Four Key Announcements from H2O World San Francisco

Last week at H2O World San Francisco, H2O.ai announced a number of improvements to Driverless AI, H2O, Sparkling Water, and AutoML, as well as several new partnerships for Driverless AI. The improvements provide incremental improvements across the platform, while the partnerships reflect H2O.ai expanding their audience and capabilities. This piece is intended to provide guidance to data analysts, data scientists, and analytic professionals working on including machine learning in their workflows.

Announcements

H2O.ai has integrated H2O Driverless AI with Alteryx Designer; the connector is available for download in the Alteryx Analytics Gallery. This will permit Alteryx users to implement more advanced and automatic machine learning algorithms into analytic workflows in Designer, as well as doing automatic feature engineering for their machine learning models. In addition, Driverless AI models can be deployed to Alteryx Promote for model management and monitoring, reducing time to deployment. Both of these new capabilities provide Alteryx-using business analysts and citizen data scientists more direct and expanded access to machine learning via H2O.ai.

H2O.ai is integrating Kx’s time-series database, kdb+, into Driverless AI. This will extend Driverless AI’s ability to process large datasets, resulting in faster identification of more performant predictive capabilities and machine learning models. Kx users will be able to perform feature engineering for machine learning models on their time series datasets within Driverless AI, and create time-series specific queries.

H2O.ai also announced a collaboration with Intel that will focus on accelerating H2O.ai technology on Intel platforms, including the Intel Xeon Scalable processor and H2O.ai’s implementation of XGBoost. Driverless AI on Intel, globally.  Accelerating H2O on Intel will help establish Intel’s credibility in machine learning and artificial intelligence for heavy compute loads. Other aspects of this collaboration will include expanding the reach of data science and machine learning by supporting efforts to integrate AI into analytics workflows and using Intel’s AI Academy to teach relevant skills. The details of the technical projects will remain under wraps until spring.

Finally, H2O.ai announced numerous improvements to both Driverless AI and their open-source H2O, Sparkling Water, and AutoML, mostly focused on expanding support for more algorithms and heavier workloads among their product suite. Among the improvements that caught my eye was the new ability to inspect trees thoroughly for all of the tree-based algorithms that the open-source H2O platform supports. With concern about “black-box” models and lack of insight around how a given model performs its analysis and why it yields the results it does for any given experiment, providing an API for tree inspection is a practical step towards making the logic behind model performance and output more transparent for at least some machine learning models.

Recommendations

Alteryx users seeking to implement machine learning models into analytic workflows should take advantage of increased access to H2O Driverless AI. Providing more machine learning capabilities to business analysts and citizen data scientists enhances the capabilities available to their data analytics workflows; Driverless AI’s existing AutoDoc capability will be particularly useful for ensuring Alteryx users understand the results of the more advanced techniques they now have access to.

If your organization collects time-series data but has not yet pursued analytics of this data with machine learning yet, consider trialing KX’s kdb+ and H2O’s Driverless AI. With this integration, Driverless AI will be able to quickly and automatically process time series data stored in kdb+, allowing swift identification of performant models and predictive capabilities.

If your organization is considering making significant investments in heavy-duty computing assets for heavy machine learning loads in the medium-term future, keep an eye on the work Intel will be doing to design chips for specific types of machine learning workloads. NVIDIA has its GPUs and Google its TPUs; by partnering with H2O, Intel is declaring its intentions to remain relevant in this market.

If your organization is concerned about the effects of “black box” machine learning models, the ability to inspect tree-based models in H2O, along with the AutoDoc functionality in Driverless AI, are starting to make the logic behind machine learning models in H2O more transparent. This new ability to inspect tree-based algorithms is a key step towards more thorough governance surrounding the results of machine learning endeavors.

Data Science and Machine Learning News Roundup, January 2019

On a monthly basis, I will be rounding up key news associated with the Data Science Platforms space for Amalgam Insights. Companies covered will include: Alteryx, Amazon, Anaconda, Cambridge Semantics, Cloudera, Databricks, Dataiku, DataRobot, Datawatch, DominoElastic, Google, H2O.ai, IBM, Immuta, Informatica, KNIME, MathWorks, Microsoft, Oracle, Paxata, RapidMiner, SAP, SAS, Tableau, Talend, Teradata, TIBCO, Trifacta, TROVE.

Cloudera and Hortonworks Complete Planned Merger

In early January, Cloudera and Hortonworks completed their planned merger. With this, Cloudera becomes the default machine learning ecosystem for Hadoop-based data, while providing an easy pathway for expanding into  machine learning and analytics capabilities for Hortonworks customers.

