Supporting Opinion | Analytics CoE: A Mixed Blessing

The Analytics CoE: Don't Get Smashed on the Rocks

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Louis Watson
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Re: Addressing the business need
Louis Watson   8/13/2012 5:47:39 AM
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David I like your stance on CoE , and I agree that it should be used more as a transitional resource to give direction and cohesion to what might be a confused structure, but once these goals are achieved it is probably best not to adhere to CoE based principles too tightly.

Though there are good arguments both for and against the creation and use of CoE.  I tend to lean toward against or at least use as little as possible.

BethSchultz
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Re: Addressing the business need
BethSchultz   8/10/2012 11:01:34 AM
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Rob, thanks for this insight. You clearly are passionate about the role of the analyst, and I hope everybody does indeed strive to find "an environment where your creativity and passion can thrive." Fortunately, I suppose, if the analytics talent shortage hits as hard as some predict, analysts may have the flexibility of changing jobs until the find that perfect fit!

Rob Eidson
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Re: Addressing the business need
Rob Eidson   8/10/2012 10:40:07 AM
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Beth,

I think that using analytics to further a chemical engineering competitive advantage would be great.  But, to David's point they'd need to be able to articulate with perfect clarity how analytics would do that and make sure it's a good fit for their organization and culture.

But I think merging the logistics analytics team into an overall CoE to support objectives other than logistics would not make sense.  It would be a bad fit from an alignment of goals and cultural perspective.  Strategic leadership wouldn't see the work of the logistics team as a priority and would neglect them.  In addition to being minimized and neglected by leadership the logistics team would probably also feel out classed by working shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of PhD Chemical Engineers.  At best this would lead to lower moral and less effort and enthusiasm by the logistics team and at worst could result in mass resignations and lose of an important logistics analytical capability.

Passion, creativity, and enthusiasm make a superior analytics team and leadership should make effort to enhance and maintain it.  You can buy a person's hands but you can't buy his/her heart.  Leadership has to earn that passion and creativity and there's no surer way to lose that than by under valuing and neglecting a team's contribution.  One of the analytics teams I worked for a year or so ago was hitting on all eight cylinders until a new leader was brought on board who didn't get it.  Now, in the short time frame of a little over a year 90% of that team has found another job and the team's metrics and moral have gone through the floor.  It isn't hard for a strong analyst to find another job (even one paying more money).  The harder thing is to find an environment where your creativity and passion can thrive.

 

BethSchultz
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Re: Addressing the business need
BethSchultz   8/9/2012 2:04:11 PM
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Rob, thanks for joining in this discussion. What you say makes good sense, but consider this relative to your sample chemical company. ,Isn't it likely -- or shouldn't it be -- that its using analytics to make smarter decisions about which new chemicals it ought to focus its development efforts on, to predict customer demand for a particular chemical type, etc.? If that's the case, wouldn't those efforts, since they determine competitive advantage, be best served by a CoE? And if such exists, doesn't it make sense to bring in functional analytics areas, like freight, into that group for shared knowledge, collaboration, etc.? Just thinking aloud here ....

 

 

Rob Eidson
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Addressing the business need
Rob Eidson   8/9/2012 12:23:26 PM
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Interesting discussion ...

In my view, whether or not to create a dedicated CoE (by whatever name) depends on alignment to core and compelling strategic goals.  A CoE, reporting to a C-level executive, would be appropriate if the company's competitive advantages depend on analytics.  For example, Netflix and IBM use analytics as a competitive advantage and it's hard to imagine those companies being successful without strong, centralized analytics functions and expertise.  I can also imagine other companies such as UPS benefiting from an analytics CoE with a specific focus such as optimizing their global supply chain. 

But without alignment to clear competitive advantage I think a CoE at the C-Level could very easily flounder due to organization politics and a culture of 'so what.'  Where analytics doesn't support competitive advantage the distributed model is more likely to prosper since it more easily aligns and provides value in specific functions.  I know of a small specialty chemicals company whose freight department uses analytics to optimize the movement of large amounts of chemicals throughout their supply chain. 

But the company's overall competitive advantage is material technology (making new chemicals to meet customer demand and trump the competitors).  So in this case, the analytics team housed in the freight department supports functional objectives by managing freight in the best way.  But, changing the analytics team from the freight department and asking it to report to the CEO and calling it a CoE wouldn't make sense.

In my view, analytics is best wherever it can best align and support key organizational goals.

 

BethSchultz
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Re: By any other name
BethSchultz   8/8/2012 4:13:58 PM
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Hi Gerry, thanks for clarifying. Sounds like the company has embraced a culture of analytics. Is that fair to say?

Newland
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Re: By any other name
Newland   8/8/2012 11:34:12 AM
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Hey Beth,

 

I am saying that our industry (in its infancy) has a tremendous number of questions and concerns and very few answers.  We are integrating remote medical devices in order to minimize the cost of medical care, increase the productivity of a stagnet number of medical personnel and a balloning number of patients entering into the intense medical care stage of their lives.

In order to make sense of what we are doing - and to assist in making life changing decisions, AET is forced to take calculated risks to guide our healthcare market.  Using the power of analytics based on the massive amount of data that we continue to grow, we need the best available decision analytics.  We feel comfortable in our advice due to the power and of the use of decison analytics.  We have not developed a CoE (as such) but have a group that is responsible for our decisions based on analytics - thus decision analytics.  

 

gerry

BethSchultz
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Re: By any other name
BethSchultz   8/8/2012 10:34:49 AM
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Gerry, are you saying that Agile Edge has established an internal CoE and that you call that group Decision Analytics -- or are you saying the company applies decision analytics as part of its systems integration work?

Newland
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Re: By any other name
Newland   8/8/2012 9:49:48 AM
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Beth,

 

I applaud your use of Decision Analytics - something that we have used for a couple of years at Agile Edge Technologies to identify the real need of analytics in the area of remote medical devices.  AET is an system integrator (device integrator) for the home healthcare markets and it is essential that we bring together the best mix of remote medical devices used in the care of home bound patients.  The use of remote medical devices is an essential part of future patient care.  The more data we collect from the patient (non-HIPPA and SOX restricted) the better our predictive modeling can become.  Since we evaluate future (early stage) medical devices - it is important for us to be able to predict with accuracy the positive effect a device will have on selected patient populations.  We need to know that a product makes a difference in patient care, provides the doctor with access to critical health data and manufacturer with reliable performance data.  At all levels of the medical community - decisions need to be made that can be life-saving.  Decision analytics can made the difference between a poor decision and a good decision.  

Thanks again for your input.  

Gerry

 

 

BethSchultz
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Re: By any other name
BethSchultz   8/6/2012 10:57:41 AM
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David, I think you really capture the problem with the name "Center of Excellence" when you say that it "seems to speak more about you than them." Even when business managers are involved in a CoE initiative, the name does smack of superiority and so I can see why some would find it off-putting. I like Decision Analytics -- not to catchy, but says a lot.

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