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The opportunity for analytics

Final interesting article in DM Review this month - Dealing with Data: Data Analytics: A Huge Opportunity by Shari Rogalski. She does a nice job of summarizing the research and makes some good points. A couple of things I wanted to highlight:

  • You must move to a predictive mindset, not an analyze-the-past mindset. Check out my predictive analytics FAQ if you are not sure what this means
  • You must act first, not just know first, if your data is going to give you a competitive edge
  • Retail may be a growth area but financial services and insurance, among others, have been doing this a while in risk-centric decisions
  • You need to focus on the decisions you are trying to improve, not just on the data
  • One of the great benefits of this approach is that front-line staff, and self-service systems, get the benefit of analytical insight without having to look at reports themselves - a change in mindset

I just reviewed Tom Davenport's great new book, Competing on Analytics, and if you like the article you should probably pre-order it here. I also mentioned another accenture study in a long post promoted by a TDWI survey on Predictive Analytics - that post has all the links you could need or want to explore the topic so I will leave it there.

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Tom's POV on analytics is flawed at the core (based upon his article). I think the idea that firm's should centralize analytics is dead wrong. This idea is based upon the premise that a company experiences its environment in a single manner and is fully integrated (only lemonade stands achieve this level of integration).

I also think the idea also has roots in the how system integrators spin their yarns to sell large projects which by all generous accounts fail at least 70% of the time. While you may be sympathetic to the SI view, its track record is such that no leader should be so foolish to risk her career on the fancy.

With that said, I am strong supporter of business rules and predictive modeling. I think that they need to be strongly grounded in real robust business processes. Architecting a grand solution is pure foolishness.

ajay Kelkar

I have run a central analytics group for over 4 years now. And I have to admit that you need evangelical zeal to really make the "analytics" happen in a business sense. The challenge is that Analytics should be exactly where the "decision making" is-if it lies centrally and occupies a consultative role,it doesn't work.If analytics is not in the trenches ,it does not make such a large impact.The problem of course is that all of us business folk believe that our instincts are "right" ,often we ignore data that may be screaming at us to make a different decision-if analytics is too much a part of the "trenches",ignoring it's output may be a danger.

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