Data & Analytics

Predicting the College Football Playoff

Which teams make it to the college football playoffs isn’t as random as it sometimes seems, says University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Laura Albert. In this week’s Counterpoints podcast, we look at how Albert uses analytics to predict the brackets and how the football playoff selections compare to that other big college tournament, March Madness.

AI Can Help Us Live More Deliberately

AI spares us from many mundane, time-consuming, nerve-wracking annoyances. The problem is, such annoyances play a key adaptive function by helping us learn to adjust our conduct in relation to the world around us. But AI designers can tackle that problem through system enhancements. By incorporating cognitive speed bumps, they can prompt users to engage in reflective thought rather than “outsourcing” cognitive, emotional, and ethical labor to software.

Using AI to Enhance Business Operations

Companies can turn AI hype into operational hay by developing their capacity for enterprise cognitive computing. This capacity entails five capabilities: data science competence, business domain proficiency, enterprise architecture expertise, an operational IT backbone, and digital inquisitiveness. The capabilities shape and are shaped by four practices: identifying use cases, managing application learning, cocreating applications, and thinking “cognitive.”

Why Personalization Matters for Consumer Privacy

Many different factors determine how consumers balance data privacy against a desire for personalized products and services — age, geography, and education among them. Companies can help their customers feel more comfortable with the data collection needed for personalized service by understanding customer values and maintaining transparency and good communication when it comes to data collection.

Sponsor's Content | How IT Taps Big Data to Optimize Digital Operations and Drive Business Advantage

  • MIT SMR Connections | Custom Research Report

New research by MIT SMR Connections and NETSCOUT shows that most IT leaders are well advanced along the analytics maturity curve when it comes to tapping data to manage and improve IT infrastructure. The practitioners deriving the most value from data are most likely to have the broadest view of where analytics can be implemented across both IT and business operations — and they are also most likely to view attention to data quality as the most important priority for action.

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Customer Centricity in the Digital Age

  • Read Time: 4 min 

As AI moves from the hype stage to implementation within organizations, retailers and marketers have new competitive opportunities with customer centricity. AI enables companies to apply data about their customers’ wants, needs, and preferences to customize their offerings, create personalized shopping experiences, and make the purchase process simpler and more convenient.

NFL Pass Blocking Is Even More Important Than You Think

Though the QB gets most of the spotlight, a new analysis from ESPN shows that every NFL team lives and dies by the skills and teamwork of players at the tackle, guard, and center positions in the offensive line. Counterpoints looks at the burgeoning field of O-Line analytics with ESPN’s Seth Walder.

The Digital Future of Strawberries

Technology may hold the answer to two of the knottiest problems faced by the U.S. economy — the shortage of farm labor and the excess of vehicle traffic. But there’s a flip side: It also enables surveillance so widespread and intrusive, companies can track even our heartbeats — and the data collected by these sensors is far from secure.

The Secret of My eSports Success

One of the newest and most important players in the sports world isn’t a soccer phenom or an NBA all-star — it’s a multiplayer video gaming platform known as eSports. The universe of eSports relies heavily on data analytics, but the surprising twist is the role of social science analytics in this world of virtual contests between far-flung players. Counterpoints talks to eSports analytics guru Tim Sevenhuysen.

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The Perils of Applying AI Prediction to Complex Decisions

While AI is brilliantly placed to solve decisions that are concrete and well-defined, in other contexts it can fail spectacularly, showing connections between facts or events but stumbling when the need to disentangle cause from correlation arises. Human input in the form of subject matter knowledge and common sense are often needed to complement AI. And executives must understand which challenges are right for these new technologies to address.

Does AI-Flavored Feedback Require a Human Touch?

With customized and continuous data-driven feedback becoming a new normal, managers are revisiting the role they should play in delivering, facilitating, and curating face-to-face employee feedback. Does direct managerial involvement complement or compete with data-determined performance reviews?

Second-Grade Soccer Superstars

Elite soccer is a multibillion-dollar business, and top clubs are constantly looking for the next promising young player that they can develop into a superstar. Youth academies are one way for clubs to do this, but they have to find the players with potential before they can work with them. Counterpoints talks with Chelsea Football Club’s head of research and innovation, Ben Smith, who is on an analytics-driven hunt for star material.

Train Your People to Think in Code

The future of work will entail thinking not just analytically, but also algorithmically — so companies need to retrain workers for writing code, not formulas. Organizations that manage to make code the natural language for diffusing analysis across their organizations can often grow and innovate faster than their peers.

Buyer Beware! MLB Free Agents Underperform Their Contracts

What happens when a free-agent player with a hot hand and great stats gets signed to a big, long-term contract, only to perform at a mediocre level? Counterpoints examines the problem of “shirking” in professional sports by looking at the data with Richard Paulsen, who presented his paper, “New Evidence in the Study of Shirking in Major League Baseball,” at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

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How Digital Trust Drives Culture Change

  • Frontiers

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 10 min 

Beliefs and behaviors in today’s virtual world blur the definitions and boundaries of responsibility for data privacy, which is reshaping consumers’ expectations of protection. Organizations seeking to adapt their culture toward better digital trust face many challenges but can benefit from four activities in their journey toward better digital trust.

“Out-Getting” Is the Next Great Baseball Strategy. Or Not.

In this episode of Counterpoints, the subject is baseball — specifically, the analytics-centered strategy for pitchers called out-getting, which focuses on pitchers’ efficiency rather than on when, how often, and how much they pitch. Will this practice transform baseball in the classic Moneyball tradition — or will it simply be an interesting tactic that teams sometimes use to gain a temporary advantage?

How You Can Have More Impact as a People Analyst

In the messy real world of ambiguous evidence and contentious objectives, organizational decisions — especially those about the people you’re hiring, developing, managing, and trying to retain — usually hinge on relationships and trust. So if you work in people analytics, you must learn to traffic in that currency to make an impact. It’s not enough to be right. You also have to sell your model or idea. These tactics can help.

Getting Your Employees Ready for Work in the Age of AI

  • Frontiers

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 7 min 

How can companies and employees find common ground when it comes to skill development and investment in AI capabilities? To start, senior executives should seek clarity around capability gaps and determine which skills their people need. From there, leaders should take an approach that advances those skills for human-AI collaboration.

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