Spark Summit 2017

By the Blueprint Team

Spark Summit is a massive event, especially when you consider that it’s focused around a single product in the technology industry.  Spanning 3 days of activities, presentations, networking events and get-togethers it is a truly exhaustive experience for someone interested in big data, data science, machine learning and a host of other practices and buzzwords.  Databricks, the sponsors and hosts of the event, did an amazing job pulling in a truly breathtaking number of presenters and attendees.  What’s more, the number seems to double every year they put the Summit on.

For me, it was a very timely experience.

The week prior I had the amazing opportunity to do two things: speak at the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce’s Eastside Leadership Conference on the subject of Data Science and take on the mantle of Managing Director for Technology at Blueprint.  The chance to speak in front of the ELC attendees was both a tremendous honor and an intellectual challenge – how do you take a field such as Data Science (where incredible new tools for working with data and creating probabilistic models appear every day) and present it to senior leadership of numerous non-technology companies? Thankfully, that’s what we do every day at Blueprint.

Creating effective use of technology in understandable ways is how you drive transformation and innovation in organizations.  That’s what we LOVE to do here.  The focus of my new role at Blueprint is to push our own organization to do that in new and interesting ways, as well as find opportunities to reinvent the things we’re already doing.  I can’t wait to watch all of the brilliant people in this company grow and innovate and take that knowledge out to our partners and customers.

This is why the Spark Summit was such an awesome experience.  The focus of the conference and of Databricks’ vision is centered around bringing the mechanics of data science to the masses.  It was completely in line with the events of my previous week.  It was a complete validation of our ideas and an opportunity to build on those ideas with kindred spirits and folks who are innovating in complimentary ways elsewhere.

Conferences are a great way to meet new people, discover new ideas, and validate thought leadership.  Our team visited presentation after presentation, rubbed elbows with industry luminaries, and had amazing discussions with folks doing the most incredible work with data science and the Apache Spark platform.  One of our resident Data Science geniuses, Steve Hastings, and I had the wonderful pleasure of talking with Dr. Yi-Hsiang Hsu for an hour over lunch about the groundbreaking work his team at Harvard is doing in the field of genomics.  You cannot recreate that conversation with just a certification or a workshop.

The power of the Spark Summit is the opportunity to have casual and illuminating conversations like this about world changing uses of this technology.  The power of being there is the opportunity to take this knowledge and distill it into every engagement and every conversation we have afterward.

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