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Top 7 Business Strategy Models

UPDATED POST- Some Models I use for Business Strategy- to analyze the huge reams of qualitative and uncertain data that business generates. I have added a bonus the Business canvas Model (number 2)

  1. Porters 5 forces Model-To analyze industries
  2. Business Canvas
  3. BCG Matrix- To analyze Product Portfolios
  4. Porters Diamond Model- To analyze locations
  5. McKinsey 7 S Model-To analyze teams
  6. Gernier Theory- To analyze growth of organization
  7. Herzberg Hygiene Theory- To analyze soft aspects of individuals
  8. Marketing Mix Model- To analyze marketing mix.

(more…)

Interview Rob J Hyndman Forecasting Expert #rstats

Here is an interview with Prof Rob J Hyndman who has created many time series forecasting methods and authored books as well as R packages on the same.

Ajay -Describe your journey from being a student of science to a Professor. What were some key turning points along that journey?
 
Rob- I started a science honours degree at the University of Melbourne in 1985. By the end of 1985 I found myself simultaneously working as a statistical consultant (having completed all of one year of statistics courses!). For the next three years I studied mathematics, statistics and computer science at university, and tried to learn whatever I needed to in order to help my growing group of clients. Often we would cover things in classes that I’d already taught myself through my consulting work. That really set the trend for the rest of my career. I’ve always been an academic on the one hand, and a statistical consultant on the other. The consulting work has led me to learn a lot of things that I would not otherwise have come across, and has also encouraged me to focus on research problems that are of direct relevance to the clients I work with.
I never set out to be an academic. In fact, I thought that I would get a job in the business world as soon as I finished my degree. But once I completed the degree, I was offered a position as a statistical consultant within the University of Melbourne, helping researchers in various disciplines and doing some commercial work. After a year, I was getting bored doing only consulting, and I thought it would be interesting to do a PhD. I was lucky enough to be offered a generous scholarship which meant I was paid more to study than to continue working.
Again, I thought that I would probably go and get a job in the business world after I finished my PhD. But I finished it early and my scholarship was going to be cut off once I submitted my thesis. So instead, I offered to teach classes for free at the university and delayed submitting my thesis until the scholarship period ran out. That turned out to be a smart move because the university saw that I was a good teacher, and offered me a lecturing position starting immediately I submitted my thesis. So I sort of fell into an academic career.
I’ve kept up the consulting work part-time because it is interesting, and it gives me a little extra money. But I’ve also stayed an academic because I love the freedom to be able to work on anything that takes my fancy.
Ajay- Describe your upcoming book on Forecasting.
 
Rob- My first textbook on forecasting (with Makridakis and Wheelwright) was written a few years after I finished my PhD. It has been very popular, but it costs a lot of money (about $140 on Amazon). I estimate that I get about $1 for every book sold. The rest goes to the publisher (Wiley) and all they do is print, market and distribute it. I even typeset the whole thing myself and they print directly from the files I provided. It is now about 15 years since the book was written and it badly needs updating. I had a choice of writing a new edition with Wiley or doing something completely new. I decided to do a new one, largely because I didn’t want a publisher to make a lot of money out of students using my hard work.
It seems to me that students try to avoid buying textbooks and will search around looking for suitable online material instead. Often the online material is of very low quality and contains many errors.
As I wasn’t making much money on my textbook, and the facilities now exist to make online publishing very easy, I decided to try a publishing experiment. So my new textbook will be online and completely free. So far it is about 2/3 completed and is available at http://otexts.com/fpp/. I am hoping that my co-author (George Athanasopoulos) and I will finish it off before the end of 2012.
The book is intended to provide a comprehensive introduction to forecasting methods. We don’t attempt to discuss the theory much, but provide enough information for people to use the methods in practice. It is tied to the forecast package in R, and we provide code to show how to use the various forecasting methods.
The idea of online textbooks makes a lot of sense. They are continuously updated so if we find a mistake we fix it immediately. Also, we can add new sections, or update parts of the book, as required rather than waiting for a new edition to come out. We can also add richer content including video, dynamic graphics, etc.
For readers that want a print edition, we will be aiming to produce a print version of the book every year (available via Amazon).
I like the idea so much I’m trying to set up a new publishing platform (otexts.com) to enable other authors to do the same sort of thing. It is taking longer than I would like to make that happen, but probably next year we should have something ready for other authors to use.
Ajay- How can we make textbooks cheaper for students as well as compensate authors fairly
 
