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Trends and Outliers

TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog

Monthly Archives: February 2012


The Data Analytics of Leap Year

Leap Year Infographic The Data Analytics of Leap Year

Today is Leap Day, which only happens every four years. This extra day has the ultimate purpose of keeping the calendar aligned with Earth’s revolutions around the sun. If we were to skip Leap Year, we’d lose six hours off our calendar each year, according to

So, in celebration of saving time, we’re bringing you the data analytics of Leap Year.

Does Leap Year Make a Business Difference?

According to most sources, not really, unless you’re looking at it in the short term. For instance, Matthew Yglesias, a business and economics correspondent for Slate Magazine, discussed the economic impact of the extra day. He writes, “Anyone who’s subjected to monthly performance metrics of any kind will do a bit better than he would in a normal February.”

However, if you look at the impact on the average person – renters get a “free” day and anyone with parking or public transportation permits gets a “free pass.” But it’s also an extra day of fuel and utilities consumption, and eating.

While it doesn’t affect bigger businesses much, for a small business like Richard Dux’s Chicago Subway franchise, it means “about 90 more working hours and an additional $70 in utilities,” according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

But Dux agrees with University of Chicago economics professor Sebastien Gay, in that “losses can be made up next month.”

Leap Year Birthdays – When to Celebrate?

Your chances of being born on February 29 are about 1 in 1,461 and about 4 million-5 million people around the world only celebrate their birthdays every four years.

The day can cause problems for people with the 2/29 birthday because many online systems don’t recognize it.

Most “leaplings” choose to celebrate on either February 28 or March 1. However, many states make them wait until March 1 to be considered “legal” to purchase alcohol or tobacco or to obtain drivers’ licenses.

Role Reversal

In Ireland, today is considered a permissible day for women to propose to men because of a deal St. Bridget made with St. Patrick “to bring some balance to the traditional roles of men and women.”

In some other European countries, if a man refuses a lass’ proposal, he must award the “jilted woman” a meal, a gift or “buy her a dozen gloves to cover up her ringless fingers,” according to an article from the Toronto Star.

Oh yeah, don’t get married in Greece today. It’s considered unlucky.

Next Steps: Tweet us if you have a Leap Day birthday. Also let us know what six hours less per year would mean to your business and subscribe to our blog for more on data analytics.





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Filed under: Data Analytics


The Rise of Workforce Analytics

WorkforceAnalytics PersonIcon3DGeneric 150x150 The Rise of Workforce AnalyticsA growing number of human resources (HR) teams are using workforce analytics to help with workforce charting, workforce/skills optimization, succession planning and other aspects of talent management.

And while the use of workforce analytics is still early stage for many companies, the use of these tools will become even more strategic going forward as the global economy continues to gain strength and companies find themselves at war for people with different types of skills.

For instance, a recent study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Human Resource Services Inc. finds that workforce analytics will be used to a greater degree to assist with workforce performance and to support strategic workforce planning, including succession planning efforts.

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The Data Analytics of the Oscars

oscar viz1 407x1024 The Data Analytics of the OscarsData pros tuned in to the Academy Awards last night to watch the film “Moneyball” take a stab at a very subjective award. With the movie up for six awards (including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing and Sound Mixing), it was a night of anticipation for sports and analytics fans.

Data Pros Snubbed

Or not so much. “Moneyball,” which is only one of three sports films ever nominated, was snubbed in true Oscar fashion – not winning a single award. Interestingly, a sports movie did make best picture back in 2004 with Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby.”

“Moneyball” starred Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane, who hired data geek Peter Brand (Jonah Hill as Brand was nominated for Best Supporting Actor) to help him draft players based on “computer-generated analysis.” Another interesting fact is that Pitt starred in two films nominated for best picture – and left empty-handed. Pitt was in “The Tree of Life,” which was also nominated for best picture.

According to New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, data geeks were robbed. He says that “Moneyball” so engrossed him from beginning to end because “the moviemaking – from the dialogue to the editing to Bennett Miller’s pitch-perfect direction – was so expert.”

His synopsis of why this was the “best picture” of the 2012 nominees gives data experts and enthusiasts something to write home about. He says, “This wasn’t really a movie about baseball, it was a movie about statistics, and even about philosophy.” He adds, “That it found a way to press those subjects into the service of a poignant mass-market drama astounds me. And deserves the highest recognition.”

