Analytics & Marketing Metrics

IT Is Not Inherently Analytics

In an article for SmartData Collective, Greg Olson describes a time when a CEO asked him for some information, so Olson presented him with robust Excel data. The CEO responded, “Never give me data. Only provide me with information.” The principle behind that stuck with Olson.

When IT is asked for information, in most cases IT will provide its answer via that hefty spreadsheet format. This is why Olson believes it is wrong to think of IT as being synonymous with an analytics function. Analytics—discerning trends and garnering actionable insights from data—requires a whole extra layer of effort, and IT is not always placed in the best position to provide it.

Skewed Understanding

Olson finds that a common story underscores much of the mutual frustration between the business and IT over data. It begins with stakeholders having a “eureka” moment:

Said stakeholders contact the IT group to request a “report” with the information that is needed to back up the eureka moment.  Rather than a request for valuable insights to get to the final outcome, this tends to be a very specific request with little room for creativity, such as “Give me the number of accessorial charges that we paid to each carrier by week over the past three months.” … Three weeks pass. … IT provides the “report”, which typically is a data dump into Excel that comes out of a SQL query the IT professional wrote in between his actual IT tasks. … Several iterations occur until the stakeholders [get] exactly what they asked for (e.g. a variation of the original data dump, but with additional columns).

Everyone has lost in this scenario, because the wrong questions were asked and the wrong answers were given. To get around such challenges, Olson says every business should have at least one legitimate analytics professional, to plant the seeds for a full analytics team. A good team will have skills with SQL, R, Excel, data warehouses, and visualization tools. They will also make the effort to understand how the business functions, from finance and sales to operations.

Just remember that, when it comes to analytics, success is always a “one day at a time” sort of thing. You can view the original article here:

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