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Winning with Data: Transform Your Culture, Empower Your People, and Shape the Future Hardcover – June 20, 2016
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From the Inside Flap
The biggest hotel company owns no hotel rooms, and the largest taxi company owns no taxis. Both organizations wield data better than any of their competitors to disrupt their industries. That's how powerful data can be when it's optimally leveraged. To gain a competitive advantage and dominate markets with data, you need to harness the power of curiosity and forge it into innovation with the step-by-step process in Winning with Data.
Venture capitalist Tomasz Tunguz and seasoned executive Frank Bien provide a rare insider's look at the transformative cultural changes data engenders in teams and companies. Winning with Data provides tactical advice gleaned from category-defining companies so you can replicate these techniques. Whether you need to merchandise inventory better, measure and respond to customer requests faster, incentivize go-to-market teams effectively, or metamorphose your team's culture, the clear and easy-to-practice guidance inside gives you everything you need to spark and fuel data-based conversations and decisions.
Illustrative, trenchant case studies give you an up-close and detailed look at how the leading data-driven companies disrupt industries with data. Get a privileged look at the specific strategies, techniques, and thinking behind how data is used by:
- Hubspot to develop best-in-class sales measurement and execution
- Warby-Parker to determine what models to ship and subsequently disrupt a $13 billion monopolized market
- ThredUp to transform the second-hand clothing business and process more than twenty thousand items of clothing every day
- Venmo to gain insight into user behavior in order to build the wallet for the millennial generation
Data is transforming the nature of business in fundamental ways but most people are asking the wrong questions: big data, small data, structured data, unstructured data. Instead, the right questions are, "How do we get exactly the right insight into everyone's hands at the moment they need it?" With the authors' widely practiced methodology, the entire company can speak the same language and decide based on the same factsnot opinionsto outperform.
From the Back Cover
TRANSFORM YOUR COMPANY'S CULTURE TO CREATE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Winning with Data is the authoritative guide to revolutionizing your team's and company's culture to wield data to gain a superior competitive edge over your competition. Until now, organizations have had very little dependable guidance for analyzing data to develop sustainable competitive advantage. This practical guide shares the techniques, tools and tactics used by some of the most disruptive companies in the world, and explains the methods to replicate these patterns. Leading experts in big data, business intelligence, and business strategy Tomasz Tunguz and Frank Bien demonstrate leveraging the full power of data requires more than good infrastructureit demands a universal lexicon, agreements between teams, ongoing education and infusing meetings with data.
This complete resource illustrates how to efficiently instrument a company to collect and analyze the wealth of data available, including:
- Developing the right metrics to collaborate effectively across teams
- Structuring experiments and conversations with data effectivelyalong with tips for avoiding common data biases that lead teams to the wrong conclusion
- Educating your team and company on the most effective mechanisms for answering key business questions
- Sharing and presenting analyses and conclusions to reach the best decision
The incisive case studies from some of the most disruptive companies in the world inform how other companies can transform their cultures to invent and develop their own competitive advantages. Start turning information into competitive advantage today with Winning with Data.
Top customer reviews
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I had been looking forward to picking up and reading Winning with Data by Tomasz Tunguz and Frank Bien ever since I first heard about the book on tomtunguz.com. This is my review.
If you’re looking to get an initial introduction into data-driven companies or how you might bring data-driven thinking to your company, Winning with Data is for you. For deeper dives, you’ll need to supplement this book with other resources.
The book is co-authored by Tomasz Tunguz, a partner at Redpoint Ventures, and Frank Bien, the founder of Looker, a business intelligence tool.
Tunguz is known in the SaaS world for his daily, invaluable blog posts published at tomtunguz.com. Every day, Mr. Tunguz breaks down different aspects of the market or running a company in a data-centric way. As Winning with Data purports, an effective culture of data-driven decision-making removes the effects of “management by opinion” in companies. Redpoint Ventures is known in the Valley for taking a very analytical approach to their investments, making sure that founders have a strong understanding of *aaS metrics and how those affect the business.
Frank Bien is an industry veteran having held roles at Dell, EMC, and others. He created Looker in 2013. Looker is a business intelligence platform deployed by hundreds of companies worldwide. It helps companies make sense of their data.
