How the USPTO is Making Big Data Actionable through Open Innovation
Ever create a system that was OK for now? A way to get by? A way to collect and segregate information in a manner that made it somewhat actionable, but by no means was an ideal solution for all the data you were gathering? I’m assuming the answer is probably yes. Whether your tactic was old school loose-leaf and pencil jotting notes on business cards at some conference or you stepped up your efforts and used an application like Evernote to capture pertinent data and later synced that data into some CRM, you’ve probably experienced this on some level. Now imagine if you were the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Imagine your data sets were millions upon millions of entries and images within those entries were labeled in a variety of ways. Some labels are typed, some handwritten, some of those in cursive, some written by people who have – for lack of a better term – chicken scratch.
You can imagine making sense of all these labeled images is quite cumbersome to say the least. When a major goal is to greatly speed the time it takes for an individual to secure a patent – with the assumption that with greater speed comes acceleration of innovation across the board – it becomes clear that a new way to “tag” all of this imagery is absolutely essential to success. In this burgeoning era of Big Data, an impediment to success is the ability to effectively tag existing data sets so that they become far more actionable. This is a monster and re-occurring issue within the greater Big Data sphere. Without properly tagged or some have called it “linked” data, it is near impossible to create new value from it.
Preparing Big Data for Action: Open Innovation’s Role to Play
Government agencies and global enterprises alike are turning to Open Innovation competitions more routinely to solve their algorithmic based, data solutions. Unlike a traditional software build, creating innovative algorithms doesn’t necessarily have a “finish line” as the goal is often continued improvement over the existing solution. As you can read about in the official press release, this newest Open Innovation challenge from USPTO is actually Phase II of a multi-phase endeavor. In Phase I, groundbreaking algorithmic work was accomplished which is now paving the way for what all parties are hoping are tremendous USPTO gains. Shining a spotlight on the TopCoder competitors who developed the most accurate solutions in Phase I & II, we’d like to personally thank the following members for their outstanding efforts.
Again, algorithms aren’t about some line in the sand, they are about consistent improvement on the current best solution and this process of multi-phased competitions within a developer community setting is an outstanding way to approach such work. Of course, like all work, there are goals, milestones and certain accuracies the USPTO is hoping to accomplish and we promise to keep you updated as every phase of competition eclipses.
Shifting back to the more macro lens of Big Data, the need to make much of this existing data actionable is absolutely paramount to value creation moving forward. In a simplistic analogous way, imagine having a kitchen full of raw, non-prepared ingredients. Dozens of chickens, hundreds of Bell Peppers and White Onions and myriad other ingredients are strewn about your kitchen. They represent data, raw, non-chopped, non-parsed data. Sure, there is incredible potential with these raw sets, but even if you know exactly what outcome you are striving for, a great deal of preparation is needed in order to be able to execute. The practice of Big Data tagging, linking and labeling might seem quite arduous, but the fact is, in order to make a perfectly pressed Quesadilla – something of value derived from the raw state – legitimate and innovative work must take place prior to. In Big Data, that “work” is optimally performed via innovative algorithms and Open Innovation competitions have proven to be an incredibly effective way to produce extreme value algorithmic solutions.
Want more on Gov2.0 Open Innovation challenges? We suggest: The Universe as an Open API: NASA’s Plan for Getting There
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image credit: uspto.gov, skepticalswedishscientists.com