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Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results Hardcover – February 8, 2010
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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.
A practical discussion of the issues related to analytics rather than a relentless boosting of the idea and principles. The authors recognize that business intelligence has been around for a while, that people will adopt analytics at different levels of intensity and that makes the book real to executives and practitioners.
The book offers a comprehensive discussion of the strategies, organization structure and execution implications of analytics in the enterprise. For a 214-page book, Analytics at Work covers a lot of ground without seeming rushed or superficial.
Graphical, the book makes effective use of frameworks and diagrams that bring the concepts into tighter focus and reality. Executives can use these diagrams to understand and perhaps more importantly to share with others to explain how analytics apply to their business.
While the book discusses analytics at all levels, it tends to concentrate analytics activities into a specific group of subject matter experts. While I agree that analytics requires specific skills, setting these `quants' up as a special group may limit the spread of analytics across the enterprise. This is a minor point that does not reduce the value of the book.
Overall Analytics at Work is a rare book that covers both the concept and the implementation of a business idea. I recommend the book as it represents a well-balanced, action oriented approach that executives should read to raise the value of information in their enterprise.
I found the book to be interesting and quite useful from a "oh, I hadn't thought of that..." perspective. However, I'm not sure that there is much original material here beyond the general framework -- most of which was presented in an earlier work by the same authors. Though I wouldn't recommend this book for serious analytic how-to, it would be a good read for someone seeking a general overview of the topic in a reasonably non-technical format.
For me, the measure of a book's contribution to my understanding of a topic is the number of marginal notes I make as I read. In this particular volume, I didn't make many marginal notes. I'm still very much of fan of Thomas Davenport; the quality of his thought on the topic of business analytics is top notch. Analytics at Work is still worth a quick read, especially if this is your first exposure to Davenport's framework for business analytics.
The book fills a gap that many other books don't discuss which is how to institutionalize and make analytics a core function within the organization. This is a good book for that purpose.
I read it as part of my Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) certification and I would highly recommend it for this exam or generally. It has many examples of application of business analytics into everyday business of numerous types of companies. It is possible that, as some reviewers suggested, it contains a few management cliches, but it is still very instructive.
Eric Siegel, Ph.D.
Founder, Predictive Analytics World
I have worked with great "Intuitive" teams and have been able to integrate analytics at various points...But, the key is to get Buy-In from your key stakeholders, or the effort is futile and an analytically oriented competitor is ready to eat up some of your marketshare!
Great Book, Will stay on my reference shelf for a while I think...."
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