Data & Analytics

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Tech Savvy: March 3, 2016

This week’s Tech Savvy looks at what’s happening in wearables at work, virtual reality in hiring, enhancing big data ROI, and digital transformation preparation. For instance, in a Netherlands warehouse, employees wearing smart glasses to pick orders show a 25% improvement in efficiency. And in big data, Wharton’s Eric Clemons notes that “Where big data analytics may create local fiefdoms, online social networks create distributed pockets of autonomous connection, affiliation, and even affection.”

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Tech Savvy: February 26, 2016

Peter Drucker defined the work of business leaders by three principal tasks: delivering financial results, making work and workers productive, and managing a company’s social impacts. Technological advances have transformed — and continue to transform — the world in myriad ways since Drucker published that definition in 1974. But technology hasn’t changed Drucker’s tasks. Instead, it is giving rise to new and better ways of executing them. This new column aims to help you identify big ideas and new tactics at the intersection of technology and management.

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GE’s Big Bet on Data and Analytics

GE has bet big on the Industrial Internet — the convergence of industrial machines, data, and the Internet. The company is putting sensors on gas turbines, jet engines, and other machines; connecting them to the cloud; and analyzing the resulting flow of data. The goal: identify ways to improve machine productivity and reliability. This MIT Sloan Management Review case study looks at how this traditional manufacturer is remaking itself into a modern digital business.

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Will the Internet of Trees Be the Next Game Changer?

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 9 min 

Unlike agriculture, where cutting-edge technologies are being aggressively adopted, forestry and its related industries are something of a technology laggard. But the prospect of the industry using sensors in the field, both in sawmills and even embedded within trees themselves, is emerging. Eric Hansen and Scott Leavengood, both professors at Oregon State University’s Wood Science and Engineering department, discuss how the Internet of Things could help drive efficiency and improve quality in the forestry sector.

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What the Internet of Things Could Mean to Consumers

From wearables to hotel desks that remind us to move around, connected objects are becoming a bigger part of consumers’ lives. For instance, famed design firm IDEO is using people-centered design to envision the Internet of Consumer Things, including helping to create a headband that lets people measure their brain activity and track their mental focus. In the hospitality industry, smart locks, smart lights, and even desks that suggest changing your posture could all become routine.

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Pushing the Boundaries of Predictive Analytics and the IoT

From sensing issues with turbine engines to identifying non-standard washing machine loads, predictive analytics are a given in the Internet of Things (IoT). But what will happen to predictive analytics once everything is connected? This list of five links points to predictions and calculations that some people in the field are making.

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Free Webinar: Leveraging Smart Data for Mass Customization

Research shows that applying smart data and the principles of mass customization to transportation ecosystems is launching new business models — and fundamentally changing the way we travel. In this webinar, customization experts Wolfgang Gruel and Frank Piller expand on their research into how to create integrated smart data ecosystems that cross corporate boundaries. They also detail real-life mass customization lessons that can be applied to any industry.

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Hype vs. Reality: A Reality Check on the Internet of Things

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 2 min 

The Internet of Things has plenty of hype — it’s going to be big, really big — but also plenty of detractors. The naysayers breathily predict everything from the surveillance state to a wrecked economy to people enslaved by machines. Here are nine bits of information to consider, from the way the Internet of Things will create (yet another) battle for control of the Internet, to the fact that the security of the Internet of Things is under fire before it even exists.

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Webinar on Cognitive Technologies with Tom Davenport and Julia Kirby

Now available on-demand: This free webinar offers context for understanding cognitive technology offerings. It focuses on what technology capabilities will be available — and what tasks will still require human input. Topics include artificial intelligence, automation, and business rules for making cognitive technology functional. Presenters Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby are co-authors of the forthcoming book Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines.

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How Time-to-Insight Is Driving Big Data Business Investment

With the emergence of a digital economy over the course of the past two decades, leading companies have learned that they must act faster to respond to customer needs and competitive dynamics. The fourth annual Big Data Executive Survey confirms that Fortune 1000 firms recognize that faster time-to-insight correlates with success and will be the driving force behind Big Data investment for the years ahead.

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Avoiding Analytical Myopia

Analytics offers managers a great way to fine-tune processes, but too many executives focus on metrics at the expense of the bigger picture. The blinders and focus that work well to optimize the details of a problem may prevent managers from seeing other options, and intense focus on a narrow measure can address only the well-specified puzzle — resulting in a myopic view of the problem. Executives who desire bigger breakthroughs need to encourage exploration.

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Enough Health Care Data for an Army: The Million Veteran Program

The holy grail of medicine is therapy that is customized for the patient. But to get there, health care researchers need huge amounts of data to help identify which genes affect health. The Million Veteran Program has tapped one of the largest cohorts available — U.S. military personnel — to obtain the dataset, but managing the security of this sensitive data is a challenge. In a Q&A, two of the project’s lead scientists, J. Michael Gaziano and Saiju Pyarajan, explain the process.

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Ready or Not, Here IoT Comes

The Internet of Things is on the brink of transforming business, but most businesses aren’t ready for the changes to the marketplace that the IoT will bring. There is very little time for companies to prepare for the changes coming as data-collecting devices proliferate. The good news is that by recognizing certain challenges, organizations can begin the possible, albeit difficult, process of getting ready.

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A New Vision for Personal Transportation

Smart data and mass customization have the potential to radically change the way trips are planned. Already, the Boston-based startup Bridj is piloting a dynamic bus system that optimizes routing in response to demand, while Düsseldorf Airport is piloting a robotic parking system in which users just drop off their cars, which are then parked automatically. In the future, intermodal routing could provide customers with a seamless experience and reshape the transportation infrastructure.

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The Ethics of Wielding an Analytical Hammer

With analytics as a hammer, so many questions can start to look like nails. It is difficult for organizations to know what to do. But the “should” in “What should we do?” goes beyond just selecting what to hammer on for maximum insight. Companies need to pay attention to the ways in which the possibilities that analytical abilities create involve responsibilities as well.

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What Email Reveals About Your Organization

By studying data from email archives and other sources, managers can gain surprising insights about how groups should be organized and about which communications patterns are most successful. Anonymized analysis of internal information communication found that creative people, for instance, work more productively on projects with strong leaders than on collaborations without a clear leader. In addition, in many situations, groups of leaders taking turns worked better at sparking creativity.

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Viewing Data as a Liquid Asset

Most people recognize their data as an asset — yet few regard it as a liquid asset. But a chance meeting opened up an opportunity for using data assets in a different way to support R&D — and uncovered a whole new path for financing of science and tech research. SVB Analytics head Steve Allan explains how using analytics “allows us to ask if we need to look at the data a different way.”

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Data and Devices Bringing Transparency to Energy Use

Hugh Scandrett, VP of engineering for EnerNOC, is bringing transparency to an energy system that works against clarity. The goal: help companies realize more cost savings and cut back on energy usage. In a Q&A, Scandrett says that one big issue for companies is predicting future demand. “We predict a company’s usage based on analytics that look at weather, degree of sun azimuth, and a whole set of other parameters,” he says. “We then can provide techniques for minimizing peak usage, like pre-cooling a building.”

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Overcoming Legacy Processes to Achieve Big Data Success

Most large corporations are saddled with fragmented analytical processes, limiting their ability to operate with agility, flexibility, and insight. As a result, larger firms are often challenged when it comes to innovation and responsiveness. But Big Data approaches that enabled the flexibility and rapid growth of newer, smaller firms are being adopted by mainstream corporations. The goal: overcome legacy challenges and introduce greater corporate speed.

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