Numerical Fata Morgana

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Many years ago an article was published in the UK lamenting the dismal state of primary education in Great Britain. The key premise of the article: half of the students had below average reading skills.

Apparently the article was promoted as highlighting a serious problem, conveniently ignoring an important fact in favour of selling more newspapers – in any typical statistical sample, the number of values below and above average will be similar.

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Check Your Sources

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When I studied engineering, one of the most embarrassing mistakes an aspiring engineer could make was to derive a dimension from the wrong ‘base’.

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Teaching professors to code

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A new industry is emerging solely to repair the amateurish, yet often commercially useful software, routinely produced by academics.

The phenomenon has become so widespread that it caught the attention of The Economist, which recently published an article, titled “Of more than academic interest”, shedding light on the issue.

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Higher GST: an early warning for retailers

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It appears inevitable that sooner or later the GST rate in Australia will increase, despite the current disjointed and highly politicised tax debate.

When this happens, who will be hit the hardest? Which social-economic group will lose the most when the GST rate gets hiked to 15 per cent?

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The darkest place is under the candlestick

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For years now, industry experts and the media have debated the percentage of retail turnover that will ultimately end up online.

The growth of internet sales continues to exceed that of brick and mortar sales. Today, retailers derive somewhere between 1 and 5 per cent of their turnover from online sales.

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Don’t Leave Your Post

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On 15 July 1410, the Polish-Lithuanian coalition scored a decisive victory over the Teutonic Order in the battle of Grunwald. Many factors contributed to this outcome, which set the wheels in motion for the ultimate demise of the Order.

However, one element stands out: the Polish king controlled his army from a command post on a hill. In contrast, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights fought with his troops on the battlefield – the Order gained a great and committed soldier, but they lost a general.

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The Challenge of Technological Debt

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Retailers often use the term ‘technological debt’ when their systems become increasingly misaligned with their business. The term implies that their IT foundation suffers from missing functionality, poor speed, low data accuracy, and inability to access information in real-time. Retailers then start thinking that they need to introduce a new system, or add more parts to the existing one.

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Desiderata and the Media – Part 2

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In Part 1, I quoted Max Ehrmann’s poem Desiderata, where he counseled us to “Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.” In the article I focused on the relentless flow of misinformation, and even disinformation, which retailers must deal with in the age of universal digital media – advising them to be cautious about believing and acting upon what they see in the news.

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