A Few Good Links – Feb 9th 2010

on February 9, 2010
SMARTS™ Data-Powered Decision Management Platform

This week we will focus on links that are more closely related to decision management.

1. NFL / Super Bowl 44

Well, difficult not to cover this one… I am glad the Saints won, for many reasons that have nothing to do with their sports skills – cultural affinity mostly.

I know very little about American Football (sorry, I have to qualify it – my South American, African and European “roots” have difficulties using football for a sports played mostly with the hands and a  non-spherical “ball”). Most of what I know I have learned over the past couple of years, strangely enough through the study of the management of decisions in the NFL.

The results of Super Bowl 44 hinged on a few decisions by the Saint’s Head Coach Sean Payton, and of course some luck. His first decision was to call for run on 4th and goal from the 1 – close to the end of the 1st quarter and a number of points down. He then came back and had the team open the second half with an onside kick, performed by a player who had never done it before. He finally called for a 2-point conversion after a touchdown in the 4th quarter. The last two moves were new to me, I had never seen them before nor had I even heard about them.

A good analysis of this can be found in the Advanced NFL Stats site. It’s fascinating to see how much analytical insight can help with complex decisions.

Carole-Ann delivered a very interesting presentation on two aspects related to football: The Science of Sport: How Football Scores with Decision Management. Carole-Ann covers the details on how well structured business rules are used to manage the decisions on the scheduling of advertisements on ESPN (and now most of the Disney channels). She also covers of linear programming-based optimization is used to support the key decisions around the establishment of the complete schedule for the NFL season, taking into account complex objectives, hard and soft constraints, and previous NFL season schedule performance.
If you got to attend one of her presentations, you’ve gotten a feeling for how complicated these decisions are, and how beneficial applying a proper decision management approach is.

2. Data Visualization

Certain aspects of decision management involve understanding complex data. Insight on complex data can be obtained through all sorts of automated means, but frequently enough involves experts looking at the data through different lenses in an exploration process that involves sophisticated visualizations.

Data can be beautiful. And not just for geeks.

Mashable published a list of 7 great data visualizations (http://bit.ly/c86rus).

O’Reilly published Beautiful Data (http://bit.ly/b4Q8KR) some time ago.

3. Vanity Metrics: The danger

Another key aspect of decision management is the proper measure of the metrics relevant (and hopefully collectively complete) to the decisions. Vanity metrics are a key danger: metrics that make the decision look good a posteriori and that end up clouding the judgment of those who should be carefully checking metrics that reflect the real impact of the decisions.

It is obvious that doing this right is essential, yet we are frequently surprised by how prevalent the investment in vanity metrics is. And not just in politics or in the financial world…

The Harvard Business Review has a nice article on this very subject (http://bit.ly/cVUX41), focused around the danger for entrepreneurs.

4. Something lighter: Flutter, the new Twitter

No comment. If you tweet, you’ll appreciate (http://bit.ly/910DXj).


This week’s quote selected by Carole-Ann:

“I think you should laugh once a day, because a day without sunshine is like… night”

— Steve Martin


Learn more about Decision Management and Sparkling Logic’s SMARTS™ Data-Powered Decision Manager

Go to the previous “A Few Good Links” post

Search Posts by Category


Sparkling Logic Inc. is a Silicon Valley-based company dedicated to helping organizations automate and optimize key decisions in daily business operations and customer interactions in a low-code, no-code environment. Our core product, SMARTS™ Data-Powered Decision Manager, is an all-in-one decision management platform designed for business analysts to quickly automate and continuously optimize complex operational decisions. Learn more by requesting a live demo or free trial today.