Harnessing Data & AI: From Data Products to MLOps
The remarkable advances in Data, Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have fostered the widespread adoption of Machine Learning (ML) within many products and services companies use and consume on a daily basis. However, implementing ML solutions is still a complex endeavor, and many organizations are struggling to fully exploit the strategic advantages of AI. One of the main causes of such complexity is the computationally & data intensive profile that characterizes most AI solutions. This implies that, to be useful to users, AI-powered products and services require the best of both worlds: 1) High-Performance Computing (HPC) to support the ever-growing demand for online calculations; 2) modern Data and Analytics solutions that may enable knowledge extraction from massive data sources. Over the last few years, a simple yet effective iterative 3-step approach has gained a lot of traction mainly aimed on easing the design and development of business-oriented data products: The proposed first step is starting from a tailored Proof of Concept (PoC). At a second stage, the solution should evolve into a functional Prototype. The final step is to build the first production ready Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Designing the PoC as the first product iteration enables teams to embed the core principles of the target data product in a way that facilitates the evaluation of components whose performance and/or quality is critical to ensure that the whole project makes sense, despite not being fully connected to the whole application or ecosystem. For instance, in a predictive algorithm a PoC could be an initial batch of predictions with a hand-crafted model that enables us to assess whether the process is actually forecastable and what would be a baseline level of accuracy. Similarly, in an ingestion pipeline, it would be possible to build a PoC to test the bandwidth of existing connectors and APIs to mass data ingestion or real time performance of packets, etc. Once the core value has been validated, it is possible to proceed to the second step to evolve the PoC into a prototype, a functioning piece of software that not only can be integrated with the larger ecosystem, but also to be deployed on test environments and operating on the end-to-end product landscape. This allows the team to focus on what are the weak links, bottlenecks, corner cases and reliability issues. It is worth noting that while a prototype is a working piece of software, it still does not cover all the cases nor is resilient enough to be fully deployed in production. However, it is crucial to start gathering feedback from test users and sample use cases. The MVP constitutes the third and final stage of this agile data product development approach. An MVP comprises the minimal set of working features from a product definition standpoint to accomplish the required task in its bare bones, but that can be deployed in production and start gathering feedback from real world use cases and users. The MVP constitutes the first release of the tangible product. It is meant to perform in the real world and thus it must provide all the guarantees (and good practices) of a properly functioning piece of software. The MVP should enable the iterative development and improvement of subsequent features and quality additions as part of the natural data product evolution. Through these years this approach has been successfully applied (and refined) to different business verticals. However, it became clear that, despite the simplicity and elasticity of the proposed iterative approach, the development of effective data products is not always that straightforward in real-world scenarios. This complexity is caused by the fact that data productions commonly: Rely on heterogeneous computing with a strong trend towards hardware specifications (GPU, TPU, etc). Make an non-uniform use of resources in the different operation states, such as modeling, training, inference, and serving. Present deployment and versioning dependencies, with ever-arising AI methods, strategies, sources, etc. This complexity has shaped most modern data platforms, that have evolved and now provide some unique features to tackle challenges such as: Data versioning & lineage: to handle source data, processing code, trained models, deployment code, and usage logs. Storage: to support different read/write patterns for data used in training vs. data used in production. Compute: provisioning permissions, costs, configurations, and environments. Process decoupling: different streams ingesting data and processing it into a reusable form, training models, evaluating them, and tracking performance in production and configurations across the board. Undoubtedly, the natural evolution of modern data platforms has set the ground to address the complexity of real-world data products. However, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed since the development of AI has had a great deal of experimental or "lab" culture, greatly inherited from its academic genesis. Furthermore, some organizations were not ready for large-scale integrations, leading to many PoCs that failed to evolve to usable products and failed scale-up attempts, leading to a great loss of confidence in Data and AI solutions. That is what gave rise to the ideas behind MLOps as an evolution of the concept of DevOps, enhanced with data science and processes around the Data & AI lifecycle. In this context, there are some critical elements that can be considered as the foundations of MLOps: Governance: it is about who has access to what resources, such as data, assets, models, and deployment. Repeatability: a critical concept in understanding the quality of any AI model. Enables auditing and improvement of the models, tracking data sets, experimenting with configurations, analysis, codes used, etc. Continuous process: one of the biggest learnings in the software world. Concepts such as quality assurances, short iterations, versioning, and capability for distributed teams are all invaluable for something as complex as AI models. In line with the constant evolution of AI, the ideas and concepts behind MLOps also evolve. Nowadays, the trends are moving towards MLOps Platforms. A good MLOps platform enables companies to have specialized talents in different platform dimensions. It untangles the unicorn that may be needed to otherwise effectively handle core concerns of data engineering, cloud engineering, data science, data architecture, DevOps, and many other disciplines. Gonzalo Zarza Global Head of Data & AI at Globant
Employers With Benefits: The Perks of Being in a Tech Company
In any industry, you always have to be mindful of your competitors. It’s no good having cutting edge technology and a fancy office if your rivals are constantly snaffling up all the new talent. For the biggest companies, often their brand is enough of a draw to entice new talent. The prestige of working for Apple or Google can swing the balance all on its own. But for most businesses there’s a vital need to offer things above and beyond just the basic expectations of a job. And what are those expectations? Well, the answer to that has changed, even in just the last decade or so. In general, competition is stronger than ever before but even more so in the tech industry, where the environment is more ferociously competitive than in almost any other field. With fewer candidates for more positions, every company has to maximise their ability to attract the best of the young and upcoming talent, to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. And it’s not enough just to attract new employees, you also have to keep them! According to this article on stackoverflow, about 75% of developers are either actively looking for a job or open to new opportunities. Having benefits others don’t could tip the balance in your favour. 