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Introduction to Data Analysis - 2 Day Workshop

The field of Business intelligence depends largely on Data analysis tools and techniques in order to inform effective decision making. In fact, the disciplines are so intertwined that some often confuse the two. Therefore, we begin our introduction by examining  the history of Business intelligence, its relationship to data analysis, and why the two are needed to help businesses deliver  a complete assembly of their 'data puzzle'. This module also addresses some of the hurdles businesses face when dealing with data overload, and suggests some possible solutions to the problem.


With the explosion of big data, businesses recognize there is a greater need for employing someone who is qualified to correctly analyze the data. In this module, we  explore the qualifications  for the data analyst as well as the analytic tools associated with the position. It is unfortunate that there is such a dearth of data analysts. With a projected shortage of 190,000 data science jobs into 2018, it is no wonder that businesses are scrambling to recruit talent.

All attendees will learn how to:

  • Learn the terms, jargon, and impact of business intelligence and data analytics.

  • Gain knowledge of the scope and application of data analysis.

  • Explore ways to measure the performance of and improvement opportunities for business processes.

  • Be able to describe the need for tracking and identifying the root causes of deviation or failure.

  • Review the basic principles, properties, and application of Probability Theory.

  • Discuss data distribution including Central Tendency, Variance, Normal Distribution, and non-normal distributions.

  • Learn about Statistical Inference and drawing conclusions about a Data Population.

  • Learn about Forecasting, including introduction to simple Linear Regression analysis.

  • Learn about Sample Sizes and Confidence Intervals and Limits, and how they influence the accuracy of your analysis.

  • Explore different methods and easy algorithms for forecasting future results and to reduce current and future risk.



I. What are BI and DA?

      - Definitions of BI

      - History of BI

     -  How is BI used to help Businesses

     -  Definition of DA

     -  Relationship between BI and DA


 II. Data Here, There, and Everywhere!

       - Oracle study on business data preparedness

    -   Overview of Study Findings-overwhelmed by volume of data and inability to     utilize data effectively

        Possible solutions  to data overflow problems


III. Got Data? The Unique Role of the Data Analyst

        - Role of a Data Analyst

        - Skill set required to be an effective Data Analyst


Exercise: "Channeling  Your Inner Analyst"- Students are told to imagine receiving a memo from their supervisor explaining that the company is downsizing.  They are expected to take on additional responsibilities including doing data analysis. They must rewrite their current job description to include the new data analyst duties.

FACTS or Feelings: Your Choice

As data becomes more widely available, businesses are finding more success in adopting a fact based decision model rather than relying on traditional intuition alone. In this module, we examine more closely the two types of decision models businesses use as well as the benefits of the fact-based model. We cover the steps of the Rational Decision Model , a fact based method for decision making.

IV. Fact- Based Decision Making Process

     - The two types of Decision Models Businesses use

      - The Benefits of Fact- Based Decision Making

      -  Rational Decision Model : Six- Step Method

      - Pal's Diner: An Example of how the Rational Model is used in practice


Exercise: " Who's The Boss?"- Students are divided into groups, and told to imagine that they are the CEO of their  own company. They define a business related decision that they need to make and then apply the steps of the Rational Decision Model to arrive at the final conclusion.      



In this module, we revisit the Big Data trend with a more detailed focus. We begin by defining the buzz word-"BIG DATA" , examining its core attributes, and outlining the factors that contribute to data being  'big'. We explore how businesses collect structured and unstructured data, and the challenges they face in storing and effectively using both types of data.


  V. Big Data Anatomy


      - The Attributes of Big Data

              - Definition of Big Data

              - The 4 V's of Big Data

             - Structured versus Unstructured Data

             - The Challenges of Big Data


Exercise: "Camp WoeBeData"- Students are asked to describe some of the big data challenges that their companies face and to outline what steps are being taken to address the problems.



