Big data connects the world through information and by generating higher levels of access to knowledge.

“It’s not just about bigger and faster data processing and management solutions,” said Chris Dyck, Big Data Analytics program co-ordinator. “It’s about people and community. In early communities, we gathered around a fire at night and discoursed on the events of the day. Communities and family relationships were strong. Big data is bringing that notion back.”

But it’s not the amount of data that’s important, it’s what organizations do with it that matters. You can learn more at the Big Data Insights Conference, being held at the Georgian College Barrie Campus on Aug. 3.

“It’s a student-driven conference bringing industry professionals, academics and data-driven organizations together to share knowledge about the latest tools, practices and industry trends,” said Chris Fikis, student communications lead for the event. “It’s also a platform for industry members to network with students and alumni of our Big Data Analytics program as well as talk about how to use data to drive business results.”

Georgian’s students are graduating from their program at an extremely opportune moment in time to assist businesses says Dyck.

“We have some of the most highly trained graduates in this exciting field,” he said. “They are entering the workforce with a dynamic mix of the technical, business and communications skills needed to help create the organic growth businesses need to excel.”

The conference is an opportunity for businesses to meet future employees in an informal setting. Aaron McCreight, who just graduated in April, attended the conference last year and met his current employer, Newmarket-based XE.com Inc.

“The conference was a super experience,” he said “We had the opportunity to chat with several employers about the program and our skills in an informal interview process. I talked with the folks from XE and they reached out to me through my LinkedIn profile a few weeks later. I’m now working as a junior data scientist and utilizing big data analysis in a number of ways. Right now we’re working on a campaign looking for patterns and trends to assist with customer retention.”

The conference will also feature a panel of guest speakers who will address a variety of topics, from industry trends to tips on how to succeed in the field of big data. One of the emerging trends is a big shift toward cloud-based computing, such as Amazon web services.

“You don’t have to store all the data yourself and it’s faster,” said McCreight. “If you’re working with huge data sets, the work can be done more efficiently.”

Brian Vaughan, another recent graduate who works at Adastra in Markham, also sees the industry moving towards cloud computing as well as a continuing need for data science professionals with a good understanding of how to use big data tools.

“There will be a demand for individuals who can both understand big data analysis performed by data scientists and have the communication skills necessary to explain the results to the rest of the organization,” he said.

In his current role at Nova Consultant Analytics, Vaughan uses big data tools to speed up the rate at which companies will be able to gain insights into to how their business is operating.

“I’m currently working on a team that is integrating a big data solution to scale a web platform,” he said.

The conference runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no cost to attend, but space is limited. RSVP online.

Photo: Chris Fikis is the student communications lead for the Big Data Insights Conference being held at the Georgian College Barrie Campus on Aug. 3.