Step up to stand out – Why you need to speak at conferences?

Do you deal with rapid heartbeat and break into cold sweat at thought of having to speak at a public platform? If yes, then you are one of the many that experience speech anxiety. Based on research and articles, it is understood that people’s number one fear is supposed to public speaking, second is death? If you are one of those who would rather die than address a crowd, you sure are losing out on building your own personal brand. Yes, I know, you would rather face death than engage in public speaking. But hold on for a second. Take a deep breath. Hear me out on why it is so important and why you must consider it.

I am sure you won’t disagree with me when I say it is only when you are seen and heard that you are recognized. Steve Jobs. Guy Kawasaki. Jack Ma. Oprah Winfrey. Mark Zuckerberg. Jack Welch. As you read these names, I am certain you were also able to instantly recall the brands that they are synonymous with. The only reason you had no difficulty in associating the name against their respective brands is because these renowned personalities are iconic figures that are a brand name by themselves. They have not only dedicated their lives in creating a product/brand that is admired, but have also become a household name. Had they been apprehensive about communicating with the large audiences, they wouldn’t have been recognized as worldwide influencers. That’s a given. And these are just a few top honchos whose names I have mentioned.

While you innovate, and introduce the most cutting-edge products, it is important to spread the word out. Let your peers and stakeholders know. Always remember, YOU are your company’s strongest brand ambassador. No one else will be as vehement and vocal in advocating your brand. Be part of trade shows, conferences – network and expand your business connections, exhibit your solutions but more importantly, take the stage to educate the audience on your company’s offerings, USPs etc. The opportunity to address a gathering doesn’t come very often, but when it does, you need to make sure it makes a significant difference to your business.

As a speaker, you stand to gain maximum exposure, more than any other attendee at a conference. The innumerable networking opportunities are extremely beneficial to your business. Add to that the opportunity to interact with the audience at such forums to get feedback on your presentation/ case study that can lead to stimulating discussions and help bring in a fresh perspective.

The importance of delivering an impactful presentation doesn’t solely lie in the content, it is also the delivery that holds the deciding factor in being a good speaker. The content will be effective only if your delivery is powerful and engaging. The idea is to capture the audience attention and not let it waver. As you would know, enthusiasm is infectious, so express your enthusiasm to deliver a compelling presentation and make a sizeable impact on the audience.

The aim is to be eventually recognized as an industry expert – you need to speak from a position of knowledge. Knowledge is power. By sharing your knowledge and perspective to a diverse audience, you lay the foundation of being regarded as a thought leader. To keep your audience engaged, you must be mindful not to make a sales pitch. Instead, a case study or a product reference in your business presentation with insights about industry trends will pique their interest. Post the speaking sessions, participating in engaging discussion with the audience, and sharing more insights that will help them in their business operations, is the next important step in developing your reputation for being the role model/go-to-person for information pertaining to industry trends.

Of course, you don’t become an expert overnight. But once you set the ball rolling and are seen delivering compelling speeches that add value, you will be invited to be part of more conferences. The more often you speak, and address different audiences across regions, you are building your personal brand. Over a period, you will gain the recognition and reap the rewards that come from becoming an outstanding speaker.

To reinforce this, you need to ramp up your PR/visibility quotient – a topic that I’ll leave for another day! For now, all you need to remember is, developing your personal brand goes hand in hand with expanding your company’s presence too.

Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel – Ralph Waldo Emerson

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

QGBC’S Vision For Creating A Smart And Healthy City

Qatar is currently witnessing unprecedented urban development, from the establishment of Lusail City and the development of downtown Doha, to the inception of numerous infrastructure projects, the need to incorporate smart technologies in city planning in an effort to move towards establishing a healthy city is becoming vital.

