November 2019 Recap – Analytics in Context

Our final regular meetup of the year was a fun strategy session with Jen Heider about managing and understanding analytics in context.

What exactly does “in context” mean? Jen explained it’s all about fitting our analytics projects into the larger context of the business as a whole. Look, we all agree that numbers and algorithms are great just for their own sake (though maybe not everyone else does), but letting them lead us is just a backwards way to go about an analytics project. Why we are doing an analysis, and what kind of decisions we might facilitate with that analysis is way more important that if we used naive bayes or random forest. Anyways, we probably should have just started with a basic regression.

Jen was very up-front that much of what she was presenting was the result of mistakes that she had made. We think she can join the club of, well, everyone in that, but she joins a much more elite club that owns those mistakes and learns from them. Can a model using the titanic disaster dataset help predict someone’s likelihood to throw themselves under the bus? We don’t think so, but maybe Jen can figure this out and get back to us.

We learned that an analytics practice shouldn’t be isolated away from the rest of the organization, where other departments submit their questions along with an offering to Apollo and wait for an answer that may or may not be understandable (or correct!). Integration of analytics into the context of the rest of the business allow for very important things including:

  • Choosing the right analytics project based upon scope and effect (but maybe take it easy with those effort vs. impact matrices).
  • Defining metrics across the organization so that people agree what they mean and how they are used.
  • Communication to know if the results are actually understood!

This allows partnerships to build over time in a really productive way. Less duplication of efforts, less reporting that is never even looked at, and ultimately (we hope) better decisions made.

Please join us next month for our annual holiday meetup at North High Brewing. No speakers, just fun & socialization!