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Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning [Hardcover]

Thomas H. Davenport , Jeanne G. Harris
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2007

You have more information at hand about your business environment than ever before. But are you using it to “out-think” your rivals? If not, you may be missing out on a potent competitive tool.

In Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning , Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris argue that the frontier for using data to make decisions has shifted dramatically. Certain high-performing enterprises are now building their competitive strategies around data-driven insights that in turn generate impressive business results. Their secret weapon? Analytics: sophisticated quantitative and statistical analysis and predictive modeling.

Exemplars of analytics are using new tools to identify their most profitable customers and offer them the right price, to accelerate product innovation, to optimize supply chains, and to identify the true drivers of financial performance. A wealth of examples—from organizations as diverse as Amazon, Barclay’s, Capital One, Harrah’s, Procter & Gamble, Wachovia, and the Boston Red Sox—illuminate how to leverage the power of analytics.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (1 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422103323
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422103326
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Thought-provoking and inspiring
-- Information Age, April 2007

From the Author

We've been hearing a lot about analytics these days. Explain what the term means.

By analytics we mean the extensive use of data, statistical and quantitative analysis, explanatory and predictive models, and fact-based management to drive decisions and actions. Analytics are a subset of what is now known as business intelligence.

How can the use of data to make business decisions lead to competitive advantage?

In today's global and highly interconnected business environment, traditional competitive differentiators--like geography, protective regulation, even proprietary technology--are no longer enough. What's left is the opportunity to execute a business with more efficiency and effectiveness than your competitors, and to make the smartest business decisions possible. Analytics can help do this.

Analytical competitors are organizations that select a few distinctive capabilities on which to base their strategies, and then apply extensive data, analysis and decision-making to support these capabilities. Whatever the capabilities, analytics can propel them to a higher level. We also want to point out that it is the human and organizational aspects of analytical competition that are truly differentiating.

Will readers find tools in your book to help them navigate this "new science," as you call it?

Competing on Analytics offers information on the topic, including key attributes of analytical competition. We also give examples of firms--companies like Netflix, Amazon.com, Google, E&J Gallo, and Procter & Gamble, and sports teams including the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots--that are using analytics extensively within their organizations today. As well, the second half of the book is somewhat of a how-to guide that includes a roadmap for organizations wanting to compete on their analytical capabilities. We also devote time to discussing the two key resources--human and technological--needed to make this form of competition a reality.

You mention a few professional sports teams above, and in the book you discuss how analytics cuts across both industries--business and sports. What's the connection?

Think of what business and professional sport organizations have in common: both have large amounts of data; talented but expensive human resources; the need to optimize critical resources; and of course, the need to win. Many baseball teams--the Red Sox, the Oakland A's, the St. Louis Cardinals--and U.S. professional football teams are taking a more analytical approach and winning. In addition to the Patriots, we highlight the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers football teams, both increasing their reliance on analysis and statistics to stay competitive. And it's not just a U.S. phenomenon: European soccer team AC Milan uses predictive modeling to prevent player injuries; and has even created the "Milan Lab" to identify risk factors. In fact, several members of the World-Cup winning Italy national team trained at the lab.

In the foreword to the book, Gary Loveman of Harrah's lists several reasons why common organizational thinking actually impedes "analytic management." Can you talk about this?

As you know, Gary is one of the pioneers in this industry and Harrah's successes have been widely documented. Gary cites four common factors that hinder analytical competition: deeply embedded conventional wisdom that has been around for so long, it's hard to reverse; decision making--especially at high levels--that fails to demand rigor and analysis; employees themselves who are not willing or equipped to do analytic work; and the power of ideas over data. It's our hope that this book will upend these barriers and help organizations start thinking of analytics as a framework for success.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to become an "analytical competitor" 22 May 2007
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This book is a brilliant development of core concepts in an article co-authored by Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris that originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review. In it and now in this book, they explain how to become an analytical competitor: "an organization that uses analytics extensively and systematically to outthink and outexecute the competition" through support of a strategic, distinctive capability (e.g. Netflix and Wal-Mart), taking an enterprise-level approach to and management of analytics (e.g. Harrah's Entertainment and RBC Financial Group), sustaining a commitment to analytics by senior management (e.g. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, and Rich Fairbank, founder and CEO of Capital One), and having large-scale ambition (i.e. the aforementioned companies as well as others "bet their future success on analytics-based strategies"), with senior executive commitment "perhaps the most important because it can make the others possible." Davenport and Harris classify companies within five stages of analytical competition:

Stage 1: analytically impaired ("flying blind")

Stage 2: Localized analytics (isolated, fragmented, disconnected, inconsistent, etc.)