Retrofitting Doha to become a truly smart city requires the development of a comprehensive long-term strategy with active participation from all the relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors. In Doha’s context, a smart city will fully support healthy living in all aspects including water and energy conservation, healthy air quality, increased community interaction and active lifestyle. The use of state-of-the-art technologies, such as smart water management system, intelligent and automated air, noise and waste management systems, and real-time communication mechanisms, will eventually help Doha move closer to realizing its vision of a smart and healthy city.

In an effort to conceptualize the development of a smart and healthy city amidst the ongoing infrastructural development, experts at Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), last year devised a comprehensive guide ‘Doha: A Rough Guide to Healthy Cities’.  The Guide,, tackles the issue of the environmental health of urban areas which is becoming increasingly important to the world’s population as a majority of people are shifting towards inner cities.

Highlighting the benefits of planning and designing a healthy city, the non-technical infographic provides design and planning professionals, senior school students and advocates of sustainable development, with interesting guidelines on how to create a healthy city.

The key for QGBC and relevant stakeholders is to foster education around this subject to help create behavioural change in the process. This infographic is a starting point for such practices, which need to be further highlighted through national dialogues, the likes of Arab Future Cities Summit, the Qatar Green Building Conference, and the Qatar Sustainability Week.  Such efforts will foster the development of green infrastructure as a national resource capable of delivering a wide range of environmental, economic and social benefits.

by Meshal Al Shamari, Director – QGBC

4 Ground-breaking Use Cases of Smart Data using HPC

High Performance Computing has primarily been applied within scientific research, the financial world and relatively recently also to forecast the weather. The financial services industry was the first commercial industry to adopt HPC. Nowadays you will find the most advanced HPC systems trading stocks in nano-seconds and generating massive amounts of money for their owners.

Banks have used HPC for pricing exotic financial instruments, optimizing their portfolios of mortgage-backed securities and managing firm-wide global credit and debit risks.  But there are more use cases for HPC in combination with Smart Data:

Fraud Detection

Fraud detection is an extremely important area for the financial industry. Millions of dollars could be saved if suspicious transactions are stopped before they occur. To do this, millions of transactions across the globe should be analysed in real time. The problem is that algorithms will need to find unknown patterns within that data, which could indicate a fraudulent transaction.

It requires not only analysing millions of transaction, but also many other data sources that offer the right context for a certain transaction. For example, is a certain credit card transaction valid or not. That not only depends on the transaction itself, but also for example on the location or the moment of the transaction.

One company that deals with these volumes is PayPal. On a daily basis, they deal with 10+ million logins, 13 million transactions and 300 variables that are calculated per event to find a potential fraudulent transaction. Thanks to High Performance Data Analytics, PayPal saved in their first year of production over $700 million in fraudulent transactions that they would not have detected previously.

Personalized Medicines and Drug Discovery

Already I mentioned the possibilities of personalized medicines and how it requires HPC. Although personalized medicines might still be quite far away, the pharmaceutical industry is already using High Performance Computing for drug design and discovery.

Drug design and discovery is a tedious process. It can easily require several years or longer before a drug hits the market. This is due to rigorous testing in labs on animals and later humans before it is made available to the masses.

High Performance Computing in combination with Big Data enables the pharmaceutical industry to find, for example, the right proteins for a certain drug among millions of compounds. This can be done thanks to simulation analysis and testing a plethora of varieties on thousands of different virtual patients. Thus, drug discovery can be reduced with multiple years, eventually saving a lot of lives.

Smart Energy Grids

Smart energy grids might still be long away; already multiple energy companies are experimenting with the possibilities of a smart energy grid. The potential of a truly smart energy grid is tremendous; reduced energy consumption, better and safer electrical grids and a safer and cleaner environment. Thanks to HPC, smart energy grids are becoming a reality.

A smart energy grid deals with massive amounts of data from a wide variety of sources, all located in a highly disperse network. Imagine if every household would have a truly smart energy meter and at every single moment in time, it is measured how much energy they use, from which devices, for how long and at what price. Multiplied by millions of households, we are easily talking exabytes of data that need to be analysed in real-time to determine whether someone is allowed or not to charge his/her electrical car. That can only be done using a HPC infrastructure and a High-Performance Data Analytics environment.

