Category Archives: People

Accidental Analysts®: What are they doing with my data?

Eileen McDaniel, Ph.D. and Stephen McDaniel
This article was originally published in late 2013 in
The Data Warehouse Institute FlashPoint Newsletter

Earlier this year, we presented this topic in a talk to an independent group of data professionals. When we noticed it was mistakenly promoted as “Accidental Analysts: What are they doing TO my data?”, we had to laugh! Unintentional typo or not, we’ve found that data warehousing specialists often wonder what businesspeople are doing on their end. Who are accidental analysts, how do they analyze data, and what aspects of the data warehouse can data professionals evaluate and improve upon so that they are set up for success instead of frustration?

Who are accidental analysts? 

Accidental_Analyst_in_hurry_Many business analysts either lack formal education in data analysis or took courses that didn’t fully prepare them for the challenges of real-world data analysis. They are asked to quickly answer business questions so that managers, colleagues and clients are able to identify and implement a plan of action. After teaching analysts in many organizations from all skill levels and backgrounds, we discovered that a major obstacle to obtaining good results is that many are uncertain of the steps to take when analyzing their data. They need a plan of attack, regardless of the analysis software that they are using!

 

The Seven C’s of Data Analysis

The_7Cs_of_Data_Analysis_Copyright_Freakalytics_LLC_605_175

The scientific method has been used by scientists for hundreds of years to design and analyze experiments. In our training and books, we adapted this method to fit business analysis,

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Top 5 Stories Worth Reading in Data, Data Warehousing, Analytics & BI

February 23rd, 2014
Stephen McDaniel
Chief Data Officer Advisor at Freakalytics, LLC

Finding it hard to make time to keep up with the rapidly changing world of data, data warehousing, analytics, data science, business intelligence and visual analytics? We understand! Each week, I read through hundreds of stories in this space and share the five (okay, this week I couldn't stop and chose six) most worthwhile articles with you. Each article includes a summary and link to the full story. Please note that inclusion of an article does not indicate that I agree with every point in the article, but I at least find it thought-provoking and useful for informed debate.

 

 

Recruit Better Data Analysts

In the big data talent wars, most companies feel they’re losing. Marketing leaders are finding it difficult to acquire the right analytical talent. In the latest CMO Survey, only 3.4% senior marketers believe they have the right talent. Business-to-business companies have a bigger gap than business-to-consumer companies, as do companies with a lower percentage of their sales coming from the internet.  And yet analytic skill is a must for effective marketing.

Results indicate that companies with above-average marketing analytics talent experienced significantly greater rates of marketing return on investment (MROI) than companies with below average analytics talent…

 

Big Data doesn’t lie. Or does it?

If you’ve seen any indication that humans are getting smarter and more sophisticated, please inform me, and you don’t have to read what follows. For everyone else, who sees no lack of stupidity and misinformation in both business and public life, read on about the joys big data will bring.

The insights offered by analysis of big data are only as good as the human beings that create the data, gather and assemble it, decide what questions should be asked and how the data is presented. And interpreted, especially that.

I am very concerned that big data, misapplied and misunderstood, will create big lies. Or more likely a combination of lies and truths that prove very difficult to sort out.

 

What is Data Mining?

One way businesses can turn the information into something useful is through data mining. Data mining is a process used to analyze raw information to try and find useful patterns and trends in it.

"Data mining applications help users discover correlations and connections within large data sets," Software Advice writes on its website. "These might have gone unnoticed without these algorithms."

 

Scientific dashboard with periodic table of elements
Includes history, photos, great filters, discoverers and more

There is nothing we love more than sharing great examples of what is possible with visual analytics and dashboards. It’s one of the best ways to inspire new analysts and expand people’s horizons of the nearly infinite number of ways that visual analytics tools like Tibco Spotfire can be used.

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Top News – Analysis & Commentary
Data, Data Warehousing, Analytics & BI

Five Business Intelligence Predictions
from Paxata for 2014

January 26th, 2014
Stephen McDaniel
Chief Data Officer Advisor at Freakalytics, LLC

Paxata logo blue 201401Finding it hard to make time to keep up with the rapidly changing world of data, data warehousing, analytics, data science, business intelligence and visual analytics? We understand! Here’s a top new story worth reading and that we considered noteworthy enough to add commentary and analysis by Freakalytics (in purple).  A summary of the article and excerpts that I comment on are in black.

In this commentary and analysis, we cover the growth of Tableau and QlikView, the opportunities that exist for Microsoft to disrupt the second-generation business intelligence market and how self-service data integration will likely make data scientists & data enthusiasts much more productive- enabling wide swathes of Accidental Analysts to quickly answer tactical business questions.

Five Business Intelligence Predictions For 2014 (from the CEO of Paxata)
Summary
The dust is finally beginning to clear from the big data explosion, which is a good thing. One of the problems with big data is that it’s been led by technology, not business requirements. And business requirements will be the focus in the 2014 business intelligence (BI) ecosphere—to enable enterprises to achieve results with data mining and analytics and to prove those results.

