Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century

20. September 2012

An article by Thomas Davenport from the October 2012 Harvard Business Review (Special issue about Big Data)

a new role is fast gaining prominence in organizations: that of the data scientist. data scientists are the people who understand how to fish out answers to important business questions from today’s tsunami of unstructured information. as companies rush to capitalize on the potential of big data, the largest constraint many face is the scarcity of this special talent.
no university programs have yet been designed to churn out data scientists, so recruiting them requires  creativity. look for achievers in any field with a strong data and computational focus, which might take you as far afield from business as experimental physics or systems biology. recognize, too, that the aspects of a job that will attract and retain a data scientist may differ from what makes other professionals happy. Read the rest of this entry »

When Your Organization’s Decisions are in the Hands of Devils

20. December 2010
Mittwoch, 15. Dezember 2010, 13:02:36 | Larry Prusak

by Laurence Prusak

(Larry Prusak, Brook Manville, and Tom Davenport are at work on a book on judgment and how to cultivate it as an organizational, not just individual, strength. As their research progresses, each is authoring posts in this blog to test-drive ideas and invite input.)

A week ago a friend passed along the new book by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, All the Devils are Here. I had felt that I’d had enough reading about our fiscal crisis, and that there wasn’t too much more to know. At the same time, I recognized the two authors to be fine business reporters, and Nocera also business columnist for The New York Times, so I knew they would have had exceptional access to the players.

Well, I read it, of course. And if any of you out there still feel that the subject of organizational judgment is too abstract or ethereal, I would advise looking into it. The book is non partisan and non ideological — government actions vie with business activities for being short sighted, rapacious, and just plain full of it. Choose any chapter of this sad narrative and you’ll find illustrations of how organizations can defy the intelligence of their own people to pursue truly benighted courses of action. Read the rest of this entry »

How Do You Speed Up Information Delivery?

1. June 2010

Mittwoch, 26. Mai 2010, 20:14:36 | Tom Davenport. Jetzt macht sogar Tom Davenport schon Reklame für SAP! (hfk)

In my last post, I described a research project with Jim Hagemann Snabe, co-CEO of SAP, on the need for speed in information delivery. It turns out that executives believe not all information needs to be delivered faster, but substantial percentages of executives — a majority, in the case of some types of information — want their information more rapidly than they currently receive it.

How do we make information available more quickly? There are, of course, technical advances that can help with this problem. They include “in-memory” technology (SAP just announced some new capabilities in this regard), which means that information and systems are stored in memory, rather than on a hard drive, for quick retrieval and manipulation. Companies are also developing new forms of databases (e.g., those that store data in columns rather than rows) that allow faster data retrieval and analysis. Companies such as Intel are creating faster microprocessors in PCs and servers that have been created for the purpose of data analysis. There is also easy-to-use software that allows executives to do their own queries and analyses with a few clicks of a mouse. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review der neuesten Business Bücher

8. March 2010

aus H.F. Karner’s vierteljährlichem Beitrag in der slowenischen Manager-Zeitschrift “Zdruzenje”.

Über Organisation, Finanzwirtschaft, Innovation, Enterprise 2.0 und Innovationen im Gesundheitssystem.

MQ 1_10

Why We Don’t Care About Information Overload

11. February 2010

From the Blog of Tom Davenport:

I gave a presentation this week on decision-making, and someone in the audience asked me if I thought information overload was an impediment to effective decision-making. “Information overload…yes, I remember that concept. But no one cares about it anymore,” I replied. In fact, nobody ever did.

But why not? We’ve been reading articles in the press about information overload being the bane of productivity for almost twenty years. (Here’s a link to a fairly recent article in Harvard Business Review on the topic called “Death by Information Overload” and a related blog.) And there is no doubt that the information load has only increased — day after day, year after year. Spam filters have helped a bit, but we all still get a lot of stuff we don’t want. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, text messages, email ads — everything we do only adds to the pile.

So if information overload is such a problem, why don’t we do something about it? We could if we wanted to. How many of us bother to tune our spam filters? How many of us turn off the little evanescent window in Outlook that tells us we have a new email? Who signs off of social media because there’s just too much junk? Who turns off their BlackBerry or iPhone in meetings to ensure no distractions? Nobody, that’s who — or very few souls anyway.

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Tweet About Something Important!

