Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent's point.
The term was popularised in the United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881): "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." However, the phrase is not found in any of Disraeli's works and the earliest known appearances were years after his death. Other coiners have therefore been proposed, and the phrase is often attributed to Twain himself. Now, please turn your Bullshit Detectors all the way up to “stun” and read the following blurb sponsored by AT&T and others:
For businesses of all sizes, saving time means saving money, but perhaps for none does that ring more true than for small businesses. In fact, millions of them are tapping into technology to save time and, ultimately, money as well – to the tune of a staggering $67.5 billion a year – by using mobile apps, tablets, and smartphones in their day-to-day business activities.
The savings were calculated based on results of a just-released survey commissioned by AT&T and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
Smartphones are saving business owners the most time (1.24 billion hours) and money ($32.3 billion) annually. Tablets (saving 754.2 million hours and $19.6 billion a year) and mobile apps (saving 599.5 million hours and $15.6 billion a year) are also providing small businesses with more time.
With the increased time savings resulting from using mobile apps and devices, business owners indicate that they’re not getting any more rest or relaxation. Instead, they’re re-investing the extra time back into their businesses to grow sales, increase engagement with customers, and research their respective industries to learn about new trends or competitors.
Smartphones have become almost ubiquitous among small businesses with 94 percent using them to conduct business, up from 85 percent last year. More than half of small businesses say they use mobile applications, with the vast majority of those (91 percent) saying it helps them save time and two-thirds saying it saves them money. The majority of those businesses estimate they are saving up to $500 a month – or $6,000 per year – by using mobile apps.
The average number of days small business employees are using smartphones to conduct business exceeds the average number of days they are open for business. While small businesses are open an average of 5.7 days per a week, nearly half (49 percent) of small business owners with smartphones are using them to conduct some business activities 7 days a week.
Additional findings from the 2014 AT&T-SBE Council Small Business Technology Poll include:
Device Usage
  • Exactly 31 percent of small businesses report they save at least five hours per week as a result of using laptops or notebooks.
  • As businesses become more mobile, owners report an increase in use and device dependency over the last two years.
  • Approximately three-fourths of small businesses report their use of mobile devices has increased because it allows them to operate remotely.
  • Small businesses also attribute the rise in device use to an improvement in operational efficiencies, time savings and an increase in employee productivity.
  • Nearly one-third of small businesses have seen their use of mobile data at least double over the past two years due to such common activities as downloading and uploading files on their mobile devices.
Mobile Apps Usage
Over the last two years, the use of mobile apps by small businesses has increased by 65 percent. Of the small businesses that use mobile applications, the majority (92 percent) are using smartphones to tap into apps.
  • Also, more than three-fourths (77 percent) are consistently relying on three or more mobile apps. The most commonly used app types were remote document access, travel planning, and banking/finance management.
  • Topping the list of most-used apps for the fourth consecutive year of the survey were GPS/navigation and mapping apps.
  • More than nine out of 10 respondents (92 percent) who use mobile apps have them on their smartphone, while slightly more than half use them on their tablet.
  • Of the small businesses using mobile apps, more than three in four (77 percent) are using three or more apps, with 5 percent using 20 or more apps … GPS/navigation and mapping apps as the most prominent.
"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"
How did they come up with these crazy numbers?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 5,104,014 employer firms with less than 20 workers in 2011 (latest data). Based on the Fall 2013 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, small business owners work an average of 10.5 hours per day, and earn an average annual salary $68,300. Assuming 50 workweeks, the per hour pay for small business owners was $26.02.
OK, so I get it: they are using $26.02 as the magic number to say what an hour of “our” time is worth. So:
Regarding mobile apps:  

51.5 percent of small businesses use mobile apps. Using the U.S. Census Bureau data, there would be 2,628,567 small businesses using mobile apps. Of the small firms using mobile apps, the average hours saved per week for the owner of the business was 5.007 hours. 91.1 percent of owners using mobile apps report  that the use of those apps saves them  time, which equates to an estimated 2,394,625 small businesses with owners saving time with mobile apps. Over the course of one year, small business owners save an estimated 599.5 million hours of their time, with the dollar value of those savings estimated at $15.6 billion annually.
Regarding tablets

61.7 percent of small businesses use tablets. Using the U.S. Census Bureau data, there would be an estimated universe of 3,149,177 small businesses using tablets. Of the small firms using tablets, the average hours saved per week for the owner of the business was 4.79 hours. Over the course of one year, small business owners save an estimated 754.2 million hours of their time due to tablet use, with the dollar value of those savings estimated at $19.6 billion annually.
Regarding smartphones:  

94.3 percent of small businesses use smartphones. Using the U.S. Census Bureau data, there would be an estimated universe of 4,813,085 small businesses using smartphones. Of the small firms using smartphones, the average hours saved per week for the owner of the business was 5.16 hours. Over the course of one year, small business owners save an estimated 1.24 billion hours of their time, with the dollar value of those savings estimated at $32.3 billion annually.
America: Time is NOT money. Money is a tool. How we spend our time on the planet is what produces value. If all of this “time” that we are saving allowed us to have more hours with our families, more hours reading good books, more hours giving back in our communities, then this "technology based time machine logic" would be truly amazing and indeed life changing.

But we don't do that. So the 2014 AT&T-SBE Council Small Business Technology theory is Bullshit.

If the GPS in our cars allow us to get to work an hour earlier, we don’t produce an extra hour of work. It used to take days to travel from Boston to Philadelphia. Today, it takes hours for that same trip.  It used to take longer to type a document with a typewriter vs. using a word processor. We used to have to “sign up” for time to use a computer. Time on the mainframe was booked like getting a tee time on a golf course. Today, we access the world’s largest computers “for free” FROM the golf course.

Life expectancy in the United States ranks 26th out of the 36 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to a new report from the organization. U.S. expectancy in 2011 was 78.7 years, which is slightly below the OECD average of 80.1. For U.S. men, the average life expectancy is 76, while it's 81 for U.S. women. 

78.7 x 365 x 24 = 689412 hours. In total. That’s all we have on the planet, give or take a few thousand hours. If the AT&T’s of the world want us to think that smartphones and iPad have become some form of time machine that puts more time back into our lives, then my Bullshit meter will never stop ringing. If the GPS in your car or smartphone in your hand really did “save you” any time at all this week, then I would say get your ass to the beach, take your kid fishing, or work a few hours in the local food pantry.

Because if you go down the path of “saving time” to make more money, you are on the path of wasting much more than money, you are wasting your life.
Best Dog Park in the World: Tourne Park - Mountain Lakes, NJ

No comments:

Post a Comment