What is a Data Scientist? I know I am not one…

Below is a lovely infographic of what it takes to be a data scientist.  I can say that I have plenty of the domain knowledge, soft skills and a good amount of communication skills, but bayesian inference – please.


I accomplished my MBA, but I will humbly state that statistics almost made me quit.

The point here is to fully understand that depth of skills and reason these people are rare and in short supply.  Art-template

If you find one – hold on to them because the are like Marino Rivera in your bullpen.  rivera

The closest thing to a sure win against your competition as there could be.

So what is one to do if they cannot find this ‘perfect’ person.  Well a team of 3 would work very well I say.

  1. with the deep business knowledge, real world experience and ability to go toe to toe with c-level executivespower-rangersa number two with the deep statistical math capabilities – a phenom who looks and can talk numbers the way I can about single barrel bourbon or a ribeye
  2. the third is the database/developer who alone with Python and R, is a wise with Hadoop

Number 1 or number 3 could fulfill the cloud and data migration experience or that could be a fourth role.

If you are in retail, financial services or healthcare right now this is a NECESSARY role in your organization do don’t wait.  Other industries for the moment might be able to wait until 2020 before needing this role on a consulting basis every quarter or so.






CIO – Field of Dreams

There is a not so fun debate going on amongst senior technology people whether it be



or other experts (let’s not debate the definition of expert here) are how long does IT have to exist in most businesses.  Is it 5 years,

10 years,        dinosaur_extinction_insurance

15 – who knows.

So, this debate where many of my colleagues could potentially be seeking new careers if the predictions come true.  That is the not so fun part.  As one who decided to transition out of IT leadership to get refresh of my perspective and education these articles, studies and pundits started me thinking.


If I find that really cool CIO/VP of IT role and in a perfect world could have total say on how technology would work in a company, no constraints (time, money, politics) how would I design an IT team, strategy and changes to the overall company structure and strategy.  As this is a blog and not a book, I am not going to dig deep, but a few things came mind.

Some quick hits.

1. no data center – yep, I don’t have a power generator out back (well a back up maybe) so let’s get past the need for a DC.  Yes, there are concerns about protecting your data.  So, let me ask this question – your business as cash flow right, ready cash?  Do you keep that in a room in your building somewhere?

What? No?   images (1)

So you trust, say this again TRUST, an organization hold your cash for you and heck they even hold other peoples cash for them and they only distinguish your cash from the other people with a record that you have a department, aka Finance, that reconciles each month to make sure it is accurately held for you.

So data cannot be the same way.  Hmmm.

2. Experimentation with new technology and processes will be extremely high to provide us the opportunity to create competitive leverage and differentiation.   Roll the dice all the time.download

That means use the information part of IT, aka data, in unproven/proven ways to deliver to our clients – the lines of business as well as ourselves.  Yes, creating business user friendly data access from all your data sources with the goal of improving the capability of line of business clients in using the data regardless of tool they use to do so.

Even, yes even Excel, though Excel truly is a crutch to businesses everywhere.   download (1)

3. Last quick hit is like lean manufacturing, six sigma, or whatever continuous improvement program you like or is the diet fad of the year a relentless focus on process improvement.

Relentless focus.

I often use the analogy that if you go out to your car in the morning to go to work and see one of your tires is low on air.  low-tire-pressureYou might drive to a gas station, fill it up with air and go to work.  When you get out of work the tire still has air so you drive home.  The next morning you notice the same tire is low on air again.  Would you drive to the same gas station and fill it up with air again and the next day and the next without every fixing it.  NO.

So, why do we let by my estimate half of all business processes have low air in them and let our employees work harder than they have to with bandaids download (3) (putting air in the tire each day) to just get their work done?

You have hundreds of processes which are low on air in your business.  I would make it IT’s mission to have all processes measured for efficiency and effectiveness on corporate strategy and customer impact.  Only the lowest ones would ever be considered to let be inefficient, but never ineffective.

There are other things, but those would be my top three to tackle.  The first being the data center, because that would free up my staff and budget to be more aggressive on the other two.

Data hoarding a reality show coming soon

“Well, right now we are collecting all the data from our ERP, Ecommerce, CRM and next social media.  We will get to using a analytics tools eventually.”

banging head

Yes, this is a quote from a real business. For more than 10 years real analytic capability has  been available for businesses to use to get greater insights, improve decision making and in general grow faster and reduce risk.

         Yet we are still seeing less than 15% of companies in the word using                                  analytics as a  competitive advantage, 34% still using spreadsheets and 65% have a analytics tool  (somewhere) they use for  (some) reporting.  So, what is the response of business  when the  hype of BIG DATA appears

The response is to hoard data.


Currently, the business quoted above is using this much data   to make decisions that directly affect the success or failure of their business.

rain drop

Their vision is by hoarding the data they will someday be using this much data to make decisions creating an ocean of data.l



lIn reality, they go from the rain drop to

kiddie pool


Big data is not keeping years of your existing transactional data.  Wiki is pretty good with their explanation.

But this data hoarding – do you know they have an international society about this problem – is a business reaction to not being left behind on big data or analytics.  The company above is not alone.  From the IT department’s perspective, okay we can do that, we will need more storage either local or cloud based, but let’s add space for that data.  But, IT should recognize the problem here.

Data hoarding is not beneficial to the business in any way.  It is an enabling behavior that provides a level of comfort that ‘we will get to it’ but does nothing.  If you are doing nothing with your data but piling it up on storage arrays you are hurting your company.

