Newsletter – February, 2015

On My Mind
The analytics movement continues to receive significant media attention along with the phenomenon referred to as Big Data. I view Big Data as a subset of Analytics—here is my definition of Big Data based on my research: “Big Data represents a situation involving a large amount of data consisting of multiple data types sometimes arriving real-time from multiple sources requiring exploratory data analysis and integrative analytical methods for problem-solving and problem-discovering.” This multi-faceted definition is more useful than one that suggests “we have a lot more data than before.” Analytics—and Big Data—are evolving fields of practice and so these are exciting times for quants like me. If you want to learn more about Analytics, then I would follow Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and IBM to start.

Interesting Stories
Magnus Carlsen, the current World Chess Champion from Norway, recently won the Tata Steel Chess Tournament against a strong field of thirteen opponents. Chess is considered one of the best games of strategy in the world. Tata Steel has an interesting view of the annual tournament. What follows is an excerpt from the tournament website: “The Tata Steel Chess Tournament has a long tradition. Starting as an employee tournament, it has grown into an international tournament of world class renown, for which grandmasters and amateurs alike will clear their diaries. Tata Steel has chosen for chess, because chess entails strategic thinking and focuses on finding creative solutions for complex issues. The same goes for steelmaking, a high-tech process with a crucial role for innovation. Tata Steel employees are continuously working on improving processes and products in order to help customers be successful in their markets while contributing to creating a sustainable society.”

Company News
I presented last week at a Performance Excellence Network event on “Trends in Analytics for Performance Excellence.” Roughly forty people attended who were very engaged and asked great questions. I wasn’t able to provide prescriptive answers or describe many global best practices since the field of Analytics—and Big Data—is rapidly evolving. My next presentation on the topic will be at a MN Section of the American Society for Quality event on March 10.

Intriguing Reads
A 2013 book by Erez Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel titled, “Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture,” provides a novel approach and unique insights into the Big Data phenomenon. Some of the current analytical tools quantify word usages appearing in tweets, blogs, and searches. The time series plots on word usages presented by the authors are interesting and in some cases very profound.