Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Just The Facts, Ma'am

Dec 12, 2012
When the 2012 election is reviewed from a statistical standpoint, it will be recognized as the year Nate Silver beat Karl Rove. First, for those who worry that this is a political rant, I have voted Republican, Democrat and Independent in presidential elections since 1980. This is about the importance of data and not about politics.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge. Nate Silver is very famous as an innovative and brilliant statistician in baseball and poll predictions. Karl Rove needs no introduction. I met Karl Rove once on a flight from Colorado Springs to Washington, D.C. I could not have been more impressed with how smart and how nice he was.
If you were like me on election night, you flipped around from one channel to another to see what was being said. I like the statistical nature of the Electoral College predictions. All of the channels seemed to be basically in sync in terms of predicting states. If you happened to see what state go for a particular party, you could turn to a different station and likely see another station call it in a sway fashion. If you were watching Fox News like I happened to be at the time, you witnessed an interesting situation of Karl Rove questioning the number crunchers at Fox News assessment that president Obama had won Ohio. Mr. Rove said it was “early” and “premature” for Fox News to call Ohio for Obama. The anchor, Megyn Kelly, walked down to the experts and they calmly and rationally explained their math. These experts then were brought back to the set and explained the rational directly to Karl Rove. What came through was the importance of taking emotion out of data analysis.
Just in case you have never heard of Nate Silver, he first became famous as a statistician who used data and metrics to predict how baseball players and teams would perform in the future. In 2008, his FiveThirtyEight blog correctly predicted the way that 49 of 50 states would vote for president, and in 2012 he went 50 for 50. What is fascinating about Nate Silver is that he comes across as a very calm, smart statistician who takes the many polls that are out there and makes extremely accurate predictions. There is no emotion and it reminds me of the line from the classic show Dragnet: “Just the facts, ma’am.” Many articles have been written since the election where the basic theme was, “is punditry dead and has data analysis taken its place?” I will show my bias here in that I prefer data geeks to pundits of any party.
This is where I think of both MTInsight and MTConnect. Both MTInsight and MTConnect are all about providing “just the facts.” MTConnect is the open and royalty-free standard that provides “just the facts” coming from manufacturing equipment. This data typically ends up in shop floor monitoring dashboards first with integration into manufacturing systems the next logical step. MTInsight is the business intelligence tool that is a must-have to succeed in today's manufacturing world. MTInsight is entirely cloud-based and provides information on markets, benchmarking surveys, industry forecasts, your competitors, customers and supply chain. MTInsight provides the facts in a variety of formats to help manufacturing companies understand where they need to invest today and in the future.
What would Nate Silver think about MTInsight? I believe, if Nate Silver was in the manufacturing sector, he would be a subscriber to MTInsight. A statistician, who wants to understand data and not base decisions on emotion, would find MTInsight is critical to manufacturing success.
You can learn more about MTInsight at For questions, pricing, or to schedule a live demonstration, contact Mark Kennedy ( or 703-827-5220) or Kim Brown ( or 703-827-5223) to learn how you can improve your business with manufacturing business intelligence.
If the 2012 elections were the tipping point for data over pundits, then I believe 2013 will be the year where manufacturing business intelligence will reach a tipping point. All too often we hear why a manufacturing shop or plant does things a certain way and it is typically a statement such as, “that’s how dad and grandpa did it.” Think about the questions that Nate Silver might ask if he showed up at your plant, shop or company and wanted to improve productivity. What would Nate Silver want to know first? He would want the truth, no emotion and “just the facts.”