Mu Sigma: Moving from data to Decisions: Perspective from the Leader in Decision Science

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Dhiraj Rajaram, Founder and CEO In the ever-expanding technological world of today, rapid change is constant. With data and analytics being the cornerstone of any decision-making process in the ongoing digital revolution, it is no surprise that the need of the hour for businesses is to match the pace of change and capitalize on value. As companies attempt to scale efficiently in their analytics journey on the digitalization curve, they encounter a series of complexities and fail to drive impactful insights for growth. However, one company, Mu Sigma—the world's largest pure-play Data Analytics and Decision Sciences company— has an alluring perspective to solve this great puzzle. The company views complexity as a confluence between the day-to-day challenges of various business components that require it to be in a constant state of 'flow' between scale and diversity. To find the right balance, businesses need to find the interconnected nature of these problems.

Mu Sigma uses the interaction between math, business, technology, behavioral science, and design thinking to accelerate an enterprise's data journey from problems to decision support. As business problems are shifting, the company's model entails a more integrated approach to finding novel ways of unraveling business problems in more scalable and supple ways.

Unlike a typical consulting firm that floats from project to project, Mu Sigma operates as an extension of the client organization to build decision science capabilities using its platform, processes, and decision scientists to help systematize decision-making. It follows a singular purpose of instilling a new approach in large enterprises to facilitate holistic Decision making through data engineering, data science, and decision science, which Mu Sigma refers to as the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS). Mu Sigma's unique Art of Problem Solving and the Enablers of Confidence (EOC) platforms equip the Decision Scientist to accelerate problem-solving and solution deployment and also create a long-term, sustainable solution framework for Decision Sciences. The Enablers of Confidence (EOC) are designed to enable Decision Scientists to get an explosive start to problem-solving, using research and information that exists in their ecosystem. The goal of adopting the new AoPS and EOC is not to replace the day job of solving specific problems. Instead, it is designed to share a symbiotic relationship, each feeding off another to help the organization use business intelligence and analytics to drive more significant business decisions. "Our Art of Problem- Solving and Enabler of Confidence consists of multiple methodologies, artifacts, and applications essential to problemsolving and organizational success," explains Dhiraj Rajaram, Founder, and CEO of Mu Sigma.

The Man-Machine Ecosystem

A global leader in data and decision analytics, Mu Sigma's holistic man-machine ecosystem enables Fortune 500 companies to solve high-impact business problems in marketing, operations, human resources, finance, and supply-chain across multiple industries.
With over 3500 decision scientists, Mu Sigma operates at the interaction of platform, people, and process to help companies scale from problem definition and mapping to analytical solution discovery and operationalization. While Mu Sigma works with many third-party technologies, its team has also built components that fill critical gaps in the analytics marketplace. The company has developed many solutions, including big data analytics, statistical analysis, visualization, and reporting tools. Additionally, Mu Sigma has created pre-fabricated software blocks that accelerate time to value, drive standardizations across enterprises and improve the re-usability of data by working in tandem rather than replacing a third-party technology.

Most organizations have invested in building Signal Engines that generate potential answers from vast amounts of data. However, they do not have systems and methods for systematic probing of business problems. Mu Sigma has developed platforms to complement the Signal Engine to solve this problem. The Enquiry Engine enables companies to systematically and rigorously explore the business landscape, discover and frame problems that the Signal Engine can then solve. This way, companies can be assured that the problems they are solving are relevant for business and that the solutions developed will indeed be useful. The Enquiry Engine continually interacts with the Signal Engine to discover relevant business problems and solve them iteratively. "Signal Engine and Enquiry Engine work as an answer and question, respectively. The emergent interaction between them is how a decision occurs, analogous to the necessity of two hands in producing a clap," elucidates Dhiraj.


Our company was built on the foundation of a belief system that has three governing principles for our operations - Learning Over Knowing, Extreme Experimentation, and Interdisciplinary Perspective,” says Dhiraj


Illustrating the efficacy of Mu Sigma's unique approach and solutions is an engagement between the company and a multi-national retailer that faced declining sales and poor customer experience with their stores across the U.S. The retailer struggled to define the problem clearly. Todd Wandtke, a Business Unit Head for Mu Sigma, states, "It is very common that there is no clear definition of the problem. We collaborate with the client and use our AoPS methodology to properly define the problem(s)." Initially, the retailer had narrowed down the causes for these issues as poor design, inventory management, and promotion planning, which prompted them to approach Mu Sigma to improve the performance by scaling analytics across the organization. Mu Sigma uncovered the client had manual frameworks to operate its chain of department and warehouse stores supplying tools, construction products, appliances, and services. But, the framework could not be used to scale across all its U.S. stores.
Mu Sigma took a design-first approach and leveraged its people, platform, and processes to holistically address the problem with a scalable solution that captures sales variation at multiple levels. The company also explored extreme experimental approaches such as genetic algorithms and simulated annealing to shape the final solution in the form of linear optimization. This framework allowed the clientto achieve maximum scalability and low computational cost. In just six months, Mu Sigma's platform was implemented across all its stores, resulting in significant cost savings.



Mu Sigma's unique approach to continuous learning and experimentation caught the retailer's eye as a way to accelerate the business forward. The relationship expanded, and they support numerous business functions ranging from I.T., compliance, global customer insights, and analytics. By adopting its new AoPS and EOC, the client harmonized various aspects of its data ecosystem to drive impactful analytics in a single platform. Furthermore. Mu Sigma charted out the roadmap with the relevant stakeholders to outline the desired outcomes and the behavioral changes (shaped by insights) required to drive these outcomes. This engagement identified their more expansive range of enterprise problems and the interactions with more minor business problems, allowing them to prioritize and take shorter decision cycle times. Every problem that the client faced was approached from multiple perspectives and then narrowed down based on the desired outcome in a faster turnaround time, cost-efficiently with an increase in overall profitability.

Helping Companies Tap into their Consciousness

In the current scenario, the rapid emergence of advanced analytics solutions is enabling organizations to evaluate a combination of small and large and structured and unstructured data while applying techniques to harness valuable insights. Access to these data sources will continue to be an essential requirement for organizations in the coming years. Mu Sigma is helping organizations redefine what it means to build a "culture of analytics" and has changed the paradigm by delivering insights to its stakeholders in a more actionable way. Since its establishment in 2004, the company has grown significantly and accumulated an impressive clientele of over 140 companies on the Fortune 500 with a Unicorn status.

"Our Art of Problem- Solving and Enabler of Confidence consists of multiple methodologies, artifacts, and applications essential to problem-solving and organizational success"

"Mu Sigma was built on the foundation of a belief system that has three governing principles for our operations - Learning Over Knowing, Extreme Experimentation, and Interdisciplinary Perspective," says Dhiraj. Essentially, the company enables its clients to view complexity through the lens of rigorous enquiry and first principles thinking. Like a kaleidoscope that reflects various complex patterns and designs using one side of a mirror, Mu Sigma's unique personality makes it stand out from its competitors today.

Company
Mu Sigma

Headquarters
Northbrook, IL

Management
Dhiraj Rajaram, Founder and CEO

Description
Mu Sigma is the world’s largest pure-play Data Analytics and Decision Sciences company with Unicorn status. The company works with more than 140 Fortune 500 companies through a unique ecosystem that brings together People, Processes, and Platforms. Mu Sigma was built on three principles that govern its growth - Learning Over Knowing, Extreme Experimentation, and Interdisciplinary Perspective. Its mission is to establish and institutionalize a fundamentally new approach to decision-making, one that is better designed for the incredible pace of change that businesses experience today.

Mu Sigma