Interview with Michael Ferrari, Head of Data Science, The Weather Company

 

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Analytics India Magazine brings you yet another interview with our valued speaker at Cypher 2016, Michael Ferrari, Head of Data Science at The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

Michael Ferrari, a data science strategist works closely with Weather’s leadership team to identify opportunities that leverage our massive sets of weather, location, and audience data to uncover business and consumer insights.

In his free time, he is an affiliate scientist with The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Applications Laboratory and an active board member on the American Meteorological Society’s Board on Global Strategies. Michael is also a research affiliate at the MIT Media Lab where he works on the OpenAG initiative towards the exploration and development of future food systems.

AIM brings you the excerpt from the interview. This being the second in the series.

AIM: Would you like to share with us about your talk at Cypher?

Michael: I would like to discuss some of the unique insights that we at The Weather Company/IBM are working towards, notably the combination of rich location and weather data.  Each individually is powerful, but when combined can be transformational.

AIM: Tell us about your journey in the field of data science.

Michael: My background is in climate numerical modeling and biophysics, each computationally intensive fields. So I have been working in ‘data science’ well before the term was coined.  It is exciting to blend approaches and techniques taken from the physical sciences and applied to social discussions.

AIM: How important is predictive analytics for any company? Which industries do you think using predictive analytics is a must?

Michael:  I think within 10 years, there will not be any field of commerce that is left untouched by advances in analytics and data.  Agriculture in particular is ripe for disruption.

AIM: Would you like to share your views on the IoT industry? 

Michael: IBM and Weather are both heavily invested in IoT and believe strongly in its ability to help people and businesses have access to more information that will ultimately improve decision making. I would say my own personal views on the potential of IoT could best be described cautiously optimistic. While I do think that there is something ‘there,’ I think the current version of how IoT will transform the world and what actually materializes are two different things. Primarily, I see a much more subtle interaction between connected devices and technology, i.e. not so much flying cars, but more and more it will be seen in ways that we conduct our lives with the technology in the background.

AIM: Could you tell us about some important contemporary trends that you see emerging in the present analytics space across the globe?

Michael: When the large portion that is not connected makes the jump. Most of the world still does not see affordable and reliable connectivity.  The efforts of Facebook and Google in this space are particularly exciting. With this additional connectivity, think about all of the interesting and useful ways that our data ecosystem (weather and location) can contribute to the lives of nearly every person on the planet who carries a mobile phone.

AIM: What are the most significant challenges you see in the Analytics space?

Michael: The avalanche of connected individuals in the coming 1-2 decade and the resultant information will dwarf what we have seen in the last decade.  We view this challenge as a tremendous opportunity.  It is also worth mentioning that while we are of course pursuing areas that make sense from a commercial perspective, what is equally important is the humanitarian perspective. These changes will truly impact lives for the better.

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Manisha Salecha
Manisha is a Senior Content Analyst with Analytics India Magazine. Apart from writing & editing articles and taking interviews, she is also responsible for covering analytics news, and handling social media for AIM. She can be contacted on manisha.salecha@analyticsindiamag.com.

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