Is Analytics more an art or is it more a science? 3 of 3

data1Recently, a friend of mine replied to a post asking me for more details about how I would analyze and mitigate risk in a business…. “the details are a little thin. As a former professor of business decision science, I would like to read more about the model building tools and techniques of how you do it.”

My reply was “That’s a great question Chris. As a blogger I try to not go into too much detail in these posts as most of my audience is relatively unfamiliar with concepts like Big Data, Business Intelligence Applications and Predictive Analytics. That said, I can think of a couple of ways to reply to your comment. I often say that Analytics is as much an art as it is a science. So, I will craft two blog response one for the artists and one for the scientists.” And then I will conclude with my own unique approach to analytics.

So how do I make decisions? And more importantly to respond to Chris, how do I empower other to make more data-driven decisions? There are three parts to the answer to these questions.

Let’s start with my background as an educator. Originally my plan was to teach history that’s what my BA is in. I’ve always been drawn to history as to me it’s all about understanding relationships between people in the past that affect the world we live in today. I also obtained a Master’s Degree in Education to teach at the college level, because I not only wanted to be able to teach the subject matter, but understand how people learn. So the first questions I always ask in any situation is who is the audience and what is the best way for them to relate to the outcome. Ultimately, its understanding the context of who, why, when, why and how is involved in the decision-making.

The next factor is my own insatiable quest for knowledge of all kinds. As I kid I used to read encyclopedias and memorize baseball statistics. I am always reading. I read anything and everything and I am often read 3-4 books at the same time. When I want to kill time, I go to Wikipedia and just start reading about stuff that interests me. So after being an avid reader for 40+ years, being very strong at research throughout my academic career and having spent 15 years doing research and analysis for Wells Fargo, I know how to find data. Knowing where to find the data you need to make decisions is something I am very, very good at. And not just random data, but finding data that I know will provide the information needed for analysis and ultimately decision-making.

The final part is using the tools available to analyze and present the data. The science and the art of analytics. I apply everything I have learned both working as an analyst and being an educator to connect the dots. To help a person or a business get from A to B and decide whether the should go to C or D. I have a working knowledge of so many tools and methodologies, and if I need to work with one I am not familiar with I learn it.

My approach to decision-making is similar whether it be for huge corporate clients or small business. It means understanding the whole data process, understanding how decisions are made in that business and what kind of tools will best serve the decision makers. So my answer to Chris, I assess my client/audience/student to see what solution will best help them use the data they have around them to make good business decisions. In the end, its all about making data-driven decisions and I have my own unique way of showing you how.

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Is Analytics more an art or is it more a science? 2 of 3

gapminder-data-visualization-psfk1 - CopyRecently, a friend of mine replied to a post asking me for more details about how I would analyze and mitigate risk in a business…. “the details are a little thin. As a former professor of business decision science, I would like to read more about the model building tools and techniques of how you do it.”

My reply was “That’s a great question Chris. As a blogger I try to not go into too much detail in these posts as most of my audience is relatively unfamiliar with concepts like Big Data, Business Intelligence Applications and Predictive Analytics. That said, I can think of a couple of ways to reply to your comment. I often say that Analytics is as much an art as it is a science. So, I will craft two blog response one for the artists and one for the scientists.” And then I will conclude with my own unique approach to analytics.

So yesterday we covered the science side, today lets look at the art side. They say a picture is worth 1000 words, well I agree and would take things further and say a good pie chart is worth 10000 rows of data. 🙂

Analytics as an art form is a more appealing to the average person, because most people don’t like math. They are afraid of having to use excel and rows and rows of data confuses them. This is why we have analytics, so people who do like math, numbers and excel can figure things out for the majority who don’t.

One of the big buzzwords going around right now is storytelling. Businesses need to engage customers in the way people are engaged by a good story. Marketing team are charged with connecting with an audience in the same way a great film maker or author does. And to do this, marketers have to be very good at getting their data and analytics to a point where it can tell that story.

Data visualization is one of the most powerful skills an analyst can use. Whether it be by using charts and graphs in excel, an info graphic or a business intelligence tool like Tableau that creates data visualizations; analysts can now be artists as much as scientists.

So what does this have to do with my friend Chris’s question about business decision science. It used to be that most decision were made after a long process of drafting requirements for the IT team, a long development cycle and static reporting put into place. However, that’s old school. Now good leaders and decision-makers access data themselves and do a lot of their analysis by playing around with the data.

