Data Analytics Popularity Increases and Goes Mainstream

May 9, 2011
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Data Analytics Goes Mainstream 300x189 photo (data analytics)It’s Friday night and you have dinner plans. The regular babysitter is busy. You’ve gathered references on a new babysitter — five outstanding endorsements and one mediocre endorsement. What do you do? You analyze the data and make the best decision you can.


Data Analytics Goes Mainstream 300x189 photo (data analytics)It’s Friday night and you have dinner plans. The regular babysitter is busy. You’ve gathered references on a new babysitter — five outstanding endorsements and one mediocre endorsement. What do you do? You analyze the data and make the best decision you can. How did you choose the restaurant for tonight’s dinner? You probably looked at the reviews and analyzed the data to make a decision. Should you take an umbrella? I don’t know – did you look at the data from the weather forecast?

Whether you’re choosing stocks, buying on eBay, picking fantasy footballs players or deciding whether to accept a new Facebook friend, you are more than likely gathering and analyzing data in order to arrive at the best decision. Let’s face it. In the words of Forbes Magazine, data analytics has become mainstream.

 

 One of the primary drivers, according to Forbes, is that we are creating data faster than we know what to do with it. We’re surrounded by data. Using data has become the natural and accepted way to make decisions. You may not even think about it, because it’s become second nature. Most of the time, you probably don’t even realize you’re analyzing data. Maybe you don’t even like math!

Executives have realized that well-informed decisions are better than uninformed decisions. The move to fact-based decision-making has given rise to complex and sophisticated ways of visualizing and analyzing information to make daily operational and high-impact strategic decisions. This new analytics culture is creating a demand for mathematical and analytic talent in companies, and we’ve discussed how colleges and universities are offering new degree programs in data mining, data analytics and business intelligence.  Teams of mathematicians and advanced data models are probably the images that most people conjure up when they think of analytics, but analytics can be much more simple — as simple as a chart, in fact.

In his book, Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-By-the-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart, author Ian Ayres argues that data analytics for decision-making is so important that everyone needs a basic understanding of the subject. We don’t all need to be Shakespeare, but we need an understanding of English. We don’t all need to be Einstein, but we need an understanding of math. The same is true of analytics, according to Ayres. Maybe that’s why 8th grade algebra today is more commonly known as Algebra and Data Analysis.

How mainstream will analytics become? Will it take a place next to reading, writing and arithmetic as a basic skill that all kids need to learn? Perhaps it already has. Joining the ranks of Conjunction Junction and other cartoons from Schoolhouse Rock that explain the basics of grammar and math is this addition from PBS kids that explains the basics of data visualization. It’s called “I Love Charts!”

 

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Steve McDonnell
Spotfire Blogging Team