Data & Analytics

Thomas H. Davenport
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Harnessing Quant Power

A new book by Thomas H. Davenport and Jinho Kim says that if companies can’t turn all the data they’re swimming in into better decision making through quantitative analytics, they’re “probably creating suboptimal performance.” The book, Keeping Up with the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics, is geared toward executives who are not analytics experts but whose jobs require them to deal with those who have such expertise, both inside and outside their organizations.

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Elevating Data, Analytics to the C-Suite

The former senior vice president of vendor analytics at Bank of America is now chief analytics officer at Bank of America Merchant Services. While Merchant Services is technically a separate business, Douglas Hague’s ascension to the C-suite is notable in that it’s one of the first analytics roles to report directly to the CEO at Bank of America Merchant Services. That has some implications for strategy and for long-term planning.

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Rent The Runway: Organizing Around Analytics

Treating analytics as a strategic asset at the senior level has enabled a fashion-focused startup to innovate. Rent The Runway, an online service that rents occasion dresses, caters to its fashion-forward clientele through unique services such as on-call stylist advice and customer’s “style moment” photos. These services, driven by data and analytics, are what set Rent The Runway apart from its small pool of competitors.

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ComScore: The Art and Science of Big Data, From the Inside

ComScore is among the world’s biggest data purveyors — the digital measurement and analytics company has collected about 14 petabytes of online data from around the globe. But it has to execute on all that data internally in order to be successful externally. This is where a lot of organizations stumble. A recent report by MIT Sloan’s Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) details how comScore organizes its assets to capture value from big data.

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Better Decisions with Smarter Data

Part of that gap between the pressure to be more data-driven in decision making, and a lack of useful data, says Grenoble University researcher Ali Fouladkar, can be explained by the fact that while data analysis has led to competitive advantage for some organizations, decision makers are often presented with noise-filled big data. What they need instead is smart data, but the problem in getting to smart data in an era of big data is part technological and part training.

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The Science of Managing Black Swans

In business, a black swan is neither a bird nor a ballerina — it’s a very rare convergence of factors that leads to catastrophe. New research suggests that by exploiting all types of data, managers can help prevent some black swan events, and reduce the hazards of other risky blind spots. The caveat: less intuition; more data.

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Luminar Insights

Facing headwinds from a shifting media industry, executives at Spanish-language broadcasting company Entravision recognized the need to innovate their business model. To get there, they created Luminar, a big data insights division that utilizes about 2,000 external data points to deliver customized, transaction-based insights to marketers about Entravision’s Latino audience. The fastest-growing U.S. demographic, Latinos have amassed buying power worth more than a trillion dollars annually.

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Video: Leveraging Analytics to Transform a Traditional Broadcast Business

Using big data technology, Luminar is helping to transform its parent company, Entravision, beyond its broadcasting roots. With a data store of 50 million Latino adults with transactional records from 2,000 sources, Luminar has insights on 65% of the US Latino adult population. Luminar is able to provide new, relevant insights to advertisers and marketers interested in reaching the Latino consumer, and in the process change Entravision from a broadcast company to an insights company.

Image courtesy of Esri.
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Prognosis for GIS in Health Care Is Excellent

Using geo-coding and analytics to reshape operations and care is taking hold in healthcare systems. A recent conference on healthcare and geographic information systems from GIS software company Esri highlighted how the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Veterans Health Administration use technology to gain better understanding of patient and health trends. The related area of social work is also beginning to see some uptake of the technology.

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Raising the Bar With Analytics

More than half of managers surveyed strongly agree that their organizations need to step up analytics use, according to a 2013 global survey by MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS Institute. In addition, survey data suggests that in companies where analytics has improved the ability to innovate, managers are more likely to share data with partners and suppliers.

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Thriving in a Big Data World

Words have become data; the physical states of our machinery have become data; our physical locations have become data; and even our interactions with each other have become data. Three recent books offer expert perspectives on the increasing power and importance of analytics.

David Simchi-Levi

Overheard at MIT

“Big Data in Manufacturing” was the theme of a daylong conference held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in November 2013 and sponsored by the MIT Forum for Supply Chain Innovation and the Accenture and MIT Alliance in Business Analytics. But the speakers’ insights weren’t restricted to manufacturing.

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Are Predictive Analytics Transforming Your Supply Chain?

While some industries like health care and retail are starting to see the transformational potential of big data and predictive analytics, these strategies haven’t quite panned out for supply chain managers. Why? Two big barriers: The cost of hiring skilled employees and the complexity of connecting nodes across an extended supply chain network.

New research suggests that the convergence of data science, predictive analytics and big data have the potential to transform the way in which supply chains leaders lead, and supply chains operate.

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Why Predictive Analytics Needs Due Process

Researchers are proposing a new method to limit privacy harms from predictive analytics: Apply due process that would determine, legally, the fairness of an algorithm. While a new framework may be a step forward for individual privacy, what does it mean for organizations that collect and utilize big data through a predictive analytics lens? A couple of things — should data-oriented due process pass policy and legislative muster.

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Turning Big Data Into Smart Data

Current thinking has big data and analytics turning companies into data-driven powerhouses. But just having data doesn’t make a company smarter; if companies don’t know how to use data well in the first place, it can actually prevent companies from making the transition to data-driven operations. Jeanne Ross, the director of MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research, says that companies can build cultures that encourage people, even low-level employees, to work well with data by using evidence-based management.

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How Big Data is Influencing Big Companies

A recent data and analytics survey sheds light on what large organizations are actually doing with big data initiatives. The survey of nearly 100 senior executives from Fortune 1000 companies found that executives are reporting anincreasing commitment to big data projects. As well, most executives, 70%, are looking to improve their “time to answer” with big data.

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Three Paradoxes of Big Data

The 1997 sci-fi film Gattaca presents a society where DNA determines social class. A registry identifies and creates genetically superior individuals — termed “valids” — while winnowing out their naturally conceived “in-valid” counterparts. The “valids” have a predetermined career (and life!) path, unalterable by desire, capability, circumstance or happenstance.

But how close are fact and fiction? Can genetics, biometrics and, essentially, predictive analytics be utilized to determine an individual’s path?

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Are Algorithms Influencing Your Business?

The growing importance of algorithms to business and society is a little discussed feature of our increasingly digital world. These algorithms are the underpinnings of NSA surveillance, online search engines, corporate security, modern matchmaking and other activities in both the private and public sector. They can be a source of competitive advantage (think Google), play an operational role or drive marketing. Just what are algorithms, how are they used, and what happens when influential algorithms go wrong?

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Smart Cities and Economic Development: What to Consider

Smart cities are popping up around the globe, from China where 193 smart cities are being piloted, to Europe, the U.K. and the U.S. Their development involves a wide scope of technology, everything from renewable energy, green buildings and smart grids to traffic management, urban security and medical technology. The goal: urban sustainable development and economic growth. Opportunities abound to be part of this global urban revitalization effort. The question is, at what cost to participants?

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