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Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results Hardcover – February 8, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Harvard Business School Press, Davenport in particular, has produced some excellent books on competitive analytics and the like, with good case studies…” - ZD Net

About the Author

Thomas H. Davenport is the President’s Distinguished Chair at Babson College, a research fellow at the MIT Center for Digital Business, and the author, coauthor, or editor of thirteen books. Jeanne G. Harris is Executive Research Fellow and a senior executive at Accenture’s Institute for High Performance in Chicago. Robert Morison has been leading business research in professional services firms for over twenty years and is a coauthor of Workforce Crisis.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (February 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422177696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422177693
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book contains some occasional flashes of brilliance, like Figure 1-1 which succinctly summarizes the key questions addressed by analytics. The rest of the book is padded with pointless, meandering and buzzwords-laden prose. Case in point:

"Stage 5 organizations develop a robust information management environment that provides an enterprise wide set of systems, applications, and governance processes. They begin by eliminating legacy systems and old spaghetti code and press forward to eliminate silos of information like data marts and spreadsheet marts. They hunt for pockets of standalone analytic applications and either migrate them to centralized analytic applications or shut them down."

The entire book actually reads like that.

As an applied statistician and an avid reader of business books, I cannot - for the life of me - imagine why people will want to write a book like this. What is the target reader of such a book? Technical professionals like myself will find the book absolutely useless to guide analytical projects. Business professionals will be confused and put off by all the buzzwords.
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Format: Hardcover
I received a pre-release copy of Tom Davenport' new book Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results. The book is a follow-on to Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning and is a shorter, pithier book than its predecessor. Once again Tom collaborates with Jeanne Harris and this time Robert Morison of the Concours group. Where the previous book focused on so-called analytic competitors, this is about "analytics for the rest of us". It is a very readable book with some good practical advice that does not require the remaking of your company in a new image. It is also a quick read, it is only 180 pages or so, which should help get more people to read it.

And I hope people do read it. As Tom says "The unexamined decision isn't worth making" and too many companies and organizations are making unexamined decisions, failing to apply data they have about what works and what does not, making the same mistakes over and making dumb decisions. Like Tom I think it is time for this to stop and this book will tell you how.

The book's focus is broad, covering how analytics can address key questions of information and insight in each of the past, present, future - reporting, alerts and forecasting give information in the past, present and future while modeling, recommendations and predictions/optimization do the same for insight.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Analytics is a hot topic and executives looking to get value from business intelligence. This book discusses how they do that. I recommend this book as perhaps THE book for people looking to establish and sustain an ability to use information in decision-making and process execution.

There is a sweet spot for business books between the illustration of a business idea and a discussion of its practical implementation. Business books that are too high level offer great ideas that appear realistic only to angels. Too low of a level and it's a technical manual that makes the idea seem mundane. I mention this because Analytics at Work rests firmly in the sweet spot between these extremes.

Davenport, Harris and Morison have taken ideas originally expressed in Competing on Analytics and taken them to the next level - reality. If competing on analytics describes the characteristics of an `analytic competitor' and their principles, then this book moves from principle to practice discussing issues from data management, through to changes in corporate structure and culture. The book is comprehensive without being a compendium. It is clearly written to provide a guide that helps you apply analytics to your situation without being a set of instructions that are applicable to few people.


The book has frequent and recognizable examples of executives and applications of analytics. These examples illustrate the author's points without appearing contrived. The examples and case studies are a real strength particularly as they come from companies with different levels of analytic intensity. This gives the reader the ability to see how analytics comes in many sizes and fits different situations.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an easy read especially if you are used to more informative books on analytical rigor and methodology. The good aspect about the concept of this book is that it does get people thinking about analysis and using fact based decision making models. What this book lacks in is connecting the dots between assumptions and actual skill sets. It does go into some techniques and approaches but this in itself is not detailed enough. Compared to other books used in graduate school methodology courses, this book falls short where it should be leading the way forward. Page 10-11 in the section "When Are Analytics Not Practical" states many scenarios where going on an ad hoc decision making paradigm is preferable. Here is the beginning of where this book falls apart. All of these scenarios are perfect opportunities to employ analysis. The lack of the authors understanding of analysis and how it can be applied to these scenarios is concerning. The best use of this book would be as a introduction to analysis provided to an audiance that is not familiar with logical fact based decison making paradigms.

The most important aspect to this book is that it gets people thinking about how to use fact based decision paradigms. And that is essential in this economic environment.

Some titles I would refer that would fill in the gaps that this book has created are:
The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis
Intelligence Analysis: A Target-Centric Approach
Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis

I understand that most people who read business books probably are wondering what tittles referring to intelligence analysis would have to offer the business world. The answer is simple, the principles outlined in those books are very similar to the ones outlined in Analytics at Work. The difference is that those three titles offer a more holistic approach to analyzing any problem that an organization may face.
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