“Every two days we now create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003”
Eric Schmidt (CEO Google).
“Data are widely available; what is scarce is the ability to extract wisdom from them”
Hal Varian (UC Berkeley and Chief Economist, Google).
Motivation:The two quotes above summarize the main theme of this course. In every aspect of our daily lives, from the way we work, shop, communicate, or socialize; we are both consuming and creating vast amounts of information. More often than not, these daily activities create a trail of digitized data that is being stored, mined, and analyzed by firms hoping to create valuable business intelligence. For example, customer transaction databases provide vast amounts of high-quality data that can allow firms to understand customer behavior, and customize business tactics to increasingly fine segments or even segments of one. However, much of the promises of such data-driven policies have failed to materialize because managers find it difficult to translate data into actionable strategies. The general objective of this course is to fill this gap by training you with tools and techniques to analyze large databases and by instilling an intuition for DDDM.
Course Philosophy:Extracting useful insights from the vast amount of information involves a combination of analytical skills and intuition. It is both an art and science. The pedagogic philosophy in this course embraces the principle of learning-by-doing. Each concept that we cover has a software implementation and a problem or case whose resolution can be enhanced through use of the data. Statistical tools covered in the class will range from simple data analysis and visualization, to advanced regression and multivariate statistics. Our emphasis will be on applications and interpretation of the results for making real life business/policy decisions. Beyond what is necessary, we will focus less on the mathematical and statistical properties of the techniques used to produce these results.
In order to provide a broad intuition of the concepts and methods, we will use data/problems/example/case-studies from different fields such as Finance & Economics, Psychology & Sociology, Politics & Public Policy, and Medicine & Biology. Often this will involve using data and replicating results from major academic journals in these fields. However, since this is primarily a Marketing course, emphasis will be given to quantitative aspects of marketing decision making such as segmentation, estimating market potential and forecasting demand, developing optimal pricing policies, designing/positioning new products, data mining, and customer relationship management (CRM).
Objectives: Regardless of your chosen field or major, it is virtually impossible to survive in the professional world without a working knowledge of basic data analysis and use of some statistical software. The course is designed to train you in a wide spectrum of quantitative problems that you are likely to encounter in your workplace. Some of the quantitative methods and concepts are fairly advanced and may seem intimidating at the beginning. Regardless of your prior background, an objective of the course is to remove any fear of data analysis, and provide you with the toolkits to become an accomplished empirical analyst. More generally, I hope to instill a general analytical intuition that enables you to analyze and comprehend contemporary issues such as the presidential elections, housing bubble and ensuing financial crises, debates on healthcare, government deficits, or climate change. In other words, become an educated consumer of news, issues, and challenges facing the society.
The specific objectives of this course are to:
Understand how analytical techniques and statistical models can enhance decision making by converting data to information and insights.
Provide intuition for data driven decision making by using practical examples from a wide spectrum of fields.
Provide insights on how to choose and use the most effective statistical tool based on the problem at hand.
Provide you with a software tool kit that will enable you to apply statistical models to real decision problems.
Most importantly, increase your comfort level with analyzing large databases to translate conceptual understanding into specific operational plans ֠a skill in increasing demand in the business world.
Prerequisites:Although there are no specific prerequisites for the class, an introductory class in statistics/regression and working knowledge of MS Excel would be helpful. However, the most important prerequisite for the class is a positive attitude towards learning.