10 years ago the ability to work from home would’ve been considered a desirable luxury of any job, but nowadays, remote working is seen as almost a prerequisite for a lot of jobs in the digital sector. If you want to attract the best you need to be astute and creative and offer things other companies don’t. So what kind of perks are out there? It’s a good question, and we’ve spoken with the tech companies sponsoring JOTB22 to get an idea of what you’re competing with. Working 9 To 5 – Remote Working, Flexibility & Growth Let’s start with the most obvious benefits a company can provide – those directly related to the job. Half of the companies we spoke to offered remote working as a benefit, and it’s hardly surprising - as stated in this article, before covid an average of 5% of office workers worked from home, but the new normal is likely to settle at between 20-30%. And in the tech sector that number will probably be even higher, so offering this option is very important. However, as reported by stackoverflow in the above article when it comes to work-related priorities for developers, flexibility and opportunities to learn are the top reasons (aside from salary) that developers consider leaving their current job. And when developers are considering staying at their current job, flexibility at work trumps everything! 56% of developers said they would be turned off if they were tied to specific working hours, and 50% said they find companies unappealing if required to go into an office. This is reflected in the data we obtained from the companies we spoke to, with more than half including flexible working hours in their offers and almost all of them promising opportunities to grow. In fact, different companies took different approaches to personal growth and development. Some offered internal and external training opportunities directly, while others set aside a certain amount per year for each employee to spend how they liked on training, books or events. An employee enjoying the flexibility to work remotely (Photo by airfocus on Unsplash) (I Can't Get No) Job Satisfaction – Technology and Task Methodology So being able to work when and where you want is clearly important, but let’s not forget about the actual work itself. The tools and methods used at work is something that’s taken into consideration by several companies who make sure to give prominence to their cutting edge tech and agile environments. Other businesses also promise dynamic and challenging work, which makes sense; who doesn’t want to enjoy and feel challenged by their work? And one firm highlights how their employees are able to see the direct impact of their work, on a platform used by millions. Everything In Its Right Place – Office Location & Facilities As important as remote working is, plenty of people still work from an office. So what can you do to make sure your office is enticing to potential employees? Well one thing that is attractive is to have the office in an excellent city centre location. By having your company situated in the heart of a thriving metropolis you’re sending out a statement about what type of firm you are. But space is at a premium and location isn’t the only thing that can make your office stand out. For a start, less central offices can often offer free or reduced cost parking for their employees. And when you get into the actual office itself there are a whole bunch of extras you might find. In one office there are several games consoles set-up in a lounge area. Some companies have a ping pong table for their employees to use, while others have pool tables. Whatever the specifics, the underlying idea is clear – giving something tangible to help their employees unwind. A couple of employees take a break to enjoy one of their office perks (Photo by Plytix Imagery) Food For Thought – Breakfast, Lunch & Snacks And the in-office bonuses don’t stop at games. Access to food in one way or another is a staple of most offices now. Most companies we spoke to had a kitchen in the office stocked with snacks, one also holds a free team breakfast every Friday, while another even provides catered lunches most days. And a number of other companies also give out restaurant vouchers too as a perk. Something In the Air – The Working Environment Something less tangible but equally as important is the atmosphere within an office. It’s no good having things like pool tables and communal games at the office if you don’t like being there. Half of the companies we contacted specifically mentioned a welcoming culture as an incentive to work there, while almost all of them pointed to some form of diversity and inclusion in their philosophy. One company we surveyed is made up of over 35 nationalities, speaking almost 30 languages With the world smaller than ever now, it’s crucially important that your place of work be a friendly and diverse environment which pays more than just lip service to inclusivity. Out of Office – Extracurricular Activities Something that can help foster a communal atmosphere are extracurricular activities. Several enterprises we spoke to had at least one type of subsidised class provided by them. For some it’s English or Spanish classes for those who want to improve their second language; in others there are more sports oriented classes such as yoga, or health related like physio. Not to mention discounted gym memberships, which are offered at the majority of businesses we asked. And it’s not just physical health that’s taken into consideration – plenty of offices offer free access to mental health apps such as coach hub, cigna, unmind and headspace. Some go even further, providing counselling sessions for those who need them and holding mental health awareness events. As well as regular classes, at least half of those we spoke to put emphasis on team building events and excursions as part of the fabric of their working culture. These are all encouraging aspects of a company for potential new hires, and as a bonus they can help with inter departmental socialising and creating a warm and open workplace. Some staff take advantage of free yoga classes offered by their place of work (Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash) All Work & No Play… - Holidays & Time Off It’s all well and good having fun office resources and a great working environment, but few would argue that a day off is better than even the best office. Obviously national and local holidays are included in contracts, but some businesses take it even further. For example, one corporation ‘bridges’ any holidays that fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, offering the Monday or Friday off too, while others allow every employee to take their birthday as an extra unpaid holiday. One also gives a 50€ stipend to a restaurant for a birthday meal out on top of the day off. There is even a cumulative holiday scheme in effect where for every 4 years at the company, each employee gets 6 weeks of paid leave. Additionally, numerous offices also extend holidays to include unofficial days such as Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. When it comes to the working timetable, there is a lot of variety. While some companies still operate under the traditional 5 day working week, others are more flexible; some offer Friday as a half day, one includes one Friday every month as a holiday while others go further and simply have a 4 day working week. In one or two cases, unlimited holiday is given to all employees, trusting in their staff to judge for themselves how to manage their time and decide when and how much holiday they need. One area that has seen progress in recent years is around parental leave – an increasing number of companies are offering extended leave to both mothers and fathers, ranging from 3 -9 months time off. And a few even offer services to help with IVF treatment and egg freezing, as well as internal support systems for those looking to adopt Cash Rules Everything Around Me – Salaries & Expenses Of course, when you get right down to it, money is always an important consideration and the majority of those we spoke to make sure to list a competitive salary on their job offers. However, there are more ways to offer