Top 10 takeaways from Business Analytics Forum
Delaney Turner 270002T14M firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  baforum cognos10 ibmsoftware iodgc
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Data is everywhere. Ideas are everything. Make the former serve the latter and you can change the world.
I came across the above in the reams and reams of notes I took during Business Analytics Forum. I had jotted it down during Wednesday's keynotes featuring Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, but I think it applies equally well to the theme of the conference more broadly.
I guess that's why they were the keynote speakers.
In addition to that little nugget, I did finally find some time to compile my "Top 10 takeaways" from Business Analytics Forum. Enjoy!
2. The Manadalay Bay Events staff is a force to be reckoned with. This year's conference was the largest Information On Demand ever and, rumor has it, the largest the Mandalay Bay has ever hosted. Serving hot breakfasts to more than 10,000 hungry conference-goers was no mean feat. I have no insights into the logistics of scrambled eggs and sausage, but I do have admiration for the Mandalay Bay events staff who served them up so smoothly.
3. Small actions can have an enormous impact. The IRS employs thousands of statisticians and analysts. Yet as Levitt and Dubner observed, only one had the idea to ask parents to identify their childrens' social security number along with their names. Overnight, seven million phony children – at least one of whom was named “Fluffy” – disappeared from the U.S. tax rolls. In today's dollars that's a savings of more than $25 billion. Don't discount the small ideas – they may be the ones that make the biggest difference in the long run.
4. AQ will be the next KPI. IQ is something you're born with. AQ – your “Analytics Quotient” - is something you build. How? Through a clear strategy, well-defined goals, an engaged workforce and a business analytics infrastructure that offers up insights into the performance of every aspect of your business. It's early days yet, but something tells me we'll be hearing “AQ” a lot more in the weeks and months to come.
5. Better outcomes are possible, even on a battlefield. Luckily, few of us will know the chaos and confusion of war. Fewer still will need to deal with the carnage it creates. Yet in this toughest of all situations, U.S. Army surgeons are now able to save the highest percentage of injured soldiers in recorded history. How? As Dr. Atul Gawande explained, they followed the data and redesigned their approach. If surgeons can do this with only basic tools amid the bullets and bombs, suddenly our own analytics challenges should seem that much easier to solve.
6. Getting the right outcomes means asking the right questions. Too many organizations lose momentum or fail outright because of a reliance on accepted truths and “conventional wisdom.” Yet Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner wrote a best-selling book (and starred in a recently released movie) because they were willing to ask questions no one else would. You can move your own organization forward by following the same approach, whether it's about marketing pipeline, sales performance or supplier quality. Uncomfortable? Yes. Embarrassing? Sure. Essential to survival? Most definitely.
7. Customers are your new IP. IBM VP of Predictive Analytics Deepak Advani explained it and my colleague Tim Powers blogged about it. Your customers interact with your organization in a variety of ways – from research to purchase to advocacy and support – each of these interactions generates data, which means each can be modeled and optimized with predictive analytics. Combine your optimized process in a cycle and you've built a customer intimacy model that keeps people with you for life.
8. IBM Studies are immensely useful. IBM brings the same analytical prowess and rigor to its C-suite Studies that it does to its research and product development. And based on IBM Fellow Brenda Dietrich's presentation on smart grids, cloud and the future of analytics, that's a lot of prowess, indeed. The findings in this year's CEO Study, CFO Study and CIO Study served as the touchstone to each keynote presentation. Whether the issue was coping with complexity, boosting profits or increasing competitive advantage, each pointed to the undisputed value of information and analytics. They're equally great for convincing skeptical executives. Did I mention they're all free?
9. Social media is important; meeting actual people is more important. It's called “social” media for a reason. As useful (and fun) as it is to communicate in 140 characters or less, there's no substitute for meeting people face-to-face. So it was great to finally meet some of the people who helped carry the message of Cognos 10 and IOD/BA Forum to market. To Holly Rice, Candace Taylor, Jenny Sussin, Ranjun Chauhan, Turbo Todd and Scott Laningham, thanks for your help and support!
10. I work with some phenomenal people. One of the reasons I enjoy attending our conferences is to see the result of so many hours, days and weeks of hard work. It's no small task to host the largest IOD conference in IBM history, let alone hold a “conference within a conference” with Business Analytics Forum. Add to that our largest, most significant product launch in five years and you have a truly mammoth undertaking that spanned teams, countries and continents. That all three happened – and that all three delivered such positive results for our attendees – is a testament to their professionalism, dedication and in no small measure, their sense of humor.
There were many, many more than what I've documented here, but the "10" theme was pretty popular. And now that Cognos 10 is literally out of the box, it's your turn to discover it. I'm excited to hear your responses, so share them if you can.