Analytics helps the enterprise find its identity

Analytics helps the enterprise find its identity

Analytics helps the enterprise find its identity
To be “enterprising” is to be eager to undertake or prompt to attempt. To show initiative and be resourceful. These are leadership traits, so to be enterprising is to lead. “Analytics” is how we use data to inform decision-making, in the context of achieving business objectives. These are management practices, so analytics is about management. 

“Enterprising Analytics” is about being creative, resourceful and adventurous with decision-making to achieve business objectives. It is about the set of leadership and management practices that need to be in place for an organization to make the most of its analytics investment. 

Consumerized analytics applications are everywhere, but their presence isn’t obvious, just as it isn’t obvious which species has the largest collective global biomass. The strategic CxO knows that smart providers are making good, easy-to-use tools available for employees who just want to get on with things. And because these people are, generally speaking, acting in the general interests of the enterprise, she doesn’t want to get in their way too much. After all, when people sidestep rules in the pursuit of business objectives it’s as much a failing of management as anything else.

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Basic analytics packages are getting baked into pretty much everything. With the growth in awareness of the potential for the internet of things, analytics capabilities are becoming ubiquitous. The easy availability of cloud-based analytics packages is being fed by a growing industry of startups targeting unmet demand within specialist business units. The steady rise in professionals with foundational data science capabilities increases the indirect influence of analytics within the boundaries of the enterprise.

Managing this phenomenon at the executive level isn’t easy. Left unresolved, the tensions associated with different parts of the enterprise using analytics to amplify performance in pursuit of business objectives can shake an enterprise apart. The challenge for the strategic CxO is similar to that faced by Spain in its efforts to remain integrated. Like Spain, the strategic CxO can’t simply ignore the demands of customer-facing business units to have their own analytics capability. Like Spain, she can’t just turn a blind eye to what’s occurring in the rest of the industry. The enterprise is a social construct and changes as society changes. Or should if it wants to prosper.

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One of the conceits that the strategic CxO is wary of are promises of the one ring to rule them all. And there are many such promises being made. People are always looking for the silver bullet, the single solution. Peter Drucker wrote about this in 1999 book Management Challenges for the 21st Century when he talked about the belief that there is or must be one “right“ organizational model:

“Just as there are a great number of structures for biological organizations, so there are a number of organizations for the social organism that is the modern institution.”

We like to think of an organization as an orchestra that can be harmonized. That may well be the case for organizations built around a Dunbar number but, given the continued drive for scale at the expense of an ecosystem, we usually get a cacophony instead of a symphony. It’s in the interests of vendors to promise to help the strategic CxO wrap her arms around the entire enterprise. But history is full of false promises. And, while many promises are motivated by good intentions, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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