The Data 30, Top 10

The top 10 of our 30 data influencers


We are down to our top 10 in the Data 30.

These 10 people represent those who have both contributed directly to the industry as well as helping to highlight its power and publicize it around the world.

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10. Monica Rogati, Jawbone

The Jawbone UP is one the best personal data devices in the world. There are others that offer more information or are more targeted for one particular use. However, what Jawbone do better than any other is picking the most important data and showing it in the best possible way.

One of the best ways that this kind of data has been shown was in this blog post documenting how sleep was affected by the Napa earthquake in 2014.

Having the ability to collect, analyse and show data in an understandable way to the general public takes time and work. It is for her work in this, as well as her considerable input during her five years as a Senior Data Scientist at Linkedin that Monica was an easy candidate for the top 10. 

9. DJ Patil

No list outlining the top 30 in data could possibly avoid DJ Patil. He has won so many awards and had so many cover stories on the world’s biggest magazines, that it would take a long time to write them down, but it includes 2014 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, Forbes - The World's 7 Most Powerful Data Scientists and CNN - 36 of tech's most powerful disruptors.

However, it his terminology creation that has really pushed him up this list, as it was DJ and Jeff Hammerbacher, who coined the term ‘Data Scientist’. He was also the man who made it sexy, when he co-authored the now infamous HBR article describing Data Scientist as the sexiest job of the 21st century.

8. Jamie Miller, GE

Jamie makes the list not only because she is the Chief Information Officer at GE, one of the world’s most powerful companies, but because she is the model of how data science goes beyond technical skill.

Having worked as GE’s Controller and Chief Accounting Officer, she came to know the business thoroughly, which gave her the insight to be able to apply the data from her team, to the areas that mattered the most.

With GE now becoming one of the world leaders in IOT, with their connected engines and cars, it is possible that this business knowledge will have an even larger effect on the overall company performance.

7. Rich Miner, Google Ventures

Big Data startups do not get huge by themselves. It takes a considerable amount of effort from the people working there, but more importantly, investment.

Rich Miner is one of the key men in this as an investment partner at Google Ventures.

He is more than qualified to give his perspective on what makes a tech startup work, as he was one of the founders of Android, now the most used mobile operating system in the world. He also founded Wildfire communications, which was sold to Orange in 2000.

He now spends his time investing Google’s billions in small startups, and we saw how popular he now is in this area at the Big Data Innovation Summit in 2014. This has included several data centric startups that simply would not exist if it wasn't for Rich's foresight. 

6. Stephen Wolfram, Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha may well be one of the most important companies for Big Data in the history of its relatively short existence.

If you have ever spoken to ‘Siri’ on an iPhone, then the chances are that Stephen Wolfram’s fingerprints have been all over it. Wolfram Alpha is one of the main engines that powers it.

He also developed Mathematica, the standard software language and environment for scientific, technical, and algorithmic computation, and algorithmic software development. Therefore, much of what has been achieved in Big Data and many algorithms used to analyze, have come from the work that he has done.

See his presentation from the Big Data Innovation Summit here

5. Kirk Borne, Professor

Kirk Borne is one of the best respected people currently working in Big Data and Analytics.

His role as professor is well deserved as he has a thorough knowledge of both data and astronomy from his previous experience. He has worked at NASA, processed data from Hubble space telescope and even won several awards for the groundbreaking work he did. He managed to excel amongst some of the most brilliant data minded people in the world.

He also co-created the field of a Astroinformatics and has been voted as one of the top Big Data influencers on Twitter consistently for the past 3 years as well as winning the 2014 IBM Big Data & Analytics Hero.

See his presentation from the Big Data Innovation Summit, Santa Clara in 2014

4. Rob Beardon, Hortonworks

If this list had been written last year, Rob Beardon and Hortonworks would have made it onto this list, but would not be at the heady heights of fourth.

The reason for Rob’s high standing on this list is that this year Hortonworks have proven that Big Data is not only sustainable, but also very profitable.

Having the guts to bring a successful private company public would have been difficult, but in doing so he proved to the world that Big Data is not only a force within businesses, but also for investors. It exceeded its initial valuation within the first two days of trading and is currently considered as a safe investment by many traders. This kind of public backing from investors is fantastic for the overall view of Big Data companies and Hortonworks have set a strong example that many others will hopefully be able to follow.

3. Edward Snowden, NSA Whistleblower

Not everything within Big Data and Analytics is positive. We have seen data hacks at major companies and people’s personal data being captured and exploited.

However, through his work, Edward Snowden has shown the public that their data is collectible and that not everything they do is untraced. It has given people a better understanding of what is traceable and what isn’t, all being done in the most public arenas.

Although many disagree with what he did and even more question what this will do to the industry in the long run, through showing how the NSA and GCHQ were collecting and analyzing data, he showed the public what can be collected on them.

2. Sergey Brin & Larry Page, Google

Google has unquestionably become the world’s largest and most successful search engine. Beating all others in this regard, they have also turned their hand to mobile devices, wearable technology and even self driving cars.

All of this has come from a foundation of data.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are both Ph.D. educated in computer science and mathematics, which has given them the best possible preparation to make Google a truly data driven company. It was in fact Page’s invention of the page ranking system that has made them the superior search engine on the internet. It has allowed trillions of searches taking only a few seconds, to the pages that people want to see.

It is undoubtedly the most powerful and publicly visible use of data in the world, which is why they are only one rank away from top spot.

1. Doug Cutting and Mike Cafarella, Hadoop

Almost all modern Big Data and Analytics programmes are made possible by Apache Hadoop. It is used by governments, multi-national companies and even one person startups.

The reason for its success is down to its power and also that it is free to use. It has a collaborative element, not only in its development (it has input from hundreds of different developers) but also in the idea that it is a library of programmes rather than an individual piece of software.

Companies like Hortonworks, Cloudera and MapR have based billion dollar organizations on this framework, and countless companies have based their data programmes on it. It has spawned hundreds of startups and Hortonworks itself was started by engineers who had originally been working on the Hadoop Framework at Yahoo!.

Doug Cutting and Mike Cafarella put all of this in motion with their work on Nutch, in 2002. This was the start of what would eventually become Hadoop, the system that millions across the world know. Their stamp is all over the current field of data and analytics, so much so that Hadoop was even named after Doug Cutting’s son’s toy elephant. 

The full list

30. Paco Nathan, Liber 118

29. Gil Press, Forbes

28. Arijt Sengupta, Beyondcore

27. Warren Buffett, Investor

26. Vadim Kutsyy, eBay

25. Tom O'Reilly

24. Billy Beane, Baseball Coach

23. Chris Towers, Innovation Enterprise

22. Anmol Modan,

21. Edwina Dunn & Clive Humby, DunnHumby

20. Hilary Mason, Fast Forward Labs

19. Scott Howe, Acxiom

18. John Schroeder & M.C. Srivas, MapR

17. Tom Davenport

16. Tom Reilly, Cloudera

15. Sverre Jarp, CERN

14. Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, KDNuggets

13. Andy Palmer, TamR

12. Jeff Bezo, Amazon

11. Jeff Smith, IBM

10. Monica Rogati, Jawbone

9. DJ Patil

8. Jamie Miller, GE

7. Rich Miner, Google Ventures

6. Stephen Wolfram, Wolfram Alpha

5. Kirk Borne, Professor

4. Rob Beardon, Hortonworks

3. Edward Snowden, NSA Whistleblower

2. Sergey Brin & Larry Page, Google

1. Doug Cutting & Mike Cafarella, Hadoop


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