Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

Excel VBA and Macros

Anyone who needs to learn how to use the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and macro features of Excel (Microsoft) should consider the video training linked below...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Power Excel 2010

Anyone seeking to learn Excel 2010 (Microsoft) as quickly as possible should consider using the Power Excel 2010 video training linked below:

Searching for Growth in America

Evidence of Military-Industrial Complexity

According to the Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe:
The Globe analyzed the career paths of 750 of the highest ranking generals and admirals who retired during the last two decades and found that, for most, moving into what many in Washington call the “rent-a-general’’ business is all but irresistible.... From 2004 through 2008, 80 percent of retiring three- and four-star officers went to work as consultants or defense executives, according to the Globe analysis. That compares with less than 50 percent who followed that path a decade earlier, from 1994 to 1998.

Source: Bender, B (2010, December 26), From the Pentagon to the Private Sector, Boston Globe.

Well Said...

"There is no science without fancy and no art without fact."

~ Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (1899-1977)

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Good Cause...

The American Legion
Preamble to the Constitution

For God and country we associate ourselves together for the following purposes:
  • To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America;
  • To maintain law and order;
  • To foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism;
  • To preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great Wars;
  • To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation;
  • To combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses;
  • To make right the master of might;
  • To promote peace and goodwill on earth;
  • To safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy;
  • To consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.
The American Legion Preamble has been the beacon light of The American Legion for more than 90 years. It has been amended only once in all that time. That amendment consisted of adding the letter "S" to the word "war." It makes the Preamble read today "Great Wars," so as to embrace all wars.

I am proud to be a member (paid up for life) of the American Legion. Follow the link below to learn more.

The American Legion

Related Posts

Restoring the American Dream

As America looks to the future in a post-recession world, the nation must begin to face the realities of economic restructuring in order to compete in the emerging global economy. I commend Dr Fareed Zakaria's special report entitled, Restoring the American Dream, as instructive for the future. Dr Zakaria's call for new investments in education, training, and innovation are particularly persuasive:

Special thanks to Dr Gary Robinson for bringing Dr Zakaria's report to my attention...

Warming Hearts...

Lola peeks from beneath her quaff...

Lola the Yorkie-Poo

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What is "Junoon"...?

I just finished reading Razi Imam's new book, Driven: A How-To Strategy for Unlocking Your Greatest Potential (2010). According to Imam (pp. 46-47):
The word, Junoon, comes from the Urdu/Arabic language... The current English language lacks a single word to describe the concept, so the best we can do is describe it in three words: Junoon is a state of obsession. It's a trasnformative, all-consuming mania: a kind of craziness, if you will, that envelops your mind and heart to achieve yoiur goal.

To live within the state of Junoon is to concentrate passionately on realizing your mission and transcending day-to-day human motivation to a degree that seems impossible to those around you. Being in this state coalesces and magnifies your ordinary strength of will and determination, and turns you into a person who rises to challenges in ways that others can't even imagine. You hold nothing back. You put your all and everything that you do, and through your investment of your entire being, you find ways to surmount the most daunting of circumstantial barriers with incredible energy.

Imagine that you're so obsessed with accomplishing something for the greater good that you feel utterly consumed with getting it done. You are inspired by a mandate from the universe, and allow nothing to stop you from achieving your objective. From morning to night, you live within your passionate concentration and desire. This is what it's like to live in, and act from, the state of Junoon.
Anyone who has ever experienced Junoon during their lifetimes will quickly recognize themselves in this book. Junoon is a fascinating term and concept, which will likely find its way into the English lanaguage and lexicon.

Source: Imam, R (2010), Driven: A How-To Strategy for Unlocking Your Greatest Potential, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

The Language of Business Intelligence

Vernon Prior has released a new edition of his glossary of terms used in competitive intelligence and knowledge management. Follow the link below to download a copy:

Source: Prior, V (2010), Glossary of Terms used in Competitive Intelligence and Knowledge Management, Institute for Competitive Intelligence.

Well Said...

"Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance."

~ Will Durant

Dr William James Durant (1885-1981)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

To everyone in my life, please accept my best wishes for a wonderful Christmas day with my warm regards to you and yours during this yuletide season...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Well Said...

"I'd like people to remember me as someone who was good at his job and seemed to mean what he said."

