New eCornell certificate highlights customer-centricity as the key to product launches

Launching a product is no walk in the park. From identifying the right customer base and pricing strategies to winning over investors, the path is fraught with challenges. To truly excel, professionals need guidance that is rooted in real-world experience.

Cornell’s Marketing Strategy online certificate program – authored by S.C. Johnson Professor of Marketing Stijn van Osselaer – offers a comprehensive approach to launching a product with a customer-centric view.

“What distinguishes this course from other marketing courses is that it’s really built around all the steps you need to go through to market a product, to bring a product to market,” says Osselaer.

At its core, the program emphasizes customer-centricity as an approach to marketing strategy and decision-making. This paradigm shift encourages learners to consistently prioritize and empathize with the customer’s viewpoint. Students in the program learn to calculate metrics such as customer lifetime value and the proper interpretations of such analysis. There are multiple projects at every step of the go-to-market plan, providing participants much-needed experience with authentic scenarios.

“In venture capital, investors place great importance on numerical evidence; getting the right metrics and understanding which ones to highlight in your pitch is critical to securing an investment. The course thoroughly covers the essential metrics venture capitalists will expect founders to know,” says Osselaer.

By integrating customer-centricity into the marketing strategy, professionals can better align their products and services with the market demand, ensuring that their go-to-market plans are successfully implemented and will reach the right target market.

Firms across various sectors seeking a critical competitive advantage can adopt the approach when collecting and analyzing data on customer behavior, preferences, feedback, and satisfaction levels. Companies that successfully implement this strategy can see improved customer retention, increased word-of-mouth advertising and higher returns on marketing investments.

“This program has a lot of useful things that you can take directly to practice. There are a lot of tools and explanatory notes. There are many spreadsheet templates you can take directly into the workplace.”

Ready to improve the odds of success for your next product launch? Enroll in eCornell’s Marketing Strategy certificate program.

Is It Time to Return to the Office?

Many Americans favor the flexibility that comes with working from home, a sentiment captured in recent surveys showing that more than two-thirds prefer remote work options, and nearly a third would willingly accept a lower salary to maintain this work style.

While introducing remote work or hybrid models can meet employee desires for greater autonomy, it raises concerns of potential disconnect, reduced team synergy and decreased retention rates. Employers are faced with the challenge of evolving a work environment that respects individual preferences and maintains the integrity and collaborative spirit of a cohesive workforce. Finding a balance is critical.

In a recent Keynote webcast, “Work from Wherever,” Nick Fabrizio, a distinguished senior lecturer at Cornell’s Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, shared his views on the return-to-office debate and key perspectives of both employees and employers.

What are the main causes for dissatisfaction among remote employees?

Fabrizio: “In a new Gallup survey, it’s stated that only 28% of workers feel connected with the organization and that is at an all-time low. Last year it was 32%. You would think that with a variety of different work arrangements, people would be really satisfied. But in terms of being connected with the organization, it’s not there. And that should be alarming to organizations.

People complain that they don’t really know what’s going on in the company. They know what’s going on with their projects and their responsibilities, but they often feel they are losing connection to the whole organization.”

Why do companies want employees back in the office?

Fabrizio: “There are a few things that are complicating this. One is the feeling of disconnectedness at work, one is retention and another one is losing bright young workers because there is no process for them to be evaluated, connected and advanced in the organization. Organizations feel like they can’t create those opportunities being disconnected.

A lot of these organizations now are paying a lot of money in real estate for empty offices. That can’t continue. Some industries are going to force people back because of that. While others are going to force workers back because they are working on recruitment and retention, and others will force people back because they have a hybrid arrangement strategy.”

How can remote leadership be practiced in virtual work environments?

Fabrizio: “As an organization, what you want to create is touchpoints. Managers must deliberately try to create connections so that remote workers can make connections with other people in the organization.

There are five or six different modes for us to communicate, and some workers are saying they feel overwhelmed by that. Organizations should pick one method and do that. It’s very hard even for the worker then to realize and look at a Teams meeting at 3 p.m., [a client Zoom meeting] at 2 p.m., something else happening at 4 p.m., so they start to feel disconnected because there’s so many different mediums to keep track of.”

How can employers encourage productivity among remote employees?

Fabrizio: “Certainly not more forced interactions, but I think it’s the employee’s responsibility to be deliberate about keeping track of what they’ve accomplished. Sort of your value to the organization. It’s like a personal self-inventory of what you have accomplished, what you feel like you mean to the organization, how the organization is a benefit to you.”

