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Data analysts claim stake in US election victory

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Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign should warn organisations to look for truth – not affirmation – in data or risk being led astray.

“The United States election serves as a warning to managers that it is not enough just to be in the data game. If you have a staff member in the corner doing analytics and you are unable to ask any smart questions about the analysis – you’re leaving yourself very vulnerable,” says New Zealand based data expert Devin Deen, who facilitates the Executive Education short course Big Data for Smarter Decisions.

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s data company, British based Cambridge Analytica maximised the tail wind of publicity from helping the real estate tycoon and reality TV star take the presidency.

In a press release they boasted: “No one saw it coming. The public polls, the experts, and the pundits: just about everybody got it wrong. They were wrong-footed because they didn’t understand who was going to turn out and vote last Tuesday.

“Except for Cambridge Analytica…The firm knew that Mr. Trump had a very solid shot at winning, because it saw trends that no else did, and it knew how to interpret them correctly.

“The trends that we saw, a lot of people didn’t want to believe it,” says Matt Oczkowski, who headed the Data Science team.

Deen agrees that Hilary Clinton’s team were “seeing what they wanted to see” in the data.

“Data is very raw material and it is vital that a scientific method is employed with appropriate checks and balances in place. Managers need to be able to demystify the data or risk being led astray.

“Without the right use case, introducing Big Data technologies will only yield an expensive trophy project with no or little business benefit except padding the CV of a CIO, Head of Department or Enterprise Architecture team.”

Devin Deen is the facilitator of the Executive Education course Big Data for Smarter Decisions.



*By Rachael Breckon – Content Writer and Co-ordinator at the University of Auckland Business School.



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