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Trends and Outliers

TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog

Monthly Archives: September 2012


Visualizing Fantasy Football Success: NFL Week 4

Before you set your lineup and hit the Fantasy gridiron this weekend, consult the data-driven insights of @TIBCOSpotfire’s resident sports analytics geek @Brett2point0:

1heatmapwk31 Visualizing Fantasy Football Success:  NFL Week 4#FantasyFootball #analytics insight: Confidently start BOTH Texans RBs! Titans>>most rush. yards/points allowed in #NFL

When Houston gets down to the second half, the team will turn to both Arian Foster and Ben Tate and the ground game to protect their lead on Tennessee, kill the clock, control the ball, and escape with an easy victory. Grab those “garbage time” points!


Avoid #FantasyFootball match-ups w/NFC West teams, toughest #NFL division to score against in 2012: #dataviz #analytics

If you can avoid it in a choice between players in a flex roster spot, avoid players matching up against NFC West teams whenever possible (especially San Francisco, Seattle, and Arizona). It can be a very, very long Sunday afternoon when your Fantasy players’ offense isn’t even on the field.

treemapwk3 Visualizing Fantasy Football Success:  NFL Week 4


#FantasyFootball insight of the week: bench “Action” Jackson vs SEA (tough against the run): #NFL #dataviz #analytics

With that said about Seattle in the NFC West, one player facing a tough road to production this week is St. Louis running back Steven “Action” Jackson. If you have better options, bench him.

GetImage.ashx  Visualizing Fantasy Football Success:  NFL Week 4

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How BI and Data Analytics Pros Used Twitter – TUCON Edition

It’s time for a special Twitter wrap – how BI and data analytics pros used Twitter during TUCON 2012 – the annual TIBCO user conference. In this month’s edition, we’ll recap the highlights and give you a “do follow” list.

Analytics and BI on Twitter1 150x150 How BI and Data Analytics Pros Used Twitter – TUCON EditionThe Overview

Let’s start with a high-level overview of how big this conference is.

I borrowed this from TIBCO VP Ian Gotts (@iangotts) who wrote a number of posts on the conference: “But for TIBCO, it is the highlight of the year: 2,500 delegates, 52 client and analyst speakers, 20 sponsoring companies, press from all over the globe, days packed with exciting information and hundreds of networking connections to be made, all topped off with an awesome party taking over Haze nightclub with a top show called Legends.”

Next up, I created a Storify stream to capture some of the best tweets and Twitter pics of the Legends show. You can view the Storify here.

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Analytics Are Great; But Do You Have the Right Measurements in Place?

Analytics can help companies unearth the kinds of business insights that at one time were little more than wishful thinking.

These tools can identify emerging trends in customer purchasing behavior, spot anomalies in regional business performance, and detect a variety of other market shifts. But whether companies are using the most suitable metrics or even the right mix of metrics to determine how their use of customer and market data is impacting business performance remains another question.

metrics 150x150 Analytics Are Great; But Do You Have the Right Measurements in Place?Following decades of total quality management initiatives, including business process re-engineering and Six Sigma exercises, companies are “awash” with a multitude of measures and key performance indicators, says Nigel Martin in a recent blog.

But as companies gather and act on a variety of data streams, including shifts in customer buying patterns by segments, they often struggle to apply the right metrics to the data they’re analyzing, the business outputs they’re trying to achieve or the problems they’re attempting to solve.

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Is the NFL Fumbling Big Data Analytics?

The world of big data analytics first enters the public mainstream with the popular book and hit film Moneyball, which chronicles the Oakland A’s success using statistics and data mining to win Major League Baseball games.

Many of Oakland’s MLB competitors have started playing Moneyball, as have a bevy of National Basketball Association teams. Recently, English soccer teams began turning to analytics to boost their performance on the field.

fumble 300x199 Is the NFL Fumbling Big Data Analytics?But, the NFL may be ignoring the benefits of big data analytics at its own peril, according to a Ted Sundquist, former general manager of the Denver Broncos.

While so much of today’s game has been boosted by technological advances – such as film being replaced by digital video and game planning that can be done via software – many teams have not fully embraced the power of analytics to enhance their scouting, Sundquist argues.

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Inside Big Data Analytics: How Some Companies are Pushing New Horizons

The author of a recent New York Times article describes how a host of new companies are using innovative technologies like big data analytics to collect and analyze big data to learn more about us – a lot more.

While the concept of companies trying to peer into our lives to gain competitive advantages is not unheard of, what is unique about the companies in Quentin Hardy’s article, Big Data in Your Blood, is that they’re collecting data from within us. They’re bypassing our conscious responses and gathering physiological data directly from the body itself. And they’re using big data analytics to make sense of that information.

