Data Science 2015: What's Hot & What's Not

| May 4, 2016

article image
CrowdFlower infographic on what is in for data science in 2015 and what is on its way out.

Spotlight

Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc.

Founded in 1981, Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc. (ASCI), is an analyst-recognized leader with over 2000 customers in 50 countries around the world. ActiveBatch®, by Advanced Systems Concepts, is a leading Enterprise IT Automation and Job Scheduling solution. ActiveBatch takes a Layered Approach to Workload, Business Process, IT Process, Big Data/Hadoop, Managed File Transfer Automation, and more. With a wide range of integrations and extensions, and a dynamic Service Library, ActiveBatch users can reduce their reliance on code and custom scripting while quickly and seamlessly building end-to-end workflows. Visit our website to learn how you can Redefine IT Automation with a solution that is designed for industry and organizational change.

OTHER ARTICLES

How to Overcome Challenges in Adopting Data Analytics

Article | April 20, 2020

Achieving organizational success and making data-driven decisions in 2020 requires embracing tech tools like Data Analytics and collecting, storing and analysing data isn’t.The real data-driven, measurable growth, and development come with the establishment of data-driven company culture.In this type of culture company actively uses data resources as a primary asset to make smart decisions and ensure future growth. Despite the rapid growth of analytic solutions, a recent Gartner survey revealed that almost 75% of organizations thought their analytics maturity had not reached a level that optimized business outcomes. Just like with any endeavor, your organization must have a planned strategy to achieve its analytical goals. Let’s explore ways for overcoming common blockers, and elements used in successful analytics adoption strategies. Table of Contents: - AMM: Analytic Maturity Model - What are the blockers to achieving a strategy-driven analytics? - What are the adoption strategies to achieve an analytics success? - Conclusion AMM: Analytic Maturity Model The Analytic Maturity Model (AMM) evaluates the analytic maturity of an organization.The model identifies the five stages an organization travels through to reach optimization. Organizations must implement the right tools, engage their team in proper training, and provide the management support necessary to generate predictable outcomes with their analytics. Based on the maturity of these processes, the AMM divides organizations into five maturity levels: - Organizations that can build reports. - Organizations that can build and deploy models. - Organizations that have repeatable processes for building and deploying analytics. - Organizations that have consistent enterprise-wide processes for analytics. - Enterprises whose analytics is strategy driven. READ MORE:EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES TO DEMOCRATIZE DATA SCIENCE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION What are the blockers to achieving a strategy-driven analytics? - Missing an Analytics Strategy - Analytics is not for everyone - Data quality presents unique challenges - Siloed Data - Changing the culture What are the adoption strategies to achieve analytic success? • Have you got a plan to achieve analytic success? The strategy begins with business intelligence and moves toward advanced analytics. The approach differs based on the AMM level. The plan may address the strategy for a single year, or it may span 3 or more years. It ideally has milestones for what the team will do. When forming an analytics strategy, it can be expensive and time consuming at the outset. While organizations are encouraged to seek projects that can generate quick wins, the truth is that it may be months before any actionable results are available. During this period, the management team is frantically diverting resources from other high-profile projects. If funds are tight, this situation alone may cause friction. It may not be apparent to everyone how the changes are expected to help. Here are the elements of a successful analytics strategy: • Keep the focus tied to tangible business outcomes The strategy must support business goals first. With as few words as possible, your plan should outline what you intend to achieve, how to complete it, and a target date for completion of the plan. Companies may fail at this step because they mistake implementing a tool for having a strategy. To keep it relevant, tie it to customer-focused goals. The strategy must dig below the surface with the questions that it asks. Instead of asking surface questions such as “How can we save money?”, instead ask, “How can we improve the quality of the outcomes for our customers?” or “What would improve the productivity of each worker?” These questions are more specific and will get the results the business wants. You may need to use actual business cases from your organization to think through the questions. • Select modern, multi-purpose tools The organization should be looking for an enterprise tool that supports integrating data from various