Tag Archives: Big Data

THE HIDDEN DANGER IN YOUR DATA

Howard Tullman B&Wby Howard Tullman

From the Journal of the Heartland Angels

Today, entrepreneurs have tools and technologies to collect, monitor, and document more data than ever before. You’re likely swimming in data, since customers leave a trail of it everywhere to be captured and analyzed in real time. As I’ve often said, in business, what gets measured (and acknowledged and rewarded) is what gets done. I haven’t changed my belief about that, but I have come to see that we are putting too much emphasis strictly on the numbers. Numbers don’t lie, but they never tell the whole story. They can only take you so far before they top out and you need something qualitative and experiential to get to the right conclusions.

Pie Chart Hesitation

Peter Drucker’s dictum “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” has created a whole generation of leaders so focused on perfecting their company’s processes that they lose sight of the company’s purpose. I hear managers all the time talking about the need to get more work out of their people when they should be trying to get the best work out of them. Optimizing (not maximizing) the team’s output is what matters most to the ultimate success of a business. Working smarter and more effectively—not necessarily longer or harder—is how you ultimately move ahead of the competition.

You need to be exceedingly careful these days that you don’t let the ease of access and the ubiquity of massive amounts of quantitative performance data cause you to over-emphasize the math and measurements—and thereby lose sight of the far more important qualitative attributes of what’s going on. Not everything is easy to measure or quantify, but that doesn’t make these things less important; it just makes your job as manager tougher. But when you get so wrapped up in the measurement process that it becomes the goal itself, it loses its effectiveness. It’s easy to confuse movement with progress, but not all motion is forward. And lots of activities that run up the numbers aren’t remotely productive. Measuring is easy; measuring better is tough.

When you let the numbers drive the train, you give up two important advantages that are critical to your success. First, the goal isn’t to be the thermometer; it’s to be the thermostat. It’s not about measuring the heat; it’s about generating and controlling the heat. You don’t want the analytics to lead you; they’re a useful benchmark and a guide for course corrections, but it’s your job to set the direction and move the business forward. Second, when you get so focused on specific and concrete financial results (sales targets, growth rates, etc.) and you direct all your team’s energies toward getting as close to achieving those numbers as possible, you actually limit your ultimate upside because you lose the ability to think and see beyond those immediate goals. When a game-changing opportunity arises or a quantum shift occurs in your sales prospects, your team will likely be so heads-down chasing those numbers that someone else will come along and grab the new brass ring.

Black Hole of Data

Here are three principles that have helped me resist the temptation to get too caught up in the numbers—and focus on what truly matters at my company:

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Elaboration is a form of pollution

Tell your team to keep it simple. No one gets paid by the page, and shorter is almost always better. I’ve found that when people expand and extend their plans, proposals, and presentations, there’s a high degree of likelihood that they’re concerned about the value of their pitch, so they try to bury it in a boatload of facts, figures, charts, citations, and everything else that just hides the hard truth. It’s better for everyone when your people put things right out there—front and center—and take their medicine if that’s what’s called for. If you torture the numbers long enough, they’ll say whatever you like, but that’s not any way to get to the truth or the right result.

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Not everything is worth doing well

Tell your team that everyone’s always on the clock. There’s an opportunity cost associated with everything you do, so choosing what not to do (and how extensively to do the things you need to do) is critical in any startup which has scarce resources and time. Some things just don’t warrant the full-court press, and it’s important to make sure that everyone knows that that’s okay with you. Other things shouldn’t be done at all, and you should never try to do things cheaply that just aren’t worth doing. It’s never easy to turn people down or say, “No,” to marginal choices, but it’s part of the job.

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No one’s ever measured how much the heart can hold

Ultimately, the value of the critical connections your people make every day with your clients and customers can only be roughly approximated by even the best math. But it’s those daily personal and emotional interactions with your empowered employees that build crucial engagement as well as the lifetime value of those buyers for your business. You need to give your team permission to do what’s best for the customer in the moment that the opportunity arises. If they need to consult a rule book or have a calculator handy to do the math, they’ll lose the value of the moment every time. The best businesses don’t worry about the number or sheer volume of moments–they work to make each moment matter.

