Higher education and healthcare are both “broken and outdated,” said Salesforce.com‘s Peter Coffee, but big data can save them.
At last week’s Phorum, the annual conference hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT) that focuses on technology for enterprise companies, Coffee, VP and Head of Platform Research at Salesforce.com, spoke about how the CIA uses big data and how other organizations can follow suit. He was filling in for Gus Hunt, CTO of the CIA, who had a last-minute conflict and couldn’t attend the conference.
The CIA, a federal agency that manages an enormous amount of data, uses data to understand the “plans and intentions” of others, Coffee said. Healthcare and higher education can take the CIA’s lead and use data to become more efficient.
Big data can change healthcare by collecting data through sensor-equipped patients and homes, Coffee said. Instead of relying on a patient to report his eating habits or his medicine intake, sensors can keep track of these actions and reduce doctor’s office and hospital visits, he said.
Similarly, Coffee said that college courses should move to a digital system with features like recurring comprehension tests that pop up during a lecture. That way, professors can use that data to figure out what their students do and don’t understand.
In order to move to these types of systems, though, a number of technology tools are necessary. For example, the CIA has to use “a data environment'” that can handle huge volumes of data, as well as widgets that alert staffers of something noteworthy, rather than staffers manually combing through data to find important trends.
“Machines need to do more of the heavy lifting,” Coffee said.-30-