Intel, Kaggle Use March Madness Contest to Teach About Big Data

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2014-02-27 Print this article Print

To make it even more enticing, the vendors are offering a $15,000 cash prize to the winner. People don't have to play the first step in the contest (predicting results against the previous five tournaments' numbers) to compete in the second (predicting the 2014 results). But they do have to make their entries by March 19.

While upfront goal of the competition is to have fun and let at least one person win some money, Intel's Davis and Will Cukierski, a data scientist with Kaggle, said they also want to give people an idea of how big data analytics works and what can be gained by using analytics tools. The amount of data that is being generated will only grow, as more devices connect to the Internet, thanks to such trends as the Internet of things (IoT). Officials with Cisco Systems are predicting that by 2020, there will 50 billion connected systems, from mobile devices and automobiles to manufacturing machines and surveillance cameras, and all those connected devices will generating huge amounts of data.

For businesses, it will be important for people to know how to gather, store, process and analyze that data in order to make informed business decisions, Davis said. It's also important to tech companies, given the growth potential in big data. IDC analysts predict that big data spending will grow by 30 percent this year, to more than $14 billion.

Intel and other companies need to get people using the technology at their disposal and start seeing what's possible, he said.

"It is very important for us to use sports and to show them that with the capabilities of … technologies and tools, they can do things in a different way," Davis said. "We're using sports as the platform to get people learning about the capabilities of big data."

Kaggle's Cukierski said using sports makes sense.

"People love to play with sports data, and are usually willing to put up with statistics if it deals with sports," he told eWEEK.


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