~ Jimmy Stewart

Brig Gen James M Stewart, USAF (1908-1997)

Brig Gen Stewart enlisted in the US Army as a private in 1941 and rose to the rank of Colonel in the US Army Air Corps during World War II with credit for flying 20 combat missions over Europe. Following the war, Brig Gen Stewart served in the US Air Force Reserve achieving flag officer rank before his retirement in 1968.

Visit the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Analytics Journey: Descriptive >> Predictive >> Prescriptive

A key management challenge of our time is to advance business analytics beyond descriptive methods, into higher order predictive and prescriptive techniques. In the video link below, Dr Jai Menon of IBM argues that while business analytics includes descriptive and predictive phases, the final phase of the journey is prescriptive.

Firms that are analytically competitive are not only practiced in descriptive and predictive methods, but are also adept at prescriptive techniques that can actuate responses to what happened (descriptive) or what might happen (predictive) in the future. Follow the link below to a related post that discusses what differentiates decriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics from each other.

Related Posts:

Business Analytics: Going the Distance

Record $11 Million Christmas Tree

The Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates boasted an $11 million dollar Christmas tree this year. Apparently, the tree was decorated with ornaments made of gold, rubies, diamonds, and more. I suppose the tree was intended to be in keeping with the Christmas spirit...

Looks like the oil business is thriving. To learn more about the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi, follow the link below:

Emirates Palace

Business Analytics: Going the Distance

Business analytics stratifies into three levels of inquiry and findings beginning with descriptive, followed by predictive, and finally prescriptive methods as follows:
Descriptive Analytics: A set of technologies and processes that use data to understand and analyze business performance.
  1. Standard reporting and dashboards: What happened? How does it compare to our plan? What is happening now?
  2. Ad-hoc reporting: How many? How often? Where?
  3. Analysis/query/drill-down: What exactly is the problem?
Predictive Analytics: The extensive use of data and mathematical techniques to uncover explanatory and predictive models of business performance representing the inherit relationship between data inputs and outputs/outcomes.
  1. Data mining: What data is correlated with other data?
  2. Pattern recognition and alerts: When should I take action to correct or adjust a process or piece of equipment?
  3. Monte-Carlo simulation: What could happen?
  4. Forecasting: What if these trends continue?
  5. Root cause analysis: Why did something happen?
  6. Predictive modeling: What will happen next if?
Prescriptive Analytics: A set of mathematical techniques that computationally determine a set of high-value alternative actions or decisions given a complex set of objectives, requirements, and constraints, with the goal of improving business performance.
  1. Optimization: How can we achieve the best outcome?
  2. Stochastic optimization: How can we achieve the best outcome and address uncertainty in the data to make better decisions?
While descriptive analytics provide a starting point for understanding problems and performance, the more significant purpose and objective of analytics is to achieve predictive and prescriptive findings via higher levels of technique. Make certain that your business analytics strategy is not short-changing decision makers by concluding with descriptive findings alone. Said another way, insist that your business analytics leaders and teams have the training and discipline to go the distance into all forms of advanced analytical methods and techniques as required. The questions posed above under each level of inquiry can provide the interrogative tools for evaluating your firm's current capabilities.

Source: Lustig, I, Dietrich, B, Johnson, C, and Dziekan, C (2010, November-December), The Analytics Journey, Analytics Magazine, 11-18.

Well Said...

"A poet must leave traces of his passage, not proof."

~ René Char

René Char (1907-1988)

Salman Khan: "World-Class Education"

Visit the Khan Academy

Michael Dell: "Enabling Human Potential"

Hans Rosling: "Human Force is the Engine"

Hanna Rosin: "The End of Men"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Well Said...

"Fortunately we're not a public company - we're a private group of companies, and I can do what I want."

~ Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (1950- )

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why College Matters...

The following chart makes a powerful economic case for earning at least a bachelor's degree in America:

Source: Thompson, D (2010, December 15), The Next Tech Boom vs the College Crisis, Atlantic.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Well Said...

"There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing."

~ John Cage

John Milton Cage Jr (1912-1992)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Gold to Oil Ratio 1948-2010

The ratio of gold to oil prices between 1946 and 2010 (as of December 7) indicates that gold has held its purchasing power vis-à-vis oil over the years. Some economists believe that the dollar to gold to oil ratios provide evidence that the dollar has lost approximately 97% of its value since 1948, and as much as 77% of its value since 2000.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Fiscal Policy or "Fantasy Football"?