financial compensation – 3 of the companies we surveyed have additional flexible compensation as part of their package, such as covering travel expenses, providing medical insurance, giving out vouchers for local restaurants or giving aid to nursery programmes. These types of bonuses can give an extra incentive for new employees to choose your company over others. In fact, 2 of the companies also offered a relocation package for those who would have to move to accept a job offer, providing not just financial support but practical help in finding a home and settling in a new city. Additionally, it’s fairly common for employees who have the option of working remotely to be given a stipend to pay for any equipment and technology they might need to work effectively from home. From the companies we spoke to this ranged anywhere from 500€ up to 1000€ per year. And financial remuneration isn’t limited to immediate hard cash; one firm have an enhanced pension scheme in effect as a perk, while a few companies also offer the option of getting bonuses in stocks and shares of the company they work for. It might not be for everybody, but the potential for greater gains sometime down the road in place of immediate financial gratification is a great option to offer. At The End Of The Day As you can see, there are a variety of ways you can make your company attractive. First and most obviously, make sure you’re paying competitive salaries because as they say, money makes the world go round. Make sure they’re challenged in the work they’re doing, with opportunities for growth and flexibility in their hours and location. In the office itself you should ensure the atmosphere is open and inviting, and you can encourage this by keeping your employees engaged and entertained, well fed and with a variety of optional activities on offer. Don’t neglect the mental health of your employees, a happy mind is a healthy one so ensure they have all the support they might need. Mix it up with team-building events and excursions to help foster a team spirit and make sure you’re offering some kind of bonus holidays, because your competitors almost certainly will be. And any schemes you operate which support families will always come across well. Ultimately you want your employees to feel valued and happy, and the more benefits you can offer, especially ones that others don’t, the more successful you’ll be. Full List of Perks Logistics Opportunities to Grow Remote working Flexible Hours Internal/External Ongoing Training Job Satisfaction Cutting edge technology Agile environment Dynamic & Challenging Tasks Tangible Impact Of Your Work Location City Centre Office Parking Space Office Games Consoles Office Pool Table Food Catered Lunches Friday Team Breakfast Dynamic & Challenging Tasks Kitchen Snacks Family Parental Leave IVF Treatment Egg Freezing Adoption Support Environment Welcoming Culture Diversity & Inclusion Extracurricular Language Classes Physio Sessions Yoga Classes Gym Membership Mental Health Apps Sessions with a psychologist or Counselor Team Building Events Holiday 4 Day Weeks Friday Half Day 2 Extra Cultural Days Off Extra Puente Day(s) Xmas Eve/NYE Off Unlimited Holiday Birthday Off 50€ Stipend for Birthday Meal 6 Weeks Paid Sabbatical Every 4 Years Remuneration Competitive Salary Medical insurance Nursery Compensation Travel Compensation Relocation Package Stipend for Remote Working Equipment Pension Scheme Options for Stocks & Shares Life Insurance Neal Caplin Co-Organiser of J On The Beach
Data Scientists in Spain in 2021
The world has never collected, stored or managed as much data as it does today, and because of this, data scientists dealing with big data have become increasingly important. As the volume, variety and velocity of this data has continued to grow, the role of data analysis has expanded into all walks of life. But as important as these jobs are, we often find that people don't really know what exactly these people do, or that their functions are misunderstood. So here at J On the Beach we have spoken to a number of data scientists in the tech industry in order to discover more about these crucially important cogs in the machinery of big data and shine a light on how they keep the industry running smoothly. A Day in the Life The industry stretches across many sectors, from more traditional areas like IT, finance, telecoms, healthcare, energy and marketing to more specialised areas such as e-commerce, consulting, tourism, insurance and real estate. And team sizes are similarly mixed; over a third in a team of between 5-10 people (the most typical size), almost a quarter working with more than 10 people, another quarter working with 1-4 people and almost 10% working alone. So we asked our participants, what is a typical day like for you? A common feature is starting off with a daily team or stand-up meeting, something which establishes goals for the day or week. Juan, who works in e-commerce tells us he starts with “…task and meeting organisation for the current and next 2 days and a scrum meeting”. A typical morning could consist of “…main company KPI review, specific KPI analysis, data analysis and forecasting.” and afternoons often involve what he calls “…Monkey tasks: Automatization, data review, and creating new tools.” Other common answers we heard were analysing and cleaning data to extract value, often for application in deep or machine learning models; designing and implementing DS systems; applying ML & DL algorithms; analysing databases to create prediction models; working on and developing python code to create date pipelines; testing and improving algorithms; and often meeting with colleagues or clients throughout the day. These meetings, especially with clients are often related to companies who don’t follow the traditional waterfall methodology. Indeed, when we asked, almost 80% say they follow an agile methodology with their colleagues and/or their final users, with a third of respondents following agile methodology with both. Jennifer, a specialist in natural language processing, says: “I need to be in permanent contact with people without DS knowledge.” It’s similar for Iker working in the energy sector: “As I work building tools for analysts, I do usually have to contact them to get their inputs so that I can start working with the data. I usually work preparing the data and exploring new data integrations into the production models we have.” For others, the daily meetings are still the main point of contact throughout the day. “I work individually on my code, developing what is expected of me for the day, while having meetings with the team or final users to solve and clarify some aspects.” says Mara. Some of the less common responses included tasks such as automating tasks, charts analysis, dealing with NLO patterns, creating dashboards, NLP projects and writing articles. Angel works in the field of space and so his tasks are more tailored. “I work on the development of geospatial products using satellite imagery and other spatial data, and Artificial Intelligence algorithms. My current work includes the whole chain of design and implementation of prototypes in the geospatial data science team, as well as data engineering, which is a key step when working with satellite data.” A few participants told us they also did work on product research and writing scientific papers, but this is atypical in Spain as work in this area is neither well-funded nor well-regarded and so is not commonly undertaken. Welcome to the Machine In answering which machine learning frameworks had been used in the last 5 years there were 3 clear winners – Panda (93%), Numpy (89%) and Scikit (85%). When we asked how many had used machine learning to solve problems, 94% responded with a resounding yes. What’s more, over 50% of those said they also found it easy and almost another 20% said it depended. Jo works in tourism but the difficulties she faces can be found in a range of sectors: “Solving a big problem or challenge involves breaking it down into smaller parts. A typical day looks at