Rob- Well free is definitely cheaper, and there are a few businesses trying to make free online textbooks a reality. Apart from my own efforts, http://www.flatworldknowledge.com/ is producing a lot of free textbooks. And textbookrevolution.org is another great resource.
With otexts.com, we will compensate authors in two ways. First, the print versions of a book will be sold (although at a vastly cheaper rate than other commercial publishers). The royalties on print sales will be split 50/50 with the authors. Second, we plan to have some features of each book available for subscription only (e.g., solutions to exercises, some multimedia content, etc.). Again, the subscription fees will be split 50/50 with the authors.
Ajay- Suppose a person who used to use forecasting software from another company decides to switch to R. How easy and lucid do you think the current documentation on R website for business analytics practitioners such as these – in the corporate world.
 
Rob- The documentation on the R website is not very good for newcomers, but there are a lot of other R resources now available. One of the best introductions is Matloff’s “The Art of R Programming”. Provided someone has done some programming before (e.g., VBA, python or java), learning R is a breeze. The people who have trouble are those who have only ever used menu interfaces such as Excel. Then they are not only learning R, but learning to think about computing in a different way from what they are used to, and that can be tricky. However, it is well worth it. Once you know how to code, you can do so much more.  I wish some basic programming was part of every business and statistics degree.
If you are working in a particular area, then it is often best to find a book that uses R in that discipline. For example, if you want to do forecasting, you can use my book (otexts.com/fpp/). Or if you are using R for data visualization, get hold of Hadley Wickham’s ggplot2 book.
Ajay- In a long and storied career- What is the best forecast you ever made ? and the worst?
 
 Rob- Actually, my best work is not so much in making forecasts as in developing new forecasting methodology. I’m very proud of my forecasting models for electricity demand which are now used for all long-term planning of electricity capacity in Australia (see  http://robjhyndman.com/papers/peak-electricity-demand/  for the details). Also, my methods for population forecasting (http://robjhyndman.com/papers/stochastic-population-forecasts/ ) are pretty good (in my opinion!). These methods are now used by some national governments (but not Australia!) for their official population forecasts.
Of course, I’ve made some bad forecasts, but usually when I’ve tried to do more than is reasonable given the available data. One of my earliest consulting jobs involved forecasting the sales for a large car manufacturer. They wanted forecasts for the next fifteen years using less than ten years of historical data. I should have refused as it is unreasonable to forecast that far ahead using so little data. But I was young and naive and wanted the work. So I did the forecasts, and they were clearly outside the company’s (reasonable) expectations, and they then refused to pay me. Lesson learned. It’s better to refuse work than do it poorly.

Probably the biggest impact I’ve had is in helping the Australian government forecast the national health budget. In 2001 and 2002, they had underestimated health expenditure by nearly $1 billion in each year which is a lot of money to have to find, even for a national government. I was invited to assist them in developing a new forecasting method, which I did. The new method has forecast errors of the order of plus or minus $50 million which is much more manageable. The method I developed for them was the basis of the ETS models discussed in my 2008 book on exponential smoothing (www.exponentialsmoothing.net)

. And now anyone can use the method with the ets() function in the forecast package for R.
About-
Rob J Hyndman is Pro­fessor of Stat­ist­ics in the Depart­ment of Eco­no­met­rics and Busi­ness Stat­ist­ics at Mon­ash Uni­ver­sity and Dir­ector of the Mon­ash Uni­ver­sity Busi­ness & Eco­nomic Fore­cast­ing Unit. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Inter­na­tional Journal of Fore­cast­ing and a Dir­ector of the Inter­na­tional Insti­tute of Fore­casters. Rob is the author of over 100 research papers in stat­ist­ical sci­ence. In 2007, he received the Moran medal from the Aus­tralian Academy of Sci­ence for his con­tri­bu­tions to stat­ist­ical research, espe­cially in the area of stat­ist­ical fore­cast­ing. For 25 years, Rob has main­tained an act­ive con­sult­ing prac­tice, assist­ing hun­dreds of com­pan­ies and organ­iz­a­tions. His recent con­sult­ing work has involved fore­cast­ing elec­tri­city demand, tour­ism demand, the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment health budget and case volume at a US call centre.

