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James Taylor

I will use this blog to discuss business challenges and how technologies like analytics, optimization and business rules can meet those challenges.

About the author >

James is the CEO of Decision Management Solutions and works with clients to automate and improve the decisions underpinning their business. James is the leading expert in decision management and a passionate advocate of decisioning technologies business rules, predictive analytics and data mining. James helps companies develop smarter and more agile processes and systems and has more than 20 years of experience developing software and solutions for clients. He has led decision management efforts for leading companies in insurance, banking, health management and telecommunications. James is a regular keynote speaker and trainer and he wrote Smart (Enough) Systems (Prentice Hall, 2007) with Neil Raden. James is a faculty member of the International Institute for Analytics.

In 2005, Mr Ahmadinejad got 17 million votes and in 2009 he got 24 million.
The question is, where did all those extra votes come from?
The answer, according to this study, is not at all clear.

I don't write political or personal posts and, despite first appearances, this is not one either. When I saw the BBC News post from which the quote above is taken (Iran: Where did all the votes come from?) I was inspired to blog not so much by the specifics of the situation as by the process followed by the folks who investigated the situation. They took a result, one in dispute, but then looked past the simple facts to see how likely the result was to be reasonable and a truthful representation of the voters' intent.

For instance they went beyond the facts that the vote percentage for Mr Ahmadinejad only rose by 1% and that the poll some weeks before the election also showed him winning. They drilled in to ask questions like "how many more votes does this 1% swing represent" and "are the regional variations the same or similar in the two elections" and "how would voting patterns have to have changed to generate this result". All these questions, and the statistical analysis that backs them, result in interesting conclusions.

But, like I said, this is not a political post about the election in Iran. What I want to ask you is how often you do this kind of analysis when someone presents a conclusion? How often is the data that has been used to base decisions in your company put through this kind of analysis? Is anyone asking the hard questions about the data that drives your company?

Posted July 1, 2009 6:32 PM
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