Google’s Think Quarterly – An Issue for Data Junkies

April 8, 2011
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Google Think Quarterly photo (data visualization)Like data? Like to analyze data? Overwhelmed by data? So is Google.

Google Think Quarterly photo (data visualization)Like data? Like to analyze data? Overwhelmed by data? So is Google.

And they have a new cure – Think Quarterly. This new online magazine from the world’s largest search engine and et al tech company is “a breathing space in a busy world.” Matt Brittin, Google’s managing director for UK & Ireland Operations, says, “It’s a place to take time out and consider what’s happening and why it matters.”

The inaugural issue is focused on data – our favorite topic.

Making Connections with Visualization

Starting with the table of contents, you get a data visualization of how the articles connect with different colored lines connecting articles of similar content. There’s even an explanation of the “fun” behind the visuals.

 A Triangular Approach to Making Decisions

Next, we journey into the pages of “the book” as they call it. The lead feature – “Data Obesity” really stood out to this writer because it really hits home on the relationship we see between business acumen, data analytics and decision making.

In this article UK-based Vodafone CEO Ben Laurence, explains how this love triangle affects how smart companies arrive at their decisions: “I triangulate an objective assessment of the new technologies coming in, a subjective assessment of the public’s reaction to new propositions, and then I take a punt.”

Laurence takes a three-pronged approach to decision making and data analytics. As Simon Rogers writes, he takes “hardheaded data analysis coupled with business nous. Data is something that informs his hunches – but never rules them.”

A Fact-Based Life Starts with Data Visualization

We’ve covered this data visualization superstar before, but Hans Rosling’s story, “A Data State of Mind,” is quite the read. His approach to a fact-based life is one we should all consider, especially in business. A pioneer of data visualization, He says today’s companies are “used to standing on a podium, clicking through slide shows in PowerPoint rather than interacting with their presentation.”

The problem, according to Rosling? The disconnect between IT (where the data lives) and the design team (where the data becomes real). “Getting people used to talking with animated data is, to my mind, a literacy project,” Rosling says.

Wonder if he’d like to test drive Spotfire? After all, he does say we need to “play with data and give it meaning.”

It’s Not What You Think

Two words we never thought we’d here together – sexy data – appear in this issue of Think Quarterly. But it’s not what you think; it’s the best resources for beautiful data visualization on the Net.

The Top Skill for Leaders?

Finally, in “Soft Values, Hard Facts,” Professor Peter Kruse tells us how to use data to find what’s next. His company, nextpractice, which is based in Bremen, Germany includes a team of psychologists, economists, computer scientists and designers. Their mission? To  develop “customized management tools to support entrepreneurial decision-making and empower collective intelligence.”

Kruse believes that “resonance” goes hand-in-hand with “cultural value systems.” An example is when a small nonprofit cause goes viral or a brand is damaged in a matter of seconds via 100,000 tweets.

He says that “business leaders, entrepreneurs and politicians need access to the data which make these dynamics transparent.” This is his secret to being a successful leader in the 21st century. He says, “It’s not necessary to become a data freak like I am, but reducing complexity by order formation is the number one skill needed.”

Google’s Think Quarterly arrives in your RSS feed sometime in May. Can’t wait for more? Follow them on Twitter @ThinkQuarterly. You can sign up for the feed here. And, while you’re checking out feeds – sign up for the Trends and Outliers updates.

Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team