The Most Ambitious Analytics Project I Have Ever Taken On

Pretty much every time I do an analytics training I talk about the most ambitious analytics project I have ever taken on.

One day back when I was still with Wells Fargo (circa mid 2008), my boss came into my cube and tossed a book on my desk. “Daniel, take a look at this. I when I come back I want to share with you a project I have in mind.” I knew he was going on a business trip that day and would be back in two days so I had that time to read the book and figure out what he wanted me to do before he got back.

The book was Stephen Few’s Information Dashboard Design and it forever changed my life.

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http://www.amazon.com/Information-Dashboard-Design-Effective-Communication/dp/0596100167

When I saw the book I was immediately enthralled by the charts and graphs, at this point in my career I had built thousands of charts and graphs and data visualizations in excel and was generally considered a master at it. But up until that point I had never heard of the term business dashboard. It was obvious to me that the idea was a user interface to access business data in one view, but I likening it to a car’s dashboard was a brilliant way to make the concept easy to digest.

I spent most of the next two days devouring the book. And I knew what he wanted, some kind of intranet site to display all the different reporting metrics I was generating for the group and mainly diffusing via email.

When my boss got back from his trip, I eagerly anticipated his eventual reappearance in my cube.

Finally after lunch, his admin called me and asked me to meet him in the conference room. On the dry erase board he had sketched out the most ambitious analytics project I had ever dreamed of taken. He didn’t just want a place to post information and reports, he wanted something far cooler.

His requirements included real-time sales data, real-time scrolling exchange rate data, headline news data from various sources and he wanted it to be available on both desktops and on TV screen positioned throughout the floor so everyone can get a pulse of the business at a glance. It was brilliant, but it was also going to be ridiculously hard to do. I mean, he wanted a life feed from CNN. How was I going to get that?

But being the dedicated analyst, the next day I took his vision and created a one page power point mock-up. Once he felt I had the design the way he wanted I started checking around with different resources to see what it would take to pull this off. After several conversations with our project management team.. in-house developers and database owners, I came up with a figure of over $1,000,000. It was going to be a huge six month project to get everything in.

I kicked off the project and started putting together the project team…. and then we had an all team budget meeting. We need to cut some things out of the budget do and when the boss started going around the room and looking at each person , I already knew it… “Daniel, we are going to have to cut your data project”. Inside I cried, but I had been around long enough to know this idea wasn’t dead, it was just going to take a different form.

Two years later, we basically had built the dashboard but it took a lot different form then I had originally put together. We had the reporting metrics on an intranet site, we had an automatic system to feed us real-time FX rates, we were using the Tableau BI tool to develop some awesome data visualizations… about the only thing missing was the live CNN feed.

But boy wouldn’t it have been cool to build that dashboard the way we originally had dreamed it up!

About Me… something I threw together for a client proposal

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Dan Meyer established BPO Elite LLC, in the United States in 2010 and with the intention of setting up an analytics training and consulting business in 2012. After a 15 year career as a senior analyst with Wells Fargo Bank, Dan moved to Manila in May 2012 and immediately set up BPO Analytics Elite Inc.

During the next several months Dan trained over 75 fresh grads in the concepts of analytics and 2/3 were quickly able to find jobs as analysts in the BPO industry. BPO Elite was also hired as a consultant for a number of companies here in the Philippines.

In January 2013, Dan spun off some of his efforts into a new company, DMAI – Decision Making, Analytics and Intelligence. DMAI focuses on professional analytics training, management consulting and outsourcing. Dan has conducted several public trainings in 2013, training over 50 professionals for a wide range of top companies.

In recent months, DMAI has also taken on additional consulting clients here in the Philippines as well as begun to provide outsourcing services for six overseas clients. Dan also continues to empower students and young professionals via speaking engagements across Metro Manila.

