Analytics Magazine Analytics Magazine, November/December 2014 - Page 15

Yet the Giants have thrived once again in the post-season and are, at the time of this writing, just three games away from winning the 2014 World Series. Though I am surprised, Jonah Keri and Neil Paine are not. Their recent article [2] on fivethirtyeight.com states that after analyzing a great deal of historical data, they find that a team’s late season winning percentage is not a significant predictor of post-season success. The Major League Baseball playoffs, it seems, are (at least statistically) a whole new season. Let’s go Giants! Learning to translate. I have been a university faculty member for the past 11 years. Prior to that, I spent 11 years in industry after finishing graduate school. On the occasion of my 50th birthday, I find that symmetry to be both amusingly coincidental and oddly appropriate, as I feel as though I’ve been straddling the line between industry and academia for all of my adult life. Since becoming a professor, I have continued to work with startup companies in a variety of roles. When considering whether or not to get involved with a company, I typically ask myself three questions: • Does this company have a reasonably high probability of getting funded, growing and/or ultimately becoming successful? a na l y t i c s • Can I add value to this company by helping them with the technical problems and/or business problems that it is likely to face? • Will working with this company give me a chance to learn something valuable that I can share with my students and colleagues? I recently agreed to serve as an advisor to an exciting new start-up in Silicon Valley. My primary responsibilities are to serve as a sounding board for their lone data scientist and to provide a bridge between this data scientist and the company’s executive team. This role in some form or another is an increasingly common one. As Anil Kaul, CEO of AbsolutData, observed during one of our research focus groups, “We are starting to see a significant increase in the demand for high-level ‘translators’ within data science project teams.” Somehow it feels like I’ve been preparing for this role all my life. Vijay Mehrotra (vmehrotra@usfca.edu) is a professor in the Department of Business Analytics and Information Systems at the University of San Francisco’s School of Management. He is also a longtime member of INFORMS. REFERENCES 1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnZdlhUDEJo 2. http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/the-as-tailspinmight-not-matter-once-the-playoffs-start/ n o v e m b e r / d e c e m b e r 2 014 | 15