Newsletter – December, 2015

On My Mind
Maybe it is because of my heightened awareness . . . but it seems like the media coverage of analytics and big data applications is increasing. The analytics movement and big data have captured the imagination of senior executives in nearly every major industry. A simple definition of analytics is that it is the collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data for decision making. Analytics is an innovative way to (1) provide value to customers and (2) create a unique competitive advantage. While big data is intriguing, zero data is an important starting point. Zero data relates to an organization’s vision, mission, values, and strategic objectives. The key is to develop an analytics vision and roadmap that will help senior executives achieve their strategic objectives. Senior executives have many questions: How can we use analytics to help us achieve our strategic objectives? Do we have the necessary talent? Who should lead our analytics team? How much should we invest in analytics? How can we create a data-oriented culture? Developing answers to these questions and gaining leadership team consensus may be challenging, but it is an important early step on the analytics journey.

Interesting Stories
The formidable task of Volkwagen’s leaders to restore the trust of its stakeholders continues to get more difficult as the scale and scope of the emissions problem expands. Meanwhile, the Paris Agreement was signed by representatives of 195 participating countries. The aim of the Paris Agreement is to reduce global carbon output. However, it is not binding until 55 countries who collectively produce more than 55% of the world’s greenhouse gases ratify the Agreement.

Company News
Strategic Improvement Systems can now officially be referred to as SIS for short. The 2016 schedule for public seminars and courses sponsored by SIS will be finalized soon – here is a sneak peek at the offerings: Yellow Belt for Champions; Japanese-Style Hoshin Kanri; Innovation Tools for Change Agents; Statistical Methods for Continuous Improvement; and Quality, Analytics, and Big Data. Also, three courses in the Lean Six Sigma Series will be offered: Continuous Improvement Green Belt; Continuous Improvement Black Belt; and Continuous Improvement Master Black Belt.

Intriguing Reads
Some people might think I’m kidding, but my 30+ year career as an applied statistician has been filled with many exciting projects. The new book “The Data Science Handbook: Advice and Insights from 25 Amazing Data Scientists” by Shan, Wang, Chen, and Song provides glimpses into the lives of many people currently at the heart of the analytics movement. Data scientists from AirBnB, Facebook, Palentir, Intuit, LinkedIn, Square, Uber, Cloudera, and other companies are featured.