Better analysts, better data, better theory? All of the above

August 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Harvard Business Review has a new blog post up by Daryl Morey, the General Manager of the Houston Rockets, in which he argues that with a market teeming with better and better analysts, its not the skills of these analysts that will be the future of successful quantitative analysis, but instead the quality of data.

 

The answer is better data. Yep, that’s right. Raw numbers, not the people and programs that attempt to make sense of them. Many organizations have spent the last few years hiring top analysts based on the belief that they create differentiation. Smart companies such as Google believe they need savants to crunch those numbers and find the connections that regular humans could not. But my experience, and what I’m hearing from more organizations (sports and non), shows that real advantage comes from unique data that no one else has.

I’m not so convinced. I think we’re headed toward an age of a quantifiable representation of a majority of our world. So, in some ways, I am on board with Morey’s call for higher quality data. But I believe that will be almost inevitable. What I would like to see is better theory applied to analyze this data, for data to be open for use and analysis by experts and non-experts alike and for the inferences that are drawn on the data to be put toward actionable results (in my field of interest, toward smarter policy).

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