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Howard Tullman is a philosopher, investor, and Chicago entrepreneur.   For more from Howard, go to

http://tullman.blogspot.com

www.1871.com/

Read his bio: http://tullman.com/resume.asp

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This article appeared in the following publicatons:

News From Heartland  http://news.HeartlandAngels.com

INC Magazine  http://www.inc.com/

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Graphics: Getty Images, MS Office, H Tullman

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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GOOGLE’S AMAZING ASCENT

Google LogoFrom Startup to the New Digital Age

Jeff Segal – message therapist – Part 1

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, Google was a startup.

No one who attended The New Digital Age, hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs last Thursday at the Swissotel, asked Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen about the juggernaut’s humble, scrappy beginnings. They were there to hear about technology’s power to thwart terrorism and bring dictators to their knees. Continue reading

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WHAT’S GOOD?

Impact Engine – Part 1

VERBATIM by Loop Lonagan – Investor and man about town,

as told to John Jonelis

Impact Engine

Loop Lonagan here.  Dis is somethin’ can change da world.  It’s called IMPACT ENGINE ‘n’ it’s dare first investor showcase. 

Already met one o’ da founders, Linda Darragh and she made a big-time impression on me.  I saw dis gal charge-up a roomfulla sleepy thought leaders with da energy of an oxyacetylene torch.  Ideas and plans fly off her like da Fourth o’ July.  She’s the reason I’m here. 

So I tear myself away from da great Funding Feeding Frenzy after way too much to eat ‘n’ a whole lot too much to drink.  I stagger outa my cab into da Chase Auditorium to hear IMPACT ENGINE rev it’s cylinders. 

(NOTE TO JOHN—I made merry after lunch at FFF.  Words ain’t comin’ out da way dey should.  Better clean up my copy for me.  I’m gonna make a big effort to straighten myself out here.  I see coffee at da other end o’ da lobby and I’m headin’ that way now.)

(NOTE TO LOOP—Your points come across nice and clear.  I’ll continue to print it exactly the way you dictate it.)

 

What They Do

I got a hot cup o’ coffee in my mitt so lemme start feedin’ ya the goods:  IMPACT ENGINE helps fer-profit startup companies make money by doin’ good things fer folks. I said FOR profit.  I’m all fer dat.  Dis is what you call Social Entrepreneurship

(Sound of slurping coffee.)

Hey—if yer gonna earn a livin’, why not do it in a way dat helps some other poor slob insteada just yerself?  Whaddaya think yer put on dis green earth for anyhow? 

And if yer gonna help somebody, why not do it as a business ‘steada holdin’ out yer hand like some leach?  Business is way better den charity ‘cause it supports itself.  Teach a man to fish and so on.  Dis is da future.  Dis’ll change da world. 

And demand!  Hey—dare’s no shortage o’ people dat need help!  And no end to it!  Like I always say, I got it on good authority dat the poor will always be among us. 

(I just poured a second cup.  Real strong stuff.)Impact Engine logo

I still got them slashed knees from fallin’ in a pothole this morning.  And it still don’t look stylish.  Hey, dis ain’t no pair o’ bluejeans—it’s a $2,000 suit.  So’s I look like a bum, but nobody’s gonna say nothin’ ‘cause I’m actually ready to write out a check.  Day call it Impact Investing.  I wanna make an impact.

(I slugged down three cups o’ this black stuff ‘n’ my eyes is buggin’ out.  Must be espresso or somethin’.  Anyhow, maybe the rest o’ this report’ll sound more coherent.  But you know me.  I studied on Wall Street and the Back Street.  I ain’t no English teacher.)

(NOTE TO LOOP—You don’t fool anybody with that school-of-hard-knocks routine.  The University of Chicago doesn’t hand out Masters of Finance degrees in back alleys.)

 

How They Do It

IMPACT ENGINE is a super-duper incubator that helps entrepreneurs launch ‘n’ win. 

  • They immerse ‘em all in a 12-week intensive program o’ workshops at the 1871 collaborative workspace. 
  • They hook ‘em up with a huge network o’ mentors, thought leaders, ‘n’ investors. 
  • They give ‘em brand exposure. 
  • They send ‘em out with a $20K kick in the pants.  Seed capital.   

 (Hey, that rolled off o’ the tongue pretty good.  Maybe espresso is better than beer.  But don’t tell the guys I said that.) 

