For Christmas I bought my father a Bushnell Geo XS GPS golf watch. This little gadget tells a golfer how far they are from the next hole using GPS location data, and pre-loaded information about the layout of golf courses. Now that the weather has improved a little, my father has had chance to use the watch a few times. I was home at the weekend and asked him how useful the watch has been. His answer almost perfectly encapsulates the usefulness of data analytics:
I used to guess how far away I was from the hole, but now I know. This takes all of the guess work out of picking the right club.
I think that this is a really nice little example of why we are so enthusiastic about using data analytics to help organizations make better decisions. For my father, an easily extracted bit of insight from some pretty easily collected data helps him make better decisions on the golf course. For most organizations, there are lots of simple opportunities to do the same thing. This can range from simple well-designed reports to sophisticated modelling, but the result is the same: insight extracted from data helps us make better decisions.
The golf example also nicely illustrates the limitations of using data analytics. Although my father’s watch helps him select the right club, he still has to make the shot! The application of analytics in organizations is exactly the same. There is still a lot of work left to do around the analytics piece to make a project really successful – but that’s just part of what makes it interesting!