DNA 150x150 Inside Big Data Analytics: How Some Companies are Pushing New HorizonsCompanies like MC10 and Proteus are using both “wearable” technologies and digestible microchips to gather and analyze information about processes like brain activity and hydration levels that they intend to use for noble causes like lowering costs and increasing levels of care, Hardy notes.

Others, like Sano Intelligence, plan to use these wearable devices to “capture and transmit” blood chemistry information continuously to an analysis platform they call the API for the bloodstream.

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HBR Taps Data Scientist as the Sexiest Job of the Century

Harvard Business Review has recently selected the role of data scientist as the sexiest job of the 21st century. The award is the business world’s equivalent of People Magazine’s annual Sexiest Man Alive designation.

But who could ever have imagined that the nod would go to the data scientist, a role pioneered by the world’s Web behemoths and now being sought after by mainstream companies seeking to gain actionable business insight from sifting through large volumes of data?

datascientists sexy 300x185 HBR Taps Data Scientist as the Sexiest Job of the CenturyWhile the definitions of a date scientist are still evolving, one common denominator is that data scientists help companies make money analyzing data. Take, for example, Jonathan Goldman, who, while working at LinkedIn, began forming theories  about what could happen by tapping into analytics to link user profiles.

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Using Data Mining to Pinpoint What Customers Really Want

One of the greatest strengths of data mining is its ability to provide companies with revealing and compelling insights into the needs and preferences of their customers.

This includes information that customers share about themselves in social media channels, in contact center interactions, and through their online behaviors.

target audience 150x150 Using Data Mining to Pinpoint What Customers Really WantThrough the sentiments they share and the actions they take, customers convey the types of products they’re interested in as well as the services, processes, and policies used by companies that delight or infuriate them.

As Liana Evans says in recent blog, customers reveal a great deal about their interests and their likes and dislikes through comments shared each day on Facebook alone. “When we hear one suggestion over and over again, we know we have to take the next step . . . ,” adds Evans.

Of course, there are numerous ways to identify and act on the information that customers are sharing across multiple channels beyond Facebook. For instance, web mining allows retailers and other types of companies to detect patterns in online customer behaviors. As wiseGEEK notes, structure mining examines how customers are using web sites, including the types of pages they’re visiting and the information being sought.

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Data: Is it or Ain’t it . . . Plural?

OK. I admit it. I’m a grammar geek.

As a writer and an editor, it drives me to the brink when people use apostrophes to form plurals of acronyms, e.g., PC’s instead of PCs.

And don’t even get me started about agreement. For example, it’s not “the woman took their dog to the vet.” It’s ‘the woman took her dog to the vet.” When I see this, “the company wants to take their stock public” instead of Data are Plural 792 t 150x135 Data: Is it or Aint it . . . Plural?“the company wants to take its stock public,” I want to scream.

But even though I try to get it right all the time, there are some language rules that still trip me up, like whether to use a singular or plural verb with certain collective nouns. For instance, is it: “The team is going to the banquet,” or “The team are going to the banquet?” In this case, team is being used as a cohesive unit so a singular verb is required.

All of this brings me (finally) to the subject of this post. Which is correct, “data is” or “data are”?

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Filed under: Big Data


Data Scientists: Chasing the (Human) Face of Big Data

If one were to take a photo of big data, what would it look like?

Photographer Rick Smolan, who has worked for National Geographic and Time magazine, and his team of data scientists are tackling this question via his The Human Face of Big Data project.

face big data 150x150 Data Scientists: Chasing the (Human) Face of Big DataSmolan’s project will use professional photographers, voluntary participants and data scientists to document “humanity’s new ability to collect, analyze, triangulate and visualize vast amounts of data in real time.”

The project allows people to download an app to their smartphones to stream data – like the number of emails sent, location data and “answers about yourself, your family, trust, sleep, sex, dating, and dreams” – to Smolan from September 25-October 2. Smolan and his team of data scientists will interpret and analyze the data and report the results from the experiment during an October 2 media event.

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Filed under: Big Data, Data Scientist


5 Ways That Data Scientists Add Business Value

Companies are awash in data but corporate leaders don’t always know the most effective ways to extract business value from customer and market information like hiring a data scientist.

This is one of the reasons why hiring a data scientist a.k.a data analyst can help a company reach its business objectives through the ability to interpret data to spot customer and market trends quickly, as 352 Media Group’s Mike Cushing notes.

SuperBE1 150x150 5 Ways That Data Scientists Add Business Value As corporate data continues to grow exponentially, it’s also difficult for senior executives to figure out which data sets to work with or even how to get started working with big data.

This is another way that data scientistscan help companies unleash business value. In addition to compiling reports and ensuring the integrity of the data that’s being used, data analysts can alert line managers as well as senior executives to key customer trends or market shifts that are materializing.

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