Driving Innovation Through Data Science
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that most new innovations in the world these days stem from analytics. Analytics has moved beyond the realm of just customer relationship management and web analytics and become a central department in corporations across all industries. The key driver of analytics-led innovation is the growth in:
Data Capture technologies
Computer processing power
What this effectively means is that every individual with an ordinary PC can now think of new ways to look at data, derive actionable insights based on publicly available information and hence innovate to improve human life. If the 70s and 80s were characterized by the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs obsessing over their machines in their garages and offices, and the 90s by the Silicon Valley internet Entrepreneur, if the early 2000s have seen the likes of Zuckerberg and Evan Williams finding ways to connect people and technologies, today’s entrepreneur is most likely crunching the vast amount of data generated by these earlier innovations to leap to the next frontier.
A recent trend in innovative analytics has been the attempt to capture other aspects of human behavior than just those which are written down or coded in computers i.e. encompassing biometric signals, mood shifts, the amount a person walks per day- all of them added together to enable a deeper understanding of the self or the consumer as the case may be.
Analytics for Crime Detection
In recent times crime prevention authorities such as the Police and the prison system have begun to use analytics to identify hot-spots of time and place where crime is likely to occur based on pattern analysis, or identify the propensity of a prisoner to repeat his crimes at the time of releasing him The implications of using data to keep our roads safer are only just being understood, and expect more action in this space soon! Government research agencies are also spending valuable time and investment in similar research on using analytics to measure the threat of terrorist action.
EXAMPLE FROM THE INDUSTRY
The Nike Plus
A tiny biometric devise used by runners across the world which helps you calculate distances, calories burnt, compare running times with other team mates who may be practicing in a different continent, all with the help of a small iPod app and tiny chip tied to your shoelaces. This interesting innovation ensures that both casual runners and athletes track their progress and goals analytically and make improvements continuously. Charting progress, daily times against planned targets, analysing your performance against those of one's peers, has made achieving physical fitness and maximum performance a conceivable goal for all individuals.
Using analytics to pick an excellent sports team? If only your favorite IPL Team did that! Initially germinated as an idea by baseball-fan-part-time-statistician Bill James, this art of objectively looking at the data about players in a different way from traditional measures has now been widely recognized as a valid way to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on player contracts in club sports, helping unfancied teams compete sustainably. The discipline calls for valuing players not so much on the traditional measures of fitness, overall performance or ‘gut feel’, but by very specific measures analytically proven to determine performance potential in specific forms of the game. Not only is Sabermetrics now a part of the regular sports geek lexicon, but also it has been given a full Michael Lewis treatment, its own Simpsons episode and was spun off into a movie starring Brad Pitt no else (Moneyball for those who could not guess!)