Analytics is one of the many buzz phrases used around businesses today.  Most messaging around analytics revolves around the theme of “using this in your business will be valuable, so you should be integrating it into your business or you’ll be left behind”.  At the same time, you could ask 10 people how they define analytics and get 10 different answers.  Some people may not even have a definitive answer for how they’d define analytics.  So how can the general consensus be to leverage analytics within your business?  In short, when done right, analytics enhances the speed and quality of decision making.

Here is my definition of analytics: Using data to answer a question and generate actionable insights.  The core of analytics is to use data to make better decisions.  This means analytics can be many things, so think about analytics as an overarching category rather than one specific thing.  To use an analogy, analytics is like the term “vehicle”.  Then within the category of vehicles, there are specific types of vehicles like cars, trucks, and vans.  The types of vehicles equate to the types analytical methods that can be used.

Analytics is not a catch all solution to problems or challenges.  It often requires a significant amount of up front work to identify the correct analytics approach.  The key to successful analytics is understanding the question or problem.  If you’re not clear on the question or problem, then how can analytics be successful if the goal is to answer the question or problem?

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