Martin P Wilson

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Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Insight, IT

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Smarter Decisions, Better Results

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Business intelligence, decision support systems or data warehousing are ideas that keep appearing. Analytics at Work is a guide to implementing the ideas in Competing on Analytics. With Competing on Analytics Davenport and Harris provided a new vision for using business data as tool for effective competitive strategy.

Now Analytics at Work addresses the practical framework for implementing business intelligence software and analytical decision making processes. It stresses the importance of leadership in making analytics work as part of fundamental business change.

After the introductory chapter: "What it Means to Put Analytics to Work" the book moves on to explain DELTA and the assets and capabilities needed to provide success for analytics initiatives.

Part 1, Initial Prerequisites – Implementing Analytics and Business Change

Analytics at Work shows how all managers can deploy a wide range of analytical tools supported by case studies that illustrate the benefits.

  • Data – The Prerequisite for Everything

  • Enterprise – Integrating Across Organization Silos

  • Leadership – The Deciding DELTA Factor

  • Targets – Picking Your Spots for Analytics

  • Analysts – Managing Scarce and Valuable

Once an organisation has adopted the ideas in Analytics at Work the work is not finished as the development of analytical capability and most importantly the business capability to make the most of the new strategic business intelligence.

Part 2, Staying Analytical – Maintaining and Developing Analytic Capability

As an enterprise adopts and uses analytic capability then Analytics for Work shows how the capability can be further enhanced. This requires not just a specialist analysis function but to grow a wider “culture of analytical decision, a “test and learn philosophy” and a commitment to fact-based decision making”. The chapters explaining this cultural development are:

  • Embed Analytics in Business Processes

  • Build an Analytical Culture

  • Review Your Business Comprehensively

  • Meeting Challenges Along the Way

  • Towards More Analytical Decisions and Better Results

Analytics at Work suggests “Analytics and fact-based decisions are a trend for the ages. Other decision approaches will rise and fall, but the progress towards fact-based techniques will be inexorable.” The authors make a good case but there have been many previous attempts that have never delivered their full promise but have been a step on the way that at least makes Analytics at Work possible.

Accessible and Thoughtful Guide to Effective Business Intelligence

Whilst an accessible read it is rather a case of “preaching to the choir” which will be read by Chief Information Officers and especially IT directors. However there must be some doubt as to whether other chief officers and directors will read it and use it as a basis for action. Unfortunately Analytics at Work does not really provide guidance on the business case that will be needed to convince the strategic leadership, they will need to have already been convinced perhaps by reading Competing on Analytics or other works on the use of fact based management decision processes.

Analytics at Work is an excellent outline of the challenges for IT, information and operational managers who are faced with implementing business intelligence software products and process. It is straightforward and highly readable guide to making analytics happen, once the decision has been taken.

The Authors

Thomas G Davenport is the Presidents Distinguished Professor of Information Technology at Babson College.
Jeanne G. Harris is Executive Research Fellow and a senior executive at Accenture's Institute for High Performance in Chicago.
Robert Morison has extensive experience of business research gained over twenty years in professional service firms.

Analytics at Work, Smarter Decision, Better Results (ISBN: 2010,978-1-4221-7769-3) by Thomas H. Davenport, Jeanne G. Harris and Robert Morison is published in hardback by Harvard Business Press at $29.95.

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