For decades now, companies big and small have embraced Agile software development methods. The rationale here is straightforward:
- Why take one or two years to fully deploy a system, app, or website when so many things can and do go wrong?
- Why try to cook one big batch and boil the ocean?
- Why not cook many smaller batches?
Double that when the world changes faster than ever. Brass tacks: It’s no coincidence that methods such as Scrum have exploded with no end in sight.
The Analytics Paradox
Yet, when developing and using analytics, many organizations paradoxically continue to think in terms of traditional, phase-gate IT projects. (I’ve argued against doing that very thing.) That is, they optimistically plan for six-month or year-long projects to launch dashboards, key performance indicator (KPIs), data-visualization tools, predictive models, and their ilk. Antiquated techniques abound. In so doing, these organizations bet—often incorrectly—that they will diligently gather every requirement and data source. In their conceit, they assume perfect conception, planning, and execution. Even if they pull off these enormous feats, it’s usually a fool’s errand for one simple fact: the world is moving faster than ever.
This is insanity.
Where Motivation Meets Opportunity
In my new role at ASU, I teach CIS450, a course on enterprise analytics. In a nutshell, I show my students how organizations can apply these Agile methods and techniques to further their analytics efforts.
Many organizations continue to approach analytics in a manner that I can only describe as absurd.
To be sure, I enjoy teaching the course. (I find the capstone projects fascinating.) Still, there’s a problem: Lamentably, the current books on the subject don’t really fit the course material—at least as well as they can. (Lean Analytics is a good read but it’s targeted towards startups.)
At the beginning of last semester, I started toying with the idea of writing a book specifically designed for this course, but not a textbook per se. Given the growth of proper analytics degrees and programs, such a book seems to make sense. The notion that organizations should apply the Waterfall method to analytics today seems increasingly dated.
Book Title and Other Notes
My eighth book will be titled Analytics: The Agile Way. The book will show how intelligent organizations are approaching contemporary analytics. (TLDR: It’s vastly different from how their counterparts continue to do it.)
At a high level, the text will demonstrate how organizations are applying the same Agile techniques that software engineers and developers have successful used for years, but in a different area: analytics. In so doing, individuals at these smart companies can understand—and, most important, act upon—nascent opportunities far faster than their more traditional counterparts do. Using a combination of case studies, examples, and exercises, Analytics: The Agile Way will demonstrate how this new mind-set affords tremendous opportunity for organizations willing to embrace uncertainty and move fast.
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