Growing Need for “Big Data” Analysis Spurs Growth in Today’s SD Conference

More than 1,100 experts who analyze “Big Data” are gathered in San Diego today for the industry’s major conference on “Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining” (KDD). The registered attendance is a 22 percent increase over the 900 who attended last year’s KDD conference in Washington D.C.

“In this field, at least, we’re experiencing a recovery,” says Joe Milana, the global head of analytics at Opera Solutions, which was founded as a consulting firm in 2004 and has developed a specialized focus on helping big companies use predictive analytics. When the economy crashed in 2008-09, Milana says a lot of companies eliminated their data analytics services as part of their overall cost-cutting efforts. By 2010, however, he says the analytics industry was experiencing a recovery as financial institutions and corporations realized the growing importance of identifying customer trends and user patterns in the deluge of data that gets generated daily.

Opera Solutions, based in New York and Jersey City, NJ, has been a beneficiary of this resurgence, Milana says. While the company has about 550 employees worldwide, Milana heads the company’s San Diego-based analytics business—which had five employees three years ago, and has doubled its headcount to more than 70 employees in the past eight months.

“There’s this niche in machine learning, where San Diego is the place to be, and our company explicitly moved to San Diego to tap into it,” Milana says. Among the U.S. cities with technology clusters focused on software analytics, he estimates that San Diego ranks third—behind Silicon Valley, with its regional expertise in search engine applications, and the New York area, where Wall Street’s financial sector has a seemingly insatiable appetite for data mining and analytic technologies.

The focus of San Diego’s analytics and machine learning community seems to extend beyond search applications, and is focused more on Main Street than Wall Street. Many local companies are focused in various ways on helping big businesses take advantage of the terabytes of data being generated by their customers each month. More than 100 companies in the San Diego area are working on predictive analytics, Milana says, making predictive analytics one of the few cohesive communities in San Diego’s fragmented software industry.

Opera Solutions sees … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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