Data Quality in R #rstats

Many Data Quality Formats give problems when importing in your statistical software.A statistical software is quite unable to distingush between $1,000, 1000% and 1,000 and 1000 and will treat the former three as character variables while the third as a numeric variable by default. This issue is further compounded by the numerous ways we can represent date-time variables.

The good thing is for specific domains like finance and web analytics, even these weird data input formats are fixed, so we can fix up a list of handy data quality conversion functions in R for reference.

 

After much muddling about with coverting internet formats (or data used in web analytics) (mostly time formats without date like 00:35:23)  into data frame numeric formats, I found that the way to handle Date-Time conversions in R is

Dataset$Var2= strptime(as.character(Dataset$Var1),”%M:%S”)

The problem with this approach is you will get the value as a Date Time format (02/31/2012 04:00:45-  By default R will add today’s date to it.)  while you are interested in only Time Durations (4:00:45 or actually just the equivalent in seconds).

this can be handled using the as.difftime function

dataset$Var2=as.difftime(paste(dataset$Var1))

or to get purely numeric values so we can do numeric analysis (like summary)

dataset$Var2=as.numeric(as.difftime(paste(dataset$Var1)))

(#Maybe there is  a more elegant way here- but I dont know)

The kind of data is usually one we get in web analytics for average time on site , etc.

 

 

 

 

 

and

for factor variables

Dataset$Var2= as.numeric(as.character(Dataset$Var1))

 

or

Dataset$Var2= as.numeric(paste(Dataset$Var1))

 

Slight problem is suppose there is data like 1,504 – it will be converted to NA instead of 1504

The way to solve this is use the nice gsub function ONLy on that variable. Since the comma is also the most commonly used delimiter , you dont want to replace all the commas, just only the one in that variable.

 

dataset$Variable2=as.numeric(paste(gsub(“,”,””,dataset$Variable)))

 

Now lets assume we have data in the form of % like 0.00% , 1.23%, 3.5%

again we use the gsub function to replace the % value in the string with  (nothing).

 

dataset$Variable2=as.numeric(paste(gsub(“%”,””,dataset$Variable)))

 

 

If you simply do the following for a factor variable, it will show you the level not the value. This can create an error when you are reading in CSV data which may be read as character or factor data type.

Dataset$Var2= as.numeric(Dataset$Var1)

An additional way is to use substr (using substr( and concatenate (using paste) for manipulating string /character variables.

 

iris$sp=substr(iris$Species,1,3) –will reduce the famous Iris species into three digits , without losing any analytical value.

The other issue is with missing values, and na.rm=T helps with getting summaries of numeric variables with missing values, we need to further investigate how suitable, na.omit functions are for domains which have large amounts of missing data and need to be treated.

 

 

Facebook Search- The fall of the machines

Increasingly I am beginning to search more and more on Facebook. This is for the following reasons-

1) Facebook is walled off to Google (mostly). While within Facebook , I get both people results and content results (from Bing).

Bing is an okay alternative , though not as fast as Google Instant.

2) Cleaner Web Results When Facebook increases the number of results from 3 top links to say 10 top links, there should be more outbound traffic from FB search to websites.For some reason Google continues to show 14 pages of results… Why? Why not limit to just one page.

3) Better People Search than  Pipl and Google. But not much (or any) image search. This is curious and I am hoping the Instagram results would be added to search results.

4) I am hoping for any company Facebook or Microsoft to challenge Adsense . Adwords already has rivals. Adsense is a de facto monopoly and my experiences in advertising show that content creators can make much more money from a better Adsense (especially ) if Adsense and Adwords do not have a conflict of interest from same advertisers.

Adwords should have been a special case of Adsense for Google.com but it is not.

5) Machine learning can only get you from tau to delta tau. When ad click behavior is inherently dependent on humans who behave mostly on chaotic , or genetic models than linear CPC models. I find FB has an inherent advantage in the quantity and quality of data collected on people behavior rather than click behavior. They are also more aggressive and less apologetic about behavorially targeted  ads.

Additional point- Analytics for Google Analytics is not as rich as analytics from Facebook pages in terms of demographic variables. This can be tested by anyone.

 

JMP 10 released

JMP , the visual data exploration, statistical quality control software from SAS Institute launched version 10 of its software today.

