Big Data expert Ed Granstedt is Vice President of Program Development at Goldbot Consulting, a unique federal IT services company. Prior to joining the company, Granstedt was senior VP of Strategic Solutions at QinetiQ NA for more than three years. He holds a B.A. in Mathematics and Computer Science from San Jose State University, and an MBA in General Management from Santa Clara University.
Granstedt spoke with WashingtonExec about how he got into Goldbot, how big data analytics have evolved over the years, why big data, cloud computing, and mobility are connected, dark data, BYOD, and more.
WashingtonExec: Could you tell us a little more about your background and how you got to Goldbot Consulting?
Ed Granstedt: It’s sort of an evolution in how you get to where you are, a little bit of luck, and a bit of opportunity. I started off as a systems engineer after graduating from school with a mathematics degree. I worked my way up to chief systems engineer at TRW/ESL and it was in that process where I really learned about big systems and the big problem. I was with a company called 3com and eventually helped to transition a group from 3com to Motorola, where I launched their routing technology design center.
From there I knew some people back here on the East Coast who were looking to start a company called Dominion Technology Resources Incorporated. While going to school and getting my MBA, I helped establish DTRI and off the ground (around 2003). We eventually sold the company to QinetiQ North America, where I became their Senior Vice President of Strategic Solutions. Then I left QinetiQ North America to join a small firm, Goldbot Consulting, which has powerful predictive technology, especially geospatial predictive technology.
WashingtonExec: Can you tell us more about Goldbot Consulting? How did the company get its name?
Ed Granstedt: Goldbot Consulting is a small company of about 20 people, founded in 2006 to perform local and specialized work with a small customer set. The history of Goldbot and its name is to create something that has a tech feel to it, but also shows the heritage of the founder of the company.
WashingtonExec: How has big data analytics has evolved over the years?
Ed Granstedt: It is not a new problem. If we look at big data from a historical perspective, it was already being addressed on specialized, really compelling problems such as weather and finance. It was available to those with the resources and the money to address those problems. Big data is relative based on the problem.
“What is exciting though and why there is so much buzz about it is that with some convergence from other technologies like mobility and cloud, is that the landscape is transformed from one that was only available to a select few with deep pockets and resources to anybody who wants solve a processing problem.”
Another important aspect is that not only do we have a democratization of the access to the data–but we also have a commoditization of the hardware in terms of cloud. Now with that together in conjunction with mobility, we can have data wherever we want it and it drops down a significant barrier to access. With predictive analytics we are going to be able to with that understanding assess and make some early prediction about what that person or issue might likely do or become in the next few moments. That is pretty stunning.
If you pick up The Wall Street Journal today, it is about how all of this big data is being used to shift the manufacturing competitive advantage, and what everybody is thinking to the minute, with tweets and so forth. It is really transforming the interests of people, business, politics, organizations, and governments.
WashingtonExec: What about dark data?
Ed Granstedt: Dark data is just another source of data. If we look at how we get certain kinds of data from the internet, dark data usually refers to stuff that is not indexed and not picked up by the traditional search engine. Quite frankly, is dark data really dark? I think that we might overplay that term.
WashingtonExec: How would you say big data, cloud computing, and mobility are connected?
Ed Granstedt: They all enable each other and over time, they all are going to create goods and services that we can’t imagine today. We saw the same things happen with the Internet in 1990s and manufacturing in the 1980s. When things get put out there in a common way, it allows a lot of innovation to occur, and that drives all kinds of possibilities.
The cloud is that common space and it is being created today. The data in the cloud unlocks those possibilities and with prices coming down over time it will enable the proliferation of goods and services. Mobility is an interesting piece to this in that it operates on both sides. It is creating this huge amount of data that cloud and big data are operating on because that is how we interface with the world today, as it provides a platform for consumption of all kinds of data, applications, and problem solving. The component that connects them all together are those applications and analytics that are delivered to us, enabling us to do new and more exciting things.
WashingtonExec: What are your thoughts on BYOD? Are you a proponent of it?
Ed Granstedt: From a personal perspective, I don’t like being bound to something selected by a corporation as the device and the app that I have to run. We are moving into this age of openness to the devices and I really do think that is the way to go. We have to do it in a thoughtful way because the devices that we bring to the table and the data that we manage pose security challenges and intellectual property challenges.
“I do really think that we, as humans, do better when we get control over our environment and articulate and customize our environments in a way that maximizes our workflow and styles of productivity.”
WashingtonExec: What is your favorite app?
Ed Granstedt: It is some sort of mapping capability on my phone because I am directionally challenged. I’m always going places that I have not been to before and I have to figure out how to get there and these things save me more often than not. I think it is really important – the advances there that will tell us where we are at the moment, what others are thinking, where to go, what to eat, how best to get there, and what time, etc, to enable us to make all of these personal decisions.
WashingtonExec: What was your first job?
Ed Granstedt: My very first job was a paper route, but my second job was much more interesting. I grew up in California and just up the street from us was a gentleman named Dr. Noyce, and he was one of the co-inventors of the integrated circuit. During my summers, I would be on his estate, going around with a hose to every individual tree, which was about 5 to 6 acres and watering them. It really made an impression upon me at the time; if you are really good at something technically, you can go quite far in this world and make a difference.