databases, spreadsheets, or even external web based sources. Typically, organizations may have their data stored across multiple databases such as Salesforce, Oracle, and even Microsoft Access. The organization can move ahead quicker when access to the relevant data is in a single repository. With the data combined, the analysts have a specific location to find reports and dashboards. The interface needs to be robust enough to show the data from multiple points of view. It should also allow future enhancements, such as when the organization makes the jump into data science. Incorta’s Data Analytics platform simplifies and processes data to provide meaningful information at speed that helps make informed decisions. Incorta is special in that it allows business users to ask the same complex and meaningful questions of their data that typically require many IT people and data scientist to get the answers they need to improve their line of business. At the digital pace of business today, that can mean millions of dollars for business leaders in finance, supply chain or even marketing. Speed is a key differentiator for Incorta in that rarely has anyone been able to query billions of rows of data in seconds for a line of business owner. - Tara Ryan, CMO, Incorta Technology implementations take time. That should not stop you from starting in small areas of the company to look for quick wins. Typically, the customer-facing processes have areas where it is easier to collect data and show opportunities for improvement. • Ensure staff readiness If your current organization is not data literate, then you will need resources who understand how to analyze and use data for process improvement. It is possible that you can make data available and the workers still not realize what they can do with it. The senior leadership may also need training about how to use data and what data analytics makes possible. • Start Small to Control Costs and Show Potential If the leadership team questions the expense, consider doing a proof of concept that focuses on the tools and data being integrated quickly and efficiently to show measurable success. The business may favor specific projects or initiatives to move the company forward over long-term enterprise transformations (Bean & Davenport, 2019). Keeping the project goals precise and directed helps control costs and improve the business. As said earlier, the strategy needs to answer deeper business questions. Consider other ways to introduce analytics into the business. Use initiatives that target smaller areas of the company to build competencies. Provide an analytics sandbox with access to tools and training to encourage other non-analytics workers (or citizen data scientists) to play with the data. One company formed a SWAT team, including individuals from across the organization. The smaller team with various domain experience was better able to drive results. There are also other approaches to use – the key is to show immediate and desirable results that align with organizational goals. • Treating the poor data quality What can you do about poor data quality at your company? Several solutions that can help to improve productivity and reduce the financial impact of poor data quality in your organization include: • Create a team to set the proper objectives Create a team who owns the data quality process. This is important to prove to yourself and to anyone with whom you are conversing about data that you are serious about data quality. The size of the team is not as important as the membership from the parts of the organization that have the right impact and knowledge in the process. When the team is set, make sure that they create a set of goals and objectives for data quality. To gauge performance, you need a set of metrics to measure the performance. After you create the proper team to govern your data quality, ensure that the team focuses on the data you need first. Everyone knows the rules of "good data in, good data out" and "bad data in, bad data out." To put this to work, make sure that your team knows the relevant business questions that are in progress across various data projects to make sure that they focus on the data that supports those business questions. • Focus on the data you need now as the highest priority Once you do that, you can look at the potential data quality issues associated with each of the relevant downstream business questions and put the proper processes and data quality routines in place to ensure that poor data quality has a low probability of Successful Analytics Adoption Strategies, continuing to affect that data. As you decide which data to focus on, remember that the key for innovators across industries is that the size of the data isn’t the most critical factor — having the right data is (Wessel, 2016). • Automate the process of data quality when data volumes grow too large When data volumes become unwieldy and difficult to manage the quality, automate the process. Many data quality tools in the market do a good job of removing the manual effort from the process. Open source options include Talend and DataCleaner. Commercial products include offerings from