Newsletter – March, 2015

On My Mind
My emergent definition of Big Data based on my research is the following: “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 is a more useful definition than one that states something like “we have a lot more data now than we did before.” Organizations continue to develop Black Box Algorithms to analyze data, model the world, and predict the future. They are closely guarded because they can be a source of competitive advantage. Here are some Black Box Algorithm archetypes: Preference Learning (songs, movies, books, etc.); Search & Query; Matching; Discriminant Analysis; Network Connections; Geographic Spread; Topic Trending; and the Missing Puzzle Piece. The next time you are online and see an advertisement, search result, book recommendation, or a suggested network connection, think about the Black Box Algorithm that produced the item and how it might work. In my experience, some need major improvement.

Interesting Stories
I just attended the 42nd Annual Twin Cities Auto Show and was not disappointed. The event gives me a chance to see the new models from all the major auto manufacturers and the latest innovations such as the impressive solar car designed and built by University of Minnesota students. I also get to see cars I want, but aren’t in my future like the sporty Alfa Romeo that was on display. The worst part about the event is walking back to my older, much dirtier car for the drive home.

Company News
I will be making a presentation titled, “Big Data and Quality Management: A Glimpse Into the Future” at the March 10 Program Meeting for the MN Section of the American Society for Quality. The event will be held at the Best Western Kelly Inn in Plymouth, MN. On another note, the public Continuous Improvement Green Belt course schedule and venue have been finalized. It is a ten-day course and will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN June 1-3, July 15-16, August 19-20, and September 30. Please send me an e-mail message at if you would like a brochure. The Continuous Improvement Black Belt and Continuous Improvement Master Black Belt course schedules will be finalized by mid-April.

Intriguing Reads
Many of the best practice Big Data companies utilize Black Box Algorithms. I mentioned above that these are closely guarded secrets because they give the companies who own them a potential competitive advantage. The new book by Frank Pasquale provides a peak into some of these algorithms – The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information. If nothing else you will gain a better understanding of what happens to some of the information about you that others possess.