Winter break is a time for slacking. I'll admit, I've been binging on peppermint bark and Words with Friends. Winter break is also a time when we all pause to contemplate the year ahead. Although I'm not usually prone to new year's resolutions, I do have a short list of things I'd like to work on, professionally, over the next 12 months:
1) Proactive, not reactive
It's all too easy for an analytics group to assume a help desk role within their company. You tell us what you need, and we serve it up. It's much harder (but much more valuable) to proactively approach business constituents with data they need - before they even know they need it. If an analytics practice is known solely as that-place-you-submit-a-ticket-and-get-a-spreadsheet-back, it's falling far short of its potential to serve the business.
2) Outward, not inward
"Siloed" is an overused term in the analytics industry, but it's an apt way to describe the way we typically feel. As analysts we often spend too much time talking amongst ourselves rather than communicating with - and collaborating with - others. In large part I think we bring it on ourselves, and it's within our power to overcome it. Over the next year I aim to meet people throughout my company who call themselves analysts; we may work in completely separate departments, but our common interest in data unites us.
3) Windshield, not rear-view
A common theme among analytics maturity models is the idea that the advanced stages rely heavily on predictive modeling rather than simply reporting on events that have already occurred. The motorist analogy sums it up nicely: as you drive a car, you look in the rear-view mirror to see where you've been (reporting); you look through the windshield to decide where to go next (predicting).
I'm not ashamed to say that, in my current work environment, we still need to work through some of the fundamentals before we realize the full potential of the predictive stage - but it helps to have the end goal in mind as we lay the foundation.
Last March I made the switch from analytics consultant to analytics practitioner. It's been an incredible learning experience, but I haven't written or spoken too much about what I've been doing lately. Although my role does require a certain level of confidentiality, I would like to share more over the course of the next year. It's not just shop talk. I believe that, when we compare notes with our peers, we are driving innovation and carrying our industry forward as a whole.
Here's to a happy, healthy and productive 2012.