Stephen
I found this article a fascinating glimpse into the strategic thoughts of a CEO of a promising, second-generation, cloud-based data integration company- Paxata.

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Top 5 Stories Worth Reading in
Data, Data Warehousing, Analytics & BI

January 26th, 2014
Stephen McDaniel
Chief Data Officer Advisor at Freakalytics, LLC

Finding it hard to make time to keep up with the rapidly changing world of data, data warehousing, analytics, data science, business intelligence and visual analytics? We understand! Each week, I read through hundreds of stories in this space and share the five most worthwhile articles with you. Each article includes a summary and link to the full story.

 

1-Netflix-analyticsHow Netflix Got Analytics Wrong, Then Right
Two entertaining and informative articles about Netflix illustrate how to be smart about using analytics. In one instance we see where Netflix went wrong, and in another we see Netflix doing the right thing.

Netflix launched a high-profile crowdsourcing project in 2006 to develop a better recommendation engine, offering a $1 million prize to any person or team who could improve Netflix recommendations by a modest 10 percent.

 

2-BI-dashboardSigns That Your BI Dashboard Needs a Comeback

Everyone loves a good comeback. Stories about celebrities like Robert Downey Jr. and Britney Spears climbing back to the top after falling so far capture our collective imagination. Movies like Rocky and Cinderella Man – about underdogs making a comeback – inspire us to think we ourselves can rebound from any setback.

Is your business intelligence dashboard the underdog at your organization? Dashboards have been around for decades, with some companies not putting the time and effort into updating them regularly to keep pace with the innovations in BI and the growing expectations of users.

 

3-analytics-movies"Pitch Perfect" And How Analytics Are Transforming Movie Marketing

When Universal released the cult musical film Pitch Perfect in 2012, they did what any self-respecting studio would do: They commissioned marketing reports and forecasted ticket sales for the Anna Kendrick-starring movie. Among them was an analysis by a company called Fizziology which data-mines social media to see how the film would play out with audiences. Continue reading

Upcoming analytics courses, free webinars and articles
December 2013 newsletter

Thanks for your interest in our newsletter, please forward it to colleagues that may benefit from it. Please join us for our upcoming webinar next Monday on common analytic issues and mistakes in Tableau 8.

Eileen and I are excited to share our new courses on Tableau, Microstrategy Analytics Desktop (a free alternative for visual analytics and dashboards), SAS programming and data exploration and visualization are all available for on-site instruction.

We are booking engagements with clients for on-site training and strategic consulting projects throughout Q1 and into Q2 of 2014, please let us know if we can help you in 2014!

Data Management and Visual Analytics with Tableau (2 days)
January 28th-29th, 2014—Chicago, Illinois
Everyone can benefit from learning a reliable, flexible and repeatable method to analyze real-world data. Combine this with a solid grounding in the flow and core features of Tableau to achieve great returns with this course. In just two days, you will complete multiple real-world case studies with Tableau paired with supporting data management capabilities of Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access.

Data Management and Visual Analytics with Microstrategy Analytics Desktop (2 days)
Microstrategy Analytics Desktop is an exciting new offering of Microstrategy, an established leader in business intelligence. Available as a free product for both personal and professional use, Freakalytics considers this new product a good alternative to other leading products in visual analytics and analytic dashboards. It is capable of working with local data sources such as Excel, text files and Access databases in addition to remote, big data sources such as SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL and Hadoop.

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Eight common analytic issues and mistakes in Tableau 8

Understand them, avoid them and correct them
December 23rd, 2013 --- 11 AM Central, Noon Eastern, 9 AM Pacific, 5 PM London
Click here to register

Synopsis
tableau_public_Freakalytics_launchIn this webinar, Stephen reviews common shortcomings and misunderstandings that can prevent effective use of Tableau. These issues can result in misleading or just plain wrong answers being presented to your analysis audience, most without any warning messages or signs.

This webinar is relevant for all experience levels of Tableau users. Attendance at this webinar is free, compliments of Freakalytics and their upcoming, in-person Chicago Workshop in late January, Data Management and Visual Analytics with Tableau. This webinar is planned to run 90 minutes, with the presentation approximately 70 minutes in length and 20 minutes planned for Q&A. Please use an affiliated e-mail address to receive an attendance link. 

About Freakalytics
Freakalytics offers two public and on-site training seminars on Tableau: Data Management and Visual Analytics with Tableau (2 days) and the original Complete Tableau Training (4 days), authored and taught exclusively by Freakalytics since 2009.

The Complete Tableau Training is the course that many early adopters of Tableau attended, both in public venues and on-site, and that Tableau endorsed in 2009, with Freakalytics as the founding Tableau Education Partner. Since Stephen left Tableau as Director of Analytics in 2013, we are now the world’s leading provider of independent Tableau training expertise, able to objectively train and advise clients on how best to utilize Tableau in conjunction with other leading data visualization, data storage and analytic products.

