Chapter 3

Data-Driven Experiences

As we write, there is no shortage of evidence pointing to the conclusion that the ability to understand and use big data is increasingly one of the best differentiators for any organization.

Consider the events of fall 2012:

  • President Obama rode to reelection on the strength of his campaign’s ability to organize and crunch large amounts of voter data.
  • Blogger Nate Silver, whose statistical acumen had just predicted the state-by-state outcome of a second presidential election, was getting about as many kudos as the reelected Obama. In a great moment of geek chic, he appeared on the Colbert Report, trended on Twitter, and became a meme himself when thousands took to playing “Drunk Nate Silver.”
  • Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants demonstrated that the Oakland A’s aren’t the only ones using Moneyball-style analyses of players for better results. The Giants won the World Series for the second time in three years, a mini-dynasty in part attributable to a state-of-the-art system that tracks how well fielders play hit balls and make throws. Incidentally, the team’s commitment to tech is long term—they were also first to have Wi-Fi in their stadium and invest in iPads for the locker room. And one of their key executives is a guy named Yeshayah Goldfarb, who possesses a very un-baseball-like title: director of minor league operations/quantitative analysis.
  • The Harvard Business Review, in an issue that featured big data on the cover, called the ...

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