Which work arrangement will become the new standard in the future?

Fabrizio: “I’m very effective working at home. Now, [I’m] hybrid, so I have that client-facing part of my work, but when I come back to the home office, I’m very productive.”

I think we’re going to quickly go to a hybrid scenario where better-performing organizations will have to define what their work arrangements are for different business units within the organization. I think organizations will have to do a better job of defining within the same organization what roles [will] be five days a week in office, two or three days in office and what roles are going to be completely remote.”

​​Discover how Cornell’s remote leadership and hybrid work strategy online certificate programs can make you a better manager and equip you with the competitive advantage needed in today’s evolving world of work.

This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. Experience the full Keynote “Work from Wherever” online.

Supply chain management meets modern analytics in Cornell certificate program

While supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have mostly eased, predicting customer demand and other elements of supply chain management continue to present companies with complex existential challenges.

The crisis laid bare the vulnerabilities in traditional forecasting models – where a single miscalculation could lead to product shortages and severe revenue losses – and revealed the need for a more advanced data-driven approach.

The eight-week Supply Chain Analytics online certificate program from the Cornell SC Johnson Graduate School of Management equips specialists from various sectors with strategies to master key elements of supply chain management. Li Chen, professor of operations, technology and information management, leads the program.

“We know that the future is unpredictable, right? But we still want to make predictions. The idea is to look at historical sales and demand data, and based on that, utilize formulas to make good demand forecasts,” Chen said. “I teach this data-driven approach with a focus on measuring forecast performance as well. Every time you forecast, you should compare it to the actuals to gauge the accuracy of your predictions, so you can refine your methods over time.”

Diving into topics like demand variability and inventory management, the program provides a robust set of tools for actionable insights. It digs into inevitable trade-offs between reducing inventory and increasing transportation costs, offering a nuanced perspective to students interested in supply chain consulting and analyst roles or anyone who seeks to better understand the strategic aspect of operations management and logistics.

The instruction provided on industry standard operations and inventory management systems also highlights underutilized functionalities of software designed to improve the efficiency of supply chain configurations.

“This content will truly help people, especially those using systems like SAP or Oracle, to appreciate what’s underneath the hood,” Chen said. “My hope is that through this content, we can bring more attention and awareness to the potential end users.”

The program is directed toward entry-level supply chain analysts and those in management roles who run backend operations.

With a finely-tuned curriculum that balances theoretical underpinnings with practical insights, the Supply Chain Analytics online certificate program prepares professionals for disruption and how the unpredictable can become the expected. Learn more and enroll today.

Cornell certificate equips leaders with natural language processing skills

In today’s digitized world, every action we perform generates data. A significant chunk of this information is in the form of text. Companies across industries grapple with colossal amounts of unstructured text data from diverse sources. Natural language processing (NLP) techniques make it possible to interpret, categorize and gain value from this otherwise overwhelming information, giving companies a competitive edge in an increasingly data-driven landscape.

Natural Language Processing with Python,” a new online certificate program from Cornell, was designed by Oleg Melnikov, visiting lecturer at the Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, to teach professionals the fundamentals needed to apply NLP in the workplace. Melnikov met with the eCornell team to discuss the importance of NLP knowledge and the ins and outs of the certificate program.

How does Natural Language Processing differ from machine learning?

“[NLP] is a topic that overlaps with machine learning. The difference is that machine learning doesn’t focus on text. It can have some examples related to text, but it’s primarily related to developing concepts of modeling, whereas in NLP, our domain is textual and we are focusing on solving language problems: text classification, translation, maybe building different representations of text in the mathematical domain. Machine learning steps in when we have converted text to numbers. Then we can apply machine learning algorithms.”

How are businesses currently leveraging NLP for their operations?

“This domain is expanding dramatically, and there are lots of projects in pretty much every domain. Different sectors, different companies, anything from McDonald’s to aviation, have some sort of textual interaction. All that requires some sort of summarization, some sort of categorization . . . where an individual doesn’t have to work with individual text but can step up at an aggregated level and process these massive text banks at scale.”

Who can gain the most value from your NLP program?

“NLP recently has been divided into two subdomains. One is what we’re introducing the students to: the classical techniques. Students who have not worked with NLP before would be good candidates for the certificate program. The courses are focused on preparing and developing students for the practical uses of natural language processing. There is another domain, which is a more modern, ChatGPT-like, neural-network-based NLP . . . that is for students who are more advanced with NLP skills.”