One more interesting statistic about this year’s favorite analytics movie – “Moneyball” had about a 25% chance of winning the award based on the length of its title. Of the past 84 Best Picture winners, only 21 movies have had one-word names.

Money Matters

Moving on to the money side of Oscar analytics, the winning film made the least amount of money at the box office to date. Silent film and top Academy Award winner “The Artist” drew in a mere $28 million, while popular favorites “The Help” and “Hugo” brought in $170 million and $106 million, respectively.

However, according to an article from the Media Awareness Network, the Best Picture award is worth anywhere from $20 million to $50 million in additional sales to the winner.

Oscar is Predictable

While snubs made the award show intriguing, the predictability of the winners made the night “boring,” according to early recaps. According to several reports, the multiple award ceremonies from the Golden Globes to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards are the real predictors of Academy Award winners.

Twitter Predictions Spot On

Twitter was also a good predictor of the winners. As you can see in today’s infographic from WebTrends, the analysis of 476,000 Tweets was spot-on in predicting three of four of the top categories – Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress.

Next Steps:

  • We want to know . . . does Peter Brand’s character in “Moneyball” meet this description of a data scientist? Tweet us your answer and watch this in-depth analysis of how sports teams build their rosters using data analytics as well as the instincts of general managers and owners.
  • Be sure to check out the upcoming Sloan Sports Analytics Conference real-time updates March 2-3 at hashtag #SSAC.
  • Remember to subscribe to our blog to keep up to date on sports analytics and other data analytics topics.

Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team

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Big Data Hits Madison Avenue

shopping madison2 150x150 Big Data Hits Madison AvenueBig data can help decision makers learn a lot about customer preferences, attitudes, needs, and recent purchasing behaviors. So it’s only natural for advertising execs to hitch their wagons to the big data movement in their zeal to deliver relevant and meaningful promotions to more targeted groups of would-be consumers.

Industry experts say that advertising whizzes will increasingly use big data and analytics to sift through reams of consumer data to help identify the best ways to promote products to defined customer segments based on consumer sentiment that’s shared in social media and other channels. In a recent article about big data on, analyst Rob Enderle (@Enderle) describes how “analyzing data can tell you what resonates and what doesn’t.”

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The Big Data Debate – Scientist vs. Analyst

In a recent #GartnerChat, there was conflicting opinion surrounding the haute job title “data scientist.” Our own Brett Stupakevich (@Brett2Point0) said that “ideally end users should be empowered to explore their own data and seek their own insights through self-service.” Gartner analyst Carol Rozwell (@CRozwell) had a similar take. She wrote, “Shouldn’t the average person be able to derive value from data . . . [even though] some people refuse to see the truth in data?”

Ted Friedman (@tedfriedman), another Gartner analyst, called the job title “a little bit elitist,” despite the emphasis on analytics roles. However, Esteban Kolsky (@ekolsky) said the term “scientist is not elitist; it defines a specific role.”

While the jury is still out on whether you need highly trained scientists to empower your data no matter how big it is, one thing is clear – there’s a focus on analytics and to be competitive, companies need to focus on their data analytics strategies.

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How the Consumerization of Data Leads to Additional Quality of Life Improvements

600x300 150x150 How the Consumerization of Data Leads to Additional Quality of Life ImprovementsIn the third post of our series about how people everywhere can use data and tools to make the world a better place, we shared with you ways in which the consumerization of data helps us to live better.

Today, we’re going to focus on different ways that organizations in the public sector are using data and tools to help make our communities safer to live in.

The Boston Globe posted an article noting how serious crime has dipped to its lowest levels in 50 years in the city of Cambridge, Mass. Police are crediting their increased reliance on statistical data to identify crime trends and to predict future misdeeds.

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How to Battle the Looming Shortage of Data Scientists

coats 150x150 How to Battle the Looming Shortage of Data ScientistsConsider it a supply and demand challenge.

Analytics is front of mind for key decision makers. In fact, it was cited by Gartner as the top IT priority for CIOs and CFOs this year. But all this energy and excitement around analytics may come at a steep cost.

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Taking a Dimension-Free View of Data

data exploration 150x150 Taking a Dimension Free View of DataOne of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is the intimidating nature of big data.

Many decision makers suffer from the so-called “paralysis by analysis” as they struggle to decide how best to sample and act on the petabytes of structured and unstructured customer data that’s available to them today.

Companies need to be able to cut through the chaff and enable decision makers to view key business and customer trends in near real time so they can act quickly and decisively.

