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Culture of Analytics

April 26, 2018 - K Naresh


What separates humans from the rest of the living beings is the power of thinking.  While the anatomy of all humans appears more or less the same, the most differentiated factor between two individuals is the ability to think differently. Well, thinking as per science is nothing but composition and reaction of chemical substances in our brain, and it is mesmerizing to see the variation in this process between people with ‘mind’ [‘minded’ needs clarification]. Ability to have a right mixture of chemicals at right interval of time and in right proportion makes people step up their level of thinking. Is this a gift of nature by birth or can we train humans to think better? While it certainly has genetic influence, a large part of thinking can be trained and that is where culture plays a major role.
Analytics is a result of differentiated thinking by humans. To be able to analyze, one must have the right balance of experience, data, presence of mind and most importantly the ability to synthesize information and think ahead for the solution. A well trained brain can definitely produce better analytical results than a disoriented brain in terms of culture. While technologies such as big data, AI add to the effectiveness of analytical thinking, the cultural part of it influences the most. When we refer to culture, it is not limited to the cultured analytical ability of the thinker; it also covers the aspects of cultural behaviors of the data subject.
Let us specifically look into this matter from a financial/banking world’s viewpoint. Well known analytical theories rally around volume of data, the financial behaviors of customer, the pattern of financial accounting, past history (again financial) of the subject in view, etc. It is interesting to notice that most such theories keenly focus upon ‘technical’ or ‘financial’ or ‘social’ behavior of the entity.  Most analytics completely miss out the cultural behavior of the subject matter. 
It is a well-known fact that individuals are majorly influenced by two aspects, one being the genetic quality and second being the culture in which he/she grows up. The culture includes all matters such as religion, region, family background, parents and parental behaviors, society in which individual has grown up, institution where he/she was educated, company of individuals/groups involved with the individual, value system of the family, financial and social behavior of the family, hobbies, etc. 
For example, consider the matter of generating a predictive analysis on whether a specific individual will default loan repayment or the probability of a loan becoming an NPA. We usually look at past financial behavior of the individual, his/her current earning capacity, availability of continuous cash flow, etc. to determine the probability of NPA. However, most important factor ignored in most such analytics is the cultural background of the individual. If the person hails from a culture where it strongly resists defaulting the loan, no matter what, the individual will make up and ensure the loan repayment is honored to the best of his ability and it can supersede all other analysis.
Let us focus on another example, which is a blend of cultural analytics as well as run-time or real-time user experience. Colors and cultures go hand-in-hand as each color means something in different culture. Color will also change according to situation within a culture. Therefore, if only applications can determine the culture, life events, occasions and circumstances of individuals, it can remodel the appearance (UX-UI) according to the cultural background.  This helps provide a personalized and contextualized experience to the users.
The current analytical engines therefore must be tuned to look for ‘culture’ of subject matter as one of the most important pieces of information and build a ‘cultural’ database for all subject matter entities. While all other behaviors of individuals can change over a period of time, the culture and value system will remain engraved with him/her and that can help to predict the financial or associated behavior in a more cultured way. One of the ways how this can be done is to build ‘cultural’ database for individuals that signifies the background, society, value system more so in defining real ‘character’. Social behavior and cultural behavior are different and in critical situations, culture takes over social behavior and therefore analytics can become more real-time.

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2 thoughts on “Culture of Analytics

  • Excellent read. Naresh is right in pointing our how cultural difference play a major role in predicting behavior. Our experiences in our lives, schools we went to, neighborhoods we grew up in,all play an important role in defining a character. Challenge for technologies like AI I feel will be how to leverage these datapoints , without inflicting an element of racial bias in any analysis or decisioning that it brings along.It is a fine balance, one who can crack it, will get the spotlight.

  • Interesting perspective . . . Culture and color in Analytics. As Einstein says. . . Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted. In my opinion, a fine balance between what counts and what can be counted is to be critically analyzed for employing any analytics solution.

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