Workforce Management

Anyone who has worked in retail knows the anxiety that attends workforce scheduling for both manager and employee.  The manager wonders “Will my employees show up at the right times?” The employee wonders “Will I be scheduled for inconvenient times?  Enough hours? Too many hours?”  …

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Industry Spotlight: Health Analytics

Patient Data Management Health analytics is a hot topic now, but to do the analytics you need data - this is where Electronic Health Records (EHR) come in.  An integrated, standardized system for sharing and accessing health data has been “just around the corner” now…

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Industry Spotlight: HR (People Analytics)

Analytics has come to HR.  It’s partly Orwellian, tracking what employees do on the computer, and partly warm and fuzzy, leveraging the true informal organizational structure via network analysis (jump into Friday’s Network Analysis course to learn the basics).  One dimension assumes the worst about…

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Industry Spotlight: Hospitals

Hospitals are a major employer of statisticians and analytics professionals, both in support of clinical research like the retinopathy study described earlier, and to improve hospital operations (outcomes, cost management, etc.). Here are a few quick facts about the hospital industry: US hospital revenue totals…

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Industry Spotlight: Consulting

When a new technology arrives, consulting companies can quickly add staff and expertise to build institutional capacity centered around the technology in ways companies focused on delivering their own products and services cannot.  Large consulting companies like Booz Allen and McKinsey, as well as smaller…

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Industry Spotlight: Baseball (Sports) Statistics

The U.S. baseball season opens Thursday, March 28, and celebrates the 48th season of analytics in baseball, beginning with the founding of the Sabermetric Society in 1971 (the same year that Satchel Paige entered the Hall of Fame).  Analytics has come a long way in…

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Industry Spotlight: Agriculture

Weeds are big business - the global herbicide market is over $35 billion annually.  Weeds are also big government (think “invasive species”). California’s listing of weeds is called Encycloweedia, and the state publishes a quarterly newsletter called Noxious Times. Colorado publishes a similar periodical, Invader.…

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Industry Spotlight: Precision Agriculture

The application of analytics to agriculture has given rise to what is called “precision agriculture,” a science that seeks to take advantage of and use detailed information that is local in time and place.  Tractors and farm equipment are being equipped with sensors and software…

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Industry Spotlight: Military Operations

Abraham Wald, a persecuted Jewish mathematician who fled Austria just before World War II, led an analysis of allied bombers returning from missions.  Hitherto, the Air Force had focused on reinforcing areas that showed the most damage on return. Wald convinced them instead to focus…

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Industry Spotlight – Precision Agriculture

The application of analytics to agriculture has given rise to what is called "precision agriculture", a science that seeks to take advantage of and use detailed information that is local in time and place. Tractors and farm equipment are being equipped with sensors and software…

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Industry Spotlight: Credit Scoring

In the U.S., credit scoring is dominated by three companies - Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, employing roughly 30,000 people. An important player in the scoring methodology is FICO, previously Fair Isaac Corporation, and the scores are typically called "FICO scores." Credit scoring is the oldest…

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Industry Spotlight: Package Delivery

Nothing better illustrates the encroachment of data science and analytics on the older "economy of tangible things" than the business of delivering packages. The use of analytics in package delivery is not new. Companies like UPS and Fedex are longtime users of operations research methods…

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Industry Spotlight: Baseball – Opening Day & Statistics in Sports

The U.S. baseball season opens Thursday, March 28, and celebrates the 48th season of analytics in baseball, beginning with the founding of the Sabermetric Society in 1971 (the same year that Satchel Paige entered the Hall of Fame). Analytics has come a long way in…

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Industry Spotlight: Customer Segmentation

Are you "young and rustic?" Or perhaps a "toolbelt traditionalist?" These are nicknames given to customer segments identified by market research firm Claritas, with its statistical clustering tool. Long before the advent of individualized product recommendations, business sought to segment customers into distinct groups on…

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Industry Spotlight: CROs

CRO's, or contract research organizations, are a $40 billion industry, growing at close to 12% per year. They provide contract services to the pharmaceutical industry, including statistical design and analysis, laboratory services, administration of clinical trials, and monitoring of drugs once they are on the…

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Industry Spotlight: Consulting

When a new technology arrives, consulting companies can quickly add staff and expertise to build institutional capacity centered around the technology in ways companies focused on delivering their own products and services cannot. Large consulting companies like Booz Allen and McKinsey, as well as smaller…

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Good to Great

In 1994, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, former and current Stanford professors, published the best-seller Built to Last that described how "long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise."  It sold over a million copies. Buoyed by that success, Collins and a…

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Football Analytics

Preparing for the Superbowl Your team is at midfield, you have the ball, it's 4th down with 2 yards to go. Should you go for it? (Apologies in advance to our many readers, especially those outside the U.S., who are not aficionados of American football,…

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Artificial Lawyers

Can statistical and machine learning methods replace lawyers? A host of entrepreneurs think so, and do the folks who run www.artificiallawyer.com. Text mining and predictive model products are available now to predict case staffing requirements and perform automated document discovery, and natural language algorithms conduct…

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How Google Determines Which Ads you See

A classic machine learning task is to predict something's class, usually binary - pictures as dogs or cats, insurance claims as fraud or not, etc. Often the goal is not a final classification, but an estimate of the probability of belonging to a class (propensity),…

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Industry Spotlight: the Auto Industry

The auto industry serves as a perfect exemplar of three key eras of statistics and data science in service of industry: Total Quality Management (TQM) First in Japan, and later in the U.S., the auto industry became an enthusiastic adherent to the Total Quality Management…

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Analytics Professionals – Must They Be Good Communicators?

Most job ads in the technical arena list communication among the sought-after skills; it consistently outranks many programming and analytical skills. Is it for real, or is it just thrown in there by the HR Department on general principle? The founder of a leading analytics…

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GE Regresses to the Mean

Thirty years ago, GE became the brightest star in the firmament of statistical ideas in business when it adopted Six Sigma methods of quality improvement. Those methods had been introduced by Motorola, but Jack Welch's embrace of the same methods at GE, a diverse manufacturing…

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Industry Spotlight: SAS is back

The big news from the SAS world this summer was the release, on May 28, of the SAS University Edition, which brings the effective price for a single user edition of SAS down from around $10,000 to $0. It does most of the things that…

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