Alan Morrison

Alan Morrison

Alan is a senior research fellow at PwC’s Center for Technology and Innovation and an editor of the firm’s Technology Forecast quarterly. He was the principal researcher and author of Technology Forecast issues on big data, analytics, mobile, social and semantic technologies. His experience includes more than 20 years in various research, analyst, writing and editorial roles, including over a dozen years at PwC. Alan advises PwC’s clients on a variety of emerging technology and industry trends and their business impacts and has been a featured speaker at Enterprise Data World, the Semantic Technology & Business Conference and other enterprise IT events.

TwitterLinkedin

Machine learning 101 (infographics)

Our visual primers will show you what it is, how it works, and where it’s headed.

Machine learning methods (infographic)

What’s the right algorithm for the task? Our visual primer shows the most common ones in use and the business problems they solve.

Machine learning evolution (infographic)

What will it take for AI to become mainstream in business? The convergence of different research approaches—and lots of human intelligence.

A look at drones as a data service (infographic)

Why data collection and analysis—not delivery—is where drones will make their mark.

A primer on blockchain (infographic)

How the technology invented for bitcoin and cryptocurrency transactions is changing the way we do business

Machine learning overview (infographic)

See how it works, its relationship to AI, and where companies are using it.

The yin and yang of AI and blockchain

Artificial intelligence is the yin and blockchains are the yang of digital business.

From the internet of things to the collaboration of things

Most people don’t realize it yet, but blockchain could clear a path for “the collaboration of things.”

Besides blockchain, what’s missing from IoT?

The IoT will become a much richer phenomenon, an internet of not just connected things, but a collaboration environment where machines as well as humans can interact, at scale.

The realities of polyglot persistence in mainstream enterprises

Ritesh Ramesh describes how NoSQL and Hadoop get used in retail environments.

Solving a familiar e-commerce search problem with a NoSQL document store

Mark Unak and Sanjay Agarwal explain how document stores can help deliver precise e-commerce catalog search results.

Security at the level of key-value pairs in a NoSQL database

Adam Fuchs of Sqrrl describes the benefits of data-centric security analytics.

How NoSQL is changing enterprise data management

Oliver Halter discusses how CEOs and CIOs are being forced to tolerate some data inconsistency.

Scaling online ad innovations with the help of a NoSQL wide-column database

Vaibhav Puranik and Ken Weiner of GumGum discuss the challenges and benefits of open source databases for in-image advertising.

How enterprise graph databases are maturing

Martin Van Ryswyk and Marko Rodriguez of DataStax explore the challenges and benefits of big data analytics with graphs.

Filling in the gaps in NoSQL document stores and data lakes

Matthias Brantner describes the role database virtualization and a business-user query interface can play in heterogeneous environments.

Creating a body language of online learning with graph databases

Sean York of Pearson discusses how graph technology becomes a medium for enriching online environments.

Database futures: How Apache Spark fits in to a larger unified data architecture

Mike Franklin of the University of California, Berkeley, discusses the goals behind Spark and a more unified cloud-data ecosystem.

Creating a big data canvas with NoSQL

Tom Foth describes how analytics platforms can benefit from a blend of database types.

Are commercial drones ready for takeoff?

See why data services—not delivery—will be the real app for drones.

Drones 101: Why service providers are key for leveraging drones

In this interview, Mavrx’s Yuan Gao explains how instead of investing in their own drone fleets, most businesses will look to a new type of service provider.

Why machines need humans to learn

Devices get smarter all the time, but to become truly intelligent, humans must create the models for gadgets to “learn” from.

How NoSQL key-value and wide-column stores make in-image advertising possible

Online ad innovators must process hundreds of terabytes a day at the lowest possible cost. How do they do it?

The promise of graph databases in public health

One of the main advantages of a NoSQL graph store is web-scale discovery. The graph store is one of many innovations creating a sea change in database technology: explore the promise and upheaval caused by these new technologies.

Drones as a data service

How drones used to collect aerial data augment on-the-ground techniques and help a Chinese company better serve customers.

In database evolution, two directions of development are better than one

NoSQL database technology is maturing, but the newest Apache analytics stacks have triggered another wave of database innovation.

How smart contracts automate digital business

The greatest promise for blockchain-enabled smart contracts is a highly efficient Internet of Things empowered by a web of agents, smart transactions, and contracts.

Private blockchains, public, or both?

The evolution of bitcoin’ public blockchain will usher in resilient, ubiquitous online marketplaces that won’t need intermediaries at all.

The argument for private blockchains

Gideon Greenspan of Coin Sciences explores the legal ramifications of public blockchains and why companies are seeking alternatives.

Why are blockchains important?

Instead of involving lots of humans in the transaction pipeline and paper processes that take days, weeks, or months to complete, huge volumes of transactions could be validated automatically with the help of blockchain-style forms of consensus.

Blockchains defined

A blockchain’s integrity hinges on making it nearly impossible to tamper with any individual transaction record without being detected.

Blockchain and smart contract automation: an introduction and forecast

The end game for public and private blockchains isn’t just digital currency—it’s digital business flows.