 

The Weed

Linda Darragh

Linda Darragh

First time I met Linda Darragh was at the Levy Entrepreneur Mastermind Group.  A buncha sharp folks.  Linda’s a gal from da University o’ Chicago Booth who’s workin’ at Northwestern’s Kellogg School o’ Management.   That puts her in a real peculiar kinda position.  And she ain’t lettin’ it go to waste, neither!

Turns out Linda usta have about ten titles.  Couldn’t fit ‘em on a business card, so she dumped it all in one bucket.  Now she’s the Executive Director of The Kellogg Entrepreneurship Initiative.  Hey, one title fits better than ten. And it’s a helluvalot easier to say.  Turns out the startup community’s heart is poundin’ real strong here in Chicago.  But all the programs to juice these folks is fragmented all over the place.  Should we glue ‘em all together? 

I SAY NO!  Insteada tryin’ to control all them different silos, Linda Darragh is coordinatin’ ’em. 

BIG DIFFERENCE!  After all—each one o’ them groups is independent and all of ‘em got somethin’ special to offer. 

So I tell her she’s a black widow spider spinnin’ a big web.  But turns out she pictures herself as a “weed.”  I don’t get it, but if that’s the way she wants it, it’s okay by me.

So what exactly is this weed doin’?  Hey—what ain’t she doin’?  At Northwestern, she’s settin’ up the whole entrepreneurship curriculum—across the entire university.  Already replaced all them courses with stuff that’s more up to date.  AND online learning.  AND other stuff beyond the classroom. 

She says no more screwy mobile apps that already been done and ain’t goin’ nowhere.  AND no more static business plans.  Instead, a lean canvas.  She insists that every business starts with hypothesis testing and only then fleshes out a business model.  I like it!

She ain’t stuck to just one university neither.  She’s cooperatin’ with the University o’ Chicago, IIT, DePaul, Loyola, and others.  AND she’s reachin’ out to corporations too.  AND a she’s got a big presence at 1871.  AND she’s leveraging Kellogg’s worldwide alumni network along with ones from other schools.  She’s buildin’ one powerful, cohesive drivetrain.  I really like that!

I told ya this gal is a torch.

IMPACT ENGINE is one o’ her biggest projects, co-founded with Jamie Jones.  Now Chuck Templeton’s in it up to his neck.  These people all deserve alotta credit fer startin’ this highly unique incubator.

(Fifth cup and I feel great.  Headin’ into the auditorium.)

 

Take a SWAG

Usta take years to make a good business.  Now two kids in a dorm create somethin’ that goes national in no time.  Web-based companies can test fast and fail fast.  You can find out if it’s a go in 6 months!  This is a big deal.  You do all the testing before you sink in the big money. 

That means classical marketing is dead.  That’s what I said—dead meat—road kill.  It’s dead ‘cause now you can test yer product in the real world faster ‘n’ cheaper than doin’ a formal marketing study.  Look out Dr. Kotler—time to write another book.

Dr. Philip Kotler

Dr. Philip Kotler

Here’s the way it usta be:  You do one o’ them in-depth marketing studies.  That takes lotsa time and money and produces zero profit.  Then by the time the Execs decide what to do, the trend already shifted nine times.  That don’t work no more.  Better to test in the real world, fail fast, then make yer adjustments and give it another shot.

Another new thing is Big Data.  It’s a huge driver in the new way o’ doin’ things.  It makes it possible to pick up on trends using simple web searches.  Big Data also brings up lotsa big challenges.  Maybe you got all the data in the world but how d’you visualize it?  You gotta figure out the right questions to ask. 

That all sounds like cross-disciplinary stuff, right?  So IMPACT ENGINE is lookin’ for the right kinda people and helpin’ ‘em use all these new tools.

Yer head spinnin’ yet?  Lemme lay it out in four simple steps.