Knowing what data to pull, how to analyze it for patterns and trends and putting into a format where it can be used by decision makers is still the same, what’s different if the ability to get it to tell a story to the audience. My all time favorite master of data visualization is Dr. Hans Rosling, If you don’t know who he is, check out his site http://www.gapminder.org

Watching him in action is the best way to see why I think that analytics is more of an art then a science. You can have all the data in the world, and you can have great analytics talent working with it using cutting edge technology. But if you can’t use that data to influence your audience in powerful ways, then you are missing the boat.

Sharing a friend’s article – The War for Talent Rages in SE Asia!

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/business/2013/08/27/toral-digital-recruitment-insights-300020

My friend Janette recently wrote, “THE war for talent is real. Companies need to start treating people they recruit similar to responding to customer inquiries or complaints online. The slowness in responding to applicants can be the difference between hiring a highly qualified applicant now or taking only what is left in the market.”

This is one of the points I emphasize in my Recruitment Analytics trainings classes. There are so many ways that a good recruiter can make a difference, but I think the most important is engaging their candidates in a timely manner. If you work with good recruiters, you see that they manage their candidate pipelines very well… they never let them feel like they are in the dark and the recruiters create an atmosphere of approachability.

In short they follow-up often. And the digital world allows us to do this so much easier than ever before.

Janette adds, “Companies should level up and embrace digital at the same level as marketing uses it to reach out to prospects and customers.” They can do this by using the following tools:
> Use websites as a tool not only to attract customers but also prospective employees.
> Use social networking tools to build their digital influence and make themselves accessible online.
> Foster an open communication culture using the various modes of communication we have available.

As one of my best friends and colleagues at BPO Elite, Rachelle explains to me… in the end the most important thing is to find the right person for the right position. To do this you will see good recruiters embracing new technologies and take full advantage of the digital resources available to them.

And of course the best thing about using these digital resources is that they are chock full of analytics. LinkedIn, Bullhorn, Indeed, Facebook, Twitter, etc. all offer free analytics tools embedded in the applications that allow you to see who is seeing and following you. For a recruiter, it’s an amazingly powerful way to stay engaged with their candidates because they can see patterns and trends in who they interact with.

For more info on what Janette is up to, you can follow her at https://www.facebook.com/digientrepreneur

Is Analytics more an art or is it more a science? 1 of 3

PrintRecently, a friend of mine replied to a post asking me for more details about how I would analyze and mitigate risk in a business…. “the details are a little thin. As a former professor of business decision science, I would like to read more about the model building tools and techniques of how you do it.”

My reply was “That’s a great question Chris. As a blogger I try to not go into too much detail in these posts as most of my audience is relatively unfamiliar with concepts like Big Data, Business Intelligence Applications and Predictive Analytics. That said, I can think of a couple of ways to reply to your comment. I often say that Analytics is as much an art as it is a science. So, I will craft two blog response one for the artists and one for the scientists.” And then I will conclude with my own unique approach to analytics.

So let’s tackle the science angle first. In corporate and academic circles, analytics is looked at primarily as a science. You have millions of pieces of data, you take that data and you analyze it and then you use the analysis in your decision-making. There is a lot of science in this approach.

I often say that in the past two days we have created more data than we created in the entire history of human existence up to the past few years. This is big data… it’s mostly unstructured and its challenging to manage. It takes an understanding of how data is collected, stored, accessed and disseminated. This is why analytics usually starts with the IT team. They manage the databases that do all these things. SO as a scientist, you need to have a lab… in most cases this is a database or data warehouse. How easy is it to identify, inventory and integrate data in your business? Does you lab contain all the raw materials you need for your experiments?

Once you have your data, you need tools to analyze it, to look for patterns and discover new opportunities or to identify risks. There are many instruments you can use like a scientist uses a microscope. Excel is the most common, but there is an ever-growing number of analytics tools that you can use to glean more intelligence from your business. Some of the tools are very complicated and require a lot of training, other are free and can be learned in a matter of hours. SO as a scientist, you need to use the right tool at the right time to get just the analysis you need. What kind of tools are you using for analysis? What kind of tools are you using for reporting and sharing information? If you are using excel to design Powerpoint Decks to share via email, then I have news for you…. you are headed towards joining the dinosaurs. 🙂

And the final part that to me is the most scientific… applying the tools. There many methodologies out there about decision-making. You are starting to see a lot more college and post-graduate course work in decision-making… this is what my friend Chris is talking about in his comment. Having the materials and the tools are no good if you don’t have tried and tested ways of using them so you can trust the results of your analysis. If you want to get into predictive analytics to try to guess right about sales trends or market direction, you need to have a lot of science on your side.

