I just got back last week from a conference hosted by Disney, the Disney Analytics and Optimization Summit. It was packed with people from Disney, ESPN, ABC and their affiliates. Plus they opened it up to people from outside the Disney organization this year.
Based on the feeling in the room, you wouldn’t think there were problems with the economy. Some of the most interesting discussions revolved around how to hire and keep analytic talent. Jeanne Harris from Accenture spoke before me and was asked how to retain these people.
More often than not, according to Jeanne, pay isn’t the number one factor in motivating and retaining good analysts. The biggest factor, she said, is whether or not they have interesting data to work with.
Jeanne interviewed someone for her new book, and when she called him a few weeks before publication, he said he had left the company. When she asked why, he said the other company had showed him a dataset that was so challenging, he couldn’t resist.
One comment I overhead at the event sums it up:
“Complex data is like crack to statisticians. You get hooked on that stuff and you can’t let it go.”