identifying smaller segment opportunities for proof of concept and deploying models for online experimentation. From there, scale to wider segments or optimise the solution.” However, there are some sector specific issues too as we learn from Pablo, who works in the medical industry: “The biggest problem is complying with the regulations and restrictions that come with working with medical data and so we are developing an API that will make it easier.” In terms of the data, we were interested in two things. First, we asked what types of data they typically interacted with. As this graph shows, the 4 most common types are categorical, time series, tabular and text data with a big drop-off to the other 5 types. We also enquired whether they engaged in real-time data processing or not, with only 24% saying yes, 21% saying sometimes and 55% holding that they never did. Sharing is Caring Of course, accessing data is all well and good but handling algorithms is often a team effort. So we asked two questions; firstly if they use GIT to manage their algorithms, and secondly how they usually shared their algorithms with their colleagues. The answers showed that 89% use GIT or a similar versioning tool to manage their algorithms and more than half of those who responded use some form of GIT as their primary algorithm sharing tool. We were also curious if they use GPUs to train models, and only just over a quarter categorically stated that they did. The remaining respondents were split evenly, with 37% each saying they sometimes did or they never did. Tooling Around Although there are a variety of roles and sectors within the industry, there are certain skills which are desirable across the board. More than three quarters of our participants named Machine Learning, Statistics and SQL as crucially important, with over 95% citing Machine Learning as the most important. Two thirds of our participants named analysing and understanding data to influence product or business decisions and building prototypes to explore applying machine learning to new areas as common activities. 40% also referenced the ability to build and/or run the data infrastructure that their business uses for storing, analysing, and operationalizing data as necessary for their jobs. Of course, just as important as the skills are the tools used to execute the various tasks. Almost half of the people we spoke to mentioned cloud-based software, the most popular being AWS, but over 80% pointed to integrated development environments being their primary tool. The top 3 IDEs used were Jupyter, Rstudio and PyCharm, as demonstrated in the following graph: With a Little Help From My Friends When asked if there were any extra means in the budget for solving problems, three quarters told us that there weren’t. And only 10% of our group said they had the freedom to spend their budget on resources themselves, with another 10% having to obtain permission from a boss. However, when asked about solving job tasks we found out that it’s very common to turn to other resources for help. Stackoverflow was named as a go-to resource for help by almost everybody, only 4 people failing to mention them. Other sources of aid were blogs, forums, books and simply asking colleagues, as shown on the chart below. Another common way of exchanging information is via meetups. Typically, these have been common ways for like-minded individuals in the industry to interact with each other and the 3 most popular meetups are DataScience, Python Meetup and DataBeers. There are also groups targeted towards particular subsets within the industry; Cecilia mentions Ladies In Python, Marta cites Big Girls Theory while Ana says she not only collaborates with groups such as RLadies and Women in ML, but is also an organiser of PyLadiesMadrid. Equally, we wanted to find out which websites the data scientists visited to learn new things in their field. Overwhelmingly, the most popular options were the Toward Data Science Blog (71%) and forums such as Kaggle and Fastai (60%). The other sources are detailed in this chart: Soft Sell It’s also very important that you are in business with trusted vendors for your software, so we queried whether our participants preferred to interact with software vendors by downloading software and using it in their own machines without sharing their email address, or by utilising web based trials that required registration with an email address. While 25% preferred to download and 20% expressed a preference for web base trials the majority said they didn’t mind either way. We also probed further to find out if and how they use the internet to research vendors. Checking online information and forums in online communities was the most common method, with 52% following this process. 11% used the internet in another way, utilising online platforms such as Gartner, Forrester and G2. The remaining respondents preferred to either ask friends (18%) or ask vendors and do the trials to conduct their research (19%). Holding Out for A Hero As talented as the people we surveyed are, there are inexorably giants of the field to whom data scientists look up to. Although a wide array of professionals were referenced, Professor Andrew Ng was named by the majority of those surveyed as someone they followed or admired, and it's no surprise considering he was a co-founder of Google Brain and a crucial part of building up the Artificial Intelligence Group at Baidu. And although this is still an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry as seen by multiple suggestions of people like Jeremy Howard and Yoshua Bengio, it is encouraging that scientists such as Kamelia Aryafar, Nuria Oliver and Lisa Winter were also named as people admired and respected in the field. And now we know who are the most popular and respected in the field, we´re going to do our best to book as many of them as possible! As you can see, these workers are not just one homogenous stereotype. The work they do and the industries they represent cover a wide spectrum and they are a fundamental part of the modern world. For many, their jobs encompass more than one role. Pablo tells us “I not only have the role of data scientist, but also software developer according to which is needed. We usually start the day looking for new features to apply because of the data we have stored in Bigquery. All our data comes from what our users (and their final users) do.” It’s a similar story for Jennifer: “My job has two very different approaches - one is working with data, which is sometimes boring and repetitive. The other approach is related to drafting models, algorithm design, etc. which is creative and intellectually rewarding.” As in any profession, job satisfaction is an integral part of a happy data scientist, and thankfully three quarters of those asked said users don't just understand but also value the work that they do. This is vitally important going forward, because without these key workers we would all be a lot more lost. The Lost Tapes As part of our process, over the last year a series of interviews were carried out with some data scientists, who gave us some valuable insight into how they work. We had intended to include extracts of these interviews in this blog to add further information and increase the depth of our findings. Regrettably, due to an unfortunate series of events these tapes were lost and unable to be recovered. However, we would like to thank Clara Higuera, Gonzalo Estrán, Pelayo Arbués, Yasser Aoujil, Jonathan Espinosa among others for the time and energy they put in to help us with our research. If you would like to see the full collection of data we gathered you can download the Excel file of the survey at this link Neal Caplin J On The Beach Organiser
Commitment to Attendee Safety
