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Winning with Data: Transform Your Culture, Empower Your People, and Shape the Future Hardcover – 26 Jul 2016

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4.4 out of 5 stars 27 reviews from Amazon.com

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From the Inside Flap

The biggest hotel company owns no hotel rooms, and the largest taxi company owns no taxis. Both organizations wield data better than any of their competitors to disrupt their industries. That′s how powerful data can be when it′s optimally leveraged. To gain a competitive advantage and dominate markets with data, you need to harness the power of curiosity and forge it into innovation with the step–by–step process in Winning with Data.

Venture capitalist Tomasz Tunguz and seasoned executive Frank Bien provide a rare insider′s look at the transformative cultural changes data engenders in teams and companies. Winning with Data provides tactical advice gleaned from category–defining companies so you can replicate these techniques. Whether you need to merchandise inventory better, measure and respond to customer requests faster, incentivize go–to–market teams effectively, or metamorphose your team′s culture, the clear and easy–to–practice guidance inside gives you everything you need to spark and fuel data–based conversations and decisions.

Illustrative, trenchant case studies give you an up–close and detailed look at how the leading data–driven companies disrupt industries with data. Get a privileged look at the specific strategies, techniques, and thinking behind how data is used by:

  • Hubspot to develop best–in–class sales measurement and execution
  • Warby–Parker to determine what models to ship and subsequently disrupt a $13 billion monopolized market
  • ThredUp to transform the second–hand clothing business and process more than twenty thousand items of clothing every day
  • Venmo to gain insight into user behavior in order to build the wallet for the millennial generation

Data is transforming the nature of business in fundamental ways but most people are asking the wrong questions: big data, small data, structured data, unstructured data. Instead, the right questions are, "How do we get exactly the right insight into everyone′s hands at the moment they need it?" With the authors′ widely practiced methodology, the entire company can speak the same language and decide based on the same facts not opinions to outperform.

From the Back Cover


Winning with Data is the authoritative guide to revolutionizing your team′s and company′s culture to wield data to gain a superior competitive edge over your competition. Until now, organizations have had very little dependable guidance for analyzing data to develop sustainable competitive advantage. This practical guide shares the techniques, tools and tactics used by some of the most disruptive companies in the world, and explains the methods to replicate these patterns. Leading experts in big data, business intelligence, and business strategy Tomasz Tunguz and Frank Bien demonstrate leveraging the full power of data requires more than good infrastructure it demands a universal lexicon, agreements between teams, ongoing education and infusing meetings with data.

This complete resource illustrates how to efficiently instrument a company to collect and analyze the wealth of data available, including:

  • Developing the right metrics to collaborate effectively across teams
  • Structuring experiments and conversations with data effectively along with tips for avoiding common data biases that lead teams to the wrong conclusion
  • Educating your team and company on the most effective mechanisms for answering key business questions
  • Sharing and presenting analyses and conclusions to reach the best decision

The incisive case studies from some of the most disruptive companies in the world inform how other companies can transform their cultures to invent and develop their own competitive advantages. Start turning information into competitive advantage today with Winning with Data.

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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 27 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Introduction 30 Jun. 2016
By Michael Sutton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Originally posted at kellysutton.com

I had been looking forward to picking up and reading Winning with Data by Tomasz Tunguz and Frank Bien ever since I first heard about the book on tomtunguz.com. This is my review.

If you’re looking to get an initial introduction into data-driven companies or how you might bring data-driven thinking to your company, Winning with Data is for you. For deeper dives, you’ll need to supplement this book with other resources.

The book is co-authored by Tomasz Tunguz, a partner at Redpoint Ventures, and Frank Bien, the founder of Looker, a business intelligence tool.

Tunguz is known in the SaaS world for his daily, invaluable blog posts published at tomtunguz.com. Every day, Mr. Tunguz breaks down different aspects of the market or running a company in a data-centric way. As Winning with Data purports, an effective culture of data-driven decision-making removes the effects of “management by opinion” in companies. Redpoint Ventures is known in the Valley for taking a very analytical approach to their investments, making sure that founders have a strong understanding of *aaS metrics and how those affect the business.

Frank Bien is an industry veteran having held roles at Dell, EMC, and others. He created Looker in 2013. Looker is a business intelligence platform deployed by hundreds of companies worldwide. It helps companies make sense of their data.

The book is a quick read at 150 pages.

What is Data?

Data. Data. Data! Data is everything and it is nothing. The book focuses on the pieces of information generated by customer actions: how much revenue did we earn on the Acme Co. account this month? How many times did John Appleseed log in last month?

When aggregated, the small questions like this allow companies to build robust data engines around their business. These data engines can be both historical and predictive. In many ways, these engines represent the common knowledge of an individual the business.

These are the data points that the Data! rallying cry of the book is built around, and they are the most commonly-found sets in startups.

What Should Be the Role of Data?

