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Ted Talks – Rory Sutherland: Perspective is Everything

Maybe increasing shareholder value is not the most important “so what” question…  I really liked the link between psychology, technology, and economics.


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Do You Understand Zippers?

A TA of mine in undergrad told me that the best way to test if you know something is to try and teach it to someone else.  If you can’t teach it, then you don’t really know it.  Interesting recollection as this academic year winds to a close.  How much of this will I be able to teach someone else a few years from now?


The Daily Beast

Art Markman explores the psychology of “unknown knowns:”

Find an object you use daily (a zipper, a toilet, a stereo speaker) and try to describe the particulars of how it works. You’re likely to discover unexpected gaps in your knowledge. In psychology, we call this cognitive barrier the illusion of explanatory depth. It means you think you fully understand something that you actually don’t. We see this every day in buzz words. Though we often use these words, their meanings are usually unclear. They mask gaps in our knowledge, serving as placeholders that gloss concepts we don’t fully understand.




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Speaking of Snakes & Salmonella….

I heard a report on NPR recently (followed by a quick read on wsbtv.com) that discussed the Atlanta area being occupied with some earlier-than-expected appearances of snakes, specifically copperheads & rattlesnakes.  These events are thought to be due to the above-average temperatures over the last few months.

When people hear a report like this, especially a note about as many as 30 calls a day to a snake removal business, there is a decent chance (say in the 25th percentile…and that’s possibly conservative) they will overreact.

The story could’ve been improved by encompassing some other snake facts, such as:

—In the U.S., only 5-6 deaths each year are due to a venomous snakebite – a tenth of the number of fatalities (~53) caused by hornet, bee, and wasp stings!

—It appears there was only one death in 2011.

Riding on that wave, there was a report on a recent salmonella outbreak in 19 states, including Georiga.  The punchline?  Four Georgians were sickened.  Zero deaths (so far…knock on wood).

As with the snake story, it probably would have been a bit more constructive had the report included statistics on the number of people sickened and killed from the illness, the latter of which I found to be 29 in 2010 versus hundreds of the former.

Main takeaway here?  Thorough, holistic reporting would ideally contribute to a more educated and less paranoid public.







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Flying routes, using DM to make better decisions

As I start to prepare for a summer of traveling 4 days a week for work, the never ending airline cut backs are definitely important to me. With major airlines merging and the re cession there has been an increase in cutting flight routes. While reading this article, I thought about how this would be a great optimization problem.

It would be great to setup a tool that would allow travels to view all the possible connections and alternatives – allowing them to minimize travel time and reduce stress. In addition, this is the type of tool the airlines could also use to better gauge the popular flight routes and more popular layover destinations before making cuts.

As airlines continue to cut back on flights and amenities, they run the risk of losing customers. Allowing customers to have more control and being part of the decision process will help alleviate stress.


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Route Optimization – a new tool

We talked in class about route optimization when we looked at the traveling salesman problem.  Our sales team at work uses a great tool for their route optimization: Microsoft MapPoint.

The sales team either enters the addresses of all the stops they need to make during the day or imports an excel spreadsheet and then MapPoint optimizes their route, including total distance, construction areas to avoid, trip duration, trip cost and more.  The sales team then syncs the route to their phone or GPS.

In addition, since you can import excel spreadsheets, the sales team can choose to optimize their route by other factors such as sales figures (including sales charts), target customers based on age, income, etc., inventory levels or customers that haven’t been visited in a while.  Basically, any data you can input into excel you can import into MapPoint to create an optimized route.  It helps our sales team turn large amounts of location-based information into maps that are practical and easy to understand.

Here are some views of MapPoint:

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2012 Jobs Rated Methodology

As I was preparing for our presentation, I ran into this article in careercast. However, I quickly realized that this ranking was not made properly and thus the ranking were invalid. The article ranks the 200 Top jobs of 2012, which included the following attribute: 1) Environment 2) Income 3) Outlook 4) Physical demands 5) Stress 6) Overall Ranking.

The author does a good job […]

Best Ski Location

At the beginning of the semester, Professor Noonan asked the class where the best place to live would be if you were an avid skier. My brother happens to live in Montana on the edge of Yellowstone Park. Because of the elevation, there was snow at least part of each month in the past year. The place you would want to live is the Yellowstone […]

Micro-lending in Atlanta: Using DM to identify Market Opportunity

This semester my I worked with a small group off GBS students on a consulting project for a Microfinance Institution (who shall remained unnamed by request of the client). We were asked to identify whether the MFI should open a branch office in Atlanta and if so which locations would serve its customers best.

Microlending as we know is more prominent in developing countries however […]

AJC Releases Top Workplaces in Atlanta Ranking

As summer approaches, soon the fall recruiting season will be upon us. For those interested in staying in Atlanta post graduation, the AJC has released its ranking of the Top Workplaces in Metro Atlanta. The newspaper has actually devoted a full section of its website to this: http://www.ajc.com/business/topworkplaces/.


Looks to be a solid list with employees explaining their opinions on company direction, job appreciation, […]

The Biggest Obstacle to Embracing Big Data? You

A recent Businessweek article discusses the “Big Data” revolution and the challenges to using the data in today’s corporate culture. Finishing up our Decision Modeling course, we now feel more confident making data-based decisions using models, and as Professor Noonan mentioned, that definitely puts us ahead of the curve. As the hype continues increasing about IBM, GE, and others’ abilities to aggregate huge amounts of […]