With textual analysis proving to be an integral tool across many industries, a working knowledge of NLP can help you and your workplace become more efficient. Expand your theoretical and technical expertise with NLP by enrolling in the Natural Language Processing with Python certificate program.

3 ways sustainable businesses can prepare for climate challenges

Wind turbines in a field against a background of a cloudy sky

From supply chain disruption to regulatory compliance pressure, companies experience bottom-line impacts of climate change every day. Accounting for environmental disruptions and transitions is essential to corporate risk management and resilience plans.

Sustainability and ecological transformation experts from Cornell University identified three strategies businesses can implement to thrive – and protect the planet – in a changing climate.

1. Limit the guesswork.

Forecasting climate change impacts on a company’s future requires a data-driven approach. Organizations can use current and projected temperature and weather trends to inform sustainability efforts. Leaders can also consult research and models from reputable sources such as the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to become better informed about the challenges – and opportunities – they may face. Research-based sustainable business practices enable companies to replace speculation with evidence-based predictions and solutions.

“Senior executives need to be fully aware of how climate change is shifting every assumption they may have about the future,” said Michael Hoffmann, former executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change Solutions and professor emeritus in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Grasping how our world is fundamentally changing, and how to respond, is critical for their businesses as well as all of society.”

Corporations can expect more weather extremes that will cause delays, shortages and increased costs in the coming years. Hoffmann contends that it is critical to understand climate change’s bigger picture.

“Water scarcity, reduced crop yields, migration, heatwaves – we have witnessed the consequences of these issues on global business operations and consumers,” Hoffmann said. “Precedent should serve as a baseline for how businesses approach sustainability in the future.”

2. Avoid the copycat trap.

Given the uncertainty around best practices for a sustainable and regenerative future, corporate leaders might be tempted to duplicate the tactics of peers and competitors. Differences in operational size, industry, geography and customer base are important considerations in an organization’s efforts to reduce its effects on the climate and the climate’s effects on the organization.

According to Glen Dowell, the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management at the Johnson Graduate School of Management, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to climate change challenges for businesses.

“Fit your methods to at least two factors: what your company’s vulnerabilities and opportunities are, and the culture, structure and capabilities your company possesses,” Dowell said. “If your vulnerability stems largely from potential disruptions to a supply of a vital resource, you need to think both about how to secure a less vulnerable supply and possibly how to innovate to find a substitute.”

Dowell asserts that climate change reveals how interconnected our social and ecological systems are. The symbiosis is found in every company in every sector.

“For example, palm oil is sourced all too frequently by razing forests, leading to huge CO2 emissions and reducing the land’s ability to absorb CO2 in the future. If my company depended upon palm oil, I would be derelict in my duty to shareholders if I were not working tirelessly to secure a more sustainable source while simultaneously looking for a suitable replacement,” Dowell said. “For palm oil suppliers, developing a sustainable substitute would represent a significant business opportunity – a chance to gain massive sales to companies that need the product.”

3. Maintain a global and interconnected perspective.

Effective corporate sustainability initiatives involve employees from all business areas. Leaders can set policies and goals for emissions cuts, waste reduction and renewable energy investment, but success requires across-the-board adoption – especially in a time when consumers and investors increasingly expect companies to operate sustainably.

“The business case for sustainability is generally justified by increased profits, environmental benefits and a competitive advantage for early adopters,” said Danielle Eiseman, lecturer in the Brooks School of Public Policy. “However, as the effects of climate change become more widespread, the case for action becomes much more critical than what’s good for the bottom line.”

Eiseman encourages executives to assess the risks and consequences of climate challenges on their businesses through the lenses of individual and global impact.

“For informed decision-making, leaders need to comprehend the broader consequences like socio-economic implications and geopolitical shifts on a worldwide scale. Businesses operate within an ecosystem in which disruptions in one part of the world can have cascading effects throughout the supply chain and markets,” Eiseman said.

Learn how to seize the opportunities in sustainability.

Faculty from Cornell University have designed online certificate programs on a range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics, including sustainable business, corporate sustainability and equitable community change. A four-week Climate Change Leadership course from the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is also available online through eCornell.

Content Writing certificate teaches leaders to engage and persuade

By Justin Heitzman, eCornell marketing intern

From internal planning documents to external media releases, a convincing piece of writing can be a key to success for business initiatives – and for the professionals who lead them.

