Competing on Analytics: Live Blog

Editor’s note: this post has been edited to sort the comments by time and to point to the recorded webcast.

This is the post that we updated live during Tom Davenport’s Competing on Analytics webcast on October 31. Once we get this out of our system, I promise we’ll close the week with a few killer Excel tips.

In the meantime, here’s some background reading.

10 Ways Not to Build an Analytics Based Business: "We disagree with quite a few of these points and even where we agree, we want add real-world nuance." Includes a rather sharp discussion in the comments about the relative value of centralized vs. decentralized analytics.

Neil Raden on Competing on Analytics : Neil Raden, an experienced consultant, gives his perspective on centralization of analytics

Tom Davenport’s original Competing on Analytics Paper


Commentary begins:

12:59 (Chris) Just got an email confirmation from the AMA 1 minute before the presentation. That’s "just in time." Bad news. Meebo seems to not be working.

1:04: Apparently this is to be a book. Preorders available.

1:08: Niel Raden points out that Tom seems over his head on this topic. Feels true in the intro--"Things just seem different" Tom says. Can’t describe why.

1:09: Describing lots of "new" tools: conjoint analysis, CHAID, .... This feels more like one man’s personal journey into learning new analytic techniques rather than a change in industries.

1:12: (Zach) My take so far: none of this is news. we could probably find a presentation from 20 years ago making these points

1:13: Meebo’s back. (Chris) this historical review is killing me. I want to get to the more interesting issues of centralizing vs. decentralized analytics.

1:15: (Zach) If he was putting the spotlight on something that wasn’t well known and fully within the conventional wisdom, then I would appreciate his efforts

1:16: (Chris) "BestBuy shifts from ready-fire-aim to ready-aim-fire" on more initiatives. Of course, BestBuy didn’t call their previous strategy ready-fire-aim. I’d like to see ALL business writers be more careful with their word usements.

1:20: (Chris) Reviewing his list of top analytics competitors. The absolutely brutal counterargument to this list of companies is This shows "competing on analytics" companies have generally underperformed the market recently.

1:23: (Zach) This presentation is perfectly suited to a room through of wanna-be MBAs. It would give them a bunch of superficial anecdotes and catch-phrases. [ed. note: Zach has a MBA]

1:25: (Zach) I found a sentence I like: "Find your distinctive capability, and use analytics to support it"

1:27: (Zach/Chris): There’s a real problem with how the sample set of companies for Tom’s study is built. He’s starting with a very limited understanding of analytics, it’s a non-random sample (two of the teams are local sports teams he’s interested in), the sample is too small (only two companies are in "Stage 1"), self-reported data. Tom is far too willing to draw conclusions from this weak base.

1:33: (Chris): Talking about the need for hardware.

1:35: (Chris): From the presentation: Is your senior management committed? If yes, "go full steam ahead", if no, "prove the value". How do you measure commitment? Most everyone pays at least lip service to the need of using data for analytics

1:37: (Chris): "data dog", mmm

1:38: (Jules): "If your organization prefers to make decisions by the gut...find a new CEO" ?!? It’s hard to get rid of problem employees at the lowest levels. How are you going to slot in a new CEO? [ed. note: Jules is our HR guy]

1:39: (Zach): well, Jules, if he/she doesn’t like analytics, I think that is all the ammunition you’ll need

1:40: (Chris): A ladder to heaven. Campaign management is considered "higher up" than event-based triggers. Bzzt. I think most experienced folks people would reverse those. Anyone disagree?

1:45: (Jules): This is a wonderful company where you can just tell IT to go and do the stuff you want. Do they knock it out over the weekend or are they that talented that they only work 35 hours a week? Marketing and IT have always traditionally been had a hard time seeing eye to eye.

1:46: (All): Some things he’s missing: IT challenges, getting culture-wide buy in, using the right tools, getting tools into the hands of decision-makers,

1:46: (Chris): An absolutely brutal slide appears. A X-Y graph with NO LABELS whatsoever. This is madeupware. Timestamp in the presentation: 49:18.

1:46: (Zach): last two slides are a disaster, a black hole of information

1:47: (Jules): Don’t ghostwrite charts, Tom.

1:50: (Chris): Skeleton mouse?

1:53: (Chris): Q&A time. Where are these questions coming from? Wait-a-sec: I thought this was realtime? ;-)

1:56: (Zach): "no offense to any PhDs out there, but if you were cultivating your analytical skills you probably weren’t developing your social skills" (paraphrase of Tom Davenport) Ohhhhhhh, snap!

1:58: (Jules): Do you think Anna is a bot? [ed. note: Double snap!]

1:59: (Chris): And we’re clear. Thanks guys.

1:59: (Jules): Interesting. I downloaded the wrf file and it’s timestamped Oct 25 at 5:06pm.

2:10: (Zach): Why do we have to be live when he isn’t?