Why are Google using M&Ms in their latest statistics project?

News

  • Author: Carlos Gómez Grajales
  • Date: 17 September 2013
  • Copyright: Image appears courtesy of iStock Photo

It is not extraordinary to hear of statistical research being done inside Google, Inc. We already know how this company has devoted thousands of hours and dollars developing some brand new statistical tools to improve its translation results, ad revenues and many other different aspects of the company. It is also not news to hear about the experiments the Californian Tech giant has done to produce a model that could predict a potential employee's performance based on his resume and personal interests only: the Holy Grail for every Human Resources manager. However, even for a company that crunches data in every single conceivable way, the last of its research projects has become the prime example of the peculiar, yet amazing love for statistics, which has become the bread and butter in Google's every-day existence.

thumbnail image: Why are Google using M&Ms in their latest statistics project?

This month, it was published that Google's field of interest is getting wider, this time covering the well-being of its employees, particularly the unhealthy amount of sugar they may have been consuming. That's right, where everyone saw people eating M&M's, Google saw a research project. When the consumption of free sweets and candy in the company peaked, data analysts took the chance to methodically study the situation. It was hypothesised that high dosages of sugar weren’t good for the employees' health nor motivation, and that would eventually be harmful for the productivity. A special operation by staff, including Behavioural Science PhDs and statisticians, conducted detailed analyses, experiments and surveys, to study the pattern of consumption and the factors that influenced a higher consumption of sweets and candy.

Some experiments measured the proximity of the M&M's bins to each of the employees, to determine the optimal position. On another project, the container with the chocolates was “disguised” in dark, unattractive containers that where located next to other healthful snacks, displayed in a more marketable fashion. This last allocation presumably reduced the consumption of calories within the New York office in a rather dramatic number. Even though it is quite hard to conclude whether these little changes had any impact in productivity, it is noticeable for the creative efforts of the analysis and research team.

It has been reported that almost every benefit Google offers, including salaries or the length of the maternity leave, has been designed so it can be controlled and evaluated statistically, in order to modify and improve employee's benefits, according to their desires and necessities.

Remember we are talking about Google here, so it wouldn't be a surprise to hear that this isn’t the first time the company has devoted its data analysis force to improve the conditions of its employees. It has been reported that almost every benefit Google offers, including salaries or the length of the maternity leave, has been designed so it can be controlled and evaluated statistically, in order to modify and improve employee's benefits, according to their desires and necessities.

The data analysis culture is inherently merged within the company's culture, with every single department taking advantage of statistical tools. In the words of Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of the group responsible for the Human Resource problems:

“Data can be a way at getting to the truth. When people talk about data, it becomes an abstract of machines, robots and Terabytes of information. But really, it's just facts; numbers that describe a reality.”

This quote is more astonishing when you remember that these words come from a Human Resource Management. Every single person in Google understands the power and importance of the analytical thinking and how it can help to improve every aspect of the company. This is why we will certainly be getting more interesting statistics news from Google in the not too distant future.

Sources:
http://freakonomics.com/2013/09/04/how-google-fights-obesity/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/google-crunches-data-on-munching-in-office/2013/09/01/3902b444-0e83-11e3-85b6-d27422650fd5_story.html

Related Topics

Related Publications

Related Content

Site Footer

Address:

This website is provided by John Wiley & Sons Limited, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 8SQ (Company No: 00641132, VAT No: 376766987)

Published features on StatisticsViews.com are checked for statistical accuracy by a panel from the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS)   to whom Wiley and StatisticsViews.com express their gratitude. This panel are: Ron Kenett, David Steinberg, Shirley Coleman, Irena Ograjenšek, Fabrizio Ruggeri, Rainer Göb, Philippe Castagliola, Xavier Tort-Martorell, Bart De Ketelaere, Antonio Pievatolo, Martina Vandebroek, Lance Mitchell, Gilbert Saporta, Helmut Waldl and Stelios Psarakis.