DataFlux, Informatica, Alteryx and Software AG. As you search for the right tool for you and your team, beware that although the tools help with the organization and automation, the right processes and knowledge of your company's data are paramount to success. • Make the process of data quality repeatable It needs regular care and feeding. Remember that the process is not a one-time activity. It needs regular care and feeding. While good data quality can save you a lot of time, energy, and money downstream, it does take time, investment, and practice to do well. As you improve the quality of your data and the processes around that quality, you will want to look for other opportunities to avoid data quality mishaps. • Beware of data that lives in separate databases When data is stored in different databases, there can be issues with different terms being used for the same subject. The good news is that if you have followed the former solutions, you should have more time to invest in looking for the best cases. As always, look for the opportunities with the biggest bang for the buck first. You don't want to be answering questions from the steering committee about why you are looking for differences between "HR" and "Hr" if you haven't solved bigger issues like knowing the difference between "Human Resources" and "Resources," for example. • De-Siloing Data The solution to removing data silos typically isn’t some neatly packaged, off-the-shelf product. Attempts to quickly create a data lake by simply pouring all the siloed data together can result in an unusable mess, turning more into a data swamp. This is a process that must be done carefully to avoid confusion, liability, and error. Try to identify high-value opportunities and find the various data stores required to execute those projects. Working with various business groups to find business problems that are well-suited to data science solutions and then gathering the necessary data from the various data stores can lead to high-visibility successes. As value is proved from joining disparate data sources together to create new insights, it will be easier to get buy-in from upper levels to invest time and money into consolidating key data stores. In the first efforts, getting data from different areas may be akin to pulling teeth, but as with most things in life, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Once the wheels get moving on a few of these integration projects, make wide-scale integration the new focus. Many organizations at this stage appoint a Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) who helps increase collaboration between the IT and business units ensuring their priorities are aligned. As you work to integrate the data, make sure that you don’t inadvertently create a new “analytics silo.” The final aim here is an integrated platform for your enterprise data. • Education is essential When nearly 45% of workers generally prefer status quo over innovation, how do you encourage an organization to move forward? If the workers are not engaged or see the program as merely just the latest management trend, it may be tricky to convince them. Larger organizations may have a culture that is slow to change due to their size or outside forces. There’s also a culture shift required - moving from experience and knee-jerk reactions to immersion and exploration of rich insights and situational awareness. - Walter Storm, the Chief Data Scientist, Lockheed Martin Companies spend a year talking about an approved analytics tool before moving forward. The employees had time to consider the change and to understand the new skill sets needed. Once the entire team embraced the change, the organization moved forward swiftly to convert existing data and reports into the new tool. In the end, the corporation is more successful, and the employees are still in alignment with the corporate strategy. If using data to support decisions is a foreign concept to the organization, it’s a smart idea to ensure the managers and workers have similar training. This training may involve everything from basic data literacy to selecting the right data for management presentations. However, it cannot stop at the training; the leaders must then ask for the data to move forward with requests that will support conclusions that will be used to make critical decisions across the business. These methods make it easier to sell the idea and keep the organization’s analytic strategy moving forward. Once senior leadership uses data to make decisions, everyone else will follow their lead. It is that simple. Conclusion The analytics maturity model serves as a useful framework for understanding where your organization currently stands regarding strategy, progress, and skill sets. Advancing along the various levels of the model will become increasingly imperative as early adopters of advanced analytics gain a competitive edge in their respective industries. Delay or failure to design and incorporate a clearly defined analytics strategy into an organization’s existing plan will likely result in a significant missed opportunity. READ MORE:BIG DATA ANALYTICS STRATEGIES ARE MATURING QUICKLY IN HEALTHCARE