Manufacturing Simulation Analysis

From the beginning, HPC has been involved in the modelling and simulation of complex physical and quasi-physical systems. Modelling and simulation analysis enables an organization to gain a better understanding of a certain project, without the need to actual test the product in real-life. Thanks to this approach for example, Tesla was able to have the early edition of the Tesla Roadster pass dozens of tests, without the need for dozens of cars that could be crashed (as is traditionally done in the automotive industry).

What Tesla did during developing the Tesla Roadster has become common practice for Tesla. But also in other industry, simulation analysis can save companies a lot of money when developing new products. Thousands of iterations can quickly be tested taking into account hundreds of different variables. Based on the outcome of each simulation, the eventual product is improved. High Performance Computing is required to perform these millions of simulations, at least if you want to get it done relatively quickly.

Other Industries

Of course, these four industries are just the beginning of what is possible. Basically, any organization that wants to make serious business from Big Data could use HPC and HPDA.

Other industries that are already using High Performance Computing are among other the Space industry, Engineering (Oil and Gas) industry, Defence, Publishing industry, governments (think the NSA) and of course academia. In the years to come, this list will probably become a lot longer.

Author: Mark van Rijmenam

Mark van Rijmenam is Founder of Datafloq. He is a highly sought-after international public speaker, a Big Data strategist and author of the best-selling book Think Bigger – Developing a Successful Big Data Strategy for Your Business. He is named a global top 10 Big Data influencer. Currently, he also pursues a PhD at University of Technology, Sydney on how organizations should deal with Big Data, Blockchain and (Human) AI.

Key factors to consider when choosing to attend a conference

As I start writing, am thinking of the adage that holds true, ‘To reach a goal you have never before attained, you must do things you have never before done.’ With this, let me wish you success and the experience to enjoy new things this year. I am quite positive that with a comprehensive list of things that you want to accomplish, you are ready to take on the year. While we resolve to do different things, we need the resolve to do things differently. I will let that statement sink in for a moment.

Well then, with that thought let me continue. Did you know that one of the most popular resolutions made in 2017 (according to survey by CareerBuilder) include learning something new by attending more seminars or courses etc? This brings me to the crux of this conversation on how do you decide which is the right conference/ summit/ seminar to attend. What is that ONE key deciding factor, you may ask? Let me tell you, there isn’t one, it is a mix of a few critical points that you need to bear in mind.

You should never go to a meeting or make a telephone call without a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve – Steve Jobs

With any task, you want to accomplish in life – be it personal or professional, it is important for you to set clear goals. If you don’t list out your objective of attending a conference, your presence at the event will be futile. MICE industry is on a high growth trajectory1 with an overwhelming number of conferences varying in nature organized month after month. It is solely your discretion which one you choose to attend and which one to give a miss. It’s suffice to say ask as many as possible questions to the organizers. Mostly beginners tend to hold back asking any question to avoid looking foolish. To you I say, no question is a silly question and be sure to clear any doubts that you may have. You will be surprised that people are happy to answer your questions to help you make a decision.

You need to decide on what exactly you want to gain by attending a conference – enhancing your brand awareness, getting exposure to new trends and skills or connecting with industry peers? Once this is done, the next step is to research and choose amongst the many conferences being held and narrow down your choices to determine the right fit for you.

The second most important point for you to remember is the budget. While having said that, please remember that expense doesn’t always equal quality. This brings me to my next point, that is location. It is a smart decision to attend events based locally. If you are willing to travel intercity to attend the summit, you would need to factor in the travel and accommodation costs, which will increase the budget by a significant degree.

