Although no one from the office directly observed me doing work during the COVID quarantine, someone else was keeping watch. They noted and reported back to me how much time I spent in “deep focus”, on emails and online chats, meeting duration and if these meetings were accompanied by agendas, who my collaborators were, and my level of well-being (i.e., the time I actually “powered down” from work). Yes, Microsoft’s MyAnalytics (see Fig. 1) was my productivity pal while I worked from home. I indulged myself in this new distraction, reading my stats and delving into the research and insights, discovering things like “it can take up to 23 minutes to refocus after checking just one email or chat”, “having long blocks of time to focus without interruptions can help you get challenging work done faster”, and “last-minute invitations are sometimes necessary, but your meetings may be more effective if you give attendees sufficient time to prepare”.
Applications of data science methods are becoming prevalent in more and more domains of our work and life. Microsoft’s MyAnalytics is just one of many applications (see Fig. 2) that we encounter, whether we know it or not.
A 2018 Forbes article provided a quick overview of some data science tools, which include: (i) data analytics, (ii) predictive modeling, (iii) artificial intelligence and machine learning (Forbes, 2018). As it turns out, these tools closely mirror much of what we do in our everyday interactions with others.
Data analytics merely involves examining and describing past data, such as past usage and activities. There is no prediction or extrapolation done with the data, as is the current state of MyAnalytics.
Human analogy: We perform data analytics when we take a matter-of-fact approach in noting someone’s past behaviors, like when someone was late for all of the Thursday meetings in the past month. We do not use it to infer anything about their patterns of behavior or personality, and do not try to project their future actions.
Predictive analytics takes things a step further. This involves using past data to derive some general pattern or model, which is then used to predict future events. Regression is a common statistical technique for developing such models from past or observed data.
Human analogy: We perform predictive analytics to make sense of the world through patterns. For instance, when we see someone being late for a particular Thursday meeting more than a few times, we start to expect/predict that this person will be late for future meetings. In doing this, we create a “model” of the person’s behavior for meetings.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) goes even further. In addition to using past data to predict future events, AI/ML involves autonomously learning and adjusting the model without any human intervention as new data comes in. This is what enables Facebook to get better at recognizing your friends by continually learning their unique features from each new picture of them in various poses and lighting conditions.
Human analogy: This type of learning comes closest to what humans actually do with new information. Our understanding and predictions about someone get better the more we see him/her in various contexts and roles. Our knowledge of this person gets richer with each new encounter. For instance, after seeing the same person in other meetings on Thursday, non-work meetings, and meetings with other customers, we realize that s/he is only late for the Thursday meetings that occur with a particular customer.
So what do you think of apps such as MyAnalytics? Do you think it would help your productivity? What aspects of your life would you not welcome the use of such apps? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!
Whether a fan or not, you are likely aware that the sports world came to a grinding halt in March due to COVID-19. No sports played means no new sports on TV. So, from football to futbal, foot races to auto races, until recently fans have been subjected entirely to sports reruns. At first, I was critical of the concept until I spent a solid two hours watching the 2019 World Track and Field Championships. So why would anyone, including me, watch sports reruns when the outcome has already been realized? George Costanza’s explanation of “because it’s on TV” was not quite satisfactory so I decided to inquire further. The eight types of motives for watching sports, from a validation study of the Sport Fan Motivation Scale (Wann, 1995), provide an interesting framework for answering the question.
There are two motives that can be eliminated immediately. Eustress, which is basically positive stress, seems unlikely with the game’s outcome known. Economic factors, defined by Wann (1995) as economic gain such as through gambling, are not applicable. If you are betting on past sporting events, you, or the person taking your bet, may have bigger issues.
Sporting events, and even replays of them, can serve as a temporary escape, taking one’s mind off everyday life. This may be especially welcome during extremely difficult times, like a global pandemic. In terms of entertainment, similar to watching a movie you have seen before, a foregone match still has entertaining elements beyond outcome suspense. Along these lines, people may also watch sports for aesthetic reasons, seeing the event as a form of art (Wann, 1995). Like hanging a favorite painting in your home, watching sports reruns is a way to revisit that beauty and creativity… sort of.
Self-esteem benefits are realized when “your” team succeeds, along with a sense of identification and belongingness from being a fan of that team (Wann, 1995). Seeing your team succeed again, even while knowing it’s a rerun, may serve as a reminder of the team’s greatness and your affiliation with them. This is similar to the motivation of nostalgia in television program rerun viewing (Furno-Lamude & Anderson, 1992). Of course, affiliation needs can also be met through camaraderie with fellow fans, though I doubt texting your buddy about the Nats’ World Series replay represents the same shared experience as when they were actually “finish(ing) the fight”. Finally, watching sports reruns together may fulfill family needs but likely not to the same extent of live sports with the family rallying around the cause of cheering for their team.
If, like me, you were wondering why someone would watch sports reruns, hopefully this helps address your curiosity. If you are looking for something to watch, I hear the NHL Network is replaying the Buffalo Sabres vs. Dallas Stars Stanley Cup Finals Game 6. Maybe this time the officials will make the right “no goal” call and the outcome will be different, though I wouldn’t bet on it.
CJ Montalbano is a Human Factors Engineer at QIC. He has over 3 years of professional experience studying and researching topics in human factors, psychology, and human-centered design to apply in academia and industry settings. CJ graduated with a 4.0 GPA in the Master of Human-Computer Interaction program from Iowa State University and holds a B.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Randolph-Macon College where he was a student-athlete. CJ has assisted in a variety of human factors research, such as projects related to automated system design in vehicles and distracted driving. CJ’s research interests revolve around human-computer interaction and incorporating design principles grounded in psychology and neuroscience to existing and novel technology to improve human performance and safety.
Michael King is a Human Factors Engineer at Quantum Improvements Consulting. He has 3 years of experience managing a research lab in a university setting, focusing on the relationship between cognition and human skill and performance. Michael earned his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at Case Western Reserve University, where he researched the cognitive and perceptual factors that influence human performance, such as memory, attention, and learning. Michael’s research interests center around human performance, training, and the predictors of success in Defense settings.
Talia Pettit is a Project Manager at Quantum Improvements Consulting. Talia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and two certificates in Six Sigma Green Belt (SSGB) and Project Management Professional (PMP). She has over 15 years of experience in business gap analysis, process improvement, project management, and instructional training design. These certificates have assisted her experience in quality improvement and project management throughout her various employment experiences; 11 years as a certified Green Belt and 8 years as a certified Professional Project Manager. She has a varied and valuable work history demonstrating 10 years’ experience in the health insurance industry and approximately 5 years in the Hospitality Management field. Talia also specializes in training deliverables such as course plans, course development and instruction, course evaluations, and plan of action for employee improvement based on training outcomes.
Talia’s personal interests include spending time with her husband, 9-year-old son, and 2-year-old rescued Boxer mix dog. Some of her favorite personal interests include attending local events such as theme parks, movies, theater performances, art festivals, musical artists, and enjoying fine wines.
These posts are written or shared by QIC team members. We find this stuff interesting, exciting, and totally awesome! We hope you do too!