Some of my most enjoyable work experiences over the past 35 years occurred when I was involved in data and analytics or related work. My experience was primarily as a manager and generalist attempting to connect data and analytics activity to business value.
As I continue to read and strive to keep up, I often see examples where my experience could be helpful. However, I also noticed that talking about this at parties can make people want to stick a stir stick in their eye. I hope that writing will help me to organize and clarify my thoughts, stay involved in conversations with people who care and relieve those who don’t.
My perspective was developed reflecting on experience advocating, leading, and managing attempts to be more data and analytics-driven. There were some big successes but more than a few disappointments. Many times the cost was more than expected, and the potential envisioned was not realized. One of the disappointing aspects of this was seeing professionals in data, and analytics related disciplines (statistics, data modeling, master data management, governance, behavioral science) frustrated because the potential benefit of their expertise was absent. At the same time, executive sponsors and business subject matter experts become disillusioned when they are not getting a return on sizeable investments.
Often the reason for frustration on both sides is the inability to identify the problem let alone a solution. The basic assertion I make is that an essential part of the answer is identifying the critical components in the data-driven decision making value chain and address the weak links iteratively. Although this sounds simple, it can be difficult, especially in large organizations.
As new sources and volumes of data become available, and with the rapid improvement in tools, techniques, and computer power to analyze that data, the importance of an approach to data and analytics that guides us to solutions that benefit individuals and society increases. In other words, we need to be less driven by technology and technologists, and more connected to needs of socoiety.