My name is Matt Floyd, and I’m a data guy. I’m struck by the amount of data out there, and how people everywhere are struggling to make sense of it. Years ago, I read a quote by Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian:
The ability to take data – to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades, not only at the professional level but even at the educational level for elementary school kids, for high school kids, for college kids. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it.
I think statisticians are part of it, but it’s just a part. You also want to be able to visualize the data, communicate the data, and utilize it effectively. But I do think those skills – of being able to access, understand, and communicate the insights you get from data analysis – are going to be extremely important. Managers need to be able to access and understand the data themselves.
The quote stuck with me, and moved my goalposts. I was always interested in data visualization from my school days — every morning I could, I would get my hands on a USA Today to check out the day’s “Snapshot” infographics (“pop visualizations“, as they are now called – like the one below). Much later, I took a biostatistics class in college and was intrigued by how one could tease out conclusions from data sets. BI blends the art of questioning with data science, and it’s a kick to help people answer the questions – or find the questions that should be asked.
We continue to be deluged with data, and my interest is in taming this data, managing it, analyzing it, and helping others use data to make the best decisions they can.
I’m interested in anything to do with data visualization, and data ETL (extract, transform, load) — the art and science of data. I work with databases, Qlikview, Cognos, and ETL packages like Informatica — as well as any industry trends dealing with data management.