Analytics

The Agile Way

To date I have seen scant attempts at Agile analytics, but this book will most certainly launch a thousand more. It is a must-read for any analytics leader, and a must-do for any analytics professional.

—Douglas Laney, VP Information Innovation, Gartner and author of Infonomics


scroll-down

The readiness is all.

—Hamlet

Publication date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Wiley

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.

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.

My eighth book is Analytics: The Agile Way. The book demonstrates how intelligent organizations such as Google and Nextdoor are approaching contemporary analytics. (TLDR: It’s vastly different from how their counterparts continue to do it.)

At a high level, the text shows 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 demonstrates how this new mind-set affords tremendous opportunity for organizations willing to embrace uncertainty and move fast.

Read the Preface and Introduction from the book.

What’s the book about in 96 seconds?

As analytics moves from an IT reporting exercise to a mission critical business-led discipline, collaboration, expediency and flexibility are more important than ever. Information is no longer an asset to be trifled with, but rather one that must be harnessed aggressively to drive myriad economic benefits. To date I have seen scant attempts at Agile analytics, but this book will most certainly launch a thousand more. It is a must-read for any analytics leader, and a must-do for any analytics professional.

—Douglas Laney, VP and Distinguished Analyst, Gartner

A thoroughly enjoyable guide to the critical importance of analytics and Big Data. Simon wisely counsels that no one method works for all companies. The key is to be flexible and nimble and follow the guidelines he explains so clearly and convincingly.

—Gary N. Smith, Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College and author of Money Machine: The Surprisingly Simple Power of Value Investing

These days, every company knows they need to embrace analytics—but all too often, they’re doing it wrong. Read Phil Simon’s new book to understand the path forward and leverage the power of data in a faster, cheaper, better way.

—Dorie Clark, author of Stand Out and adjunct professor, Duke University Fuqua School of Business

Most companies, especially the larger ones, are realizing that their data availability and data abilities will make or break them. Huge investments are being made into creating actionable analytics—that next level of data insight. Yet many continue to pursue analytics in a Waterfall, phase-gate approach that makes those insights late to the party. Simon shares the lessons of data, and therefore business, winners. Analytics: The Agile Way contains the spot-on guidance that everyone involved needs to know about analytics, agile methods and their intersection. I highly recommend it for those chartered with business success and for those who need a leap forward in effective business.

—William McKnight, President, McKnight Consulting Group

Simon’s books have always had power in my classes, but now that he’s teaching from them himself, the flow is taken to the next level. Analytics: The Agile Way combines two powerful themes in modern business—data and how we get work done. The depth of the examples brings meaning to the concepts that makes them stick.

Analytics: The Agile Way makes accessible two of today’s key themes in modern business: data and how we get work done. A great book for analytics, but also a great book for management and leadership. Given that we are all responsible for our own education, perhaps all business books should now be written as this one is: perfect for a formal class but also for lifelong learning.

—Terri Griffith, Associate Dean & Professor at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business and author of the award-winning book The Plugged-In Manager

The real focus of technology today is around new answers to previously unsolvable problems: analytics. Unfortunately, old methods of developing analytics, algorithms, etc. are just too slow, risky, and costly. Businesses need a fast, cheap way to prove (and then improve) the worth of analytics. Phil explores the Agile approach to analytics and then backs it up with a number of case studies—many of which he helped developed. If you are unclear on how your firm should approach analytics, this book serves as the the starting point.

—Brian Sommer, IT Industry Analyst and President of TechVentive, Inc.

Phil Simon excellently shows the potential of combining Agile thinking and methods with data analytics to provide powerful, distinct competitive advantages to organizations. As Simon demonstrates clearly through multiple real-life examples, Agile analytics can enable organizations to create lasting value from their Big-Data efforts without ignoring the privacy and security issues those efforts frequently create.”

—Robert N. Charette, President, ITABHI Corporation

Quite obviously, the value of analytical insights that make it into practice is far more important than the depth of the analytics. Increasing that value may be the key challenge in the analytics space. Phil Simon’s latest provides some clues, adopting highly successful Agile methods to the cause.

—Tom Redman, Ph.D. (“the Data Doc”) and author of Getting in Front on Data: Who Does What


Even for those who have been working with data for many years (like me), this is an eye-opening book.

—Michael Schrenk, Competitive Intelligence Specialist and author of Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scrapers


Phil Simon nails it. For more than a quarter century, high-impact business value from our efforts in analytics and business intelligence has been a hit-or-miss proposition. Today we have an entirely new generation of data management and analytics, and the approaches described in this book can help organizations pivot towards the best techniques—and an entirely new philosophy—to achieve the most from our new technology.

—Alan Simon, Senior Lecturer, Arizona State University