Interview with Chris Knight
Welcome to our inaugural interview in our Big Brains in Big Data Series. I’m extremely excited about our first guest. Actually, to have our guest surface for the first time in years just for the PMG Blog is a true honor. Almost like the gift of Hugh Grant to The Tonight Show. Gamechanger.
You may know him as the subject of the 1985 documentary about his journey at Pacific Tech University, which was appropriately named “Real Genius“. While his current role is in stealth mode (the rumor is that he is consulting for a compression technology company named Pied Piper), it is safe to assume that anybody who can architect a rogue laser from space turning his professor’s new house into the world’s largest popcorn kettle, probably knows what he is talking about. About EVERYTHING.
Without further ado, please welcome Christopher Knight.
Dustin: Mr. Knight, Thank you very much for joining us today. Maybe this is too forward of me, but would it be okay for me to call you Chris?
Chris: Absolutely not. Your lack of formality and respect for my intelligence offends me.
Mr. Knight: Just kidding. You shouldn’t be so serious. And your nervous sweats are not very becoming.
Dustin: Give me one second to get my composure back. Ok, I’m there. So tell me, what have you been doing with your time since the popcorn incident.
Chris: Most notably, I converted Laszlo’s secret lair into a think tank. Literally a tank of thoughts. Filled to the brim with nifty ideas on post it notes. However, sorting through said post it notes was a real drag so I decided to join the private sector. Over time, my skillset comprised of particle physics, engineering and microbrewing obviously led me to lengthy career in data science. Actually, Mitch had a job in data science and I needed funding for my lavish lifestyle, so that’s how it came to be.
Dustin: That’s extremely interesting. Can you share any examples of your work?
Dustin: I see. I see. I’m enamored with your ability to speak to the point by the way. Hope that’s not weird of me to say. But I digress. Are you able to share some insights or thoughts on what real smart companies do in regards to their Big Data challenges?
Chris: Well, the biggest trend I see on the horizon is an activity called data blending. I was intrigued because I’m really into blenders. I mean they’re great. Fruits, vegetables, red meat. All go well with a blender. Then I found out there were no blenders involved. But I pressed on. The concept of data blending is taking two very different types of data sources. For example, taking a location database of your competitor’s retail stores and taking the digital sales data of your online store and identifying a correlation between your digital sales and the density of a competitor’s. If you find a correlation, good or bad, that will factor into the media planning of the client. Either suppressing spend in markets that have a low probability of success or increasing reach and frequency in markets that have a higher probability of success. There are so many good data sources nowadays, the census bureau, weather data, Mitch’s ramblings after watching “Cosmos”. Also, I should say that I’m a latitude/longitude guy when it comes to location data. If I tried to use the USPS address for Professor Hathaway’s house, there is no doubt I would have missed and likely fried some poor guy walking his dog. Accuracy and greatness is intertwined is the point i’m trying to make.
Dustin: You amaze me. Is it difficult being 100% awesome?
Dustin: Any other tidbits to pass along to our esteemed and exceptionally good looking readers of the PMG Blog?
Chris: Attribution. It’s good. But it’s a challenge. Companies need a lot of help along the way in data management and change management when it comes to attribution. But the results are worth it. Much like hijacking Kent’s braces and making him think he was conversing with the heavenly father. It was a challenge. But it was worth it.
Dustin: In closing…
Chris: Wasn’t done.
Dustin: My gravest apologies.
Chris: Automation is everything. There is so much data to get and utilize but it is completely overwhelming. You need a system to ingest all kinds of data, process the data and make it accessible to all forms of business intelligence tools. I’m working on that for my next business.
Dustin: Interesting. We’ve built that here at PMG.
Chris: No you didn’t.
Dustin: Yes, we did actually. More than 20 API and data connectors and adding more each month. It’s pretty nifty and clients love it. We have clients that utilize it to integrate their different data sources, do data blends and feed that data into real-time dashboards or their own business intelligence tools. Umm, Chris, what are you doing?
Chris: Calling Laszlo and Mitch and telling them to shut down Project… err, nothing. Just ordering a pizza. You want in on a pepperoni and sausage?
Dustin: Sure. Has anybody told you that you look like Iceman from Top Gun?
Chris: No. But I do get the Sherpa from Entourage sometimes.