Edited by Myron D. Fottler, Donna Malvey and Donna J. Slovensky
Chapter 16: The many lives of data
I begin my consideration of the lives of data with a metaphor: data are raw materials, while statistics are industrial processes that convert these materials into the products of information and insight. The collection and transformation of data into information and insights that aid decision-making, while currently revolutionizing multiple industries, is not entirely novel. Like so many advances, it comes from the approximation of different disciplines; in this case, informatics, statistics, and leadership. Advances in informatics technology, tools, and methodologies have enhanced our ability to collect, organize, combine, and extract data more efficiently than ever before. The tools of statistical analyses are increasingly used outside the hallways of academia to aid in making decisions as varied as what coupons to send in response to customer purchases, the selection of the correct answer to a jeopardy question, or the evaluation of players in several sports (Davenport and Kim, 2013; Siegel, 2013). I purposefully include leadership as the third discipline, as without institutional vision, direction, and buy-in, an organization will fail to recognize how informatics and statistics can provide the groundwork for improved decision-making and thus fail to drive adoption of these tools to effect meaningful change.
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