Analyze This

Last Updated Jun 26, 2008 12:54 PM EDT

Is better analytics the key to business success?

In his "The Halcyon Days of Analytics," Steve Finikiotis of management consultant Osprey Associates argues that firms should be using analytics more effectively. It's an intriguing post, but a little thin on specifics. To wit, this statement:

it is increasingly feasible for enterprises to tap information to handle more granular segmentation, low-cost experimentation, and customization. New technologies, like data mining and speech analytics tools are increasingly affordable and are leveling the playing field, even for mid-range players. The quality and availability of information are both rising while the costs of managing information are falling.
How about some price points? Or an example of why he thinks data mining is new -- Teradata is almost 30 years old, after all. Maybe he's looking at the fact that data mining has gone open source . That must be cheaper than going to SAS or BusinessObjects. Of course, data is big now (pun intended). Wired magazine is pronouncing the Petabyte era in practically every issue now. George Gilder had an essay an issue or two ago, and it's on the cover of the issue that just arrived in the mail.

We know there's a lot of data out there. It's probably true that, as Finikiotis says, "surprisingly few companies are taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by new tools and techniques. Many firms that collect information obsessively and are paralyzed by the reams of data."

Yet business intelligence tools have been outgrowing the overall software market. So it would be valuable to hear him give some examples of companies that aren't taking advantage of the new tools and techniques, and talk about what they should be doing, even if he changes the names to protect the guilty.

He does, at least, make two book recommendations for those who want more:

Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris, Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2007.

Stefan H. Thomke, Experimentation Matters: Unlocking the Potential of New Technologies for Innovation, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2003.

  • Michael Fitzgerald

    Michael Fitzgerald writes about innovation and other big ideas in business for publications like the New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc. and CIO. He’s worked as a writer or editor at Red Herring, ZDNet, TechTV and Computerworld, and has received numerous awards as a writer and editor. Most recently, his piece on the hacker collective the l0pht won the 2008 award for best trade piece from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He was also a 2007 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.