Three tips for bringing analysts and business leaders together


A number of the sessions at today's SAS Global Forum Executive Conference included discussions about how IT and business leaders can best collaborate on business analytics projects, or how analysts and business decision makers can best work together.

In one panel I attended, "Retail and Manufacturing Analytics: Driving Business-Building Insights and Innovation," the three panelists had good advice for an audience member who asked about bridging the gap between business leaders and analysts. Their tips:

  1. Use proof of concepts, says Don Reid, Director of Forecasting and Demand Planning at MillerCoors. Get momentum running to show early value and put metrics in place for the proof of concept to measure effectiveness of the decisions you're making. "Show them what would have happened if they had stuck with their original plans versus using marketing tactics based on analytics." They'll start to see difference and then ask for more.
  2. Put them together in a room. Hire a staff of half MBAs and half mathematicians, said Eugene Roythburg, PhD, Managing Director of the Nielsen Business Consulting Services. "The business people don’t need to derive equations – but they do have to appreciate that analytics is the recommendation engine. Put them together with the analysts. They will find a way to talk together. It works."
  3. Move them around. Ed Dobbles, Vice President of Research and Analytics at Supervalu said his best experiences with analytics came when he was kicked out of the analytics organization and was told to, "Go be a marketer." Jokingly, Ed said, "But I don’t have the wardrobe for this!" His advice is to cross-pollinate analysts on business teams and vice versa. "Rotate them through positions. The learning curve can be steep, but you have do it."

About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.

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