Member Spotlight

Christopher Berry

Congratulations on being one of the 2014 President's Award Recipients!

Name: Christopher Berry
Company: Authintic
Job Title: Co-Founder, Chief Science Officer
Website: www.authintic.com
Blog: www.christopherberry.ca
Twitter Handle: @cjpberry

What is your favorite blog?
There isn't a single one really:

How is big data impacting your daily job?

Big Data means different things to different people, and that causes different experiences on different days.

If I'm working with a team of developers, the technologies associated with Big Data help us build really good products for a fraction of the time and cost, then those are amazing days.

If I'm working with a group of people who have only heard hype, and believe in the hype, and have really hyper-inflated expectations, then those days aren't nearly as good because I'm ruining theirs.

If I'm working with a group of great people, and we are pouring over the information, assembling narrative and making informed decisions, then those are amazing days.

If I get four hours alone with the data, to really torture it and make it talk, those days are amazing too.

The best part about data, big or small, are the people and challenges that go with it.

What analytics tools do you find most useful?

Sometimes I need a hammer. Sometimes I need a backhoe. Sometimes I need a tunnel boring machine. It depends on the problem.

My favourite communication tool is the whiteboard with as many markers as there are people. Nothing beats a whiteboard for illustrating a concept or drawing out a problem.

My favourite technical tools are Python and its ecosystem; and R for quick-and-dirty analysis.

My favourite research stack is to observe people in the wild, as opposed to creating artificial environments featuring people behaving artificially. Nothing beats real observational data.

What analytics myth is the most common?

That analytics is all pizza and spreadsheets; that it's incredibly easy.

I think you can empower people and still be truthful with them about the challenges.

Analytics is so much more than pizza, late nights, and spreadsheets. Analytics is not incredibly easy.

What is the greatest challenge facing the industry?

Tool sets that cause a diminution of talent.

It's just fine for some people to define themselves based on the tool that they use. Such skills are really important. But that's only a fraction of a role. And it's extremely growth limiting. After all, you're outsourcing a huge amount of creativity to the product manager of those products. If something isn't supported, it isn't done. That's tremendously limiting.

Digital analytics is about to become a lot more engaging. People who express themselves in terms of tool limitations are going to be at a tremendous disadvantage.

What is the greatest opportunity facing the industry?

An explosion of opportunity beyond the spreadsheet.

There's an increasing technical capability to directly engage with consumers and optimize for their experiences. The ability to directly cause changes that result in better outcomes, as opposed to relying and hoping that the people you work with happen to become smarter, is an amazing path to effectiveness and success.


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