Now that you have shortlisted few summits/ events to attend, you must carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine the quality of the event – has it been running for many years now? How well-established is it? Events that are renowned have a certain credibility attached to their name. That is not to say, the inaugural events can be skipped. Find out information on the organizers, go through past testimonials or ask past attendees for feedback. To ascertain what the event has to offer and if it is worth your money and time, request for a post-show report of the previous edition of the event. You will be well-equipped with all the information – the various topics covered under the conference agenda and quality of the speakers, whether the speakers are regionally renowned or internationally based, their background, expertise and if this matches with your line of work. Aside from this, it is crucial to know the attendee profiles visiting to find out whether the target audience is relevant for you to expand your business connections and increase your brand visibility.

Always keep in mind your objective while you evaluate an event that is of interest to you. At the end of it all, most importantly you should be able prove to your management that your connections made and skills you learnt has outweighed the expenditure incurred.

To new beginnings.

1 Conferences and trade shows are predicted to be the largest events in nearly every region, with per event attendee increase ranging from 209 in Asia to 455 in North America (Source – 2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast)

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn


Why attending Conferences could be beneficial for you and your business?

If I were to ask, what is the fastest way to build connections, I am confident of getting the reply – Facebook or LinkedIn even. While it certainly may be an easy way to get connections, it certainly is not a foolproof way of developing a connection. Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate of these new age communication tools that have simplified business and help in getting to touch with the right person. You may call me old school, but I feel nothing can replace a one-on-one interaction, when you exchange business cards and information that goes beyond one meeting – it is irreplaceable. Such opportunities of course do not present themselves every other day. Nonetheless, when it does, we should be prepared to make the most of the opportunity. While a thought about attending a conference may seem mundane, the experience sure isn’t. If you haven’t participated in a conference yet, you are missing out on the great new ways to learn, interact with your industry peers, build contacts amongst your network and hone your skill.

Your network creates your networth

How often have you heard someone tell you, it is all about networking?! Networking is truly the name of the game. Enough cannot be said about the importance of networking, be it for our personal gain or in the business world. To many, the idea of networking is restricted to connecting with friends over the many social media platforms available at our disposable. Simply put, there is so much more than the digital platforms. Let us get away from the digital mediums, connect on a personal level and build contacts that may prove to be of immense help in the future.

Conferences present just the opportunity. Start a conversation. Connect. Meet new people. Be part of an engaging discussion. Build connections that go a long way. It is unanimously agreed upon that the most obvious and biggest benefit of attending conferences is networking and building connections with industry peers.

Every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow

When you network with your peers there is an incredible amount of information to be shared and learnt as well. Depending on the industry you are working in, choose to attend a conference that provides an eclectic mix of speakers presenting on topics that are relevant to you. By participating in a conference, you expand your knowledge base, gain fresh perspective on your industry trends and insightful details from global and regional experts. Furthermore, depending on the type of conference you are attending, you get to experience a hands-on demonstration of cutting-edge technological solutions changing the face of the industry.

Knowledge has no value unless you use and share it

While you take time away from your business or career to participate in a conference that presents invaluable learning and growth opportunities, make sure to share your experiences with others too. The true value of a conference comes from sharing your experiences with your colleagues who didn’t attend. Given that everyone is keen to learn and know what they missed out on, you can highlight the key takeaways from the sessions you attended and interactions you had with influencers and other peers with a larger audience by way of a blog.

At the end of it all, when you get back to office, you are brimming with new ideas and approaches. You are better equipped to implement all that you learnt in your business or career. At the risk of repeating myself, I’d like to reiterate that there is no substitute for being part of a conference that offers myriad opportunities of growth. Break out of your comfort zone and enjoy the unique convergence of learning, networking and knowledge-sharing that a conference offers.

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

Enhancing building efficiency for a greener UAE

By Saeed Al Abbar

With the UAE’s skyline dominated by skyscrapers, and Dubai alone being home to over 3,000 high-rise buildings,1  it is important that all stakeholders within the construction industry leverage the opportunities available for installing renewable energy systems in high-rises.

The roofs of high-rise buildings are often occupied with installations such as cooling towers, chillers and other equipment, which can limit the space available for installing renewable energy systems.

