How Good Is Your Information Metabolism?

Information Metabolism. Ever heard of it?

I came across this phrase yesterday for the first time in the latest issue of Sloan Management Review. In an interesting interview about the changing role of IT in innovation, MIT Sloan Professor Erik Brynjolfsson says

smart companies have learned to tap the flood of data created by information technology and process it with what he calls a “higher information metabolism”.

I  like “information metabolism”. It sounds much more glamorous and important than “data analysis”.  That said, I am not sure I agree with the comment. Companies that are primarily online like Google have certainly demonstrated the ability to “metabolize” data at an impressive rate. However, if my experience with bricks-and-mortar companies is any indication, the majority are suffering from severe “information indigestion”.

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Does Social Media Analytics Pass The Monday Morning Test?

Is it actionable, prescriptive, pointing you to the right next step? Or is it more in the realm of data summaries – descriptive, maybe even interesting, but leaving you wondering what to do next?

I have been curious about this question for a while so when the AMA invited me for a webcast titled “Social Media Analytics” by Coremetrics, I tuned in.

Well, to make a long story short, the answer to my original question is NO (at least based on this webcast). No Monday Morning Analytics here, just basic reporting.

The time spent on the webcast wasn’t a waste, however. I learned a few interesting tidbits about what online marketers are thinking about these days and how they are “instrumenting” their sites to collect more detailed data.  Continue reading Does Social Media Analytics Pass The Monday Morning Test?

Monday Morning Analytics

The word “analytics” appears to have a million different meanings. Merely appending the word to just about anything confers an instant halo that hints at intelligence, smartness and numeracy. Naturally, vendors of software for reporting, OLAP and BI have been quick to do this.

In my experience, when I come across the word “analytics”, it typically means data summaries of various stripes. These summaries may be presented in mind-numbingly dense reports, may allow users to drill down into great detail, pivot back and forth and so on. But, at the end of the day, they are just summaries.

They are clearly necessary but far from sufficient. While they can point to where problems or opportunities may lie, they don’t usually indicate what to do next, what action to take.

I meet business decision-makers regularly as part of my work and there is immense frustration at the lack of analytics that are actionable or prescriptive. In the course of a typical workday, the typical manager reads through numerous management reports chockfull of data. But very rarely can they immediately determine what actions they should take to respond to the numbers they see in the reports.

Fortunately, there are exceptions to this dismal state of affairs. There are an increasing number of examples of business problems where analytics have been developed to recommend the best action to take. These analytics don’t just provide insights; they recommend actions, suggest decisions for the decision-maker to consider. In other words, they offer specific advice for what to do on Monday morning.

These Monday Morning Analytics will be a key theme of this blog.

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