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On an Inside Analysis webinar , Wayne Eckerson, founder of the BI Leadership forum, and Ken Rudin, Director of Analytics at Facebook, discussed key factors to consider in any company’s approach to analytics.  Here are some points I found interesting:

  1. Focus on impacts not insights — Both Eckerson and Rudin agreed that all analytics organizations and analysts need to promote the importance of measuring the right components of your business to achieve meaningful results.  Tracking results tied to your business’s strategy, rather than making observations about the data is much more effective. 
  2. Focus more on what questions you want answered than the answers — Rudin advised analysts to think more about what to ask so that you are getting the right data, rather than the answers received—in other words if you ask the right questions, you gain greater insight into your business and customers. 
  3. Be an analytics evangelist, not an oracle — Good analysts need to understand the business they support.  They need to be able to influence and in some cases sell leadership on new approaches and strategies. Rudin favors analysts being embedded in the line of business, not in a centralized organization operating from the outside

Rudin also discussed how he is building a strong analyst team at Facebook in two ways: hiring from the outside and building analysts internally.  During his interviews with potential candidates, Rudin assesses candidates in 3 areas: business savvy, technical skills, and sales/communication skills.  He asks about them to describe a former employer’s strategy and business model; to explain a sophisticated analysis they have completed, and to share an example where they showed leadership, either personally or professionally.  Since the market is tight for skilled analysts, Rudin is also developed a two-week embedded, immersion program to create analysts.  By taking people who are very comfortable with working with data, such as product managers, the program allows other roles to develop their analytics skills.

What are your thoughts on where analysts should reside in an organization?  Should they be a part of the division or line of business they support?  Can they be effective as an external organization offering a service?

How are you attracting and retaining strong analysts? How are your analysts impacting the growth of your business?

Watch the webcast

If you are interested in another perspective on measurement, check out the recent article, Jonathan Becher, CMO for SAP wrote for Forbes about measuring outcomes, not activities.

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