Our lives have become hectic. We are working harder and longer. We talk about life balance, but for so many of us we continue to have imbalance. Every once in a while we need to step back, press the "pause" button on the Stairmaster exercise machine, take some deep breaths, and reflect on just what the heck is going on. I'd like to share with you my take on what is driving the accelerating interest in analytics and big-data.
The two pyramids: 1) executive power and 2) information technology
In the middle 15 years of my now-40-year work career, I was a management consultant with Deloitte, KPMG, and Electronic Data Systems (EDS, now part of HP). In our slide presentations we always had two types of compulsory pictures: a pyramid with multiple layers and a four-quadrant grid. Each provided an oversimplified but effective way of communicating ideas. My explanation for the fast-emerging interest in analytics and big-data can be explained with the following two pyramids:
Executive power and influence pyramid. Savvy executives are realizing they must now delegate and distribute decision rights deeper down into their organizations to empower managers and employees. This is because with the exponentially growing mountain of data -- structured (numbers) and unstructured (text) -- and a speeded-up and volatile world, they can no longer hoard decisions at the C-suite level. The executives are at the top of a pyramid slide labeled "types of decisions." Their decision types are strategic ones. As examples: What is our organization's mission? What products and services should we offer to maximize value to our constituents? What altered strategic direction should we navigate our organization toward?
In contrast, at the lower levels of the pyramid are operational decisions that should be made by employees who ideally have had the strategy communicated to them by the executives (via a strategy map, scorecard, and dashboards). With expanding big-data, the base of this pyramid is widening, and executives are realizing it is futile for them to be able to explore, investigate, and comprehend this massive treasure trove of data. This is why the role of analysts (think "data scientists") is becoming mission critical. Executives cannot do it all. They must now delegate decision making and provide appropriate analytical tools and capabilities to their workforces.
IT pyramid. This pyramid is chronological from the past at the bottom to today at the top. At the bottom, say, around the 1950s, are the initial IT applications of basic and once time-consuming efforts of payroll and purchasing. Cutting bank checks. Then in the 1960s came invoicing, bookkeeping, and financial accounting IT applications. Next came the waves of customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and supply chain management systems. Higher pyramid layers involved information management and data warehouse technologies to enable the managerial systems. Then came the evolution of business intelligence highlighted with query-and-search drill-down capabilities. Next came business analytics, with a huge horsepower lift from high-performance analytics.
I would argue that we have now reached the peak of this pyramid, where executives, sitting at the top, can nimbly navigate the execution of their dynamic and constantly adjusting strategies with agility. Poor execution of a well formulated strategy is a major frustration and source of downfall of executives. This pyramid peak represents a GPS-like capability for executives at the helm to use metrics, performance measures and indicators, enterprise performance management (EPM) methodologies, and motivational methods to gain insights and drive the behavior of employees, customers, suppliers, and partners.
Where do we go from here?
Are there new, yet-to-be-constructed layers at the top of these two pyramids? I would argue, "No." Technology is no longer the impediment to driving improvement. It is proven. The obstacle is now people and behavioral change management. Increasing skills with analytics. Overcoming resistance to change. The two pyramids have reached their peaks.
The issues now involve strengthening the layers and making them more efficient and effective. The new, higher weight at the top of the pyramids needs a strong foundation, and this involves an organization's culture and leadership style.
Taking a look at decision making by superimposing the executive and data pyramids is an intriguing concept @Gary, and you've done a great job of explaining how one resource (executive acumen) is scarce while another commodity (raw data) is expanding exponentially.
I couldn't help but think of the ultimate finite resource: Time. Wouldn't it be ironic if the ultimate perk for executives turned out to be outsourcing their decision-making responsibilities so as to save their time for other things?
Diego Klabjan, chair of the INFORMS University Analytics Program Committee and program director for Northwestern University's Master of Science in Analytics program, gives his advice for figuring out where to get an advanced analytics degree.
What Works: Open Source Analytics Software International Institute for Analytics WebinarOn Wednesday, Sept. 24, join IIA CEO and Co-Founder Jack Phillips, along with featured guest Gary Spakes, as we explore the five modernization stages that analytics hardware/software have experienced. We will discuss the considerations when calculating total cost of ownership of the analytics ecosystem.
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- Cary, NCThe 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Essential Practice Skills for Analytics Professionals Drawing on best practices from the field, this INFORMS course helps analytics professionals add value from beginning to end: listening to clients, framing the central problem, scoping a project, defining metrics for success, creating a work plan, assembling data and expert sources, selecting modeling approaches, validating and verifying analytical results, communicating and presenting results to clients, driving organizational change, and assessing impact.
Analytics 2014 The Analytics 2014 Conference is a two-day, educational event for anyone who is serious about analytics. This annual event brings together hundreds of professionals, industry experts and leading researchers in the field of analytics. All Analytics members save $500 on conference fees by using promo code ACAA.