The health and safety of all our attendees and staff are of paramount importance when running face-to-face events. That’s why we’re working hand in hand with the venue to ensure that you can rest easy and enjoy the event—knowing that your safety comes first and foremost. Due to recent changes in Spanish regulation, there is NO restriction to access the venue and neither masks are mandatory. However, we suggest wearing it in crowded spaces and closed areas. If you are travelling from abroad, please check the following website to check about the requirements necessary to travel to Spain depending on your country of origin. Spain’s Official Tourism Website Still not sure? Read our Safety FAQ below for more information. What happens if there is a COVID outbreak in the area or during the event? If there is a COVID outbreak and we are forced to cancel the event, we’ll take all safety measures, as mentioned in the venue’s protocol, and refund all tickets. What if I start to feel unwell at the event? If you begin to experience symptoms of COVID-19 at the event, we kindly ask that you leave the event and to not interact with other attendees or staff. If you subsequently test positive for COVID-19, please follow the steps in the answer of the next question. What plans are in place if after the event a participant(s) tests positive for COVID-19? If you test positive for COVID-19 within 48 hours of attending the event, please notify us as soon as possible by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include details of anybody with whom you came into close contact at the event. You may also provide us with a contact number, so that we may discuss this with you directly. If you are identified as a close contact of somebody who tested positive for COVID-19 within 48 hours after attending the event, we will contact you as soon as we can. If any attendee at the event tested positive for COVID-19 within 48 hours, we will notify you of this immediately. We will prioritise contacting those who have been identified as a close contact followed by letting all other attendees know as soon as possible. What is the percentage of vaccinated people in Spain? Spain has one of the highest share of the population vaccinated against COVID-19 in the world (86.32% as of April 21, 2022 ). Can I transfer my ticket to another attendee? If you can no longer attend JOTB22 for whatever reason, you can transfer your ticket for the same conference to another person. Transfers can be requested for free until Monday, March 28th, 2022. A fee of 40 EUR applies to transfers requested between Tuesday, March 29th, 2022, and Friday, April 15th, 2022. The deadline for transfer requests is Monday, April 18th, 2022. You can request a transfer by emailing email@example.com with the following details for the new attendee: full name, email, phone number, and position. Can I cancel my ticket and get a refund? Once paid, registration fees for JOTB22 are non-refundable unless the event is canceled. As stated above, if you can no longer attend JOTB, you can transfer your ticket for the same conference to another person or alternatively you can transfer your ticket to attend next year's conference instead. Transfers can be requested for free until Monday, March 28th, 2022. A fee of 40 EUR applies to transfers requested between Tuesday, March 29th, 2022, and Friday, April 15th, 2022. The deadline for transfer requests is Monday, April 18th, 2022. You can request a transfer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org stating your full name, email, phone number, and position and request to carry over your ticket to 2023. J On The Beach Organising Committee
Understanding COVID19 Through Data
COVID-19 has been raging on for months now. While some countries have passed the worst phase, others are just now beginning to reach the peak. The number of confirmed cases worldwide continues to grow, and countries like Germany, the UK, the US, and China hurry to create and test vaccines. But, there are still so many questions to be answered. A recurring question heard everywhere is, "Who is infected?" We have turned to Antonio Fernandez Anta, Research Professor at IMDEA Networks Institute in Madrid and speaker of J on The Beach 2020, to help answer this. Antonio, together with an international team of scientists, has launched a study called the @CoronaSurvey Project, which aims to estimate the real number of COVID-19 infections. They are reaching people worldwide through the Twitter page @CoronaSurveys to get the responses needed for their study. His team analyses and updates the data collected daily to make estimates and adds it to their webpage. JOTB: So, Antonio, how did you come up with the idea for your research? Antonio: I was listening to the number of infected cases that were being mentioned all over the news. You know, newspapers, television, everywhere, and I knew that what they were reporting were only the confirmed cases, which it was by no means the actual number of cases because they didn’t have enough laboratories and tests to be able to account for every single infected person in the country, particularly in Spain. So, I was thinking, "how can I help?" and I was exploring multiple options. JOTB: What is the Corona Survey? Antonio: It ended up being a simple Twitter survey. I woke up on March 13, and I said, "Look, I can ask people, 'are you infected or not,' but if I do that I’m going to get only a few hundred responses, in the best of cases, and that’s not going to tell me anything that's statistically significant". So, instead of asking people about their health, I asked people about the health of the people they know. I launched on Twitter [the question] "How many people do you know that are infected with COVID-19?" JOTB: How are you able to use the data you collect to estimate for a whole country? Antonio: You don’t really know how many people a person knows, but there is this result in social science, called the Dunbar number, that tells that each of us on average connects with 150 people. So, by using that, if you tell me that you know 15 people that are sick, and I make the assumption that you know 150 people, that means 10% of the population should be infected. That's the rule of thumb we've been using. JOTB: How is your data different from what is out there? Antonio: The data that is right now available, which is the number of confirmed cases, is by far underestimating the figures of infected people. JOTB: Is this data just for Spain? Antonio: It started as a very simple experiment in Spain, a week later we had deployed similar experiments in Italy, Portugal, UK, US, and Cyprus. Now, we are two months down the river, and today or tomorrow we are going to be deploying another survey which will be translated into 56 languages and is going to collect regional information from probably 100 countries. Antonio explains that ideally, contributors would return to the surveys periodically, maybe once a week or so, especially if there is a change in the number of infected people they know. This is so that the team can see how the number of people infected has progressed. The idea is to keep updating the numbers and analysing the trends. The team believes the study can be especially useful in countries where there isn't much data available, or where such data is not very reliable. According to Antonio, they have received positive results when applying the survey in Ukraine. They found that the results from the surveys in that country, and the number of infections estimated from the number of deaths disclosed, was very inconsistent, which was most probably due to a lack of data. They found that by applying a reverse algorithm, they could correctly estimate the actual number of deaths related to COVID-19. The people behind the CoronaSurveys are all volunteers who believe this information is something governments can use to make future decisions. All the data they collect is open-source on GitHub, and the team encourages people to download and play around with it. Antonio even jokes that they wouldn't mind if someone wanted to organize the data. You can contribute your data anonymously to help improve this study by finding your region and filling out a short survey. You can also learn more about Antonio and his team, and stay up to date with the @CoronaSurvey results by following the project's social media.