Cornell’s Content Writing online certificate program, offered through eCornell, empowers students with techniques to present information succinctly and engage readers with actionable next steps. Lauren Chambliss, senior lecturer in the Department of Communication at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is the faculty author. Chambliss was a journalist for 20 years in Washington, D.C., before coming to Cornell. She previously served as director of communication for the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and now teaches full time.

In developing the certificate program, Chambliss noted a trend: Organizations expect professionals across career fields to take on – and excel in – writing-focused responsibilities. Recent studies on effective management, such as Google’s Project Oxygen, show that employers view strong communication skills as essential and closely associated with good leadership, no matter the sector.

“In today’s professional landscape, writing is not just a task for copywriters. It’s a valuable skill across various roles and industries,” Chambliss said. “Regardless of your job title, having a strong writing portfolio sets you apart, paves the way for career advancement and opens doors to leadership opportunities.”

Even standard presentations are being replaced with written content in some organizations. At Amazon, PowerPoint slides have been phased out in favor of six-page memos at executive meetings. The company’s leaders contend that the practice encourages employees to pack as much information as possible into their proposals, creating more convincing narratives.

Students earning Cornell’s Content Writing certificate complete two courses on conciseness and persuasiveness in copywriting and three courses on effective writing for digital contexts: websites, online media and social media. In addition to gaining an understanding of copywriting fundamentals, participants learn an increasingly important skill: content targeting. Students complete a variety of writing and self-editing exercises throughout the program, building toward a final project.

The program also offers a symposium: three days of live, interactive virtual sessions that enable students, Cornell faculty and industry experts to engage in real-time conversations about pressing topics in marketing and communications.

“Creating engaging, lively content across multiple platforms is critical in today’s professional world, whether you are a content creator, a business owner or a copywriter in a big company, government agency or non-profit,” Chambliss said. “Dynamic writing requires us to keep adapting and improving our skills.”

Cornell’s Content Writing certificate program prepares professionals to craft content that engages and persuades. Are you ready to discover current best practices for your business communications? Learn more and enroll now.

This story was drafted by eCornell marketing intern Justin Heitzman.

Professionals navigate rising economies in Emerging Markets certificate program

Emerging economies, fueled by digital adoption, a growing middle class and urbanization, are full of unrealized growth potential. With potential risks and rewards fluctuating daily – and even hourly – investors and financial professionals must grasp the complexities to navigate volatile markets.

“It is truly a universal global challenge, as well as an opportunity,” said Andrew Karolyi, the Charles Field Knight Dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and author of the university’s Emerging Markets online certificate program. “Emerging markets have unrealized growth potential because they have inadequate capital to fuel growth.”

These markets, often referred to as the E20 – or with a more narrow scope, the BRICS countries – are barred from joining the “elite” group of developed countries in terms of GDP per capita, financial infrastructure and life expectancy rates because of a lack of foreign investments that would fund further development.

The phenomena forms well-paying investment opportunities in those markets counterbalanced by significant financial risks. Course content crafted by Karolyi and his co-authors, Lourdes Casanova, director of Cornell’s Emerging Markets Institute (EMI); Anne Miroux, EMI faculty fellow; and Wesley Sine, John and Dyan Smith Professor of Management and Family Business, covers six categories of those risks.

“Emerging markets are now mainstream; however, there is a lot of noise around them and limited knowledge,” Casanova said.

The four courses they created equip professionals with key concepts and tools to understand current economic events. From discussions of the effects of government intervention on the frequency and success of greenfield and M&A investments to examination of state-owned corporations in China and the impact of currency volatility, students will learn the correlation between the political landscape and market risks in the E20, including BRICS economies.

Tailored for financial services professionals and individuals interested in investment in emerging markets, the program is best suited for those with a foundational grasp of data statistics and business terminology.

Enrollment is now open for the Cornell’s Emerging Markets certificate program. Learn more about the program online.

Cornell AI Strategy certificate prepares leaders to leverage new tech

In the era of artificial intelligence (AI), professionals across sectors are racing to strategize ethical and sustainable applications of the technology. Many organizations are actively pursuing AI knowledge not only to harness its potential but also to ensure responsible implementation.

Cornell’s new AI Strategy certificate program – authored by Soumitra Dutta, professor of operations, technology and information management in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business – offers a nuanced curriculum for leaders who are ready to leverage the power of AI in various business contexts.

