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To some senior executives, analytics is mistaken for an IT function. This may lead to a misalignment of the analytics function or business unit. The alignment question is critical to getting work done, hiring people and communicating to internal stakeholders. Truthfully, most IT executives also probably think analytics is another IT service (or would like it to be). Analytics is a science and does not fit into the IT business model and will likely never perform well within IT. But clearly technology is critical to data science. I propose that IT establish a special service practice, organized and staffed specifically to enable the analytics function. If not that model, then analytics should have its own technology staff, reporting up to the analytics executive.  Either way, just as the organization overall needs to mobilize and re-engineer itself to fully exploit analytics, IT must step up to it’s critical but supporting role for analytics.

Analytics is a Science

November 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

The lately applied nomenclature for advanced analytics creates a useful distinction and a challenge to businesses.  First, analytics is a science: essentially complex hypothesis discovery using quantitative theory and methods.  As a science, it naturally has its own processes, people and tools not like other activities. The challenge to business executives is where does science fit in a non-scientific company?  Advanced analytics does not have a natural home in most companies.  That’s leading to some organizational incoherence when it comes to growing the analytics function beyond a point solution or functional silo, in marketing or pricing for example.

Analytics executives must make the case that they manage a scientific function.  As such, it has its own organic management and structure.  It’s not really part of another function.  If so, the question still stands, where does the advanced analytics function belong in the corporate structure.

There is a reasonable case, being made now by several large companies, that it is its own strategic business unit with leadership alignment up to a chief executive.  I suggest that more companies will establish the role of Chief Analytics Officer.

In another post, I will discuss where this level of leadership will come from in the current level of maturity for this science.

Edward H. Vandenberg