Update - August 26, 2020 It is with great sadness that we announce that J on The Beach 2020 will be canceled this year. While we hoped that the situation around the world would have calmed down by now, that is not the case. We have weighed several options: maintaining the October date, postponing to a later date, having an online conference. However, the health of our speakers and attendees is our main priority, and due to the uncertainty of this unprecedented time, delivering a quality event while keeping everyone safe does not seem feasible. Rest assured, we will be refunding all tickets. In the coming days, we will be working with our ticket provider to refund all tickets. Please be patient as we work through this. We will be sending out an email when all refunds have been finalized. With this said, we will stay positive and begin to work on ideas for our 2021 J on The Beach event. To stay updated on all JOTB news, sign up to our newsletter and follow us on social media. Should you have any questions, concerns, or general comments, don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com. Malaga's beaches will miss you, and so will we. Stay safe! Update - May 28, 2020 We had hoped the COVID-19 situation would have improved by now. While it has improved in some parts of the world, others are just now beginning to reach a critical level. As of today, we still plan on holding the event on October 14-16, however, should there be a second wave of infections and should we find ourselves needing to cancel the event, we would like to assure our attendees that we will provide full refunds for all tickets purchased. JOTB20 What happened? As many of you know, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a tremendous impact on everyone's lives. While some people might still be happy to attend, we did not want to risk aiding the spread of the virus and endangering others beyond the conference, which is why, on March 13th, we made the difficult decision to postpone the event to October. While, at first, we were optimistic that we could go ahead as planned in May, it became clear that this was not realistic or prudent. Speakers, sponsors, and attendees had been in touch with their concerns about the event and restrictions on travel. We also know that many of you had to arrange things like travel, accommodation, childcare, and time out of the office. Because of this, we wanted to give you as much notice as possible so you could minimize the disruption rather than have to watch us wait until the last minute. Naturally, we were disappointed. We love seeing you all at our events, and we were looking forward to celebrating our 5th birthday with you, but this was the right thing to do. No conference talk is more important than the health of our community and those they come into contact with, and we all have a responsibility to look out for others who may be more vulnerable than us. So, what now? We have moved the event to the 14th, 15th, and 16th of October 2020: We are hoping most of our speakers and trainers will be able to attend to deliver their sessions in October, and we are working to confirm the details as soon as we can. While the schedule may change, the venue will continue to be the same. These changes might take some time to confirm, so please bear with us and keep an eye out for emails from us. We aim to make the move to October as seamless as possible, and we are working on ways to make it better and worth waiting for. To ease the pain, we have organized some online talks and workshops. This way, you can still get some J On The Beach content while working from home. We will keep you posted via our newsletter. For ticket holders: We will automatically transfer your ticket(s) to October. You do not need to do anything. We are going to host some exclusive online workshops and talks for ticket holders so you will be able to get some training and content while waiting for the October event. What if I can’t make the October dates? If you can not make it to the event in October, you can reassign your ticket to someone else, or you can claim your reimbursement by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 10th, 2020. If you have already made travel or accommodation bookings for May, you should contact your provider or insurer to check their amendment or refund policies. If you requested a visa to attend the conference, you should contact your local consulate to transfer your visa to the dates in October. If you need any additional documentation from us to do this, write to email@example.com. We hope this clears up any questions or concerns you may have regarding JOTB20. Stay safe! This blog post was updated on May 19, 2020
Why you should send your employees to JOTB
You want to attend J On The Beach but you are in doubt. Your boss is not the most empathetic person in the world, but at the same time, attending could be a boost for your technical skills. How do you convince your boss? We want to give you some ammunition for the battle that is just about going to start. Below you can find a template letter, and on top of that, here are 5 reasons that you can use when discussing the topic (which you’ll probably will): 1. Industry experts will share new trends and how-tos. This will mean that you can learn and apply those technologies in your projects, taking leverage to achieve higher performance and lower costs. 2. Get to know the experts. Besides making any question you have, you can always go and say “Hi” to speakers. 3. Not just the theory, learn by doing. When you attend workshops to acquire practical skills, you are instantly translating the value from the conference to your own projects. 4. Networking A conference’s a place to meet people. You have to be in “open mode” to start a conversation with other attendees because that’s where the gold is. “I did that and it didn’t work”. Wish I had known earlier. 5. Have fun! OK, you may hide this one from your boss... But J On The Beach is a conf to hang out with colleagues, share stories and enjoy the beach...while learning! Here you have a template letter to use for your manager!
CFP Tips and Tricks for Tech Conferences
J On The Beach 2018, Surviving the sabotage!