“Today virtually every single employee in an organization needs to understand something about AI. It doesn’t matter if it’s the senior executive in the boardroom, office worker or factory floor worker,” Dutta said.

The program, which is available through eCornell, includes six courses. Students begin with an introduction to AI then explore knowledge-based technologies, machine learning and data-based approaches to the technology. Later courses cover AI implementations across sectors, societal effects and the tech’s future prospects. Each module is designed to be applicable to the real-world concerns of any professional aiming to comprehend how AI integrates with business and society.

Upon completion of the program, students will understand how to:

  • Assess applications of AI in their organizations
  • Apply knowledge-based AI technologies to their organizations’ standard tasks
  • Address challenges by applying machine learning
  • Design strategies to implement AI systems across an organization
  • Examine the societal implications of AI in areas such as labor, privacy and ethics
  • Envision the development of strategies to preserve human dignity and agency while embracing the benefits of the technology

In light of the rapid evolution of AI, the program maintains a dynamic curriculum, emphasizing core principles and skills for comprehending the fast-changing discourse surrounding AI.

“It’s like an AI boot camp, ” said Dutta. “The program is sufficiently light on the technology side to give you enough background but sufficiently deep on the context and the strategy side. It gives you the technical background while hitting on all kinds of things happening in our world right now,” Dutta said.

AI is more than a tool; it’s a strategic necessity. Cornell’s AI Strategy certificate program prepares professionals to navigate the exciting yet complex future of the technology. Learn more and enroll today.

Success After Service: The Veteran’s Guide to Choosing an Online Certificate Program

Soldier in Army shirt works at laptop computer

By Teresa Duncan, Ph.D., CSM(R), Director of Military Programs at eCornell

Transitioning from active duty to civilian life can lead to a profound sense of fulfillment and significant challenges. Many veterans are equipped with industry-specific service experience, but complex job markets still often present obstacles to employment.

Online certificate programs offer veterans opportunities to acquire new skills and knowledge, demonstrate commitment to particular career fields and build networks of like-minded leaders – all essential factors in securing professional roles. However, selecting the right program is key. Here are four questions veterans should consider when determining which online education programs would be most valuable for their future.

Does the program align with my background and goals?

Leveraging current skills can be advantageous in the effort to bridge the gap between military experience and civilian job requirements. For example, if a veteran has experience in logistics, a program in supply chain management or project leadership might be a natural fit.

It is important to understand the options. In evaluating course content, prerequisites and outcomes, a veteran may find unexpected alignment with goals that diverge from their background and sync with their transferable skills. A former Army civil affairs specialist might excel in a PR strategy certificate program that covers crisis communication planning or discover new ways to lead through an international public and NGO management program.

To choose the best path, it is valuable to first complete a self-assessment of strengths and areas for growth, then list short- and long-term career objectives. The program a veteran selects should align with the needs and goals they identify.

Is the program flexible enough to fit my schedule and lifestyle?

Online learning makes professional development more accessible than ever. The most popular types of online learning models include:

100% Asynchronous – This on-demand style of learning is the most flexible. Learners can complete assignments at any time, and there is no direct interaction with faculty, industry specialists or peers to discuss ideas or answer questions. Without additional structure, some learners find it difficult to complete the courses or apply what they learn without support.

Asynchronous and interactive – This model permits students to log in and learn at their convenience while connecting learners to professionals and peers. There may be requirements to complete assignments through discussion boards with classmates. Plus, instructors are on hand to give feedback and help students stay on track to apply what they learn to their current or future jobs.

Synchronous – This style is the least flexible and most interactive. Courses are delivered live by instructors, and learners must attend at specific times to participate.

It can be helpful for veterans to explore programs with self-paced options or accommodations for irregular schedules. The selected program should also match their individual learning style and offer a multitude of instructional approaches, including video lectures, downloadable guides, discussion forums and peer collaboration.

Will I receive academic support to complete the program?

Resource access is a significant consideration for any educational venture. Students should be able to reach advisors or facilitators in the virtual learning environment as easily as they could by visiting their physical offices. When searching for the right-fit online certificate, veterans should ensure there are clear methods for learners to contact staff who can offer guidance on the course materials, answer questions or address technical issues.

Veterans may also take their team-oriented experience into account and select programs that offer cohort-based learning, study groups or symposiums. Peer interactions can provide camaraderie and motivation to complete complex assignments and offer an expanded network that learners can tap into throughout their careers.

