Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Book Review: The Billion Dollar Paperclip: Think Smarter About Your Data

How many of you took Statistics in university? I sure did. It was a requirement for my M.Ed. thesis work. Basically, it helps you determine if your research is valid and reliable. That is to say, are you measuring what you think you are measuring?, and can you depend upon your data as being accurate.
Sometimes 'data' is just fearmongering
This 'fact' is meant to sell a relaxation CD!
Data abounds, and many are now creating infographs, for those with short attention spans, as if the explanations are redundant and the numbers speak for themselves. One person citied a frightening statistic at a conference, 50% of caregivers die before their care recipient, which was widely tweeted. He attributes it to a Wiki page, which has since changed. This research is no where to be found.

Most do not take this info
and use it to change behaviour!

For those who skipped this exciting course of study, and I know there are many of you, this book will help. I know there are many of you who either ignored or have forgotten it, too.  For example those editors or journalists who post on-line surveys about, say, commuters.
"How long is your commute in the morning?" in which they a) fail to determine if you actually commute, or b) if you are actually employed. Being retired, I just snort when I read these man-in-the-street-type reports, for they are neither valid nor reliable. Journalists love to have citizen engagement. I'm not really sure why or what for, other than a high Google rating.

It is a new age for those who collect data. In Canada, our dear leader, PM Harper, has decided that our Statcan long-form census, which collected crucial data for entrepreneurs, social scientists, those who design municipal infrastructure, social agencies, and such, would no longer be mandatory. Those who take stats courses know that this means the data is no longer reliable.
 Another issue that has given those in the business headaches, are pollsters who can no longer rely on phone surveys. There have been issues with landlines, vs. cell phones, and they failed, for example, to predict the NDP landslide in Quebec, during the last Federal election. Whoopsie!

 Gregory Short claims that 'scientists are not smarter', but they do, however, manage to learn about issues like crowd-sourced data, and how unreliable it can be. Many cannot tell the difference between an opinion and a fact.
Statistics drive us
We want it all,
but Cheap-mart now dominates
with fast and cheap; products that fail.

Target Audience

Essentially if you are a data, technology or service vendor, or if you are a consumer, you would be wise to read this book.

Basically, this will help us all understand why Target failed so miserably in Canada: Fast, Good, Cheap; you can only pick two.

For those who haven't bothered to do any research about market research, this book is an excellent primer. I would recommend it to anyone who would like to understand more about surveys, either as a writer or participant. It is only about 154 pages long. It is a good read, and helps one understand both the history of marketing, as well as its future. He writes about the four elements of market research: monetization, measurement, attribution, identity.

I'll tell one excellent example from this book. Google surveyed its users who felt that they wanted more results per page. Google then changed their results page, but lost a ton of money in advertising revenue, when users failed to wait the 0.9 seconds for the newer, larger pages to load. The old ones loaded in 0.4 seconds, and many wouldn't wait that long. Bad survey. Short explains why, and includes many true stories.

The Billion Dollar Paperclip:  Think Smarter About Your Data (April 2014, Madeleine Books), is a revolutionary way to look at data for any business.

Greg Short Book CoverThroughout the book, Gregory applies his principles to a variety of well-known businesses and industries from Netflix to Chick-fil-a, Amazon to Ford, he demonstrates the universal application of this process. 

The Billion Dollar Paperclip provides the guiding principles necessary for information creators and consumers to use their data more effectively.  It is based on Gregory’s success in revolutionizing the data utility within the video game industry and his experiences in working across both the client and vendor arenas in the world of market research. 

The author, Gregory Short, is the Founder and CEO of EEDAR.   

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@Barrie Summy


Sarah Laurence said...

Yep, I took stats in grad school now and it was a very useful course. I like the Google example and it's great to see this subject reaching a wider audience. Fine review!

Sarah Laurence said...

Yep, I took stats in grad school now and it was a very useful course. I like the Google example and it's great to see this subject reaching a wider audience. Fine review!

William Kendall said...

A good review!

It's going to take a few decades to undo the damage that Darth Stephen's doing to the country...

Lucy said...

Interesting review. Thanks for sharing.

Kay L. Davies said...

Oh my goodness, Jenn, my mind boggles.
I have an old school friend from the 60s who is/was a Statistics prof at a university in mid-to-northern Ontario. Probably was, as he's my age, although today I am having trouble remembering how old I am.
Just one of those days, I hope (re my age, I mean, as I'm sure I will never be able to understand Statistics).
Luv, K