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  • Eric Sandosham

Less Data and More Business Please, Mr Analyst

The world continues to be excited about the value of Analytics. In fact, even before traditional analytics capabilities have been well-operationalised in many organisations, the Big Data era is already upon us. And what about this 'Internet of All Things' that everyone's talking about?

Caught up in this tidal swell, most businesses simply miss the primary objective of Analytics - to solve business problems

Instead, they get into a tail-chasing frenzy of technology upgrades and organisation build-out of data scientists.

I recently attended a meeting with several data scientists as part of my analytics consulting engagement for a client. The scientists were tasked to assist in uncovering insights on employee behaviours within the client's organisation. Nothing wrong with that. But the meeting soon melted down into data adequacy.

That got me thinking. The data scientists are just that - data analysts. Having more of them isn’t necessarily going to solve your most pressing business concerns. Data scientists are great at solving Uncertain problems, but they simply get stumped when dealing with Equivocal ones (i.e. problems having multiple interpretations). And most business problems are equivocal.

What we need to nurture is more Business Analysts. It’s not about the intersection of IT, statistics and business domain.

Rather, it's about the intersection of critical thinking, strategy and impact that distinguishes the value of a business analyst.

Consider the modus operandi of the data analyst: given data, what insights can I find? What gets a data analyst out of bed is the excitement of discovering patterns in the data. It's a treasure hunt mentality. Now consider the modus operandi of the business analyst: given a problem, how can I solve it to generate business impact. It's never about the data. It’s about framing and connecting the dots. It’s about impact. It's an operational mentality.

What does it take to transform analytics into a truly business driver function?

Organisations need a serious rethink on their analytics implementation approach. The current success rate of improving business performance through the use of analytics has been underwhelming. Despite the ever-growing cadre of data scientists. It's time we pay some attention to how the analytics function is organised, and the investments needed to groom true business analysts.

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