I work in Digital Analytics. We are a relatively new field (or at least, a relatively new application of analytics) and one where I sometimes feel we don’t leverage enough of what’s been done before. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I headed off to the Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit in San Diego, to learn from a wider variety of industries, and see what they were doing with predictive analytics.
Here were a few of my key takeaways:
It’s not about the tools
I honestly thought this was just an affliction of the digital analytics industry, but it turns out, this is an issue in all area of analytics.
It’s not about the tools, it’s about two things –
1. The talent. Talent matters more than the tool. The “best tool” is one that you can hire great people to use. People are what will make analytics successful, not the tool.
2. Your needs. The “best tool” is the one that suits your business needs – not the most popular, the most expensive, or even the one with the most features. (If you don’t need those features, what’s the point?)
It is about strategy and culture …
Success with analytics isn’t driven by the tools you buy, the process you implement, or the technology you have – it’s about culture.
The creation and hoarding of data is not what will make you successful with analytics. What matters is the consumption of analytics by the organization, and allowing data to challenge beliefs and theories. It’s not about big data – it’s about using it to make big decisions.
Case in point? Improving the efficiency of a predictive model is only worth a few percentage points in your model’s accuracy. But nailing your fundamental strategy? That’s where success comes from.
… and about communication …
Analytics is also destined to fail if it’s not communicated well. This is often where hiring for analytics fails: too often, analysts are hired who can’t communicate with others in the organization. If anyone walks out of a meeting after an analytics presentation and doesn’t know the outcome or the next steps, that’s not their fault – it’s our fault.
Businesses today are in a difficult situation – we have too much data, yet too little knowledge. Analytics is critical to helping to understand what’s important, draw insight out of volumes of data, but without the right people and the right communication, you’ll never see that value.