The book is a quick read at 150 pages.
What is Data?
Data. Data. Data! Data is everything and it is nothing. The book focuses on the pieces of information generated by customer actions: how much revenue did we earn on the Acme Co. account this month? How many times did John Appleseed log in last month?
When aggregated, the small questions like this allow companies to build robust data engines around their business. These data engines can be both historical and predictive. In many ways, these engines represent the common knowledge of an individual the business.
These are the data points that the Data! rallying cry of the book is built around, and they are the most commonly-found sets in startups.
What Should Be the Role of Data?
The greatest enemy of business progress is the illusion of knowledge…
By inculcating a common set of values, offering the tools and education, and creating a common language, data teams within these businesses empower their colleagues to decide how to advance the company using data, instead of opinions.
The book hinges on a central question: What is the role of data in thriving companies, and how does that give them a competitive advantage?
Having personally understood the dangers of bad data and the benefits of good data, this is a critical question for any company no matter the size. Some data points are merely historical, while some can be predictive. It’s in the best interest of companies to start developing data warehouses and data pipelines, even if they are rudimentary.
The right metrics are the best weapons we have to answer some nebulous questions like “Do we have product-market fit?” or “Should we be spending more on marketing?”
Thankfully, Not an Advertisement
Having picked up a few books written by VCs, it’s sad that some writings are simply an advertisement for their portfolio. This can water down the message of the book, and perhaps make companies selected for case studies seem random. It can be difficult to tap companies outside of your firm’s portfolio, due to competitive reasons or just due to sheer familiarity.
Tunguz and Bien do a relatively good job of preventing the book from becoming an advertisement, given the subject matter; the push for the data robustness they advocate for is relatively new. Of the 45+ companies mentioned in the book, only 5 were Redpoint portfolio companies. (Data!) Some of the companies that were studied more closely were not Redpoint portfolio companies, which was also good to see.
That being said, a few too many chapters ended with a “And then the company deployed Looker and all data problems were solved.” Looker receives high marks from the companies that use it, but some more variety would help balance the book a bit more. Because Mr. Bien is the CEO of Looker, bringing objectivity to this matter is no easy task.
More Depth Required
While I enjoyed the book, I was left wanting a bit more depth or case studies into the companies mentioned. There are 45+ companies mentioned in the book’s 150 pages. Some companies are covered more in depth than others, but the book moves at a quick clip.
Deep dives into a single company around a single metric would take subject matter deeper than blog posts. The following formula should have been employed to achieve further depth: “Company X was struggling and it didn’t know why. After talking around, they realized Metric Z was not up to industry standards. They corrected that and have lived to see another day.”
A better title for this book might be, Companies That Have Won with Data or Companies That Are Winning with Data. I would also love to see the sequel: How to Win with Data. In this vein, I actually thought the appendix on “Revenue Metrics” would be most helpful for someone dipping their toes into building a data fabric for their company.
Thankfully, a lot of this depth can be found already on tomtunguz.com as well as elsewhere online. As someone that has operated in companies with data droughts, I’m always on the lookout for that beginner’s guide that could have saved my past self.
On the whole, Winning with Data is a good read for anyone looking to bring data to the decision-making process of a company today. It illuminates what types of decisions are made easier with the right data, as well as looking at some quick case studies. If you’re a fan of Mr. Tunguz’s blog, some of the book might seem old hat. Nonetheless, it’s worth a skim and worth keeping an eye out for future editions.
I've followed Tomasz's blog for several months and have included those insights into analysis we help to support some of our clients. The book will now be required reading for our prospects, whom we will ask to read before considering to engage with us.
When you keep pushing a specific product, the education that surrounds that pitching becomes tainted. Based on being a long time fan, I was hoping for a book that would become a must-read for anyone in sales or startups - but unfortunately it doesn't meet legend status.
Enjoy, marvel, reflect and act upon. You might find yourself buying hand sanitizer on your next trip to work; or realize you better look on the "missing bullet holes" instead.
I skimmed the last 2 chapters as I found the idea of each one is simallar to the previous. I would prefer to shrink these contents and go some deeper in technical side of data