8. February 2010

Freitag, 05. Februar 2010, 21:15:30 | Tom Davenport

Almost 50 years ago, FCC Commissioner Newton Minow suggested that the then-new medium of television was becoming a “vast wasteland.” One could argue that the same fate is befalling social media. It’s been a few months since I last fulminated on this issue. So it’s time for another curmudgeonly post.

A couple of recent studies suggest that the content of social media is trivial at best. An analysis of over 100 million tweets thus far in 2010 conducted by Sysomos found one bit of good news and lots of bad (from my perspective, anyway). The good news is that Barack Obama was the most common person tweeted about. The bad news is that he was followed (in order) by Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Pat Robertson (because of his comment on Haiti’s supposed pact with the devil), Miley Cyrus, and Nick Jonas. All others in the top 15 were popular musicians, disgraced sports figures, and the celebrity politician Sarah Palin. (What, no Scott Brown?)

Read the rest of this entry »

The Underwear Bomber: Why They Didn’t “Connect the Dots”

10. January 2010

 January 8, 2010, Tom Davenport (the most authoratitive author about “Competing on analytics”)  

Everybody, including President Obama, is criticizing the U.S. intelligence agencies for not keeping accused underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab off the Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Why didn’t they “connect the dots” or “put the pieces together”? This is the same problem the intelligence agencies encountered with 9/11 — lots of clues that were not integrated in time.

But is this really a fair criticism? Just how easy is it to connect the dots? Granted, there were numerous indications of Abdulmutallab’s evil intent. But it would have been difficult to put them together before the flight. Combining disparate pieces of information about people — whether they are customers or terrorists — is akin to solving a complex jigsaw puzzle. And in defense of the intelligence agencies, hardly anybody — in either the public or private sectors — does it well.

Read the rest of this entry »

The US Is GM

12. November 2009

Tom Davenport’s Blog: November 2, 2009

The United States, my beloved home country, has become the General Motors of nations in its lethargy and complacency. This is ironic, because the US (and Canada) own a majority share of GM, but I am focused more on economic similarity rather than ownership. The height of complacency for GM was probably about 2004. In that year the automaker still had the title as the world’s largest maker of cars, a title it relinquished in 2007. GM was still profitable in 2004 — but not very much so — and it was losing market share in many of its major markets. That was the year that GM abandoned the Oldsmobile brand, but it didn’t seem worried about its future overall. Read the rest of this entry »

Forwarding Is the New Networking

15. October 2009
Mittwoch, 30. September 2009, 16:57:51 | Tom Davenport

Michael Schrage recently wrote a post on this site about the importance of forwarding information as a way to enhance network relationships. He’s right about this, although the title — “The Disadvantage of Twitter and Facebook” — is misleading (and inaccurate, since people retweet things all the time — but sadly, editors know that anything with Facebook and Twitter in the title gets a lot of page views and retweets). Forwarding is the new networking. The fact that you can’t do it easily on Facebook is about as relevant as the inability to do it over the telephone or the Dictaphone.

OK, it’s not really the new networking, since it’s been going on for more than a decade now. Smart networkers saw early on that forwarded email content was a way to nurture network relationships.

In 2005, Rob Cross, Sue Cantrell, and I found evidence of it in some research we did on knowledge workers in four companies. The highest performers in those companies (as identified by their performance ratings) were disproportionately good networkers. They had more people in their networks, were more likely to be sought out by others, and were more likely to exchange valued information with their network members — all compared to average performance workers. They consciously cultivated their networks — and not by handing out business cards at “networking events” or by issuing LinkedIn invitations. They offered information and other items of value to their networks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Mike Hammer

30. September 2009

Although it’s nearly one year old, as I came across it again, its worth reflecting: Tom Davenport about the death of his Reengineering-inventor-colleage Mike Hammer:

Donnerstag, 20. November 2008, 18:31:05 | Tom Davenport

You probably heard that Mike Hammer, often known as the “father of reengineering,” died unexpectedly at age 60 few weeks ago. I worked closely with Mike for seven or eight years, and together we started a successful research program on IT management called PRISM. Anyone who writes on the “next big thing” owes him a major debt, and I learned a lot from him.

What we owe Mike for most is his relentless focus on business processes and their radical improvement. The only next big thing that he was really interested in was how organizations can improve how they do their work. In Isaiah Berlin’s taxonomy, he was clearly a hedgehog–he knew one thing really well, and that thing was his lens on almost every aspect of business.

Read the rest of this entry »