Friday, January 25, 2013

Analytics for Adults

@GaryCokins sees analytics as a form of play. 

"Experienced analysts are somewhat like children. And that is a good thing. ... They too have curiosity and imagination. ... Analysts should be allowed their play time to explore."

In contrast, he refers to the managers and employee teams who rely on analytics as "adults". He tells a story of how he resisted adult intervention when he was a child.

"When adults poked their head in to see what I was doing, although their observations and suggestions were well intended, they confused me. I preferred to make up my own methods."

His conclusion

"I think children should have restrictions on when parents or adults can engage on what children are analyzing."

"Eventually managers and employee teams, the “adults” in this scenario, should get involved with seeing and understanding what that the analyst is investigating."

But many "adults" might think that the whole point of analytics was to support the managers and employee teams, not just to have fun at the organization's expense. @haydens30 asks us to think of analytics as a valuable business resource, and calls upon organizations to communicate and use analytics more effectively.

The trap here is to regard analytics as something produced by one kind of person (children or wizards) and consumed by another kind of person (adults or muggles). I think what is more useful is to think of analytics as part of a closed intelligence loop, where analytics tools and techniques are used collaboratively to support an integrated sense-making and decision-making and learning process, which may benefit from the insights and skills and collective intelligence of a diverse community of workers. Not just the exclusive preserve of a bunch of irresponsible kids.

Of course, play is an important element of intelligence and innovation. Marshall Sponder regrets a widespread corporate unwillingness to invest in creativity.

"No one wants to pay for experimentation, for the most part, they only want to pay for results, and they want to bill it by the hour, or half hour. ... Since most corporations aren't getting much out of their analytics, why would they want to pay for it (when they can get almost the same thing for free) and why would they want to pay anyone to play and experiment, in order to learn and come up with something creative, and perhaps, unforseen or expected?   They don't."

But the solution to this is not to build a protective fence around the analytics guys, but to give everyone in the organization (yes, and customers as well) the opportunity to ask off-the-wall questions and ponder the answers.

Gary Cokins Analytics admittance. Adults unaccompanied by minors (SAS, July 2012)

Marshall Sponder, Playful Social Media and Web Analytics making its way in the agency world (Social Media Today, Oct 2009)

Hayden Sutherland, Are you wasting your digital analytics? (Jan 2013)

Related posts: From Networked BI to Collaborative BI (April 2016), DataOps - Organizing the Data Value Chain (October 2019)

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