What can 3 world-class Michelin chefs teach us about Big Data?
Author: Jan-Kees Buenen
Heston Blumenthal. Grant Achatz. Joan Roca. Names that are on the list of the most awarded chefs in the world.
They have been leaders in the global gastronomic sector in the last years and are known for their innovative, emotional and modernist approaches. They are famous for fusing food and tech.
And what possibly links these master chefs with big data?
Firstly, they turn common ingredients (“raw data”) into stunning dishes (“using new unique insights”) with the help of science. They have proven that combining science, technology & human touch creates incredible results. One could even go further and say that the combination of these passionate minds and advanced technologies make un-imaginable results possible.
Look at Heston Blumenthal, the mad scientist and genius chef. He has great knowledge of his business and he’s completely devoted to his passion. What makes him so successful, however , is taking science into his routine. Unique insights are generated by putting together daily ingredients and high-tech utensils, like dehydrators and cartouches. Scientific tools enable him to leverage his creativity.
Secondly, they don’t work in a messy and dirty environment. Their staff is very organized. The kitchen and their labs are always clean. They only work with the best ingredients. They take utmost care of their mise-en-place to never miss any single ingredient when arranging the plate. It is this final touch, sometimes done in the blink of an eye, that brings together all those efforts that create a high-quality experience. “It’s an immense amount of work in a very strict, almost military-like, environment”, says Grant Achatz.
In Big Data we could well learn from those chefs. Cognitive analytics, artificial intelligence and deep learning are the scientific instruments to help create better information. However, insert messy or badly known data, have poor “data-kitchen” practices, operate the data preparation and data science stations at a too big distance from business reality and no science in the world will show good results. When you have a “spaghetti” of models and spreadsheets with messy data you very likely get “garbage in garbage out” results.
Finally, these master chefs had the courage to leave the well-trodden paths of cuisine and they never stop learning. “I’m always pushing the creative envelope and experimenting in the kitchen. But the key to becoming a top chef is taking time to master the fundamentals”, Joan Rocca asserts.
Big Data also requires business leaders to master the basics, push the creative envelope and continue experimenting. Data volumes and sources – sensor, speech, images, audio, video – will continue to grow. The volume and speed of data available from digital channels will continue to outpace manual decision-making. Business leaders, like master chefs, will need to leave the path that once made sense in order to succeed and stand-out in the data-driven world.
Signature dishes like Sound of the sea, Apple Ballloons and Pig Trotter Carpaccio delight so many of us. To achieve similar cutting-edge results with data, why not take your inspiration from chefs?
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