ENTRIES TAGGED "business data"

Data Science for Business

What business leaders need to know about data and data analysis to drive their businesses forward.

A couple of years ago, Claudia Perlich introduced me to Foster Provost, her PhD adviser. Foster showed me the book he was writing with Tom Fawcett, and using in his teaching at NYU.

DataScienceForBusinessCoverFoster and Tom have a long history of applying data to practical business problems. Their book, which evolved into Data Science for Business, was different from all the other data science books I’ve seen. It wasn’t about tools: Hadoop and R are scarcely mentioned, if at all. It wasn’t about coding: business students don’t need to learn how to implement machine learning algorithms in Python. It is about business: specifically, it’s about the data analytic thinking that business people need to work with data effectively.

Data analytic thinking means knowing what questions to ask, how to ask those questions, and whether the answers you get make sense. Business leaders don’t (and shouldn’t) do the data analysis themselves. But in this data-driven age, it’s critically important for business leaders to understand how to work with the data scientists on their teams. In today’s business world, it’s essential to understand which algorithms are used for different applications, how statistics are used to create models of human and economic behavior, overfitting and its symptoms, and much more. You might not need to know how to implement a machine learning algorithm, but you do need to understand the ideas the data scientists on your team are using.

The goal of data science is putting data to work. That’s what Data Science for Business is all about, and the reason I’m excited to see us publishing it. There are many books about data science, and an increasing number of undergraduate and graduate programs in data science. But I haven’t seen anything that teaches data science for the leaders who will be using data to drive their businesses forward.

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Every company has a big data issue

GoodData's Roman Stanek on how big data applies to all businesses, including the small ones.

When you bandy about a term like “big data” often enough, it tends to lose its meaning. But big data is much more than a marketing term, although it is that, too — it’s a means of trying to understand and control the sheer volume of information we are seeing inside and outside our organizations.

It’s easy to dismiss this as a problem for companies like Google and Facebook, which are gathering mountains of data from users. However, as GoodData CEO Roman Stanek (@RomanStanek) points out in the following interview, the growing amounts of data from a variety of sources makes big data an issue that has an impact on every company, regardless of size.

Stanek, who has been an entrepreneur for more than 20 years, started GoodData in 2007 as a way to simplify business intelligence by putting it in the cloud. Today, he sees big data as more than a business intelligence problem, and as he has watched his business evolve, he believes companies like his can take big data out of the realm of data scientists and put it into the hands of ordinary business users.

There is a perception that big data is a big company problem. What role does big data have in small- to medium-size organizations?

Roman StanekRoman Stanek: Big data comes from hundreds of sources, most of which are outside a company’s firewalls, such as customer interactions, social media and emails. A company’s size is irrelevant to the volume of big data it has to manage and understand. For example, a company with 100 employees may have to answer thousands of customer-support calls coming in from Facebook, Twitter, email and telephone. That’s a massive amount of data it has to deal with.

In addition, big data represents tremendous potential wealth for all companies, no matter how small or large those enterprises are. When businesses are smart about leveraging data, they can make better and faster business decisions. Read more…

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