Test your understanding: If two betting propositions have correlated outcomes—such as, in the COVID era, the likelihood of lower in-person workplace visits and lower in-person attendance at sporting events—is it necessarily a bad strategy to make similar forecasts for both? What would be a justification for “putting all your eggs in one basket” like this?
Explore: What “grand theory” do you have about the field of business analytics that might lead you to make an interesting prediction about how this field will evolve over time?
Test your understanding: What does the “hunter/forager” archetype look like in the context of a modern business analytics team? How does that archetype behave differently from a “farming” analytics team?
Explore: In your organization, do you believe that new employees “get indoctrinated in the mysterious ways of those before them” and “if you deviate and you are not immediately successful, you die”? Or is there more room for an individual employee to try out radical new innovations?
Test your understanding: According to this section, why might a customer segmentation fail to deliver useful insights?
Explore: One common segmentation to use in consumer businesses is “cohorts” or “vintages,” based on customers’ date of subscription or first purchase. In your industry, what insights would you expect to get by cutting the data this way, as opposed to by demographics or geography?
Test your understanding: Modern business intelligence tools differ from old-fashioned reports by, among other things, allowing the user to select an arbitrary time period for analysis, toggle between raw and adjusted metrics, and visualize the results. How do these features enable the user to achieve greater understanding of the data?
Explore: What’s an example of a pandemic-related use case that is not met by the tools shown here? What kinds of data would be needed to feed into a business intelligence tool to meet this use case?
Test your understanding: According to this section, why do smart refrigerators struggle with the task of making recipe recommendations based on the foods inside of them?
Explore: Why do you believe the maker of this smart refrigerator prioritized such features as simulcasting TV video instead of (what the author believes to be) more useful and feasible features such as detecting maintenance issues and human errors?
Test your understanding: In what way are Major League Baseball teams stuck in a prisoner’s dilemma with respect to using data and analytics to improve their product?
Explore: What is an example of a consumer business that you believe has overoptimized customer treatments for near-term profit, such as by sending you excessive email, making you press many buttons when you call customer service, or raising prices shortly before offering illusory “discounts”? Why do you think this has happened?
Test your understanding: To avoid “analysis paralysis,” many experienced leaders recommend doing just enough analysis to become reasonably confident in the right course of action—doing the 20% of work that yields 80% of the benefit. According to this section, what is an example of a type of research that should never be skipped?
Explore: Based on your experience, what is a counterexample to the 80/20 rule, that is, a case where the initial answer seemed to be one thing but deeper analysis showed that a different answer was correct?
Test your understanding: According to this section, why has Excel remained a popular tool for doing business analytics?
Explore: The author paraphrases Stewart Brand’s view of architecture as: “Looks are overrated, function underrated.” Do you believe this is also true in business? In what ways have you seen an organization emphasize aesthetics at the expense of functionality? What would you do to fix this?