The greatest enemy of business progress is the illusion of knowledge…

By inculcating a common set of values, offering the tools and education, and creating a common language, data teams within these businesses empower their colleagues to decide how to advance the company using data, instead of opinions.
The book hinges on a central question: What is the role of data in thriving companies, and how does that give them a competitive advantage?

Having personally understood the dangers of bad data and the benefits of good data, this is a critical question for any company no matter the size. Some data points are merely historical, while some can be predictive. It’s in the best interest of companies to start developing data warehouses and data pipelines, even if they are rudimentary.

The right metrics are the best weapons we have to answer some nebulous questions like “Do we have product-market fit?” or “Should we be spending more on marketing?”

Thankfully, Not an Advertisement

Having picked up a few books written by VCs, it’s sad that some writings are simply an advertisement for their portfolio. This can water down the message of the book, and perhaps make companies selected for case studies seem random. It can be difficult to tap companies outside of your firm’s portfolio, due to competitive reasons or just due to sheer familiarity.

Tunguz and Bien do a relatively good job of preventing the book from becoming an advertisement, given the subject matter; the push for the data robustness they advocate for is relatively new. Of the 45+ companies mentioned in the book, only 5 were Redpoint portfolio companies. (Data!) Some of the companies that were studied more closely were not Redpoint portfolio companies, which was also good to see.

That being said, a few too many chapters ended with a “And then the company deployed Looker and all data problems were solved.” Looker receives high marks from the companies that use it, but some more variety would help balance the book a bit more. Because Mr. Bien is the CEO of Looker, bringing objectivity to this matter is no easy task.

More Depth Required

While I enjoyed the book, I was left wanting a bit more depth or case studies into the companies mentioned. There are 45+ companies mentioned in the book’s 150 pages. Some companies are covered more in depth than others, but the book moves at a quick clip.

Deep dives into a single company around a single metric would take subject matter deeper than blog posts. The following formula should have been employed to achieve further depth: “Company X was struggling and it didn’t know why. After talking around, they realized Metric Z was not up to industry standards. They corrected that and have lived to see another day.”

A better title for this book might be, Companies That Have Won with Data or Companies That Are Winning with Data. I would also love to see the sequel: How to Win with Data. In this vein, I actually thought the appendix on “Revenue Metrics” would be most helpful for someone dipping their toes into building a data fabric for their company.

Thankfully, a lot of this depth can be found already on tomtunguz.com as well as elsewhere online. As someone that has operated in companies with data droughts, I’m always on the lookout for that beginner’s guide that could have saved my past self.


On the whole, Winning with Data is a good read for anyone looking to bring data to the decision-making process of a company today. It illuminates what types of decisions are made easier with the right data, as well as looking at some quick case studies. If you’re a fan of Mr. Tunguz’s blog, some of the book might seem old hat. Nonetheless, it’s worth a skim and worth keeping an eye out for future editions.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Framework to Transform Decision Making using Data 10 July 2016
By Anand Thaker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The theme here is that access to multitudes of data simply is not enough. Using intelligence systems, renewed mindset and culture change all contribute to an evolved decision making paradigm to level-up. These changes contribute to a data-driven workforce who find deeper insights while avoiding the most common data fallacies plaguing progress. As someone who consults and as thought leader in decision making with data for over 15 years in energy, finance and marketing technology, "Winning with Data" delivers the best framework for any business or firm still searching for success leveraging their data assets.

I've followed Tomasz's blog for several months and have included those insights into analysis we help to support some of our clients. The book will now be required reading for our prospects, whom we will ask to read before considering to engage with us.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd recommend this book to any start up 23 Jun. 2016
By CCMD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read Tomasz's blog for a while and was excited to read his book. While one review critiqued the heavy use of anecdotes , I found the real world examples to be the meat and interest of the book. (Isn't this how all of Malcolm Gladwell books read? A rather simple but important concept illustrated by many in depth real scenarios.) And the examples used are highly relevant and interesting sneak peaks into some of the fastest growing companies of our day. I'd recommend this book to any start up, biz ops, sales, marketing , product team looking to further indoctrinate the culture of data into their day to day and business.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick read, great insights. 23 Jun. 2016
By Kindle Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been in the field of "data" for a few years now and have to say most of the stuff written is a lot of hype (big data, blah blah blah). This book was a quick read, but hits some of the reality of what's starting to happen in the space... data pipelines are a mess, big data hasn't delivered, dashboard tools create chaos, and it's more about people and culture if you want to achieve anything real. I liked the use of examples of so many new/smart companies and how they're doing something different -- really changing their industries based on an understanding of what's really happening in their businesses. There are a lot of major obstacles to becoming a data driven company, and this book gives some excellent insights to how to start on the process. I bought a copy for my CEO.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Borderline advertising 4 Mar. 2017
By B3n S6z - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The premise is great, and I am a huge fan of Tom and his blog. But there's something about this book that is a little too much infomercial for me. If they'd toned it down 10% more it could have been great, but as it is, it feels like paid promotional content for Looker just slightly too often.
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