PASS Summit 2015 kicks off: "This is the age of the data professional."

PASS Summit 2015 kicks off: "This is the age of the data professional."

A late change in keynote speakers didn't slow down the momentum for PASS Summit, taking place this week in Seattle, WA.

A late change in keynote speakers didn’t slow down the momentum for PASS Summit, taking place this week in Seattle, WA.

Joseph Sirosh, Microsoft’s recently elevated vice president, data group, lead the morning’s keynote, offering a tour through how connected data was reshaping industries and introducing an overview of what Microsoft SQL Server 2016 has in store.

His focus was on the transformation that occurs when the amount of data being collected increases exponentially even as it becomes increasingly connected through the Internet.

“We are in a new era, the age of data,” he said. “The fundamental transformations are being driven by data and intelligence from data — and that intelligence is in the form of assistants like Cortana and Siri … but also more profound opportunities.”

How profound? Life changing and life saving, according to Sirosh. He talked about how improvements in data analytics had help drive the cost of sequencing genomes down from years to a week, with equally dramatic drop in the cost. To demonstrate how important that was, he said he had his own genome sequenced by 23andMe, exported as a CSV, and then analyzed to better understand his own risk factors, finding that he had a heightened risk of prostate cancer.

“That’s my future, predicted by data,” he said. “And now that I know my future, I can change my life.”

And not just his life, but hopefully healthcare for millions. The keynote touched on a pilot project from Dartmouth-Hitchcock, dubbed ImagineCare, that tapped into Microsoft’s Cortana Analytics Suite to proactively look for health anomalies via data gathered through Microsoft Band, provide that data to 24/7 call center of registered nurses, who can then follow up directly with patients in real time, either to check in on potentially dangerous situations or simply to offer guidance to a healthier life.

And every aspect of that transformation in medical services is driven by the evolution of data analysis, from Internet of Things management to real-time business intelligence.

“This is the age of the data professional,” Sirosh said. Given the ambitions and scope of both the keynotes and PASS’s session and speaker line up, it’s hard to disagree.

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