Analytics and forecasting focused on your strategic goals

Stephen McDaniel, Chief Data ScientistStrategic analytics, forecasting & visualization for smarter choices & greater profits

Hello, I’m Stephen McDaniel, co-founder of Freakalytics. I have helped hundreds of companies increase revenues, attract more customers and earn greater profits by bringing together people, systems and data to solve core challenges facing their businesses. My experience spans capturing the right data, building a business-centric data warehouse, hiring and training strong analysts, selecting the right technologies to work for you and applying advanced approaches to analyzing these problems. As a unique compliment to my industry experience, I have designed and led development of cutting-edge analytic products at leading software companies such as SAS, Oracle, Brio Technology and Tableau Software. I am currently Faculty at INFORMS, The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) and the American Marketing Association where I teach courses, speak at conferences about real-world data problems and co-author articles about the rapidly changing world of business and visual analytics.

Many companies I have worked with have over-invested in analytic technologies and data systems relative to the proper investment in people who can confidently use and obtain the maximum value from these investments. Why does this happen? It’s simple, two of the three have sales teams and marketing dollars advocating for them! My approach addresses this imbalance by building projects that are targeted at achieving a strategic goal of the executive leadership in an iterative fashion while coaching and enhancing your team’s ability to execute on future projects. Ultimately, data success is driven by easy access to more sources by more people with the right blend of business and analytic expertise.
Strategic Consulting Projects and Data Workshops

Clients hire me for a wide range of strategic issues, resulting in businesses meeting objectives in alignment with executive goals.

Statistical Forecasting and Collaborative Investment Planning
I have worked with multiple companies to apply expert data management and advanced forecasting methods to iteratively review strategic investment decisions under consideration by Executive Leadership. Great forecasting in the real-world is a mixture of business expertise (often provided by my partner at the company), better data (often developed over the life of the project) and advanced forecasting methods intelligently guided by expert insights on future business conditions (provided by the executive team.)

We deliver our findings in clear, simple presentations of predicted outcomes with estimated levels of risk clearly highlighted. Equally important, we provide interactive dashboards of all of our forecast models under different scenarios with interactive assumption capabilities – our business partners and their executive teams love this unique level of additional empowerment! Finally, we can also provide cloud-based data input systems for overriding our models with the final plans accepted by the executive team – allowing comparison of model and assumption based forecasts with expert-opinion selected plans.

Data Conundrums
Provided quantitative leadership across the entire organization by introducing and refining new analytic techniques that drove the business forward, solving multiple million dollar + problems that had stymied other teams, often in a matter of days or weeks. Let’s get started!

Customer Lifetime Valuation and Segmentation
Architected and implemented a framework for estimating lifetime value at the customer level across millions of subscribers. Part of this effort included pioneering an advanced, integrated view of every customer using a wide array of metrics and key indicators. A second part included segmentation and leveraging this information to refine channel acquisition and customer management strategies.

Overall impact was efficiency gains of 80% on $60M in direct marketing spend and acceleration of high-value customer acquisition via selective re-targeting. Let’s get started!

Spread the Data!Spread the Data Plan™
You’ve invested millions in your data platform, tools and teams. How can you optimize the performance of these teams, especially as wider groups of the company need access to these vital resources? Has your data been designed for efficiency of the analyst teams, especially the Accidental Analysts® that are spreading throughout corporate life. How healthy is your data platform? As you probably already know, the health of your data and ease of access dictates your data team’s future success.

A typical $1B client earns $1M of incremental return per year from a Spread the Data Plan. Many of these projects result in a $2M-$4M return based on broader measurement. Let’s get started!

Tableau-8-Accidental-Analyst-330-440.gifAccidental Analyst® Workshops
This intensive hands-on workshop covers the essentials of how to use and apply proven data management and analytics techniques to answer questions and solve problems encountered in daily work, using a framework called The Seven C’s of Data Analysis. These techniques are reinforced in multiple case studies throughout the course. Specifically, students will develop skills in many areas key to successful analysis and actionable results.

Attendees report increased productivity, executing future projects in less time with much higher returns on their analytic work. Register for upcoming workshops in Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Online or San Jose.

Data Infrastructure Advisement
Hands-on advisor helping map a new course for a struggling data warehouse and analytics infrastructure by optimizing it, building upon it and crafting a new strategic systems architecture for a next generation real-time analytics and data warehouse platform. Collaborated closely with client IT and business leaders to create a 3 year data plan involving $12M of investment and delivery to 20 analysts, hundreds of managers and thousands of line-of-business consumers. Co-led iterative data warehouse design at the cutting edge of the project including proof of model via statistical analysis and dashboard development.

Analytic performance improvements of 10-20x were delivered across multiple project teams. Access was scaled from tens of users to thousands of users while improving capability, awareness and flexibility of the overall data platform. Let’s get started!
Contact me at

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A thought-leader in visual analytics, on our book, The Accidental Analyst
“This is a wonderful book, filled with practical advice. Business people who are struggling to make sense of their data will find it accessible and directly applicable to their work- a great resource for building analytical prowess.”
Stephen Few
Best-selling author, “Show Me the Numbers” and “Now You See It”
Clients speak out about working with Freakalytics
“Eileen and Stephen, we very much appreciate the time that you spent last week working the BI team. You opened our eyes to new paths and the overall confidence of the team has increased – not bad for 3 days of interaction. Thanks for your latest work on the new executive dashboard. We have it up on the big screen by the elevator at HQ – very impressive work!

Marc Pujda, CIO
Marc’s team and colleagues have worked with Eileen and Stephen on several engagements – from team training to data strategy to executive dashboard design and development
Technology luminaries thank Stephen
We have benefited greatly
from your input, guidance, and effort in the last year and I really appreciate the work you did to help define the product vision. I learned a lot from (and really enjoyed) our discussions and brainstorms. I expect to see great things from your renewed focus on Freakalytics.

Chris Stolte, Chief Development Officer and Co-Founder, Tableau Software
Stephen worked at Tableau as Director of Analytics where he helped create the future roadmap for Tableau that will continue to be developed through multiple releases. Some of the available and announced features Stephen collaborated on or led the inclusion of include forecasting, R integration, seamless data access and cleaning, simplifying the analytic workflow, percentiles, ranking and improved filtering capabilities.
One more happy client! We always enjoy helping innovative educational institutions…
I wanted to thank you and Eileen for coming to Chicago for on-site training. I think that it was very helpful to our entire group to both learn how to use Tableau, as well as techniques to best analyze our data. It was very beneficial to bring everyone together on the same page and solve serious analytic needs as a team. Seeing the power of Tableau, and gaining a group understanding that our data needs significant work and maintenance to make the whole process ‘magical,’ was invaluable to us.

Mark Ordonez, Manager of Data Services, Maine Township, Park Ridge, IL
Stephen and Eileen worked with the IT team, key administrators and analysts using a combination of hands-on training and multi-day collaborative workshops launching critical analytic projects. Stephen also helped the team forge a multi-year roadmap for iteratively improving their data and analytic infrastructure to enable widespread use of district data assets. He was also excited to learn that this is the school district where two great coming of age films were shot, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.