Analytics is Priority #1
Studies, Surveys, and CEO’s all point to the same thing. Analytics and Data Insights are “The Top Priority” for companies.
Why then do so many firms struggle to glean maximum intelligence, if any, from their data? Why are they struggling to fill the exponentially growing number of open head counts they appear to be prioritizing.
Here’s why: An individual employee actually has a “Priority #0”, which takes precedence over Priority #1. While Analytics sole purpose is predicting and improving business performance in the future, somehow employees are recognized, rewarded, and evaluated on something other than Analytics. Your product owner is responsible for making sure the product ships, not so much on how it “will do”. The engineers and designers don’t understand why proper data infrastructure is needed to make current design decisions… because its not. Its for future design decisions. However without that infrastructure in place upon launch, there is simply no way of tracking a product’s success or failure post-launch.
How does this get resolved? While there’s no silver bullet, the solution must start from the top. It’s not enough for executives to preach data driven decisions from a soap box, or for internal recruiters to post, post, and repost analytic positions which they can’t seem to fill. They must make sure that proper incentives are in place and that perverse political disincentives are eliminated (like needing a particular number to be the answer aside from the actual number). In fact, I often get asked “Scott – What do you when you have to make up the numbers”?
While Data Insights is what the CEO’s are calling for, CFOs, CIOs and other internal staffers know its also a bit of a whistle blower, or political “Debbie Downer” http://slashdot.org/topic/bi/big-data-top-priority-executives-mckinsey-survey/. What would you do if there were actual data on your products performance beyond marketing hype and conjecture? Your departments contribution, your online presence, customer loyalty, call center efficiency, etc… all up for mathematical analysis. Would you pass muster?
But on the upside, maybe that multi-million dollar advertising budget can be reallocated toward a far more profitable end. Analytics can help you make these crucial decisions.
If profitability of your company is truly Priority 0, then fill these open Analytic head counts with true problem solvers. Don’t hire the politician, hire the mathematician.