Executive Education – Leveraging the Power of Big Data

The advancement of digital technologies has significantly transformed not only human behavior, but more importantly its impact on society including the business ecosystem. Progress in modern technologies has indeed transformed the world to a unified global village and our different communities continue to become smarter than before. Digital revolution has created an environment that enhances information and knowledge exchange in a manner that is more efficient and less time-consuming, thus cost-effective. Emerging digital technologies continue to improve our daily business experiences in various smarter ways from our work environment, communication, transport, education, healthcare and retail to list only a few.

Following a successful launch of the Big Data for Development Short Course Program (BD4D-SCP), AIMS-NEI is taking the capacity development pillar of the BD4D project to another level. The time has come to engage C-level executives from various business sectors to leverage the power of Big Data and enhance their critical decisions making process.


In today’s digital world, the use of technology has become a day-to-day business requirement. It is however important for business leaders to acknowledge that access to technology remains a multifaceted problem across various sectors of our society. While affordability is one of the key factors, for many organizations relevance to specific business drivers is a determinant factor in adopting new technologies. There are business leaders of many organizations who are unable to catch up, adopt and adjust to the speed at which technologies are developed and deployed.  Having a comprehensive digital strategy in business has become a true differentiator across companies.


It is with the above context that AIMS-NEI is organizing the first Leveraging the Power of Big Data (LPBD) Executive Education workshop. This three-day program will take place at AIMS Rwanda in Kigali, Rwanda between 24-26 July 2019. The goal of the workshop is to introduce C-level executives in the era of big data, demonstrating how big data is disrupting traditional enterprises and opens the door for new products and services.

 This workshop takes a practical approach to engage participants through interactive sessions to discuss identified key emerging technologies and competitive advantages to transform to and run a digital business. The first session will focus on an awareness discussion to refresh the memory of participants about important business concepts including the digital economy, the big data revolution and the platform revolution to name only a few. Next, the workshop will then move to some profound discussions to enhance participant’s understanding of data privacy and fairness. The last part of the workshop will engage participants in discussions focused on a better strategy for capacity development in emerging technologies for a better workforce. The workshop emphasizes on sharing of experiences and identifying common patterns, best lessons applicable across business sectors.

Summarized Learning Objectives

  1. The digital economy and the competitive advantages of a digital business
  2. The big data revolution and cost implications for adopting big data technologies
  3. The platform revolution and what are the benefits of building a business based on data exchange
  4. Understand data privacy and fairness and discuss about the biases that data-driven decisions introduce.
  5. The capacity development needs and understand how to attract and manage the right talent


Day 1: 

 A. Digital Economy: In this session, we will try to answer the following questions, by studying the principles of the digital economy through case studies.

  • What does it mean for a company to be digital, versus digitized?
  • What are the competitive advantages of digital business?
  • How does digital transformation take place in an established company versus a startup?
  • How do we measure the financial improvements of the digital transformation?

B. The big data revolution: In this session, we will try to answer the following questions:

  • What is the cost of acquiring maintaining and using big data?
  • How does big data change the database tools and talent used in an enterprise?
  • How and why we transitioned from small to big data?
  • How has big data shaped scientific discovery?

Day 2:

A. The platform revolution, building companies based on data exchange:

  • What is a platform company?
  • Network effects and exponential growth
  • Creating monopolies by making a sticky business model
  • Winning the competition with blitz scaling

B. Data privacy and fairness: In this section, we will discuss about the biases that data-driven decisions introduce. In the completely automated economy decisions can be unfair to socio-economic communities and push your company into unethical practices. Also, storing huge amounts of personal data burdens your company with legal liabilities and security costs. We will see how pioneering companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook are handling these issues and how you can minimize the risk.

 Day 3:

Attracting and managing the right talent: The most valuable asset of a technology company is its human capital. Tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, etc. are investing millions of dollars in recruiting and retention of top talent. In this section, we will talk about how you can attract top-quality talent. How should you adjust your company culture so that PhD level employees can unleash their productivity and innovation?


The first Big Data Executive Education workshop will take place at AIMS Rwanda centre from 24-26 July 2019 and its participation is free. AIMS-NEI did not provide any financial assistance that might be required by some participants to attend this workshop. AIMS-NEI encourages participants to make their own provision to cover all logistic costs related to their participation to this course including transport.

This workshop targets C-level executives and business leaders whom AIMS-NEI would like to engage through interactive discussions about the power of Big Data in improving business decisions. AIMS-NEI will give preference to its industry partners and female c-level executives are strongly encouraged to participate in this workshop.

Instructor Profile

 Nikolaos Vasiloglou received his Ph.D. in scalable methods for machine learning in 2009 from Georgia Institute of Technology. During his studies, he interned with HP labs, Google Inc (twice) and worked for Admob (Acquired by Google). He founded Analytics3105 (later split to Ismion and SkyTree), one of the first companies to develop commercial grade machine learning software. Through Ismion, Nikolaos worked with several companies to help them build data science teams and kickstart several pilot machine learning projects. He had a key role in the development of the machine learning infrastructure of Logicblox and in the development of retail forecasting product of Predictix (acquired by Infor). He was also a key contributor to the internet security product of Damballa Inc. He was also helped Tapad Inc, a mobile advertising company (acquired by Telenor) to form their data science team and contributed to the main ML algorithm of their product. At the same time, he was a consultant with LexisNexis and one of the first adopters of their big data platform HPCC.  Nick has also served as a Technical Director at Symantec Center for Advanced Machine Learning Center. He has also consulted with a number of startups like Revolution Analytics (acquired by Microsoft), HiringIQ, Senzari, Comrise, Pi360, Unscrambl, Skymind, and others. Nikolaos has a big presence in the ML/AI community. He was a founding member of the ML, big data community in Atlanta. He became very well known in the ML community through the organization of www.mlconf.com. He grew it from 150 attendees to 3000+ per year. Nick has also served in the organization and program committee of several academic workshops, like UAI 2017/2018/2019, MLTrain@NIPS 2017, Reproducibility@ICML 2018, DeLBP 2017/2018/2019, Deep Learning in Security 2018/2019, R2Learning@NIPS 2018. He has taught graduate courses at the Computer Science Department of Georgia Tech. He has also been an instructor for the Leveraging the Power of Data executive education for the Scheller School of business at Georgia Tech. Lately, he has focused his efforts in training and education through the MLTrain organization, by organizing training workshops in several places around the world including Africa. He was also the organizer of exe-ML in 2017 in South Africa.

Nikolaos is currently the VP of data science at relationalAI, leading the professional services team. He is responsible for helping clients apply digital transformation and AI adoption in their organization.

Participation to this workshop is by invitation only, AIMS-NEI request all interested participants to contact the AIMS Industry Initiative.


Any inquiries about this workshop must be sent to: aii@nexteinstein.org.