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Exclusive - Bernard Marr Talks Analytics and London Tech Boom

Bernard Marr founded the AP-Institute in 1991. Based in nearby London, UK, he is acknowledged by LinkedIn as one of the world’s top 100 business influencers and has written multiple best-selling books on Big Data and Analytics. Earlier this year, he published his latest book titled Big Data: Using SMART Big Data, Analytics and Metrics to Make Better Decisions and Improve Performance.

icrunchdata News talks to analytics leaders about their careers in technology and what they are interested in outside the data realm. We caught up with Bernard, this time to discuss London’s technology boom and his passion for travel.

Bernard, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Let's get started…

London is currently experiencing a technology boom and rivaling Silicon Valley. Who are a few analytics startups in London that we should be watching out for?

Yes, London, and indeed the rest of the UK are very exciting places at the moment. There are so many new and exciting analytics ventures I have had the pleasure to work with. I don’t really want to single any companies out, but expect to hear more about: innovative ways to analyze performance of athletes in sports, using video analytics to predict and solve crime, big-data-driven brand management, applying voice and bio-metric analytics to detect lies and so many more.

In addition to innovative analytics companies, I also see so many exciting applications of big data and analytics across all industry sectors – from traditional retail, insurance and banking, supply-chain management and transport, manufacturing, utilities, etc.

Your speaking engagements appear to take you on the road a lot; which countries and cities have you visited recently?

I am passionate about travelling and seeing new places and cultures. I think I have been to most countries and capitals in Europe and regularly go to places like New York City, San Francisco, Dubai and Toronto. Last year I had a 10-city road show across the U.S. in my schedule, but I really love it when my job takes me to places I haven’t been to before. I was lucky enough to go to amazing places like Iceland, Mauritius, Abu Dhabi and Kenya for work and always enjoy the Far East with Thailand being one of my favorite countries with a beautiful culture, friendly people and gorgeous food.

However, my travel schedule has changed a lot over the years – in the past I would have taken time to see places, maybe stay an extra day or two. Nowadays, life is a lot busier, and I prefer to hurry back to my wife Claire and our three young children and avoid extra nights away whenever I can.

Do you have a specific routine that you follow on days when you have a speech?

Not really, I just like to be prepared and have some space to get myself into the right frame of mind. I want to know that the technology is working, and I always like to get a feel for the audience and the room before I start, but other than that, I simply enjoy and look forward to presenting and speaking. I see it as a huge privilege to be able to have the opportunity to share my thoughts and be listened to.

What are your top 3 cities that you have visited on your travels?

I love so many different places and I love them for different reasons. It is really hard to pick a just three – and there are so many others I still want to see.

I absolutely love Venice in Italy; it is not only a completely unique and beautiful place steeped in history and culture but is also the place where I asked my wife Claire to marry me. We went back last year with our three children and retraced our steps. We showed them where I proposed, and we went on the same gondola ride that my wife and I went on after she said yes. So for that reason it has to be No 1.

Another place I love is Hong Kong – a place full of contrasts between tradition and modern, between old and new, between rich and poor. The city is set in such a beautiful location with one of the most breathtaking skylines. But it’s also really easy to escape the hectic city life by visiting the surrounding islands where you can find beautiful beaches, traditional fishing villages and ancient temples. I spent six months in Hong Kong, which is a time I will never forget.

Now it is getting hard, I could probably name a hundred different cities. Okay, let’s go for Havana in Cuba. The pace is just so cool, people are amazingly laid back and super friendly, everyone enjoys their cigars and rum cocktails, and there is music and dance everywhere. It is another place full of history, beautiful buildings (even though many are quite crumbly) and classic cars. At the same time it is only a stones throw from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

You live 30 minutes outside London, I’ve never been to London so let’s say I have a six-hour layover at Heathrow, I’m hungry and I want to go see a few cool things. What do I do?

That would be lucky, because you get a chance to see what I believe is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Even though you might want to make it a weekend, rather than a six-hour layover. I would head straight into the city, get off at Westminster to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, walk across Westminster Bridge to the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel that gives you a fantastic view of the city. I would then walk down Southbank along the Thames towards Tower Bridge, lots of independent market stalls, trendy restaurants and some traditional pubs and shops. You will also pass the Tate Modern – an awe-inspiring modern art gallery built inside an old power station. That place is always worth a visit, especially as admission is free.

When you arrive at Tower Bridge, I would have lunch or dinner at Le Pont de la Tour, one of my favorite restaurants – make sure you sit outside to enjoy great French food and wine with an amazing view of the Tower Bridge and the London skyline. Then take a boat trip further down the Thames to Greenwich, take a walk up to the observatory at the top of the park – a really peaceful place with some of the best vistas across the city. In the summer it’s a great place for a picnic. You could easily spend six months in London as a full-time tourist and discover new things every day – I love the place.

Bernard, that’s all I’ve got for you today. Thank you for speaking with us again.

Check out more conversations with Bernard where we discuss his latest book and how analytics is impacting sports.

Article published by Anna Hill
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