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Detecting Bias in Data Analysis

Data analysts may have external agendas that shape how they address a data set — but Boston College's Sam Ransbotham argues that a savvy manager can identify biases by learning to question the underlying assumptions that go into dataset cleanup and presentation.

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If You Think Big Data’s Challenges Are Tough Now

Although workers and consumers generate two-thirds of all new data, that’s about to change. Sensors and smart devices — from traffic lights and grocery store scanners to hospital equipment and industrial sensors — are beginning to generate an enormous wave of data that will increase the digital universe ten-fold by 2020. Guest blogger Randy Bean, CEO of NewVantage Partners, explains what this means for executives trying to adapt to a rapidly changing, data-centered business environment.

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Is It Time to Hire a Chief Legal Strategist?

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Here’s a strategic angle that most businesses don’t think about: how they can use the law to secure strategic business goals. Leading companies such as the Walt Disney Company have managed to deploy their legal departments to shape the legal environment in order to secure long-term competitive advantages. But approaching legal issues in sophisticated and creative ways isn’t generally a specialty of most C-suite executives. That’s where a “chief legal strategist” comes in.

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Data Scientist In a Can?

Companies will want hundreds of thousands more data scientists than exist, creating a much discussed skills gap. In the past, businesses have figured out how to automate in-demand skills, and some companies say they can automate what data scientists do. What does it mean for companies when they do the equivalent of putting their data scientists into a can?

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Mikel Ortega. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelo/4056467981
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The Key to Business Success: ‘Stringing Multiple Opportunities Together’

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New research looks at the strategies executives use in capturing new growth opportunities. “Resist jumping at the first potential opportunity,” write Christopher B. Bingham (Kenan-Flagler Business School), Nathan R. Furr (Marriott School of Management) and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt (Stanford University). Instead, evaluate whether one opportunity will it set you up for future ones — what the authors call “sequencing opportunities.” They write: “Sustained business success appears to depend not just on capturing one opportunity but also on stringing multiple opportunities together.”

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Analytics Meets Mother Goose

Businesses are running into the issue of having analytics professionals who can’t communicate what they mean. Companies need to train their data scientists to explain how their work helps the business. A little communications 101 is in order, says Meta Brown, whose business has shifted from helping companies analyze data to helping them understand what their analysts are doing.

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Social Business Is Dead . . .

In recent years, social business has exploded onto the landscape as the centerpiece of the digital economy. But is it, after all, just a passing fad? No… and yes, says blogger Jerry Kane. While social business is here to stay, it is undergoing transformative changes that will make it something very different from what we see today — and business professionals, particularly those in the vanguard of current social business activity, need to be on their toes to be ready for what’s next.

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Catching Up with Scantily Clad Analytics Emperors

If you’re lying awake at night fretting that your competition has mastered analytics when you haven’t, take a breath — many of the stories we hear about analytics success are likely skewed. The transition to analytics-focused business is still far, far from universal, and that, says information systems expert Sam Ransbotham, means you have a chance to catch up.

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The Sustainability Insurgency: Missives from the Front Lines, Part 2

In part two of two, Gregory Unruh talks to Emma Stewart, Autodesk’s head of sustainability, about how social intelligence helps CSR advocates in the company to win colleagues’ buy-in. The use of such intelligence supports CSR managers’ ability to create a sustainability business case.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Phil Roeder. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder/14584628629
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Will Customers Be Fair When They Pay-As-They-Wish?

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The obvious risk of pay-as-you-wish pricing is that customers may be tempted to offer unreasonably low payment. But organizations as diverse as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wikipedia and Humble Bundle have figured out how to manage that risk and make pay-as-you-wish work.

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The Crucial — and Underappreciated — Role of HR in Sustainability

Recent research by the Center for Effective Organizations shows that most companies aren’t relying on HR departments as part of their sustainability focus — yet most think there’s an opportunity for HR to play a major role in the structuring of a company’s sustainability processes, practices and strategies.

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Short on Analytics Talent? Seven Tips to Help Your Company Thrive

Companies are having a tough time finding the data scientists they need — they just aren’t being trained fast enough to meet market demand. While it may be challenging to keep ambitious analytics projects in development without employees with the necessary skill sets, that doesn’t mean those projects need to halt altogether. Sam Ransbotham offers seven tips for making progress when you don’t have enough analytics talent on board.

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Online “Chatter Data” is Big Data Gold

Brands are extremely interested in finding out what people are talking about on Twitter and Facebook — what’s known in the industry as “chatter data.” This is a kind of real-time knowledge that Facebook, for one, has the ability to capture — and share. Blake Chandlee, vice president of global partnerships at Facebook, says that Facebook is working with brands such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever to help them understand their consumers through this detailed social data.

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Coming Soon: Doctors As Data Analysts

At the Big Data Innovation Summit, Kaiser’s John Mattison detailed his expectations for the future of health care. He envisions a data-driven system that relies on genetic data in combination with personal data from the patient regarding exposures and lifestyle to help physicians predict health risks. But he also warned that companies have a great deal of work to do to meet the challenges of health care’s digital transformation.

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For BASF, Sustainability Is a Catalyst

Risk mitigation drove chemical giant BASF to adopt a sustainability focus, initiating a chain reaction that transformed not only the company’s product lines, but its corporate culture. The company’s vice president of sustainability strategy, Dirk Voeste, explains the step-by-step process that BASF undertook to produce a company-wide shift in this massive organization’s mindset.

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The Sustainability Insurgency: Missives from the Front Lines, Part 1

Emma Stewart, Autodesk’s head of sustainability, says that social intelligence helps CSR advocates in the company win colleagues’ buy-in. “In order to be a legitimized contributor to the business, you have to be as smart or smarter about your customers or other stakeholders as other business units,” Stewart says. The use of social intelligence, such as systematically calling on leading customers and “market-shapers” such as regulators, supports CSR managers’ ability to create a sustainability business case.

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When an IT Project “Goes Red”

Declaring that a project everyone is excited about is in trouble can be demoralizing. But it’s exactly what can turn things around. That’s what health care insurer WellPoint found when it ran into trouble changing its provider payment system and put the project into “Status Red.” Sending the warning message up the organization ended up having a positive effect, even if team morale initially took a hit. Four steps in particular helped set a better course.

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Why Your Company Is Probably Measuring Social Media Wrong

If a teenage girl retweets you in Japan, will your video go viral in Brazil? Social business expert Jerry Kane argues that it might — because social media is a complex system, where small or seemingly unimportant factors can converge to produce large or unexpected effects. The challenge for managers in the social arena is to consider the unexpected instead of the linear “X means Y” thought processes. Managers should pay attention to four characteristics of social media that can affect outcomes.

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