In order to better understand how to analyze data, we first have to comprehend its depth. This  requires drilling deep beneath the server it is located on and understanding its composition. Assume we are given a structured data set with labeled columns  and completed rows . There are plenty of ways  to summarize the story behind the data, but we cannot dive in without first  getting to understand its fundamental structure. We begin by classifying the collected data as quantitative or qualitative. Then we further classify our column variables according to the way data is measured: nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio. It is only after understanding this classification that we are able to proceed to the next step of choosing the appropriate analysis techniques which correspond  to nominal, ordinal, interval or ratio variables.


VI. Getting to Know Your Data

      - Data Types: Qualitative versus Quantitative

     - Taking a Closer Look: Data Measurement

              Four Types of Data Variables

                   Definition  and  examples  of Nominal Variables: Name only

                   Definition and examples  of  Ordinal Variables: Order Matters

                   Definition and examples of Interval Variables

                   Definition and examples of Ratio Variables

                   Summary of Statistics/Operations  that can be performed on each type


Exercise:  "Marketing to Low Renters" - Students  are told to put on their data analyst thinking caps. They have been employed as a junior data analyst for a Marketing Company whose goal is to make a marketing campaign for a client who plans on targeting the 'needy' population. Students are given a public housing data set and told to classify each variable according to its measurement.




A picture is worth a thousand words, and there definitely is no exception when it comes to summarizing data. This module is dedicated to highlighting the importance of visualizing data, and how the human eye depends on visual representation to get a quick sense of data relevance. Visual representation is the audience's first impression of the data and forms a crucial step in inviting and maintaining genuine interest in a subject matter. We demonstrate how to create colorful, easy to understand tables, charts, and graphs that aid in helping us convey the story behind the data set being analyzed.


VII. The Fundamental Ways we use data Visualization techniques

             -The five ways we use data visualization techniques

VIII. Displaying Tabular Data in Excel

             - How to create custom tables in Excel

             - How to Sort/Filter tabular data

              -How to create and manipulate pivot tables


IX. Using Charts and Graphs to Communicate Data

             - How to create Pie, Column, and Line charts using Excel

             - Communicating effectively using different chart types

              - How to choose the correct chart to display the correct data type


Exercise: "Table Mining"- Students develop tables to summarize trends in a data set related to Low Rent and Section 8 housing.

Exercise: "Charting Poverty"- Students develop charts and graphs to summarize the poor housing epidemic in a public housing data set.


Another way that data analysts summarize data is by providing a single number , or summary statistic, that has meaning. This module explores how the mean, median, and mode can be used to summarize the center of discrete and continuous grouped data . The range, standard deviation, and inter-quartile range measure the dispersion in the data set and provide information about how data points are spread.


X. Using Numerical Descriptives to Summarize Data

        - Measures of Centrality: Mean, Median, Mode

         -Format of Data Values: Grouped Discrete and  Grouped Continuous

         -Formulas for the Mean

                Examples: Applying 3M's to Grouped Discrete and Grouped Continuous Data

         -Measures of Spread: Standard Deviation, Range, Inter-quartile Range

                Examples: Applying Measures of Spread to Grouped Discrete and Grouped Continuous Data


Exercise: "Faulty Wear"- Students use mean, median, and mode to summarize information about returns from a department store.

Exercise:"Faulty Wear: Take 2"- Students use measures of spread to summarize the distribution of faulty garments from a department store.




Probability is not only the most important data analysis foundation, but it is by far the strongest measure that businesses can use to quantify uncertainty. There are risky decisions that businesses encounter when investing in certain stocks and taking a chance on whether its value will rise. The insurance industry calculates the most probable life expectancy for the population and bases its rates on that uncertainty. There are an abundance of examples that illustrate why understanding probability benefits the business industry, so this module is designed to expose students to a solid understanding of the topic. We use simple, easy to understand examples to introduce students to traditional and conditional probability. Then we follow up with other business  probability applications that involve relative frequency and expectation.


XI. Probability: Quantifying Uncertainty

         - Origin of Probability

          -Probability: Examples of Business Applications

          -Traditional definition of Probability

           -Simple Computation: The TopBottomFraction Method

           - How to calculate probabilities from contingency tables

           - How to Calculate conditional probability from contingency tables

            - Applying probability to calculate relative frequency

            - Applying probability to calculate expected value

             -Using Expected Value in Decision Making

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