Key speaker

Mark Madsen

President Third Nature

Mark Madsen, President Third Nature

Third Nature was founded by Mark Madsen, a well-known consultant and industry analyst. Mark frequently speaks at conferences and seminars in the US and Europe and writes for a number of leading industry publications.

Mark, president of Third Nature, is a former CTO and CIO with experience working for both IT and vendors, including a stint at a company used as a Harvard Business School case study. Over the past decade Mark has received awards for his work in analytics, business intelligence and data strategy from the American Productivity & Quality Center, the Smithsonian Institute and TDWI. He is co-author of several books and lectures and writes frequently on analytics and data topics.

Mark Madsen will be speaking on the following topics:

08:45
International keynote address: Beer, diapers, and correlation

The story of the correlation between beer and diaper sales is commonly used to justify why analytics is useful in business, and to explain market basket analysis in introductory data mining courses. Rarely does anyone ask about the origin of this story. Is it true? Why is it true? What does true mean anyway? The latter question is the most interesting because it challenges the ideas of accuracy in data and analytic models. This is the history of the beer and diapers story, explaining its origins and truth, based on repeated analyses of retail data over two decades. It will show that one can have multiple contradictory results from analytic models, and how they can all be true, leading to the questions of the value of "easy to use" analytics.

The real lesson of the story is that interpretation of the results of analytic models is key, not the data or model. You can't apply (effectively) what you don't understand.

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