Dan conducted seven sessions of the two-day, An Introduction to Analytics for Fresh Grads and Young Professionals between May and November 2012. In all he instructed over 75 trainees who he then helped find work as analysts. Over 2/3 found work as analysts in the BPO industry within a few months with various companies including Accenture, Citibank, Genpact, Emerson, Sencor, and GL Advisor

So far in 2013, Dan has also conducted six analytics and decision-making themed public trainings for professionals. Mainly targeting HR and Recruitment professionals, these interactive one day workshops have been attended by over 100 trainees. Some of the companies represented include McDonalds, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Manulife, iRemit, Lexmark, DestucheBank and Sitel.

Dan has also conducted in-house analytics trainings for the management team and staff of several companies here in the Philippines including Microtel, Kalibrr, and Medexcel Global Solutions.

Dan has worked as a consultant on a range of analytics themed projects for a variety of BPO companies here in the Philippines including GL Advisor (staff recruitment), Jumbo Shipping (outsourcing jobs from Holland), Microtel (setting up an HR and manpower business), Genpact (training junior staff on career opportunities as an analyst) and Medexcel (social media marketing campaigns).

Dan has set up several outsourcing analytics projects of various sizes and capabilities with companies from overseas including Dimedius (a Houston based healthcare consulting business, currently providing market research and demographics analysis), Kass Consulting Group (a Boston-based outsourcing firm, provided internet research on current trends and facts in outsourcing), ZoneApps (a Boston-based mobile application developer, provided content management for their mobile app), ArtFact (a Boston-based online auction house, managing a virtual team of eight social media analysts and customer service reps), IQR (an India based analytics outsourcing company, sub-contracted to provide data analysis and client presentations) and StatMarin (a San Francisco based analytics outsourcing company, sub-contracted to provide marketing campaign analysis)

Speaking Engagements
August 2012 – HR and Recruitment Summit in Quezon City
February 2013 – St. Benilde IT Summit at College of St. Benilde
September 2013 – Innovation Bootcamp at St. Scholastica College
October 2013 – Startup Challenge at College of St. Benilde

In addition, Dan volunteers to go to schools to talk about careers in the BPO industry as part of his membership in BPAP. To date Dan has spoken at a number of schools including CSB, PUP, and UMak.

Dan has appeared as a featured guest on a number of local media outlets around Metro Manila to talk about analytics, the BPO Industry and decision-making for SMEs. Some of the outlets include GNN, DZBB and the Armed Forces Radio.

Analyzing Social Media Campaigns

I have been working on a project for six week now and have enough data to do some analysis. The campaign is a social media one where a client asked me to help connect her company with more potential clients. Given budget and time constraints, my suggestion was to use LinkedIn to market her services to a wide audience of potential referrers, partners and clients.

I’m using a methodology I learned a while back with Wells Fargo>
1. Plan
2. Execute
3. Measure
4. Analyze
5. Optimize

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The client came back with some goals, which at the time seemed reasonable. Connect with 50 potential clients a week, of which we should be able to convert 3 or so to active leads. This was going to be a 10 hour a week commitment on my part.

So I built a LinkedIn ID and started networking. I created a new one as opposed to using my existing one as I didn’t want to confuse my connections to think I was now working for a different company. I didn’t have a lot of predicting if evidence that this strategy, our goals or the process were sound… they just made sense.

After six weeks I can see where we have misfired in a couple of places. Early on it became clear that getting connected with actual people who would be clients would be a challenge because (1) they are in a different industry than most of my natural connections and (2) there is not a high % of these people on LinkedIn. So I focused more on referrals early on and it got some good buzz going but no hot leads.

Two weeks in I started switching connecting with more existing businesses who do similar things so the we could look for partnerships. This actually lead to a lot of discussion among some LinkedIn groups and several email conversations, but again no real deals in the works.

The past two weeks I have now switched tactics again to hone in on potential clients. After four weeks of building up my network, I have a number of practitioners who might be clients, but I am finding our offer a hard sell. What we offer is not something that is an easy sell by any means and trying to drum up business via an e-mail to a new connection on LinkedIn in akin to needle hunting in hay stacks.