However, with an increasing number of high-rises in the region, it is important that initiatives supporting sustainable built environments are fully considered and implemented.

Emirates Green Building Council, an independent forum promoting sustainability, recently hosted a workshop to discuss the challenges and potential solutions in installing renewable energy technologies in high-rises.

Experts identified awareness, site issues, codes and financial schemes as key points to be addressed to promote the use of renewable energy systems. They observed that these systems must also be outcome-based to ensure reduction in energy consumption.

To bring a tangible shift, a fundamental transformation of the construction sector is needed by streamlining fragmented responsibilities of different stakeholders and developing business models that attract third-party financing.

Stakeholders must also look at implementing highly advanced yet cost-effective façade concepts, based on multifunctional components and/or new combinations of existing building envelope technologies.

An integrated design and close collaboration among a multidisciplinary team will further drive the implementation of renewable energy systems in high-rises.

With the focus on high-rise buildings continuing to grow, in direct response to meet the urban growth requirements, credible measures by developers to incorporate green building practices will contribute to the green vision of the nation and help secure the environment for our future generations.

Saeed Al Abbar is the Chairman of Emirates Green Building Council.

1 State of energy report

Prediction in Big Time Series Data


Mohammad Shokoohi-Yekta, Data Scientist, Apple

Time Series data is the new big data and it’s almost everywhere. Time Series is an ordered set of real values, quantities that represent or trace the values taken by a variable over a period of time. Some examples are stock prices, sensor data collected from smart watches/phones, weather data, heartbeats, etc.

Prediction and forecasting have been a topic of great interest in the data mining community for the last decade. Most of the work in the literature has dealt with discrete objects, such as keystrokes (i.e. predictive text), database queries [1], medical interventions [2], web clicks, etc. However, prediction may also have great utility in real-valued time series. For concreteness we briefly consider two examples:

  • Researchers in robotic interaction have long noted the importance of short-term prediction of human initiated forces to allow a robot to plan its interaction with a human. For example a recent paper notes the critical “importance of the prediction of motion velocity and the anticipation of future perceived forces [to allow the] robot to anticipate the partner’s intentions and adapt its motion” [3].
  • Doppler radar technology introduced in the last two decades has increased the mean lead time for tornado warnings from 5.3 to 9.5 minutes, saving countless lives [4]. But progress seems to have stalled, with 26% of tornados within the US occurring with no warning. McGovern et al. argue that further improvements will come not from new sensors, but from yet-to-be-invented algorithms that “examine existing (time series) data for predictive rules” [5].

While forecasting is mature enough to have its own conferences and commercial software (SAS, IBM Cognos, etc.), the handful of research efforts to consider time series rule-based prediction have met with limited success. In [6] we show novel algorithms that allow us to quickly discover high quality rules in very large time series datasets that accurately predict the occurrence of future events.

[1] Li, G., Ji, S., Li, C., and Feng, J. Efficient type-ahead search on relational data: a TASTIER approach. SIGMOD Conference 2009: 695-706.

[2] Weiss, S., Indurkhya, N., and Apte, C., Predictive Rule Discovery from Electronic Health Records. ACM IHI, 2010.

[3]   Gribovskaya, E., Kheddar, A., and Billard, A. Motion Learning and Adaptive Impedance for Robot Control during Physical Interaction with Humans. ICRA 2011.

[4]   Brotzge, J. and Erickson, S., Tornadoes without NWS warning. Weather Forecasting, 25, 159-172. 2010.

[5] McGovern, et al. Identifying Predictive Multi-Dimensional Time Series Motifs: An application to severe weather prediction. Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery. 2010.

[6] Shokoohi-Yekta, M., Chen, Y., Campana, B., Hu, B., Zakaria, J., & Keogh, E. (2015, August). Discovery of Meaningful Rules in Time Series. In: Proceedings of the 21th ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, Sydney, Australia, 1085-1094.