Stage 3: Analytical aspirations (sees need, begins to explore options)

Stage 4: Analytical companies (enterprise-wide perspective, eager to innovate and differentiate)

Stage 5: Analytical competitors (analytics are the primary driver of performance and value)

Obviously, the challenge is to become a Stage 5 organization but an even greater challenge is to remain one.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
I saw my first application of advanced mathematics to a strategic business problem in 1970. Since then, I've seen hundreds of such applications. In over 95 percent of the cases, those charged with making decisions didn't want to rely on the math, didn't understand the math, and stopped using the math within a few years. Ten years later, no one even knows that the math was ever used.

There's a second problem: A lot of the advanced math looked better than it was. Nice graphs suggested certainty where the numbers and assumptions shouldn't have permitted such impressions to be formed.

Beyond that, a lot of the data being used had no predictive value . . . a particular problem with correlation-based conclusions and time series.

Finally, the mathematicians often solved the wrong problem.

Have there been a few places where advanced math has made a lot of difference? Sure, especially where real time decision making would overload an organization. Load management in airlines, logistical optimization in supply chains, and in providing alerts that service is needed.

The most valuable applications that I've seen came in places where proprietary data added new perspectives that no one else could imagine. These advantages came from new ways of gathering data . . . not just compiling all transactions into large data bases. In fact, the best math solutions I've seen for strategy wouldn't strain any body's calculator to solve. Typically, these are done on personal computers anyway because the graphical choices are better for presenting what's been learned.

Can more advanced math be employed for strategy and operations? Sure. But the failure rate will be high, the cost will be enormous, and many managements won't engage.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming an analytic competitor 6 July 2007
Format:Hardcover
Tom and Jeanne have written an excellent new book (building on a paper they wrote some time ago) about what they call "analytic competitors", that is to say companies that use their analytic prowess not just to enhance their operations but as their lead competitive differentiator. The book discusses a number of these analytic competitors and gives an overview of how analytics can be used in different areas of the business and how you can move up the analytic sophistication scale.

The book has two parts - one on the nature of analytical competition and one on building an analytic competency. The first describes an analytical competitor and how this approach can be used in both internal and external processes. The second lays out a roadmap for becoming an analytical competitor, how to manage analytical people, a quick overview of a business intelligence architecture and some predictions for the future.

They define an analytical competitor as an organization that uses analytics extensively and systematically to outthink and outexecute the competition. The analytics are in support of a strategic distinctive competency and they argue, persuasively, that without a distinctive capability you cannot be an analytic competitor.

The book outlines what they call four pillars of analytical competition- a distinctiive capability, enterprise-wide analytics, senior management commitment and large scale ambition. They lay out 5 stages of analytic competition from "analytically impaired" to "analytic competitor". The importance of experimentation is made clear and the book repeatedly emphasizes the need for companies and executives to be willing to run the business "by the numbers".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent
Tank's
Ive received the book on time and on good conditions.
I recommend this book to evryone interested on Analytics and Bussiness Management.
BR.
Victor
Published 16 months ago by V. Pereira
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great delivery
The book I received was in great condition and the delivery service was great value for money!
I would recommend this product to anybody else with a passion for improving... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Matthew Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting
A book that really has a good way to define what does analytics means. Great ideas in how to organize yourself as an analytical workforce.
Published 21 months ago by Kelnner Rodrigues de Franca
2.0 out of 5 stars Frankly Not That Useful
If you've already figured out that you should be interested in how to use data and analytics in your business then this book will help make you feel good about making the right... Read more
Published on 6 July 2012 by Martin Squires
3.0 out of 5 stars Competing theories
There are some very interesting ideas in this book, notably the ideas of analytics and the competency model. Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2011 by whitecollardrifter
5.0 out of 5 stars data management
An informative read which I can recommend to anyone working in the field of data management or analytics. Read more
Published on 9 April 2010 by P. K. Featherstone
4.0 out of 5 stars Good start but not real evidence for an entire industry
OK - cards on the table - I want this future to be the truth. It suits me as a business person and as a mathematician. The examples are great but they only show what can be done. Read more
Published on 13 Oct 2009 by John Dawson
5.0 out of 5 stars Competitive analytics is a winning company culture.
This excellent book explains exactly what competitive analytics are and what you need to know to implement them. Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Read more
Published on 8 Nov 2007 by Rolf Dobelli
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for beginners
This book gives a nice overview of companies strategies.

It was very helpfull to me when I started exploring the world of analytics. Read more
Published on 2 Nov 2007 by Book monger
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