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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