 

Da Final Four

Here’s the short list on what Linda Darragh says you need to do:

  1. PEST ANALYSIS—(Politics, Economics, Social, Tech).  You gotta identify the trends.  Big Corps gotta innovate here and summa them is doin’ it.  But it’s a whole lot easier fer a startup—that is, if you don’t trip over yer fat ego.
  2. DA CUSTOMER IS KING—What does yer customer need now?  Keep talking to ‘em and keep adjusting to ‘em. Find out if customers is leavin’ and where they’s goin’.  More than ever before, it’s all about the customer. 
  3. TRACK YER COMPETITORS—What are them bums doin’ now?  Are they gonna take you out?  You gotta figure out the changing value chain and how it’ll affect you.  It’s real easy to believe things is goin’ good—then wham—you get blindsided.
  4. TECH IS DA ICING—Fer early-stage funding, the Chicago success model is tech-enabled manufacturing—not pure tech.  Lotsa opportunities ‘cause ever’body needs tech these days.

One more thing:  Impact investing’s got a whole different timeline.  Angels and VCs usually cash out in 5-7yrs.  Impact Investing might take 10-15 years.  Yeah, it’s a bigger horizon but we gotta put aside legacy thinking. 

My batteries is runnin’ down again.  I’ll get back to you later and show you what summa these new social entrepreneurship companies look like.  Fer now, check out this great video about IMPACT ENGINE:

 

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CONTINUE TO PART 2

Go back to Shark Tank Meets the Apprentice

 

Da Contacts

IMPACT ENGINE – www.TheImpactEngine.com

Ask a question:  www.TheImpactEngine.com/Contact

Impact Engine.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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THE STORY BEHIND BIG DATA

John Jonelis

Big DataThere’s a lot of buzz about Big Data these days. By Big Data, we’re talking Big Mountains of Data. The manipulation of this resource will change the world and do it soon. I hear plenty of lofty goals for the benefit of mankind but destructive ends also seem likely. So what can we expect? I’m here to pass along the short version in plain language.

Tonight we’re treated to speakers from Oracle, CABI, and Narrative Science – a business that grew out of the artificial intelligence labs at the University of Chicago and Northwestern.

Pound for pound, Chicago’s MIT Enterprise Forum is always dense with PhDs and Thought Leaders. I spot a VC in a room dominated by businessmen, academics and MIT alumni. Josh London from Wellter moderates this high-powered session.

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Distilled Data

Louis Nagode – Oracle

Louis A Nagode

Louis A Nagode … jaj

Louis Nagode is a self-proclaimed geek, but he’s world-renowned, with 30 years of business intelligence under his belt. When he talks Big Data, he’s thinking an aggregate of an enormous bulk of worldwide information—ultimately all the knowledge in the world. He says we’re creating data at a phenomenal rate. In the next 2 years we’ll create more data than ever existed before. The key to using it, according to Nagode, is distilling it down to useful information. He breaks it down into four “Vs”:

  • Volume—(How do you process it all?)
  • Velocity—(How fast does it change?)
  • Variety—(How do you make use of it?)
  • Value—(How do you make sense of it?)

The big question is this: Can we use Big Data to reduce workload for people, manufacturing, and other altruistic purposes? The next two speakers give concrete answers to that.

Nagode talks about alternatives to databases—alternatives like HDFS, the distribution of data across multiple computers around the globe. That’s data that can be harnessed.

Oracle Logo

To sift out what we need to know he uses a map-reduce pipeline. Look it up if you want, but it boils down to this: You no longer need a structured query language like SQL. Bottom line, it’s getting a lot easier to use data. Let’s move on and see just how easy this gets:

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From Data to Story

Kristian Hammond – Narrative Science

Kristian Hammond - JAJ

Kristian Hammond … jaj

Hammond built the artificial intelligence lab at both the University of Chicago and Northwestern. Now he’s built a Chicago company that takes numbers and symbols and communicates the hidden insights in a more human form. Let me put it more directly: He transforms Big Data into words and narrative. In other words, STORY!

Numbers require expert analysis. Graphs help visualize numbers but we’re still looking at only an 8% penetration. Stories, on the other hand, are highly accessible. They communicate beyond data and tell you things you can’t see. After all, narrative is the way we’ve communicated as long as we’ve been human.

His system produces a short narrative that tells your company the pertinent facts, then gives a summary—A SUMMARY OF WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK TO MAKE YOUR COMPANY BETTER. We’re not talking about overseas labor knocking this stuff out—no, machines are doing it using artificial intelligence!

