Analytic Thought

Having just got back from our widely successful Retail and Consumer Goods Analytics Summit (RCAS) in Chicago, I am proud to profess that I now have analytics on the brain. After three days listening to and mingling with the best and brightest analytic practitioners from around the world I would be remiss if I didn’t share at least a few nuggets of insight I gleamed from the conference.

• Retailers that are able to effectively leverage their big data and analytics capabilities start with a business question. Without a focused strategy that is centered on a specific business problem retailers are just spinning their wheels.
• Although all the hype is on data scientists at the moment, much of the analytic work retailers need on a day-to-day basis can effectively be handled by data professionals. If a data scientist is not helping solve specific business problems — you don’t need them.

• The need for analytics professionals is growing at an accelerated rate. Over 95% of data scientists are contacted monthly and around a third are contacted several times a week with new job opportunities. The demand for managers and analysts is expected to reach 1.5 million over the next few years.
• In order to attract top-level analytic talent retailers need to commit to enterprise-wide, data-driven decision making — applicants are going to scrutinize your dedication and are making employment choices based on your analytic devotion.
• We are undergoing a paradigm shift in knowledge. As data science continues to evolve specialization of data professionals is inevitable.

• Savvy data professionals are turning to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) to continue their education, and are upping their analytic knowledge for a fraction of the cost of traditional channels.

• The vast majority of retailers either don’t know how, or are neglecting to measure, the ROI of analytic initiatives. Without a true dollar and cents view of the success of a project retailers can’t properly gauge its success and plan for future deployments.

• Data is never complete. We can collect more data than ever before, but the reality is we can never gather it all.   

Just a few quick thoughts from this year’s summit, join us next spring back in Chicago as we continue to dive deep into this emerging and powerful field.