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The Human Infrastructure of Data Analytics Eugene Dubossarsky
Data: A Treasure Trove Hidden in data are: – Risks – Opportunities – Insights – Forecasts – Decisions – Secrets – Truth 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd2
Data: A New Way of Doing Business Intuition, experience etc. are all well and good Seniority, rank, extraversion and professional imprimatur are all well and good (maybe) With data, they too can be validated with facts Performance and decision making can be measured, compared, benchmarked This is great news. But not for everybody 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd3
Data: More Valuable in Lean and Changing Times In lean times, timely awareness of key risks, opportunities and capabilities is vital As other resources diminish, the relative value of data grows Data is looking more and more valuable… 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd4
Data: An Insufferable Mystery OK, that all sounds great… – How do we invest in our data? – Now what do we do with this data? – How do we get the value out? – Sounds a bit like IT, doesn’t it? – What software should we buy? 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd5
So How to Invest in Data Analytics is the art of investing in data Is it like investing in: – a managed fund? – a taxi? – an education? 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd6
Is This Data Stuff an IT job? Data: sounds kinda technical and IT-ish Probably needs some kind of software Let IT sort it out? 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd7
The IT Model: A Few Problems Graphic designers, doctors, accountants, telemarketers, event managers… Are all working with some kind of data Are all heavy users of pretty sophisticated IT Are NOT in the IT function Are Human Beings… 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd8
What IT Does Well Building and integrating large systems Supporting non-IT people’s use of IT Keeping and providing data(?) IT is about automating processes IT is about providing infrastructure for information IT makes stuff that is well-understood work smoothly, quickly, and automatically 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd9
Fine. We’ll just get some software then… Not a bad idea on the whole. But: – Software to do what, exactly? – Who to run it? – How much will it cost? 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd10
The IT Model of Analytics IT-driven analytics has its place It is a very popular, widespread and vendor- supported approach, but… It is wrong It is flawed at the most basic conceptual levels It prevents analytics from realising its value 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd11
What IT Does Not Do Well Because IT tends not to: – Understand the business well – Deal well with uncertainty – Progress organically and iteratively – Enjoy exploration – See past technical, automated solutions to problems 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd12
That’s OK, we can ask an expert Usually a software vendor Vendor usually says “buy my software” Spend money, political capital on software Training, experience etc. all taken care of. Apparently. Automated, IT solution, marginal value add to existing business process 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd13
So Where Are We? We’ve got data We’ve got software We don’t know exactly what we want out of the data. Or maybe we think we know… We are $1,000,000 poorer Our people attended a 3 day training course. They are now “data miners”… We have some vendor consultants onsite All eyes are on us We still don’t know what we want out of the data, or how the software can help… 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd14
So What’s Wrong With This Picture? Analytics here was about software and technology. Where was the executive? Where were the business beneficiaries? Analytics was not about the people Software is to analytics as running shoes are to Olympic marathon races 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd15
A Different Approach: Analyst First Spend the money on getting the human infrastructure right first Don’t spend a cent on software unless you know exactly what you are paying for Make do with commodity and open source tools in the meantime. They are effectively free, and good enough most of the time Train, hire and retain the right kind of technical staff Raise the engagement and analytical literacy of the executive 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd16
No Option But to Get It Right Getting the human infrastructure right is needed whether money is spent up-front on software or not Whether analytics sits in IT or in the business Ignored or downplayed in most analytics initiatives Getting it right is optional… unless you want the analytics function to succeed, thrive and make an appreciated difference to the business 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd17
The Human Infrastructure of Analytics The skills, organisational structure, roles and culture of the analytics team The function and skills of the team leaders The analytical literacy, appetite and level of engagement of the executive, and other business consumers of analytics products The relationships between the three groups above 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd18
Analytics: A Human Activity IT in the service of human creativity intuition, brilliance A (surprisingly) manual activity An unpredictable, playful, human pursuit A strategic business function An intelligence function 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd19
Analytics is Intelligence Analytics is properly a subset of the activity set described as “intelligence” It belongs in the same context, being exploratory, incremental and adaptive in nature Operates on a cycle where information informs future action (OODA loop, Lean Startup Pivot loop, Intelligence cycle) At odds with pre-planned, long term project based IT model 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd20
Executive Support Analytics functions wither and die unless there is consistent, engaged support from at least one member of the senior executive The sponsor must be a literate, actively engaged supporter of the team He must be an enthusiastic consumer of their product, as well as their number one fan and political ally Without active, engaged support, the function dies 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd21
Inspired Leadership Analytics Management sits between the executive and the analytics team It needs to be able to speak to both parties It needs business, communications and technical genius The more crucial role is in communicating with the executive Raising executive awareness of analytics is a key part of the role The rest is focusing analysts, a bit like herding cats… 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd22
A focused multidisciplinary team 1.Data wranglers 2.Analysts 3.Business Experts – Keeping them focused is the major challenge – For many analysts, the world is a giant research laboratory. Leave them alone and they will try everything! – The three groups must be literate enough about each others’ functions to help each other effectively – Ideally, each team member could play more than one role 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd23
Literacy: Cooks and Connoisseurs With analytics, only the analysts need to be able to “cook” the stuff But the managers need to be good waiters and make good recommendations Most importantly, the executive needs to be able to “order from the menu”, and be able tell the good stuff from junk food. They need to be connoisseurs of analytics, even if they can’t “cook” 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd24
Expertise and Experience Relevant technical and business skills are a vital component of the human infrastructure of analytics Money well spent: training, recruitment, experience, experts Trying different things, making mistakes, as many as possible is key 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd25
Strategic or Operational? Should analytics: Start by supporting the most or least senior decision makers in the business? Serve to optimise existing business processes, or support decisions of fundamental importance? Which is easier, strategic or operational? Which is more valuable? Which one do most people do first? 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd26
A Different Culture In some organisations, everyone is impacted by analytics: – Hunches are checked – Authority is questioned – Performance is measured – Decisions are made based on available facts – The human infrastructure extends to all humans in the organisation Competitors beware 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd27
Nirvana With minimal investment Grow an analytics infrastructure within your business Use commodity and open source tools, external expertise, and plenty of trial and error Leverage the strategic value of the data first Then the operational value Beat your competitors: they are probably doing it wrong 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd28
Analyst First: Getting You to Nirvana Analyst First is a new institution in data analytics, dedicated to putting the human infrastructure ahead of the electronic, and helping organisations to succeed with analytics Analyst First is the industry body that helps business succeed with analytics 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd29
Analyst First: What it Is Analyst First (“A1”) is: a philosophy a movement a think tank a growing body of knowledge 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd30
Analyst First: What it Does Provides organisations with a visible, credible alternative to the software-centric, IT model of analytics Unites and empowers analysts with the alternative, intelligence-model Provides a coherent body of knowledge to support the A1 vision Establishes effective dialogue between business leaders, software vendors and senior analysts 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd31
Analyst First: How to Get in Touch Active chapters in Sydney, Melbourne, and now Canberra: – Graham Williams is head of the Canberra Chapter Regular meetings Blog, presentations, media appearances Next step: overseas chapters Website: 28th June 2011© Presciient Pty Ltd32
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