Data science for non-technical pros at Convergence 2015 US

James Philips, Microsoft Corporate VP, continued the momentum from this morning’s keynote at Convergence 2015 US, with a discussion and demo around big data and business transformation. 

The story was largely around empowering every professional with out-of-the-box functionality like PowerBI in order to understand their businesses and make more data-driven decisions.  “Non-technical professionals can sign up for the service in seconds, connect with data in minutes, and derive insights in 5 minutes or less,” said Philips.

Philips demoed natural language input, quickly pulling up number of contacts by country from a marketing database.  Any of these queries, he added, could be pinned to a central dashboard and manipulated visually for usability.

Microsoft plans additional investments in cloud and on-premise storage and systems that would ultimately drive down costs to end-users.

“We want you to view us as an infinitely large place to capture this data in a regulatory compliant manner to make it available in intelligent systems.”


WASH Multifamily Laundry Services

John Buccola, CIO of WASH Multifamily Laundry Services, joined Philips midway through the session to represent how WASH, the #1 provider of shared laundry equipment in Canada and #2 in the US, utilizes PowerBI to grow their business more profitably.

PowerMap visualizations enable Buccola to literally fly through WASH’s 70K locations overlaid on a map, comparing number of machine repairs, repairs per machine by manufacturer, payment type, and others – essentially a “heart-rate monitor” for the business, as Philips put it.

One of the key questions WASH addressed using PowerBI was pricing.  By combining regional unemployment rates, average wages, and gas prices, WASH is able to price their services from a unified dashboard in a seamless and scalable way.

JJ Food Service Ltd.

Rounding out the end of the session, Mushtaque Ahmed, COO of JJ Food Service Ltd., the largest independent food service provider in the UK, showed how JJ Food Service has transformed their business around data intelligence.

When orders from JJ Food Service transitioned from call-center to e-commerce, they realized they were losing a human touch in their customer interactions, including key opportunities to upsell, cross sell, and introduce new products to their customers. 

Ahmed ran three years of sales transaction data and click stream data from the website in Azure Machine Learning to create a recommendation service to power their e-commerce portal and call-center, all without in-house data scientists.

During the live demo, adding a gallon of whole milk to the cart brought up a gallon of semi-skim since these two items are usually bought together.

JJ Food Service took one more step – adding wireless sensors to their food transport trucks in order to track temperature of items in transit to ensure complete food safety compliance and centrally track any anomalies.

Want to learn more?  Watch the Convergence live stream here and check back for on-demand recordings.