Wednesday, December 10, 2014

McKinsey: Putting Big Data to Work

Leaders, pay attention: Data analytics help you predict and optimize better, and thus make more money. 

If your competitors have slid ahead of your company, it is important to pause as soon as you can and reflect on why and how and what.  In the preceding article, I emphasized (a) clarifying your purpose at the outset (i.e. begin with the end in mind) and (b) determining all that you need to do to serve that purposeYour competitors may have drawn on Big Data and Analytics, in which case you need to move purposefully to catch yourself up, as David Court rang an alarm on.  But even if they haven't done this in any concerted or formal way, Big Data and Analytics ought to be a serious consideration vis-a-vis your purpose.

It's like "Moneyball": Your manager and coaches have to buy into it, or your analytics go nowhere.

What the film Moneyball dramatized is how the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics navigated the need to rebuild the team and bring talent in, while working the constraints of a very tight budget.  He determined to tap statistics and analytics, but it was a major struggle to convince the constituents in the organization to follow suit.  For one, the scouts didn't quite understand Moneyball.  For another, the manager didn't quite buy into it.  Consequently the GM had to work diligently to build capability (understanding) and appetite (motivation) among them.

It always comes down to three things: data, models, transformation.
Court reiterates what I've emphasized: Transforming your organization means delving in your people, and making sure they have the requisite knowledge, skills, motivation and follow through to reap the benefits embedded in Big Data and Analytics.  Moreover, he calls for the bimodal athlete, that is, managers and staff who have business acumen + technical facility.

Do not over-reach with your Big Data initiative: Keep things simple and manageable, and focus-focus-focus!

Any business has several moving parts, all connected in a dynamic, complex web.  The kind of focus that Court talks about doesn't mean you as the CEO and your people put on the sort of blinders we put on race horses.  Instead, focus is about prioritizing two or three aspects, while keeping the rest of your business moving forward as usual.

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