Register for this webinar

Top News – Data, Data Warehousing, Analytics & BI

November 18th, 2013
Stephen McDaniel
Chief Data Officer Advisor at Freakalytics, LLC

Finding it hard to make time to keep up with the rapidly changing world of data, data warehousing, analytics, data science, business intelligence and visual analytics? We understand! Here’s our curated summary of relevant news that could help with your future data and analytic projects. We also add commentary on the topic, a summary of the article and the link to read the full article.

There are four articles in this update:
     Amazon wades into big data streams with Kinesis
     Top 10 Trends in Text Analytics
     Effective Customer Analytics Call for Data Integration, Culture Shifts
     Your Car Is a Data Platform, What Can It Tell About You?

Missed our last issue of Top News, November 15th? Stories included RapidMiner (free and premium data mining), big data not top CFO priority, the DATA Act passes Senate, SAS replacing PowerPoint and big data sources to consider at your company.
 
 
 
 
 
1_1Amazon wades into big data streams with Kinesis

Amazon adds another layer to data storage and streaming options-Kinesis. Kinesis is all about real-time data collection and aggregation in a hosted cloud-scalable from Megabytes to Terabytes per hour! As such, it is a service that keeps your data for a maximum of 24 hours, by which time you presumably used it or stored it in a data warehouse (like Amazon Redshift), Hadoop system (like Amazon Elastic Map Reduce), NoSQL system (like Amazon Dynamo DB) or file store (like Amazon S3!) Do you notice a trend here?
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Top News – Data, Data Warehousing, Analytics & BI

November 15th, 2013
Stephen McDaniel
Chief Data Officer Advisor at Freakalytics, LLC

Finding it hard to make time to keep up with the rapidly changing world of data, data warehousing, analytics, data science, business intelligence and visual analytics?  We understand! Here’s our curated summary of relevant news that could help with your future data and analytic projects. We also add commentary on the topic, a summary of the article and the link to read the full article.

There are five articles in this update:
     Rapid-I data mining now RapidMiner, the Redhat of data mining?
     Integrating data and mobile trumps big data for many CFOs
     Bipartisan DATA Act unanimously approved by Senate Committee
     Can SAS Visual Analytics replace PowerPoint?
     Big data sources to consider for your company

Missed our last issue of Top News, November 11th? Stories included Big Data and Society, Data Mining Blues, 2014 INFORMS Conference, Facebook's Free Big Data System for Analysts, Adaptive Data Preparation, How Trust Affects the Use of Analytics and Meeting a VAST Challenge
 
 
 
 
 
2Rapid-I data mining now RapidMiner,
the Redhat of data mining?

German predictive analytics, data mining and text mining company receives $5M in funding and announces a planned move of their headquarters to Boston from Dortmund, Germany. I would liken it to the Redhat of data mining, with a free community edition and paid corporate editions that adds support, more data sources and more capabilities. With over 3 million downloads, 20,000 deployments and 400 paid customers including eBay, Intel, PepsiCo and Kraft you may want to consider RapidMiner for your advanced analytics projects. The 2013 KDNuggets poll showed RapidMiner’s free edition ahead of every other advanced analytics choice including R.
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Top News – Data, Data Warehousing, Analytics & BI

November 11th, 2013
Stephen McDaniel
Chief Data Officer Advisor at Freakalytics, LLC

i5_2Finding it hard to make time to keep up with the rapidly changing world of data, data warehousing, analytics, data science, business intelligence and visual analytics?  We understand! Here's our curated summary of relevant news that could help with your future data and analytic projects. We also add commentary on the topic, a summary of the article and the link to read the full article.

There are seven articles in this update:
     How Big Data Is Changing Science (and Society)
     Big data blues: The dangers of data mining
     2014 INFORMS Conference on the Business of Big Data
     Facebook System for Massive Big Data (Hadoop FS) Offered Free to World
     Paxata Launches Industry’s First Adaptive Data Preparation Platform
     C-Suite and Trust Both Affect Financial Returns on Analytics, Big Data
     Meeting a VAST challenge – Lincoln Laboratory staff create winning visualization
 
 
 
 
 
i6How Big Data Is Changing Science (and Society)

Traditional statistical approaches that long dominated scientific research are being challenged and augmented by new approaches from the fields of big data and data science.

HOW CAN YOU PREDICT something without understanding it? Simple: Continue reading

Data scientists & the data warehouse team-building success

Data-Scientist-Tech-200Whether you are a CIO, data architect, or a data management professional, it is imperative to understand the different approaches, attitudes and needs of the next generation of data warehouse consumers. Traditional data warehouse users include reporting teams, BI teams (who created reports for the rest of the company), statisticians and others. In the past few years, this has been rapidly changing with the new roles of data scientists, the rise of Data Enthusiasts and the burgeoning population of Accidental Analysts. In Part 1 of this series, we focus on successful collaboration between data scientists and data warehouse teams.

Data scientists have been with us for many years. However, the moniker “data scientist” is a recent change. The same role existed (and still exists) with titles such as statisticians, mathematicians, computer scientists or systems analysts; however, having one of these alternate titles doesn’t necessarily imply that one is a data scientist, although a wide range of techniques may be used by both groups.

Traditional training for people now in data science focused on Continue reading