Source-http://jmp.com/about/events/webcasts/jmp_webcast.shtml?name=jmp10

JMP 10 includes:

Numerous enhancements to the drag-and-drop Graph Builder, including a new iPad application.

A cutting-edge Control Chart Builder to create process control charts with drag-and-drop ease.

New reliability capabilities, including growth and forecast models.

Additions and improvements for sorting and filtering data, design of experiments, statistical modeling, scripting, add-in and application development, script debugging and more.

From JohnSall’s blog post at http://blogs.sas.com/content/jmp/2012/03/20/discover-more-with-jmp-10/

Much of the development centered on four focus areas:

1. Graph Builder everywhere. The Graph Builder platform itself has new features like Heatmap and Treemap, an elements palette and properties panel, making the choices more visible. But Graph Builder also has some descendents now, including the new Control Chart Builder, which makes creating control charts an interactive process. In addition, some of the drag-and-drop features that are used to change columns in Graph Builder are also available in Distribution, Fit Y by X, and a few other places. Finally, Graph Builder has been ported to the iPad. For the first time, you can use JMP for exploration and presentation on a mobile device for free. So just think of Graph Builder as gradually taking over in lots of places.

2. Expert-driven design.reliability, measurement systems, and partial least squares analyses.

3. Performance.  this release has the most new multithreading so far

4. Application development

You can read more here -http://jmp.com/about/events/webcasts/jmpwebcast_detail.shtml?reglink=70130000001r9IP

Jill Dyche on 2012

In part 3 of the series for predictions for 2012, here is Jill Dyche, Baseline Consulting/DataFlux.

Part 2 was Timo Elliot, SAP at http://www.decisionstats.com/timo-elliott-on-2012/ and Part 1 was Jim Kobielus, Forrester at http://www.decisionstats.com/jim-kobielus-on-2012/

Ajay: What are the top trends you saw happening in 2011?

 

Well, I hate to say I saw them coming, but I did. A lot of managers committed some pretty predictable mistakes in 2011. Here are a few we witnessed in 2011 live and up close:

 

1.       In the spirit of “size matters,” data warehouse teams continued to trumpet the volumes of stored data on their enterprise data warehouses. But a peek under the covers of these warehouses reveals that the data isn’t integrated. Essentially this means a variety of heterogeneous virtual data marts co-located on a single server. Neat. Big. Maybe even worthy of a magazine article about how many petabytes you’ve got. But it’s not efficient, and hardly the example of data standardization and re-use that everyone expects from analytical platforms these days.

 

2.       Development teams still didn’t factor data integration and provisioning into their project plans in 2011. So we saw multiple projects spawn duplicate efforts around data profiling, cleansing, and standardization, not to mention conflicting policies and business rules for the same information. Bummer, since IT managers should know better by now. The problem is that no one owns the problem. Which brings me to the next mistake…

 

3.       No one’s accountable for data governance. Yeah, there’s a council. And they meet. And they talk. Sometimes there’s lunch. And then nothing happens because no one’s really rewarded—or penalized for that matter—on data quality improvements or new policies. And so the reports spewing from the data mart are still fraught and no one trusts the resulting decisions.

 

But all is not lost since we’re seeing some encouraging signs already in 2012. And yes, I’d classify some of them as bona-fide trends.

 

Ajay: What are some of those trends?

 

Job descriptions for data stewards, data architects, Chief Data Officers, and other information-enabling roles are becoming crisper, and the KPIs for these roles are becoming more specific. Data management organizations are being divorced from specific lines of business and from IT, becoming specialty organizations—okay, COEs if you must—in their own rights. The value proposition for master data management now includes not just the reconciliation of heterogeneous data elements but the support of key business strategies. And C-level executives are holding the data people accountable for improving speed to market and driving down costs—not just delivering cleaner data. In short, data is becoming a business enabler. Which, I have to just say editorially, is better late than never!

 

Ajay: Anything surprise you, Jill?

 

I have to say that Obama mentioning data management in his State of the Union speech was an unexpected but pretty powerful endorsement of the importance of information in both the private and public sector.

 

I’m also sort of surprised that data governance isn’t being driven more frequently by the need for internal and external privacy policies. Our clients are constantly asking us about how to tightly-couple privacy policies into their applications and data sources. The need to protect PCI data and other highly-sensitive data elements has made executives twitchy. But they’re still not linking that need to data governance.