Hi! I am José Antonio, this year I have proudly been part of the team of organizers of J On The Beach, an international event for developers and DevOps around Big Data technologies that recently took place in Málaga (Spain) for third year in a row. JOTB was born with the purpose of being a fun conference to learn and share the latest experiences, tips related to Big Data technologies and to make the rest of the world aware of the interesting developments taking place in the South of Spain and attract talent to the area. Moreover, this year we were committed to achieve an extra purpose, embracing diversity raising the number of speakers from 27% to 39% on the congress and we’ll continue making all our efforts to increase that number. The aim of this post is to share my experience on this edition, and because of my role in marketing I can’t help to start by showing you some numbers, so here I go! 400 attendees from 26 countries 🌎 56 speakers among talks, workshops and hackathon 15 female speakers 29 job offers published 25 volunteers 15 sponsors 8 workshops 2 heavy machinery helping for acoustic atmosphere 🔇 0 infractions of the Code Of Conduct, that’s great! What our speakers said about the event Needless to say, most of our speakers commented on how delighted they were to spend time in Málaga, exploring the beautiful city and surroundings. Their feedback was also extremely positive about the event and the organization. Had a great time speaking at the J on the Beach conference. Thank you @JOTB2018 for inviting. It was a pleasure meeting developers from Málaga and rest of the world. — Venkat Subramaniam (@venkat_s) 24 de mayo de 2018 Arrived @JOTB2018, and no surprise, it's on a beach! 🏖️ pic.twitter.com/B7yiK4gu6d — Markus Tacker 🇳🇴 (@coderbyheart) 24 de mayo de 2018 From individual conversations with them, they say that J On The Beach is perfect to have closer contact with the audience and it is easier to do networking than similar conferences with thousands of attendees (actually I heard the same thing from many of our attendees) We hope to see them again back on JOTB 2019. Amazing few days of cycling in Andalusia - lovely way to round off our @JOTB2018 trip! #jotb2018 pic.twitter.com/N1wfiC6yCg — Liz Rice (@lizrice) May 28, 2018 What our attendees said about the event Despite being the year with the highest multiculturalism and gathered know-how of the three editions up to now, from the organization of JOTB we regret all the inconveniences caused by the venue before and during the execution of the event such as construction works, noise, vibrations and multiple limitations not dealt in advance. Unfortunately, they wasn’t able to recognize the worth of embracing an international event and the direct added value that this brings to our region and our professionals. However, following the event, we sent a survey to all of the attendees and we are delighted to see that the general tone has been putting themselves into the organizers shoes, so we are really thankful. On the other hand, we have been taking note of all your suggestions for the next year (more water, more water 😅) and we will take this experience and turn it into a new opportunity in order to get the greatest Big Data event that you deserve. And now find below more numbers (I love it 😜) with the results of the survey: (General event ratings (1 to 10 with 10 being most positive response)) Overall, how satisfied were you with the event? 7.1 How would you rate the venue? 7.3 How would you rate the staff? 9.1 How would you rate the food? 7.8 How likely is it that you would recommend it to a friend or colleague? 7.6 How well did the event meet your expectations?(0 to 4 with 4 being most positive response) : 3 One important change, has been the food, most of you have rated as excellent this year food, maybe too fancy some people said. As for speakers and talk topics, below are the Top 4 ranking talks in regards to the feedback received: Joe Armstrong: Good ideas that we forgot. Venkat Subramaniam: Exploring Java 9 Mario Fusco: Lazy Java Jonas Boner: Designing Events-first Microservices Besides these talks we also need to point out the high marks of the Yes We Tech Meetup, with Gloria Passarello, Victoria Caparrós and Marta Gómez. And we end up the day with a family photo with all attendees to the @yeswetech_ meetup! pic.twitter.com/XG022jWUMt — J On The Beach (@JOTB2018) May 24, 2018 Thank you also for suggesting some new speakers for the 2019 line-up, such us Trisha Gee, Heinz Kabutz or Dharma Shukla amoung many others. In conclusion, we are very proud of the job done and extremely happy to receive lots of great feedback in the comments provided, including: ‘You guys did an awesome work. We're so lucky to have this event here in Málaga. I hope you keep doing this many more years. Congratulations!!’, ‘Having an event like JOTB in Malaga is great! Thanks for making it possible once more!’ ‘Thanks to everyone making this an awesome place to meet and enjoy. I will definitely come back.’ We learn a lot from your feedback it helps us to improve and to know where to focus. Be assured that we have taken note of all, we are looking forward to seeing you again on 2019. Till them, let me wait on the beach 😎🌴 P.S: BTW, did you realize that we have some unicorns between us? 🦄 The only developer event with real unicorns is @JOTB2018 🦄 pic.twitter.com/xOYKZnbPa5 — J On The Beach (@JOTB2018) May 24, 2018
Embracing Diversity at a Tech Conference: 3 years of experience from J On The Beach
As of today, part of our fundamental philosophy at J On The Beach is diversity. 3 years ago we started the conference, and since then we have learned our fair share on how to embrace and promote diversity at the event. Hopefully this blog will help other event organizers avoid our (sometimes painfully obvious) mistakes and you can learn from our successes. It is also worth mentioning that we do know that there are still many things we can do to improve our event in terms of diversity and equality, so if you have any stories or suggestions, we are all ears. Here we go! Ctr C + Ctr V equals COC – 2016 Edition So let’s go back to the end of 2015 when J On The Beach was a bright eyed baby. The event was the brainchild of several communities in Malaga, Spain (MalagaJUG, MalagaScalaDevelopers, DatabeersMLG and Yes We Tech) and with the economic support of Valo, a big data project owned by ITRS, we were able to get the thing off the ground! As newbies, in our first edition of the event we did not consider the importance of making a serious point of having a minimum number of women on our panel of speakers, or even among our attendees for that matter. We were mostly focused on finding interesting topics and names so that we could offer a good event. Diversity was not prioritized the way it should have been. For example, we knew we needed a code of conduct, so we joined the Berlin Code of Conduct which we think is great, and is the minimum a conference should have. But that’s the problem. It is the minimum. Looking back, that decision now feels just like throwing a sticker on a laptop, wearing a protest t-shirt or just adding another section to fill our website. It was a very passive bandaid. Joining a code of conduct feels more like a commitment of good behaviour and political correctness rather than an active attitude, something that we want to ensure in this years’ event. That first year, we also created a video inviting all women in IT to join the event. We even contacted Women In Tech communities via social networks, but in the end it was more of a whisper in the wind than a practical and effective strategy. There were also different meetups organised by the different organising communities and one of them was one of our founding communities: Yes We Tech. Their meetup was centered on building an open space to talk about the