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Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning 1st Edition

129 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1422103326
ISBN-10: 1422103323
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Editorial Reviews


“[the] seminal work, Competing on Analytics, helped shape the evolution of the discipline of business analytics.” — Health Data Management

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

From the Back Cover

In a world where traditional bases of competitive advantage have largely evaporated, how do you separate your company's performance from the pack? Use analytics to make better decisions and extract maximum value from your business process.

In Competing on Analytics: the New Science of Winning,Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris argue that the frontier of using data has shifted dramatically. Leading companies are doing more than just collecting and storing information in large quantities. They’re now building their competitive strategies around data-driven insights that are, in turn, generating impressive business results. Their secret weapon? Analytics: sophisticated quantitative and statistical analysis and predictive modeling supported by data-savvy senior leaders and powerful information technology.

Why compete on analytics? At a time when companies in many industries offer similar products and use similar technology, distinctive business processes count among the last remaining points of differentiation. Many previous bases for competition—such as geographical advantage or protective regulation—have been eroded by globalization. Proprietary technologies are rapidly copied, and breakthrough innovations in products or services are increasingly difficult to achieve.

That leaves three things as the basis for competition: efficient and effective execution, smart decision making, and the ability to wring every last drop of value from business processes—all of which can be gained through sophisticated use of analytics.

Davenport and Harris show how exemplars—organizations as diverse as the Boston Red Sox, Netflix,, CEMEX, Capital One, Harrah’s Entertainment, Procter & Gamble, and Best Buy—are using new tools to trump rivals. Through analytics, these companies identify their most profitable customers, accelerate product innovation, optimize supply chains and pricing, and leverage the true drivers of financial performance.

A timely, much needed resource, Competing on Analytics promises to rewrite the rules of competition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (March 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422103323
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422103326
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

138 of 152 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lorenzi on June 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the glib, anecdotal book built around a basic, almost stereotypic Harvard Business Review five-level model, this one focusing on various levels of use of analytical methods, systems and processes. At the lowest level, there is almost nothing going on in terms of analytics and, at the highest level, analytics are systematic, widespread and strategic. You can figure the middle three levels. In my experience, there would be some use in providing a zero-level or even negative-level use of analytics, those firms operating in the "data free" zone. They would provide some humor and color, not just useful references.

As to the subtitle, "The new science of winning," to be clear, "competing" and "winning" are not synonymous or even necessarily linked. Competing is not necessarily about winning and winning isn't as important as remaining competitive in the long run. Winning isn't everything and it is not the only thing.

The anecdotes tend towards Harrah's, the Boston Red Sox and several less-than-mainstream firms, along with a few data-crazed firms, e.g., Google. More and more detailed examples of the first-rate use of analytics by top competitors in the corporate world would have been welcome. Personally, Harrah's use of analytics to maximize gambling revenues strikes me as exploiting people's addictions. As to the Red Sox, at least they finally won a Series. As to data, the authors seem to think that 'data' is a singular noun, which leaves me somewhat perplexed as to the analytics applied to editing the text.

The book is shorter than the listed 240 pages. The anecdotes tend to be repetitive, the analytics more descriptive than analytic, and the five-level model gets driven home right away and then driven in repeatedly.
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419 of 487 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Sutter on July 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is, for the most part, a disappointing mix of fallacy, circularity, inconsistency, banality and utopian promises. If you've read books such as N. Taleb's "Fooled by Randomness", P. Rosenzweig's "The Halo Effect", or, for the classically educated, D. Fischer's comprehensive "Historians' Fallacies" (1970), you can easily while away a few lazy hours spotting the bad reasoning throughout this book. I'll give a few examples in a minute or two.

The effect is more disappointing than infuriating because, unlike many other business authors, the authors aren't claiming to have some unique insights or to have discovered some new principle of strategy; their aims are refreshingly modest. About the best I can say for it is (a) if you never read the January 23, 2006 Business Week cover story "Math Will Rock Your World" (which, as of this writing, was available for free online) you can learn that sophisticated mathematical tools are being used in business, and that the market value of math Ph.D.s is increasing, and (b) if you did read that article and don't know much else about these tools, you can learn a little bit of terminology/jargon from the text boxes scattered throughout the book, and maybe a little bit about the political problems of implementing them (@145-146). As other reviewers have pointed out, the book won't teach you how to use or implement such tools. (The authors are forthright about this, e.g. @22.) Unfortunately, the authors also don't give any concrete illustration, with formulas or pictures or even an extended analogy, of how any such tool is used; they merely assert the tools' efficacy.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By G. Stauffer on February 12, 2008
Format: Digital
The description of the e-document is not clear that even though it is the same title, that it isn't the same as the hard cover text.

I had checked out the hard cover from my employer's library which I found interesting. I was under the impression that the e-document would be the same but it cleary was not. Didn't notice at first that the e-document was only 12 pages long as I had assumed it was the same document. Now I just paid $6.50 for an advertisement of the hard cover...
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105 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on February 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Davenport and Harris have followed up their influential HBR article with a well thought out, clearly communicated and detailed analysis of how companies will really compete in the future -- by using what they know to take the right actions throughout their companies. Davenport and Harris call these types of companies analytical competitors and they look at the world differently and produce significantly different results.

Analytics is becoming a requirement in every industry as customers have choice and companies face increased competition. They define analytics as "the extensive use of data, statistical and quantitative analysis, explanatory and predictive models and fact based management to drive decision and actions" This may sound like an academic book. But Davenport and Harris go well beyond hyping a new idea to provide dozens of practical examples from companies we all know. This blend of explaining a new way of competition using practical examples from proven companies makes this book a must read for business people.

The book breaks down into chapters that discuss each aspect of becoming an analytical competitor.

Chpt 1: The Nature of Analytical Competition describes how companies can consistently beat the market by knowing more and doing more with what they know. This chapter ties analytics with competitive strategy in a way that goes well beyond traditional market-ese.

Chpt 2: What makes an Analytic Competitor provides a detailed description and checklist of attributes that these leading companies share. The interesting point is that the examples range across industries demonstrating that

Chpt 3: Analytics and Business Performance looks at how this technique drives top and bottom line growth.
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