Ken Kubat and I continue to interview business leaders to get a better feel for the role that big data and analytics will play in their decision-making processes. Both of us feel that a “big shift” is underway in the art and science of decision making but, to quote William Gibson, we feel that "The future is already here - it's just not very evenly distributed."
Does your organization have a “Chief Analytics Officer” yet? No? Wait, you might.
Have senior executives complained that “there’s too darn much data” coming at them? Do you feel overloaded?
Are junior professionals talking about “R” and Hadoop and you don’t have a clue as to what they mean? Are you hopelessly behind the emerging analytics trends?
To quote my friend Jon, “some of us will have to become data-driven, but all of us must become better "data-informed” if we are to become better decision makers.
How will you become data-informed? Get curious about data and let it tell you stories.
And here’s an unfinished story from the last issue of MindPrep:
A cab is in an accident, but drives away. A witness says it’s a Blue Cab. However, the police know that witnesses are correct only 80% of the time. We know that 15% of the city cabs are Blue Cabs and 85% of the cabs are Green Cabs. What’s the probability (Ouch, that’s a math term!) that the cab really was a Blue Cab?
The answer is 41% (Well, actually, it’s 41.4%.)
Want to see how that answer is derived?
This is a story of “conditional probabilities” and it is best seen by constructing a simple matrix and doing a bit of multiplication.
Now, the witness sees Blue as Blue (i.e., correctly) 12% of the time. However, the witness also sees Green as Blue (i.e., incorrectly) 17% of the time.
So, how often is a cab that is described as Blue really Blue?
12 / (12+17) = 12/29 = 41.4%
Now, was that too tough? No. Put together a few pieces of data, add a question and you have a story.
That said, I’m willing to bet that some of my readers gave up way too early and simply said “I’m not good at math.” But that’s not true. They can handle the multiplication and division. But they didn’t see the story in the numbers. Or, to quote one of my sons, “Dad, you gave us another word problem!”
You may never understand “R” or Hadoop but you can always learn to build and explain stories. They are the heart of thinking about analytics.
More to come in the next issue of MindPrep.