Narrative Science Logo

Hammond gives an example of a food chain using corporate analytics. The data says that sales of Reuben sandwiches are down. The STORY gives the company easy-to-understand and actionable recommendations, something like this: “Reuben Sandwiches are this week’s weakest menu item with average sales of 136.7 units. Bringing sales up to norm means $7.2MM in added revenue overall. This requires only 6 more sales per store per day.” Now that’s useful information that people can understand and act on.

According to Hammond, people have forgotten the business reasons for data. By telling them the business side in Story, the data becomes immediately useful. As he puts it, “Story is the last mile in Big Data.”

What about education? His system give feedback on an exam with advice on how to improve a student’s performance: “In physics, you need to focus on the Theory of Relativity. Look back to Chapters 5 and 6 of the text.”

How about a sector report for stock analysis? Or a seasonality report for commodity analysis? Why not pull down the Twitter data of all the speakers at a conference and give it out as written analysis? What about a data-driven narrative for media? Turns out that’s a natural. Hey, this could put me out of business!

So how does it work? They analyze nuance and word choice 200 ways plus adjectives and adverbs. They match the client’s written “voice.” They can generate different styles using the same machine. According to Hammond, “Any data, any story, we can do it.”

Now let’s look into using Big Data on a grand scale:

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Use it for Good

Roland Dietz – CABI, IERG, Focused Connections Partners

Roland Dietz - JAJ

Roland Dietz … jaj

Dietz showed us Big Data in use on the world stage. His organization predicts infestations in plant or animal populations worldwide.

They can show a farmer what might happen to his crop. To do that, they combine data from around the world on climate, soil composition, movement of materials, markets, and many other sources. This model is open source. The data is freely given and freely distributed.

The profit is in what they do with Big Data. As he put it, “We start with tons of information, then identify its significance. That becomes our competitive edge.”

CABI Logo

For example, let’s say you track the movement of a pest that destroys coffee plantations. You know the various soils, plant densities, climates, population centers, and topography worldwide. With this, you can predict where the plague will spread.

Some governments don’t want to join CABI, but the group has done good work, even in Korea and Pakistan. When countries see that the organization isn’t political, they accept them. Some are restrictive about what they share because they don’t understand the consequences. But when they find out some of the unexpected benefits of Big Data, they open up.

Big Data at Emmi Solutions - JAJ

Big Data at Emmi Solutions … jaj

Takeaways

  • Constant Change—The ecosystem is non-linear and always in flux. Using Big Data means doing analysis in real time.
  • Analysis—Data without an expert is useless. But just like any science, you come up with a theory based on the data. Then you test it. The scientific method is very much alive and well.
  • Opportunities—The biggest opportunities identified so far are in healthcare, world agriculture, education, and evidence-based decision making in business.
  • Privacy—This is a huge question that needs to be answered. More and more, people accept constantly observation. But how is the data used? If, for instance, a telecom company has significant insight into YOU, do they keep it proprietary? Can an organization publish information on coffee production in Senegal without permission? I suggested that I’d love to get my hands on coffee pest data to gain an edge trading commodity futures.
  • Ethics—Turns out, these speakers aren’t the ones to address this issue.  “It’s above my pay grade,” said one. But might not Big Data be used for evil purposes? A member of the audience suggested the specter of ethnic cleansing. Like nuclear power, the possibilities for both altruistic and destructive goals seem endless.

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Contacts

Louis A Nagode—

Oraclehttp://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/index.html

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Kristian Hammond—

Narrative Sciencehttp://www.narrativescience.com/

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Roland Dietz—

Focused Connections Partners http://focusedconnectionspartners.com/

CABIhttp://www.cabi.org/ – a not-for-profit international organization that improves lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment.

IERGhttp://www.iergonline.org/ – (International Executive Resource Group) – A not for profit organization of senior business executives from around the world.

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Josh London—

Wellterhttp://www.wellter.com/ – Enables employees to comparison-shop for healthcare providers.

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The Venue—

Emmi Solutionshttp://www.emmisolutions.com/ – builds patient empowerment solutions for health organizations that measurably impact outcomes. Their offices are a terrific venue for this event. By the way, they’re still looking for talent. Check out this link: www.EmmiSolutions.com/Careers Looks like a great place to work.

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MIT Enterprise Forum, Chicagohttp://www.mitefchicago.org/

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GO BACK TO PART 1 – WHO’S RUNNING THE ASYLUM

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Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.
Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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