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FCW : November 15, 2012
November 15, 2012 FCW.COM 29 Finding the talented professionals who can turn data into insights is also crucial --- and a signi cant challenge. According to Harvard Business Review, data scientists have the sexiest job of the 21st century, but they are not beat- ing a path to the government. Agencies that have taken the lead on analytics have found ways to build the needed expertise. Some strategies include formal and informal interagen- cy partnerships and temporarily reas- signing skilled employees to positions at other agencies. The GeoNerds Meet- up group that gathers monthly in Wash- ington, D.C., nds employees from the Census Bureau, Energy Department, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other agencies comparing notes with spatial analysts and developers from the private and nonprofit sectors. And the Partner- ship for Public Service and IBM Cen- ter researchers noted that the Defense Department has "created a scienti c test and analysis technique center of excellence.... Essentially, the center is training people to be data detectives." When it comes to the data, Michael Mauboussin, chief investment strate- gist at Legg Mason Capital Management and an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, stresses how easy it is to pick the wrong statistics to track. Most executives "have a gut sense of what metrics are most relevant," he wrote in an article published in Har- vard Business Review in October, "but they don t realize that their intuition may be awed." According to Mauboussin, good sta- tistics have two qualities: "They are persistent, showing that the outcome of an action at one time will be similar to the outcome of the same action at a later time, and they are predictive, demonstrating a causal relationship between the action and the outcome being measured." And nally, there are the tools them- selves, which run the gamut from sim- ple spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel to staggeringly powerful and complex sys- tems from SAP, IBM, EMC and others. "There isn t really a product per se that s labeled 'the big data project, " said Steve Lucas, global executive vice president of SAP s Database and Technology division. "It doesn t quite work like that." Despite the precedents set by the federal IT Dashboard and consumer services such as Google Analytics, chart-laden dashboards are not a requirement for analytics. When the Federal Emergency Management Agen- cy wanted to assess the effectiveness of its disaster services, for example, the effort s rst output was a simple Not all analytics need fancy dashboards, but visualizations are especially useful for geodata. The U.S. Agency for International Development mapped votes, violence, signs of fraud and even weather data in its monitoring of the 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan. The website was made public after the election, but the original goal was to provide real-time collaboration in Washington, D.C., and Kabul, Afghanistan.
October 30, 2012
November 30, 2012