TCCEU13 Keynote Recap: Data Visionary JP Rangaswami, Salesforce CIO

By Maxime Marboeuf June 13, 2013

"Thoughts for food," as he called it, could not be a better introduction for his keynote.

JP Rangaswami, renowned author and technologist, gave the audience an inspiring talk on the power of information, and how we should use it to extend our knowledge and the understanding we have about our environment. Born and raised in Calcutta, India, JP has had many lives. Trained in Economics and Statistics, he specialized in developmental economics and became an information technology expert.

In his talk JP shared a fundamental concept that in his own understanding could change the way people interact with each other and share information.

What if we were looking at information as if it were food? In a natural way we understand that as vital food is for life, information should holds the same role. Information should be the root to grow people as individuals and as part of an organisation. When you think about food, you think about ingredients. When those ingredients are combined in the right way and at the right time, the outcome becomes a successful recipe. In every civilization food was a key factor to development. Our civilization is no exception--except that we've added something else: information.

Information is similar to food at it needs step-by-step processing to be efficient and better used. JP describes the processing of information as if it was similar to what we do with food.
  • Cultivation: Human civilizations survived because for centuries humans were able to provide food and shelter to their peers as well as themselves. JP argues that even if food stays an ubiquitous conditions, in modern society mankind tends to redefine this equation as "information and settlement. As we farmed food for centuries, we now farm information.

  • Preparation: Sourcing information is similar to sourcing food. The volume of data available increases at such a fast pace that technologies helping to collect, store, and analyse became critical.

  • Consumption: New devices such as tablets and mobile phones completely change the way we consume information. Mobile devices are probably one of the most important steps in the evolution of computing, and the access to these technologies is increasing. As food became purchased and consumed from supermarkets, for the better or not, information will use technology more and more to facilitate consumption anywhere and at any time.
JP Rangaswami likes information as he likes food, and ask us the following:

If you begin to think of all the information that you consume the way you think of food, what would you do differently?