The First Quest of the Analytical Couple

Last week, my husband and I had one item in our bucket lists checked. We received a physically big check!

It was sponsored by Dataseer, a company that gives trainings on analytics and data science. We were given data from Grab (as in GrabTaxi), and the task was to make a presentation out of those data. We had to think of a team name, and so we chose “The Analytical Couple”. I’m not sure if it will stick (I hope not, hahaha), but for now, that’s who we are.

Let’s a go a bit into the details.

What we had:
A year’s worth of data containing all requests (completed and dropped), time of requests, pick-up and drop-off coordinates, rates of completed transactions.

What we did:
Our first challenge was to figure out, given the data, what we wanted to achieve. We eventually decided to focus on the dropped requests. The next challenge was the look. With that goal, what was the best way to show it? We decided to use a map with grids. The final challenge was to actually make it work. We chose to use the ever-reliable MS Excel to clean the data. We also used JQuery to make it into a site and with interactivity. Then, my husband thought there was something missing. So he added actionable items. Instead of simply displaying the information (you have this xxx number of dropped calls), we added actionable items (deploy additional xxx cars in yyy to earn additional zzz).

Presentation of Grab’s data.

Now here’s my favorite part in this whole experience (other than the big check, of course). Before we received our prize, there was talk about Data Analysis organized by AIM students. I discovered a lot during our analytics process already, and I learned some more from this talk. Here are my major take-aways from this whole experience:

Information v.s. Insight
Information asks “what happened, what is happening now, what will happen?” while insight asks “how and why did it happen, what is the next best action, what’s the best/worst that can happen?”

If it were just me, I’d probably fill the presentation with graphs. I will probably look for patterns or trends. But I believe this will be as far as I can go. Fortunately, my husband is good at giving insights. He is not afraid to give recommendations based on data. And for the contest, he decided to include business impact to our presentation.

Who is it for?
We double-checked the instructions for the contest and discovered that the target audience are the executives of Grab. And we asked ourselves what they would probably like to see. We assumed they will want to see a simple presentation, maybe just a one-pager, and that they might be more interested with ideas that add revenue. Of course, if it was a real presentation to actual executives, we need to prepare a more detailed report. But for the purpose of this task, a simple presentation was enough.

This is very similar to how we deal with people. If you’re to sell something, your pitch depends on your market. Or in parenting, your approach towards one child could be very different to that of another child especially if they have different personalities.

“Keep it simple, stupid” – I first heard this in high school. And I believe that it is very applicable in a lot of aspects in life. The best solution is usually the simplest one.I remember this story about simple solutions. It is about a problem in a factory. They delivered a box with no item inside. So the leaders asked their technical team to find a way to avoid having this problem again. The technical people had a lot of cool ideas. “What about inserting a weighing part in the production line? Or an x-ray machine?” And so on. But you know what was the best solution? Installing a fan across the path where the boxed items will pass through. The empty boxes will just be blown away.

For this contest, my husband was asked what tool we used for our presentation. And he answered Excel. Yes, the very same Excel I am teaching to my second grader (we’re still with Sum and Count, but still). Sometimes, we think like this, “This is a cool program. I can use this for xxx.” And that is okay. But in this case, we decided first what our goal was and then chose the best tool for it.


Since last year, my husband has been encouraging me to try data analytics bec. he believes that I’ll like it (analytical is my top strength based on Tom Rath’s strengths-finder). It was indeed a fun experience especially because I was able to work with my husband again on a project. I guess it can really be one of those things I can work on, when I have free time.


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