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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Intelligence and Analysis

Had a chance to attend an industry analysts’ working group. Stars from competing companies met in a special forum to get a better picture of where their profession is going.

First symptom is the explosion of casual data. Their customers see it all around them and want to know how it relates to the professional information they are buying. The short answer is, it doesn’t.

Data is not analysis. Analysis is verifying accuracy and providing context. Figuring out what to ignore is an important part of professional analysis.

But analysts are getting overwhelmed with random data, and anything a customer finds is more valuable to that customer than a professionally curated product.

One analyst tore a small corner off a sugar packet and dropped in the middle of a 16 by 6 foot conference table. “This table is what is publicly available, and this scrap of paper is what our processes allow us to analyze.”

One further comment was that scrap of paper should be cut into pieces representing the processes of the competing organizations.

Customers want their scraps validated, but they sure don’t want to do the work of validation. That’s what they are paying for, usually on a carefully predefined cost basis. ...and other duties as assigned is now desired in that same price. Open source scope creep.
So a first solution is to loosen the vetting procedure to allow significantly more throughput, perhaps using casual data in that process in some way.

A couple of days after the meeting, I remembered the the story of J. P. Morgan’s guidelines for purchasing services, “I don’t want a lawyer who tells me what I can’t do. I hire a lawyer to tell me how I can do what I want to do! ”

Perhaps a solution is bringing the customer behind the curtain, to better understand what they are buying and why.

Tips 4 The Big Chair – Perspective 2.0

2 comments:

Granny-Guru said...

Never thought about the effect of all this free information on paid analysts' business model. I remember back in the 90s when a customer figured out that he could buy a component from one of our suppliers muuuuch cheaper than getting it from us. I could not tell him we rejected half of that supplier's product in our QA process. The customer became disillusioned when his parts kept failing, never put together the fact that they didn't fail when he bought them from us and stopped buying our product too. Sigh.

Jack Gates said...

Analysts analyze - takes more time than finding and repeating the news - but it looks the same to a casual observer, including the customer.

When customers hear information on the news and take it as a new data point on a topic of interest, they may wonder why they had not heard it first from their analyst. 

They overlook the report/revise process of general news - take the current the bank issue in Cyprus as an example of a story that has morphed and been misinterpreted over the past two weeks. How often has the interpretation of the story changed over time?

Filtering and applying data to create usable information is the role of the analyst and the time frame is longer than a single news cycle.

A useful analogy is an emphasis on SEO to generate popularity for your website - choosing the right terms, headline, or layout many get a higher ranking during search, but the quality of the content is what develops the readership.

Granny-Guru's point drives home the value of behind the scenes filtering and validation, which is what the analyst provides.

So, why don't we do a better job of educating the customer about the value we are providing?

Good post, Dick.