Dimension-free data exploration enables end users to utilize contextual and social analytics capabilities without having to request assistance from their IT departments. This approach blends the strengths of visual data discovery with collaborative analytics for improved and more rapid decision making and borderless analytical capabilities.

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The Data Analytics of Valentine’s Day

WelovespendingValentines2012 4f3994f14f0f1 w450 The Data Analytics of Valentines DayWhat’s the big deal about a holiday invented by the greeting card companies?
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that a lady named Esther Howland sold the first mass-produced valentine cards in the 1840s. She was definitely on to something. The Greeting Card Association estimates that Americans will send about 150 million cards this year.
Today, if you’re in a relationship, you may get in “trouble” if you don’t remember it! Maybe that’s the driver behind the big business that is Valentine’s Day. It’s also the day singles loathe more than any other.So, for all you data geeks, we’re bringing you the data analytics of Valentine’s Day.
So break open that heart-shaped chocolate box and gather a little watercooler fodder about the sweetest holiday of the year.

How Much is a Valentine Worth?

About $126 across the board, according to the National Retail Association’s 2012 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey. That’s more than any year in the survey’s 10-year history. The expected economic impact is a mere $17.6 billion.

Who Spends the Most?

Men are more likely to double their lady love’s spend, shelling out about $168 for the holiday. His spending spree covers clothing, jewelry, greeting cards and more (which differs from our infographic slightly). Women stay under the $100 mark with an average ticket of $85.

Mobile Shoppers

We found this data intriguing – research begins with the mobile device. More than half of shoppers who own tablets researched, compared prices, redeemed coupons, looked up retailer info or purchased products with their devices, reports the NRF. Additionally, 40% of smartphone owners used their devices for the same purpose.

What Are We Buying & Where?

Jewelry tops the list of spending at nearly $4.1 billion, followed closely by an evening out at $3.5 billion. Candy, flowers and gift cards spending will average a little over $1 billion each.

Don’t Forget the Kids

Consumers will spend an average of $25 on their children and other family members, reports the NRF. And in nine months, that spending will jump to more than $10,000 just to bring one of the 11,000 children conceived on Valentine’s Day into the world. And when you look at the cost to raise a Valentine’s baby to adulthood, you’ll shell out an average of $226K over the next 18 years.

Furry Friends Need Love, Too

And Fido can’t be forgotten; pets receive at least a “happy” with consumers averaging about $4.52 on pets.

If you dig into the NRF data a little more, you’ll see that those who do purchase pet gifts will spend around $23 for their furry friends. The more surprising number is how many people would like to receive “Valentine’s kisses from their four-legged, furry friends than their two-legged sweethearts.” Of 6,000 “American pet parents” surveyed by PetPlan, a pet insurance company, 60% prefer puppy and kitty kisses this Valentine’s.

The data analytics also show that we’re so obsessed with our pets, that 20% of them will send their own Valentine’s greetings through the mail.

The Unlovely Side of Valentine’s Spending

It appears that the ladies really do take Valentine’s Day seriously. Nearly 53% of the ladies would end their relationships if they did not receive a gift on February 14th. Wonder if that explains why divorce filings rise about 40% this time of year?

A divorce attorney who was born on Valentine’s Day reports that today is not the day to make the commitment. While 10% of all marriage proposals take place on Valentine’s Day (according to U.S. Census data), attorney Myra Chack Fleischer says, “One day a year does not a love affair make.”

Singles – Online is Where It’s At

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2007, there were 393 dating services in America with a revenue of $928 million. New research published today shows that this may be the place to look for love. TheNextWeb reports that there’s been a 57% increase in online dating revenues in the last year and only about a tenth of single people use these sites.

Next steps

Yeah, it’s cheesy, but today is the holiday of love. A card can help you express your feelings (lovely or not). Tweet us with your take on Cupid’s day, subscribe to our blog and don’t forget to call your mom.

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How Big Data is Creating the Future of Science Fiction

Sci fi world 150x150 How Big Data is Creating the Future of Science Fiction Yesterday at the top of my gmail account was this message: “M.S. in Analytics——How do I become a data scientist? Northwestern Engineering.” Now raise your hand if you’ve had a similar experience.

Why was this particular ad served up to me? Well, according to Google, “This ad is based on emails from your mailbox.”

OK, so Google seems to know more about me than I do. And it’s not just Google. It appears that most of the websites we visit know more about us then we know about ourselves.

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