I attended Predictive Analytics World in Chicago the week of June 20 to June 23. I met a lot of new people and was reacquainted with several other colleagues. As I listened to 2 days of workshops and the pre- and post-conference workshops, some common themes emerged. Most of these themes confirmed what I have been touching on in the presentations I’ve made at conferences over the last few years and discussed in my book, Competing On Healthcare Analytics, but it was reassuring to hear the same concepts presented by others.
Just storing data and hoping to one day find an insightful nugget is a waste of time, is very costly and could lead the organization down the wrong path. Some people call it “boiling the ocean” or “data dredging”. The analogy I liked the most was interrogating/torturing the data until it confesses. We’ve all seen enough crime dramas and heard about various innocence projects around the country to realize that if you interrogate a suspect long enough, they’ll tell you anything to get you to stop. That’s the same with data. If you mine it long enough, you may not find that needle in a haystack, but you might find something completely unrelated or not meaningful. How the data is collected is just as important as the analysis. If you don’t know how the data you’re analyzing was collected, it could be useless. Data needs to be collected and mined based on a real business problem or strategy not the other way around.
Implementing analytics is an organizational challenge, not just an individual’s or department’s challenge. The business has to connect the business processes to the analytics. This is very similar to the early days of customer relationship management when companies were told that they could buy a particular software and they’d have CRM. We knew then and others have since discovered that was not true. The change to CRM is a multi-dimensional, multi-step process. Implementing analytics is just as broad. It’s not just about data and technology. It’s not just about people. It’s not just about processes. It’s about all three continuums on a foundation of strong leadership.
I was asked several times how to get started. Many attendees were having problems getting management to understand the benefits of a predictive analytics program. As my book is very specific to healthcare, the best advice I gave them was to have them read the book, Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die, by Eric Siegel. Eric is the conference chair and founder of Predictive Analytics World. I use his book in several of the university analytics classes I teach. I like it because it is a very relatable and is a good introduction to the power of predictive analytics. It will help expose any executive to the benefits of a predictive analytics program.
Overall, it was a great conference. If you are involved in implementing predictive analytics, you should try to attend one of their upcoming conferences in London, Washington D.C., New York and Berlin. For more information, go to Predictive Analytics World.