Tech community comes together to talk all things technical
Data enthusiasts from start-ups, big corporations and business enterprises spent two full days at The Fifth Elephant, a big data conference that commenced here on Friday.
The sessions, mostly technical, focussed on infrastructural needs and technologies revolving around managing big data, the hot field of analytics and the critical but less-talked about area of data visualisation.
The event, organised by tech event management firm HasGeek, had around 700 participants registered, and speakers ranged from industry heads — including representatives and researchers from Google, RedHat, Oracle and Flipkart — to techies who’re working with interesting ideas and evolving technologies in the start-up ecosystem in Bangalore, and in the country.
Though big data itself is an emerging field and several conferences are held by corporation along these lines, it is this participation from niche and less-known players doing equally fascinating work that distinguishes this event from the others.
As one young researcher and aspiring entrepreneur from Chennai, attending the event “at his own expense”, puts it: “The event is interesting because we get to meet people that otherwise you only hear of as doing promising work in tech forums. I’ve always wanted to start up on my own, and I am in the processing of doing the groundwork for that. So, an event like this gives me an opportunity to perhaps meet others and figure out how.” That this is an event attended by the ‘tech community’, as opposed to ‘just company representatives’ is what made it worth his while to travel from Chennai.
The sessions presented a wide range of topics, mostly technical. For instance, there was a session by Prabhu Ramachandran, a researcher from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, on his work with Mayavi, a free python-based 3D data visualiser for scientific computing. This Open Source library has evolved over the past decade and is widely used by scientists across research domains. While his was an inspiring tale, several sessions also focussed on the biz aspect of data analytics.
Biswajit Pal, Subhasish Mishra and Manav Shroff from Hewlett-Packard had a presentation on how HP analyses the buying patterns of its customers to predict what they would buy next year, helping them plan for inventory. Another interesting talk was by S. Anand and Ganes Kesari on text visualisation.
Their presentation showed several examples from their own work to show how textual data can be visually represented to help the viewer recognise patterns and make meaning from vast quantities of text.
TECH AND BIZ
With a good mish-mash of technology and the application of technologies in the world of business, the event had a fair share of entrepreneurs attending it.
Sriharsha Nagaraj, director of business development at Compassites, one of the participants, said: “I attend a lot of conferences. But what’s exciting here is that there’s a good focus on business and what people who wish to use the benefits of these technologies want.” This is unique to conferences in Bangalore, where events see a lot of community presence and support, unlike say in Gurgaon or other places where tech conferences are dominated by company heads rather that those dabbling in cutting-edge technologies, he adds. The broad appeal of this conference also perhaps has to do with the community-centric approach to designing the conference that HasGeek is known for.
“Our events are organised through a community-driven open voting process. Here, all the speakers have to submit proposals to a public system that we call the ‘funnel’ where their talks are up-voted or down-voted depending on the interest the community has,” says Kiran Jonalagadda, founder-member of HasGeek.
“With this, we ensure that speakers coming to talk at an event like The Fifth Elephant are focussing on the real insights and processes of working with data that the community expects,” he says.
He is extremely pleased with the turnout, which he believes is a “clear indicator of just how excited people are about the possibilities with gaining insights from data”.