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March 30, 2013
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Finding Vital Business Statistics Using Technology

Let’s face it, we all need statistics from time to time, whether it’s for a report, a presentation, a proposal, or to settle an argument with the know-it-all in the next office. Stats can drive business goals and provide insights that might be overlooked easily.  Unfortunately, statistics users face two problems: finding them and using them.

Unless you’re an expert which you probably aren’t, finding the right statistics can be very time-consuming, even with all the fancy search tools we have today.  It can become frustrating and a serious waste of time. The general search engines (Google, Ask.com, Yahoo!, MSN Search, etc.) are inefficient with this sort of research. They will often pull up the statistic from somewhere, but it will have no context. For example, I may search for “average annual income” for a region and find it, but what I really need is the average annual income for a period of time for several locations to conduct an analysis and comparison. This is something the search engines usually won’t do. In a sense, they’ll show you the tree when you really need to view the entire forest. Specialized search engines (including FedStats, FirstGov.gov, and search interfaces at agency sites such as the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics) are often more precise and will get you closer to the data in context, but you still face a lot of back-and-forth inspection of complex data sets.…