Read More

Put Publicly Available COVID-19 Data to Work for Your Business—Fast

Article | April 13, 2020

There’s a lot of information out there related to COVID-19. But right now—when it’s more important than ever to quickly access and analyze data —figuring out how to effectively use COVID-19 data to better manage your business can still be a challenge. We can help. Several customers have leveraged their Incorta platforms to instantaneously integrate COVID-19 data into their enterprise data and analytics dashboards.

Read More

A learning guide to accelerate data analysis with SPSS Statistics

Article | May 20, 2021

IBM SPSS Statistics provides a powerful suite of data analytics tools which allows you to quickly analyze your data with a simple point-and-click interface and enables you to extract critical insights with ease. During these times of rapid change that demand agility, it is imperative to embrace data driven decision-making to improve business outcomes. Organizations of all kinds have relied on IBM SPSS Statistics for decades to help solve a wide range of business and research problems.

Read More

The Importance of Data Governance

Article | September 7, 2021

Data has settled into regular business practices. Executives in every industry are looking for ways to optimize processes through the implementation of data. Doing business without analytics is just shooting yourself in the foot. Yet, global business efforts to embrace data-transformation haven't had resounding success. There are many reasons for the challenging course, however, people and process management has been cited as the common thread. A combination of people touting data as the “new oil” and everyone scrambling to obtain business intelligence has led to information being considered an end in itself. While the idea of becoming a data-driven organization is extremely beneficial, the execution is often lacking. In some areas of business, action over strategy can bring tremendous results. However, in data governance such an approach often results in a hectic period of implementations, new processes, and uncoordinated decision-making. What I propose is to proceed with a good strategy and sound data governance principles in mind. Auditing data for quality Within a data governance framework, information turns into an asset. Proper data governance is essentially informational accounting. There are numerous rules, regulations, and guidelines to make governance ensure quality. While boiling down the process into one concept would be reductionist, by far the most important topic in all information management and governance is data quality. Data quality can be loosely defined as the degree to which data is accurate, complete, timely, consistent, adherent to rules and requirements, and relevant. Generally, knowledge workers (i.e. those who are heavily involved in data) have an intuitive grasp of when data quality is lacking. However, pinpointing the problem should be the goal. Only if the root cause, which is generally behavioral or process-based rather than technical, of the issue is discovered can the problem be resolved. Lack of consistent data quality assurance leads to the same result with varying degrees of terribleness - decision making based on inaccurate information. For example, mismanaging company inventory is most often due to lack of data quality. Absence of data governance is all cost and no benefit. In the coming years, the threat of a lack of quality assurance will only increase as more businesses try to take advantage of data of any kind. Luckily, data governance is becoming a more well-known phenomenon. According to a survey we conducted with Censuswide, nearly 50% of companies in the financial sector have put data quality assurement as part of their overall data strategy for the coming year. Data governance prerequisites Information management used to be thought of as an enterprise-level practice. While that still rings true in many cases today, overall data load within companies has significantly risen in the past few years. With the proliferation of data-as-a-service companies and overall improvement in information acquisition, medium-size enterprises can now derive beneficial results from implementing data governance if they are within a data-heavy field. However, data governance programs will differ according to several factors. Each of these will influence the complexity of the strategy: Business model - the type of organization, its hierarchy, industry, and daily activities. Content - the volume, type (e.g. internal and external data, general information, documents, etc.) and location of content being governed. Federation - the extent and intensity of governance. Smaller businesses will barely have to think about the business model as they will usually have only one. Multinational corporations, on other hand, might have several branches and arms of action, necessitating different data governance strategies for each. However, the hardest prerequisite for data governance is proving its efficacy beforehand. Since the process itself deals with abstract concepts (e.g. data as an asset, procedural efficiency), often only platitudes of “improved performance” and “reduced operating costs” will be available as arguments. Regardless of the distinct data governance strategy implemented, the effects become visible much later down the line. Even then, for people who have an aversion to data, the effects might be nearly invisible. Therefore, while improved business performance and efficiency is a direct result of proper data governance, making the case for implementing such a strategy is easiest through risk reduction. Proper management of data results in easier compliance with laws and regulations, reduced data breach risk, and better decision making due to more streamlined access to information. “Why even bother?” Data governance is difficult, messy, and, sometimes, brutal. After all, most bad data is created out of human behavior, not technical error. That means telling people they’re doing something wrong (through habit or semi-intentional action). Proving someone wrong, at times repeatedly, is bound to ruffle some feathers. Going to a social war for data might seem like overkill. However, proper data governance prevents numerous invisible costs and opens up avenues for growth. Without it, there’s an increased likelihood of: Costs associated with data. Lack of consistent quality control can lead to the derivation of unrealistic conclusions. Noticing these has costs as retracing steps and fixing the root cause takes a considerable amount of time. Not noticing these can cause invisible financial sinks. Costs associated with opportunity. All data can deliver insight. However, messy, inaccurate, or low-quality data has its potential significantly reduced. Some insights may simply be invisible if a business can’t keep up with quality. Conclusion As data governance is associated with an improvement in nearly all aspects of the organization, its importance cannot be overstated. However, getting everyone on board and keeping them there throughout the implementation will be painful. Delivering carefully crafted cost-benefit and risk analyses of such a project will be the initial step in nearly all cases. Luckily, an end goal to all data governance programs is to disappear. As long as the required practices and behaviors remain, data quality can be maintained. Eventually, no one will even notice they’re doing something they may have considered “out of the ordinary” previously.

Read More

Spotlight

Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc.

Founded in 1981, Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc. (ASCI), is an analyst-recognized leader with over 2000 customers in 50 countries around the world. ActiveBatch®, by Advanced Systems Concepts, is a leading Enterprise IT Automation and Job Scheduling solution. ActiveBatch takes a Layered Approach to Workload, Business Process, IT Process, Big Data/Hadoop, Managed File Transfer Automation, and more. With a wide range of integrations and extensions, and a dynamic Service Library, ActiveBatch users can reduce their reliance on code and custom scripting while quickly and seamlessly building end-to-end workflows. Visit our website to learn how you can Redefine IT Automation with a solution that is designed for industry and organizational change.

Events