Analytics ingredients

Working with IBM you quickly learn their Analytics mottos.
  • How are we doing?

  • Why are we doing that?
  • What should we be doing next?
Insights lead to smarter decisions which create better outcomes
In other words, those who know more about their business are able to grow and profit exponentially better.  
You know this is the goal, dream, vision or whatever you call it of most managers and above in business.  If I only had the answers to the questions I ask and also the ones I don’t ask (insights) I could blow through my business goals.  Taste that fine wine of success plus plus.
How to get that though? The ‘right’ way is to holistically look at your enterprise, all the data sources, run a project to improve the quality of that data and keep it high quality, then work with each functional area and outside industry experts to determine the decision making processes, what they should be, design the data warehouse, build up your analytic metrics, dashboards, add planning and so on.  If you read that last run on sentence really fast that is what you likely have been proposed in the past.
I have been through that and the 15 month internal selling cycle to convince other board that this is how to get the magic sauce.  Then re-convincing the each month of the year long project to keep the resources focused on the effort.  I see the political campaigns for president of the US right now and can sympathize.
One mistaken statement, one deadline missed, and crisis after crisis and the campaign is a rocky ride.
  • You can do it with less pain.
  • You can do it in less time.
  • You can do it with little drama.
If you are IT or CFO, you need to stop thinking of winning a battle, never mind a war and think like a virus or a weed if you like.    You need to get planted somewhere.  Anywhere at all.  In that nice friendly place and then help it grow by both seeding it with funding for additional licenses, performance and most importantly giving up control over how it grows and where.
Yes, you provide the money and have a decreasing say it how it is spent.
Purchase an analytic solution, heck buy two.  Install it in a small group area who has been begging for it.  Give them funding for training (a good package like Cognos TM1 wink wink is intuitive with its Excel interface or BI with the single workspace), dedicated development for a short window and hardware performance for the first 45 days.  Well the hardware performance is permanent.
Then leave them alone, kinda.  Back away and count to 10. In business terms it could be more like 30 days.
Feed them with praise for how they are using it and fund more licenses even for those people you wonder why they need it.  Listen for an area that it could land next and do another launch area there to repeat the above.
Then expose the examples of the insights, smarter decisions and better outcomes to the sunlight of executive visibility to help it grow further.       

Book Review – The Deciding Factor Book Review – The Deciding Factor

  Author Larry Rosenberger and John Nash




As I focus more on analytics in my professional life I have started going through the major analytics books.  I previously wrote about the Chief Performance Officer book, but have learned a great deal more in the past couple of months.  The Deciding Factor takes the non-tool approach to explain the power of analytics and especially power of expanding the use of analytics from the executive offices to the day-to-day operational staff to both improve their decision-making and better execute the strategy.

–       Capital One’s story of how they used analytics – page 18    

  • How impactful analytics have creating a product set and growing a boring business into an exciting marketing effort.
  • Continued with Progressive on page 21

–       Tesco’s use of analytics to define customer categories on page 41

  • No explanation here except the main categories used of time-poor, food-rich, can’t cook and won’t cook – just love these

–       Best Buy’s push analytics down to their sales force on page 47

  • Training their sales force using specific lifestyle questions to define the product sale match with the customers needs and discover up sales potential

–       Fair Isaacs chart on page 80

  • Chart displaying how to ensure that decision making with analytics to ensure the strategy executes well across all channels
  • Accomplished with a basic rules based management system

–       Work flow vs. decision flow on page 127

  • The impact of how a work flow is impacting by a decision flow and why you need both

–       The difference between business intelligence and decision management on page 141

  • In short, BI focus on how we are doing now and why and decision management builds on the why and provides options on what’s next

If you have a BI solution and are using it to improve your reporting great, but to truly power your organization greater insights move BI down into your operational staff levels and design a rules based decision making system.