A landmark paper appeared last December in the National Science Review (summary). It describes the complex interdependencies between climate, consumption, population, demographics, inequality, economic growth, migration, and more. Written by an interdisciplinary team of 20 authors hailing from organizations worldwide including NASA, Johns Hopkins, and more, the paper explains that it is impossible to understand these systems in isolation. There are important—and non-obvious—interactions. Poverty impacts climate. Inequity impacts the status of women. Conflict impacts resource usage. And much more.
The bottom line: our understanding of the world is no longer good enough. We need to raise our game.
Problem: You are working at a bank and have been tasked with developing a new customer care program. You’re making good progress, and reach out one day to a colleague for their ideas. Word of the meeting gets around, and an executive walks into your office one day, assuming you’re floundering, and tells you what to do.
Problem: Your second grader is in trouble at school. Teachers and other parents call you on the phone, asking you to fix the problem. You are starting to develop some good ideas and making plans. But one day, the school principal makes the decision to move your child to a special classroom.
Problem: You work on an automobile assembly line. Your bonus depends on the quality of the cars you help to build. You see a problem with a welding machine which would cost $100 to fix. But management won’t approve the repair.
What’s the common pattern here? It’s responsibility without authority: a good recipe for insanity.
My team and I offer decision intelligence and decision engineering to solve your complex problems. Simply put, data is backwards-facing. It’s like watching an elephant’s footprints, rather than understanding the elephant itself. Systems are forward-looking. There’s no coincidence in the fact that your rear-view mirror is smaller than your windshield. Yet…
So let’s roll up our sleeves together, and take your organization to the next level.
It doesn’t have to be hard.
You still need your data. It’s always going to be an important tool in validating where you’ve been, and of course, operational data (like a customer’s address) is critical.
But when it comes to making decisions, data is only part of the picture. Once you make a decision and execute on it, this creates a cascade of events within your organization. Understanding how the decision leads to an impact…and another…and another…until you’ve reached your objective (or not) may sound like a daunting proposition. But here’s the rub: you’re doing it already, in your head, every time you think through the consequences of a decision. Why not get some computer help with that? Even a little can go a long way. Because otherwise, you’re facing the fog shown below:
Here’s what you can expect when working with me to improve your organizational decision making. Think of this as an “a la carte” menu; some organizations choose the whole bundle, some do one part at a time. Each has considerable value on its own.
Decision-specific workshop. I typically work with a multi-functional team. We begin by aligning around desired business objectives, then proceed through decision specification, design (levers, links, external data, and more), and iterate. We work visually and collaboratively, and often the focus is understanding the links between previously silo’d groups, and modeling the “whack-a-mole” of unintended consequences.
Data assessment. Usually, only 20% of the data contains 80% of the business value. The challenge is to determine which data contains the value. Decision intelligence provides a structured and rigorous approach to figuring this out. If you don’t take this approach, you can waste a lot of time managing data using “operational” methods, where less expensive “analytical” approaches are a tremendously better fit.
Decision model implementation in World Modeler. You can get a lot out of steps 1-3, but implementing these concepts in an enterprise-class tool is where the big benefits start to kick in. Sometimes we begin by modeling in Microsoft Excel as well, and often we generate data that can be read by Excel as the model runs.
Decision visualization. We usually build custom visualizations for our clients. You can see a few demos, here (for program management) , here (for data center risk assessment), and here (a full-CG decision model visualization). We build these to your specifications, to meet the needs of your team.
Data and systems integration. Here, we work with your organization to integrate a real-time decision navigation infrastructure into your business. Our value proposition: “the best of both worlds”: using our World Modeler platform means that we can built solutions at low risk and lower cost and much more quickly than other companies (indeed, we once built a full bank risk analysis system in under six weeks). At the same time, it’s fully customized to your needs, as if we’d built it from scratch. Why this is possible? We’ve discovered what’s required in a general-purpose data and decision management framework, including optimization, data binding, visualization, simulation, and more (read our API documentation here).
Add-ons to the above include:
Introduction to R
Introduction to neural networks in R
Introduction to machine learning in R
Building World Modeler custom visualizations
Deep-dive decision dependency design
Enterprise architecture integration
Web-based interactive data survey / gathering creation
Custom model visualization development
..and much more
So please drop me a line, and let’s explore together whether supercharging your organization’s decision intelligence makes sense for you.
More and more organizations are realizing the tremendous benefit of machine learning to their bottom line, yet many are not ready to hire a full-time machine learning expert. So a machine learning contractor/consultant/freelancer makes sense. Continue reading
There’s a scene near the beginning of the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love:
The theatres, we have heard, are all closed by the plague. And then:
HENSLOWE: Mr. Fennyman, let me explain about the theatre business.The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. Believe me, to be closed by the plague is a bagatelle in the ups and downs of owning a theatre.
FENNYMAN: So what do we do?
HENSLOWE Nothing. Strangely enough , it all turns out well.
HENSLOWE I don’t know. It’s a mystery
It’s not easy selling into an emerging market, no matter how important it is. We won two projects in the last week or so. In both cases, the customer hadn’t heard of decision intelligence before talking with us. In one, they were looking for data analysis to guide a marketing investment; in the other, the question was to determine the effectiveness of various college course offerings. Continue reading