In the years since its founding in 2004, data analytics services vendor Mu Sigma has developed an internal framework for helping clients define problems—a critical first step in the process of using big data to make decisions.
Now the Chicago-based company is making that framework—called muPDNA—available to enterprises as a software product. Mu Sigma announced muPDNA this week at its own two-day conference on decision sciences in Las Vegas.
What makes muPDNA different from other problem-definition frameworks, the company says, is that it is the first software to combine analytical components such as SCQ, Factor Map and Hypothesis Matrix into a single workbench. Briefly, SCQ (which stands for Situation, Complication, Question) seeks to define the current situation with a stated goal; Factor Map facilitates brainstorming on the factors that can affect a business problem; and Hypothesis Matrix uses data to test potential theories about each item in the Factor Map.
By using multiple problem-definition components, muPDNA allows enterprises to assess and weigh a cross-section of factors around a business problem, including current state, desired outcomes, key questions and hypotheses, Mu Sigma says.
“In our work with Fortune 500 clients, we’ve seen so many companies struggle to correctly define and represent the problem they are trying to solve,” Dhiraj Rajaram, CEO of Mu Sigma, said in a statement. “They usually end up with incomplete questions, factors and hypotheses. We developed muPDNA to make this process more efficient, so enterprises can get to the heart of the matter quickly, and then move on to the problem-solving stage.”
“The process and methodology that muPDNA leverages helps form a clear, crisp definition of the situation or the problem that we are addressing,” says Rajiv Narang, executive director of global marketing decision sciences for computer maker Dell, a longtime customer of Mu Sigma. “It opens up possible avenues of thinking and also aligns all team members on what we are trying to do. This approach produces channelizing creativity and also avoids dissipation of resources and effort into unwanted directions.”
While muPDNA can be purchased by any enterprise, it’s not a substitute for actual data scientists, Narang says.
“The tool allows you to channelize the work of data scientists and other staff, whether within the company or with the vendor,” he says. “It does not do away with the need for them.”
Which is the larger challenge for enterprises eager to leverage data analytics. A shortage of data scientists is forecast for the next several years. Indeed, Mu Sigma’s growth—the company employs more than 2,500 data scientists and has more than 75 Fortune 500 clients—is arguably in part a by-product of the existing talent shortage.
muPDNA is available immediately. Pricing begins at $600 per user annually. The software is downloaded and run on a PC, though Mu Sigma offers server options for multi-user environments.
Mu Sigma says it plans to announce more software products later this year. The company last month announced it would develop analytics products with MasterCard Advisors, which also purchased an equity stake in Mu Sigma.