The rise of immutable data stores

Some innovators are abandoning long-held database principles. Why?

Using document stores in business model transformation

Healthcare providers are finding they need data collection and analysis capabilities that are different from those that relational databases deliver.

Enterprises hedge their bets with NoSQL databases

Without a scalable data architecture, the customer experience suffers. Imagine you’re a retailer offering tens of thousands of products online. You have rich descriptions that include numerous attributes for each product. In standard relational databases, these attributes exist in silos, are poorly described, and cannot be indexed for maximum usefulness. So, if you’re using only a standard relational database and a conventional enterprise search engine, customers who search “17-inch laptop” will retrieve many false positive results that aren’t laptops. NoSQL1 document databases provide the capability to address this problem. With the help of data tagged in Extensible Markup Language (XML) or structured JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), NoSQL offerings such as MarkLogic and MongoDB enable more refined indexing by attribute. Dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of product attributes can serve as search filters (or facets) that a query engine such as XQuery can use to deliver far more relevant results. “Usually the product has features that can easily be attributed with standard values,” says Mark Unak, CTO of Codifyd, a consultancy that helps clients to optimize their use of e-commerce website data. For example, a customer can filter on the brand name of the laptop, and the results will include only …

Agile coding in enterprise IT: Code small and local

Big SOA was overkill. In its place, a more agile form of services is taking hold.

Interview: Will data lake advocates repeat the mistakes of data warehousing?

  PwC’s Technology Forecast recently addressed the topic of data lakes. The coverage included research and interviews on data lakes and how they can help enterprises remove integration barriers and clear a path for more timely and informed business decisions. To continue the discussion and look at some of the challenges enterprises can face in implementing a shift to data lakes, we are sharing an excerpt of a conversation between Technology Forecast’s Alan Morrison and Terry Retter, president of small business consultancy BrightZone, in Reno, Nevada; a former VP/CIO of Grubb & Ellis, and a PwC alumnus. AM:  Terry, you were a CIO. Some companies say they’ve created a data lake. In reality, they’ve built a single-purpose sandbox. How can CIOs get their organizations to commit to the strategic, long-term vision of a true data lake? TR: By dealing with real problems and real users.  They should focus on a service or a perception problem among customers they must resolve to avoid losing profits or market share. They should start small, but think big, in data lake terms. They shouldn’t collect data just around a single process. Instead, they should gather everything they can think of while using the lake at first to solve a particular problem. …

What is microservices architecture? Think ant colonies, beehives, or termite mounds

Microservices architecture explained: What they are and what they’re food for.

Is enterprise integration a pipe dream?

A look at some of the issues facing companies looking to achieve enterprise data integration.

Common Misconceptions about Emerging Technologies: Gamification

First in a series on common misconceptions about emerging technologies. Misconception: Gamification is about giving out badges to users. I had the chance recently to go through Code.org’s Hour of Code, an introduction to a series of free online courses that are designed to teach children (not to mention adults) the fundamentals of computer science. Hour of Code teaches a few basics of JavaScript using a drag-and-drop interface and exercises with challenges and goals from Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies and other popular games. Students make progress level by level, and after they’ve completed the full Hour, they each get a certificate of completion. By December 2013, Code.org claimed that over 20 million users had completed the Hour of Code. The course seems to me a prime example of gamification, not just because it rewards users with certificates of completion or incorporates bits of games, but because the entire design reflects a solid understanding of how users are motivated and the game conforms the design to that understanding. Code.org’s designers encourage students to make more and more progress, but equally importantly, they’ve cleared some fundamental obstacles students have faced when it comes to getting a leg up on programming concepts. …

The Next Phase of Agile Development

It’s human nature for people to build sturdy structures to shield themselves from the unpredictability of the elements. But, if you are too sheltered for too long, you weaken your ability to continuously confront change. That’s the dilemma facing IT departments. Change is raining down on them, and they are having trouble continuously adapting. A term is gaining momentum in the IT community to describe an ideal state of being for IT systems: antifragility. Coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, the antifragile system grows stronger when exposed to disorder in the same way the human body’s immune system gains strength when attacked by disease. In contrast, fragile systems are easily injured and suffer from volatility. Most enterprises today fall into the “robust” category somewhere in between antifragile and fragile. They are anchored to legacy systems and run by IT departments that are hard-wired to deflect disruption. These IT systems are like immovable barricades that are increasingly incapable of flexing alongside tech-empowered consumers. New mindsets and governance models are needed in today’s digitally dynamic marketplace. The notion of antifragility and its associated biological metaphors are serving as inspiration for enterprises to migrate away …

Making DevOps and continuous delivery a reality

Automation, thoughtful choices, and a well-designed workflow are pivotal to making good progress.

Industries

Contacts

Chris Curran

Principal and Chief Technologist, PwC US Tel: +1 (214) 754 5055 Email

Vicki Huff Eckert

Global New Business & Innovation Leader Tel: +1 (650) 387 4956 Email

Pierre-Alain Sur

US Technology Industry Leader Tel: +1 (646) 471 6973 Email