By Adam Saunders
It is somewhat common knowledge today that “Analysts,” those who master the numbers and formulas that fuel our information economy, do quite well for themselves. Lots of people want to talk about statistics, analytics, data mining, predictive modeling, etc., however, there are still relatively few companies that engage in serious analytics and relatively few people, who do this type of work. As such, we analytically oriented folks still end up being generally classified as "geeks." I personally love the term and aspire to be the biggest, baddest, and best analyst geek at my company.
While I may enjoy being a bit of an analyst geek, I am acutely aware of the fact that the title "Analyst" is distinctly not the title "Manager," and therefore analysts are often slotted into non-management functional roles with great starting salaries, but questionable pathways for advancement to the very top of the organization. My very important and fundamental question at this point in my career is, “Do I really want to brand myself as an “Analyst” or as something else? “Digital Marketing Manager” roles off the tongue nicely for instance!
What brought up these questions you might ask? I’m currently reading The New Know: Innovation Powered by Analytics. It’s a bit of a preachy tomb, but the author Thorton May does a good job of surveying the analyst landscape and pulling together a loose ethnography of the analyst replete with interesting quotes and war stories from analysts in their natural habitat—not necessarily an office cubical next to a powerful computer and a refrigerator full of Coke.
The following are some interesting quotes regarding the Analyst, which I found in, The New Know: Innovation Powered by Analytics by Thorton May.
What does an analyst do?
Frank Wrenn, Manager of Market Research at Delta Air Lines said that analytics is “the ability to look at the data and then turn that into a story; to be able to draw from all kinds of information and turn it into a story."
How does an analyst succeed?
Analyst who experience accelerated career success share three characteristics:
- They work in an industry that understands the power of analytics.
- They work in an enterprise that understands that analytics is a key source of competitive advantage and performance excellence.
- They work for a boss who gets it.
Is lack of executive knowledge about what analysts do a problem or an opportunity?
There are relatively few executives who know how to access and manipulate that information. They know what they want to get out, but they can’t actually lay their hands on or run the reports themselves.
As an analyst, will you be relegated to always analyzing and making pretty charts for management? Or, will you leverage your abilities to position yourself for a senior management role? It really seems to depend on your personal taste and ambition, though significant cultural barriers do exist. The goal in my view is to be a great manager, analyst, and storyteller, so I generally work to perfect myself in all these areas and I don't draw lines.
The one thing we know is that the analyst is here to stay!
Just about everything you do and every process in the enterprise generates data, continuously and in massive quantities. Whether you want to analyze it or not, it generates data. The question for executives and students alike is: How are we going to analyze this data?
Several of Thorton’s interviewees estimate that...
On average, most enterprises are capturing about only 30 percent of the value, leaving 70 percent on the table. As one analyst said, "You hear the term ‘low-hanging fruit.’ Well, in this company, the analytical fruit is so low I have to bend over to pick it up. It’s on the ground."
What are we going to do about Analytics in Healthcare? So much opportunity, so many problems, where do we start?
"Historically, every division, every department of every healthcare organization had its own technology architectures. These architectures were never designed to share data. At the end of the day, it is all about taking care of patients. What may be needed is a thorough analysis with a follow-on process reengineering in hospitals. One of the very best ways for any company to make money in healthcare is to “keep people from making mistakes.'"
The problems of healthcare analytics are close to my heart, as this is the field I work in and where I aim to personally make a dent.