Commentary
6/28/2016
12:00 PM
Lisa Morgan
Lisa Morgan
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Is the State of Analytics REALLY That Bad?

A CompTIA survey shows how organizations would like to expand their analytics initiative, but there are some areas where they might want to simply do analytics better in the right spots.



I imagine most All Analytics readers are confident about their own ability to leverage data, but I wonder how far that extends beyond their own desks. A recent report by industry association CompTIA got me thinking about what's holding companies back. The survey focused more on how confident people are in their company's ability to use data. An overwhelming number of the 402 professionals surveyed were bearish.


Excuses, excuses Seventy-five percent of CompTIA's survey respondents said their businesses would be stronger if they could use all of their data. Conceptually, that makes sense. Practically speaking, it may not. After all, not all data is valuable. A lot of it is just noise so "all" is a slippery slope. Do the survey respondents thinkthey need access to all their company's data or do they actually need it?.

Tim Herbert, SVP of Research & Market Intelligence at CompTIA said in an interview that companies can do a much better job with what they have.

"Doing more with what you have in some cases is not as interesting as adopting the newest big data tools. The other part is taking advantage of new opportunities. Even small businesses can tap into certain data streams without a lot of heavy investment," he said.

In short, "more data" is probably a more realistic desire than "all data."

Also, 73 percent of CompTIA's survey respondents said they need better real-time analytics capability, which is understandable given the fast pace of business. Not everything requires real-time speed yet, although more things are moving in that direction. Meanwhile, information silos and architectural challenges are making real-time analysis difficult. Do people really need real-time capabilities or do they just think they need them?

"I suspect it's a matter of job function," said Herbert. "People often think faster is better, but often it's about having data in a format that's actionable and in a format that maps to business objectives without connecting too many dots."

And what about the need for accurate decision-making? Focusing solely on speed makes it entirely possible to accelerate the flow of erroneous information and insights.


Room for improvementThe number of CompTIA respondents with high confidence levels are outnumbered by less confident people who want to improve their company's current state. As the chart below indicates, about one third of CompTIA's respondents think their company is in good shape.

The report states, "While 31% of companies being exactly where they want to be with data is a significant jump from 18% in 2013, there are some signals that improvements still need to be made."

I would argue that few people "are exactly where they want to be" because what qualifies as effective data usage is a moving target. Moreover, the savviest people I've ever met always say there's room for improvement.

"We know that many companies are not where they should be and at the same time there will be a segment that believes they're in a really good spot. They may not know what they don't know," Herbert said.


And another thingLet's improve what we're measuring. I still can't believe some of the metrics I see that supposedly provide value. Take "impressions," which are the functional equivalent of website "hits" or what web analytics guru Jim Sterne calls "How Idiots Track Success." Let's take a step back and figure out what metrics really matter, and remove the clutter of pesky metrics that provide little or no value.

 

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