Why you ask?

The larger the ‘pile’ of data the bigger the task of converting it to actionable data becomes both from the IT and business perspective.  Human nature is human nature.  We will rationalize the procrastination by using other priorities, the size of the effort needed and so forth.

puking data

Like losing weight you need to work on your hoarding data pile one insight at a time.  You may need 50, 100, 200 insights you need to start with one (1).  Might not be the most important, but make it highly actionable and most importantly from data that is readily available.

One insight (one pound), then another and another and another.  Very shortly you will have gained (vs. lost) 50 insights from your pile of data.  Turning a pile of data (fat, if you will) into actionable insights (energy).

Start small.                                                                                                                          .        

start small

 Build from there.                                                                                           .                    

It will happen.                                                      .

Good luck.                         .

Ah, you don’t need that analytics stuff, Excel is just fine.

1a ExcelIt must be true that business does not need analytics as the majority of businesses are still predominately using Excel for both a majority of reporting and performing analysis for decision making.

So, those CIO’s that Gartner, Forester, and CIO.com find to survey each year are somehow mistaken.  1 senior executive

Just like those 7 out of 10 dentist.  In this case, the 97,500 IT leaders believe that Excel is just fine and frankly is as much as their poor feeble users can understand and use.

1 nj

Have you picked up on my Jersey sarcasm yet?  

Well business people, just like 20 years ago you did not think you needed the internet or email, you are wrong – D-E-A-D wrong that Excel is enough in TODAY’s business climate of information driven decision making.

Go ahead, roll your eyes.  1 rolling eyes

You to Finance, Sales, Marketing, or Operations people.

How many decisions are made each day based on old, limited or even plain wrong information?  Decisions of which projects to approve/cancel, products to launch, reinvest in or remove from the market amongst other major changes to your business that could either drive revenue/profit to meet/exceed your strategy or fail to do both.

You are doing all of this with Excel?  Really? Maybe a reporting or query tool that is the hands of your IT group.

1 bad processYou know the process.  You have a business question.  You do not have access to the data at your                   finger tips.  You ask IT for the answer in the form of a report, a query or both.  You wait, I don’t know a day, a week, 3 months or forever.  The problem there is did you ask the right question?  How likely are you to go back to IT if it took a week to get the report with the answer to the wrong question for a new report?  I ran IT teams with this process.  We tried to optimize this process, but never eliminate it.  Wrong was I.

And you IT people stop treating end-users as if they are dumb, slow or completely resistent to change.  They are running the  business BUT  – they are handicapped by having them run it with a narrow limited view of said business.

So why the hell is it not every business leader, not just CIO’s, making analytics the top goal RIGHT NOW.

It is new.

What if we get it wrong?

You are doing okay business wise, why change.

Damn it man/woman you are successful business people running multi-million if not billion dollar businesses with hundreds to tens of thousands of customers.  You have like 3,000 different business processes, several 100 to 1,000’s of people working for you and millions upon millions of dollars that you are letting just go to your competitors because you won’t take the simple challenge of getting the analytical insights into your business/industry that you damn well know will make you and your business smarter, faster and bigger.

1 obsoleteExcel does not have the answer, it won’t go away, but it is a over 25 years old, thus a shiny antique of an application.  There are cool modern tools that you can start off small, simple and build from there great decision making capability.

Do it today.  1 now later


Article review: Big data: Harnessing a game-changing asset

I was perusing my favorite blogs and Timo Elliot wrote a smart entry about the “Big data: Harnessing a game-changing asset” article done by The Economist. 

I am going to take a different take than the one Timo took on the lengthy article though I recommend reading his point of view where he stress that companies take on how well they use their business intelligence and/or analytics is often called “Illusory Superiority” or the “Lake Wobegon Effect” (a radio show where “all the children are above average”).

My take on the article is to focus on this chart.


So from this chart the CIO/Senior IT executive and/or some other ‘Senior business executive’ is in charge of the data management strategy.

First, what other ‘Senior business executive’ could that be?

The CFO?  Not likely.  So, what other VP would be in charge of it?  Really?

I would love that answer just to satisfy my curiosity, because I am stumped.

The important point is that the CEO is a 1 in 5 chance to be responsible for the data management strategy.

While a CFO is in charge of Finance, the CEO is responsible for the financial stability and integrity of the company.  Just ask those Enron folks.  So the CEO takes a very active role in managing the finances on a daily basis by getting information on the company’s performance related to dollars or euros and so forth.

But, what is the status of our data quality?  The risk to our data integrity?  Not so much I guess.

As CEO, you base part of all your decisions on the data that is provided to you and you are not responsible for the strategy on how to manage that critical asset?  I suspect that the 18% of the CEO’s who are listed as responsible are from companies like ADP.  People don’t like their paychecks messed up.

The CEO need to take the role of data management as part of their role due to the critical (mission, not business) part it plays today and will only grow in your business.

Let me put it this way.  If money is the fuel that a company runs on, then data today, and big data especially, is the oxygen.  The better the quality of the data and the easier it flows to the decision makers, the more efficient (profitable) that your fuel (money) is burned.


If you are a CEO, you need to take the responsibility of your data management and get reports on that daily as well.  It will serve you well to truly be smarter then your competition and not just say you are.

Hey, Timo Elliot said that first.