A key part of our work in Business Intelligence is the analysis of data and the branch of mathematics that we employ for this is statistics.
We analyse data to understand our business better and when analysing the data our main objective is to pick out the reality from the background noise. For example when looking at weekly sales figures we see that the number of items sold varies from week to week, some weeks more, some weeks less. The challenge is to understand whether this change is just chance or there is something driving the change – a marketing campaign, or favourable comments on social networks.
By understanding our business better we can make decisions to improve our business, for example, if we can prove that a marketing campaign is not making any difference then we can save some money but cancelling the campaign. But being able to “prove” that a campaign is, or is not, making a difference we need to use statistics.
Recently Nathan Green started a new series of articles on statistics in the UK’s Guardian newspaper. So far I have found these articles to be very well written and provide a good introduction to statistical analysis, providing clear explanations for tricky concepts such as the difference between mean, median and mode and what is a p-value by using every day examples.
These articles are looking like a great way to get started with understanding statistics and so I would recommend you check them out. And if you already are adept with statistics then these still provide a good source of interesting material!