A statistically significant resolution for 2013


Since 2012 appeared to be The Year of Big Data and 2013 is officially The International Year of Statistics, some people might believe that this will be the year business leaders get statistical religion on their own, or that this will be the year the monks of mathematics model-thump (i.e., the data scientist equivalent of Bible-thumping) business leaders into submission.

However, as Jeffrey Ma wrote in The House Advantage: Playing the Odds to Win Big In Business, “so much mental horsepower has been devoted to creating breakthroughs or contrarian findings that will convince the world of the value of statistical analysis. Yet perhaps that is aiming too high. There are many opportunities where simple analyses using data and statistics will move an organization, industry, or individual forward. Focusing on the small practical questions rather than the large, idealistic problems will help you gain an advantage much quicker.”

“In business,” Ma continued, “as you look to incorporate analytics into your decision-making process, focus on manageable, practical problems. Don’t try to think like an academic, trying to prove a universal theorem; instead, edge cases that apply to you and your situation can be enough. As you think about working with statistics and business analytics, don’t worry about perfection. You will often face situations that seem impossible to model perfectly, yet this should not stop you from attempting to use math and statistics to improve your decision making. Being pragmatic rather than idealistic will help you create positive change for the business.”

Therefore, a statistically significant resolution for 2013 is to embrace a pragmatic approach to applying big data and statistical analysis to helping improve your business, while also realizing that statistically significant results may not always provide business significant insights. Happy New Year!


About Author

Jim Harris

Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality (OCDQ)

Jim Harris is a recognized data quality thought leader with 25 years of enterprise data management industry experience. Jim is an independent consultant, speaker, and freelance writer. Jim is the Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality, an independent blog offering a vendor-neutral perspective on data quality and its related disciplines, including data governance, master data management, and business intelligence.

1 Comment

  1. "Focusing on the small practical questions rather than the large, idealistic problems will help you gain an advantage much quicker.”

    A great point. In order to compete now you need to make changes now. Yes, it's important to look at the big picture and think long term but don't lose yourself and forget what needs to be done now.

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