A Craigslist advertisement for analytics

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Did you see the recent Craigslist website advertisement? It said:

“Clueless managers seeking business analytics. Need to be easy to use and reliable. Impostors (e.g., gut feel and intuition) should not reply.”

What would motivate an organization to place such an ad with the Craigslist website? My guess is it was due to a simple but common deficiency that all organizations have at some level in most departments, functions, or processes. That deficiency is this:

“We think a lot. We know a lot. Therefore we think we know a lot.”

In other words, do we really know answers or do we think we know them? Heck. Do we even know the correct questions to be asking?

Some managers believe that business intelligence (BI) is the solution. I believe that one needs much more than BI. An organization needs business analytics and ideally advanced analytics. They come in many flavors such as regression, segmentation and correlation analysis – and especially predictive analytics as the future to be anticipated becomes more volatile with greater uncertainty.

Business intelligence versus business analytics

There is confusion as what the difference is between business intelligence and business analytics. I simply differentiate them this way:

  • Business intelligence BI reporting consumes stored data that first must be cleansed and integrated from disparate source systems and then transformed into information.
  • In contrast, business analytics produces new information. What analytics adds is the capability to ask more questions than simple drill-down queries typically done with BI. Analytics then leads to asking better and more interesting questions. Most importantly, business analytics provides the opportunity to answer those questions.

The Subsequent Craigslist advertisement

After that management team’s first Craigslist advertisement is met with help and satisfied, here is my guess at what their next Craigslist ad will request:

“Management seeking individuals to apply recently acquired business analytics software for problem solving. These persons must be competent and easy to work with.”

My reply to them would be, “Sorry to advise you with what you may think is bad news, but in the long run you would be better off growing your own in-house competencies rather than buying them from other organizations.”

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