The Data 30

30-21 in our rundown of the most important people in Big Data & Analytics


Having worked in and around the Big Data and Analytics space for the past five years, we like to think that we have our fingers fairly on the pulse in terms of who are the movers and shakers in this world.

Therefore, we have decided to create the 2015 top 30 in Big Data & Analytics list.

This is a list not only of those who are contributing directly to the industry, but those who have had important parts to play in its growth and sustained popularity.

As with all lists, others will have their opinions on who we have missed and who we shouldn’t have included. As an industry that is still relatively young and many of the players still work behind the scenes, leaving little trace of the work they have done.

We are going to publish this list in three parts, 30-21, 20-11,10-1.


30. Paco Nathan, Liber 118

Paco is one of the best known data bloggers, bringing the latest in data news to his legion of followers. With around 4,500 twitter followers, numerous speaking sessions at conferences and even some key books released, he makes this list with the endeavours he has made to spread information about Big Data.

In addition to his media work, he backs up his ability to write with a ‘player/coach’ approach to Big Data, being able to not only write about subjects, but also have an in depth knowledge of them. This comes from a career in data spanning more than 30 years, including work at NASA and Motorola, even founding his own e-commerce company along the way.

29. Gil Press, Forbes

Gil Press has been the pre-eminent voice of Big Data at Forbes, bringing data knowledge to one of the most popular news magazines in the world. Before his work with Forbes, he has done considerable work surrounding the estimation of data sizes and with this managed to gain considerable traction within the mass media, spreading the message of Big Data to many, as early as 2000.

He makes this list due to his dedication to not only reporting on what is currently happening within data, but also his knowledge and communication of the historical background of it. Giving effective foundation to many of the innovations we have seen today has allowed the wider community to truly understand how we are, where we are.

28. Arijt Sengupta, Beyondcore

Big Data today is being driven by innovations that are often coming from the newer players in the market. Arijit, as the CEO of Beyondcore, has created a company that is helping people who may not be revolutionary Data Scientists, but who still want to be able to compete against companies who have them.

It is going to be these kinds of companies who help to democratize Big Data to companies, and with the skills gap that we are currently seeing this is going to be even more important in the next few years.

27. Warren Buffett, Investor

The success of Big Data does not just come from the business results that companies claim. In order for people to believe that this is going to be a truly revolutionary change in how we do business, it needed a big investor to have the confidence to invest in a company spearheading the revolution.

Step forward Warren Buffett, who after years of refusing to invest in tech companies, invested $12 billion in IBM. This single investment from one of the world’s most famous investors gave confidence to others to invest. Since then Big Data companies have seen billions invested in them.

26. Vadim Kutsyy, ebay

For the past 8 years, Vadim has been working at ebay first within, then leading their data team and Head Scientist. In this time eBay has become one of the biggest websites in the world as well as acquiring or growing significant companies such as Skype, Craigslist and PapPal.

Through these as well as the huge numbers of visitors to the original site, they process around 50 petabytes of data every day. Much of their success has been based on their use of data and have even had an academic paper written about their success. With Vadim’s input as Head Scientist, this was made possible. His achievements are impressive and he more than merits a place on this list.

See his presentation from the Big Data Innovation Summit 2013

25. Tim O’Reilly

As the owner of O’Reilly Media, who host the largest data conference, Strata, Tim deserves a place on this list.

In addition to Strata, Tim has an impressive record in predictions and also in lobbying for internet rights, patent disputes and has even gone head-to-head with Amazon over it. O’Reilly has also become the go-to company for Big Data, Analytics and Computing books as its publishing division has some of the best known minds in the industry.

24. Billy Beane, Baseball Coach

Until recently, Billy Beane was the face of popular analytics. His vision of using basic analytic at the Oakland A’s in baseball was the basis for the Moneyball book, then the film of the same name. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill helped to publicize the film and what it represented, but it all started with Billy Beane, and his team’s ideas.

We still hear at every single conference the Moneyball analogy. In fact the media still often discusses Analytics as Moneyball. It has become synonymous with the spread of data and the popularization of data and how many people perceive it.

23. Chris Towers, Innovation Enterprise

After studying computer science at university Chris has been driven to put together the Big Data Innovation summit series, which has spread not only across the US and Europe, but also to Australia and much of the Asian continent. Creating situations where Data Scientists can talk to some of the leading minds in the industry has seen partnerships formed and ideas forged.

Chris makes this list not due to his association with Innovation Enterprise, but because few have attempted to spread Big Data across the world and bring this kind of education to areas where this type of thing has never been tried before.

22. Anmol Modan,

As CO-Founder and CEO at Anmol has helped to bring Big Data from simply a money making endeavour within a large company to being able to genuinely help people. According to the company ‘We built our company to empower researchers, physicians and healthcare providers to improve patient care’.

With his idea to use data to help with the prediction and prevention of disease through predictive modelling, his drive to make Big Data more than it is already is the reason for his inclusion on this list.

21. Edwina Dunn and Clive Humby, Dunnhumby

Although now retired, Edwina Dunn and Clive Humby founded one of the first and best known customer data companies in the world, Dunnhumby. Predating many of the companies who now do similar work, their endeavours (they started in a bedroom in their house in 1989) paved the way for many of the companies who have since taken up their cause.

Their famous relationship with Tesco, spearheading their loyalty card business, allowed them to create insights into Tesco’s customers and allowed it to become the largest supermarket in the UK. They were undoubtedly one of the pioneers of mass customer data collection. 

20-10 will be released next week. 


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