situation of Women in Tech in different societies. This ended up being one of the most useful things we did and it was quite helpful to hear the opinions from many women speakers from different countries sharing their thoughts and experiences about the topic. What is the difference from this success to our other failures? Active participation of influential and diverse voices. The results of our first year for gender diversity were the following: Women speakers: 10.4% Women attendees: 13% For a tech conference (a community rife with its own diversity issues) we considered this a success for our first year, though we knew there was more to be done. Especially because gender diversity is not the end-all-be-all. We actually found ourselves in another unexpected, and to be honest embarrassing, situation that first year. We had two deaf-mute attendees that we could not accommodate properly. We failed to consider this and it put us in a seriously awkward place. We tried our best to scramble a solution. We contacted several organisations to ask them for support with no success as well as contacting few sign translators. However, it was impossible for us to find 2-3 sign translators for the event from English to Sign Language in Malaga (Spain). What is worse, those two people only asked for one thing in advance: the slides of the talks so they could follow them. To our horror, this was also impossible due to a time-honored practice of speakers in most events not sending material in advance. This reminds me the following tweets from some speakers on twitter: When they ask you for your slides in advance of your talk: pic.twitter.com/Ou0PqLBXNm — Damon Jones (@nomadj1s) 3 de abril de 2018 I get a good chuckle when organizers ask for slides weeks before a conference. Like, unless it's an old talk, it's just not gonna happen. I can send you _something_ but there is zero guarantee it'll in any way resemble the final talk. pic.twitter.com/JbicYCzgYV — Emily Freeman (@editingemily) 30 de marzo de 2018 But really, we cannot blame anyone but ourselves. The event needs to be able to accommodate stuff like this without a problem, and that falls on the organizers. So this year, if we ask our speakers to send slides in advance, know it is because someone else might really need them. Some baby steps – 2017 Edition The next year we were eager to do better. We are a tech event, iterations and bug fixes are our thing. With more experience, we were feeling confident we could improve the ratio of women speakers at the event. This time around we created an organizing committee with representatives from all different communities as well as some speakers from the first event who offered their help. There was not a specific target number to reach but we all tried to get as many women as possible and we tried to give them as much visibility as we could with great cooperation all around. My Crew pic.twitter.com/Z9z5oK6Bvn — Caitie McCaffrey (@caitie) 6 de marzo de 2017 With much more time than the previous edition, we were able to properly execute a diffusion strategy with Women in IT communities on social networks. Instead of whispering into the wind, this time we were getting relevant. We were able to get a few to promote our event and encourage women to send papers to our CFP. But here is what happened. Our gender diversity results actually didn’t change significantly. The ratio of women speakers was 27% (up from 10.4% the previous year), but our attendee ratio fell. In 2016 we pulled in 13% female attendees, but this year we only scraped by with 9.8%. Ouch. So what went wrong? We did the only thing we could do: go to the data. We had another meetup called “Who is J? ” organised by Yes We Tech where Carmel Hassan analysed the data collected at J On The Beach. After that, we discovered that we crucially needed to get not only our sponsors’ involvement, but also company participation when it comes to promoting gender diversity at the conference to get more female attendees. So what’s up next? Taking it seriously – 2018 Edition This year the event changed dramatically in terms of organization and communities. The organisation of this year’s event is mainly run by Yes We Tech (are you surprised? we aren’t). This shift in putting a diversity-driven community in charge means that we can take a distinctive approach from the top down to make the participation of women and other minorities in the event more prominent and meaningful. The first thing we did was to focus on ONLY bringing in some of the best women speakers and talent we could get our hands on within the first month. This month was totally involved. We spent 30 days sending emails to more than 30 women that were spot on for our event. Interestingly enough we learned that it is usually much more difficult to get answers from women than men speakers - since they seem to be busier and carry more responsibilities as per their responses - so the task was pretty challenging. After a month we were a bit disappointed from the low response from women speakers so we decided to extend our focused effort to another month and half. At the same time we received some interest from male speakers that we accepted but that did not stop us from continuing to seek more women. Our goal was to have a 50-50 split on gender diversity with our speakers. Still, we did not give up inviting more women and we also contacted new women communities from other countries that sent us applications to speak in our event. Interestingly, women networks gave us a great chance to find potential speakers: Julia is a wizard with a lot of things, including sharing her shine with others!!! she helped me get a speaking slot at @JOTB2018 because I told her I wanted to speak more. this is legit👇👇👇 https://t.co/h8Ij8D00FG — amy nguyen (@amyngyn) 6 de febrero de 2018 Yes, it has been very difficult but we have raised the number of speakers from 27% to 39%. Though not the 50% we hoped for, we are still pleased with the increase in ratio. And remember that code of conduct? Well, we decided we need our own. So Yes We Tech took the initiative to create one that encompasses everything we are trying to accomplish at J On The Beach. This year all volunteers, organizations, and sponsors have committed to follow this code of conduct. We also made it a point to require all attendees to follow the Yes We Tech Code of Conduct at the time of purchasing their tickets. And we even decided to run our own diversity programme! We also contacted Kyle Kingsbury and asked him if he wouldn’t be ruined by us referring his diversity programme https://aphyr.com/diversity but his budget was already too low for this year. However he encouraged us to have our own programme and he said he was going to add J On the Beach to his page… Hey Kyle, we are still waiting ;) In addition, we didn’t want to make the same mistake as last year thinking that attendee numbers would sort themselves out. This time we actively decided to improve the numbers by (sternly & unyieldingly) encouraging our sponsors to provide at least 30% of their tickets to their women employees. The results? 13.23%. It is better than last year, but it is still a disappointing number. We know we can still do more and better things for people with functional diversity and other minorities as well as increasing our CFP policy and rate of approval. Some of our speakers have already shared suggestions that we can use for future conferences. Focusing on diversity in the organisation committee has made us think and react to something that is mandatory for these kind of events: care about diversity and what equality really means. This goal is part of JOTB identity already, and we’ll continue making all our efforts to bring the most diverse people with the most diverse experiences to the most diverse industry. J On The Beach Organising Committee