Tag Archives: data scientist

The Ruthless Efficiency of Algorithms is Advancing Digital Frontiers

We recently caught up with Alistair Croll, Visiting
Executive at Harvard Business School as well as our Marketing Analytics &
Data Science Conference keynote speaker, to discuss the state of marketing
analytics and data science, and where it’s going in the future.
Today, Croll helps to accelerate startups, and works with
some of the world’s biggest companies on business model innovation. As an
entrepreneur, he co-founded Coradiant; the Year One Labs accelerator; and a many
other startups. Not to mention, he’s a sought-after speaker, and has launched
and chaired some of the world’s leading conferences on emerging technology,
including Startupfest, Strata, Cloud Connect, and Pandemon.io. Croll is also the
author of four books on technology and entrepreneurship, including the
best-selling Lean Analytics, which has been translated into eight languages.
What is the state of
the data science and analytics industry in 2017?

Croll: There is a realization that data itself doesn’t lead
to answers. This is really maturity: It’s asking the right question that’s
hard. Big data is replacing business intelligence, but most of it is still
being used to run reports and batch processes’rather than to find advantage or
At the same time, feeding the corpus of data into learning
algorithms holds promise. Those with the authority to do so are pointing
machine learning at their data seta to find correlations, then testing those
for causal relationships they can exploit.
What have been the
biggest changes data science and analytics since you started your career?

Croll: I’m not an analyst by trade. But the biggest change
is clear: once, we first defined the schema, then collected data. Now, we
collect the data, then define the schema.
In other words, “Collect first, ask questions
later.” This is a huge difference, but it has sort of snuck up on us. It
means we can iterate more, answering questions and adjusting our lines of
Have the influx of
social media and mobile made your job easier or harder?

Croll: More data sets mean more potential insights, but also
more spurious correlations. So it’s a two-edged sword.
How is data science
and analytics transforming every industry right now?

Croll: The simple, and somewhat terrifying, truth is that AI
gets unreasonably powerful, very quickly. Whether driving a car, or playing a
video game, or diagnosing a disease, or optimizing the design of an aircraft
part, algorithms are better than humans. They don’t get tired; they make fewer
mistakes; they don’t take breaks.
And what do we feed such algorithms? Data. There is no
industry that will not be changed by the ruthless efficiency of algorithms
advancing its digital frontiers.
Why is data science considered
the ‘sexiest job of the 21st century’?

Croll: Data science is the intersection of statistics,
critical thinking, and engineering. It requires a sense of narrative, and the
ability to build something. It’s that element of engineering that distinguishes
it from simple analytics, because it builds things that become products, or
processes. Rather than running a report, it improves the report’s results.
If big data is oil, data science is the refinery that makes
it usable.
What is the biggest
challenge in data science and analytics today?

Croll: We are still, sadly, trying to replace opinions with
facts. My good friend Randy Smerik argues that there’s no such thing as big
data: An airline that knows you’re running late fails to update your hotel;
false positives about in credit card management.
His point is that while we have tremendous amounts of data,
we seldom apply them to significantly improve the business or the customer
experience because doing so means making fundamental changes to the organization,
job descriptions, customer policies, and so on.
Where do you see data
science and analytics moving in the next 5 years?

Croll: Democratization, with the help of smart agents.
Pundits have been saying that for a long time, but in the last couple of years
tools like Cortana, Google Now, Siri, and Alexa’as well as various chat
interfaces like Slack, Sophos, and Skype’are going mainstream.
I also think that insurers will put significant pressure on
companies to implement better analytics and algorithms because it will be too
risky to do otherwise. If the organization can know everything about itself all
the time, it will be expected to do so. “We didn’t know this was
happening” will no longer be an excuse. And consequently, algorithms that
can parse all of that data and reduce risk will be mandatory.
Hear more from
Alistair during his keynote session, ‘Don’t’ Get Duped by Data’ at the
Marketing Analytics & Data Science Conference April 3-5, 2017 in San
Francisco, CA.