Study: 89 Percent of Finance Teams Yet to Embrace Artificial Intelligence

A study conducted by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) and Oracle revealed that 89% of organizations have not deployed AI to their finance groups. Although a correlation exists between companies with revenue growth and companies that are using AI, the key takeaway is that artificial intelligence is still in the early adopter phase for most organizations.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Science and Machine Learning Platforms

In late January, Gartner released its Magic Quadrant for Data Science and Machine Learning Platforms. New to the Data Science and Machine Learning MQ this year are both DataRobot and Google – two machine learning offerings with completely different audiences and scope. DataRobot offers an automated machine learning service targeted towards “citizen data scientists,” while Google’s machine learning tools, though part of Google Cloud Platform, are more of a DIY data pipeline targeted towards developers. By contrast, I find it curious that Amazon’s SageMaker machine learning platform – and its own collection of task-specific machine learning tools, despite their similarity to Google’s – failed to make the quadrant, given this quadrant’s large umbrella.

While data science and machine learning are still emerging markets, the contrasting demands of these technologies made by citizen data scientists and by cutting-edge developers warrants splitting the next Data Science and Machine Learning Magic Quadrant into separate reports targeted to the considerations of each of these audiences. In particular, the continued growth of automated machine learning technologies will likely drive such a split, as citizen data scientists pursue a “good enough” solution that provides quick results.

Amazon Expands Toolkit of Machine Learning Services at AWS re:Invent

At AWS re:Invent, Amazon Web Services expanded its toolkit of machine learning application services with the announcements of Amazon Comprehend Medical, Amazon Forecast, Amazon Personalize, and Amazon Textract. These new services augment the capabilities Amazon provides to end users when it comes to text analysis, personalized recommendations, and time series forecasts. The continued growth of these individual services removes obstacles for companies looking to get started with common machine learning tasks on a smaller scale; rather than building a wholesale data science pipeline in-house, these services allow companies to quickly get one task done, and this permits an incremental introduction to machine learning for a given organization. Forecast, Personalize, and Textract are in preview, while Comprehend Medical is available now.

Amazon Comprehend Medical, Forecast, Personalize, and Textract join a collection of machine learning services that include speech recognition (Transcribe) and translation (Translate), speech-to-text and text-to-speech (Lex and Polly) to power machine conversation such as chatbots and Alexa, general text analytics (Comprehend), and image and video analysis (Rekognition).

New Capabilities

Amazon Personalize lets developers add personalized recommendations into their apps, based on a given activity stream from that app and a corpus of what’s available to be recommended, whether that’s products, articles, or other things. In addition to recommendations, Personalize can also be used to customize search results and notifications. By combining a given search string or location with contextual behavior data, Amazon looks to provide customers with the ability to build trust.

Amazon Forecast builds private, custom time-series forecast models that predict future trends based on that data. Customers provide both histoical data and related causal data, and Forecast analyzes the data to determine the relevant factors in building its models and providing forecasts.

Amazon Textract extracts text and data from scanned documents, without requiring manual data entry or custom code. In particular, using machine learning to recognize when data is in a table or form field and treat it appropriately will save a significant amount of time over the current OCR standard.

Finally, Amazon Comprehend Medical, an extension of last year’s Amazon Comprehend, uses natural language processing to analyze unstructured medical text such as doctor’s notes or clinical trial records, and extract relevant information from this text.

Recommendations

Organizations doing resource planning, financial planning, or other similar forecasting that currently lack the capability to do time series forecasting in-house should consider using Amazon Forecast to predict product demand, staffing levels, inventory levels, material availability, and to perform financial forecasting. Outsourcing the need to build complex forecasting models in-house lets departments focus on the predictions.

Consumer-oriented organizations looking to build higher levels of engagement with their customers who provide generic, uncontextualized recommendations right now (based on popularity or other simple measures) should consider using Amazon Personalize to provide personalized recommendations, search results, and notifications via their apps and website. Providing high-quality relevant recommendations a la minute builds customer trust in the quality of a given organization’s engagement efforts, particularly compared to the average spray-and-pray marketing communication.

Organizations that still depend on physical documents, or who have an archive of physical documents to scan and analyze, should consider using Amazon Textract. OCR’s limits are well-known, especially when it comes to accurately interpreting and formatting semi-structured blocks of text data such as form fields and tables, resulting in significant time devoted to post-processing manual correction. Textract handles complex documents without the need for custom code or maintaining templates; being able to automate text interpretation and analysis further accelerates document processing workflows, and better permits organizations to maintain compliance.

Medical organizations using software that depends on manually-implemented rules to process their medical text should consider using Amazon Comprehend Medical. By removing the need to maintain a list of rules in-house, Comprehend Medical accelerates the ability to extract and analyze medical information from unstructured text fields like doctor’s notes and health records, improving processes such as medical coding, cohort analysis to recruit patients for clinical trials, and health monitoring of patients.