It is also necessary to assess financial resources. Programs that accept veteran benefits or offer payment plans are better for budgets and vital to maintaining other economic aspects of the transition to a civilian lifestyle.

How will the program advance my career or improve my prospects for the future?

As technology continues to transform business and hiring practices, it is more important to stand out in the pool of candidates with advanced education or training from reputable institutions. The most beneficial online certificate programs for veterans will deliver content developed by distinguished faculty and industry experts, course tools that can be used on the job and credits toward professional certifications. These advantages empower vets to tie their military service to current specialized skills that employers need.

Ultimately, a certificate is a valued addition to a resume. Completing an online learning program is also a gateway to building the confidence, connections, and qualifications that shape lives beyond the workplace.

Would an asynchronous and interactive online certificate program align with your goals? If so, Cornell University provides more than 130 online certificate programs that can help you upskill as you serve or prepare to transition. Cornell was recently named the #1 Best College for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report, and its online programs are directly authored by Cornell faculty and guided by professional industry facilitators. Small cohorts enable students to develop valuable connections that position them for success in a variety of fields. You can get started today with Credentialing Assistance or VA education benefits. Learn more at ecornell.cornell.edu.

Watch “Cornell’s Military History: A Legacy of Service.”

 

Crunching Numbers: Understanding the Power of Statistics

Hand holding pen pointing at graph

Imagine being able to transform raw data into actionable insights, shaping the direction of your business and your daily life. This power lies in understanding and applying statistics – the foundation of informed decision-making, the catalyst for impactful change and the key to unraveling the complexities of our world.

Cindy van Es, professor of practice at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and author of the Business Statistics certificate program, is expanding our comprehension of the study of statistics and its practical application in diverse fields. From agriculture to digital analytics, her work equips us with tools to navigate the complexity of both the corporate realm and our everyday lives, with statistics as our guide. Van Es shared her insights in the Keynote webcast “Statistics: What Everyone Should Know.”

How has statistics changed over the years?

“There are so many things after teaching it all these years, but . . . it’s present in every field these days. Even when I was going through education, it was very much the scientists, but it’s moved into so many fields now. The explosion I’ve seen over my career, from the very quantitative fields, to now: Every field has a metric. So it’s good to have a little idea of what goes behind some of these things.”

What are some surprising ways statistical information is used?

“When I think about the kinds of jobs my former students have now, they work for Airbnb, or Expedia, or Hilton or in finance. Even in marketing, now: A lot of stores will track your eyes . . . to see how long you look at a product, and they can correlate that data with the scanner data to see whether you bought it or not, and did the red label make you buy it more than the blue label . . . . There are experiments going on all around you, even when you’re not aware of it. Maybe you work in a nonprofit and you’re doing an amazing job, and it’s a very meaningful project, but in order to get funding, you may have to quantify why it’s amazing: What are the outcomes, and what are the metrics? There’s so much now: It’s kind of ubiquitous.” 

Which type of statistics is the most challenging to learn?

“Statistics has two branches: Descriptive and inferential. Descriptive is when you take a sample, you describe what you have and you ask the questions: Do I want to make a graph of this? Or do I want to make a table? Or calculate what we call ‘summary statistics?’ Most people are pretty good at that. Inferential is where you want to make an inference about a broader group, about a population. If you see a poll in the news, you’ll see a little plus-or-minus margin of error. That’s because they’re doing inferential statistics. When you see ‘this percent of people in the country think this,’ it’s based on a sample – so what you’re doing is making an inference. That part of statistics is a little harder for students and people in general, I think, because first of all, the language of inference is probability . . . understanding risk, understanding probabilities, the human mind really doesn’t think that way. So inferential is usually more challenging.”

Is artificial intelligence being used in statistical processes and interpretation of data?

“Each new technology – computers, and then supercomputers, and then desktops – influenced how people teach statistics and use techniques . . . . Now the merger is more with computer science and info science, as opposed to just being applied to agriculture, or medicine, or biology. Now the whole discipline is merging. Statistics hasn’t caught up with how to use [artificial intelligence] yet . . . statisticians are just starting to look at it.”

Harness the power of data interpretation in Cornell’s Business Statistics online certificate program. You’ll develop a dynamic set of skills that can heighten your confidence, fortify your decision-making, and catalyze meaningful change.

Drafted by eCornell writing intern Milan Lengyeltoti, with first round edits from marketing intern Justin Heitzman.