Friday, August 28, 2015

The Future of Analytics

With history and law in my educational background, few people, including me, would have predicted back in 1981 that I would become one of the first in my career of community destination marketing to embrace analytics.

Although I took statistics, in essence history is a form of analytical thinking.  But back in 1972 when I earned a degree in that major it was less likely to involve data.

Law school certainly teaches critical thinking but not open-mindedness.

As NYU Stern researcher Dr. Jonathan Haidt, the author of The Righteous Mind, put it this week on the Diane Rehm Show:

“But as soon as we want to reach a conclusion, or as soon as we get emotional, we get angry and open-minded thinking shuts down and we become lawyers.”

Researchers know today that the natural talent for analytics that I began to tap into in the early 1980s is a competitive advantage that was central to the DMOs I led being able to quickly leapfrog more established competitors.

Unfortunately, other than various aspects, I was never really able to teach it to others on staff before I retired at the end of 2009, with the exception of my eventual successor.

Even so, she had an innate talent for analytics. You can teach skills but not talents, especially not nuance.

Rare even among those now formally trained in analytics is the ability or talent to see nuanced patterns and then apply them strategically to an objective.

Research conducted by MIT’s Sloan Management Review and SAS calculates that only 12% of organizations overall have this ability.

More than a third are “analytically challenged” and more than half are “analytic practitioners” that employ it primarily for operations, sometimes predictively, although that is not their focus.

So one-in-eight of these organizations are “analytic innovators” which are found to be seven times as likely to employ analytics predictively and six times more likely to deploy it prescriptively.

The Sloan/SAS report entitled The Talent Dividend well worth downloading, reading and applying.

Recently, while writing an essay about what organizations such I led will look like in the future, I noted that analytical ability will soon be required for every job in an organization, kind of like how keyboard skills became in the 1990s.

When I retired, still only 37% of organizations overall saw analytics as a competitive advantage.  This peaked at 67% in 2012 and is now a view held by six-in-ten organizations.

But I believe the true value of analytics going forward will always be strategic including innovation.

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