All organizations looking to use machine learning services from external providers need to consider whether outsourcing will work for their circumstances. Data privacy is a key concern, and even more so in regulated verticals with industry-specific rules such as HIPAA. Does the service you want to use respect those rules? From a compliance perspective, why a model gives the results it does needs to be explained as well; merely accepting results from the black box at face value is insufficient. Machine learning products that automatically provide such an explanation in plain English do exist, but this feature is still uncommon and in its infancy.

Conclusion

With its latest announcements, Amazon continues to broaden the scope of customer issues it addresses with machine learning services. Medical companies need better text analytics yesterday, but struggle to comply with HIPAA while assessing the data they have. Customer-facing organizations face stiff competition when their competitor is only a click away. And any company trying to plan for the future based on past data grapples with understanding what factors affect future results. Amazon’s machine learning application services address common tactical business issues by simplifying the process for customers of implementing task-specific machine learning models to pure inputs and outputs. These services present outsourcing opportunities for overworked departments struggling to keep up.

Data Science and Machine Learning News, November 2018

On a monthly basis, I will be rounding up key news associated with the Data Science Platforms space for Amalgam Insights. Companies covered will include: Alteryx, Amazon, Anaconda, Cambridge Semantics, Cloudera, Databricks, Dataiku, DataRobot, Datawatch, DominoElastic, H2O.ai, IBM, Immuta, Informatica, KNIME, MathWorks, Microsoft, Oracle, Paxata, RapidMiner, SAP, SAS, SnapLogic, Tableau, Talend, Teradata, TIBCO, Trifacta, TROVE.

Continue reading “Data Science and Machine Learning News, November 2018”

Data Science and Machine Learning News, October 2018

On a monthly basis, I will be rounding up key news associated with the Data Science Platforms space for Amalgam Insights. Companies covered will include: Alteryx, Anaconda, Cambridge Semantics, Cloudera, Databricks, Dataiku, DataRobot, Datawatch, DominoElastic, H2O.ai, IBM, Immuta, Informatica, KNIME, MathWorks, Microsoft, Oracle, Paxata, RapidMiner, SAP, SAS, Tableau, Talend, Teradata, TIBCO, Trifacta, TROVE.

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Data Science Platforms News Roundup, September 2018

On a monthly basis, I will be rounding up key news associated with the Data Science Platforms space for Amalgam Insights. Companies covered will include: Alteryx, Anaconda, Cambridge Semantics, Cloudera, Databricks, Dataiku, DataRobot, Datawatch, DominoElastic, H2O.ai, IBM, Immuta, Informatica, KNIME, MathWorks, Microsoft, Oracle, Paxata, RapidMiner, SAP, SAS, Tableau, Talend, Teradata, TIBCO, Trifacta, TROVE.

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Learning Elastic’s Machine Learning Story at Elastic{ON} in Boston

Why is a Data Science and Machine Learning Analyst at Elastic’s road show when they’re best known for search? In early September, Amalgam Insights attended Elastic{ON} in Boston, MA. Prior to the show, my understanding of Elastic was that they were primarily a search engine company. Still, the inclusion of a deep dive into machine…

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Data Science Platforms News Roundup, August 2018

On a monthly basis, I will be rounding up key news associated with the Data Science Platforms space for Amalgam Insights. Companies covered will include: Alteryx, Anaconda, Cloudera, Databricks, Dataiku, DataRobot, Datawatch, Domino, H2O.ai, IBM, Immuta, Informatica, KNIME, MathWorks, Microsoft, Oracle, Paxata, RapidMiner, SAP, SAS, Tableau, Talend, Teradata, TIBCO, Trifacta.

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Code-Free to Code-Based: The Power Spectrum of Data Science Platforms

Codeless to Code-Based

The spectrum of code-centricity on data science platforms ranges from “code-free” to “code-based.” Data science platforms frequently boast that they provide environments that require no coding, and that are code-friendly as well. Where a given platform falls along this spectrum affects who can successfully use a given data science platform, and what tasks they are…

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Oracle GraphPipe: Expediting and Standardizing Model Deployment and Querying

On August 15, 2018, Oracle announced the availability of GraphPipe, a network protocol designed to transmit machine learning data between remote processes in a standardized manner, with the goal of simplifying the machine learning model deployment process. The spec is now available on Oracle’s GitHub, along with clients and servers that have implemented the spec for Python and Go (with a Java client soon to come); and a TensorFlow plugin that allows remote models to be included inside TensorFlow graphs.

Oracle’s goal with GraphPipe is to standardize the process of model deployment regardless of the frameworks utilized in the model creation stage.

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