Premier Business Leadership Series 2014 The Premier Business Leadership Series is an exclusive event for senior executives and decision makers that focuses on solving the current issues that affect governments and businesses globally. The Series is a unique learning and networking experience focused on the most innovative leadership strategies and analytic solutions for competing in todayâs global economy.
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- BostonThe 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Data Exploration & Visualization Get hands-on training that focuses on the critical steps in the process of analyzing data: accessing and extracting data, cleaning and preparing data, exploring and visualizing data. This INFORMS course will use several of the most popular software tools intensively, and provide an overview of the range of software options.
Foundations of Modern Predictive Analytics In this INFORMS course, learn about modern predictive analytics, the science of discovering and exploiting complex data relationships. This course will give participants hands-on practice in handling real data types, real business problems and practical methods for delivering business-useful results.
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- AtlantaThe 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
LEADERS FROM THE BUSINESS AND IT COMMUNITIES DUEL OVER CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY ISSUES
The Current Discussion
Visual Analytics: Who Carries the Onus? The Issue: Data visualization is an up-and-coming technology for businesses that want to deliver analytical results in a visual way, enabling analysts the ability to spot patterns more easily and business users to absorb the insight at a glance and better understand what questions to ask of the data. But does it make more sense to train everybody to handle the visualization mandate or bring on visualization expertise? Our experts are divided on the question. The Speakers: Hyoun Park, Principal Analyst, Nucleus Research; Jonathan Schwabish, US Economist & Data Visualizer
The hospitality industry gathers massive amounts of customer data, and mining that data effectively can yield tremendous results in terms of improved CRM, better-targeted marketing spend, and more efficient back-end processes. Roger Ares, vice president of analytics at Hyatt Corp., discusses the ways he and his staff use big data.
Charged with keeping track of travel assets, including employees, iJET International relies on data management best-practices and advanced analytics to keep its clients in the know on current and potential world events affecting travel, Rich Murnane, Director of Enterprise Data Operations & Data Architect, told All Analytics in an interview from the 2014 SAS Global Forum Executive Conference.
Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer for the Center for Generational Kinetics and keynote speaker at last month's SAS Global Forum 2014, describes how Gen Y professionals are enhancing the makeup of multigenerational analytics organizations.
From analytics talent development to the power of visual analytics, All Analytics found a variety of common themes circulating throughout the exhibition floor and session discussions at the 2014 SAS Global Forum and SAS Global Forum Executive Conference events held last month in Washington, DC.
Talking with All Analytics live from the 2014 SAS Global Forum Executive Conference, Eric Helmer, senior manager of campaign design and execution for T-Mobile, discussed the importance of customer data -- starting internally -- in devising the mobile operator's marketing plans.
The big-data analytics market can be a confusing place. Among the vendors vying for your dollars are traditional database management providers, Hadoop startup services, and IT giants. In this video, All Analytics editors Beth Schultz and Michael Steinhart sit down in a Google+ Hangout on Air with Doug Henschen, executive editor of InformationWeek. Henschen discusses use cases for big-data analytics, purchase considerations, and his recent roundup of the top 16 big-data analytics platforms.
At the National Retail Federation BIG Show last month, All Analytics executive editor Michael Steinhart noted a host of solutions for tracking and analyzing customer activity in retail stores. From Bluetooth beacons to RFID tags to NFC connections to video analytics, retailers must find the right combination of tools to help optimize the shopper experience, streamline operations, and boost revenues.
The days when historical shipment trends and gut feelings were enough to forecast retail demand accurately are long over. SAS chief industry consultant Charles Chase outlines the benefits of pulling real-time sales information from point-of-sale and product scanner systems, then flowing that data into dynamic forecasting tools from SAS.
With today's advanced visual analytics tools, you can stream data into memory for real-time processing, provide users the ability to explore and manipulate the data, and bring your data to life for the business.
Dynamic data visualizations let analysts and business users interact with the data, changing variables or drilling down into data points, and see results in a flash. Advance your use of data visualization with tools that support features like auto-charting, explanatory pop-ups, and mobile sharing.
No doubt your enterprise is amassing loads of data for fact-based decision-making. Hand in hand with all that data comes big computational requirements. Can traditional IT infrastructure handle the increasing number and complexity of your analytical work? Probably not, which is why you need a backend rethink. Big data calls for a high-performance analytics infrastructure, as Fern Halper, a partner at the IT consulting and research firm, Hurwitz & Associates, discusses here.
Redbox's bright-red DVD kiosks are all but ubiquitous these days, located in more than 28,000 spots across the country. Jayson Tipp, Redbox VP of Analytics and CRM, provides an insider's look at how the company has accomplished its phenomenal nine-year growth.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a seven-brand global hotelier, has woven analytics into the fabric of its operations. David Schmitt, director of performance strategy and planning, shares IHG's analytics story and his lessons learned.