Most businesses struggle having the analytics in place to fully understand where they have been and where they are now. Getting into a science driven way to predict the future requires data, tools and methodologies that you traditionally only find in big companies that invest in well-trained and/or educated professionals. When you have that then you can really benefit from the science side of analytics.

However, are you just as well versed on the art side of the equation? And what if your business doesn’t have the capability of investing in the same things the big boys use? How can you maximize the art side of things? Let’s talk about that in our next blog!

Learnings from a friend’s “Elements of a Losing Culture”

http://fortune100coach.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/elements-of-a-losing-culture/#comment-202

I just read my good friend and mentor Bjorn’s blog post and it made me think about how closely tied a business culture is to the analytics used in that business. Bjorn posted, “Success leaves clues and so does its opposite. Reality checks are important so we can tell where we are and properly assess what needs to be done. When we can’t seem to find the clues indicating a successful culture it’s time to look for its opposite.”

Let’s look at that comment from an analyst’s prospective. One of the clues I look for in a successful organization is an understanding of how decisions are made. Are they top down? Are the inclusive? And most importantly to me, how much data is analyzed prior to making decisions. For the most part great companies make great decisions and this feeds a successful and healthy culture. When decisions are made off the cuff, with little input from the ranks and without the benefit of good data… you get a recipe for a losing culture.

Bjorn mentions several other indicators of a Losing Culture. I want to add some data driven perspectives to them as well.

1. Lack of clear target, vision, etc. Having good metrics to monitor progress. Setting goals and then reporting and communicating them. There are key ways you can measure if a business has a healthy focus.

2. Lack of alignment. People don’t know how to compare themselves or even worse improve themselves. There is no sense of the big picture and little effort to work across business lines or help other teams. You need a lot of visualization of data and analysis to show how it all fits together. Dashboards and internal web sites, using visualizations like info graphics and data visuals can help people feel aligned and give them a sense of where they fit in.

3. Lack of authenticity. Know if your customers care. Knowing if your employees care about your customers and each other. Knowing if you stack up well with the competition. Knowing what about your business causes others pain and what causes satisfaction. Using surveys, focus groups and other tools to gather feedback will help your business be authentic to your customers and your employees. You cant really have loyal and engaged customers if you don’t come across to them as authentic.

To learn more about Bjorn and his consulting business, you can follow him here: http://fortune100coach.wordpress.com/

Big Data and Analytics: How to avoid going the way of the Dinosaur!

jurassic_parkhttp://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130822181033-251829763-big-data-blurring-risk-and-uncertainty

“More than 99% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct. The causes of species extinction include the predictable — predator-prey relationships, for example — to the unpredictable, such as an asteroid collision. Similarly, 90% of Fortune 500 companies since 1955 no longer exist. Businesses, like species, face perils that range from identifiable risks to true uncertainty or unknowns. Uncertainties pose unknowable and hence unmanageable threats. Risks, however, can be explicitly accepted, avoided, or transferred. Organizations that are fully exploiting big data are actively uncovering and converting uncertainty into known risk as well as addressing and exploiting competitive vulnerabilities.”

The following three big-data analytics keys are critical to supporting a proper understanding of risk versus uncertainty — and ultimately leveraging risk for competitive advantage.

1. Healthy Analytics Culture. The first key to using big data analytics to survive is empowering business owners and leaders with the ability to use data to drive decision-making. There is so much data to analyze, so using cutting edge analytics tools and employing curious and proactive analytical professionals help maintain a healthy culture.

2. Segmenting Risks. The second key is know how to identify and classify risk. When you come across a risk in your business you have to assign the right team or person to investigate the risk. To understand if it should be accepted, avoided or somehow transferred. Accepting risks means you have to monitor it and make sure its controllable. Avoided risks require changes in strategy or process, often needing people to lead a new way to do things. Transferring the risk means you need to trade-off things or hiring someone else to take the risk from you. Big Data analytics allow you to investigate, assess and segment risks.