 

I should also mention that I’ve been impressed with the people who call me who’ve had their “aha!” moment and realize that data transcends analytic systems. It’s operational, it’s pervasive, and it’s dynamic. I figured this epiphany would happen in a few years once data quality tools became a commodity (they’re far from it). But it’s happening now. And that’s good for all types of businesses.

 

About-

Jill Dyché has written three books and numerous articles on the business value of information technology. She advises clients and executive teams on leveraging technology and information to enable strategic business initiatives. Last year her company Baseline Consulting was acquired by DataFlux Corporation, where she is currently Vice President of Thought Leadership. Find her blog posts on www.dataroundtable.com.

Does the Internet need its own version of credit bureaus

Data Miners love data. The more data they have the better model they can build. Consumers do not love data so much and find sharing data generally a cumbersome task. They need to be incentivize for filling out survey forms , and for signing to loyalty programs. Lawyers, and privacy advocates love to use examples of improper data collection and usage as the harbinger of an ominous scenario. George Orwell’s 1984 never “mentioned” anything about Big Brother trying to sell you one more loan, credit card or product.

Data generated by customers is now growing without their needing to fill out forms and surveys. This data is about their preferences , tastes and choices and is growing in size and depth because it is generated from social media channels on the Internet.It is this data that can be and is captured by social media analytics.

Mobile data is also growing, including usage of location based applications and usage of Internet from the mobile phone is leading to further increases in data about consumers.Increasingly , location based applications help to provide a much more relevant context to the data generated. Just mobile data is expected to grow to 15 exabytes by 2015.

People want to have more and more conversations online publicly , share pictures , activity and interact with a large number of people whom  they have never met. But resent that information being used or abused without their knowledge.

Also the Internet is increasingly being consolidated into a few players like Microsoft, Amazon, Google  and Facebook, who are unable to agree on agreements to share that data between themselves. Interestingly you can use Yahoo as a data middleman between Google and Facebook.

At the same time, more and more purchases are being done online by customers and Internet advertising has grown much above the rate of growth of other mediums of communication.
Internet retail sales have the advantage that better demand predictability can lead to lower inventories as retailers need not stock up displays to look good. An Amazon warehouse need not keep material to simply stock up it shelves like a K-Mart does.

Our Hypothesis – An Analogy with how Financial Data Marketing is managed offline

  1. Financial information regarding spending and saving is much more sensitive yet the presence of credit bureaus alleviates these concerns.
  2. Credit bureaus collect information from all sources, aggregate and anonymize the individual components accordingly.They use SSN as a unique identifier.
  3. The Internet has a unique number too , called the Internet Protocol Address (I.P) 
  4. Should there be a unique identifier like Internet Security Number for the Internet to ensure adequate balance between the need for privacy as well as the need for appropriate targeting? 

After all, no one complains about privacy intrusions if their credit bureau data is aggregated , rolled up, and anonymized and turned into a propensity model for sending them direct mailers.

Advertising using Social Media and Internet

https://www.facebook.com/about/ads/#stories

1. A business creates an ad
Let’s say a gym opens in your neighborhood. The owner creates an ad to get people to come in for a free workout.
2. Facebook gets paid to deliver the ad
The owner sends the ad to Facebook and describes who should see it: people who live nearby and like running.
The right people see the ad
3. Facebook only shows you the ad if you live in town and like to run. That’s how advertisers reach you without knowing who you are.

Adding in credit bureau data and legislative regulation for anonymizing  and handling privacy data can expand the internet selling market, which is much more efficient from a supply chain perspective than the offline display and shop models.

Privacy Regulations on Marketing using Internet data
Should laws on opt out and do not mail, do not call, lists be extended to do not show ads , do not collect information on social media. In the offline world, you can choose to be part of direct marketing or opt out of direct marketing by enrolling yourself in various do not solicit lists. On the internet the only option from advertisements is to use the Adblock plugin if you are Google Chrome or Firefox browser user. Even Facebook gives you many more ads than you need to see.

One reason for so many ads on the Internet is lack of central anonymize data repositories for giving high quality data to these marketing companies.Software that can be used for social media analytics is already available off the shelf.

The growth of the Internet has helped carved out a big industry for Internet web analytics so it is a matter of time before social media analytics becomes a multi billion dollar business as well. What new developments would be unleashed in this brave new world is just a matter of time, and of course of the social media data!

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