I watched Dr Ben Bernanke's interview on "60 Minutes" this weekend, and I was struck my the Federal Reserve chairman's candor with regard to the possibily of deflation in today's economic environment. Yet, austerity hawks around the US are continuing their calls for fiscal policy measures that address the risks of inflation, which remains essentially non-existent today. From where I sit, calls for anti-inflationary measures are akin to playing "fantasy football" against a non-existent threat. If Dr Bernanke's views are accepted at face value, then the US is at risk of deflation and depression in the near-term, and that is the threat that our nation's fiscal policy-makers should be actively engaging...

Why Data Matters: Uncovering Insights

Effective Business Analytics

Business Intelligence: Excel 2010 PowerPivot

Business Intelligence: Excel 2010 Sparklines

Business Intelligence: Excel 2010 Slicers

Friday, December 03, 2010

US Employment to Population Ratio Continues Decline

Newly released employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the US employment to population ratio declined to 58.4% in November 2010, down from 58.6% last month and 58.8% a year ago. The US employment to population ratio has been trending downwards since 2000.

Many economists believe that reporting the number employed as a percentage of the civilian population provides a more accurate description of the current state of employment than conjecturing the number of "unemployed" in a population. The US employment to population ratio reached a historical peak of 64.4% on an annual basis in 2000.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Inspiration of Dynamic (and Animated) Data Analysis

Here is an inspiring video piece by Prof Hans Rosling that makes the case for dynamic data analysis and effective visual presentation by example. According to Prof Rosling, "having the data is not enough -- I have to show it in ways people both enjoy and understand." The future of dynamic data analysis never looked better:

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The "Moment of Truth" Report...

The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform released its "Moment of Truth" report earlier this week, and after a careful reading, I found the commission's views and recommendations persuasive. Those interested in the likely future direction of US fiscal policy will want to read and study the report for themselves, but I predict that at least some of the "Moment of Truth" recommendations will find their way into fiscal policy in the coming months and years. Click on the image below to download the full report.

[Click image to download full report]

Note that the contents of the "Moment of Truth" report focus on future directions for US fiscal policy rather than monetary policy, which remains the domain of the Federal Reserve. However, until fiscal-policy makers can formulate and pass meaningful fiscal reforms, monetary policy will likely remained hamstrung. Fiscal reform in the US is in urgent need of bipartisan support from both parties -- all eyes are on Congress...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

On Teachers' Unions (and Public Education)

I recently posted a comment to an article entitled, Debate: Are Teachers’ Unions the Problem—or the Answer? (Adler, 2010, March 19, Newsweek Online) and I wanted share the post with readers of The Vantage Point with my invitation to join the debate:
The teachers’ unions are not really the problem (or solution) in my view. The problem is that the format of secondary education has not changed for one hundred years. At some point during the 21st century (and the sooner the better), society will need to consider the economic efficiencies afforded by alternative education. For example, society will soon witness the arrival of “3rd-grade-in-a-box” education technology that will far surpass the teaching effectiveness of traditional “bricks and mortar” schools. Imagine if every child in America could be mailed an education program developed by subject matter experts that effectively replaced sending one’s children to the school bus (which costs money), then on to their homerooms (we have already wasted an hour of each student’s time just getting to school), then on to several sessions of classes taking place in a school building throughout the day (including the costs of the building, maintenance, heating, air conditioning, security, insurance, and so forth), then back to their school buses (more student time and public money out the window), and finally to return home. At some point, this model for public education will be rejected by progressive families who will elect the “3rd-grade-in-a-box” alternative and keep their children home except to socialize and play sports with children in their neighborhood. The cost savings of moving public education from “bricks and mortar” to “boxed delivery” formats could be tens to hundreds of trillions of dollars over time. If teachers’ unions are against moving education forward with the emerging technology, then yes, they are part of the problem. However, the existence of teachers’ unions is not really the issue in my mind. Society needs to seek economic efficiencies from all public services, and secondary education is ripe for technological reform in the near future. Thank you for the opportunity to comment...
Source: Adler, J (2010, March 19), Debate: Are Teachers’ Unions the Problem—or the Answer? Newsweek Online.