A few years ago, a vendor I'm close to conducted a “research” study on the BI and analytics software market, using a web-based survey they assembled.. A major finding was that their own predictive analytics platform showed as the #2 most popular in the market, outgunning the likes of industry leaders SAS and SPSS.

Having worked in the PM market for many years, I was more than a little suspicious, and set out to get to the bottom of the findings. It didn't take long: The survey driving the compilations was accessible only from the vendor's web site. The results were thus heavily selection-biased, since respondents were much more likely to be users of the vendor's software than they were to be “representative” of the larger analytics population. Put another way, every analytics practitioner did not have a known, non-zero probability of being sampled . Of course, the bias was in the direction that gratified my friend company. Go figure.

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