Our customers include...
What makes actionable analytics elusive?
Why is it so hard to realize value from analytics?
Connie Brett, M.S, Ph.D
Owner, Aggregate Genius
Data Scientist, Educator, Analytics Evangelist, Entrepreneur and more!
I can't tell you how many times I have heard statements like the following (and more!):
What do I do with this data?
Just find something interesting in my data...
I just want some interesting charts...
My boss thinks we can use analytics to XYZ...
All of these are indicative of the same problem - a lack of understanding on how to connect data to outcomes. A lot of times analytics projects are undertaken without direction - sometimes that works out due to luck or the personal drive or astute insights of the analyst. BUT more often than not these projects fail miserably. Maybe there were some charts made, maybe some small insights were produced, but nothing can be pointed to that changed the way business was done or results achieved as a product of those analytics.
There can be numerous reasons, but the main underlying cause is that in general it isn't clear to management, analysts, project owners, etc. how to connect the analytics outcome (which is essentially a math formula) to business outcomes.
This is where I enter the scene <stage left>! I have the ability to ask the hard questions to help guide these projects from inception (which could be as vague as those questions above) to real, actionable outcomes where business value is made!
I see the same problems over and over again - and since I have made a career of creating elegant, simple, solutions for complex problems this is yet another thing I can apply this talent to. The solution to this problem is to (drum roll please) ask the right questions.
No, it doesn't make me popular to ask these questions. In fact, it flat-out annoys some people - but it is what has to happen to drive actionable projects in analytics. Whether a single-person freelance job I'm overseeing, or a team of Data Scientists in a large enterprise the same solution works.
And guess what...?!?!
The people I'm mentoring grow to understand what an analytics project needs to look like, needs to incorporate, and how to ask those questions themselves. This is when I'm most proud - when those whom I've worked with can go out and ask the right questions on their next project to make the analytics results actionable!
Can I get the magic formula?!
Unfortunately there is no magic formula for these questions! They come from experience, intuition, breadth of knowledge, and sometimes even luck. Each analytics project is unique (yes, even within the same group!) so these questions change from project to project, and even day to day and team to team. The analytics landscape itself is changing daily, and different tools need to be evaluated, different techniques tried, etc. And NO, I don't even dream of having all or even a majority of the answers - but the key is in voicing those questions, working to find the answers, and then repeating for the duration of the project.
So what can I do?
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