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8 steps to serving up an analytics culture

The following blog post excerpt resulted from a SAS Power Series event in Chicago, where senior executives from different industries talked about analytics challenges and successes. There are scores of other blog posts and articles on the event, likeAre you ready to take on business processes? by Beth Schultz on, “What is your decision-making equilibrium?” by Renee Nocker, SAS Director of Technology Product Marketing, and “The answers are in the art by Jim Davis, SAS Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.  

On July 13, I attended one of the most interesting business events of my 30-year career, the SAS Power Series in Chicago. What made it so interesting is that the attendees, senior executives from a variety of industries, provided most of the content.

The interactive half-day session focused on how to build an analytics culture, drawing on the challenges and successes of the attendees. Tom Davenport (Competing on Analytics, Analytics at Work) and SAS CMO Jim Davis provided color commentary. Miguel Ares (Bloomberg BusinessWeek) and I also shared some highlights of a recent research study we co-sponsored on business analytics. After listening to all the discussions, there seemed to be a food theme going on. So here are my top observations:

1. You are not dining alone

Only one in four businesses feels that its use of analytics is “very effective” in driving decisions. Companies haven’t yet turned the corner on their investments in analytics and are struggling to integrate it into their decision making.

2. Whet their appetites

Many companies don’t get the full benefit of analytics because their data is unorganized; show organizations all that they can do with their existing data to whet their appetites so they will make investments to improve their data issues and accomplish even more with analytics.

 3. Feed them saltine crackers

Saltines for now; steak for laterIf someone is starving in the dessert and you feed them a saltine, it tastes like steak. Use this philosophy when first introducing analytics to an organization; feed employees “saltines” of information, and they’ll quickly realize how effective analytics can be.

 4. Show them how the sausage is made

Show your employees who don’t have a statistical background how a few simple tests can translate into a business decision.

 5. Hire a top chef

Having the right people is a critical component to effectively using analytics; hire a chief analytics officer (CAO) to lead the analytics charge in your organization.

 6. Sell more lobsters

Lobsters from the tank? To make informed decisions, companies often start out at the tactical level by addressing a single issue, and then they use that information to advance to more strategic issues.

 7. Teach them to fish

There is a movement to stop looking at analytics as a tool or a product, but instead as a component of the business process. This could mean having an analytics competency center at an organization.

 8. Eat a balanced diet

Find the right analytics equilibrium by determining how much intuition and analytics should affect your decision making.

Read the entire blog post for more details on these eight steps.

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