “that” big. PMML 4 introduced some support for those variables.
The issue that is not easy to fix, and yet quite frequent, is when the model development data model does not resemble the operational one. Your Data Warehouse very likely flattened the object model, and pre-computed some aggregations that make the mapping very hard to restore.
It is clearly not an impossible project as many organizations do that today. It comes with a significant overhead though that forces modelers to involve IT resources to extract the right data for the model to be operationalized. It is a heavy process that is well justified for heavy-duty models that were developed over a period of time, with a significant ROI.
This is a show-stopper though for other initiatives which do not have the same ROI, or would require too frequent model refresh to be viable. Here, I refer to “real” model refresh that involves a model reengineering, not just a re-weighting of the same variables.
For those initiatives where time is of the essence, the challenge will be to bring closer those two worlds, the modelers and the business rules experts, in order to streamline the development AND deployment of analytics beyond the model formula. The great opportunity I see is the potential for a better and coordinated tuning of the cut-off rules in the context of the model refinement. In other words: the opportunity to refine the strategy as a whole. Very ambitious? I don’t think so.
About Carole Ann Matignon
Carole-Ann Matignon – Co-Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer
She is a renowned guru in the Decision Management space. She created the vision for Decision Management that is widely adopted now in the industry. Her claim to fame is managing the strategy and direction of Blaze Advisor, the leading BRMS product, while she also managed all the Decision Management tools at FICO (business rules, predictive analytics and optimization). She has a vision for Decision Management both as a technology and a discipline that can revolutionize the way corporations do business, and will never get tired of painting that vision for her audience. She speaks often at Industry conferences and has conducted university classes in France and Washington DC.
She started her career building advanced systems using all kinds of technologies — expert systems, rules, optimization, dashboarding and cubes, web search, and beta version of database replication. At Cleversys (acquired by Kurt Salmon & Associates), she also conducted strategic consulting gigs around change management.
While playing with advanced software components, she found a passion for technology and joined ILOG (acquired by IBM). She developed a growing interest in Optimization as well as Business Rules. At ILOG, she coined the term BRMS while brainstorming with her Sales counterpart. She led the Presales organization for Telecom in the Americas up until 2000 when she joined Blaze Software (acquired by Brokat Technologies, HNC Software and finally FICO).
Her 360-degree experience allowed her to gain appreciation for all aspects of a software company, giving her a unique perspective on the business. Her technical background kept her very much in touch with technology as she advanced.
While vacationing in Goa, I came across a marvelous place on Anjuna Beach called Tantra. It is basically a beach side restaurant cum hotel, but what makes it unique is the use of natural building materials like wooden poles tied together with ropes to create a magnificent and comfortable ambiance . The decor is artistic without being too loud, a big golden statue of the Buddha greets people as they come in , the music is Sanskrit and Hindi hymns , there are books left casually around for the reader. There are statues of Ganesha and a Shiva -Linga, evening lighting is shielded lighting, and dinner is over candle-lights and the manager Karan Singh has basically created a sort of mini-naturalistic paradise. It is basically India as it was meant to be, before we turned weirdly capitalistic.
An amazing thing at the Tantra is the pricing, they are very much a fit for the traveler who does not want to stick to expensive hotels, and does not want to compromise on hygiene. Tantra is clean, very healthy living, and you go to sleep with the sound and sight of the Ocean, and are woken gently by the Sun.
If you are in the mood to travel to India, you should travel to Goa, and in Goa, Tantra , Anjuna beach is one of the finest places you can have an authentic travel experience.
Location- Tantra is located almost at the heart of Anjuna Beach, it is just ahead of the famous Anjuna Famous Market. To get to Anjuna, you can take a taxi or Bus from Mapusa, or Margoa. To reach Margoa, you can take an air-conditioned Volvo or non-AC bus from Mumbai (that would be the best way to travel)
About Tantra- A great place in Anjuna, Goa with a difference.
Set next to the flea market, surrounded by unique antique furniture and art. Experience the serene and chilled out space. Great place to watch the sunrise and sunset. Swing by.
TANTRA BEACH SHACK AND HUTS
Flea Market, Anjuna Beach, Goa, India