“I don’t know” and “we didn’t know” are becoming increasingly unacceptable answers every day, especially as “No one saw this coming” becomes less and less credible in the wake of the global financial crisis. Culturally, expectations are rising of individuals and organizations such that ignorance about:
• Environmental impact
• Health impact
Of our businesses is less and less acceptable.
The latest book from the inimitable Thornton May, “The New Know: Innovation Through Analytics,” makes a strong case for our position at a “hinge of history” relative to the use of analytics to combat that ignorance, the perils of failing to take advantage of them, and the significant competitive advantage accruing to those who do.
The book is one part wake-up call (e.g., not taking advantage of analytics is an error “similar in severity to choosing not to use fire”) and one part meta-analysis (how do we analyze and know things, what makes analysts tick, what do they eat for lunch, etc.). A few of the most interesting of the many topics covered are:
• 10 fundamental dimensions of change under the “New Know”
• 14 industries being transformed by the power of analytics
• RAM (or “Relationship Asset Management”) for maximizing the value of analytics via strong, relevant relationships among “carbon-based information assets” (i.e., people).
Like Mr. May’s speaking engagements, this book will likely make you laugh out loud, marvel at the volume of ideas and quality of thought he generates, and (hopefully!) act differently as a result. My takeaway is to allocate time more frequently to analyzing the results of my own and my team’s work (starting with KMA’s sales/marketing endeavors), and reallocating resources even more aggressively based on facts and analysis.
Additional resources of note on this topic include:
1. Tom Davenport’s books, including "Competing on Analytics"
2. The recent and fascinating Economist special section about the Data Deluge
3. The announcement of data visualization guru Edward Tufte's appointment to Obama’s economic recovery team (validation of the importance of tools to visualize and use big data sets)