3. Accept, Avoid or Transfer Risks. Once you have decided how to segment risk, then you need to take action. You need to set up a mitigation strategy, you need to monitor the risk and you be capable of re-segmenting the risk if it changes.

Businesses that can access their big data, that can analysis it and that use it to drive decision-making will survive. Ones that do not will go out of business, be acquired or just go the way of the dinosaurs.

An Analyst’s Take on Five Simple Steps to Digital Marketing

555293_579974032048154_626723703_nMy good friend and trusted business partner, Boom san Agustin recently shared an info graphic on Facebook about the five key steps to marketing a business online. As you can see it a simple, yet powerful plan to get your business in front of not only a bigger audience, but a more engaged audience.

Besides actually following this recipe step by step, I thought it also important to add what kind of analytics you should have behind each of the steps.

1. Design and launch a website to establish your brand. I see two-way to do some solid analysis here before taking step one.

Frist, do an assessment of what you want to do with your site. There are hundreds of free or inexpensive tools to design and launch a web presence. It’s easy to through a site, but how much will it cost long-term, who will maintain it, do you plan on processing transactions thru the site? Your website should be at the center of your strategic plan and should be a living part of your business.

Second, unless you use a hosting service that provides analytics internally, look into google analytics. Its is one of the most powerful analytics tools out there. Make sure your hosting service is compatible as the free web site analytics tools Google offers are quite powerful. You need to pay a lot of attention to the metrics behind your site. What pages aren’t getting the traffic you suspected? Where do browser spend the most time? Which pages do they leave your site from?

2. Create a blog.

Ideally you can combine the two so your website and your blog are either the same or are easily connected so you don’t have to double your workload in sharing content. Again, I strongly suggest you look for hosting sites and/or blog sites that have built-in analytics. WordPress has some very strong analytics tools built into the free blog hosting site. You want to quickly and easily know what posts are the ones that generate the most engagement.

3. Get followers.

Having easy ways to get followers is important. Most web site and blog site platform have widgets that allow you to get followers via Twitter, Facebook, etc. Maximize these. And then set up a strategy. Try and post your blog on certain sites at certain times. For example if you target market for your business is students.. .then posting your blog during the middle of the school day is not a good plan. Instead set up your posts (either manually or with an auto post feature) to make sure the content is delivered when they are most often online… late afternoon or early evening.

4. Select Media.

You need to really think again about who your market is and what media they use the most. There are again very powerful analytics tools built-in to Facebook, YouTube, etc that will tell you the demographics of who is following you and who is viewing and most importantly sharing your posts. Your social media sites should complement each other and you can use social media management tools like Hootsuite to make sure your message is consistent.

5. Engage your community.

This is where you need to really pay attention to the data. You can easily see which types of content attract the most attention. And you want to encourage feedback and sharing. Make sure you enable your followers to become your unofficial sales force or brand ambassadors by allowing them to talk about your business more than you do. And make sure you set goals to drive traffic and then offer incentives. You can really start getting a sense of your ROI (return on investment) when you have solid analytics take come from your core business users.

As you can see, having a good digital marketing strategy is one thing, but having one that is data-driven and that takes full advantage of analytics tools is 10x better!

Please follow my friend Boom and his company Our Knowledge Asia!

https://www.facebook.com/ourknowledgeasia

Analysts Can Be Leaders Too!

MSP24321b65h584fd76h9i00006996g957h01de5g6Borrowing some of this from the Blog Post “Are you an Analyst? Here is something that could impress your boss.”
August 18, 2013 4:21 pm Published by Cory Bray

“Business Intelligence tools increase the value of analyst contributions while making work more interesting.
A common strategy these days for growing companies is to hire financial, sales, or operations Analysts to help find ways to better accomplish corporate goals. The job description for these types of roles often includes some type of report design and development, analysis of these reports, and planning around the decisions to be made as opportunities are uncovered as a result of the analysis. I know numerous people who hold these rules, and most of them have one thing in common: They spend a tremendous amount of time on tasks that are not necessary given the technology available today.”

This is so very true in the Philippines. So few people with the word analyst in their title or analysis in their job description are truly empowered to be critical thinkers. They are not generally enabled to let their curiosity lose and discover things that can be significant business opportunities. Most analysts are simply left with running reports and passing these reports off to management or doing basic encoding or fixing things when they break.