So with two weeks left in the campaign, I am going to modify my tactics again to mainly revisit old leads and trying to re-engage ones that didn’t go hot right away but still have potential.

In the end I will have half of what I promised I would deliver… 200 new connections who know about the company and our product and have the potential to refer, partner or buy. But the other half of the goal… 24 new hot leads that ideally would lead to a few buyers still looks elusive.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Am I The Simon Cowell of Analytics?

Last week I had the pleasure to help out a good friend who teaches at the University of Makati. He teaches a marketing elective class to high school students who are in the new 11th grade. FYI for those not familiar the Philippines is in the process of instituting two additional years to the education system here so its on par with the US and many of the countries in having a K-12 program.

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Anyway, El asked me to be part of a panel of judges for the class as they gave group presentations based on marketing plans that they developed. The plan was based on a project they had been working on for a while which is to set up an operate as a small business. It’s a great way to train future entrepreneurs and would be marketing majors and it made me feel a little like Simon Cowell.

I was honored to be one of three judges and we spent about two hours as the five groups of 5-10 students each presented their plans. And the best part was all of the 5 groups had set up food sales businesses and had samples. It was a lot of fun and the food was masarp (Tagalog for delicious).

As each group presented their plan I gave them feedback mostly on how did they validate their assumptions, did they collect any data, did they survey, how social media could play into their plans, etc. In all cases, I stressed the importance of showing data and visualizing it in ways that could be more impressive to potential investors.

I hope my feedback and advice helped them fine tune their marketing strategies and I would love to see them again when they are ready for OJT “on the job training” for their college internship requirements.

It was a lot like the TV show SharkTank but with great snacks! 🙂

Analytics and Process Improvement

Had an interesting text conversation yesterday that I thought worth sharing as it brings up a good question… can you have process improvement without analytics?

I got a text randomly yesterday from a friend who is considering a new job as an analyst for a hospital.

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Friend: Hi Dan, I got a question on analytics. If I wanted to increase the utilization of rooms in a hospital, what kind of data should I be looking at?

Me: Do you want a well thought out plan or a quick and dirty answer?

Friend: I suppose quick and dirty.

Me: Length of patient stay. % of special needs patients. Physical dimensions of space to see if space is optimized. Understanding of patient process flow to see where wasted time is. Then put it all together to come up with some current metrics and then track against optimal case metrics.

Friend: What exactly do I need to be looking for if I go look at length of stay? What are optimal case metrics?

Me: To optimize usage, you need to gather data for key metrics as they currently are. And then project the same metrics is everything was working at its most efficient state. Length of stay is a key metric as you need to determine what is causing longer than expected patient stays. This will help you minimalism things causing wasted time. Analytics will identify waste and then you use metrics reporting to manage the waste. Make sense? This sounds like as much a process improvement project as it does analyst work doing some new metrics reporting. It could be a very interesting project with both short-term consulting on the process improvement and long-term need for an analyst to monitor the data via metrics reporting.

Friend: Yeah, you are making lots of sense. So, if I were trying to shorten length of stay, I would look at current length of stay per case. Then look for all the factors impacting length of stay, and then improve the process flow for the ones where its taking too long.

Dan: Something like this is how I would start.

Based on my experience, when you are presented with a business problem and asked to help solve it. It’s almost always an issue of a process that is inefficient or wasteful that is the root cause, but you need plenty of data to identify that. A good analyst is just as much a process improvement guru as they are a reporting expert.

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Analytics Consulting – As a founding member of Gloabl Chamber Manila, DMAIPH specializes in a variety of analytics consulting solutions designed to empower analysts, managers and leaders with the tools needed for more data-driven decision-making.

We have helped dozens of companies in both the U.S. and the Philippines, get more analytics in their business.

Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can tailor an analytics solution made just for your unique requirements.