BAQMaR Conference 2014

by GEUENS Stijn

I remember last year’s BAQMaR conference as it was yesterday. Since it was my first attendance, I didn’t know what to expect back then. At the end I had a pretty good feeling, having been able to catch up with some former colleagues and going home with lots of inspiration. Keeping this great experience in mind, I was looking forward to this year’s conference and eager to discover what the BRAVE conference would bring.

As I arrived in the beautiful Ghent and especially the compelling historic city centre, good memories of my student days came back, setting immediately the mood and I was ready for some inspiring talks. The afternoon sessions, in which I followed the data science track, formed a nice mix of speakers with an academic and business background. My personal catch word describing the afternoon would be THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX. A first presentation given by Anneke Deetlefs of Standard Bank, South-Africa showed real nice examples of how to go beyond regular structured data and also incorporating unstructured, textual data in data analysis. A second presentation by Prof. Dr. Wouter Verbeke of the VUB kept on the same track, but took a more academic point of view. He argued that traditional modelling techniques and evaluation metrics possibly not suffice to answer a specific business problem. Therefore you should think outside the traditional box and adjust your process to the case. After the break, Jeroen Janssen of Trackuity gave a talk about a day in the life of a data scientist and he did a great job. He showed that there is more to data science than only creating predictive models and analysts often have to think outside the box. Finally the discussion between software vendors, SAS, IBM and Revolution, was interesting as well. They answered to questions like: how do you see the evolution of analytics and how do you offer solutions these changes?

The evening session is usually less technical, but nevertheless very inspiring. Three speakers, perfectly fitting this year’s theme BRAVE, gave inspirational talks. All three should be admired for their BRAVERY as they take fate in their own hands by using current and even future technologies to think outside the box and not only use them to their advantages, but also to the benefit of mankind. Finally a new concept, the BRAVE award, was introduced. This award is acknowledging the BRAVERY of young people taking a big leap by transforming great ideas into practise and starting their own business. Congratulations to this year’s winners, 180 Degrees Consulting and Eyesee.

I very much enjoyed the 8th BAQMaR Conference and going home inspired to be BRAVE.