Data science and marketing analytics are transforming every
industry. There is a reason why it is being called the sexiest job of the 21st
century. Calling all professionals that want to harness analytics and data
science! Do you realize how critical you are to the future of your organization?
Learn more here: https://goo.gl/CbYosj

Use our exclusive
Blog discount code MADS17BL for $100 off the current rate. Buy your tickets

Marketing Analytics and Data Science 2017 – Save the Date

Save The Date!
April 3-5, 2017, San Francisco, CA
The U.S. election results proved that there is an urgent
need to improve our prediction models and statistical analysis. Thankfully,
Data science and Advanced Analytics are starting to lead the charge, and that’s
a fundamental reason it’s being called the sexiest job of the 21st century.

The Marketing Analytics and Data Science
is your opportunity to go beyond the data and identify hidden
insights. How can you work together to filter through all the clutter of data
and deliver results that really make a difference?

You are more powerful together than you are on your own!
Join Superheros from:
Director, Alibaba Group
Chief Data Scientist, Mashable
Founder and CEO, Fast Forward Labs
Head of Customer Experience Analytics and
Experimentation, Paypal
Economic Research Scientist, Netflix
EVP Insight, BBC Worldwide
Chief Economist, Google
Visiting Executive, Harvard Business School
And more!
Use exclusive LinkedIn discount code MADS17BL and save $100!
Buy your tickets here: http://bit.ly/2gEIb6e
We hope to see you in San Francisco next spring!
The Marketing Analytics & Data Science Team


The Era of Brilliant Alchemy: Data Anthropology

“Show me the numbers,” it’s often said. After all, data IS proof. But data is nothing without context, without a story, the whole story.

As a small child, I was fascinated by historical remnants of societies long gone, Pompeii, Masada, Taino, Aztec… Who were these people? What did they care about? What happened to them? How different were they from you and I? Or were they just like me? 
Anthropology is Dead
It was this intriguing idea of shared commonality/humanity that fascinated me in such a way that for the rest of my schooling, I became of student of the sciences and eventually undertook anthropology as a major course of study. It was there that I found myself being forced to make a choice between the softer qualitative analysis of my studies and the harder quantitative data. I found myself in a quagmire, I could write an ethnography report like nobody’s business, I loved being in the lab and visual data, but inputting spreadsheets made me queasy. Today this dichotomy isn’t as clear cut.
I’ve always been interested in technology, art and design but back then I didn’t have any real interest in marketing. So it’s rather curious for me to see the progression of marketing and business strategy and digital rapidly encroach into a blend of art and science. The era of Big Data demands scientists to organize and identify patterns and other findings quickly and effectively from quantitative data but it also demands an astute anthropological approach to share narratives about the role of the findings in people’s lives. 
Back in my school days, I was told over and over again, that anthropology was one of those dead end majors, were you either teach until you are gray-haired or you spend your career begging for funding, because the market for anthropologists outside of academia was minuscule.
Long Live Anthropology
Today we see in-house anthropologists at Google, Microsoft, Intel, Sandia National Labs, as well as at design, software and analytics, and market research firms the world over, not only exploring cultural insights but also aspects like usability through a social science lens. Pretty sweet for such a “withering” science…
What has happened is that the world we live in today calls for brands and business to not only understand their consumers and clients’ needs and desires but to also deeply comprehend their place, their context in their world, their zeitgeist, and their particular experience and connect that to their offering. Empathy is key.
Dataclysm & The Era of Brilliant Alchemy 

The other day, I received a review copy of the book Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) written by Christian Rudder, cofounder of OkCupid, whom you may remember used to share all those nifty reports based on findings from mining OKCupid member behavior. 
One of the cooler things that struck me about the book’s angle is that “Data scientists have become the new demographers” and we are living in a time of a “brilliant alchemy, in which math is made human and numbers become the narrative of our time.” True story.
Live long and prosper


Valerie RussoFormerly a senior copy editor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book GroupValerie M. Russo is editor at large of The Front End of Innovation BlogThe Market Research Event BlogThe World Future Trends Tumblr, the Digital Impact Blog, and also blogs at Literanista.net. She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at vrusso@iirusa.com or @Literanista