Your analytics think tank
Tom Davenport, founder of a new online analytics community, explains why you should join
As a business professional, you recognize the role that analytics can play in your competitive position – but how can you stay current on new practices that could potentially benefit your organization? Tom Davenport, of Competing on Analytics fame, discusses with
sascom the International Institute for Analytics (IIA), a burgeoning new online community for those seeking access to the latest and greatest in the world of analytics.
There is no shortage of online communities already, on nearly every imaginable topic; what was missing that led you to create IIA?
Davenport: You’re right — there are in fact several online communities on various aspects of analytics. But they don’t carry out or post any research, and there aren’t many true experts participating in an active way. We want IIA to be the place to go for relevant research on the use and management of analytics. There is really no other organization that has that same mission.
Can you give us a feel for a few of IIA’s researchers and their expertise?
Davenport: We have a variety of independent researchers and thought leaders working as IIA faculty. Eric Peterson, the Web analytics guru, is working with us on a project involving online engagement. John Elder, the head of Elder Research, is helping us with a project on the best technology environment for data mining. James Taylor, the automated decisioning expert, is collaborating with IIA on a project that examines the relationship between analytics and business rules. We also have some of the best minds in analytics who are employed by our underwriter organizations, including Anne Milley at SAS, my co-author Jeanne Harris at Accenture, and many more.
How much direct access will members have to these and other experts?
Davenport: We keep them locked behind closed doors! Just kidding — there are a variety of ways to interact with them. We have webcasts with guest faculty every month in a program we call “Office Hours.” Each faculty member moderates online discussions, and you’ll see many of them at our face-to-face events. And enterprise members — companies and organizations that become sponsors of IIA — can have faculty members come in and give presentations. Sometimes we even give interviews to magazines!
Vendors like SAS, Accenture, Teradata and Intel are underwriters of IIA; how will these vendors participate in IIA?
Davenport: Vendor access to members will be very controlled. They will sponsor some events, but their participation will be clearly identified. When people from the underwriter firms participate in IIA, it will be because they are researchers and deep thinkers about the topic being discussed. They won’t be marketing or selling their firms, but rather helping to shed light on the problem. There are too many experts within these vendors' firms not to take advantage of their expertise.
What are a few of the upcoming research topics that you’re most enthusiastic about?
Davenport: In addition to the ones I’ve mentioned, we’ve identified about 15 topics in the health care analytics space that we plan to explore, and that industry is really on the cusp of an analytics-led transformation. In our broad theme of analytics for sales and marketing, we’re working on some issues involving how organizations benefit from analytical approaches to pricing. Another hot topic in that area is social media analytics, and we’re getting something going on it. We just finished an Office Hours program on human resource and talent management analytics. There is no shortage of analytics topics to address.
What will members get from IIA that they’re not likely to get anywhere else?
Davenport: The best research on analytics. The best faculty members on analytics.The most useful, applicable versions of key ideas. The most valuable relationships with other analytics people around the world. The most effective ways to communicate the business value of analytics. What more could anyone ask for?