Bray continues, “Many people who supervise Analysts were once analysts themselves. However, these supervisors likely worked in a different technological era, and they may not be aware of some of the ways that those long nights of building Excel models and PowerPoint presentations can be made more efficient with modern tools.
Any Analyst who spends 20+ hours a week in front of Excel, relies on IT to gather data to be analyzed, or works with tools that require any type of programming to generate simple reports should be briefed on the new wave of Business Intelligence.”

In a lot of organizations in the Philippines you still see analytics in the realm of IT and not embedded in various business lines like Marketing, HR & Recruitment, Business Development or Strategy. The end users of analytics are not the ones dreaming about what they need, creating the analysis and zeroing in on exactly what they need. Modern Business Intelligence tools like Tableau, Qlikview or Yellowfin among others, allow analysts to:
• Spend less time gathering and structuring information, which allows for more time to conduct analysis and make decisions. This crucial to enable quicker decision-making so that its timely and relevant.
• Conduct analysis that physically cannot be done in tools like Excel, which leads to more valuable insights. Excel is still the primary tool of 95% of analysis and so many insights are being missed.
• Eliminate roadblocks and minimize the need to wait for others to take action.

DMAI is leading the charge to empower analysts to be proactive. Take the initiative and get out on the cutting edge by using free tools and resources like Tableau Public or Piktochart to visual data, provide deeper analysis and lead business towards more data-driven decisions!

Follow our various social media sites and be part of the analytics revolution that will soon sweep the Philippines!

> Facebook >>> https://www.facebook.com/dmaiph
> YouTube >>> http://youtu.be/blx8IuHsmCA
> LinkedIn >>> http://ph.linkedin.com/pub/dan-meyer/4/771/675
> WordPress >>> https://dmaiph.wordpress.com/
>Twitter >>> https://twitter.com/BPOElite1

The Philippines is Going Beast Mode! 3 of 3

Philippines and ChinaSharing my thoughts on some great Bloomberg visuals my good friend Justin Calderon used in a recent story he put together.

http://investvine.com/charts-outlining-the-philippines-economic-trajectory/

Beast Mode is an American Football term for a player who singlehandedly dominates a game. This is the third of three visuals I will breakdown and comment on.

This slide is quite interesting both because of the data behind it and the significance that can be distilled from it. The data shows a truly remarkable moment in for the Philippines, if you asked 100 people (Filipinos, Chinese Americans, anyone) if they thought it was possible for the growth of the Philippines economy to match the growth rate of the Chinese economy, you’d be lucky to find 1-2 people who would believe it.

Of course you have to keep the size of the economies in mind as the Chinese economy is many times larger in total GDP than the Philippines economy. But still, it’s a remarkable achievement for an economy that has not such a lot of positive trends in many, many years.

Now for the significance of it… the fact that it surprises is where the real power is. Its and OMG moment for Filipinos to take pride in the country and to try to go even further. To push accountability within the government, to reinvest in and reinvent education, and to help their fellow countrymen to rise up and push this trend of being a new economy of significance onward and upward.

So take the three slides we have reviewed; (1) the economy of the Philippines is growing significantly faster than its ASEAN neighbors, (2) demographics favor almost unlimited potential and (3) the story of the economic growth is something that will make people stop and take notice. And that is the power of data visualization.

The Philippines is Going Beast Mode! 2 of 3

ASEAN Demographics

Sharing my thoughts on some great Bloomberg visuals my good friend Justin Calderon used in a recent story he put together.

http://investvine.com/charts-outlining-the-philippines-economic-trajectory/

Beast Mode is an American Football term for a player who singlehandedly dominates a game. This is the second of three visuals I will breakdown and comment on.

This slide tells me so much. Based on this I am convinced that its time to revamp my plans for training fresh grads in analytics. Look at how much younger the Philippines is then its neighbors! Combine this remarkable demographic datapoint with other factors like the investment being made in the BPO/Call Center industry, the education system geared to produce American style English, and the size of the talent pool.

When you do that you see what I see, an amazing opportunity to be in the middle of all the training, skill building and mentoring that will be needed to prepare this population boom for the jobs of the next 10-20 years.

In the previous post, it was noted how quickly the Philippines economy is accelerating and here you see a snapshot of the future. There are still so many potential detractors and possible hindrances ahead, so you have to pay them mind. However, its data points like that, backed up by analysis and on the ground intelligence that have me convinced its time to go back and jump in!